Despite our reservations described in yesterday’s post about limiting the consideration of value to income differentials, here we follow Simkovic’s lead and focus solely on income as the outcome. Boiled down to its essence, Simkovic’s goal is to identify the ‘value’ of a US LLM by comparing the income of international LLM graduates (i) “to those from their countries who stay home” -- that is, comparing the incomes of foreign law graduates with and without a US LLM, and (ii) to other “immigrants . . . by education level” -- that is, comparing the incomes of foreign law graduates who’ve earned a US LLM and are working in the US to the incomes of foreign law graduates who have not earned an LLM but nevertheless are working in the US.
Based upon our review, Simkovic
- is not actually analyzing data for the population about which he wishes to draw conclusions, and
- is not actually making comparisons that reflect the differences in which he is interested.
The Sample Does Not Represent the Population of Interest
Limitations in the available data and some of Simkovic’s analytic choices result in his analysis of a sample that does not represent the population he wishes to study.
Simkovic acknowledged that his choice of dataset excludes people who “permanently leave the U.S. upon completing their degrees,” as the American Community Survey is a survey of households in the United States. This choice is problematic in two respects. First, it excludes the vast majority of international LLM graduates: those who return home or move to a third country. In earlier research, Silver found that slightly more than 18% of the international LLM graduates she studied, who had graduated between 1996 and 2000, remained in the US for at least several years after graduation; today, we might expect the stay rate for international LLM graduates to be lower because of the combination of current conditions in the overall economy and in the US legal market, not to mention the changed circumstances of US law schools after 2008. For those international LLM graduates who leave the US, research suggests that the benefits gained from a US LLM with regard to career opportunities may actually be greater than for those who remain in the US. By building on and extending the work begun by Silver in the early 2000s as well as the After the JD, which has provided a gold standard for research on the US legal profession for more than a decade, we hope to learn more about the careers of these graduates through new and appropriately designed survey research and in-depth interviews.