Logical reasoning prep: Chipotle GMO edition

Prospective law students, take a moment to engage in logical reasoning while waiting in line for a delicious burrito.

You read the sign above at a local restaurant. Based solely on the assertions in these statements, which of the following statements is true?

A. Ingredients without GMOs are better than ingredients with GMOs.

B. Chipotle's ingredients are better now than they were in the last 21 years.

C. Chipotle's ingredients are worse now than they were in the last 21 years.

D. It is unknown whether ingredients without GMOs are better than ingredients with GMOs.


Answer: The correct answer is D. All that is known about ingredients with GMOs is that they are "n[o]t . . . better" than ingredients without GMOs. That may also mean that the ingredients are of the same quality. A, B, and C are all based on a value judgment whether ingredients without GMOs are better. Granted, the sign is designed to offer the impression that that ingredients without GMOs are "better," given the assertion that Chipotle "ha[s] been striving to make our ingredient better," and here is a step regarding its ingredients. But the first sentence cannot cure the lack of information in the second sentence.

LSAT scores and GPAs of law school matriculants, sorted by undergraduate major, 2013-2014

Following up on yesterday's post, here are the LSAT scores and GPAs of law school matriculants (as opposed to applicants) with at least 80 majors reported. All the caveats and qualifications from the previous data set apply.

You can see classics, math, linguistics, art history, and physics all near the top. Philosophy and economics are two of the larger disciplines that perform quite well. Hover over the data for your own observations!

Which undergraduate majors are the best law students? Featuring interactive visualizations

Last year, I posted data about which majors as law school applicants and matriculants had the best LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs. I have a new data set for the 2013-2014 admissions cycle. (I also have been working with D3, a JavaScript library, to make my graphics more interesting. I'm new to this, but I hope I've avoided any technological glitches!)

One cannot identify causation based upon these scores. Students self-identify majors, sometimes more than one, or sometimes none at all; others self-select into taking the LSAT altogether (opting for medical school, business school, or a lucrative career instead of law school). Therefore, it is emphatically not necessarily the case, based on this data, that these majors cause students to perform better or worse on the LSAT. It simply describes them.

The chart above identifies the mean highest LSAT score and mean undergraduate GPA based on self-identified major, for majors with at least 80 students taking the exam, among all law school applicants.

A forthcoming chart will have the same information, but solely for law school matriculants; that is, for people who actually matriculated to law school this year. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: I had some glitches in the first post, so I removed the matriculant data and will save it for another post. The matriculant data is now available here.

Visualizing law school federal judicial clerkship placement, 2012-2014

The release of the latest ABA employment data offers an opportunity to update the three-year federal judicial clerkship placement rates. Here is the clerkship placement rate for the Classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014. Methodology and observations below the interactive visualization. (By the way, this is my first effort to code a visualization using D3, so please bear with me for any technical glitches!) The "placement" is the three-year total placement; the "percentage" is the three-year placement divided by the three-year graduating class total.

The placement is based on graduates reported as having a full-time, long-term federal clerkship. (A one-year term clerkship counts for this category.) I thought a three-year average for clerkships (over 3500 clerks from the graduating classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014) would be a useful metric to smooth out any one-year outliers. It does not include clerkships obtained by students after graduation; it only includes clerkships obtained by each year's graduating class.

You can see that smaller schools, and strong regional schools, perform quite well. You can see that the University of California-Irvine is still performing quite well, but that's largely presently because a third of its score includes the 16-for-56 placement from its inaugural class. This year's placement was slightly over 10%, and I anticipate that its increased class sizes in the coming years will settle it somewhat lower but still near the top.

By the way, I'd previously called this a "microranking," but I've abolished that title for a couple of reasons. First, "rankings" are, in my view, increasingly problematic, particularly given how law school marketing departments gush over every "ranking," from whatever source, that places them anywhere near a respectable position in an effort to attract prospective students. Second, I tried using a 20-80 scale to rate schools, but, with a strong visualization, I feel more confident in allowing the figures to speak without attaching a scaled numerical value.

