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December 23, 2015


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One is left with the question for Professor Lyke, if Whittier is considering other factors that it thinks are predictive of success on the bar exam of in legal practice, please tell the world what they are?

Given that information, at least some of the professors here will be able to explain, based on reliable evidence - that those factors are, to use a technical expression, bogus, unreliable, nonsense.....

Frankly, I suspect a lot of confirmation bias in Whittier and Lyke's analysis. They want to find that some criterion means that a student loan conduit can succeed, they want to reject a criterion that says he/she won't.

Even most law school critics would agree that at the middle and high end LSAT scores make little difference to bar or professional success (and I scored, if I remember correctly 44, on the old scale.) For the most part I regard intelligence tests as BS. But at the low end, where students are getting little better scores on the LSAT than random guesses would secure - please be realistic - there is no other way to put it, you have to be illiterate, innumerate and possibly plain stupid to score that low.


Whittier is getting a harsh lesson in the Steisand Effect. It is no surprise that any further defense of its conduct has not been posted.

The ABA will reluctantly step in with ineffective changes in a face-saving move once it no longer can ignore the problem caused by schools like Whittier/Cooley/etc.

Query this: if the LSAT is not a predicter of bar exam passage, then what's going on here? The alternative explanation is that Whittier does a bad job teaching law students and leaves them unprepared for the bar, right? So which is it?

Further query: if eventual bar passage is the more fair metric of success, how does one get his landlord to accept an eventual rent check when his eventual bar passage required job comes though in a year or three?

Yet further query: Even if you don't think law school is an outright scam, law faculty, can you at least see why some critics do? Do you really want to throw in your lot with those who flirt with grifting, or do you want to actually fix this thing? Rocking the boat is scary, but sitting silently on a doomed vessel is no solution.


It should be noted in the linked results that Washington University (St. Louis) had a 39% pass rate and the University of Minnesota had a 27% pass rate. These are schools that I believe have a much higher incoming LSAT median than Whittier, so I would ask Mr. Frakt and LST if they can explain those schools' poor performance.

It might be more useful to look at actual results than projected results.


jDpre, for Washington University (St. Louis), n=23, while for the University of Minnesota, n=11. Making inferences based on sample sizes that small in this context is unreasonable.

confused by your post

Frakt, I wasn't so sure about you when you started posting here a while ago. A lot of us around here love you now! Your post today is this site's equivalent to a touchdown dance.



And yet Frakt attacked infilaw and other schools with such an "unreasonable" way.

Sy Ablelman

It doesn't really matter where an attorney graduated from law school. I graduated from a decent, traditional law school with a good reputation and ranked. If you do not have the connections, network, family or work, you will end up like me: a Solo with too much time on my hands posting to this blog and no new work or sign ups in the last few weeks. On the other hand, if an attorney attended Whittier and has the blessings of those connections, she will do very well. I know two Cooley graduates who are earning top dollar in their gub'mint attorney gigs. They are members of a public employees Union and well protected and represented. Answer me this: If your buddy is hiring to fill an attorney position, will she turn down her buddy because she graduated from Whittier but the other applicant graduated from Yale?

David Frakt

JD pre - Many schools performed poorly on the California bar, which is regarded as the second hardest in the country after Delaware, but very few Wash U or University of Minnesota grads take the California bar, as compared to Whittier, where virtually all the graduates take the California bar. Like many California law schools, the Whittier curriculum and academic success/bar prep programs are specifically geared toward the California bar, with several California law specific classes offered, so we should expect better results. Indeed, California ABA schools outperform non-California ABA schools (68.2% first-time pass rate vs. 58.8% first-time pass rate) primarily for this reason.

In addition to the small numbers of Minnesota and Wash U grads that took the bar, we have no way of knowing whether these students were from the top, middle, or bottom of their classes, so we can't say whether these students underperformed their predictors. With Whittier, we have the results from the whole class so it is possible to draw more concrete conclusions.

