TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, February 4, 2018

How To Maintain Joy In Your Work As A Lawyer (Or Law Professor)

Happy GoodABA Journal, Loving Life as a Lawyer: How to Maintain Joy in Your Work:

[Nancy Levit (Missouri-Kansas City), co-author of The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law (Oxford University Press 2010) and The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law (Oxford University Press 2014)] shares tips on how to find the work you want to do and how to find joy in the work you’re already doing.

One way to adjust your mindset at work is to look at who you’re spending time with, she says. Are you hanging out with colleagues who have positive outlooks, or with the workplace worrywarts and complainers?

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February 4, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Chorvat & Chorvat: The Dynamic Stability Of Progressive Taxation

TaxingElizabeth Chorvat (Illinois) & Terrence R. Chorvat (George Mason), The Dynamic Stability of Progressive Taxation, 71 Nat'l Tax J. 1 (2018) (reviewing Kenneth Scheve & David Stasavage, Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe (Princeton University Press 2016)):

The optimality of progressive taxation is influenced by various factors including elasticities of response, taxpayers’ ability to hide income, the technology of government enforcement, et cetera. In Taxing the Rich, Scheve and Stasavage point to the large increases in taxes on the rich which accompanied the entrance of various countries into the two world wars of the twentieth century and conclude that high taxes on the rich have been sustained essentially only in times of mass mobilization for war, the prime examples of which being the two world wars. Although they are careful not to assert that it is the only setting in which significantly progressive taxes can be implemented and maintained, the authors argue that mass mobilization is the only factor which can be isolated as correlative with highly progressive taxation. Based on the Scheve and Stasavage data — including observations from the tax systems of twenty-one countries between 1800 to 2010 — and the Stata commands used in their analysis online, we conclude that not only are there other factors that have determined the dynamics of progressivity, but that these factors appear to be more important than military mobilization.

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January 18, 2018 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Tyranny Of Metrics: 'Not Everything That Is Important Is Measurable, And Much That Is Measurable Is Unimportant'

MetricsWall Street Journal:  A Cure for Our Fixation on Metrics, by Jerry Z. Muller (Catholic University; author, The Tyranny of Metrics (Princeton University Press 2018)):

Measuring results is all the rage in organizations, but it is often wrongheaded and counterproductive.

In recent decades, what I call “metric fixation” has engulfed an ever-widening range of institutions: businesses, government, health care, K-12 education, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations. It comes with its own vocabulary and master terms. It affects the way that people talk and think about the world and how they act in it. And it is often profoundly wrongheaded and counterproductive.

Metric fixation consists of a set of interconnected beliefs. The first is that it is possible and desirable to replace judgment with numerical indicators of comparative performance based on standardized data. The second is that making such metrics public (transparency) assures that institutions are actually carrying out their purposes (accountability). Finally, there is the belief that people are best motivated by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance, rewards that are either monetary (pay for performance) or reputational (rankings).

But not everything that is important is measurable, and much that is measurable is unimportant. Most organizations have multiple purposes, and that which is measured and rewarded tends to become the focus of attention, at the expense of other essential goals.

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January 16, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Key To Success Is Not Talent Or Hard Work, But Instead Pruning Your Tasks And Excelling In What's Left On Your Plate

Great at WorkWall Street Journal:  The Key to Success? Doing Less, by Morten T. Hansen (UC-Berkeley; author, Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More (2018)):

Talent and hard work are important, but most top performers in business have one thing in common: they accept fewer tasks and then obsess over getting them right.

Most Americans work impossibly hard. We put in long hours and maximum effort, but better performance often eludes us. ...

The knee-jerk answer to what distinguishes great performers from others is simple: talent. Social scientists and management experts explain performance at work by pointing to people’s innate gifts and natural strengths. How often have you heard phrases such as “She’s a natural at sales” or “He’s a brilliant engineer”? These talent-based explanations deeply influence our perceptions of what makes for success.

Are they right? Some experts say no, arguing that an individual’s sustained effort is just as critical as talent or even more so in determining success. According to this view, people perform well because they work hard and put in long hours. They end up doing more, taking on many assignments and running to lots of meetings.

But neither of these arguments ... explain[ed] the performance differences I had observed between equally hardworking and talented people.

In 2011, I decided to try to answer the question of why some people outperform others. I recruited a team of researchers with expertise in statistical analysis and began generating a set of hypotheses about which specific behaviors lead to high performance. We then conducted a five-year survey of 5,000 managers and employees, including sales reps, lawyers, actuaries, brokers, medical doctors, software programmers, engineers, store managers, plant foremen, nurses and even a Las Vegas casino dealer.

The common practice we found among the highest-ranked performers in our study wasn’t at all what we expected. It wasn’t a better ability to organize or delegate. Instead, top performers mastered selectivity. Whenever they could, they carefully selected which priorities, tasks, meetings, customers, ideas or steps to undertake and which to let go. They then applied intense, targeted effort on those few priorities in order to excel. We found that just a few key work practices related to such selectivity accounted for two-thirds of the variation in performance among our subjects. Talent, effort and luck undoubtedly mattered as well, but not nearly as much.

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January 14, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions

Feminist JudgmentsFeminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions (Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Anthony C. Infanti (Pittsburgh), eds.) (Cambridge University Press Dec. 28, 2017):

Could a feminist perspective change the shape of tax laws? Feminist reasoning and analysis are recognized as having tremendous potential to affect employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and reproductive rights laws - but they can likewise transform tax law (as well as other statutory or code-based areas of the law). By highlighting the importance of perspective, background, and preconceptions on reading and interpreting statutes, this volume shows what a difference feminist analysis can make to statutory interpretation. Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions brings together a group of scholars and lawyers to rewrite tax decisions in which a feminist emphasis would have changed the outcome, the court's reasoning, or the future direction of the law. Featuring cases including medical expense deductions for fertility treatment, gender confirmation surgery, tax benefits for married individuals, the tax treatment of tribal lands, and business expense deductions, this volume opens the way for a discussion of how viewpoint is a key factor in statutory interpretation.

