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August 30, 2011

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I am on the hiring committee at an AmLaw 100 firm, and your guesswork about the hiring process are largely accurate. The point of the interviews is to make sure that the good applicants aren't aspy weirdos, because that is the one thing that grades and law school prestige don't filter out.


"furthermore law school grades are arbitrary enough so that there’s no guarantee that you will get high enough grades as a 1L to make law review even if your LSAT score is in the top 10% for that school and you study really hard"

This is not accurate. There is a very strong correlation between LSAT scores and first year grades. I can't find the research right now, but I know this to be true.

The trick is to go to a T14 that is one or two places below the top school to which you get admitted (unless you are admitted to Harvard or Yale, in which case grades don't matter nearly as much). It is better to be in the top 10% at the 6th ranked school than in the 50% at the 4th ranked school. Unless you qualify for affirmative action, you will not be in the bottom of your class regardless of which school you choose. If you do qualify for affirmative action, don't use it or you will be raped by the blind grading curve when you compete against people with higher IQs.

Did you ever get offered a law or management job, even at a lower level firm?

The worst situation is when parents and children really can't afford it, but forge on anyway at any but the top schools. It would make a lot more sense for parents to give their kids 200k cash on the basis that they start a business with it.

No matter how much effort you make to teach him, Charles Barkley will never master the transition from backswing to downswing, and the same appears true with discussions about law hiring and the utility of going to law school - they just keep bouncing back into the same old tired groove of "Amlaw 100," bigfirm blah blah, etc. I realize every 22-year old sees herself working at Skadden, but since biglaw is such a tiny slice of the overall legal market, the relevant answer has to come from the broader, non-prestige law world. In this connection, I thought it was fascinating what I heard in a CLE seminar from a Bay Area attorney who specialized in attorney divorces. It was the mid-90's, and he said that he saw lots of attorney tax returns with gross income of $40K or less. Has to be even worse now.

jmanon,

I don't know his exact criteria, but I'm guessing that he's talking about having almost perfect grades. That is someone random. I think we can all assume that people with the highest IQ will be top 20% in grades if they want to, but it gets murky at the top few % points.

"It is better to be in the top 10% at the 6th ranked school than in the 50% at the 4th ranked school."

Is the drop of in competition from the 4th school to the 6th school great enough for you to move up that much in class rank? I doubt it but don't know for sure. My guess is you'd have to drop too much in prestige in order to have a relative IQ advantage versus your peers.

I think jmanon is basically right on his first point. Law firm hiring is kind like rushing a sorority or fraternity - they want to make sure you are reasonably presentable, personable, and enthusiastic.

The same people who did well in fraternity rush do well in law firm hiring, assuming you meet whatever academic cutoff the firm imposes.

If my mother, who happens to be a lawyer, has taught me one thing in life:

Don't become a lawyer. The money isn't worth it.

After seeing what she has to do each day, and the sort of scum (Who would be better used for target practice in my opinion...) that she has to interact with on a daily basis, I'm inclined to agree with her.

One or two lawyers get to argue the big cases in front of the Supreme Court, the rest have to spend hours upon countless hours going over some of the most mundane crap imaginable, while they are stuck working for soulless sociopaths and their equally narcissistic clients, others still actually want to defend the slime of humanity who by all rights should be rotting in the ground.

I'll take being poor and happy, before I ever contemplate practicing law, thank you very much.

You have hope Sigma, being an old fart increases your chances of getting hired by a biglaw firm.

"Recruited by Skadden as She Neared 70, Chicago Lawyer’s Job Is to Bring in Business, Mentor Women"

http://www.abajournal.com/mobile/comments/hired_by_skadden_as_she_neared_70_high-profile_chicago_attorney/

More detailed info about her:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-18/business/ct-biz-0718-profile-rosenberg-20110718_1_law-firms-kay-hoppe-law-school/2

Obviously the order of the most IQ meritocratic businesses from most to least are the ones where their industry is most subject to rapid changes/

The IT industry is the most IQ meritocratic industry because IT corporations are more vulnerable to environmental changes than consulting agencies and consulting agencies are more vulnerable to law.

