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09/25/2005

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Monica

DEAR Jack Sprat (Wow! you can use spell-check - I missed a word in my post- so what? I suppose that makes you superior! Wow- I'm impressed!). Seriously Jack: regarding your comment on my post, you are correct in asserting that changes have set in. I would argue that those changes simply have not sunk in deep enough and it will take more time for them to do so. What is concerning to me about Posner's proposals is that they don't take that into consideration.
His proposals seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater (literally). If society does not address the difficulty of women being able to balance a professional career with the raising of children, then one consequence for our society is that many women who do want children (and that will still be the majority of women) will drop out of their professions entirely - OR - many women will continue to forgo child-bearing alltogether because they find the risk to their careers too great.
This is already happening on a massive scale in other countries particularly Europe with some populations dipping well below replacement level and this has huge consequences to all. That isn't beneficial to society in the long term. Some how there must be a better way. The point I was trying to make is that the workplace as a whole is still in flux and currently woefully inadequate with regards to adjusting to the needs of parents(and in particular to mothers). Raising a child is not raising a puppy- your German shephard will not grow up to pay for your Social Security or become the next productive citizen or modern professional. So, it is certianly not in the interest of society to continue down the path of ignoring the needs of all its employees (particularly half of its employees or half of the country's population) in balancing work/family/life issues. Even child-free employees want more of a work/life balance and could benefit from such policies. This is a higher priority in most other industrialized nations. Posner neglects examining a very important part of this story and over-simplifies it. It is not all women who are dropping out of the workforce - it is specifically some
high-achieving mothers of young children who are leaving the professional world (incidentally not for their entire working lives) because they are too often saddled with the entire weight of responsibility for raising those children in conjunction with an inflexible workplace. I don't assume for one moment that there aren't women who are leaving because they find working at home as a stay-at home parent to be satisfying- of course some are. And incidentally, maybe men shouldn't be "slaving away 18 hours a day" at their corporate prisons either. Maybe everyone can envision a working enviornment that is more palpable to family life for men and women.
Many women would rather be able to keep one foot in the working world via part-time or flexible options and one foot in the home - to achieve that essential balance of one's life skills that men have always taken for granted.

James Wetterau

In response to: "The professional schools worry about this phenomenon because the lower the aggregate lifetime incomes of their graduates, the lower the level of alumni donations the schools can expect to receive."

Is there any good reason to believe that the relevant measure in determining likely donations should be students' aggregate *personal* lifetime incomes, given that they may share in family income with spouses? Female students who end up leaving the working world to raise children commonly have husbands, and those husbands typicall contribute to their family income.

And should we suppose that the average female students' expected aggregate share in and control over a lifetime family income is less than male students'? Perhaps female students in fact do even better than male students in terms of the money they end up having available to donate to alma mater by tending to marry men who earn still more money than their average male classmates.

If so, and assuming female alums may not donate in strict proportion to their personal income but rather in proportion to their family incomes, it could be that donations could be maximized by admitting more female students, rather than more male students.

In addition, even if this is only close to true, each female student displaced to make a place for a less gifted male who is likely to have a longer career will probably bring down the male donation average. So, from a purely donation-maximizing point of view, the female student's donation potential should not be compared with her average male classmate's donation potential, but with the donation potential of the average male who would take her place.

Finally, it may be that average male and female students alike enjoy the presence of the opposite sex and the romantic opportunty this presents sufficiently that a student body at close to 1:1 male/female ratio improves future donations overall. One could easily imagine a married couple who met in school being unusually generous donors. If so, the creation of such couples may represent a windfall that schools might try to encourage.

It seems to me far from clear how this would actually work out, and I see no reason to suppose that the current scheme does or doesn't actually maximize donations.

Palooka

"No one (sane) is presuming that disincentivizing women who plan to work for less than 5 years in their chosen profession would obstruct other women from taking their places. Indeed, there would be no problem if all the qualified women at elite universities who planned to work less than 5 years were replaced with qualified women who planned to work more than 8 years after graduation. Posner's argument in no way promotes the exclusive interests of white males. To read it as such is to succumb to irrationality and bias."