Tax Prof contributors: 

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December 28, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas And The Salvation of ‘Napalm Girl’

Fire RoadWall Street Journal op-ed:  The Salvation of ‘Napalm Girl’, by Kim Phuc Phan Thi (author, Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace (Oct. 2017):

You may not recognize me now, but you almost certainly know who I am. My name is Kim Phuc, though you likely know me by another name. It is one I never asked for, a name I have spent a lifetime trying to escape: “Napalm Girl.”

You have probably seen my picture a thousand times. Yes, that picture. The image that made the world gasp. Some called it a turning point in the Vietnam War—a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of me in 1972, age 9, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier. I was photographed with arms outstretched, naked and shrieking in pain and fear, with the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance. ...

Those bombs have caused me immeasurable pain over the course of my life. Forty-five years later I am still receiving treatment for the burns that cover my arms, back and neck. But even worse than the physical pain was the emotional and spiritual pain. For years I bore the crippling weight of anger, bitterness and resentment toward those who caused my suffering. Yet as I look back over a spiritual journey that has spanned more than three decades, I realize the same bombs that caused so much pain and suffering also brought me to a place of great healing. Those bombs led me to Jesus Christ.

My salvation experience occurred on Christmas Eve.

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December 25, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Johnson: Tax Policy For The Coming Bitter Hard Times

BookCalvin H. Johnson (Texas), Winter is Coming: Tax Policy for the Coming Bitter Hard Times, 157 Tax Notes 851 (Nov. 6, 2017) (reviewing Robert J. Gordon (Northwestern), The Rise and Fall of American Growth (Princeton University Press 2017)):

The United States has always defined itself in terms of great optimism and progress. For long periods, that self-definition was accurate. It no longer is. Robert J. Gordon’s magisterial economic history, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, describes 1870-1970 as the miracle century that improved the real standard of living tenfold. For the future, says Gordon, the United States faces an anemic growth rate of less than a third of a percent per year, and — even worse — only the richest tier will see growth.

For tax, the realistic expectations of slow future growth mean a high danger of collapse in our ability to run deficits or borrow money well within the decade. Federal creditors have been extraordinarily generous to the U.S. government, accepting interest below the expected rate of inflation. They have assumed that federal debt is risk free. If our creditors lose faith in our ability to repay debt, or believe that we will just pay it off with inflated paper, then the debt will no longer be treated as risk free. The loss of faith will probably not be just a squeeze but a collapse.

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December 11, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lawyering In The Nation's Capital

LNCNancy Hunt is the director of our unique Washington, D.C. externship program located at Pepperdine's property four blocks from The White House at 2011 Pennsylvania Avenue (more here):

The Washington, DC, Externship Semester offers students the practical experience of working full-time in a legal capacity for the government, non-profits, or other related entities, while completing coursework, networking for post-graduate employment, and experiencing the legal and cultural environment of our nation's vibrant and exciting capital. Classes take place and limited housing is available on the graduate floor of the University's Washington, DC, building, located in the heart of DC just four blocks from the White House.

Nancy has literally written the book on Lawyering in the Nation's Capital (West 2017):

Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital examines legislative process, congressional oversight, administrative law, executive power, statutory interpretation, judicial review of agency action, and the work and impact of Washington, D.C., attorneys working in government, lobbying, law firms, and nonprofits. In undertaking this survey, this text analyzes the sources of authority for those attorney functions and discusses the power struggle between the branches and, at times, between the offices within a single branch. This text further uncovers some of the more complex issues about how our federal government operates and asks thought-provoking questions about the outer limits of the power of each of the branches. It is ideal for companion courses for Washington, D.C., legal externship programs or for survey courses regarding government lawyers. The text is likewise a powerful reference book that clearly and succinctly explains complicated procedures, legal issues, and conflicts arising in and among the branches of government and within the private sector.

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December 7, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gillman & Chemerinsky: Professors Are Losing Their Freedom of Expression

Free SpeechWashington Post op-ed:  Professors Are Losing Their Freedom of Expression, by Howard Gillman (Chancellor, UC-Irvine) & Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Berkeley) (Co-Authors, Free Speech on Campus (Yale University Press 2017)):

With so much attention focused on whether controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannapoulos or Richard Spencer should be allowed to appear on campus, an even more basic issue has been obscured: universities punishing faculty who, outside of professional settings, express views that are considered controversial or even offensive.

There are many recent examples of this. A year ago, a University of Oregon law professor was suspended for wearing blackface at a Halloween party held at her house. Twenty-three law school faculty members wrote a letter urging the professor to resign. A campus investigation found that by wearing this costume at a party in her home she had engaged in “discriminatory harassment.” [More here]. ...

In responding to those who would silence or censor speakers, many people, especially on the right, argue that, at universities, all ideas should be expressible, and if someone doesn’t like particular ideas, the response should be to engage and rebut the speakers rather than harass them or shout them down. These same sentiments should apply when faculty members express controversial opinions. ...

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November 22, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Williamson Presents Why Americans Are Proud To Pay Taxes Today at Columbia

Read My LipsVanessa S. Williamson (Brookings Institution) presents Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes (Princeton University Press 2017) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Conventional wisdom holds that Americans hate taxes. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Vanessa Williamson demonstrates that Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and a moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Perceived "loopholes" convince many income tax filers that a flat tax might actually raise taxes on the rich, and the relative invisibility of the sales and payroll taxes encourages many to underestimate the sizable tax contributions made by poor and working people.

Americans see being a taxpayer as a role worthy of pride and respect, a sign that one is a contributing member of the community and the nation. For this reason, the belief that many Americans are not paying their share is deeply corrosive to the social fabric. The widespread misperception that immigrants, the poor, and working-class families pay little or no taxes substantially reduces public support for progressive spending programs and undercuts the political standing of low-income people. At the same time, the belief that the wealthy pay less than their share diminishes confidence that the political process represents most people.

