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Don LeDuc, superstar

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Wolfcastle: The film is just me in front of a brick wall for an hour and a half. It cost $80 million.
Jay Sherman: How do you sleep at night?
Wolfcastle: On top of a pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.

If law school scamming were a slam dunk competition, this would be Western Michigan Thomas Cooley Law Dean Don LeDuc’s entry in the competition:

LeDuc, who got paid $1.9 million by the school between 2011 and 2013, and who did such a superb job handling the institution during this time that it only had to fire 59% of its full-time faculty last August, has launched an intellectual assault on the pernicious and deeply unscientific notion that LSAT scores could be used as predictors of future bar passage rates:

Is the use of an LSAT score for any purpose other than law school admissions proper?

Unequivocally, no. The LSAC’s cautionary policies say “[t]he LSAT was designed to serve admissions functions only. It has not been validated for any other purpose.” How much clearer can it be?

Jimmy: Dean LeDuc, I have a crazy friend who says that low LSAT scores correlate with low bar passage rates. Is he crazy?

Dean LeDuc: No Jimmy, just ignorant!

Those asserting that an individual will be unable or unlikely to pass a bar examination because that person’s LSAT score is below a certain level should be held to account. The LSAC has declared that the LSAT has not been validated as a predictor of future bar results. Anyone claiming that there is a relationship between an LSAT score and bar passage should be called to account and required to provide supporting evidence. And the burden should be on the person making the assertion, since the LSAC cautionary policy has already established that the LSAT has not been validated for that purpose.

Hey kids, let’s do a Scientific Study of this extremely complex issue.

First, let us select two law schools at random. Let us compare the bar passage performance of the graduates of the nation’s second-ranked law school with that of graduates of the tenth-best school in the land:

Because the scientific method requires controlling for confounding variables, such as the relative difficulty of the bar examination in different states, we will use bar passage rates of graduates in the two states (New York and California) in which a statistically significant number of graduates of the two schools took the bar between 2011 and 2013:

Yale: 427 takers, 403 passed (94.3793911007258%)

Thomas Cooley: 330 takers, 138 passed (41.818181818181%)

Do these rates correlate with the LSAT scores of the graduates? This is a more difficult question to answer, as we must use the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile LSAT scores of matriculants at the two schools as a proxy for the LSAT scores of the individual bar examinees, which are unknown.

Cooley matriculants in the classes of 2008-10 had LSAT scores of 144, 146, and 150 at the cut points. These scores represent the 23rd, the 30th, and the 44th percentile of test takers respectively.

Yale matriculants in those classes had LSAT scores of 170, 173, and 176, representing the 98th, 99th, and 99.6th percentiles.

While it is true these numbers are suggestive of some sort of correlation between LSAT scores and bar passage rates, the Scientific Method requires considering alternative hypotheses.

For instance, we know nothing about the LSAT scores of matriculants above the 75th and below the 25th percentiles at the two schools. It is statistically possible that the Cooley graduates who took the New York and California bar examinations had LSAT scores that were higher than the Yale graduates who sat for those bars (the Cooley graduates who took those examinations represent less than 25% of the school’s graduates in those years).

It is also possible that Yale Law School is nothing but a straightforward three-year bar review course, while Cooley students fill up their time taking seminars on what the text of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would have looked like if it had been drafted by Schopenhauer and Jay-Z, after they had spent three weeks in a Mexico City hotel room drinking some cheap crap called choco and reading Finnegans Wake while listening to the White Album, which is to say that the pedagogic methods employed at the two schools could well explain all of the difference in bar passage rates, because as everyone should have learned in Statistics 101, correlation is not causation.

Teach the controversy!

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