Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 26, 2013

Simkovic's Response to Tamanaha (Part 3)

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Brian Tamanaha’s Straw Men (Part 3): We Use Better (and More) Data Than Studies Tamanaha Praised in His Book:

BT Claim 3:  16 years of data is not enough

“S&M’s bold assertion that their 16-year study establishes valid ‘historical norms’ on law degree earnings would be scoffed at by social scientists who take the notion of ‘historical norms’ seriously. That is more than enough time to confirm norms governing the mating behavior of fruit flies, but 16 years is laughably inadequate for predicting something as complex and subject to change as the lifetime earnings of future law grads.”

Response Part 1:  A fine idea for historical research

We will be delighted to read the results of similar work on earnings premia carried back into the distant past.  We certainly are not claiming to have uncovered hundreds of years of data on law school earnings premia.  But, ultimately, we are not sure how valuable such a retrospective would be for today's graduate. 

Response Part 2:  Professor Tamanaha and other critics of law school relied on—and praised—studies that use far less than 16 years of data

The literature has numerous studies using smaller data sets than ours (citations available), including several studies using only 3 years of data that were cited by Professor Tamanaha in Chapter 11 (starting on page 137-38) of his recent book, Failing Law Schools.  Professor Tamanaha cited these studies without comment or criticism regarding the number of years of data used (although he did criticize them on other grounds), so we find it odd that he views our study as somehow deficient on this ground.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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