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Friday, March 27, 2015

Brooklyn Law School Dean Calls For Audit of MBE

NCBENational Law Journal op-ed:  Too Much Power Rests with the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Nicholas W. Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

Trying to improve the broken bar-exam system for licensing lawyers has been for too long like tilting at windmills while singing “The Impossible Dream.”

There is a disconnection between what the bar exam tests and what the American Bar Association and law schools require students to learn. Graduates must enroll in costly cram courses, forgo gainful employment for almost three months and incur collectively hundreds of millions of dollars in costs and lost income to survive the semiannual culling of the herd. Nor does the bar exam, which relies heavily on questions developed and scored by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, measure what one needs to know to be an effective lawyer.

Last July’s historic nationwide drop in the bar passage rate brought into sharp focus the urgent need to overhaul a system that ill serves the public, the profession and certainly the graduates of our law schools. Over the past several months, fellow deans across the country have asked for a complete, credible and accurate explanation of the July 2014 results. We still are waiting.

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March 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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March 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Minnesota Hosts Symposium Today on Reforming the IRS

Minnesota LogoMinnesota hosts a Tax Policy Symposium today on Reforming the IRS:

Congress asks the IRS to handle a variety of government functions—not just collecting taxes, but also implementing the Affordable Care Act, monitoring the activities of tax-exempt organizations, and administering refundable tax credits designed to accomplish various social welfare goals, among other myriad tasks. Even beyond the controversy over its scrutiny of conservative political organizations, the IRS faces criticism for its handling of many of its congressionally-assigned functions, from its declining ability to handle routine taxpayer phone calls to its efforts to address fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Meanwhile, Congress has reduced the IRS’s budget, making it difficult for the IRS to accomplish all of its myriad tasks successfully. But even if Congress gave the IRS better funding, could the IRS accomplish all that Congress asks of it effectively? Or has the IRS reached a point institutionally at which it simply cannot do its many jobs well, irrespective of the funding that Congress provides? If it cannot, then what might IRS reform look like? [The symposium papers will be published in the Spring 2016 issue of the Columbia Journal of Tax Law.]

Keynote Address:   Nina Olson (National Taxpayer Advocate), The IRS and Taxpayer Trust: Recent Research on Promoting Compliance

Panel #1:

  • Steve Johnson (Florida State), Law From the Sublime to the Ridiculous and Most Things in Between: Options for Tax Administration in an Era of Growing Responsibilities for Shrinking Budgets
  • Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Does the IRS Need Further Reform? 
  • Commenters:  Andy Grewal (Iowa), Joe Thorndike (Tax Analysts)
  • Moderator:  Morgan Holcomb (Hamline)

Panel #2:

  • Lloyd Mayer (Notre Dame), The Better Part of Valour is Discretion: Should the IRS Surrender Its Oversight of Tax-Exempt Organizations?
  • Amy Monahan (Minnesota), The IRS as Health Care Agency
  • Commenters:  Paul Caron (Pepperdine), Chris Walker (Ohio State)
  • Moderator:  Claire Hill (Minnesota)

Panel #3:

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March 27, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Tax Study Group Meets Today

Virginia Tax Review (2015)The Virginia Tax Study Group meets today:

Panel #1:  D.C. Panel

  • Cameron Arterton (Deputy Tax Legislative Counsel, U.S. Treasury Department)
  • Tony Coughlin (Tax Counsel, Senate Finance Committee)
  • Rohit Kumar (Principal, PricewaterhouseCoopers)
  • Cecily Rock (Senior Legislation Counsel, Joint Committee on Taxation)
  • Jon Traub (Principal, Deloitte)

Panel #2:  The Significance of Recent Inversion Activity for Business Tax Reform, and Administrative Response

  • Ed Kleinbard (USC), Competitiveness’ Has Nothing to Do With It, 144 Tax Notes 1055 (Sept. 1, 2014)
  • Commentators:  Steve Shay (Harvard), Brenda Zent (Attorney-Advisor, Office of International Tax Counsel, U.S. Treasury Department)
  • Moderator:  Ruth Mason (Virginia)

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March 27, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK to Kill Private Equity Management Fee Waivers

The UK has proposed legislation that would kill private equity management fee waivers ("disguised fees" in UK parlance), effective  April 6, 2015.  In this country, private equity management fee waivers are listed (on page 21) of the 2014– 2015 Priority Guidance Plan, with guidance supposedly "imminent."

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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March 27, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tributes to Leon Gabinet

GabinetTax Prof Leon Gabinet retired last Spring at age 87 after 46 years on the Case Western Law School faculty:

Born in Poland, Gabinet moved with his family to Chicago as a boy. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he received his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Chicago, where he was an editor of the law review. His law school classmates included Robert Bork (who became a leading scholar of antitrust law but, we hear, used Gabinet's outline to get through their law school Antitrust course) and Marvin Chirelstein (another prominent tax professor). Between college and law school, Gabinet spent two years in medical school. Along the way he also found time to play Junior A hockey, where his defense partner was future Hall of Famer Harry Howell. Although he returned to school to complete his education, Gabinet continued to play recreational hockey for many years (including games with and against some of his students). ...

