TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Organ: The Declining LSAT Scores of Law School Matriculants

The Legal Whiteboard:  The Composition of Graduating Classes of Law Students -- 2013-2016 -- Part One, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

This is the first of two blog posts regarding the changing composition of entering classes and the changing composition of graduating classes.  In Part I, I analyze the distribution of LSAT scores across categories based on the LSAC’s National Decision Profiles for the years 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, and then analyze the distribution of law school median LSATs and the 25th percentile LSATs across ranges of LSAT scores.  In Part II, I will analyze how attrition trends have changed since 2010 to assess what that might tell us about the composition of graduating classes three years after entering law school as a way of thinking about the likely impact on bar passage over time.

Chart 1

Chart 2

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December 31, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Osofsky Reviews Zelenak's Custom and the Rule of Law in the Administration of the Income Tax

JotwellLeigh Osofsky (Miami), The IRS as Tax Law Nonenforcer (Jotwell) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Custom and the Rule of Law in the Administration of the Income Tax, 62 Duke L.J. 829 (2012)):

Zelenak laments the difficulty in challenging customary deviations. He usefully explores how the pro-taxpayer nature of customary deviations and limitations on third-party taxpayer standing leave little room for outsiders to step in and prevent customary deviations from going too far. Zelenak leaves the reader with the sense that customary deviations can in some cases be desirable, in some cases problematic, but in all cases difficult to do anything about as a result of limitations on taxpayer standing and the real threat that allowing standing to challenge the deviations may pose to the administrability of the tax system. Zelenak’s most concrete proposal is for “Congress to enact a new Code provision specifically authorizing the Treasury Department to issue regulations narrowing the statutory definition of gross income with respect to non-cash benefits received outside of an employment context, whenever the IRS decides that administrative concerns make such a narrowing advisable,” and that “Congress might decide to give the Treasury Department similar authority to revise by regulation other specified Code sections”  

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December 31, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department of Education Finds That Harvard Law School's Sexual Assault Policy Violates Title IX

Harvard Law School Logo (2014)Bloomberg, Harvard Law Loses a Four-Year Fight Over Its Sexual Assault Policy:

For the past several months, members of the Harvard Law School faculty have lobbied hard against Harvard’s new sexual harassment policy, which they said lacked “the most basic elements of fairness and due process.” They demanded the university withdraw the policy.

Now, Harvard Law School no longer has a choice. The Department of Education announced on Tuesday that the law school violated Title IX by failing to properly respond to two student complaints of sexual harassment and using the wrong standard of evidence in campus cases. As part of an agreement it reached with the government, Harvard Law must revise its sexual harassment policy and change how it responds to sexual assault cases.

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December 31, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 601

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon:  IRS Watchdog Continues to Hide Records on White House Leaks; Of 2509 Documents, Government Agrees to Release 31:

An independent IRS monitor announced Monday it will block the release of roughly 400 more pages of documents related to unauthorized leaks of confidential taxpayer information to the White House.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told the watchdog group Cause of Action it would be withholding nearly all of the 2,500 documents it located that were related to unauthorized IRS leaks to the White House. Earlier this month, TIGTA told Cause of Action it was withholding roughly 2,100 of the documents and said it would take an additional two weeks to review the rest.

TIGTA released 31 pages of documents on Monday to Cause of Action, 27 of which were already publicly available. Most were responses to letters from Republican senators.

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December 31, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Legal Educators to Gather at AALS to Set the Agenda for 2015

AALS (2015)National Law Journal, Legal Educators Gathering to Set the Agenda for 2015:

More than 2,000 law professors and law school administrators are expected to attend the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting this week in Washington. It’s the largest yearly gathering of legal educators, but attendance is projected be down by about 15 percent as law schools have been cutting spending amid enrollment declines. Still, plenty of big legal names are scheduled to speak, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Next Moneyball Frontier: Facial Coding?

New York Times, Teams Turn to a Face Reader, Looking for That Winning Smile:

FACSWhen two financiers purchased the Milwaukee Bucks for $550 million last April, they promised to pour not only money and new management into the moribund franchise, but also the same kind of creative and critical thinking that had helped make them hedge fund billionaires.

It was not enough to increase the franchise’s sales force or beef up the team’s analytics department — the Bucks were looking for a more elusive edge. So in May, the team hired Dan Hill, a facial coding expert who reads the faces of college prospects and N.B.A. players to determine if they have the right emotional attributes to help the Bucks.

The approach may sound like palm reading to some, but the Bucks were so impressed with Hill’s work before the 2014 draft that they retained him to analyze their players and team chemistry throughout this season.

With the tenets of “Moneyball” now employed in the front offices of every major sport, perhaps it was inevitable that professional teams would turn to emotion metrics and neuroscience tools to try to gain an edge in evaluating players.

“We spend quite a bit of time evaluating the players as basketball players and analytically,” said David Morway, Milwaukee’s assistant general manager, who works for the owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. “But the difficult piece of the puzzle is the psychological side of it, and not only psychological, character and personality issues, but also team chemistry issues.”

Hill contends that faces betray our true emotions and can predict intentions, decisions and actions. He employs the psychologist Paul Ekman’s widely accepted FACS, or Facial Action Coding System, to decipher which of the 43 muscles in the face are working at any moment. Seven core emotions are identified: happiness, surprise, contempt, disgust, sadness, anger and fear. ...

Face

Hill said he was inspired to take his work into sports after observing “profound sadness” in the face of Rafael Nadal soon before he lost the 2008 United States Open semifinal match to Andy Murray. The epiphany convinced Hill he could help teams find the “heart of a champion” by predicting and improving performance through facial coding. ...

Hill has worked with a few other teams, but the use of facial coding in sports is hardly widespread. Its acceptance may rest on the success of the Bucks. If you want to be creative, Smith, the Bucks’ psychologist, said, “you have to be willing to be ridiculed." "People laugh until they see results.”

New York Times, What Expressions Can Say About a Player:

Many sports teams have adopted advanced data analytics to help determine a player’s athletic abilities and value. Now, some are taking it a step further — trying to analyze psychological aspects as well. These teams are using facial-expression coding, which is based on the premise that human faces cannot hide true emotions, intentions or decisions.

December 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Debate: How Low Can the InfiLaw Law Schools Go?

InfiLaw (2014)Following up on last week's post, How Low Can You Go, InfiLaw?:

Jay Conison (Dean, Charlotte), Guest Post:

Mr. David Frakt purports to be an expert on legal education and in particular the relationship between LSAT and educational outcomes. He has asserted that no one with an LSAT below 145 has more than a trifling chance of passing a bar examination, and that schools that admit students with such low LSATs are deceiving students and the public. Mr. Frakt has chosen in particular to attack the Charlotte School of Law, the Florida Coastal School of Law, and the Arizona Summit Slaw School. The crux of his attack is the relatively low LSAT profile of the students. ... I can shed light on how Mr. Frakt has gone astray.