I think it necessarily follow that fewer women will attend given the above hypothetical criteria. There are only so many women with sufficient credentials who want to work more than 8 years. Thus, limiting admission to these women results in fewer qualified applicants, and therefore fewer women in each class. Though there may be equal numbers of males and females in the next tier of applicants (once u elminate the highly qualfied women who are unlikely to work long), there is a cascade effect. There would likely be more qualified males in each tier of applicants that are willing to work more than 8 years, even if there are equal numbers of male and female qualifed applicants. Barring some compensatory affirmative action, this kind of criteria would lead to fewer women in the professional schools.

Jack Sprat

PALOOKA: There are only so many women with sufficient credentials who want to work more than 8 years.

Who says that number is prohibitively small? You have no idea whether there are enough women with the sufficient credentials to go around. You just made a presumption, which is fallacious -- and fallacies are irrational. You've also proven your bias by presuming a fact that supports your case and your case only. So, I'm right.

Jack Sprat

MONICA: "What is concerning to me [sic] about Posner's proposals is that they don't take that into consideration."

Apparently, it's not just your inability to spell "paradigm," but aan absolute unfamiliarity with the English language, at least in its Standard form. "What is concerning to me" is that your sentence makes no goddamn sense. But then, that isn't just a grammatical problem.

MONICA: "If society does not address the difficulty of women being able to balance a professional career with the raising of children, then one consequence for our society is that many women who do want children (and that will still be the majority of women) will drop out of their professions entirely - OR - many women will continue to forgo child-bearing alltogether because they find the risk to their careers too great."

We're not talking about all women, we're talking about highly educated soon-to-be or already upper-class women. The corporate workplace already has addressed their concerns. It gives them maternity leave and child-care and doesn't mind that they leave after 5 years, because there are plenty more women exactly like them gaming the system in quite the same way. And it doesn't mind that men and women do not have the same long-term career goals, because federal laws prevent them companies from doing anything about it, e.g., firing women because they're pregnant. So there is no crisis. Unless you want to remove the protections we provide for women in the workplace -- how about pure competition? no sexual harassment laws? no anti-pregnancy discrimination laws? -- the different lifestyle choices of men and women with continue to be reflected in the "professional world". What's more, there is nothing wrong with that. Women desiring to be mothers is good, if that is their genuine aspiration. Women having 10 year long careers is good, if that is their genuine aspiration. The point is to guarantee that the qualified women who want to work for 10 years are getting into the elite law schools instead of the qualified women who want to work only for 3. Changing our societal conception of masculinity or revamping our entire workplace model in accord with your Marxist utopian fantasies is really irrelevant to that social welfare objective.

The workplace is not "inflexible," it is adaptive to its own needs first. It flexes all the time. It just doesn't flex into a Marxist fairytale, which is your problem with it. Go live in stagnant Europe then. See what it is like to live as a young person in countries with no growth and huge social entitlements guaranteed for its older citizens.

Matthew

"And saying you want to do public interest makes it easier to get into law school."

No it doesn't.

Actually, it does. It's called an essay.

John Williams

"Women who go to law school and quit being lawyers after a mere few years get corporate jobs."

Many of them do. Many of them do not. Since more women enter public interest jobs than men, this statement is at best misleading.

"So even women are rejcting public interest in mass numbers."

For the reasons stated above, this is also misleading, at best."

Nothing in my post is misleading, if you can read without unnaturally truncating the sentences. The majority of law students who are interested in careers as public interest lawyers, while they are still in law school, are women. But it is not necessarily the case that the majority of public interest lawyers -- working lawyers who have passed the bar -- are women. In fact, if you consider military lawyers to be public interest lawyers (and law schools do so in considering to reduce your loan repayments), quite a few are male. And if you add in public interest groups that are majority male, like the Landmark Legal Foundation or The Center for Religious Liberty and Originalist Justice, or the Cato Institute, you have a much larger pot. The point was that the poster I was responding to assumed that "public interest" = "identifiably liberal causes that are the basis of law school clinics" and assumed that the only people who become public interest lawyers are those who are interested in identifiably liberal causes while in law school. Hence, the ideology comment. And it's spelled with an "o". Look it up.