Although Gabinet will be retiring, he intends to continue teaching one course annually. In fact, at the age of 87, he has decided to take up a new one, Insurance Law, which we have not been able to offer since Professor Wilbur Leatherberry ADL '65, LAW '68 retired two years ago

Tribute to Professor Leon Gabinet, 65 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 1-23 (2014):

March 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 687

IRS Logo 2Town Hall, Congress Should Protect the Fair Treatment for All Donations:

Beginning in 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systematically targeted taxpayers based on their political beliefs. Unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats at the IRS deliberately slowed and denied applications for tax-exempt status because the applicants did not share their politics. Although it’s deeply concerning that unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the IRS were using the tax code to restrict free speech, what’s more unfathomable is that Congress has done very little to date to protect individuals from future IRS targeting.

Congress should act to protect citizens of all political persuasions from similar politically-motivated targeting in the future. Thankfully the House Ways and Means Committee is currently working on legislation that would help. The bill prohibits the IRS from applying the federal gift tax to contributions to tax-exempt organizations.

The original intent of the federal gift tax was to stop taxpayers from sidestepping the federal death tax—i.e., transferring gifts of money while an aging taxpayer is still alive instead of paying a 40 percent tax on the entire estate after death. Congress did not enact the gift tax to apply to contributions made to tax-exempt organizations.

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March 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Economist: Lawyers Beware: The Accountants Are Coming After Your Business

Economist Logo (2015)The Economist, Attack of the Bean-counters. Lawyers Beware: The Accountants Are Coming After Your Business:

Consulting has its Big Three; accounting the Big Four; and executive search a Big Five. But there is no corresponding clutch of dominant law firms. None has amassed as much as 0.5% of an industry with global revenues of around $650 billion a year. Even the biggest law firms may be anachronistically inefficient. They are run by lawyers, not professional managers, insist on charging by the “billable hour” rather than by results and use little technology more advanced than e-mail. Nonetheless, most big law firms have continued to be highly profitable.  

In recent years, clients have begun to rebel against the billable hour, and at being charged senior lawyers’ rates for work done by juniors. Some have started sending basic legal paperwork to cheap, offshore processing centres. But only now is a serious threat to the law firms’ cosy existence emerging.

It comes from none other than the Big Four accounting networks (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC), whose combined annual revenues of $120 billion exceed the $89 billion generated by the 100 largest law firms combined (see charts).

Economist

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March 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Gender Disparities in Law School Participation Remain

Harvard Law Record, Gender Disparities in Law School Participation Remain:

Gender disparities in law school performance remain pervasive at even the most elite schools. Studies evaluating grades from the past two decades at both Stanford (2001-2012) and Yale (1995-96, 1997) Law Schools found that women receive lower grades and, at Yale, a lower percentage of clerkships. Research suggests that grades and participation may be correlated. Yale law students in 2011 collected classroom data from 21 classes of different sizes, which included how often men and women answered cold-calls, volunteered comments, and interrupted other students.  When adjusted for attendance, only 42.8% of “participation events” came from women.

Harvard is no better. HLS alum Adam Neufeld evaluated student performance from 1997-2003.  He found that men received higher grades in 1L classes and were more likely to graduate with latin honors.  Moreover, in a study monitoring 32 1L courses for 190 total class meetings in Spring 2003,  Neufeld found that men were 50% more likely to volunteer at least once during class and 142% more likely to volunteer three or more times.  Although women comprised 45% of students, they only made 39% of all comments.

Has the gender gap narrowed over the past decade? To investigate this question, the WLA monitored the number of comments made by men and women throughout 1L sections.

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March 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists

ABALionel Sobel, Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists (ABA Press, 2015):

As entertainers, athletes, and artists are often treated differently by the public, tax law also distinguishes between them and people who earn their living in more traditional ways. Their unique forms and sources of income; where the income is earned; and the sometimes uncertain ways that it is compensated require careful understanding and special handling

Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists discusses the complex issues affecting the income taxation of these professionals. In this clearly written book, author Lionel S. Sobel provides numerous examples, calculations, charts and graphs to illustrate the material. He explains how taxation affects them in two sections:

Part I: U.S. domestic taxation policies and procedures, addressing how the United States taxes income earned in the United States by entertainers, athletes and artists who are United States citizens and resident aliens.

Part II: International taxation, covering the way that the United States taxes income earned in the U.S. by entertainers, athletes, and artists who are nonresident aliens, and how other countries tax income in those countries when these performers and artists are U.S. citizens and U.S.-resident aliens. This part also considers how the U.S. has provided some tax relief for those of its citizens and resident aliens who pay tax in other countries.

March 26, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kahn & Kahn: The Agency Exception to the Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine

Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), The Agency Exception to the Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine:

One consequence of having graduated income tax rates is that it becomes advantageous to shift income from a high bracket taxpayer to a person in a lower tax bracket. A number of different vehicles have been tried to shift the incidence of the income tax to another person, and the courts and Congress have adopted a number of rules to prevent that from occurring. As early as 1930, the Supreme Court adopted the anticipatory assignment of income doctrine to prevent a person who anticipates earning income from his services from shifting that income to another person in a lower tax bracket. Income is taxed to the person whose services produced it rather than to the person who has the beneficial right to possess the income once it is earned.

