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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

U.S. News Tax Rankings for Sale on eBay?

Us_news_logo_2I just received the "Annual Peer Assessment" survey from U.S. News & World Report asking me to help "identify the law schools having the top programs in tax law":

Identify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest-quality tax law courses or programs. In making your choices consider all elements that contribute to a program's academic excellence, for example, the depth and breadth of the program, faculty research and publication record, etc.
(For the 2004 U.S. News ranking of the top Top 25 tax programs, see here; for the U.S. News ranking of the Top 10 graduate tax programs, see here; for TaxProf Blog's description of the major moves (both upward and downward) in the 2004 U.S. News tax rankings compared to the 2002 rankings, see here.)

Given the increasing emphasis schools are putting on these rankings, it got me to wondering why no one has auctioned off their 15 votes on eBay:

Ebaylogotm

Starting bid: US $1.00
Time left: 10 days
Ends Oct-20-04 12:00:00 PDT
Start time: Oct-10-04 12:00:00 PDT
Quantity: 15 available
Item location: Cincinnati, Ohio
United States

You are bidding on 1 of 15 selections in a U.S. News & World Report annual peer assessment of tax law programs in American law schools. Each of the 15 winning bidders will be able to designate one of the votes on this official U.S. News ballot. This is your chance to help your favorite law school's tax program get the recognition it so richly deserves.

As readers who have been with TaxProf Blog since our April 15, 2004 launch know, I have a particular interest in the subject of law school rankings (see here). I recently published (with my fellow blogger and colleague Rafael Gely) What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Texas L. Rev. 1483 (2004), which argues that law schools should heed the lessons from Michael Lewis's best-selling book Moneyball and embrace rankings rather than hide from them. Here is the concluding paragraph:
Like Michael Lewis, we have told a story about a profession and people we love. We are proud of the work law schools and law professors do in teaching future lawyers and producing legal scholarship to the betterment of American law and society. As institutions and as individuals, we have nothing to fear from the accountability and transparency spotlight. Indeed, we do our best work in the light. We should welcome the opportunity to tell the world what we do and help them measure our performance as teachers and scholars. If we do not, the story will be told by others and it will no longer be our own.
The article has attracted a lot of attention (over 1100 downloads on SSRN) and spawned a symposium on The Next Generation of Law School Rankings to be held on April 15, 2005 (the date is purely a coincidence!) at Indiana-Bloomington, with the papers and commentary to be published in the Indiana Law Journal. Over a dozen leading law profs (including Brian Leiter (Texas), Hon. Richard Posner (Chicago, 7th Circuit), and Cass Sunstein (Chicago)) will weigh in on three general areas:
• Framing the Rankings Debate
• Rankings Methodologies
• Other Voices in the Rankings Debate
I will be sharing news about the symposium on TaxProg Blog over the coming months. In the meantime, don't forget the University of Cincinnati College of Law (the first law school on the top of page 4) as you fill out your U.S. News survey of the leading law school tax programs!

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2004/10/us_news_tax_sur.html

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Comments

As a newcomer to this email list as of a couple of days ago, I report with a bit of trepidation that Boston University School of Law and its Graduate Tax Program would love to buy your votes. Unfortunately, however, we've blown our entire budget on significant program, curriculum and faculty enhancements. See http://www.bu.edu/law/gradtax.

Posted by: Ernest M. Haddad | Oct 12, 2004 3:10:55 PM

I would love to buy your votes for my alma mater and its wonderful tax emphasis program and new LLM in Taxation program.

In order to develop this fine program, our law school sold out the students by giving away 50 percent of our library space to the undergrad university for nearly two years, while they built a new library.

Then, in order to "save money" and clear classroom space for the new evening LLM Program, the school secretly and behind closed doors voted to kill the part-time evening JD program.

And to boot, the director of the Tax program is the little brother of the President of the University.

Nepotism, deceit, sellouts, and disregard for the students, and a lack of loyalty to their alumni.

Not only does Chapman want your votes, we NEED THEM!!!

Too bad career services hasn't gotten me a job yet, or I would bid!!!

CLG

Posted by: Chapman Law Grad | Oct 13, 2004 1:41:38 AM

No offense to you Chapman Law Grad, but the Career Services Offices at most, if not all schools (outside of those ranked in the top 10), will not be able to get you a job. I would suggest that you try finding employment in this troubled economy of ours the old fashioned way: Networking.

Sometimes I wonder what the point of the U.S. Rankings are. Outside of schools which always seem to be in the top 20, most large law firms and snooty government agencies (DOJ Honors Program), most grads have to go about finding employment on their own. Of course, when law school applicants hear about the gigantic salaries that law school graduates are paid at the larger firms, dollar signs start to swirl. It's a sad state of affairs now, because of the demand for a legal education, the huge supply of freshly minted lawyers, and a lack of demand for new associates.

Posted by: Anonymous | Oct 13, 2004 1:25:26 PM

Quoth Anonymous: It's a sad state of affairs now, because of the demand for a legal education, the huge supply of freshly minted lawyers, and a lack of demand for new associates.

As an ex-lawyer who left the profession after almost ten years and is much, much happier now than I ever was as a lawyer, you've identified exactly why I tell every law student I meet: "It's never too late to quit."

Advice I'd happily pass on to practicing lawyers too, save that they'll find it impossible to maintain their lifestyles on the jobs available in the "booming" Bush economy. *snicker*

Posted by: Len Cleavelin | Oct 14, 2004 1:46:07 PM

"As an ex-lawyer who left the profession after almost ten years and is much, much happier now than I ever was as a lawyer, you've identified exactly why I tell every law student I meet: 'It's never too late to quit.'"

What do you recommend they do instead?

Posted by: Luke Weiger | Oct 14, 2004 4:50:53 PM

Of course, when law school applicants hear about the gigantic salaries that law school graduates are paid at the larger firms, dollar signs start to swirl.

I remember my old firm, we used to get "cold call" resumes faxed to us by people in a bottom 50% program in the bottom half of the class, letting us know that they would be willing to start with us, 1500 billable hours a year, at a mere $90k a year if we could come up with a competitive benefits package to go with it.

BTW, I'll bid a couple bucks for my alma mater and we don't have a tax program -- but it is never too late to work on ratings ....

Posted by: Ethesis (Stephen M) | Oct 14, 2004 8:12:20 PM

I graduated from a tier 4 law school, and what I've learned is that the real world place a lot of emphasis on rankings. It should not be that way because the school you attend does not determine how smart you are or how well you would perform in your job. I've been in a room with top tier school students who were clueless on a certain law topic (secured transactions), whereas I with my tier 4 law school education understood what was going on. My point is that if you were fortunate enough to attend a top tier school, great for you, but don't look down on others or be a snob. Many of the students in bottom tier law schools are as smart as anyone else or smarter, but for one reason or another could not attend the school of their choice. I for one was accepted in a top tier school for an LLM in tax but may not attend because of financial reasons.

Posted by: anonymous | Jun 23, 2005 12:14:01 PM

Interesting read 2 years on thanks

Posted by: Neale | Nov 28, 2006 11:28:46 PM