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Meet Entitlement Eric - Robot Pimp

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Do you even need to shave overhead? - Lawyerlite

LSAT Jenga - Publius Picasso

Time, Place, and Manner

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Something Mundane Happened On The Way Out Of Chipotle

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Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is barely into its infancy (after a very long gestation period, mind you) and she's already committing some pretty remarkable gaffs. According to a Chipotle manager, when Clinton visited the store recently with a $20 order, she didn't leave any money in the tip jar. [Bloomberg]

The question of Clinton tipping at Chipotle was first raised by Rush Limbaugh who said on his radio program:

I would like to know if she left anything in the tip jar, because that would be an indication that she understands the average, ordinary, everyman that she seeks to represent.

There's just one slighty, teensy, itty bitty problem with Limbaugh's criticism. You know who else doesn't tip at Chipotle? The average, ordinary, everyman. Clinton doesn't just understand the everyman, she embodies the everyman!

And you know why she embodies the everyman? Because she shares a psychic link to so many ordinary working folks. Clinton is adept at using the Dark Side, and is constantly in a battle meditation to enhance the skills of her campaign team. Why else does she, day after day, continue to more closely resemble Emperor Palpatine?

And it's that same Dark Side that makes get closer and closer to looking like Folks, it's going to be a very long campaign season.


In other news, Chris Christie was spotted at Chipotle waiting until his meat had been added to his burrito before telling the staff he'd like double meat, using the classic fat guy trick to get the most meat possible at Chipotle.

When A Law School Shill Goes Full Derp

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Those of you who follow the debate over the value of JDs (especially post-Lehman) are likely familiar with Michael Simkovic's research which found a million dollar life time earnings premium. Criticism, quite rightly, abounded. One of the most glaring problems was the claim about how many hours per week lawyers work compared to the rest of the workforce (warning, your sides may split):

We find that, after applying controls, law degree holders typically work 3.9 hours more per week, or about 45 minutes per day.

While the rest of the world is working 9-5 jobs, lawyers are working 9-5:45. Tell that to your boss today and see how things go...

This problem illustrates one of the biggest flaws in looking at the JD premium, it treats the JD like a passive investment. Put in your $150,000 of tuition and 3 years and (maybe) pass the bar, then just go about the rest of your life as usual and you'll see a $20,000 per year increase to your pay check. Anyone who's ever worked a day as a lawyer (as Simkovic briefly did) should know that's not how it works. The JD will bring many people an increase in their hourly earnings, but most of the earning premium has to be worked for. You work longer, more stressful hours. The true earnings bonus comes from removing the 40 hour cap on most white collar jobs, and allowing you to work 60, 70 or 80 hours a week. Now, if you happen to enjoy legal work, that's going to be an awesome situation for you. If you don't like it, then the ability to work longer, harder hours isn't a bonus at all.

But that's all beside the point for what we want to discuss today. We can kinda see how maybe if you come across some not so reliable data and you've got a bunch of confirmation bias in your head, you won't question it too much and just land on the conclusion you already wanted to reach. That's just regular derp. In a recent post on Brian Lieter's blog, Simkovic went full derp.

Simkovic claimed that when schools report salary data it is not unethical to not disclose response rates. He defends this first by saying it's standard practice. That argument is a non-starter, because it's entirely possible that the standard is just to engage in unethical behavior. The "everyone else is doing it" argument doesn't fly.

His next line of reasoning is that prospective students are subject to information overload, so the data needs to be kept away from them:

Sometimes, too much information can be distracting. It’s often best to keep communication simple and focus only on the most important details.

Remember those lawsuits from a few years back when students claimed they were deceived by their schools about employment prospects? They lost because the courts found they were sophisticated consumers capable of seeing through the schools' puffery and other bologna. Simkovic is now arguing the opposite, that including a response rate would be too much and hurt their precious widdle bwains.

The issue here is the word "best." Yes, if your goal is to increase enrollments, especially among students paying full sticker price, it is "best" to keep your salary data as "simple" (read: favorable) as possible. If your goal is to help prospective students make a fully informed decision, then no. God fracking no, it's not "best" to exclude the friggin' response rate.

But wait, Simkovic hasn't gone full derp just yet.


His last defense of excluding response rates is that it doesn't matter because, well... we'll let you see it for yourself (emphasis added):

Nonresponse is not the same thing as nonresponse bias. Law school critics do not seem to understand this distinction. A problem only arises if the individuals who respond are systematically different from those who do not respond along the dimensions being measured. Weighting and imputation can often alleviate these problems. The critics’ claims about the existence, direction, and magnitude of biases in the survey data are unsubstantiated.

