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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The 'Versatile' J.D. Canard

American Lawyer:  The Juris Doctor is 'Versatile' Thanks Mainly to Numerous Logical Fallacies, by Matt Leicher:

ThIn September 2011, U.S. News and World Report published a blog post titled, "In Tough Job Market, Law Grads Use J.D.s for Nonlegal Work," which unselfconsciously promoted cartooning, training service dogs, and working on a wind farm as "nontraditional" careers some University of Texas Law School graduates have found themselves in over the years. ...  It's time to put the "versatile juris doctor" argument to rest before it becomes entrenched.

The versatile J.D. argument essentially states, "Graduate found good nonlaw job after law school; therefore, law school helped Graduate obtain nonlaw job." This is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that one usually learns in low-level college logic courses. To show that the J.D. contributed to a graduate's current position, those arguing this must show that (a) the graduate's job either requires a J.D. or the substantive knowledge taught in law school, and (b) the knowledge gained in law school can't be easily acquired anywhere else. ...

Neither law schools nor the ABA caused the stock bubble, housing bubble, trade deficit, credential inflation, and wage stagnation for educated Americans that are causing so much hardship for recent law school graduates, but ignoring factors that dilute legal education's value and leaning on numerous logical fallacies to deny those factors is inexcusable. Regardless of what U.S. News wants us to believe, the onus is on law schools to demonstrate they are adding value for their costs, and their resistance to doing so indicates they are no longer worthy of access to federal student loans and public subsidies.

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