Are there assumptions in my previous statements? In fact there are. I assume that a reasonably intelligent reader would understand that by "women who work for a mere few years" I meant "the women likely affected by Posner's reform proposal and that we are discussing in this forum." I did not mean, "any and all women on the planet Earth, including those non-existent women possibly raised in a hypothetical by a Leftist who is maliciously distorting the meaning of my text." But thanks for trying.

In any event, the percentage of law students who become public interest lawyers is ridiculously small, say, 5%. Approximately half of law students are women. If there are 100 lawyers total, 50 are women. In that universe, even if all public interest lawyers are female, there are still 45 female lawyers who are not public interest lawyers. My point, obvious to anyone with a brain, was that those 45 are taking corporate jobs. The goal is to make sure that those 45 keep working, instead of opting out of work after a few years. Why? Because it's better to have women in the workplace and in professional schools who actually want to be there. They shouldn't be there just because it's an easy way to subsidize their babies. And, frankly, that is explicitly how many view it. Posner isn't being sexist at all. He's saying let the women who really want to be lawyers be lawyers. Hee's not promoting alienation; he's seeking to eliminate alienation and promote total social welfare with his proposal.

M.

If discrimination in the labor market is responsible for even a small fraction of the discrepancy between male and female labor force participation rates, "profiling" is not a good option (since you folks don't seem to like talking about ethics, consider that discrimination against women may diminish in future, upsetting your calculations).

Note also that almost as many men as women say they would drop out of the labor force, if they could.

Sam

Those who are unable to spell "an" should not complain about those who misspell paradigm.

Dan C

If you want to design a system that will maximize alumni contributions, then admit women who can attract the very highest net worth males. Since the women will probably survive the husband, she can donate all his money to her school.

Indeed, why don't you just admit the best little golddiggers the admission office can find, consistent with academic standards of course.

Of course the admission office will need to make sure the girls have good bloodlines. Don't want your girl losing her looks at a young age and being replaced by a trophy wife who will give the old guys money to a less deserving school.

A bonus of the good bloodlines approach is your girls may be able to catch more then one high net worth fish in her prime fishing years.

Just imagine how bad the admissions office that turned down Anne Nicole must feel.

Palooka

"Who says that number is prohibitively small? You have no idea whether there are enough women with the sufficient credentials to go around. You just made a presumption, which is fallacious -- and fallacies are irrational. You've also proven your bias by presuming a fact that supports your case and your case only. So, I'm right."

Oh, Sprat. I am saying that introducing criteria which favors men over women will result in more men in the class. That should not be a controversial point. Men are more likely to work many years in a high paying career, therefore, introducing this criteria will lower the number of women admitted because it decreases the applicant pool. The calculus changes as the number of schools does, however. The more schools institute such policies the less likely a school will be able to find or attract women that fit its new criteria. If a prestigious school adopted a policy similar to those discussed here, it may well be able to attract additional female applicants because of the unique nature of their school (though this may not necessarily be true). As the number of schools instituting this policy change, they lose this competitive edge, though.

It's not that I think the population in question is "prohibtively small." Indeed, highly qualified female law school applicants are probably slightly more abundant than males. But any policy which decreases the female applicant pool more than the male will necessarily result in fewer women admitted, unless compensatory admission policies are adopted.

Charles

Ummm... I couldn't make it through all the comments, so maybe this was already mentioned, but it's pretty obvious to me that if you meet your spouse in one of these institutions, you are going to be much more likely to give money to that institution. Not only that, but your spouse will probably be more involved in the alumni association (more time!), and that in and of itself has value.

R

law school essays serve primarily one purpose: to ensure that the applicant can write coherently, about anything. Often applicants don't write about law at all, or about anything related to law school. If you want to write about public service, great. You don't have to.

If the applicant cannot think of anything to write outside of "I want to do public service," but finds that he or she cannot honestly write that essay, I would suggest a profession that involves less writing.

Not that I should have taken the time to respond. This thread has deteriorated, which is not surprising, since Posner did not offer a proposal with much interesting to say for it.

R

JW: I'm not sure which schools you are referring to, or the details of their loan repayment programs, but I think it a tortured definition of "public interest" that includes the JAG Corp.

