Monday, November 19, 2012
The Legal Whiteboard: How to Increase Your Law School's Academic Reputation, by William D. Henderson (Indiana):
I have uncovered four factors that are associated with statistically significant increases and decreases of USN Academic Reputation. To illustrate, consider the scatterplot below, which plots the 1993 ordinal rank of USN Academic Reputation against the 2012 ordinal rank [click on graph to enlarge].
Four sets of dot (Red, Blue, Orange, and Green), each representing distinctive shared features of law schools, are distinctly above or below the regression line. These patterns suggests that changes in USN Academic Reputation over time are probably not the result of random chance. But we will get to significance of the Red, Blue, Orange, and Green dots shortly.
The primary takeaway from the above scatterplot is that 2012 USN Academic Reputation is overwhelmingly a function of 1993 USN Academic Reputation. Over 88% of the variation is explained by a school's starting point 20 years earlier. ...
That said, the scatterplot does not show a perfect correlation; slightly less than 12% of the variation is still in play to be explained by influences other than starting position. A small handful of schools have made progress over these 20 years (these are the school above the regression line) and a handful have fallen backwards (those below the line).
The Red circles, Blue rectangles, Orange diamonds, and Green circles represent four law school level attributes. The Reds have been big gainers in reputation, and so have the Blues. In contrast, the Oranges have all experienced big declines; and as as a group, so have the Greens. When the attributes of the Red, Blue, Orange, and Green Schools are factored into the regression, all four are statistically signficant. (Red, p =.000; Blue, p = .001; Orange, p = .012; Green, p = .000) and the explained variation increases 4% to 92.3%. As far as linear model goes, this is quite an impressive result. ...
Name changes and conversativism are the factors associated with an increases in USN Academic Reputation. What are negative factors?
After [considering] ... starting position, name changes, conservativism, scandals, and Rust Belt status, ... [t]he statistics suggests that there is really no variation left to explain. ... Law faculty are comprised of very smart people, yet we organize virtually all of our hiring, strategic plans, and marketing efforts in an effort to make gains in a reputational game that cannot be won.