LSAT scores have two functions for law schools. One is as a measure of prestige. ... This function of LSAT, however, has been put under severe stress by the sharp downturn in applicants. Many schools want to simultaneously publish a high LSAT profile, in order to continue to compete for status, but also maintain the high enrollment needed to provide large operating revenues. This tension has led many schools to reduce first-year class size, in order to preserve LSAT profile and thus prestige, while engaging in aggressive transfer admissions to build revenues from students whose LSAT scores are not counted (in U.S. News and other measures of status). As a result, first-year LSAT profile no longer accurately represents the real student body LSAT profile.

The other function of the LSAT—and the one for which it was designed—is as a predictor of academic success. While it does have predictive value, an important question is just how good, and that varies from school to school. Charlotte uses the LSAT only as a predictor of academic success, and not as a measure of prestige. Charlotte also understands the limits of the LSAT as a predictor, and understands that it is possible to have other, even better, predictive models using other forms of assessment. ...

Thus, it is wildly over simplistic to look—as Mr. Frakt does—only at first-year LSAT profile and believe that it tells a dispositive story about a law school. LSAT profile is not destiny, and it is not now (if it ever was) an unequivocal indicator of aggregate likelihood of academic success, because many schools hide their lower LSAT students from public reporting, and because some schools, like Charlotte, utilize more comprehensive, validated predictors of success. ...

Mr. Frakt’s view rests on model of a law school as just a black box, into which one inputs LSAT scores and outputs bar passage. But as anyone in a law school knows, it is no such thing. Rather, it is a complex system for delivery of educational services, the details of which are very important for assessing the quality and value of a school.

David Frakt (Barry), Response to Dean Conison:

I commend Dean Jay Conison of Charlotte School of Law for coming on to The Faculty Lounge and trying to defend the recent admission practices of Charlotte and his sister InfiLaw schools.  I appreciate that he is willing to engage, at least indirectly, in this important debate with me.  As an experienced criminal defense attorney (I’m currently back on active duty with the Air Force defending a capital murder case), I know very well what it is like to defend a position when the overwhelming weight of evidence is against you, so I don’t envy Dean Conison’s position.  Well, come to think of it, maybe I do envy his position.  Wasn’t I just trying to become Dean at Florida Coastal?  But I digress. . . 

In this post, I will respond to several of the points raised by Dean Conison and raise some questions that I hope he will consider answering in a follow-up post. ...

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Do Colleges (and Law Schools) Need a Business Productivity Audit?

College TuitionWall Street Journal op-ed:  Colleges Need a Business Productivity Audit, by Frank Mussano & Robert Iosue (authors, College Tuition: Four Decades of Financial Deception (2014)):

College tuition rates are ridiculously out of hand. Since the late 1970s, tuition has surged more than 1,000%, while the consumer-price index has risen only 240%. ...

[T]hree quarters of a typical college budget is spent on personnel expenses, including benefits. Yet the average professor spends much less time in the classroom today than two decades ago. In 2010 44% of full-time faculty reported that they spent nine or more hours a week in the classroom, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. In 1989 more than 60% said they did. The traditional 12-15 hours a week teaching load is changing into a six-to-nine-hour workweek, a significant decrease in productivity.

The typical defense of the reduced workload goes something like this: Professors have increased research demands, more extensive classroom preparation and committee work, as well as additional administrative and student-counseling responsibilities. Except for a handful of elite researchers, this argument doesn’t add up. ...

There’s another problem: The number of college administrators has increased 50% faster than the number of instructors since 2001, according to the Education Department. Administrative costs have far outpaced other college expenses during the past two decades. ...

All the while, colleges launched a prestige arms race, dropping millions on extravagant buildings. Higher-education construction spending has doubled since 1994, with a peak of $15 billion in 2006 that has leveled off at $11 billion in recent years. Adding to the frenzy are the various magazine rankings that base much of their quality-assessment formula on the amount of money spent on student services and facilities, even if the funds are wasted. Campuses have everything from lazy rivers to climbing walls to luxury dormitories.

On top of that, student-loan debt has skyrocketed to $1.2 trillion. Easy access to government loan money has given colleges license to boost tuition with no motivation to keep costs down. ...

[C]olleges and universities engaged in a spending spree because they can. But there’s one simple idea that might start to reverse the spending spree: audits of higher education. ...

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December 30, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

SSRN Tax Professor 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 December 1, 2014) 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.)

41,740

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6701

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

27,185

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5227

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,266

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

2863

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

21,236

Paul Caron (Pepperdine) 

2655

5

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,333

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2546

6

James Hines (Michigan)

20,177

Gregg Polsky (North Carolina)

2332

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19,426

Omri Marian (Florida)

1984

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19.234

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1944

9

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

16,991

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1791

10

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

16,621

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1673

11

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,510

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1559

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,404

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1532

13

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

14,801

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1531

14

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,683

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1513

15

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

14,594

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1450

16

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,551

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1381

17

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,340

James Hines (Michigan)

1353

18

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

14,240

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1317

19

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,206

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1308

20

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

14,100

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1240

21

David Walker (Boston Univ.)

14,065

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1234

22

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,575

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1210

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,541

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1183

24

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,875

Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)

1107

25

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,844

Steve Willis (Florida)

1104

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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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anderson: The Best College Majors for Business Success: STEM

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), The Best College Majors for Business:

STEMOne of the most daunting tasks college students face is the choice of a major. When students seek advice from counselors, they are often told to "follow their passions," on the theory that the choice of a major has little impact on future success. Students are often told that the most important thing is "critical thinking" and "communication" skills, and that all college majors prepare students for success in these ways.

Yet a forceful minority in education has long claimed that there is something special about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors that uniquely prepares students for success. STEM advocates argue that the rigor of a STEM education better prepares students for the skills that are most in demand in a modern economy. Still, sometimes students resist this, thinking that with a STEM education they will be "locked into" a job in a laboratory, without the opportunity to advance into broader endeavors.

One way of testing this proposition is to look at the leaders in the world of business, where the bottom line depends on hiring the best talent and where the (monetary) rewards are highest. This post examines the most visible and arguably prestigious slice of business leaders--the directors and senior executive officers of publicly traded companies. Combing through this data to extract the college majors of officers and directors may give some insight into which college majors are most valuable in the long term.

The results of this data collection, summarized below, are unequivocal. All majors do not lead to the same level of business success, and STEM graduates are not "locked in" to technical careers; indeed, STEM majors outperform virtually all other majors in the business world by a large margin. Perhaps counterintuitively, the best major for success in business clearly is not business administration. The top majors for success in business are engineering, science, mathematics, economics, and accounting. ... The bottom line is that ... [a]ny type of engineering or mathematics, as well as most types of science, outperform virtually all liberal arts (and other) degrees.