This article discusses the tax treatment of an employee whose services create income for his employer. The anticipatory assignment of income doctrine does not apply in these circumstances under the so-called agency exception. This article explains the policy justification of the agency exception and uses examples to help illustrate when and when not the agency exception should apply.

March 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

California Law School Job Placement Rankings

Sac BeeSacramento Bee, How California Law School Job Placement Rates Compare:

Though the economy is improving, job placement rates for California law schools dipped in the latest figures.

Look through the slideshow to see California's 21 American Bar Association-approved law schools, ranked by the percentage of 2013 graduates holding full-time, long-term jobs that require a juris doctor degree.

The median rate was 43 percent, down about a point from 2012.

1 Stanford 87.6%
2 UC-Berkeley 86.7%
3 UCLA 75.9%
4 UC-Davis 70.4%
5 USC 65.0%
6 UC-Irvine 64.3%
7 San Diego 53.1%
8 Pepperdine 53.1%
9 Loyola-L.A. 50.6%
10 Santa Clara 44.1%
11 UC-Hastings 42.9%
12 Southwestern 40.0%
13 Chapman 38.2%
14 Western State 37.4%
15 McGeorge 36.8%
16 San Francisco 36.0%
17 Cal-Western 35.2%
18 La Verne 34.9%
19 T. Jefferson 29.0%
20 Whittier 26.7%
21 Golden Gate 22.8%

March 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Galle: In Praise of Ex Ante Regulation

Brian D. Galle (Boston College; moving to Georgetown), In Praise of Ex Ante Regulation, 68 Vand. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Timing is an important consideration in regulatory design. Corrective taxes are usually imposed before or contemporaneously with the harmful activity they are aimed at preventing, while tort awards are assessed ex post, in its aftermath. Patents and research grants both can encourage innovation, but patents pay off only after the invention is marketed. In a world of perfect information, fully rational actors, and complete credit or insurance markets, time would not matter. In the real world, though, the failure of one or more of these assumptions can change dramatically the impact of a regulatory option. For example, prior commentators have largely favored ex post incentives on the ground that government has much better information after the regulated activity is complete.

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March 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 1 Call for Papers Deadline: IFA International Tax Symposium

IFAThe International Fiscal Association has issued a Call for Papers for the Second International Tax Research Symposium in Basel, Switzerland:

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for the Second International Tax Research Symposium held in conjunction with the 69th Congress of the International Fiscal Association in Basel, Switzerland (August 30 to September 3, 2015). After the success of the first International Tax Research Symposium held during the IFA Congress in Boston in 2012 we are delighted to invite you for the Second International Tax Research Symposium in Basel. The International Tax Research Symposium aims to provide a platform for international scholars in international taxation. The Second IFA International Tax Symposium will be held on Sunday, August 30, 2015 (afternoon) in Basel and is supported by the International Fiscal Association. 

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March 26, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Accountants Talk About Their Dreams

(Hat Tip:  Going Concern.)

March 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 686

IRS Logo 2National Journal, There's an IRS Investigation That's Bipartisan and Leak-Free. Really.:

The Senate Finance Committee's investigations team is highly caffeinated.

How else could it have gotten through more than a million pages of documents in the last two years? There is an art to the kind of mind-numbing digging that these sleuths do. They set weekly goals for the number of pages reviewed, but they build in time for breaks. The Republican lead investigator tries to make sure her team spends only half its days in document-review mode and the other half doing something else. Every discovery must be fact-checked; the most important goal is to be as meticulous and thorough as possible, no matter how long it takes.

Welcome to the only bipartisan investigation of the Internal Revenue Service in town. The group consists of roughly half a dozen staffers from both Chairman Orrin Hatch's committee roster and that of ranking member Ron Wyden. They have become chummy over the last few years. Republican and Democratic aides meet regularly to share "hot docs" and observations from their individual perusals. As one aide put it, "There's no 'hide the ball' going on."

The goal of the investigation is to reach a common understanding of the facts, which is no small endeavor when it involves one of the highest-profile scandals of the Obama presidency. If IRS officials did actually subject tea-partiers' tax-exempt applications to questionable scrutiny, that is an intolerable breach of public trust, said Hatch and then-Chairman Max Baucus in a 2013 joint letter to the IRS. Hatch was the committee's ranking member at the time, and that letter launched the investigation. Wyden took over the project when Baucus stepped down last year to become the U.S. ambassador to China.

Democrats and Republicans definitely don't agree about whether there was a political conspiracy at work in the IRS before the 2012 elections. Those kinds of conclusions are matters of interpretation and ideology that have derailed other congressional investigations that attempted to include Democrats.

To keep away from such incendiary questions, investigators on the Finance Committee have pledged to focus solely on what happened. Did the IRS selectively subject certain groups based on their political orientation to additional scrutiny when they requested tax-exempt status? What words or phrases did IRS staff look for when determining which applications would be pulled for additional review? Did that strategy violate internal policy? Was the White House involved?

Since the investigators' primary goal is to keep Republicans and Democrats at the table, they work hard to keep politics out of it. ...

The Finance Committee's report will be a different animal, aides from both parties say. They are examining the same questions that others have probed, but they aim to be seen—if such a thing is even possible on Capitol Hill—as completely objective in their conclusions. Something obviously went awry at the IRS. They want to give the public specifics about what it actually was.

