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Ugly Is in the Eye of the Law Student

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it follows that ugly is also a subjective thing.

It can change with the whim of critics, like those who said the University of Baltimore School of Law was one of the most beautiful one year and then one of the ugliest another year.

In the long run, does it matter? It certainly matters to architects, but do aesthetics really matter to law students and lawyers?

Beautiful Lawyers

Because they can, academics have actually studied the subject of beauty and how it relates to lawyers' income. They wanted to know, in layman's terms, whether there was such a thing as ugly discrimination.

In the study, they looked at the earnings of graduates from Law School X and measured their later income differences based on physical attractiveness. They used the graduation photographs between 1969 and 1988 to rate the students, and made some "striking" observations.

"The average attractiveness rating of male respondents is well below that of the female respondents," Jeff E. Biddle and Daniel S. Hamermesh wrote.

In other words, male law students were uglier than female students. The study also said that female graduates in the 1970s were "substantially better-looking" than the women of the 1980s.

The Ugly Bottom Line

After looking at their subjects' earnings over the years, the researchers concluded that beauty "actually causes differences in earnings." Whether through career decisions, employer preferences, or clients' choices, the ugly bottom line was that ugly didn't pay as well.

There is no serious study of the correlation between beautiful and ugly law schools and the success of their students. But if aesthetics mattered, then the United Kingdom's Durham Law School apparently is apparently the most impressive law school in the world.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Thomas Jefferson School of Law leads the beauty rankings. It does not rank in the U.S. News & World Report's top 145 law schools.

So when it comes to beauty, it really depends on what you're looking for.

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