IT especially is meritocratic. Super High IQ and ambitious college dropout nerds with great business instincts like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would never have got their resumes read if they went into elite consulting or law without college degrees.

The field is the least likely to change because their welfare is dependent on changes to government regulations.

And this is why law firms traditionally favor the Democrats. The Democrats are the party of big government regulations and the more regulations government can impose on the the private sector, the more jobs there are for lawyers.

I am beginning to think the divide in America isn't really between value creators and value transferrers, but between the profit sector and the nonprofit sector (nonprofit sector = acedemia, unions, lawyers, liberal think tanks, nonprofit doogooder organizations like "Teach for America", etc) where the profit sector represents the problem solving private sector and the non-profit sector are those industries which rely on, what Moldbug would call, the New Deal Structure of irresponsible government regulatory agencies for their employment.

The nonprofit sector has a vested interest in maintaining their employment by cooking up bogus and destructive solutions to non-existent problems such as the Global Warming industry, the racial diversity industry, the high-carb low fat diet industry which has created the obesity epidemic and then positions itself to reap the revenue of average American's attempts to lose weight on diets that can't work, etc.

If you wonder why white lawyers keep voting for Democrats who pursue anti-white policies like Affirmative Action, just ask yourself how much money the law industry would have gained from discrimination lawsuits ever since Nixon invented AA decades ago.

Toward the end of my MBA at a large state university, I interviewed for an Internal Auditor position at said large state university and for a mid-size City government 200 miles away. Both of these interview processes required written responses, under time constraints, to hypothetical, fairly rigorous, internal audit-type scenarios. I got offers from both employers -- not great salaries but good benefits and reasonable hours. The City government offered a 30% higher salary.

"If you do qualify for affirmative action, don't use it or you will be raped by the blind grading curve when you compete against people with higher IQs."

Terrible advice. "Don't use it"? Affirmative action can be the difference from being at number 50 and number 3.

I just posted this on Moldbug's blog:

Here is the nature of the nonprofit New Deal sector: The nonprofit sector (and the related federal New Deal or New Deal-ish bureaucracies or those hooked up those agencies like K-Street lobbying firms) is a feedback loop that can only thrive by strangling the profit sector, e.g., strangle everything and everyone in the US which is productive and solves problems, with Progressive regulations designed either to perpetuate problems that can't be solved or make those problems worse.

It seems Moldbug is right and FDR was the spawn of Satan after all.

Why Washington Really Likes Itself

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/sunday-review/why-washington-really-likes-itself.html?_r=1

The latest index report shows that the District of Columbia is far more confident in the economy than any state, by a long shot. In every state, most residents think the economy is getting worse; in the nation’s capital, fully 60 percent think the economy is getting better.

And yet the District of Columbia also has an unemployment rate above the nation’s — 10.8 percent, compared with 9.1 percent — and persistent ills like crime and poverty.

“If ever there were a place where people not only tend not to face economic facts, but it’s almost their purpose not to face economic facts, it’s Washington,” said P. J. O’Rourke, a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard and a political satirist.

What’s going on? How can an economy ravaged by double-digit joblessness be so Pollyannaish?

First, note that Gallup’s economic confidence poll surveyed only those who are employed, and the employed are going to have a sunnier outlook than the unemployed. Yet that positive bias would be true in every state Gallup surveys, and the capital still has a much rosier outlook.

Maybe that’s because Washington is richer, on the whole, than any American state: it has a per-capita income of $71,011, compared with the national average of $40,584, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. And the geysering income streams that support Washingtonians are reliable in good times and bad.