Hatch and Wyden plan to offer their staff's findings of IRS misconduct together and (hopefully) free of political statements. That will happen later this year, barring any unforeseen developments. Staffers say the bulk of the report will consist of the facts on which both sides have agreed and the conclusions they have jointly drawn.

But bipartisanship can only go so far. After the joint conclusions, each side will then release its own views about what those agreed-upon facts mean—separately.

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March 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. News Rankings: 2016 v. 2015 Changes in All Reported Categories for All Law Schools

2016 U.S. News RankingsBrian Huddleston (Senior Reference Librarian, Loyola (New Orleans)) has compiled this wonderful 29-page color-coded chart showing the changes in this year's U.S. News Law School Rankings from last year's rankings in all seventeen of the published U.S. News rankings categories for each of the 198 law schools:

  • Green:  school improved in category in this year's rankings
  • Red:  school declined in category in this year's rankings
  • Yellow:  school's performance in category in this year rankings is same as last year

(Click on chart to enlarge.)

Top 3

Here are Pepperdine's numbers (click on chart to enlarge):

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March 25, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Schön Presents Neutrality and Territoriality in European Tax Law Today at Penn

SchoenWolfgang Schön (Max Planck) presents Neutrality and Territoriality: Competing or Converging Concepts in European Tax Law? at Pennylvania today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris William Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

This article presents an analysis of the ECJ case law on the interaction between the fundamental freedoms and national tax systems. It pleads for a strict application of a unilateral neutrality principle based on non‐discrimination and rejects those strands of the judicature which apply an overall perspective to the taxation of cross‐border events by two (or more) involved states. The article criticizes the emerging trend in the ECJ’s jurisprudence to stress the territorial demarcation of Member States’ taxing rights and supports a sophisticated application of the concept of “coherence” in order to reconcile the requirements of neutrality with the territorial limitations of taxing power.

March 25, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kirsch, Schneider Debate Citizenship-Based Taxation v. Residence-Based Taxation

ACAThe American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation has released a new video aimed at breaking down the merits of Residence-based taxation in a clear and simple way for key decision makers and the public:  21st Century Taxation of Americans Abroad: Citizenship-based Taxation vs. Residence-based Taxation

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March 25, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

2015’s Best States to Be Rich or Poor from a Tax Perspective

Wallet HubWallet Hub, 2015’s Best States to Be Rich or Poor from a Tax Perspective:

After accounting for all taxes, in fact, “the nationwide average effective state and local tax rates by income group are 10.9 percent for the poorest 20 percent of individuals and families, 9.4 percent for the middle 20 percent and 5.4 percent for the top 1 percent,” according to the ITEP. Such disappointing findings have brought the question of fairness to the forefront of the current tax season.

With less than a month until the tax deadline for most Americans, WalletHub identified the best states where people in different income brackets spend the most and least on sales and excise taxes, property taxes and income taxes. It’s important to note that our analysis does not focus on tax rates but rather on the share of a person’s income that he or she contributes toward various tax obligations. For instance, tax rates may be lower in one state, but because of a comparatively higher cost of living, the actual tax burden may be higher for that state’s residents. Our findings, as well as expert commentary and a detailed methodology, can be found below.

Best & Worst States for Low Income Earners:

Source: WalletHub

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March 25, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Milne & Miller: Taxation's Troubling Toxicity

Toxic 2Janet E. Milne (Vermont) & Jack Miller (Vermont), Taxation's Troubling Toxicity:

Occupy Wall Street spurred cries of indignation, including calls to reform the tax code. This article examines the difficulty of raising taxes in the United States at a time when the federal government faces many needs and new taxes could help address the growing income disparity. In Part 1, it looks at several trends — the substantial federal deficit and rising debt, the lack of funding for infrastructure, and increasing income disparity among US residents — to establish the premise that resistance to higher taxes is troublesome. The article then turns to the question why taxes are viewed negatively. It surveys literature about the general public’s attitudes toward taxation (Part 2) and the intensely political views of taxation on and surrounding Capitol Hill (Part 3).

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March 25, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through March 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

44,099

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6297

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

28,037

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5609

3

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

26,121

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

4033

4

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,640

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

3038

5

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

21,971

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

2862

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,609

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2836

7

James Hines (Michigan)

20,442

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2216

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19.665

Omri Marian (Florida)

1926

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19,417

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1738

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

17,702

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1703

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

17,026

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)

1651

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,657

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1548

13

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15.616

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1522

14

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

15,140

DIck Harvey (Villanova)

1499

15

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

15,076

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1479

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,909

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1474

17

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,848

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1452

18

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,714

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1289

19

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

14,686

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1285

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,421

William Byrnes (T. Jefferson)

1276

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

14,301

James Hines (Michigan)

1251

22

David Walker (BU)

14,160

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1208

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,926

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1155

24

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,686

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1131

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,968

Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)

1083

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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March 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conference on Billy Joel and the Law

Billy Joel_Page_1Touro hosted a two-day conference on Billy Joel and the Law this week:

This conference follows in the path of previous conferences exploring connections between the work of a singer-songwriter and the American legal system. In 2005, Widener Law School hosted The Lawyer as Poet Advocate: Bruce Springsteen and the American Lawyer, and in 2011, Fordham Law School hosted Bob Dylan and the Law, co-sponsored by Touro Law Center. Building on the success of these events, we will consider ways in which Billy Joel’s work relates to American law, society, and culture. Sessions will offer a wide range of perspectives, including those of judges, lawyers, law professors, and music scholars. We look forward to a meaningful and entertaining event that will foster thought provoking conversations about the relevance of Billy Joel’s work to our understanding of the American legal system.