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November 21, 2017 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cardozo Hosts Book Launch Today For Zelinsky's Taxing The Church

Taxing the churchCardozo is hosting a panel discussion with Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego), Brian Galle (Georgetown), and Daniel Hemel (Chicago) to discuss the new book by Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), Taxing the Church: Religion, Exemptions, Entanglement, and the Constitution (Oxford University Press 2017):

  • Explores the taxation and exemption of churches and other religious institutions, both empirically and normatively
  • Reveals that churches and other religious institutions are treated diversely by the federal and state tax systems
  • Focuses on church-state entanglements with respect to taxing or exempting churches and other sectarian entities
  • Discusses improvements that can be made in legal and tax policy trade-offs, such as the protection of internal church communications and the expansion of the churches' sales tax liabilities
  • A clear, balanced, and comprehensive treatment of the topic that is broadly accessible to tax policymakers, lawyers, nonlawyers, judges, tax specialists, and even those with no background in the subject

Peter J. Reilly has an extensive review on Forbes.  Other reviews:

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November 8, 2017 in Book Club, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Tillotson Presents Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer And The Rise Of Canadian Democracy Today At McGill

Give and TakeShirley Tillotson (Dalhousie University) presents Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy (University of British Columbia Press Nov. 15, 2017) at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium Series convened by Allison Christians:

Can a book about tax history be a page-turner? You wouldn’t think so. But Give and Take is full of surprises. A Canadian millionaire who embraced the new federal income tax in 1917. A socialist hero, J.S. Woodsworth, who deplored the burden of big government. Most surprising of all, Give and Take reveals that taxes deliver something more than armies and schools. They build democracy.

Tillotson launches her story with the 1917 war income tax, takes us through the tumultuous tax fights of the interwar years, proceeds to the remaking of income taxation in the 1940s and onwards, and finishes by offering a fresh angle on the fierce conflicts surrounding tax reform in the 1960s.

Taxes show us the power of the state, and Canadians often resisted that power, disproving the myth that we have all been good loyalists. But Give and Take is neither a simple tale of tax rebels nor a tirade against the taxman. Canadians also made real contributions to democracy when they taxed wisely and paid willingly.

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November 6, 2017 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

LSE Hosts Book Launch Today For A Global Analysis Of Tax Treaty Disputes

GlobalThe London School of Economics Law Department hosts a book launch today for Eduardo A. Baistrocchi (LSE), A Global Analysis of Tax Treaty Disputes (Cambridge University Press 2017):

This two-volume set offers an in-depth analysis of the leading tax treaty disputes in the G20 and beyond within the first century of international tax law. Including country-by-country and thematic analyses, the study is structured around a novel global taxonomy of tax treaty disputes and includes an unprecedented dataset with over 1500 leading tax treaty cases. By adopting a contextual approach the local expertise of the contributors allows for a thorough and transparent analysis. This set is an important reference tool for anyone implementing or studying international tax regulations and will facilitate the work of courts, tax administrations and practitioners around the world. It is designed to complement model conventions such as the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital. Together with Resolving Transfer Pricing Disputes (2012), it is a comprehensive addition to current debate on the international tax law regime.

Reviewers:

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October 26, 2017 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Law’s Picture Books: Illustrating The Letter Of The (Tax) Law

YaleWall Street Journal, ‘Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection’: Illustrating the Letter of the Law:

Picture books about the law are as superfluous as songs about economics. In legal codices and textbooks, illustrations can even seem frivolous. Before visiting the Grolier Club’s exhibition Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection, you might also believe this is as it should be: Justice typically devalues the visual. Not for nothing is Lady Justice blindfolded — as we see in many texts displayed at this unusual exhibition. The law library’s rare book librarian, Michael Widener, has been collecting illustrated law books for the institution, and now he and his co-curator, the legal scholar Mark S. Weiner, have offered an eye-opening survey of that specialty.

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September 30, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Larson & Ruse: On Faith And Science

Larson 2Edward J. Larson (Pepperdine)  & Michael Ruse (Florida State), On Faith and Science (Yale Univ. Press 2017):

Throughout history, scientific discovery has clashed with religious dogma, creating conflict, controversy, and sometimes violent dispute. In this enlightening and accessible volume, distinguished historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Edward Larson and Michael Ruse, philosopher of science and Gifford Lecturer, offer their distinctive viewpoints on the sometimes contentious relationship between science and religion. The authors explore how scientists, philosophers, and theologians through time and today approach vitally important topics, including cosmology, geology, evolution, genetics, neurobiology, gender, and the environment. Broaching their subjects from both historical and philosophical perspectives, Larson and Ruse avoid rancor and polemic as they address many of the core issues currently under debate by the adherents of science and the advocates of faith, shedding light on the richly diverse field of ideas at the crossroads where science meets spiritual belief.

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September 17, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tax Law And Social Norms In Mandatory Palestine And Israel

Tax LawAssaf Likhovski (Tel-Aviv University), Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Cambridge Univ. Press 2017):

This book describes how a social-norms model of taxation rose and fell in British-ruled Palestine and the State of Israel in the mid-twentieth century. Such a model, in which non-legal means were used to foster compliance, appeared in the tax system created by the Jewish community in 1940s Palestine and was later adopted by the new Israeli state in the 1950s. It gradually disappeared in subsequent decades as law and its agents, lawyers and accountants, came to play a larger role in the process of taxation. By describing the historical interplay between formal and informal tools for creating compliance, Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel sheds new light on our understanding of the relationship between law and other methods of social control, and reveals the complex links between taxation and citizenship.

