Thursday, June 23, 2016

Noam Scheiber Does Not Know When to Quit

It takes a lot of chutzpah to reply to Professor Michael Simkovic after Professor Michael Simkovic has put one squarely in his place, but Noan Scheiber, author of the recent New York Times article on Valparaiso Law, did just that (or tried...) after Simkovic pointed out six (6!) errors in Scheiber's piece.  While Scheiber puts for a good deal of data-based support like citing Matt Leichter and looking too closely at the BLS numbers ("BLS numbers for lawyers are up 9.74% between 2007 and 2015--from 555,770 to 609,930. By contrast, if you take a broad white-collar category like “management occupations,” it’s up 15.5%."), the response veers a bit too much in the direction of jealous insolence.
It’s not worth reviewing the controversy about your work on law graduate earnings here, since the criticisms are well-established. But suffice it to say, I think it’s strange to respond to a claim that the economic prospects of people graduating after the recession have fundamentally changed relative to those who graduated before the recession with a study that only includes people who graduated prior to 2009.  
[Y]our point about Mr. Acosta either having enough savings to pay his tax bill, or being insolvent and not having to pay taxes, is bizarre...Even if you’re on track to have $1 million in assets when you retire, those assets supposed to last you a good 20 years. Losing $70,000 or more in a single year is a huge hit.
Overall, your arguments strike me as odd. You don’t sufficiently take into account the extent to which graduating from a weak school in a weak job market, and failing to pass the bar, can be crippling for one’s career prospects.
Strange, bizarre, odd?  For a New York Times writer, these terms lack both proper civility and edification.  Aberrant, mystifying, anomalistic, heteroclite.  If we're arguing the value of education, let's at least pull from the absurd depths of liberal artistry, by which I mean using a thesaurus.  Of course, my preferred "odd" synonyms for Professors Simkovic would be extraordinary, exceptional, and remarkable, each of which describes his pitch-perfect defense of law schools.

Overall, I believe I am most disappointed in Scheiber for publishing his rebuttals on Facebook.  Facebook is not peer-reviewed.  Facebook does not even have editorial controls like the bespectacled grammarians who staff the New York Times.  It's the vulgar wild west, just like these easily ignored blogs.  If Schreiber really wants these views taken seriously, he should consider publishing in a prestigious, long-standing academic publication like the UC Irvine Law Review, or at least having a colleague glance at his work to point out the numerous errors beforehand.


  1. The point about the number of lawyers increasing is bull. This is based on the current population survey which counts everyone who is trying to be a lawyer as a lawyer, income or almost no income. The current population survey is unreliable because it comes from a sample of households answers for the whole family, and not the lawyers themselves.

  2. How does Simkovic sleep?

  3. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJune 25, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    Ask these guys one question: When was the last time they filed an appearance as a primary trial counsel in a REAL court matter and obtained a fee from a client for that representation? Or if you want to go the Biggy Law route: When was the last time had a REAL transaction that involved millions of dollars and was able to send a billing for that work. If they can't answer either of those two questions, I don't want to hear from them.