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March 25, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Faherty Student Tax Writing Competition -- $3,000 First Prize

House Ways & Means Committee Marks Up Tax Bills Today

The IRS Scandal, Day 685

IRS Logo 2American Thinker, Why Does Media Matters Deserve Tax Exempt Status When They're Cheerleaders for Hillary?:

Last week, the Democratic party website Media Matters hired long time Clinton family friend and advisor James Carville to write for the site. This is just the latest in a series of moves made by the Democratic party organ to boost the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

But, as the Washington Examiner points out, Media Matters is a tax exempt organization, prohibited by law from engaging in political activity. The site is run by another Clinton confidante, David Brock, and the website hasn't been shy about defending Mrs. Clinton in this latest scandal over her emails. ...

When it was revealed that the IRS and Lois Lerner were targeting conservative groups because of their alleged political activity, the left defending the IRS because they were "only doing their jobs." No one with half a brain believes that Media Matters is a non-partisan, apolitical outfit not interested in who wins the Democratic primary or the general election. Unlike most Tea Party groups who applied for the 501(c)(3) designation,whose "political advocacy" was limited to demanding the government follow the Constitution, Media Matters blatantly supports Democratic party candidates, goals, issues, and objectives.

Where is Lois Lerner when you need her...

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March 25, 2015 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

305,000 Federal Workers/Retirees Owe $3.3 Billion in Back Taxes

The IRS yesterday released its annual federal employee/retiree tax delinquency report, showing that 304,665 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back income taxes as of September 30, 2014 (a 6.95% increase over last year), a delinquency rate of 3.12%.

The highest delinquency rates among Executive Departments are:

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March 24, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Osofsky Presents The Case for Categorical Nonenforcement Today at NYU

Osofsky (2015)Leigh Osofsky (Miami) presents The Case for Categorical Nonenforcement at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

Executive nonenforcement of the law is a hot-button issue. An important question that has surfaced in the debate about such nonenforcement is whether categorical, or complete, prospective nonenforcement of the law is legitimate. A variety of scholars and commentators have suggested that it is not. This Article contests such claims by applying theories of agency legitimacy to the realities of IRS nonenforcement of the tax law. Doing so reveals that in some circumstances categorical nonenforcement may actually increase the legitimacy of the IRS’s nonenforcement. Categorical nonenforcement can serve as a particularly salient means of communicating nonenforcement decisions, which may lead to greater political accountability, increasing the legitimacy of nonenforcement under the political accountability theory of agency legitimacy. Also owing to its ability to make enforcement decisions particularly salient, categorical nonenforcement may yield greater public deliberation, increasing the legitimacy of nonenforcement under the civic republican theory of agency legitimacy. Categorical nonenforcement also can serve as a practical (though perhaps not legally enforceable) means for high-level officials to commit the agency to a policy of nonenforcement, which may increase the legitimacy of nonenforcement under the nonarbitrariness theory of agency legitimacy. Categorical nonenforcement, of course, may not always be legitimacy enhancing, nor does this Article attempt to claim that it is. Rather, this Article fundamentally claims that viewing nonenforcement through the lens of agency legitimacy may help apply core values of democratic governance, which are obscured or missed by the existing analyses, to agencies’ inevitable, systematic nonenforcement of the law.

March 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Dean Average Tenure Is 2.78 Years, An All-Time Low

A Record Year for New Deans, Nat'l Jurist, Mar. 2015, p. 5:

It's been a challenging time for law school deans, and that has translated into an unprecedented number of law schools making leadership changes. In fact, more law school deans started their jobs in 2014 than in any prior year. ...

As of January, 44 deans had been in their positions for less than a year, and an additional 37 deans had been in their position for two years or less. In fact, the median tenure for a law school dean was only 2.78 years. ...

Dean

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March 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Releases FY 2014 Data Book

2014 Data Book CoverIR-2015-58 (Mar. 24, 2015), IRS Releases FY 2014 Data Book:

The Internal Revenue Service today released the 2014 IRS Data Book [individual tables] snapshot of agency activities for the fiscal year.

“Fiscal Year 2014 marked the fourth consecutive year IRS appropriations were reduced,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “These reductions required us to change our approach to taxpayer service and enforcement operations; with fewer resources, we saw decreases in the number of phone calls answered and the number of audits completed.”

The report describes activities conducted by the IRS from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014, and includes information about returns filed, taxes collected, enforcement, taxpayer assistance, and the IRS budget and workforce among others. The 2014 Data Book contains charts that show trends, such as the decline in the number of audits and the decline in telephone and in-person tax assistance and increases in the use of online resources and volunteer tax assistance.