“There are a lot of occupations here that tend to be pretty high-paid that are kind of recession proof,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research organization in Washington, and a former economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The city’s economy is built not only on government employees, but also on defense contractors, nongovernmental organizations and research institutions that get federal money. Unlike just about any other earnings source, federal funds have continued to flow freely through recession and recovery.

What’s more, the government is moving ahead with major overhauls of financial regulation and health care, and Congress has its sights on taxes and spending, as illustrated by the debt-ceiling battle. All these targets have attracted major industrial stakeholders, injecting billions into the Washington lobbying industry.

“Let’s say you have a whole new department of financial consumer affairs,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “That means a huge growth in the corresponding lobbying industry. If you’re a credit card company and you don’t have a lobbyist there, you’ve got to be suicidal.”

In turn, these factors have helped prop up the housing market, unlike elsewhere in the country where foreclosure rates seem as high as pessimism.

Less than 2% of physicists are African-American. There's something about the environment created by whites when doing physics (possibly during physics class; some attribute it to the swinging of pendulums) that creates lower achievement amongst minorities, although Asians-Americans are overrepresented.

Reference:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0DXK/is_15_18/ai_79126065/

"I am on the hiring committee at an AmLaw 100 firm, and your guesswork about the hiring process are largely accurate. The point of the interviews is to make sure that the good applicants aren't aspy weirdos, because that is the one thing that grades and law school prestige don't filter out."

jmanon - you're wrong. Grades and law school prestige do filter out for aspie weirdos, because anyone who's ever been to law school or known lawyers knows that you'll find the most aspie weirds among the 175+ LSAT set, at the top schools. So if you really want to avoid these people, start hiring at the Fordhams, Cardozos and Brooklyns.

Naaah, TUJ, IQ actually helps with software engineering, because it's HARD. Law is more about being very precise, so it's less g-loaded.

"People who hire lawyers only care about how prestigious the applicant’s credentials are."
"no one asks any questions to determine whether or not you know anything about the law or legal practice"

And to think these people go on to govern our country, confident in their abilities but never having to display competence, elected by fools who are deceived by sheepskins and fine tailoring.

The more I read your blog, H.S., the more I believe we need a French- or Soviet-style revolution to rid of the class of people who rule because of the prestige of the schools from which they graduated (credentialism), but who mistakenly (and loudly) proclaim themselves 'smart.'

"Alpha" interviewees might be at some disadvantage, in fact: if they come off as too ambitious and capable, their prospective supervisor might find them too threatening. This fits with the very first of the 48 Laws of Power: "never outside the master."

Somewhat related to the above: an attractive female applicant will beat out a better-qualified male or less-attractive female applicant, unless it's for a critical-skill position.

I was aspie, he was frattie. I had better grades, he had better 'extracurriculars'. He got Kirkland, I got shitlaw.

Re: Paying $200k for your kid to attend law school. You are basically buy your kid a career in local government and possibly local politics. Chances are you're also buying better quality future children in-law and consequently higher quality grand children. Outside of the Boston-NYC-DC corridor people who have JDs from good state schools and no student loan debt are well positioned to work their way into state and local government. Not always allot of money but often relatively high prestige, which, especially for a male=better mate selection.

Is the drop of in competition from the 4th school to the 6th school great enough for you to move up that much in class rank? I doubt it but don't know for sure. My guess is you'd have to drop too much in prestige in order to have a relative IQ advantage versus your peers.

I'm not sure, but I think so. I got into the 4th ranked school but went to the 8th ranked school because they gave me a very large discount on tuition (another reason attending a lower-ranked school can be a big plus). I finished at the top of my class. Maybe I would have done just as well at Columbia, but I have no way to know. All the people in the top 10% and on LR at my school had their pick of jobs, though, so the prestige drop from 4 to 8 is not very large.

As HS said, if you have to drop out of the T-14, it makes a huge difference. I rep my firm at on-campus interviewing for the 19th ranked school. Sometimes, we will not even call back people who are ranked in the top 10% of their class unless they have something else going for them or make a stellar impression at the screening interview.