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

What Do The July 2014 California Bar Exam Results Tell Us About Law Student Quality?

California State Bar (2014)Following up on yesterday's post, July 2014 California Bar Exam Results:

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Is the Law School Slump Starting to Affect Student Quality?:

One might reasonably infer that the slump in law school applications has meant that all schools are taking in students today that they would not have taken 10 years ago, but that the bottom tier schools have been disproportionately affected by this trend, which makes sense. ... The bottom tier schools now are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, which is reflected in their bar passage rates.

Orange County Register editorial, Bar Exam Failing Would-Be Lawyers:

Law schools have done their best to run from the plunge in fortunes brought on by the 2008 financial crisis. But they have never quite managed to hide. In California, where the legal-industrial complex hums as loudly as anywhere, new evidence suggests that the long-inflated law school bubble, at last, may be popping in earnest.

And no: that’s not a problem.

“Most law school graduates who took the summer California bar exam failed, adding to the pressure on law schools already dealing with plummeting enrollments, complaints about student debt and declining job prospects,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Law school administrators are quick to observe that pass rates dipped nationwide, suggesting that the exam may have ticked upward in difficulty this year.

Nevertheless, the structural issues are clear. In California, for instance, it’s been an open secret that the bar exam serves a harsh purpose: to cull those JDs who were good enough to graduate but not to practice law.

On the other hand, it’s also well known that the bar exam is an insanely exaggerated test of the skills one needs to succeed as a first-year associate at a respectable law firm.

Not only does the bar exam weed out those who truly can’t hack it; it also selects for those willing to hack anything in order to receive the credential that unlocks the big bucks.

As a result, the legal-industrial complex breeds two kinds of problems – a class of misbegotten losers and a class of misbegotten winners. The losers have an all-but-useless legal degree, and, often, the dizzying tuition tab to match. The winners have relatively plum legal jobs – not because they’re the soundest and sharpest legal minds, but because they’re the most ruthless and efficient hoop-jumpers.

Both these outcomes tarnish the legal profession, no matter how noble its aims. Lawyering attracts too many young Americans. It disappoints too many, and turns too many into intellectual hustlers. Reforming the bar exam is just one element of the change that must come.

December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Days 501-600

December 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 600

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Rev. Al Sharpton's Key Tax Tips...From Lois Lerner, by Robert W. Wood:

In Tell it to the Reverend Al, the New York Post says Rev. Sharpton still owes New York State $916,000 from tax liens filed against him between 2008 and 2010. In all, Mr. Sharpton is said to have $4.5 million of tax liens. He claims he paid them, but state officials say otherwise. This isn’t the first time his records do not line up. Indeed, on two prior occasions he suffered inconvenient fires that destroyed records.

It’s a little like the crash of Lois Lerner’s hard drive. Those fires destroyed Mr. Sharpton’s financial records just as he was about to turn them over to officials. And records are key to tax disputes. As Mr. Sharpton works though his tax problems with or without records, he appears to have a suit made of Teflon, even when it comes to taxes.

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December 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Boston Law Schools (Other Than Harvard) Suffer Large (24%) Enrollment Declines

BostonFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Boston area law schools suffered a 17.7% enrollment decline from 2011 to 2014:

School

US News Rank

2011 1Ls

2014 1Ls

Change

Harvard

2

564

563

-

Boston Univ.

27

242

208

(14.0%)

Boston College

36

269

230

(14.5%)

Northeastern

93

217

126

(41.9%)

Suffolk

Tier 2

534

423

(20.8%)

New England

Tier 2

380

265

(30.3%)

Excluding Harvard, the enrollment decline of the other 5 law schools is 23.8%

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

NLJ: 2014 Legal Education Year in Review

2014National Law Journal, Law Schools: Growth, Retrenchment:

  • Accreditation Overhaul
  • Murder in Tallahassee
  • Bar Exam Blues
  • New School in Dallas
  • Empty Coffers
  • Big Law Bound
  • A Dearth of Students
  • Breaking Ground
  • A Hostile Takeover
  • Campus Calls for Justice

 

December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Business Tax Papers: Oxford University Symposium

OxfordCall for Papers: Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation 9th Annual Symposium:

We invite you to submit a paper for the ninth annual symposium of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation. The symposium will take place at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, from Monday 22 – Thursday 25 June 2015. As ever, we welcome research on any topics related to business taxation in its broadest sense, including papers from economics, law and other disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary contributions. The programme from last year’s symposium can be found here.

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December 29, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The End of the Professions?

EndNational Review, The End of the Professions?:

We also read that much of what lawyers do now will be turned over to machines. (Insert lawyer joke here.) The supply of lawyers already far exceeds the demand. This seems, of course, bad news for political science as a liberal-arts, pre-professional major. Constitutional law used to be touted as a really tough course that would show your readiness for law school. Well prepared by all the reading and writing you did in college, you will, it’s very, very likely, do well enough in law school to be rather securely set for life in a good firm. Many a Berry grad has followed some version of that “career path.”

But things have changed.  I’s easier to get into law school. Some pretty decent programs, in fact, aren’t filling up and are getting desperate for warm bodies. Even grads from the best programs are having trouble getting secure jobs, and compensation for lawyers is, in general, getting worse. The business of borrowing huge bucks to fund your legal education is now way too risky. Everyone knows of underemployed law-school grads (many of whom got good grades in law schools) drowning in debt. So the new challenge is to go to law school for free or at least on the cheap, and that is getting a lot easier to do, as law-school discounting is getting closer to college discounting. A reputable law school not far from where I’m sitting now used to basically stiff their students with an exorbitant tuition, and the profit was redistributed to the rest of the campus programs. Now, money is being frantically redistributed to the law school for financial aid to keep it afloat.

It’s still the case that if you want to be a lawyer you should “follow your passion” and go to law school. But you have to do so with a much more entrepreneurial spirit. Jobs aren’t guaranteed for the nerds who get all A’s. Everyone has to hustle to find gainful employment. And lawyers are more and more stuck with being independent contractors selling their labor piecemeal for a price.

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2014 California Bar Exam Results

California State BarThe July 2014 California bar passage rates by school are out. Here are the results for first time test takers for the 21 California ABA-approved law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (California and overall):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)

 

School

US News Rank

CA (Overall)

1 (88.3%)

UC-Berkeley

2 (9)

2 (87.6%)

Stanford

1 (3)

3 (86.6%)

USC

4 (20)

4 (85.6%)

UC-Davis

5 (36)

5 (81.7%)

UCLA

3 (16)

6 (79.9%)

Loyola-L.A.