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March 24, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Before I Go: A Stanford Neurosurgeon’s Parting Wisdom About Life and Time

KalanithiStanford Medicine News Center, Paul Kalanithi, Writer and Neurosurgeon, Dies at 37:

Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, who wrote eloquently and movingly about facing mortality after being diagnosed with lung cancer, died of the disease March 9. He was 37.

Kalanithi, who had recently completed his neurosurgery residency at the Stanford University School of Medicine and become a first-time father, was an instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery and fellow at the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

Washington Post:  Before I Go: A Stanford Neurosurgeon’s Parting Wisdom About Life and Time, by Paul Kalanithi:

I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.

Yet one thing cannot be robbed of her futurity: my daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past.

That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

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March 24, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Best Law Schools For Practical Training

NJ CoverBest Schools For Practical Training, Nat'l Jurist, p. 28, Mar. 2015:

The ABA now releases ample data on how many students participate in clinics, externiships and simulation courses. The National Jurist used this data to measure which law schools are delivering when it comes to practical training.

As we did last year, we looked at the percentage of full-time students in clinics, externships, and simulation courses. This year, we also looked at student participation in interscholastic skills competitions, such as moot court tournaments.

We again placed the most weight on clinical experience, at 30 percent. ... Externships -- at 25 percent -- were given second highest weight. ... Simulations accounted for 20 percent. ... School competitions were given a weight of 5 percent. We then asked schools to provide additional information about their additional offerings that are not reflected in these numbers, and this accounted for the final 20 percent. For example, schools requiring pro bono work were awarded points for those efforts.

Overall, law schools delivered more experiential opportunities per full-time student than in the prior year. Clinics grew from .22 clinic position per student to .23, a modest change, but significant for one year. Simulation courses grew from .92 per student to .95 per student. ...

[M]ore schools are earning top grades, as 86 schools received a B or higher.

Top 20

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March 24, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Michael: Taxing Labor Like Capital Would Reduce Income Inequality and Promote Economic Growth

Michael PhotoTaxProf Blog op-ed:  Taxing People Like Shares: How Pro-Labour Tax Simplification Can Help Reduce Income Inequality and Promote Long-Term Economic Growth, by Bryane Michael (Oxford University):

Stagnant wages in the US have contributed largely to income inequality. No wonder given friendlier capital tax rates, compared with labour. Could the much-debated change to the US tax code hold the key to a fairer society? In this brief, I will discuss the economics and ethics of changes to worker taxes. Specifically, I will look at equal taxation of income taxes and capital taxes. I will discuss how other such taxes in places like South Korea have helped achieve social (read macro-ethical) goals. I will also provide estimates of how such taxes would reduce income equality in the US, and their effect on the budget deficit. Its an article about ethics because of the balancing of "good" across political-economic groups.

Figure 2

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March 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Role of Taxes in Ted Cruz's Nascent Presidential Campaign

CruzForbes, Ted Cruz To Run For President: Why His Plan For A Flat Tax May Doom His Candidacy, by Tony Nitti:

Should Cruz continue to profess the desire for a flat tax, the Democratic opposition will be downright jubilant, as they will be able to further the perceived economic divide and distrust of Republican candidates by explaining that the institution of a flat tax will increase the tax burden of many lower and middle-class taxpayers while immensely benefitting the wealthy.

Washington Post, Ted Cruz’s Irrational War Against the IRS, by Catherine Rampell:

Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service. This is a phenomenally bad idea, one so obviously wrongheaded it’s hard to believe he really means it. ...

Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated $255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits. This is something fiscal conservatives, Cruz included, presumably already know. Yet the view that the IRS’s budget should be minimized, and perhaps zeroed out entirely, is peculiarly popular on the right. ...

If Cruz’s beef with the IRS is instead about whether it has misused its power in the way it enforces congressionally set tax law — an allegation he’s also made repeatedly — more oversight is the solution, not getting rid of the country’s key tax-collection agency altogether. Otherwise, he’ll have a hard time collecting his Senate salary, let alone a presidential one.

Slate, Ted Cruz Has a Weird Obsession With Abolishing the IRS. About That, by Jordan Weissmann:

So, why bother with all this talk of abolishing the IRS altogether, if we'd need some government agency to do the exact same thing? It goes back to the conservative trope that President Obama has "weaponized" the IRS—remember the scandal over how it allegedly targeted Tea Party groups for audits?—and the only solution now is to tear out the whole bureaucracy, root and branch. “The last two years have fundamentally changed the dynamics of this debate [on the tax code],” Cruz said at a Heritage Foundation speech in January, “as we have seen the weaponization of the IRS, as we have seen the Obama administration using the IRS in a partisan manner to punish its political enemies.”

Fact.Check.Org, Cruz Inflates IRS ‘Agents’:

Sen. Ted Cruz has repeatedly gotten basic facts about the Internal Revenue Service wrong when delivering one of his favorite applause lines, calling for its abolition.

He did it — again — over the weekend in New Hampshire, when he said:

Cruz, March 15There are 110,000 agents at the IRS. We need to put a padlock on that building and take every one of those 110,000 agents and put them on our southern border.