Fictional Attorney of the Month: Clair Huxtable

While The Cosby Show may have been named after Bill Cosby, the entire case of characters in the Huxtable family were vividly memorable, including, of course, Clair Huxtable.

She was a partner at Bradly, Greentree & Dexter in New York City. While she didn't have the luxury of practicing from her home office, like her medical doctor husband, she did find regular opportunities to parent her children's off-the-wall adventures at home.

And, of course, she put her law degree to good use for her children's sake. In one episode, she helps her son Theo secure a refund for a batch of t-shirts ordered from a crooked salesman by invoking the warranty of usability. In another, she represents her daughter Sondra when a dishonest car repairman tries to scam her.

She has high expectations of her children--specifically, that they, too, would become lawyers. She anticipates that Sondra would go to law school after earning her undergraduate degree from Princeton, then expresses great dismay when Sondra prefers to work at an outdoor supply retail store.

It's her humor, her charm, and her wit that makes Clair this month's Fictional Attorney of the Month.

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in New York in 2014

Following up on posts about California and about DC-Maryland-Virginia, here are outcomes for law schools in New York. (Details about the methodology, and the USNWR methodology basis, are in the California post.) The chart is sorted by non-school-funded jobs (or USNWR "full-weight" positions). The table below the chart breaks down the raw data values for the Classes of 2013 and 2014, with relative overall changes, and is sorted by total placement (as USNWR prints). The raw data (and overall percentages) includes all full-time, long-term, bar passage-required and J.D.-advantage positions, with a parenthetical with the total number of school-funded positions.

Employment outcomes improved: 73.1% had such positions, up from 68.6% for the Class of 2013. That's likely almost exclusively due to the reduction in class size: these 15 schools went from 5009 graduates in the Class of 2013 to 4529 in the Class of 2014. There were just 93 school-funded positions, down from 102, and almost all of them came from Columbia, NYU, and Cornell. More granular data (e.g., breakdowns between bar passage required and J.D. advantage positions) is available at each school's website and forthcoming in spreadsheet format from the ABA.

Peer score School 2014 YoY% raw 2013 raw
4.5 New York University 96.7% 1.1 463 (39) 95.5% 513 (42)
4.2 Cornell University 96.3% 6.7 184 (11) 89.6% 173 (16)
4.6 Columbia University 95.7% -1.3 448 (31) 97.0% 424 (29)
3.2 Fordham University 74.1% 5.9 340 (0) 68.2% 328 (0)
2.2 St. John's University 73.9% 6.5 190 (0) 67.3% 208 (1)
1.7 Albany Law School 72.5% 4.2 148 (0) 68.4% 134 (2)
2.2 Syracuse University 72.0% 5.4 152 (0) 66.7% 136 (0)
2.1 Hofstra University 71.0% 10.5 225 (4) 60.5% 193 (0)
2.2 University of Buffalo-SUNY 69.6% 0.1 133 (0) 69.5% 162 (0)
1.9 Pace University 68.7% 15.9 149 (5) 52.7% 155 (7)
2.7 Cardozo School of Law 67.1% 5.5 263 (1) 61.6% 245 (0)
1.5 Touro College 64.3% 6.9 126 (0) 57.4% 132 (0)
1.8 New York Law School 64.1% 5.7 266 (2) 58.4% 328 (5)
2.5 Brooklyn Law School 63.9% -5.2 244 (0) 69.0% 330 (0)
2.0 City University of New York 50.7% -5.1 76 (0) 55.8% 77 (0)

UPDATE: This post has had a small data error corrected.

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

A statue in Detroit, Michigan, erected in memory of Gomidas Vartabas and the victims of the Armenian Genocide, via Wikipedia.

This blog, sometimes, is about elections. Candidates in elections behave differently than men and women serving as representatives or senators or governors or presidents. They say different things. They emphasize different things. It's a very real part of the political process, whether those differences are good or bad, whether those differences are right or wrong.

It is one thing when presidential candidates have promised, or currently promise, to recognize the Armenian Genocide. And not with recognition of a "tragedy," or of "terrible events." But of using that word, "genocide."