9 (87)

7 (77.7%)

Pepperdine

6 (54)

8 (77.1%)

UC-Irvine

n/r

9 (74.8%)

Chapman

11 (140)

10 (72.7%)

San Diego

8 (79)

11 (71.3%)

California Western

Tier 2

69.4%

Statewide Ave. (CA ABA-Approved)

12 (68.3%)

UC-Hastings

6 (54)

13 (65.5%)

La Verne

n/r

14 (61.4%)

San Francisco

Tier 2

15 (60.5%)

McGeorge

12 (146)

16 (60.4%)

Santa Clara

10 (107)

17 (58.8%)

Western State

Tier 2

18 (54.4%)

Southwestern

Tier 2

19 (44.7%)

Thomas Jefferson

Tier 2

20 (43.8%)

Golden Gate

Tier 2

21 (42.7%)

Whittier

Tier 2

The big story this year is the striking decline in the bar passage rate:

  • First time test takers from ABA-aproved law schools:  down 6.5 percentage points
  • All test takers:  down 7.1 percentage points

These declines are concentrated in the lowest ranked schools:

  • First time test takers at the 5 highest ranked schools:  down 1.5 percentage points
  • First time test takers at the 5 lowest tanked schools:  down 12.3 percentage points

Among the individual law schools, the biggest underperformers in bar passage are:

  • UC-Hastings:  #6 among California law schools in U.S. News (#54 overall), #12 in bar passage (and below the statewide average)
  • UC-Irvine:  its stated goal is to be a Top 20 law school in its inaugural U.S. News ranking to be announced this March, which would place it 4th in the state (tied with USC), but its bar passage rate is only 8th in the state, below UC-Davis, Loyola-L.A., and Pepperdine.  UC-Irvine was also 8th in the state in bar passage in 2013 (again below UC-Davis, Loyola-L.A., and Pepperdine)
  • Santa Clara:  #10 among California law schools in U.S. News (#107 overall), #16 in bar passage (and below the statewide average)
  • UCLA:  #3 among California law schools in U.S. News (#16 overall), #5 in bar passage
  • McGeorge:  #12 among California law schools in U.S. News (#146 overall), #15 in bar passage

Among the individual law schools, the biggest overperformers on bar passage are:

  • Loyola-L.A.:  #9 among California law schools in U.S. News (#87 overall), #6 in bar passage
  • Chapman:  #11 among California law schools in U.S. News (#140 overall), #9 in bar passage
  • California Western:  Tier 2 in U.S. News, 11th in bar passage
  • La Verne:  unranked in U.S. News, 13th in bar passage

Here are the out-of-state schools with the highest and lowest pass rates:

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Enrollment Declines at Washington, D.C. Law Schools: A Tale of Two Cities

D.C.Washington Post, First-year Enrollment Down From 2010 Levels at Some Washington-area Law Schools:

The number of people entering U.S. law schools is at its lowest point in 41 years, as the shrinking job market for young lawyers continues to chip away at demand for legal education.

Nationally, 37,924 people started their first year of law school in fall 2014 — down 4 percent compared with 2013, and down nearly 28 percent compared with the peak enrollment of 52,488 in 2010, according to data released this month by the American Bar Association. It is the fourth consecutive year of enrollment declines. ...

Although nationally the numbers are down, enrollment trends are more mixed at some of the Washington area’s law schools. ... Enrollments by first-year students at both Georgetown (#13 in U.S. News) and GWU (#20) are roughly at the same levels they were in 2010. Georgetown has slipped less than 2 percent, and GWU has actually increased by 3 percent. ... At American U (#72) and George Mason (#46) , enrollment by “first years” is down 15 percent and 35 percent, respectively, compared with 2010.

[At lower ranked Washington, D.C. law schools, the declines are:

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 599

IRS Logo 2IRS Statement Regarding FOIA Lawsuit:

There are a number of news accounts that incorrectly identify the Internal Revenue Service as being involved in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with Cause of Action (D.C. District Court Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-01225-ABJ). That lawsuit involves the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and its investigations, not the IRS.

Moreover, press and Internet accounts regarding this particular FOIA lawsuit inaccurately suggest that the IRS is withholding documents in the lawsuit. The IRS is not withholding documents in the FOIA lawsuit because the IRS is not a party to the lawsuit. Moreover, any suggestions that the IRS is not cooperating or somehow withholding documents from TIGTA are also inaccurate. The IRS remains committed to cooperating with TIGTA as well as other oversight bodies.

We understand the FOIA lawsuit seeks records relating to TIGTA’s investigations of allegations of improper disclosures — and that TIGTA has identified approximately 2,500 pages worth of records concerning its investigations into such allegations. Based on the public record, there is no basis to conclude that these records identified by TIGTA involve 2,500 taxpayers or tax returns.

Additional questions on this matter should be directed to TIGTA.

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December 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 28, 2014

University of Mississippi Intentionally Cuts Law School Enrollment by 36%

Mississippi LogoThe Clarion Ledger, Ole Miss Law School Enrollment Drops Intentionally:

The University of Mississippi School of Law’s first-year enrollment has dropped from 199 in 2010, to 156 in 2012 and just 127 students this year.

The decrease was intentional. Officials began reducing the class sizes at a time when a recovering economy and improving job market began to lure potential students away from law school. “We were much more concerned about placement. If we had a large class, that impacts the profession in a negative way when the market isn’t real strong for lawyers. What we’ve found by getting smaller is placement percentages have gone up,” law school dean Richard Gershon told The Sun Herald. Last year, about 85 percent of the law school graduates had a job in the legal field nine months after graduation, Gershon said.

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December 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Jim Harbaugh Takes His 'Dad Pants' to Michigan

HarbaughWall Street Journal:  ‘Jim Harbaugh’ Goes to Michigan, by Jason Gay:

For years, bossy men’s magazines have been telling us it’s all about plain fronts and narrow silhouettes; basically, they want everyone to dress like Daniel Craig’s butler. Harbaugh does not dress like Daniel Craig’s butler. He has alternated between pleats and flat fronts, but he likes his pants roomy and airy like a McMansion’s wine cellar. Harbaugh’s wife Sarah did a hilarious mock PSA [below] in which she lamented her husband’s condition of “dad pants,” and her description is perfect. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not—if you wear Jim Harbaugh pants three days in a row, you wind up buying a minivan.

But I loved these khakis. I loved them the second I put them on. Harbaugh is a sartorial genius. You wear these khakis and within two minutes, you forget you’re wearing pants. You’re free, relaxed, comfortable, happy. In Harbaugh pants, I felt like Brando in Tahiti.