That line gets applause from conservatives who don’t like either the IRS or don’t like those living in the U.S. illegally. But the fact is that the IRS has nowhere close to 110,000 total employees — even counting lowly clerks. And it hasn’t for nearly 20 years.

According to the IRS’s most recent budget request, which the administration submitted in February, Congress has enacted budget authority for only 82,203 total employees in the current fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30. That’s down from 84,761 total workers last fiscal year (as measured by the usual “full-time equivalent,” or FTE, standard).

And of those 82,000, only about one in four can properly be called “agents,” or even “revenue officers.”

Fact Check

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March 24, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Review Submission Season: Hitler Gets Rejected by the Stanford Law Review

March 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 684

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Report Says Former IRS Employees -- Think Lois Lerner -- Can Still Peruse Your Tax Returns, by Robert W. Wood:

Could Lois Lerner still take a look at your tax returns on IRS computers? It sounds preposterous, but a new watchdog report says former IRS employees still have access to IRS computer systems long after they have no official business with the information. The report is by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. The GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. In the case of IRS security, the report says not well.

This report cites significant deficiencies in the security of IRS financial reporting systems. Millions of Americans who are legally required to file taxes are fearful about fraud. The report says the IRS needs to continue improving controls over financial and taxpayer data. In the case of former IRS workers with continuing access to IRS data systems, they need to be cut off.

One co-author of the report said the IRS horde of taxpayer data can be used by identity thieves. The timing couldn’t be worse for the IRS. The IRS is failing to secure its massive computer systems, leaving private taxpayer data vulnerable to fraudsters and hackers, the new report from the GAO reveals.

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March 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Polsky Presents Private Equity Tax Games Today at Pepperdine

Polsky (2015)Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina) presents A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

This paper will describe and analyze tax strategies, lawful and unlawful, used by private equity firms to minimize taxes. While one strategy — the use of “carried interest” — should by now be well understood by tax practitioners and academics, the others remain far more obscure. In combination, these strategies allow private equity managers to pay preferential tax rates on all of their risky pay (through carried interest), pay preferential tax rates on much of their non-risky pay (through management fee waivers and misallocations of their expense deductions), and push much of the residual non-risky pay down to their funds’ portfolio companies who, unlike the fund, can derive significant tax benefits from the resulting deductions (through monitoring fees and management fee offsets). 

Update:  Post-presentation lunch:

Lunch

March 23, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Bar Task Force Issues Draft Report & Recommendations

Ca Bar CoverThe California State Bar Association’s Civil Justice Strategies Task Force has published for public comment (by May 11, 2015) a draft report and recommendations:

“Now Group” Draft Recommendations

1.  Funding:  recommend that the State Bar boost promotion of the Justice Gap Fund in order to increase donations to the fund by lawyers and law firms.

2. Incubators/Modest Means:  recommend that the State Bar track the trajectory of incubator participants; and recommend that the State Bar help create a framework (e.g., mentors, toolkits, forms, etc.) to assist modest means practitioners.

3. Unbundling:  recommend that the State Bar do more to promote and incentivize limited scope representation.

4. Improved Coordination:  recommend greater coordination between the State Bar and Judicial Council, including in efforts to link the various stakeholders involved in providing affordable legal services.

5. Civil Gideon:  recommend that the State Bar support efforts to secure universal representation starting with the following four areas:  Land Lord / Tenant, Family, Domestic Violence, Immigration; and recommend that State Bar help to market what’s working in the pilot projects, publicly support them, and help to scale them.

“New Group” Draft Recommendations

1. Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT): The State Bar should study the design of a pilot program, in one subject matter area, and, with input from the Supreme Court, address how the governance, oversight, and “licensing” would be handled.  It is important to allow the time for the Court to have input at the early stages, rather than after design is complete.

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March 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Denver Is Accepting Submissions For The Emerging Scholar Award

DenverThe Denver University Law Review is accepting submissions for the Emerging Scholar Award:

This exclusive opportunity is for all scholars who have received their J.D. as of March 1, 2015, not yet accepted a tenure-track teaching position, and not held full-time teaching positions for more than three years. The selected recipient will receive an award of $500 and publication in Issue 1, Volume 93, scheduled for early 2016. We will accept submissions for the Emerging Scholar Award from March 23, 2015, until March 30, 2015. Our Articles Committee will review all submitted articles and respond to authors by April 13, 2015.

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

March 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thimmesch: Testing the Models of Tax Compliance: The Use-Tax Experiment

Adam Thimmesch (Nebraska), Testing the Models of Tax Compliance: The Use-Tax Experiment, 2015 Utah L. Rev. ___ :

Researchers in a number of fields have explored the question of why people voluntarily comply with the tax laws. The resulting scholarship suggests that a number of factors influence that decision, but the precise role of, and interaction between, those factors continue to be subjects of debate, and more research is needed. That includes field research to put the current theories to test in real-life settings. This article proposes that state use taxes — known primarily as the taxes that are due when we purchase items online without paying sales taxes — provide a remarkable opportunity for that research. Compliance with those taxes is virtually nonexistent, and most discussions of that issue simply assume that obtaining meaningful levels of voluntary compliance will be impossible. Those assumptions are largely based on rudimentary applications of a basic deterrence model, which relies heavily on audit risk and penalties as motivators of compliance. The modern models of tax compliance, however, offer many different theories with which states could experiment to promote the voluntary payment of those taxes. That experimentation would not only help states to increase their tax collections, but would also help us to obtain a deeper understanding of the very models being applied. The lessons that we learn from those efforts could thus help to inform researchers, the federal government, and governments worldwide regarding how to best encourage voluntary compliance with tax laws more generally. This article begins the process of obtaining those reciprocal benefits by summarizing the current models of tax compliance and by offering concrete examples of how states could use those models within the context of their use-tax systems. The article concludes by exploring the features of state use taxes that make them especially well suited for these efforts.