I also can't say which post you were referring to, originally, for the reason that your original post was incoherent. Too bad it doesn't stand on its own. You followed that up with being needlessy insulting. Congratulations.

I personally haven't met any women who admit, frankly, that they have entered law school in order to subsidize their babies. Perhaps we run in different circles. (In fact, I would be rather disappointed if we did not.) Nor do I think that it would make any sense for someone seeking to "subsidize their babies" to enter law school. Law school costs a lot. It doesn't subsidize anyone's babies -- you pay for it, regardless of whether you work afterwards or not. If the women you are concerned about are not in fact the women taking public service jobs, they aren't receiving any subsidies for their educations.

I didn't think that Posner's goal was to make women work who did not want to, but to distribute law school slots to those who plan on practicing. I don't think his plan is feasible, and I don't consider the loss of those women who choose not to practice particularly disturbing. I do not, however, accuse Posner of being sexist. I do accuse you of being a sexist, JW, and I'd accuse you of many less savory terms were this not such a civil forum.

Corey

"Because it's better to have women in the workplace and in professional schools who actually want to be there."

Why do you get to decide that? Why not let the fact that women are willing to pay $100K to go to law school operate as evidence that they want to (and are entitled to) be there.

I understand why people (especially men) here might be bothered that a woman would do well on a meritocracy exam and take a place in an elite school. But you don't get to dictate what they do with their degree, via subsidies or otherwise. Just like you don't get to tell your neighbor to have fewer children because it decreases property values on your block.

I knew all along that you folks didn't really believe in all that liberty interest stuff.

As an aside: Are you similarily bothered that Posner wasted a coveted spot in the Yale English Department by using his degree simply to get a good law school spot, where now his English skills are used to make his opinions read prettier for 1Ls and thereby cover for his constant dismissal of individualized justice (or even vested State law) for institutional policy ends? See, e.g. Flamino v. American Honda.

"Posner isn't being sexist at all. He's saying let the women who really want to be lawyers be lawyers."

Actually, he said: "...it will be on average a smaller benefit than the person (usually a man) whose place she took..."

It seems to me that Posner is worried about Women (who "on average have a greater taste and aptitude for taking care of children, and indeed for nonmarket activities generally, than men do") taking the place of Men. It seems he thinks women's proper socio/biological place is raising babies, cleaning house, and servicing men (provided they don't do it on the market.) It is, after all, what he said.

I think law school teaches child-rearers of any gender several valuable lessons about how NOT to raise or teach children.

Corey

And notice the entitlement in this fragment:

"...it will be on average a smaller benefit than the person (usually a man) whose place she took..."

It is the MAN's place that she TOOK. Why? Because the sentence assigns it to him!

One could have written it as:

...it will be on average a smaller benefit than the person (usually a man) who might take HER place...

But then that would assign the right to the spot in the elite school to the woman who earned it based on the objective merit criteria that we so value on this blog.

Before you criticize my non-approved use of cut-up method and deconstruction, take a minute to realize I am right about the effect of Posner's text.

Thank you, drive through.

R

I'm wondering, Jack Sprat, just what kind of competition you seek to encourage by the removal of sexual harassment laws. Do you think the sexual harassment laws somehow interfere with the free market? Which market is that? Groping isn't a market.

Other than that small quibble, Sprat, I say keep up the good work. You are fast becoming the least reasonable person on this blog, which is quite an accomplishment.

Corey

Oh, and one more thing. The number of law schools that have viable loan repayment programs for people who choose public interest work is very small. Even at those schools, the effect of those programs is grossly outweighed by the disincentive for public interest work provided by huge tuition bills.

I am male, have a strong desire to do liberal public interest work, and am instead taking an offer to work at a large corporate law firm. (one with a generous pro bono policy) While I could live and start a family on a public interest salary, I cannot live, start a family, and repay my student loans on one. You could call me a sellout, or you could say the system didn't properly incent my potential contribution to social welfare.

I wonder, given that Posner's goal is maximizing economic return from law degrees, would he support the same post-grad subsidy for those who choose to work for the ACLU or Lambda Legal? Would he support it at a level that would actually enable people to take those jobs and live comfortably? I doubt it. If you only value work by what it pays, then those jobs are inferior.