Los Angeles Times, Jim Harbaugh Agrees to Michigan Coaching Job, Reports Say:

Those rumors about Michigan making Jim Harbaugh an offer he couldn't refuse appear to be true. Multiple reports say the embattled San Francisco 49ers coach has agreed to become the Wolverines' next coach. ... The New York Times first reported that Harbaugh has accepted the deal, which has been reported to be six years at nearly $50 million.

December 28, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5. The #1 paper is now #76 in all-time downloads among 10,606 tax papers:

  1. [1487 Downloads]  A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games, by Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina)
  2. [274 Downloads]  Piketty in America: A Tale of Two Literatures, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  3. [176 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Consumption Tax: A Historical Perspective, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  4. [173 Downloads]  Corporate Inversions -- Background, Causes, and Policy Options, by J. Richard (Dick) Harvey (Villanova)
  5. [146 Downloads]  California Dreamin': Tax Scholarship in a Time of Fiscal Crisis, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)

December 28, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 598

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Exactly What Kind Of A Criminal Might Lois Lerner Be?, by Peter J. Reilly:

If Lois Lerner is a criminal, exactly what kind of criminal is she? If you spend much time reading IRS scandal or, as I like to call it, Teapartygate material, you will often encounter some form of the question that Joe Otto asks in his post titled Why Isn’t Lois Lerner In Prison Yet? , since as he notes “ Lois Lerner’s decision to weaponize the IRS against Tea Party groups is absolutely criminal!”

OK. Well, I’m a little bit of a geek and I’m fairly certain that there is not a section in the United States Code titled – Weaponizing IRS against Tea Party groups -, at least not yet. Give them time. There will probably be a constitutional amendment to say that the Eighth Amendment does not apply in cases of IRS Weaponizing, so that the punishment can be really unusual. Anyway we’re not there yet, so I’ve been trying to figure out what the specific crimes are that Lois Lerner can be charged with. ...

One of the scenarios that fits a lot of the facts that have come out so far is that Lois Lerner was frustrated that people inside the IRS were not serious enough about dark money 501(c)(4) groups being in violation of the law. ... A prosecutor would have to prove that Lois Lerner knew she had a legal duty not to disclose the information to the FBI and chose to violate that duty knowing that the violation was criminal – not that she should have known, rather that she did know.

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December 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

More on Teaching (and Examining) Today's Sensitive Law Students

Following up on my previous posts on whether today's law students are too sensitive to study rape law or take exams in the wake of the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island  (links below):

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

LSU Law School Offers Buyouts (1 Year's Salary) to Seven Tenured Profs Over 65; Dean Hopes They Will 'Retire With Dignity'

LSU Logo (2015)Baton Rouge Advocate, LSU Law Center Offers Buyouts to 7 Professors as Interest in Law Schools Dwindles Nationally:

LSU’s Law Center is offering an incentive to seven professors if they retire next summer as it looks to cut costs amid a dwindling interest in law schools nationally.

The professors, all older than 65 and tenured faculty members, have until Monday to decide whether they will retire June 30 and get paid a bonus of roughly a year’s salary in return. The total that would be saved if all decide to take the buyout: $1.12 million a year.

“This is really part of a necessary effort to provide additional financial flexibility for the Law Center,” LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said during a recent LSU Board of Supervisors meeting, at which the plan was unanimously approved. ...

The LSU Law Center’s fall 2014 enrollment is about 570 students — 200 of them in their first year. That’s a slight uptick from the year before, but LSU has seen a significant drop in interest in recent years, reflective of the national trend. It’s down nearly 16 percent from LSU law’s 238 first-year student enrollment in 2011. ...

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Listokin Named Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law at Yale

Listokin (2015)Yair J. Listokin has been named the inaugural Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law at Yale Law School:

Yair J. Listokin ... examines tax law, corporate law, and contract law from both empirical and theoretical perspectives. After receiving his A.B from Harvard University, Listokin attended Princeton University, where he was awarded an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in economics. He then received his J.D. from Yale Law School. After serving as a law clerk for the Honorable Richard A. Posner, Listokin came to Yale as associate professor of law in 2006. He became professor of law in 2011. He has held visiting teaching positions at Harvard Law School and New York University School of Law.

Listokin has contributed numerous articles to academic and professional journals on topics such as shareholder power, the finances of criminal gangs, and statistical methods for the interpretation of contracts. His research has been featured in Fortune, cnn.com, The Boston Globe, and Slate. He is currently at work on a monograph exploring law and macroeconomics.

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 597

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  IRS: Search for Lerner Emails Almost Over:

A Treasury inspector general will likely conclude its search for former IRS official Lois Lerner’s missing emails “in the next several weeks,” John Koskinen, the agency’s commissioner, said Thursday.

Once Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is finished, the Senate Finance Committee would be able to put the final touches on its investigation into the IRS’s singling out of Tea Party groups, something Koskinen said he hoped to see early in 2015.

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December 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Chicago (22%), Philadelphia (35%) Law Schools Suffer Large Enrollment Declines

Crain's Chicago Business, Chicago Law Schools See First-Year Enrollment Shrink:

Chicago

Philadelphia Business Journal, Local Law School First-Year Enrollment Down 35 Percent Since Recession:

The six local law schools have seen first-year enrollment drop by 34.6 percent from its historic high in 2009-10 — exceeding the national drop off of 27.7 percent. ... Locally, the law schools at Widener University's Wilmington campus (-67 percent), Villanova University (-40 percent), Rutgers University-Camden (-33 percent), Temple University (-29 percent) and Drexel University (-17 percent) saw double-digit declines in first-year enrollment since 2010. University of Pennsylvania (-1 percent) was the only local school to have relatively flat enrollment compared to five years ago.

Phil

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December 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 596

IRS Logo 2Newsmax:  Barack Obama IRS Scandal: 8 Key Figures Caught Up in Tea Party Tax Targeting Controversy:

The longer the IRS scandal stays around, the worse it gets. Conservative and, particularly, Tea Party organizations were targeted by the IRS leading up to the 2012 campaign, creating a controversy that surrounds President Barack Obama.

Here are eight key figures involved in it, investigating it, or who were victims of it:

  1. Lois Lerner ...
  2. Douglas Shulman ...
  3. Darrell Issa ...
  4. Jay Carney ...
  5. Tom Fitton ...
  6. Chris Littleton ...
  7. Drew Ryan ...
  8. Catherine Engelbrecht ...

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December 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Hallelujah Christmas


I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

December 25, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Hoc Anno Domini

The Wall Street Journal has published this wonderful editorial each Christmas since 1949, In Hoc Anno Domini:

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

Read the rest here.