March 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fogg Receives 2015 Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award

FoggABA Tax Section Press Release (Mar. 20, 2015):

The American Bar Association Section of Taxation presented its annual Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award to Professor T. Keith Fogg, Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villianova University School of Law, during the Section’s Plenary luncheon on January 31, 2015.

We are truly grateful for Keith’s ongoing commitment to serve low-income taxpayers,” Armando Gomez, Section Chair said. “As Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villanova Law School, Keith has trained and mentored a new generation of volunteers. His work as editor of Effectively Representing Your Client Before the IRS and his contributions to Procedurally Taxing, a blog he co-founded, have served as valuable resources for pro bono tax practitioners nationwide.”

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March 23, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Seeks Comments on Eight Proposed Changes to Law School Accreditation Standards

ABA Logo 2On Friday, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar released this memorandum on ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools Matters for Notice and Comment:

At its meeting held on March 13-14, 2015, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved for Notice and Comment the following proposed revisions to the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools:

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March 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goldburn Maynard Accepts Tenure-Track Tax Position at Louisville, Wins Emerging Scholar Award

MaynardGoldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Visiting Assistant Professor, Florida State), has accepted a tenure track tax position at Louisville.  He received the Emerging Scholar Award of Volume 92 of the Denver University Law Review for his article, Addressing Wealth Disparities: Reimagining Wealth Taxation as a Tool for Building Wealth, 92 Denv. U. L. Rev. ___ (2014):

In the past three decades, research has indicated that the building of assets can have a sustainable impact on well-being. Yet to the extent that the tax system has incorporated this insight, it has been done in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion, disproportionately benefiting those with wealth and further reinforcing wealth inequality. This paper argues that while reducing wealth concentrations is important, there should be an increased emphasis on how our tax system can build wealth or, put differently, level up. While the problem of wealth disparities may be too large for any one part of the federal policy toolkit to solve, I argue that the tax system can and should play a vital role.

March 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Profs Receive Their 2015-16 Teaching Schedules

It's that time of year again:  law profs are getting their 2015-016 teaching schedules:

 

(Hat Tip: Sergio Pareja.)

March 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 683

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Should IRS Have Guns? How About Email?, by Robert W. Wood:

How would you like seeing gun-toting IRS Agents at your door? In comparison, a correspondence audit doesn’t sound so bad. Only the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS gets to carry guns, and they say they need them. The IRS has a hard job to do, and being charged with collecting taxes isn’t easy. Yet some people are extra worried about having this already very powerful organization waving weapons around. ...

You might feel especially queasy about the IRS having guns given all the ‘smidgens of corruption’ talk of the last two years. They can’t seem to even hang on to emails. People are more disillusioned about the IRS today than in the past. With all those lost Lois Lerner emails, her hard drive crashed, and there was nothing backed up? Well, not exactly.

In Hearings of the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform on February 26, 2015, J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General, said he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. The hearings also revealed the fact that investigators have recovered another 32,000 emails relating to Lois Lerner. Yet even that wasn’t the most disturbing revelation. ...

House Members were told that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. That contradicted the prior testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He had testified to the effect that recovery efforts had been thorough, and that the tapes couldn’t be accessed. The IRS claims to have spent $20 million responding to congressional inquiries, producing documents and providing agency officials to testify at hearings.

It now appears that no one may have asked, which almost sounds like the Keystone Cops. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said, “It looks like we’ve been lied to, or at least misled.” Treasury Deputy Inspector General Timothy Camus said, “We recovered quite a number of emails, but until we compare those to what’s already been produced we don’t know if they’re new emails.”

Mr. Camus said it took investigators only two weeks to locate the computer tapes, and about four months to find Ms. Lerner’s emails on the tapes. Several Oversight Committee Members questioned how diligent the IRS had been, given how quickly the investigators now were able to find them. Yet an IRS statement repeats the tax agency’s full cooperation. It has not been inexpensive.

With all of the controversy facing the IRS and the tax system these days, it can seem doubly scary to contemplate tax collectors being armed.

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March 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Feldman: Who Needs Law Schools? All of Us.

Bloomberg View:  Why We Need Law Schools, by Noah Feldman (Harvard):

[L]aw school is absolutely essential -- not for lawyers with clients, but for our society as a whole. The reason has everything to do with what makes law distinct as a social phenomenon.

Law is the set of master rules that govern every other aspect of our society and our state. Law functions as a monopoly over all other forms of decision-making. When you make a life decision without a lawyer, it’s because the law allows you to do it. Unlike art or accounting or investment banking or even medicine, law affects and governs literally every aspect of human existence -- whether you like it or not.

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March 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)