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August 16, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Abel Reviews Engines of Anxiety: The U.S. News Law School Rankings As A 'Roach Motel' (You Can Check In But You Can Never Check Out)

EnginesRichard Abel (UCLA), Book Review, 66 J. Legal Educ. 961 (2017) (reviewing Wendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern) & Michael Sauder (Iowa), Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability (Russell Sage Foundation 2016):

Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder’s superb book Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability offers an incisive, comprehensive, and devastating account of the ways in which U.S. News and World Report (USN) rankings influence law schools and the institutions with which they are enmeshed. The authors conducted interviews with 131 law school administrators and faculty members (carefully distributed across the status hierarchy), observed law school forums where admissions officers make pitches to prospective students, analyzed admissions and yield statistics, and collected extensive data from electronic bulletin boards, mass media, other informants, and law school websites and publications. They make sophisticated use of sociological theories of accountability to analyze their data. Given their persuasive demonstration that USN rankings powerfully shape both legal education and the profession, this is a book that should be read by every law school teacher, administrator, and prospective, current, or past student—which means every lawyer.

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August 15, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Write No Matter What: Advice For Academics

Write No Matter WhatJoli Jensen (Tulsa), Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics (University of Chicago Press 2017):

With growing academic responsibilities, family commitments, and inboxes, scholars are struggling to fulfill their writing goals. A finished book — or even steady journal articles — may seem like an impossible dream. But, as Joli Jensen proves, it really is possible to write happily and productively in academe.

Jensen begins by busting the myth that universities are supportive writing environments.  She points out that academia, an arena dedicated to scholarship, offers pressures that actually prevent scholarly writing. She shows how to acknowledge these less-than-ideal conditions, and how to keep these circumstances from draining writing time and energy. Jensen introduces tools and techniques that encourage frequent, low-stress writing. She points out common ways writers stall and offers workarounds that maintain productivity. Her focus is not on content, but on how to overcome whatever stands in the way of academic writing.

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August 14, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools

LawMartRiaz Tejani (Illinois), Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools (Stanford Univ. Press 2017):

American law schools are in deep crisis. Enrollment is down, student loan debt is up, and the profession's supply of high-paying jobs is shrinking. Meanwhile, thousands of graduates remain underemployed while the legal needs of low-income communities go substantially unmet. Many blame overregulation and seek a "free" market to solve the problem, but this has already been tested. Seizing on a deregulatory policy shift at the American Bar Association, private equity financiers established the first for-profit law schools in the early 2000s with the stated mission to increase access to justice by "serving the underserved". Pursuing this mission at a feverish rate of growth, they offered the promise of professional upward mobility through high-tech, simplified teaching and learning.

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August 3, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Summer Reading: The Fangs Of Freelance (Fred, The Vampire Accountant, Book 4)

FangsDrew Hayes is the author of numerous science fiction and fantasy novels, including a series of books about Fred, the Vampire Accountant.  The fourth book in that series — The Fangs of Freelance (Fred, the Vampire Accountant Book 4) — was published this week.  The first book in the series — The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant — was published in 2014.

In this blog post, David Gamage (Indiana) interviews Drew Hayes about Fred’s tax accounting practice, and about why members of the tax law and policy community looking for a fun, guilty-pleasure read might want to check out the Fred series of books.

Q:  How did Fred end up as a vampire accountant?  Why do supernatural creatures need accounting services in your novels?

A:  Fred was always an accountant, but the vampire thing was an unexpected turn in the road. I won't go much into how that happened, since it's covered in the novels. Suffice it to say that upon discovering his new condition, Fred opted to adapt how he did business, rather than try and learn a whole new trade. As for what parahuman creatures need accounting for: pretty much the same as humans. Anyone running a small business, dealing with multiple revenues streams, or, of course, in need of a break on their taxes.

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July 30, 2017 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Crawford & Spivack: Human Rights And Taxation Of Menstrual Hygiene Products In An Unequal World

HRBridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Carla Spivack (Oklahoma City), Human Rights and Taxation of Menstrual Hygiene Products in an Unequal World, in Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World (Philip G. Alston and Nikki Reisch eds., Oxford University Press 2018):

This book chapter, written in connection with the New York University School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice Conference on Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World, argues that taxation, gender, and human rights are all linked. The authors use the lens of the "tampon tax" — sales, VAT and similar taxes imposed on menstrual hygiene products — to explain the relationship between and among affordable menstrual hygiene products and the human rights to be free from discrimination, to sanitation, to education, to dignity, and to work. The chapter refers to examples from India and Kenya to illustrate the importance of access to both affordable menstrual hygiene products and private, hygienic sanitation facilities.

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July 27, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Toxic University: Zombie Leadership, Academic Rock Stars And Neoliberal Ideology

ToxicJohn Smyth (University of Huddersfield), The Toxic University: Zombie Leadership, Academic Rock Stars and Neoliberal Ideology (2017):

This book considers the detrimental changes that have occurred to the institution of the university, as a result of the withdrawal of state funding and the imposition of neoliberal market reforms on higher education. It argues that universities have lost their way, and are currently drowning in an impenetrable mush of economic babble, spurious spin-offs of zombie economics, management-speak and militaristic-corporate jargon. John Smyth provides a trenchant and excoriating analysis of how universities have enveloped themselves in synthetic and meaningless marketing hype, and explains what this has done to academic work and the culture of universities — specifically, how it has degraded higher education and exacerbated social inequalities among both staff and students. Finally, the book explores how we might commence a reclamation. It should be essential reading for students and researchers in the fields of education and sociology, and anyone interested in the current state of university management.

Inside Higher Education, ‘The Toxic University’:

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July 18, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Lipshaw:  Beyond Legal Reasoning — A Critique Of Pure Lawyering

LipshawUpdate:  Free access to the book is available for the next 60 days here.

Jeffrey Lipshaw (Suffolk), Beyond Legal Reasoning: A Critique of Pure Lawyering (Routledge 2017):

The concept of learning to ‘think like a lawyer’ is one of the cornerstones of legal education in the United States and beyond. In this book, Jeffrey Lipshaw provides a critique of the traditional views of "thinking like a lawyer: or "pure lawyering" aimed at lawyers, law professors, and students who want to understand lawyering beyond the traditional warrior metaphor. Drawing on his extensive experience at the intersection of real world law and business issues, Professor Lipshaw presents a sophisticated philosophical argument that the "pure lawyering" of traditional legal education is agnostic to either truth or moral value of outcomes. He demonstrates pure lawyering’s potential both for illusions of certainty and cynical instrumentalism, and the consequences of both when lawyers are called on as dealmakers, policymakers, and counsellors.