High non-response rates to questions about income are not a sign of something amiss, but rather are normal and expected. The U.S. Census Bureau routinely finds that questions about income have lower response rates (higher allocation rates) than other questions.

Law school critics claim that law school graduates who do not respond to questions about income are likely to have lower incomes than those who do respond. This claim is not consistent with the evidence. To the contrary, high-income individuals often value privacy and are reluctant to share details about their finances.

His claim is that people who don't answer salary data might not be any different than those who do, so the low response rate doesn't affect the numbers, but even if they were different, non-responders probably earn more, so the salary data schools claim is actually lower than the real earnings.

If you just stepped in something, it would be Simkovic's brains leaking out on to the floor.

He backs up this claim to a citation about how urban lawyers are less likely to respond than rural lawyers, and urban lawyers earn more, so blah blah blah. That's some evidence to back up his claim, but it's hardly compelling. It's even less compelling if you just sit down with a couple NALP reports and actually look at the salary data and response rates. We'll grab a few at semi-random (focusing on schools that have a lot of students in both large and small firms, so we can see if there's a difference in response rates):


#1. American University 2013:

53 students were employed in firms with 101+ lawyers, 47 (89%) provided salary data, which ranged from $135,000 to $160,000.

49 students were employed in firms with 2-10 lawyers, and only 27 (55%) provided salary data, which ranged from $50,000 to $65,000, the lowest range for any firm size band.


#2 Boston College 2013:

75 students in 101+ firms, 74 (99%) provided salary data, ranging from $145,000-160,000.

26 students in 2-10 firms, 15 (58%) provided salary data, ranging from $53,000-65,000.


#3 Fordham 2013:

164 students in 101+ firms, 163 (100%, yay rounding!) provided salary data, ranging from $132,500-160,000.

38 students in 2-10 firms, 23 (61%) provided salary data, ranging from $52,500-75,000.


#4 George Mason 2013:

23 students in 251+ firms*, 21 (91%) provided salary data, ranging from $135,000-160,000.

37 students in 2-10 firms, 19 (51%) provided salary data, ranging from $42,500-70,000.

*4 students were in 101-250 sized firms, but NALP does not report salary data when there are fewer than 5 people in the category.


#5 Pepperdine 2013:

16 students in 101-250 and 500+ firms*, 16 (100% without rounding!) provided salary data, ranging from $76,000-160,000.

50 students in 2-10 firms, 33 (66%) provided salary data, ranging from $52,000-75,000.

*Only 3 students in 251-500 firms


#6 Wayne State 2013:

14 students in 101-250 firms, 14 (100%) provided salary data, ranging from $100,000-100,000. (Maybe this is a good time to note the salary figures are the 25th to 75th percentiles.)

39 students in 2-10 firms, 11 (28%) provided salary data, ranging from $31,200-52,000.


Do you see a trend? We sure as hell do. People who do not respond are, in Simkovic's words, "systematically different" from those who do respond. Nearly everyone working in a large firm provides salary data. Only about half of those working in small firms do. That's a systematic difference. And now here comes the full derp:

Simkovic thinks that the people working in small firms not reporting are withholding the data because they're making bank.

At virtually every single school the lowest salaries are found in the 2-10 sized firms. But according to Simkovic, this is only because the high earners aren't reporting their salaries. But only at small firms! High earners at large firms aren't so shy about their salaries. The numbers are only off because there's a bunch of tiny firms paying $160,000 right out the gate, and no one is talking about them.

He's just one step away from claiming that the lack of news coverage about the Illuminati is proof that the Illuminati controls the media.

Even the Columbia School of Journalism Screws Up the UVA/Rolling Stone Rape Case

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So by now you've probably heard all about the story of a gang rape at a frat party at UVA that was published in Rolling Stone in December of last year. And you've probably heard about the subsequent investigation into the story which showed that the attack probably didn't happen, at least not remotely close to the way the purported victim described. Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Erdely was rightly criticized for publishing the story with insufficient fact checking and a healthy dose of deception (such as attributing quotes that were gathered second hand, without noting that the speaker hadn't ever been interviewed).

After the fall out from the article, Rolling Stone asked the Columbia School of Journalism to do a full investigation to see just what exactly went wrong. Though Columbia points to several problems in the initial fact gathering and fact checking, the main problem can really just be explained with the opening paragraph of the report:

Last July 8, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, a writer for Rolling Stone, telephoned Emily Renda, a rape survivor working on sexual assault issues as a staff member at the University of Virginia. Erdely said she was searching for a single, emblematic college rape case that would show "what it's like to be on campus now … where not only is rape so prevalent but also that there's this pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture," according to Erdely's notes of the conversation. [Rolling Stone]

Every college freshman will recognize this style of writing. Conclusion first, then find whatever quotations are needed to support your case. The result is generally a bunch of crap.

