What Would Happen if USNews Didn’t Weigh Money?

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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10 Responses

  1. Jimbino says:

    You say, “I decided to estimate what would happen if each school’s expenditure data was set to average school’s expenditure.”

    I think you and other legal writers should master use of the subjunctive mood. The “would” indicates that use of a verb in the subjunctive will be necessary in the subordinate clause beginning with “if”.

    Your use of indicative “was set” instead of subjunctives “had been set” or “were set” is what leads to confusion. As it is, your statement could mean either:

    1. I decided to estimate what would happen if each school’s expenditure data had in the past been set to average school’s expenditure.


    2. I decided to estimate what would happen if each school’s expenditure data were now set to average school’s expenditure.

    You will argue that the sense is clear from the context, but you will then have to take responsibility for your readers’ having to re-read the paragraph to try to get your gist.

    Don’t worry, even self-satisfied “legal grammarian” Eugene Volokh makes all kinds of grammatical errors, and regularly. He says, “at risk for” when he means “at risk of,” and he uses “forbid from” when he means “forbid to,” evidently confusing idiomatic usage of “forbid” with that of “prohibit.”

  2. Dave Hoffman says:

    I would love it if I’d be able to master the subjective mood.

  3. Rick Underwood says:

    I assume that you have heard the joke about the seafood loving lawyer who asked the cab driver in Boston where he could get scrod.

  4. Rick Underwood says:

    So the cabdriver was a Classics Major who could not find a job involving his degree – so he was driving a hack. He was thinking about going to Law School at the University of Kentucky. He responded to the lawyer, “That’s the first time that I have been asked for it in the past pluperfect subjunctive.

  5. Mike says:

    Understanding that your estimates are back-of-the-napkin, and that you’ve chosen only a crude measure of the effect of eliminating the category, and that you may plant another stylistic error to inflame the masses and generate traffic . . . it would be interesting to see more of what your calculations indicated, either in terms of the magnitude of movement or additional schools.

  6. Kipper says:

    Where can one find the 2011 data which you used?

  7. Alan A. says:

    Dave Hoffman writes,

    “I would love it if I’d be able to master the subjective mood.”

    At your present level of both grammar and wit, “mastery” would be a tall order. How about simply learning what the subjunctive mood is, first? See below, and feel free to thank me, ungrammatically, in the comments:

    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/using-the-subjunctive-mood-in-english.html .

  8. Dave Hoffman says:

    Alan A.

    Thank you, ungrammatically.

  9. dave hoffman says:

    Kipper –

    Read Seto’s article. It’s a very good roadmap.

  10. Jull says:

    I am sure ranking would not change much, especially when taking into consideration the criteria. The quality and the price of education is what is going to matter, for making choice in the sense of education establishment to apply, especially with the rising student loan rates.
    Have you mastered oblique moods, by the way, Dave?