TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, November 17, 2011

USC Suspends Launch of its Graduate Tax Program

USC Tax The University of Southern California Gould School of Law suspended the launch of its graduate tax program because of declining job prospects for tax LL.M. graduates in the Los Angeles area. USC Dean Robert Rasmussen reports that the school will continue to monitor the employment situation and will begin the program when it is confident that the career prospects of its tax LL.M. graduates would match those of its J.D. graduates. (USC's business school continues to offer a Masters of Business Taxation.)

With its recent success in luring Nancy Staudt from Northwestern to join its incredibly strong group of Tax Profs -- Elizabeth Garrett (currently USC's Provost), Thomas Griffith, Edward Kleinbard, and Edward McCaffery -- USC is well positioned to support the program once market conditions improve. USC has experienced an upward trajectory in the U.S. News tax rankings in recent years (USC ranks 14th in the 2012 U.S. News Tax Rankings (up from 16th in 2011; USC was unranked in tax in 2010) and solidifies Los Angeles' #1 position in Ted Seto's Tax Faculty Metropolitan Area Rankings.

For more on the decision to attend graduate tax programs in the current economic climate, see:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2011/11/usc-suspends.html

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Comments

What do you know -- a law school with a conscience.

Posted by: Woody | Nov 17, 2011 10:17:00 AM

Very respectable move by USC. It's time that we start praising schools for doing the right thing, instead of criticizing them for doing the wrong thing.

The LLM programs have been one of the most troubling examples of law school opportunism at the expense of their students. NYU started it with their shameless 500 student LLM classes, and soon you saw every school opening a tax LLM program and a foreign student LLM program to rake in additional tuition revenue, even though their graduates weren't getting jobs.

Here, USC is foregoing the tuition revenue to be fair to their LLM applicants. They did not need to do this. They could have opened an LLM program, let students in, enjoyed the tuition revenue, and then told the students to **** off upon graduation. But they chose to do the right thing.

Posted by: anon | Nov 17, 2011 10:18:18 AM

Why does USC have such a big foreign student LLM program?

Posted by: Anon | Nov 17, 2011 6:57:57 PM

I don't know about the LLM program specifically, but foreign students don't qualify for in-state tuition rates, i.e., they bring in more revenue. When state governments are cutting edu funds, the unis are trying to make up the shortfall. Letting in more foreign students is an easy way to do it.

Posted by: rosignol | Nov 17, 2011 7:33:01 PM

As a point of clarification, USC is a private school, not a public school, so in-state tuition is irrelevant. I agree that USC's move with respect to the tax LLM shows some level of integrity. The foreign LLM was started years before, and it would have been interesting to see if they would have done the same with that program.

My guess is that foreign LLM's have different dynamics working for them, and if USC's program is big, it's because the demand is big. I would speculate that most of these foreign students come from rich families and are taking a reasonable gamble that they can hook up with a U.S. citizen and score a green card within a year.

Posted by: Clarify | Nov 17, 2011 8:54:45 PM

I think the job market is partly an excuse I also think USC never really thought through what they wanted to accomplish with the program. It's a great faculty but needs a vision.

Posted by: mike livingston | Nov 17, 2011 9:46:17 PM

What is the "vision" of other LL.M. programs?

Posted by: anon | Nov 19, 2011 7:54:41 AM