But, that's not what we're going to focus on today. While Columbia generally gets its criticism of Rolling Stone right, they also get a bit sloppy with the facts and fail to do their own checking:

Erdely and her editors had hoped their investigation would sound an alarm about campus sexual assault and would challenge Virginia and other universities to do better. Instead, the magazine's failure may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations. (Social scientists analyzing crime records report that the rate of false rape allegations is 2 to 8 percent.) At the University of Virginia, "It's going to be more difficult now to engage some people … because they have a preconceived notion that women lie about sexual assault," said Alex Pinkleton, a UVA student and rape survivor who was one of Erdely's sources.

Social scientists analyzing crime records did not report that the rate of false rape allegations is 2 to 8 percent. What they did report is that 2 to 8 percent of cases are classified as false rape allegations. Might not sound like much of a difference, but it turns out to be a very substantial one. According to the article published in the journal Violence Against Women: "To classify a case as a false allegation, a thorough investigation must yield evidence that a crime did not occur."

The 2-8% figure is not the rate of false rape allegations, but instead the rate of allegations where there is substantial evidence indicating that it's probably a false allegation. Something close to the Clear and Convincing standard.

To see just what makes Columbia's claim so absurd, just imagine running the numbers in the other direction. How many investigations produce significant evidence that the allegations are true? According to RAINN, for every 32 reports to the police, 7 will lead to an arrest, 3 will be referred to a prosecutor, and 2 will result in a felony conviction. Assuming only cases with substantial evidence are referred to prosecutors, the rate of true allegations would only be about 10-22%.

But how could 2-8% of cases be false while only 10-22% are true?

Because in the vast majority of cases, we don't know either way. That's not at all how the Columbia School of Journalism presented it though. And you'd think in a story about bad fact checking and shady reporting practices, they wouldn't have played so fast and loose with the facts. Again, we see the same tricks employed by your typical college freshman: Find a source that comes close, misrepresent what it says by just a little bit, and hope the professor doesn't bother to do a careful check.

University of Oklahoma Declares War on the Constitution

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As anyone with an active social media life is probably already aware, a group of fraternity brothers at the University of Oklahoma performed a racist chant on a bus, some very smart person decided to record it, and some even smarter person decided to leak the video. Of course, frats engaging in offensive behavior is nothing new. What makes this case special is the university's response:

To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves "Sooners." Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.

Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for positions shall contact the Dean of Students.

All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.

David L. Boren President University of Oklahoma

Most people have cheered on President Boren. Most people aren't (very) racist, most people deplore racism, and more people like it when racists get their comeuppence. Most people haven't bothered to consider what "public" in "public university" means.

Here in the good ol' USA, we have freedom of speech, protected by the First Amendment. And with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment a few years ago, the First Amendment applies to the states and other local government agencies. And specifically, it applies to public universities. The First Amendment regulates public universities. The First Amendment regulates public universities. Really can't say this enough, the First Amendment regulates public universities.

[T]he precedents of this Court leave no room for the view that, because of the acknowledged need for order, First Amendment protections should apply with less force on college campuses than in the community at large. Quite to the contrary, the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools." Healy v. James (1972) (internal citations omitted)

The First Amendment regulates public universities. And you know what the First Amendment doesn't allow? View point discrimination. You know what evicting someone because of their expressed views is? View point discrimination. You know who can't do that? A public university.

But wait! You might say that the school isn't saying they can't hold those views. It's just saying they can't use university space for their private racist social club. And there's no right to use space for your private club, now is there? That might be a good argument, if only Healy v. James was specifically about the ability for a university to deny recognition of a student group based solely on that group's objectionable views. The First Amendment doesn't just prevent the government from directly prohibiting speech, it also prevents it from punishing people in other ways based on their views.

The law really couldn't be more clear on this. OU's anti-discrimination policy couldn't be more clear on this: "Members of the University community enjoy significant free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. This policy is intended to protect members of the University community from discrimination not to regulate protected speech." And even President Boren's message couldn't be more clear. He acknowledges that the students have the right to free speech, but is punishing them for what he sees as a "misuse" of that right.

If your right to free speech is limited to only those words which President Boren deems acceptable, then it isn't free speech. "There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation." President Boren really needs to go back to a high school civics class. Individuals can choose not to tolerate racists or racism. But government actors? The Constitution requires tolerance, no matter how abhorrent the view.

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