Paul L. Caron

Friday, February 23, 2007

Applying Moneyball Principles to Law Schools

Moneyball_3Bill Henderson (Indiana) seeks a "theoretically coherent basis for how Moneyball ... principles can produce a more successful law school franchise" (a subject I took a preliminary look at in What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Tex. L. Rev. 1483 (2004)) :

Since we don't have wins and losses or a World Series title, the most obvious theoretical shortcoming is how success is measured, both in the short and long term. (In an earlier post, I suggested money as the best longterm metric.) Once this theoretical work is in place, empirical methods can be brought to bear to generate the appropriate chess moves.

So I was quite surprised to receive a phone call the other day from an administrator at a non-Tier 1 school whose primary charge is identifying data-driven ways to improve the functioning of the school. For the past several years, the law school has paid for this administrator to acquire sophisticated statistical training and build the requisite datasets. ... The approach is pretty simple: pick an outcome that matters and generate an inductive theory through data mining. ... So what outcomes matter? Here are a few suggestions, some borrowed from the Moneyball/Moneylaw administrator:

    1. Bar passage (LSSSE adds a whole new layer of variables), including factors that reduce or eliminate any minority passage gap
    2. Employment at graduation /Employed at 9 months (regressions published here)
    3. Credentials of incoming students (regressions published here)
    4. Annual giving (rate, average amount)
    5. Career satisfaction of graduates
    6. Satisfaction of major employers of graduates
    7. Faculty participation in law reform/participation in successful law reform
    8. Pro bono commitment of graduates

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