And along those same lines, why shouldn't the decision to raise children get a loan subsidy?
I think if we stopped undervaluing less quantifiable economic factors and took "family values" rhetoric seriously, it would deserve a subsidy. No matter what gender does it, raising healthy, well-educated children is perhaps a better investment in society than another Wachtell associate staying up until 4am to construct a tax shelter for an offshore bank.

Palooka

"You could call me a sellout, or you could say the system didn't properly incent my potential contribution to social welfare."

Or one could say your talk about "social justice" and "public service" was just that, talk. I don't blame you for "selling out," but you'd think you could at least accept that decision as your own, rather than blaming others.

Corey

P.S. How ironic that by choosing corporate over public interest, I seem to be contributing to society's undervaluing of the non-economic benefits of public interest work. Wouldn't the world be a better place if more of us volunteered to be a loss-leader? Kind of leads one to respect those people who put child-care before big money.

Corey

"but you'd think you could at least accept that decision as your own, rather than blaming others."

How would I go about doing that? Maybe I should talk about the decision honestly on a public forum. Would that work for you? Who did I blame? I did the calculation before I entered law school, and I am not seeking to rationalize the consequences now. The discussion this week has talk of women choosing child-care and/or public interest over more lucrative options. My (perhaps stereotypically "male") choice is relevant to that discussion. I would prefer a subsidy, wouldn't you? It would have changed my decision. Doesn't make me look good to say it but it is the reality.

If Posner is for subsidies to support corporate law jobs, it is a legitimate question to ask why not subsidies for public interest jobs or informed child-care.

Lisa Weinstein

Linda - you've got your panties in a knot! Stop being so bitter. Relax and have an orgasm and you'll feel much better.

Sandra Day O'Connor is an example of a woman who attended an elite college and who also took several years off to stay home with her children.
Was her education a waste?

Jack Sprat

POSNER: "...it will be on average a smaller benefit than the person (usually a man) whose place she took..."

Right. Person. Meaning...it could be a woman. So, let the women (or men) to whom the benefit will be greater take the job. I don't see how stating that women are persons is sexist, Corey.

And to another comment, sexual harrassment laws surely do interfere with the function of the marketplace. It requires a compliance officer in the company, a redrafting of company documents and contracts, sexual harrassment training and trainers, and firing otherwise productive employees who say the wrong thing to the wrong person. It also results in lawsuits, some of them frivolous, which a company would rather settle than litigate (because of bad press), which, obviously, costs money. So, yes, imposing huge costs on companies does impede the function of the market. It raises the cost of doing business, which effectively raises a barrier to entry to the marginal firm.

Jack Sprat

ME: "Because it's better to have women in the workplace and in professional schools who actually want to be there."

COREY: Why do you get to decide that?

Well, Corey, it's a Law and Economics website, and the question implicit in Posner's post is "How do we increase total social welfare given the present situation?" If improving totoal social welfare is the goal, it's rather obvious that a qualified attorney with a constant work ethic working for 8 years contributes more to society than one working for 5. Look:

5x2 = 10
8x2 = 16
16 > 10

The point is not that "I get to decide" as some sort of Evil Misogynist (you really need to get over your self-hatred, Corey; it's ok that you have a penis). The point is that society is better off if qualified women attorneys work longer, and there is no reason why elite universities shouldn't factor market demand into their admissions decisions. That just isn't a sexist statement. It likewise isn't racist to insist that elite universities should factor market demand into using race in admissions, as you argued, Corey, however many weeks ago. If law firms and businesses want professionals who work long-term, universities should seek out students who want to be long-term employees, whether male or female. I think there are plenty of women out there who are willing to work long-term. Apparently, you think all women want is to have your babies. You're the misogynist, Corey.

Anonymous

PALOOKA: I am saying that introducing criteria which favors men over women will result in more men in the class.

Who says it favors men? It favors persons with a certain work ethic. The point is that you don't know how many women out there who posess such a work ethic aren't getting into elite universities because they are being edged out by the slightest of margins by women without it.

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