This book offers an avenue for getting beyond (or unlearning) merely how to think like a lawyer. It combines legal theory, philosophy of knowledge, and doctrine with an appreciation of real-life judgment calls that multi-disciplinary lawyers are called upon to make. The book will be of great interest to scholars of legal education, legal language and reasoning as well as professors who teach both doctrine and thinking and writing skills in the first year law school curriculum; and for anyone who is interested in seeking a perspective on ‘thinking like a lawyer’ beyond the litigation arena.

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July 1, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Desai:  The Wisdom of Finance — Discovering Humanity In The World of Risk And Return

HarvardMihir A. Desai  (Harvard), The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return (2017):

This book is not about the latest study that will help you make money in the stock market or that will nudge you into saving more.

And it’s not about the optimal allocation of your retirement assets.

This book is about humanizing finance by bridging the divide between finance and literature, history, philosophy, music, movies, and religion.

This book is about how the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and the poet Wallace Stevens are insightful guides to the ideas of risk and insurance, and how Lizzie Bennet of Pride and Prejudice and Violet Effingham of Phineas Finn are masterful risk managers. This book looks to the parable of the talents and John Milton for insight on value creation and valuation; to the financing of dowries in Renaissance Florence and the movie Working Girl for insight on mergers; to the epic downfall of the richest man in the American colonies and to the Greek tragedies for insight on bankruptcy and financial distress; and to Jeff Koons’s career and Mr. Stevens of Remains of the Day for insight on the power and peril of leverage.

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June 27, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nominations Sought: Best Law Mentors, Best New Lawyers

HUPFollowing up on his book, What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013), Michael Hunter Schwartz (Dean, McGeorge) is seeking nominations for his two forthcoming books:

What the Best Law Mentors Do (Harvard University Press Forthcoming 2019):

We are looking for the best law mentors in America. Our goal is to find the mentors who transform junior lawyers’ careers and even lives, study those mentors in depth, understand why they are so effective, and, in so doing, synthesize a set of behaviors, attitudes, and habits of mind for the benefit of all the rest of us who aspire to be transformative mentors. We hope to produce a work that is a manual for mentors, a source of inspiration, and a tool that new and newer lawyers might use to find good mentors.

Our methodology will be qualitative: we will solicit nominations, gather evidence of nominees' excellence, pare the list to the most extraordinary legal mentors, and then study the mentors where they work, interviewing both the mentors and focus groups of current and former mentees. We also hope to observe mentoring interactions. The interviews and our notes will generate thousands of pages of data. We will sift that data, identify what the best mentors have in common and areas of important difference, and organize the book by the common themes. We plan to finish our research over the next three years and complete What the Best Law Mentors Do by January 2019.

What The Best New Lawyers Do (Harvard University Press Forthcoming 2019):

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June 20, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Princeton Review's Best 381 Colleges

Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has released The Best 381 Colleges — 2017 Edition.  According to the press release, the book contains 62 rankings based on surveys completed by 143,000 students at the 381 schools (375 per school) (methodology here), including these categories:

  • Best (Sarah Lawrence) classroom experience
  • Best (Wellesley), worst (New Jersey Institute of Technology) professors
  • Most (U.S. Military Academy), least U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) accessible professors
  • Best (Virginia Tech) quality of life
  • Most (Rice), least (Montana Tech) happy students
  • Students love (Virginia Tech) their school
  • Most (Rhodes), least (University of Dallas) beautiful campus
  • Best (Elon), worst (Hanover) run school
  • Most liberal (Sarah Lawrence), most conservative (BYU) students
  • Most (Thomas Aquinas),  least (Reed) religious
  • Students study the most (U.S. Military Academy), least (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Most (Vassar), least (SUNY-Purchase) financial aid

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May 9, 2017 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy

Dirty SecretsRichard Murphy (City University, London), Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy (2017):

The Panama Papers were a reminder of how the superrich are allowed to hide their wealth from the rest of us. Dirty Secrets uncovers the extent of the corruption behind this crisis and shows what needs to be done in the face of this unregulated spread of rampant greed.

Tax havens, we are often told, are part of the global architecture of capitalism, providing a freedom from regulation necessary to make markets work. In this book, leading authority Richard Murphy uncovers the truth behind this lie. The fact of the matter is that this increasingly popular practice threatens the foundations of democracy, sowing mistrust and creating a regime based upon opacity.

As Murphy shows, how we manage our economy is a political decision, and one that can be changed. Dirty Secrets proposes ways to regulate tax havens and what the world might look like without them.

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April 12, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tax And The Timing Of Lawmaking

TimingThe Timing of Lawmaking (Frank Fagan (EDHEC) & Saul Levmore (Chicago) eds. Edward Elgar 2017):

Legal reasoning, pronouncements of judgment, the design and implementation of statutes, and even constitution-making and discourse all depend on timing. This compelling study examines the diverse interactions between law and time, and provides important perspectives on how law's architecture can be understood through time. The book revisits older work on legal transitions and breaks new ground on timing rules, especially with respect to how judges, legislators and regulators use time as a tool when devising new rules. At its core, The Timing of Lawmaking goes directly to the heart of the most basic of legal debates: when should we respect the past, and when should we make a clean break for the future?

  • Saul Levmore (Chicago), Interest Groups and the Durability of Law

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April 5, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Brookings Hosts Panel Discussion Today On Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes

Read My LipsThe Brookings Institution is hosting a panel discussion today to mark release of the new book by Vanessa S. Williamson, Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes (Princeton University Press 2017).  The panel will discuss the book and take audience questions and respond to questions on Twitter at #Taxes or @BrookingsGov.

Conventional wisdom holds that Americans hate taxes. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Vanessa Williamson demonstrates that Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and a moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Perceived "loopholes" convince many income tax filers that a flat tax might actually raise taxes on the rich, and the relative invisibility of the sales and payroll taxes encourages many to underestimate the sizable tax contributions made by poor and working people.