December 25, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Canada's First Christian Law School Sues Over Denial of Accreditation Due to Student Code of Conduct

Trinity WesternTrinity Western University Press Release, TWU Challenges BC Law Society in Court:

Trinity Western University announced today that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge the Law Society of British Columbia’s (LSBC) October 31st decision to reverse its earlier recognition of TWU School of Law graduates.

Both the Law Society of British Columbia and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education originally approved TWU’s School of Law. “We have no choice but to proceed legally,” said Bob Kuhn, President of Trinity Western. “By prejudging our future law graduates not on their qualifications but the Community Covenant they agree to abide by while students at TWU, the Law Society has infringed on the human rights of TWU and its students.”

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December 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 595

IRS Logo 2The Verdict:  Not All Scandals Are Created Equal: The CIA vs. the IRS, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

When the news of the wrongdoing at the IRS emerged last year, I was one of the people who was most concerned about the possible abuse of power by the agency. Knowing that the IRS had been used in decades past as a political weapon, in particular by the rogue Nixon Administration, it would have been truly horrible if our worst fears had turned out to be true. If there had been a political operation that was using the IRS for partisan purposes, that would have been a scandal.

No one ever said that it was a bad idea to gather evidence, and no one even once suggested that the correct response to any wrongdoing at the IRS would be to “look forward, not backward,” as an excuse to allow guilty parties to walk free. Instead, we all wanted to know whether there was sufficient evidence to suggest that any wrongdoing was directed by political operatives (answering to the White House or others), or instead that this was a matter of isolated bad decisions.

We were fortunate that the scandal became public news because of the release of an inspector general’s report about the IRS employees’ improper screening techniques. Therefore, rather than starting from a blank slate, with everyone in the dark about even the most basic facts, we were presented up front with an independent report that laid bare what had happened.

And once people digested that report, it was obvious that this was not a scandal. Correct procedures had not been developed or followed within the IRS, but internal measures had already corrected the behavior. In fact, we later found out that the inspector general’s report had underreported facts that would have made the situation look even less suspicious, because the “targeting” of political groups actually covered the political spectrum from right to left, whereas the report had initially made it appear that only extreme conservative groups had been subjected to additional scrutiny.

I wrote two columns on Verdict (here and here), as well as some posts on the Dorf on Law blog (for example, here), in which I concluded that this was a “non-scandal scandal.” John Dean (who knows something about the Nixon Administration’s abuse of power) reached the same conclusion in a Verdict column in May 2013, describing the IRS situation (as well as two other candidates for “scandal” status) as “all smoke and no fire.”

Even so, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to let go of the IRS story, spending thousands of hours and millions of taxpayer dollars trying to gather more evidence of possible wrongdoing. They have failed spectacularly. This must mean either that there is no evidence, or that the evidence is being skillfully hidden.

For those who believe that there might yet be evidence out there regarding this still-not-a-scandal, the question has been what to do next. My colleague Ronald Rotunda, for example, suggested in a recent Verdict column that a special prosecutor should be appointed, with special powers to pry loose evidence that might exist to prove a political connection between the Obama Administration and the IRS’s misdeeds.

Although I strongly disagree with Professor Rotunda’s reading of the evidence and his conclusions, I can at least respect his fundamental concern. If there were sufficient reason to believe that there is hidden evidence, then certainly we would want to pursue such evidence through appropriate means. My take on the current situation is that there is not even much smoke, much less fire, and that any further inquiries are based on little more than the hope among Republicans that such inquiries might turn up something to suggest a real scandal. Those who disagree with that assessment can (and do) argue for further efforts to investigate.

There is, therefore, nothing particularly unusual about the IRS non-scandal, at least categorically. Some government actors did something that they should not have done. We have tried to figure out what happened, and why. The available evidence cannot support any prosecutions. Now, we are arguing about a judgment call regarding when to say that enough is enough.

Dorf on Law:  Playing With Scandals: Everything is a Cynical Farce, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

[T]he worst-case scenario in the IRS non-scandal scandal was, as I have always acknowledged, truly bad, if it had been true.  If there really were any credible evidence suggesting that the Obama Administration had orchestrated an effort to harm its political opponents by abusing the power of the IRS, that would be scandalous.  Happily, no such evidence has emerged.  Instead, the dead-enders have been reduced to saying, "There must be something going on.  We just need to keep digging."

Why are they so certain that something evil was afoot?  Apparently, they find it hard to believe that their opponents are not as cynical as they are.  (Dick Cheney himself said that the Obama people must have been using the IRS for political ends -- presumably because he could easily see himself doing the same thing.)  Because these people simply believe as a matter of deep commitment that something must be out there, the game is then to infer evil intent from every comment and action by the President.  Remember when Obama, in a State of the Union Speech, criticized the Citizens United decision?  Most people remember that moment because of Justice Alito's angry facial expression, caught on camera.  IRS scandal-mongers, by contrast, have insinuated that there is somehow a connection between Obama's comments and the IRS employees' actions.

Again, however, I concede in the column that this could have been a bad thing.  The people who worry about the IRS possibly being misused for political ends are not worrying about something that is inherently harmless.  They are simply refusing to give up the ghost on an investigation that has gone nowhere, and that shows no signs of ever leading anywhere. ...

One idea that I mention briefly toward the end of the column, but which I do not develop in any detail, is the comparison between possible excuses for refusing to prosecute or investigate the CIA, but to go after the IRS with guns blazing.  Remember, in order even to compare the IRS non-scandal scandal with the CIA torture scandal, we had to "go meta," in order to find some way in which the two situations could be comparably bad.  Once we have done that, however, then we must also be willing to apply the same level of generality to the arguments for and against aggressive prosecution of wrongdoing.  If the argument is, "We would harm America by failing to understand the important public service that the CIA provides," then the argument could also be, "We are harming America by vilifying the IRS." ...

[A]t a sufficiently high level of generality, one could make the argument that the future of America depends on a functioning government, and the government depends on revenue, and the ability to collect future revenues is threatened by politicians "looking backward" and attacking the IRS and its employees (and, hardly coincidentally, cutting its budget even as the IRS's legal responsibilities expand).  Attacking the CIA makes Americans less safe (an assertion that is obviously false)?  Well, attacking the IRS puts American democracy itself at risk!! ...

The common thread, then, is that the CIA's actions must be defended, because doing so reinforces the notion that the government is lawless (and always will be), while the IRS must be attacked because it is essential for the cynics to make everyone believe that the government is out to get them.  The less trust we have in our institutions, the better for those who want to further pervert those institutions.

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December 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Legal Edition)

Check out the original and legal versions of the classic poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas [click on chart to enlarge]:

Twas_the_night_before_christmas_pag

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December 24, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How A Christmas Carol Shaped My World

Christmas CarolBarry Sullivan (Loyola-Chicago), A Book that Shaped Your World: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 50 Alberta L. Rev. 934 (2013):

To celebrate the Alberta Law Review's fiftieth volume, the book review editors invited friends and alumni to put aside for a moment their required reading, and reflect briefly on the books that have shaped their approaches to life and the law. Professor Sullivan chose to reflect upon the perennially popular A Christmas Carol, to thoughtful and poetic effect.

