Robert Anderson

Associate Professor Pepperdine University School of Law

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11/04/2013

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What if the top schools on the list are teaching students better skills for business? This seems like a third explanation apart from the signaling value of admissions or the independent effects of prestige.

Will, I suppose it's possible that higher ranked law schools teach business skills better, that business people appreciate that teaching prowess, and that the results could be attributed to that. Given the way law professors are selected, I somehow doubt it, but these data are to a large extent historical and perhaps things were different at one time. Let's see what other commmenters think.

A very interesting analysis, but does it really account for the "legal echo chamber"?

You have to ask yourself, how do lawyers get to be directors and officers of publicly traded companies?

Typically, they do so via the general counsel's office of that particular corporation.
GC's offices very very rarely hire form anywhere other than large corporate law firms (a student coming directly out of law school--be it Harvard or Cooley--would not have the requisite skills to work there upon graduation).
Where do these law firms hire from? The T14.
Why do they hire from the T14? Because they're the T14.

It's obviously more complex than that, but I'm not sure it's that much more complex, so I'm not sure that this study really shows independent confirmation (outside the "echo chamber") of the quality of law schools.

Hi JC, and thanks for the comment. I think we actually agree. I am arguing that the companies seem to choose board members based on their pedigree for its own sake. When I said referred to "independent confirmation" I didn't mean to say confirmation of the quality of law schools, but of the pedigree effect described by the authors in their article.

Got it--should have read better--in that case we do agree. It'd be interesting to see a law school ranking based on something other than numbers (US News) / prestige (Above the Law), like the Washington Monthly rankings for colleges, but somehow I doubt that will happen...

JC, no problem. I'm sure others were wondering the same thing. I certainly agree with you about the limitations of US News. I still have faith in the idea of a quantitative ranking (or more accurately, multiple rankings along different dimensions) based on combining different attributes of schools.

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