The word "genocide" obviously evokes serious reactions. The Holocaust is probably the first that comes to mind. Poll most Americans about another genocide, and you might find a few scattered responses about Rwanda, Bosnia, or Cambodia.

But few Americans would call to mind the Armenian genocide. It began in 1915, one hundred years ago, in the middle of the Great War. More than a million Armenians were killed. Indeed, the word "genocide" was coined in 1944 in the midst of World War II, but it arose upon reflection of the history of such killings, for Adolf Hitler was not the first--the Armenians had been sought out before that. It was striking when I first read of it at some point in college--I had been completely unaware of it. (I've have a deep interest in the history of World War I ever since.) The Armenian Genocide is not widely taught. In many places, it is essentially forgotten.

But politicians behave differently as candidates than they do as elected officials. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama promised as candidates to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and both refused to do so when they took office. The office changes behavior--there is fear of offending American allies with the word "genocide," and politicians behave differently. But it is perhaps that very power of the office that should be used to call Americans, and the world, to recognize and acknowledge and reflect upon that genocide, that historical fact, that truth that some would deny in the hope that all would forget.

April 24, 2015 marks the one hundred year commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Pepperdine Law has an active and engaging Armenian Law Students Association, which commemorated the event this month through some moving tributes. Many others around the world will also remember that genocide. I close, then, with the right words from President Ronald Reagan's proclamation, April 22, 1981:

"Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it -- and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples -- the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten."

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in DC-Maryland-Virginia in 2014

Following up on my post regarding California employment outcomes, here are outcomes for law schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. (Details about the methodology, and the USNWR methodology basis, are there.) The chart is sorted by non-school-funded jobs (or "full-weight" positions). The table below the chart breaks down the raw data values for the Classes of 2013 and 2014, with relative overall changes, and is sorted by total placement (as USNWR prints). The raw data (and overall percentages) includes all full-time, long-term, bar passage-required and J.D.-advantage positions, with a parenthetical with the total number of school-funded positions.

Total jobs in these bar passage-required and J.D.-advantage positions declined slightly from 3207 to 3119, due in part, I would assume, from a significant decline in school-funded positions, from 357 to 271. But there were about 250 fewer graduates, from 4253 to 3992, which means that overall prospects improved for graduates: the overall employment rate was 78.1% (including all funded positions). More granular data is available at each school's website and forthcoming in spreadsheet format from the ABA.

Peer score School 2014 YoY% raw 2013 raw
4.3 University of Virginia 96.6% -0.4 337 (34) 97.0% 353 (59)
3.4 George Washington University 89.2% 0.2 521 (78) 89.1% 537 (89)
4.1 Georgetown University 87.2% -2.5 546 (72) 89.8% 579 (80)
3.2 William and Mary Law School 82.3% -1.5 177 (24) 83.9% 182 (48)
2.5 University of Richmond 81.9% 10.0 122 (0) 71.8% 102 (0)
2.7 George Mason University 79.9% 5.4 147 (7) 74.5% 190 (7)
2.9 University of Maryland 75.3% 7.6 223 (2) 67.7% 197 (16)
3.1 Washington and Lee University 74.8% 11.2 95 (1) 63.6% 91 (0)
2.1 Catholic University of America 70.9% 2.5 127 (0) 68.5% 163 (0)
2.0 University of Baltimore 70.4% 5.8 221 (0) 64.6% 201 (0)
2.8 American University 70.2% 9.7 323 (48) 60.6% 307 (54)
2.3 Howard University 65.5% -0.5 74 (1) 65.9% 91 (1)
1.3 Regent University 63.1% -1.4 77 (0) 64.5% 89 (0)
1.2 Liberty University 56.6% 10.3 43 (1) 46.2% 43 (2)
1.4 District of Columbia 44.7% 3.4 46 (2) 41.3% 33 (1)
1.2 Appalachian School of Law 42.1% -13.6 40 (1) 55.7% 49 (0)