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December 24, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Special Snowflake Trigger Warning: I’m A Jerk

SnowflakeAbove the Law:  Special Snowflake Syndrome Trigger Warning: I’m A Jerk, by Keith Lee (Hamer Law Group, Birmingham, AL):

So when did law students start acting like a bunch of wimps? Cause that’s the takeaway I’m getting after these past couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, some pretty upsetting events have gone down recently. But that doesn’t translate into Harvard Law Students asking to delay their exams because “feelings.” It’s also bizarre to expect to go into a criminal law class and never discuss rape law. What happened? When did law students become so spineless?

There has been speculation around the web. Notably from Judge Kopf in his post Batshit crazy law students. ... And from Scott Greenfield, in The Environmental Cleanup of Toxic Academia.

It drives me crazy to think that there are law students out there with nothing better to do than wring their hands in desperation as they look at their Twitter feed and have their feelings hurt. ... You do realize you’re in law school to become a lawyer, right? Adversarial system, competition, zealous advocacy for your client, etc.? I’ve made the point before, but it bears repeating: lawyers are professional a**holes. Like, that is your job. More importantly, it’s going to be other people’s job to be an a**hole to you. ...

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December 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 594

IRS Logo 2U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, The Internal Revenue Service’s Targeting of Conservative Tax- Exempt Applicants: Report of Findings for the 113th Congress (Dec. 23, 2014) (226 Pages):

The Committee’s investigation has resulted in the following findings to date about the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate treatment of tax-exempt applicants:

  • The Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative-oriented applicants for taxexempt status;
  • Unlike applications from conservative groups, the small batch of applications from liberal-oriented groups received additional scrutiny for non-political reasons. Of the applications that received additional scrutiny, only seven contained the word “progress” or “progressive,” all of which were subsequently approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups were subjected to an unprecedented degree of review and years-long delays.
  • Senior Internal Revenue Service officials covered up the misconduct and misled Congress about the existence and nature of the targeting;
  • The Internal Revenue Service sought to rein in conservative-oriented non-profits as early as 2010;
  • The Administration is using the targeting as pretext to support its proposed regulation to limit political speech of conservative non-profits;
  • Mismanagement among the senior leadership of the Internal Revenue Service contributed to the targeting;
  • The Internal Revenue Service and the Obama Administration knowingly and wrongly blamed line-level employees for the misconduct;
  • Employees of the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately used non-official e-mail to conduct official government business;
  • The Internal Revenue Service has compromised its traditional position as an independent tax administrator;
  • The Obama Administration exhibited a lack of accountability for the IRS misconduct;
  • Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify hindered the Committee’s investigation;
  • The Internal Revenue Service obstructed the Committee’s investigation; and
  • The White House and congressional Democrats obstructed the Committee’s investigation.m

New York Times:  Inquiry Into I.R.S. Lapses Shows No Links to White House:

An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The I.R.S. has admitted that before the 2012 election it inappropriately delayed approval of tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but the I.R.S. and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, have said that the errors were not motivated by partisanship.

Wall Street Journal, IRS Considered Tax on Donations to Political Groups; Move Could Have Disproportionately Hurt Conservative Activists:

Internal Revenue Service officials considered imposing a tax on large donations to many tax-exempt political organizations in 2011, recently released emails show, a move that could have disproportionately hurt conservative activists.

The discovery comes as part of Republican lawmakers’ broader investigation into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. It is further fueling GOP suspicions that some agency officials sought to suppress conservatives’ use of tax-exempt organizations for political speech.

The internal emails “demonstrate that the IRS sought to use the gift tax as one part of a larger effort to crack down on the political speech” of conservative tax-exempt groups, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. ...

The separate IRS effort to impose gift tax on big donors to tax-exempt organizations has gotten less attention. But GOP lawmakers are concerned about the gift-tax effort since it first surfaced in 2011, in part because conservatives have made extensive use of nonprofit entities, such as Crossroads GPS, in recent years for political outreach to voters.

Establishing such groups as tax-exempt entities is attractive, because it allows organizers to keep donors’ identities secret. Imposing a gift tax on those donations could discourage them, advocates fear. The top gift tax rate was 35% in 2011 and is now 40%.

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December 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Faculty Data Correction

Following up on last week's post, Law Schools Have Shed 986 Full-Time Faculty (11%) Since 2010:  Chapman has subsequently filed a corrected Form 509 with the ABA, so I have updated my post to remove references to data in Chapman's original Form 509 filed with the ABA.  Matt Leichter has also updated his post with the corrected Chapman data.

December 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dean Optimistic About Thomas Jefferson Law School's Future; Predicts 50% Enrollment Cut Will Stabilize School by 2020

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  San Diego Union-Tribune, Dean Optimistic About Law School's Future:

Just months after missing a payment to creditors who financed construction of its new home, the nonprofit Thomas Jefferson School of Law is finalizing an agreement that its dean said will make it financially stable.

“It puts the school on a solid financial footing,” said Thomas Guernsey, who took over as president and dean of the school in July 2013.

The agreement will give bondholders possession of the school’s eight-story building at 1155 Island Ave. in downtown San Diego. The school will become a tenant, cutting its expenses in half and its debt by two-thirds.

Guernsey is optimistic that the restructured debt and other steps will usher in a new era at Thomas Jefferson. ... Enrollment at Thomas Jefferson was 1,000 at its peak, and its new home was meant to accommodate up to 1,050. By the time the Island Avenue building opened in 2011, enrollment at the school already was dropping. After a steady decline over the years, enrollment is 650 this semester. ...

Guernsey said he expects enrollment at Thomas Jefferson will level out at about 500 in about five years, and he believes the number of students in law school will equal the market demand for new attorneys at that time. So does Brian Leiter, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School and director of its Center for Law, Philosophy and Human Values.

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December 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Hatfield: Taxation and Surveillance -- An Agenda

Michael Hatfield (University of Washington), Taxation and Surveillance: An Agenda:

Among government agencies, the IRS likely has the surest legal claim to the most information about the most Americans: your hobbies; your religious affiliation; your reading; your travel; and your medical information are all potentially tax relevant. Privacy scholars have studied the arrival of Big Data, the internet-of-things, and the surveillance joint venture of government and private companies, but neither privacy nor tax scholars have considered how these technological advances could improve tax administration. As government agencies and private companies increasingly pursue what has been described as the “growing gush of data,” the use of these technologies in tax administration will become increasingly important to consider. This Essay provides an agenda of items for discussion, debate, and research related to the development, implementation, and effects of moving towards a surveillance-facilitated tax system.

