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Law School Data:
Finding it and Using it Wisely

Admissions Policies Change

I've said it several times already, but it never hurts to say it again:

ALL PUBLISHED DATA IS INACCURATE, BECAUSE IT'S TWO YEARS OLD.

Data published in the 2011 ABA-LSAC Official Guide reflects the statistics for the class entering in the fall of 2009.

  • In the last two years, most schools with a part-time program have reduced the size from one-half to one-fourth of what is currently published. This change seriously reduces the number of people admitted with low LSAT scores.
  • In 2009 the Department of Education passed a new regulation about bar passage scores needed for a law school's accreditation. Since bar passage rates often correlate with LSAT scores, many schools will no longer admit applicants with an LSAT below 150, and virtually no school will admit below 145 unless there are extraordinary circumstances, or unless the student completes a summer conditional or head-start program.

According to statistics published by LSAC, about 60% of you reading this will attend law school. And according to data published in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide, about 90% of you will make it to your second year of law school. And when that happens, you'll take a course on Evidence.

You'll learn that Evidence is published data that has a high reliability index, while inadmissible "hearsay" has a very low reliability index; and other words are inadmissible because they're just plain irrelevant.

Published data is reliable. The LSAC data, NALP data, Martindale-Hubbell, even USNews data, has a certain amount of reliability to it. It's published in order for those institutions to run their business, not to impress or influence you. Thus, when NALP says that Georgetown has 763 recruiters scheduled to interview this fall, it's not saying that to persuade you to attend Georgetown. The statement, "NALP lists 763 recruiters interviewing at Georgetown this fall" is evidence.

Data on chat boards is unreliable. "I got into every school I applied to" is what's called a self-serving statement, and is inherently unreliable and inadmissible in court.

Anecdotal stories are usually irrelevant, and thus inadmissible. "My cousin loved it at Notre Dame." Good for him. I'm an urban, east coast, radical lesbian-feminist. The right school for your cousin might not be the right school for me.

Now that we know the ground rules, we can begin our search for evidence as to what will be the right school for you.

  • We will look at published data, or tabulations made from published data.
  • We will not look at law.discussion.org. and its ilk.
  • We may not look at what the recruiter said to you at the Law Forum.
  • We will never look at what Uncle Neil's brother-in-law said.

Are we clear on the ground rules here? Good. Now let's go find some data and learn how to use it!

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