MoneyLaw Hits the Blogosphere

Josh Wright —  10 August 2006

Jim Chen and the Jurisdynamics Network are already expanding by introducing a new blog: MoneyLaw. Here’s a description:

Inspired by Michael Lewis’s book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, many law professors have pondered the extent to which this profession can learn from Billy Beane’s approach to winning baseball games for the Oakland Athletics. Four of those professors — Jim Chen, Tom W. Bell, Paul Caron, and Ronen Perry — will now discuss the ways in which Moneyball‘s emphasis on quantitative assessment of baseball-related performance can inform law school governance, academic rankings, and the overall mission of legal academia.

The “Moneyball” approach to law school faculty hiring is something for which GMU Law has been noted (as well as the economics department), and a strategy that takes a good deal of homework. I will be looking forward to reading what the MoneyLaw bloggers have to say.

3 responses to MoneyLaw Hits the Blogosphere

    Michael Guttentag 10 August 2006 at 10:55 pm

    Josh. I agree; good point.


    Mike, you may be right about the appeal of Moneyball to legal scholars as a general matter and also the difficulty of a comprehensive law school quality measure. But with respect to faculty hiring in particular, I think the idea that opportunities for entrepreneurial decision-making has some traction. A central idea in Moneyball is that the Athletics were able to gain a competitive advantage by making personnel decisions using metrics largely ignored by rivals but perhaps more correlated with team success. To use an example close to home, and referenced in the National Review piece linked above, GMU has been successful in hiring law and economics-types (especially in the Dean Manne days when L&E was less popular) and conservatives that go undervalued in the hiring market.

    Michael Guttentag 10 August 2006 at 7:31 pm

    I’m not convinced that the analogy of baseball team performance to law school success is at all apt (though I have not read Moneyball).

    In baseball the metrics that you can track with statistics are directly linked to the end goal: winning ball games. How can you say the same about law school professors, unless you accept an incredibly narrow definition of a successful law school? Clearly, the number of publications and where they are placed is only a noisy, biased proxy for academic quality and contribution to the intellectual community (particularly in the world of student-edited journals). Moreover, professors’ contribution to intellectual debate is only one aspect of law school quality and performance. If you are going to manage toward a metric, you generally want to manage toward a fairly reliable indicator of quality (Holstrom, etc.).

    It seems to me the appeal of the Moneyball analogy to legal scholars says more about how eager law school professors are to keep competing on a well-labeled playing field than anything else.