Blind Certainty

Yeah, I know. I haven’t posted in weeks. The posting pump was primed, finally, by echoes of prior AFC  posts found in an Above the Law article: If Law Graduates Had to Do It All Over Again, They Wouldn’t Be So Stupid. What’s “it?”

The ability to learn from other people’s mistakes is a mark of intelligence, but it’s not a skill shared by your average prospective law student. Despite an internet full of information, they continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to choosing a law school.

ATL quotes from a Kaplan survey titled Advice from Law School Grads to Law School Applicants: Instead of Rankings, Focus on Law Schools’ Job Placement Rates and Affordability–which conveys, pretty much, the survey’s content:

In response to the question “What is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?” nearly a third of respondents (32%) to a Kaplan survey of LSAT students* cited as the most important evaluation factor, outdistancing all other factors. In fact, 86% said are “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding where to apply.

Apparently, though, three years of law school may cause aspiring lawyers to reprioritize. Among new law school graduates, only 17% of respondents . . . selected law school rankings as their top answer to “Which of the following factors would you tell prospective law students should be the most important when picking where to apply?” Instead, nearly half recommend prioritizing either a law school’s job placement rate or its affordability/tuition (each factor garnered 24%). Other factors, including geographic location and academic programming, trailed further back.

In stark contrast, only 13% of pre-law students cited affordability/tuition as their most important evaluation factor in deciding where to apply to law school, and even fewer, just 8%, considered schools’ job placement rates to be their top priority. (Emphasis added)

ATL notes that the “‘certainty score’ of new law students is through the roof. They believe they’re doing the right thing, and you can’t tell them otherwise.” The lead partner in my old firm touted that in the courtroom he was “sometimes wrong, but never uncertain.” Unquestioned self-certainty is not always an asset.

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  • Sarah Hu

    I agree that this is the sort of “buyer beware” type deal. 

    Students selecting law schools should definitely be more conscious of what they actually want/need from law school — but perhaps law school rankings, which represent some form of evaluation of law schools, should weigh the more relevant factors higher.  
    What use is the rankings if it doesn’t provide a good measure of the usefulness of the education? 

  • Sarah Hu

    I agree