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April 4, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education In A Fragmented Age

SoulPerry L. Glanzer (Baylor), Nathan F. Alleman (Baylor) & Todd C. Ream (Taylor), Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (InterVarsity Press March 2017):

Has the American university gained the whole world but lost its soul?
In terms of money, prestige, power, and freedom, American universities appear to have gained the academic world. But at what cost? We live in the age of the fragmented multiversity that has no unifying soul or mission. The multiversity in a post-Christian culture is characterized instead by curricular division, the professionalization of the disciplines, the expansion of administration, the loss of community, and the idolization of athletics.

The situation is not hopeless. According to Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream, Christian universities can recover their soul — but to do so will require reimagining excellence in a time of exile, placing the liberating arts before the liberal arts, and focusing on the worship, love, and knowledge of God as central to the university.

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April 2, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anthony Kronman, The Sage of Yale Law School: 'A Born-Again Pagan'

PaganThe New Yorker, The Sage of Yale Law:

Anthony Kronman, age seventy-one, may be the world’s most fulfilled man. A professor at Yale Law School for thirty-eight years, he has a happy marriage and four children. He swims a mile every day and is an expert fisherman with rod and spear. He lives in an impeccably decorated house worthy of Architectural Digest. He has written six books, about law, legal ethics, and education, and, last year, published his seventh, an eleven-hundred-page exploration of his personal theology, called Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan [Yale University Press 2016]. By integrating the ideas of many of the world’s great thinkers—Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, Spinoza, and others—he has found “a third way, beyond atheism and religion, to the God of the modern world.” He suspects that he might have found the meaning of life.

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March 23, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Byrnes & Munro:  Background And Current Status Of FATCA

LexisWilliam Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M), Background and Current Status of FATCA, in LexisNexis Guide to FATCA & CRS Compliance (5th ed., 2017):

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, referred to as FATCA, does not operate in a global tax vacuum. It is nearly impossible to comprehend fully its impact unless its highly technical procedural provisions are viewed in context. This introductory chapter will provide certain background information necessary to understand FATCA, its offspring like the OECD's CRS, and the impact of these initiatives.

FATCA's ostensible purpose was to act as an additional tax revenue source to offset additional spending in the HIRE Act of 2010. FATCA was passed on the unsubstantiated basis that “each year, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenue due to offshore tax abuses.” However, the total amount of the offset revenue from FATCA was only projected to $8.714 billion for the ten year period of 2010 to 2020. This chapter explores the revenue raised until 2017 and the offsetting compliance costs.

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March 22, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mehrotra Presents Law, Politics And The Rise Of Progressive Taxation (1877-1929) Tonight At UNLV

Mehrotra (2017)Ajay Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation & Northwestern) delivers the Philip Pro Lectures in Legal History at UNLV tonight on Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013) (reviews)  (awards):

At the turn of the twentieth century, the U.S. system of public finance underwent a dramatic transformation. The late-nineteenth-century regime of indirect, hidden, partisan, and regressive taxes was eclipsed in the early twentieth century by a direct, transparent, professionally administered, and progressive tax system. This book uncovers the contested roots and paradoxical consequences of this fundamental shift in American tax law and policy. It argues that the move toward a regime of direct and graduated taxation marked the emergence of a new fiscal polity — a new form of statecraft that was guided not simply by the functional need for greater revenue but by broader social concerns about economic justice, civic identity, bureaucratic capacity, and public power.

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February 23, 2017 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Crisis Of Race In Higher Education

RaceWilliam F. Tate IV (Dean, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences & Vice Provost, Graduate Education, Washington University), Nancy Staudt (Dean, Law School, Washington University) & Ashley Macrander (Assistant Dean, Graduate Student Affairs, Washington University), The Crisis of Race in Higher Education: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue (2016):

The compendium of writings in this edited volume sheds light on the event Race & Ethnicity — 2015: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue at Washington University in St. Louis and the work current students, faculty, and staff are doing to improve inclusivity on campus and in St. Louis.

Race & Ethnicity — 2015: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue:

On Feb. 5-6, 2015, the university came together to explore critical issues facing our community. Here, you can experience what transpired that day—a day that marked the beginning of a dialogue and work that must continue. We invite you to be part of this ongoing process.

Over the course of 25 hours, the subjects of race and ethnicity were explored through the lens of the five themes summarized below. Watch the videos, be inspired and continue the conversation.

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February 7, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reinventing The Liberal Arts: College In One Year For $5

ReinventingTuck Newport, Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5:

Hardly a week passes without some luminary decrying the exorbitant cost of higher education and the sorry state of the liberal arts. But none of them explain, in detail, how to obtain a liberal arts education better than that offered by colleges and universities–in less than a year and at a fraction of the cost. "Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5" provides a comprehensive science and humanities curriculum, with key elements field tested at a well-known liberal arts college over the past two decades. It includes an interdisciplinary survey of crucial concepts in physics, geology, molecular biochemistry, neuroscience, history, literature, ethics, politics, language, information technology, and management.

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January 4, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Clarke Reviews Zucman's The Hidden Wealth Of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens

HiddenConor Clarke (Ph.D. Candidate, Yale Law School), What Are Tax Havens and Why Are They Bad, 95 Tex. L. Rev. 59 (2016) (reviewing Gabriel Zucman, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

This essay reviews Gabriel Zucman's The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens. Zucman's important new book brings clarity to a confusing subject -- but occasionally does so at the expense of nuance. My review has three goals. First, I summarize and appraise Zucman's central findings, and re-estimate his revenue-loss totals for the United States using tax-rate assumptions that I believe are more realistic. Second, I position Zucman's findings against the backdrop of the wider literatures on tax havens and inequality, and attempt to answer the two questions in this essay's title. Third, I comment on Zucman's call for a global registry covering the ownership of financial securities. I argue that such a proposal must contend with the fact that there is no international legal consensus on what constitutes ownership.