David Frakt

Confused by your post -

Thank you for your kind words, but I really don't mean to gloat. Any satisfaction I have in being proved right (again and again) is heavily outweighed by my sorrow at the great human tragedy that is unfolding, with thousands of students who never should have been admitted to law school doomed to failure, and saddled with huge debt and a useless degree (if they even managed to get their degree).

Sy Ablelman

Oh, one more thing. If I were to get into criminal trouble or need a PI attorney, I would hire this attorney I know from Florida Costal. I think he is one of the finest attorneys I have observed. He is affable, a hoot and works the system. He schmoozes and "bullshits" with the best of them. Being a great attorney is how you get along in the system. Likeability. He is loved by everybody. The best book on this subject is entitled "Craft of Justice" by Fleming, Nardulli and Eisenstein.


(Different anon here): I am nearly certain that the "low sample size" argument as a justification for poor bar passage results in any state would be roundly derided by law school critics were it put forward by such schools as an explanation for why such poor results should be discounted. Yet here, when asked what the disproportionately poor results at some schools as compared to their LSAT ranges means for the critics' theses regarding the putative near-determinative correlation between entering LSAT and bar passage, law school critics now deem low sample size to be sufficient justification for lack of direct response.



More "straw men." I thought you'd given up on the projection....

confused by your post

I look forward to Professor Sheldon Lyke's upcoming post detailing how Whittier uses a method superior to the LSAT to predict academic/bar exam success and to admit its students. I feel certain it will be littered with points about increasing the total number of minority lawyers, Whittier's latest CA bar pass fiasco.

38% for first time takers. 12% for repeaters. 25% of admitted students pass the bar on their 1st attempt. Oh, the humanity!



Do you make it your business to cyber-stalk anyone who posts as anon (which might not even be the same person you're thinking of/obsessing over) to recycle your ridiculous responses and faux-psychology?

Sy Ablelman

Fellas, you need to keep it nice here, or you will end up as one of my clients. You guys being professors with no background or "sheet" I will get you "paper."


Anon 10:57, small sample sizes do not "justify" anything, other than viewing the results one obtains with caution and probably discarding them if they are tiny. If Whittier grads were 3/3 (or 9/10, for that matter) in passing the NY Bar, that would not make Whittier a great school. If they were 0/4 or 4/17 in passing the TX bar, that wouldn't make Whittier terrible. What makes Whittier terrible is the July 2015 38% passage rate in CA with n=122. What makes Whittier terrible are their LSAT ranges and employment outcomes and tuition.

With that said, I know you're trying to derail the conversation but I'd tread cautiously were I a prospective Minnesota or WUSTL student looking to practice in CA, small sample size and all.


I'm not trying to "derail" anything: I don't teach at Whittier, MUSTL, Minnesota, or any of the other schools under discussion in this thread, so I have no motive to derail the conversation. Feel free to bash away.


I would say it is the sign of a poor school that takes people with good LSATs but cannot get them through the bar. I would say such a school is perhaps worse than a school that takes people with poor LSATs and cannot get them through the bar, as they had less to work with.


And/or it's a sign that they take significant numbers of transfer students with LSAT scores lower than the generally presumed ranges (I.e., lower than what's factored into US News or publicly discussed), which is yet another reason why increased transparency regarding transfers is needed.

The Nicker

"I would say it is the sign of a poor school that takes people with good LSATs but cannot get them through the bar. I would say such a school is perhaps worse than a school that takes people with poor LSATs and cannot get them through the bar, as they had less to work with."

Two restaurants. Restaurant A goes dumpster diving and brings in the worst, rotten ingredients for their cooks to use. Restaurant B orders from a standard food distributor and provides acceptable ingredients to its cooks. Both serve terrible food. Both charge exorbitant prices for their food.

Would I have more respect for the cooks that work in Restaurant A? Partly, because they are doing more with less. But they also aren't objecting to being given rotten ingredients that can only produce rotten food. In both cases, these restaurants suck and I would expect them to close as the word gets out about their terrible quality and high prices. In both cases, the management is the main culprit at fault for producing a lousy product. So what's the difference to the consumer?

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