Terrible advice. "Don't use it"? Affirmative action can be the difference from being at number 50 and number 3.

A minority candidate who finishes in the top 10% at the 50th ranked school (e.g. Florida) will be a prized recruit by the big regional law firms (e.g., Atlanta or Miami firm). A minority candidate who finishes in the bottom 10% at Columbia or Michigan will have a hell of a time getting a good-paying job in this market. The time to take advantage of affirmative action is in the legal hiring process, not in the

The Undiscovered Jew,

I'm pretty sure that IB, lawyers, and other bad guys make profits.

"This is not accurate. There is a very strong correlation between LSAT scores and first year grades. I can't find the research right now, but I know this to be true."

According to LSAC:
http://www.lsac.org/jd/pdfs/LSAT-Score-Predictors-of-Performance.pdf

"During 2009, validity studies were conducted for 191 law schools. Correlations between LSAT
scores and first-year law school grades ranged from .00 to .56 (median is .35)."

As part of the minority of lawyers with a background in mathematics and physical sciences, I understand that math is a problem for many of my peers. So, allow me to advise you that a correlation of .35 is not a "very strong correlation". I would say it is on the cusp of weak/moderate. If you think a scatter plot would be a helpful aid, please refer to:

http://wilderdom.com/301/int/cor.html

and click on the options for .3 and .4. Please bear in mind that .35 was the median. At half of the law schools, the correlation was weaker than .35.

I wonder what it is when restriction of range in LSATs and (at the top school) gpas is considered. Probably still pathetic.

How can someone smart enough to work in a big law firm thinks that grades are a proxy for general intelligence or law school grades for verbal intelligence as is the LSAT? Maybe an AA hire?

[HS: It's the just-world hypothesis. People who have benefitted from the system want to believe that the system makes sense.]


Tanizaki: But range is restricted because law schools tend to have populations with similar LSAT scores. To find the true correlation, you'd need to randomly assign people to law schools.

"Tanizaki: But range is restricted because law schools tend to have populations with similar LSAT scores. To find the true correlation, you'd need to randomly assign people to law schools."

You seem to be disregarding the fact that most law schools grade on a bell curve. Let's say the T14 school has a student body with LSAT scores from 170-175 and some 2nd tier school has an LSAT range of 158-163. Assuming the same curve at each school, each one will have the same number of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds. A 170 might correlate with an A are a tier 2 but a borderline B/C at a T14.

On the point of grading curves, it should also be noted that different law schools have different medians for their curves and there is quite a degree of variation. A student in the 50th percentile of his class could have a GPA of 2.7 or 3.4, depending on the school's median for its curve.

"A minority candidate who finishes in the top 10% at the 50th ranked school (e.g. Florida) will be a prized recruit by the big regional law firms (e.g., Atlanta or Miami firm). A minority candidate who finishes in the bottom 10% at Columbia or Michigan will have a hell of a time getting a good-paying job in this market. The time to take advantage of affirmative action is in the legal hiring process, not in the"

Sorry, you just don't know to what extent affirmative action operates in admissions. A black guy with 160 LSAT can get into a top 5 school. He's not going to be guaranteed top 10% at a top 50 school, where the average LSAT is close to that. Then you have to remember that grades are somewhat random and you can't predict where you'll be with any certainty, while nothing will change the fact that you went to a top 5/10/14 school once you're admitted.

One other thing, you're describing ONLY big firm hiring, a tiny subset of law hiring. What do other employers look for?

'Assuming the same curve at each school, each one will have the same number of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds. A 170 might correlate with an A are a tier 2 but a borderline B/C at a T14."

I just realized that this is not what I intended to write. It should have read:

"A 170 might correlate with an A are a tier 2 but a borderline B/C at a T14."

While this is technically correct, the general case is that the higher status schools have B medians while the lower ranked schools have C curves.

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