December 23, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economics of Guilds

Sheilagh Ogilvie (University of Cambridge), The Economics of Guilds, 28 J. Econ. Perspectives 169 (Fall 2014):

Occupational guilds in medieval and early modern Europe offered an effective institutional mechanism whereby two powerful groups, guild members and political elites, could collaborate in capturing a larger slice of the economic pie and redistributing it to themselves at the expense of the rest of the economy. Guilds provided an organizational mechanism for groups of businessmen to negotiate with political elites for exclusive legal privileges that allowed them to reap monopoly rents. Guild members then used their guilds to redirect a share of these rents to political elites in return for support and enforcement. In short, guilds enabled their members and political elites to negotiate a way of extracting rents in the manufacturing and commercial sectors, rents that neither party could have extracted on its own. First, I provide an overview of where and when European guilds arose, what occupations they encompassed, how large they were, and how they varied across time and space. I then examine how guild activities affected market competition, commercial security, contract enforcement, product quality, human capital, and technological innovation. The historical findings on guilds provide strong support for the view that institutions arise and survive for centuries not because they are efficient but because they serve the distributional interests of powerful groups.

December 23, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

DiRusso: A Charitable Flexible Spending Account

Alyssa A. DiRusso (Cumberland), Charity at Work: Proposing a Charitable Flexible Spending Account, 2014 Utah L. Rev. 281:

This Article will propose a Charitable Flexible Spending Account system to enhance the current regulatory regime of the itemized charitable deduction. Part II begins by explaining the current charitable income tax deduction, including its history and the policies underlying its enactment. Part III then explores academic critiques and criticisms of the charitable deduction, and it determines the extent to which the current system of charitable tax incentives is sufficient. Part IV discusses the parallel challenge and development of tax rules relating to medical expense deductions, and it explains both the itemized deduction for medical expenses and medical flexible spending arrangements. Building upon this foundation, Part V proposes a Charitable Flexible Spending Account system and explains the details of its implementation. Finally, the Article will conclude with thoughts on the future of the evolution of tax incentives for charitable giving. 

December 23, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 10 Tax Presidents

Tax Analysys Logo (2013) Joseph J. Thorndike (Tax Analysts), The Top 10 Tax Presidents, 145 Tax Notes 1303 (Dec. 22, 2014):

[I]n the service of inspiration -- and perhaps consternation -- I've compiled a list of influential tax presidents. It bears repeating: This is not a roster of good tax presidents. It's an assessment of presidential influence on the development of the federal tax system, whether for good or bad. Indeed, given the politicization of tax policy, it's likely that several of these presidents will be judged as both heroes and villains, depending on who's doing the judging.

  1. Ronald Reagan
  2. Franklin Roosevelt
  3. Woodrow Wilson
  4. George Washington
  5. Thomans Jefferson
  6. George W. Bush
  7. Calvin Coolidge
  8. William Howard Taft
  9. John F. Kennedy
  10. George H.W. Bush

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December 23, 2014 in Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (1)

More on the Law School Transfer Market

TransferFollowing up on my previous post, The Law Student Transfer Market: Arizona State, Florida State, George Washington, Georgetown & Utah Lead The Way:  The Legal Whiteboard:  Further Understanding the Transfer Market -- A Look at the 2014 Transfer Data, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

Starting this fall, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar began collecting and requiring schools with more than five transfers in to report not only the number of students who have transferred in, but also the schools from which they came (indicating the number from each school) along with the 75%, 50% and 25% first-year, law school GPAs of the pool of students who transferred in to a given school (provided that at least twelve students transferred in to the school). This allows us to begin to explore the nature of the transfer market by looking at where students are coming from and are going and by looking at the first-year GPA profile of students transferring in to different law schools. ...

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December 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kaye: Innovations in the War on Tax Evasion

Tracy A. Kaye (Seton Hall), Innovations in the War on Tax Evasion, 2014 BYU L. Rev. 363:

Offshore tax evasion is a global problem that requires a global solution. Nevertheless, the United States unilaterally responded to the offshore tax evasion problem by enacting the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA requires foreign banks to report information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers directly to the Internal Revenue Service and imposes a thirty percent withholding tax on certain U.S. payments to any bank that will not cooperate. Yet, U.S. banks were not required to report any information on nonresident account holders (except for Canadians) to anyone. FATCA garnered worldwide attention. The European Union expressed its concerns to the U.S. Treasury about the compliance burden on the financial industry and the conflict with EU Member States’ laws on privacy and data protection. Treasury is resolving these issues by negotiating bilateral agreements known as Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) that will require reciprocity on the part of the United States in the exchange of information. These IGAs are furthering the movement toward global transparency as most FATCA partner jurisdictions intend to require reporting on all nonresident accounts rather than just U.S. accounts. This could lead to the development of a multilateral platform for the exchange of information that is critical to combating offshore tax evasion. This Article urges the United States to adopt the regulations and legislation that are necessary before the United States can provide its FATCA partners with the same information that they have been asked to give the U.S. government. The United States should play a leadership role in furthering global transparency and take the steps required to no longer function as a tax haven for tax evaders from other countries. The IGA with Mexico that entered into force on January 1, 2013, is an appropriate vehicle for the United States to demonstrate this renewed commitment to the exchange of information.

December 23, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 593

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  BOMBSHELL REPORT: IRS Targeted ‘Icky’ Conservative Groups:

Top IRS officials specifically targeted tea party groups and misled the public about its secret political targeting program led by ex-official Lois Lerner, according to a bombshell new congressional report.

The Daily Caller has obtained an advance copy of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report set to be released Tuesday morning that definitively proves malicious intent by the IRS to improperly block conservative groups that an IRS adviser deemed “icky.” (That’s right. “Icky.”)

“The Committee has identified eight senior leaders who were in a position to prevent or to stop the IRS’s targeting of conservative applicants,” the Oversight report states. “Each of these leaders could have and should have done more to prevent the IRS’s targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants.”

Here are six major takeaways from the report:

  1. The IRS admitted that the front office was “spinning” about the targeting rumors as early as 2012, after IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman denied the tea party targeting to Congress. ...
  2. Then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller almost broke down and told the truth about the tea party targeting at a July 2012 hearing, but Lerner’s sidekick Nikole Flax told him not to. ...
  3. The IRS definitely treated tea party applications by a different standard than applications from other (c)(4) groups. ...
  4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to. ...
  5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations. ...
  6. A May 2011 email from a lawyer in the IRS chief counsel’s office made clear that the agency sought to use a new “gift tax” to target donors to nonprofit political groups.

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December 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)