Prior reviews of The Hidden Wealth of Nations:

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December 28, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

NY Times Op-Ed:  The Evangelicalism Of Old White Men Is Dead

Red LetterNew York Times op-ed:  The Evangelicalism of Old White Men Is Dead, by Tony Campolo & Shane Claiborne (co-authors, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?):

As the election retreats like a hurricane heading back out to sea, first responders are assessing the damage left in its wake. One casualty is the reputation of evangelicalism. ... As white male evangelists, we have no problem admitting that the future does not lie with us. It lies with groups like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, led by Gabriel Salguero, or the Moral Monday movement, led by William Barber II, who has challenged the news media on its narrow portrayal of evangelicals. For decades, we have worked within evangelicalism to lift up the voices of these “other evangelicals.”

But we cannot continue to allow sisters and brothers who are leading God’s movement to be considered “other.” We are not confident that evangelicalism is a community in which younger, nonwhite voices can flourish. And we are not willing to let our faith be the collateral damage of evangelicalism.

We want to be clear: We are not suggesting a new kind of Christianity that simply backs the Democratic Party. Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican — even if, as William Sloane Coffin Jr. once said, his heart leans left. Many faithful Christians did not vote for Hillary Clinton because of their commitment to a consistent pro-life agenda. True faith can never pledge allegiance to anything less than Jesus.

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December 4, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Shaviro Presents Fixing U.S. International Taxation Today At San Francisco

FixingDaniel N. Shaviro (NYU) presents Fixing U.S. International Taxation (Oxford University Press, 2014) at the University of San Francisco Graduate Tax Program as part of its Tax Lecture Series:

International tax rules, which determine how countries tax cross-border investment, are increasingly important with the rise of globalization, but the modern U.S. rules, even more than those in most other countries, are widely recognized as dysfunctional. The existing debate over how to reform the U.S. tax rules is stuck in a sterile dialectic, in which ostensibly the only permissible choices are worldwide or residence-based taxation of U.S. companies with the allowance of foreign tax credits, versus outright exemption of the companies' foreign source income.

In Fixing U.S. International Taxation, Daniel N. Shaviro explains why neither of these solutions addresses the fundamental problem at hand, and he proposes a new reformulation of the existing framework from first principles. He shows that existing international tax policy frameworks are misguided insofar as they treat "double taxation" and "double non-taxation" as the key issues, conflate the distinct questions of what tax rate to impose on foreign source income and how to treat foreign taxes, and use simplistic single-bullet global welfare norms in lieu of a comprehensive analysis.

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November 18, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What's Happened To The University? A Sociological Exploration Of Its Infantilisation

University 2Wall Street Journal:  Free Thought Under Siege, by Daniel Shuchman (reviewing Frank Furedi, What's Happened to the University? A Sociological Exploration of its Infantilisation (Routledge 2016)):

Rancorous trends such as microaggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings and intellectual intolerance have taken hold at universities with breathtaking speed. Last year’s controversy over Halloween costumes at Yale led to the departure of two respected faculty members, and this year made the fall festival a flashpoint of conflict at campuses across the country. The recent explosion in the number of university administrators, coupled with an environment of perpetual suspicion—the University of Florida urges students to report on one another to its “Bias Education and Response Team”—drives students who need to resolve normal tensions in human interaction to instead seek intervention by mediators, diversity officers, student life deans or lawyers.

As Frank Furedi compellingly argues in this deeply perceptive and important book, these phenomena are not just harmless fads acted out by a few petulant students and their indulgent professors in an academic cocoon. Rather, they are both a symptom and a cause of malaise and strife in society at large. At stake is whether freedom of thought will long survive and whether individuals will have the temperament to resolve everyday social and workplace conflicts without bureaucratic intervention or litigation.

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November 16, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oregon Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Says She Wore Blackface To Halloween Party To Teach Lesson As Author Of Black Man In A White Coat

Oregon 2

Following up on this morning's post, 23 Oregon Law Profs Call On Colleague To Resign For Wearing Blackface At Halloween Party:  KEZI 9 News, UO Law Professor Under Fire for Controversial Halloween Costume:

KEZI learned that the professor involved is [tax professor] Nancy Shurtz.

Students are outraged by the incident and have even started a petition demanding her resignation. The petition needs 100 supporters before it can be delivered to the dean of the law school.

Shurtz sent a letter to students explaining why she chose her costume. She said she read a book and wanted to portray the character. She also said she apologizes and never meant to offend anyone.

"I chose my costume based on a book that I read and liked—Black Man in a White Coat.  I thought I would be able to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story).

When I asked my daughter who is at Brown Medical School the demographics of her medical school class, she said “they do not give those statistics out mom”, but later when she asked the administration, they said there was not one black male student in the class. She and others were outraged. She was able to get the administration to assign a portion of this book (the one where the black medical student was thought to be the janitor) out to students.

I am sorry if it did not come off well.  I, of all people, would not want to offend.

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November 3, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wendi Adelson's Novel: Art Imitating Life?

AdelsonFollowing up on my previous post, What Wendi Adelson's Novel Reveals About Dan Markel's Murder:  Above the Law, The Dan Markel Case: Insights From Wendi Adelson’s Novel:

Over at Outside the Law School Scam, blogger “dybbuk123” took one for the team and read This Is Our Story, the “criminally lousy” novel written by Dan Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson. ...

A source of mine who also read This Is Our Story shared additional interesting observations:

The basic premise of Attorney Lily’s life is that she married a professor (Joshua Stone). She says that she married him too quickly, and that at the time she was “absolutely sick and tired of dating” and saw “dating, at its best, as nothing more than a romantic interview. ‘Are you the kind of person who would produce good looking, smart and nice children and never cheat on me and help me clean up the kitchen and love me even when I’m grouchy and not trade me in for a younger model and not join the other team?'”

This is, you may recall, pretty much exactly what Wendi said about Dan in her writing-class podcast — that she married a man she lacked passionate love for because she figured he would be a good father.

Joshua gets a job at North Florida State University in Hiawassee Springs (“the ‘Wassee), a small town in the Florida panhandle. Lily moves there because that’s where his job is, but she hates it. She takes many digs at “the Wassee” throughout the book — making fun of the people, their speech, their clothing, calling the town “irrelevant.”

This is consistent with what sources have described as Wendi’s dislike and disdain for Tallahassee, which she fled in favor of cosmopolitan Miami as soon as she could after Dan’s death.

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October 27, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Use Of Metrics To Assess Scholarly Performance: The Emperor’s New Clothes?

BibliometricsInside Higher Education, Can Your Productivity Be Measured? (reviewing Yves Gingras (University of Quebec), Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses (MIT Press, 2016):

“Since the first decade of the new millennium, the words ranking, evaluation, metrics, h-index and impact factors have wreaked havoc in the world of higher education and research.” ...  Ultimately, Bibliometrics concludes that the trend toward measuring anything and everything is a modern, academic version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which — quoting Hans Christian Andersen, via Gingras — “the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality there was no train to hold.”

Gingras says, “The question is whether university leaders will behave like the emperor and continue to wear each year the ‘new clothes’ provided for them by sellers of university rankings (the scientific value of which most of them admit to be nonexistent), or if they will listen to the voice of reason and have the courage to explain to the few who still think they mean something that they are wrong, reminding them in passing that the first value in a university is truth and rigor, not cynicism and marketing.”

Although some bibliometric methods “are essential to go beyond local and anecdotal perceptions and to map comprehensively the state of research and identify trends at different levels (regional, national and global),” Gingras adds, “the proliferation of invalid indicators can only harm serious evaluations by peers, which are essential to the smooth running of any organization.”

And here is the heart of Gingras’s argument: that colleges and universities are often so eager to proclaim themselves “best in the world” -- or region, state, province, etc. -- that they don’t take to care to identify “precisely what ‘the best’ means, by whom it is defined and on what basis the measurement is made.” Put another way, he says, paraphrasing another researcher, if the metric is the answer, what is the question?

Without such information, Gingras warns, “the university captains who steer their vessels using bad compasses and ill-calibrated barometers risk sinking first into the storm.” The book doesn’t rule out the use of indicators to “measure” science output or quality, but Gingras says they must first be validated and then interpreted in context. ...

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October 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Competing Against Luck: Restructuring Higher Education

CompetingWall Street Journal, The Customer Is Always Right (reviewing Clayton M. Christensen (Harvard Business School), Competing Against Luck (2016)):

Every large company is consumed by the question of innovation. How to organize for it, how to execute it and how to deliver its benefits to customers. The attributes of big companies seem incompatible with those required to innovate. Size suffocates creativity. Efficiency kills dynamism. Executives become hostage to the data thrown up in a million slides and presentations, and they forget what it’s like to be a customer of the companies they lead.

Clayton M. Christensen is best known for his theory of disruptive innovation, which for some time now has had CEOs lining up outside his office at Harvard Business School. It is, he reminds us, a theory, not unassailable truth. But as a theory, it is immensely helpful in understanding how incumbent companies respond to the threat of innovation—for the most part, badly. Kodak was disrupted when it could not give up its profitable film business fast enough to adjust to the boom in digital photography. The newspaper industry is still suffering from the loss of its stranglehold on classified advertising to rudimentary services like Craigslist.

Disruption, in Mr. Christensen’s formulation, is not caused simply by anything new or clever. It arrives in the form of “minuscule threats” at the bottom of the market. The studios and networks treated Netflix as a minor player when it mailed DVDs, not seeing that the move to online streaming would turn it into a formidable competitor.

Similarly, grand universities right now see no threat from grubby online courses. But over time students and parents may wonder why they should pay all that money for sports facilities they don’t use and professors who don’t teach. Meanwhile, employers start to ask potential employees what they can do rather than where they went to school. And maybe the whole structure of higher education shifts.

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October 19, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Wendi Adelson's Novel Reveals About Dan Markel's Murder

WendiWendi Adelson's Criminally Lousy Novel, This is Our Story:

A few months ago, Above the Law published recordings of Adelson’s presentations to a writer’s workshop, held some time after Markel’s murder. Adelson complained, inter alia, that her “late ex-spouse” (a phrase Adelson creatively punned as her “latex spouse”) did not care for fiction  and did not read her book. (Podcast, 9:42-9:47, 10:28-10:33) I found this plaint to be unfair because, whatever his private misgivings, Markel extensively promoted Adelson’s debut novel, “This is Our Story” on his popular academic blog “Prawfsblawg.” (The novel was published in 2011, about a year before Adelson walked out on Markel, with infant children, bank accounts, furniture, and Markel family heirlooms in tow).

In spite of the intense publicity generated by the lurid murder mystery starring herself, I do not believe anyone has yet explored Adelson’s novel as a possible window into the self-perception of its enigmatic author.

Even at the risk of death by Prius-driving hitman, I am compelled endorse the latex Markel’s decision not to read his wife's novel. This is Our Story is inartful, shallow, clichéd, oddly bland given its human trafficking theme, and terribly self-important. Interestingly though, Adelson states that her book purports to tell, in substantial part, her own story. In an afterword to her novel, Adelson states that “I, selfishly, wanted you to know a bit about my story, which has much – but not all – in common with Attorney Lily” (i.e. the main character in the novel). Adelson, Wendi (2011-09-12). This is Our Story (Kindle Locations 3948-3949). Kindle Edition. ...

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October 19, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (24)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Being A Scholar In The Digital Era

ScholarJessie Daniels (CUNY) & Polly Thistlethwaite (CUNY, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era: Transforming Scholarly Practice for the Public Good (University of Chicago Press 2016):

What opportunities, rather than disruptions, do digital technologies present? How do developments in digital media not only support scholarship and teaching but also further social justice? Written by two experts in the field, this accessible book offers practical guidance, examples, and reflection on this changing foundation of scholarly practice. It is the first to consider how new technologies can connect academics, journalists, and activists in ways that foster transformation on issues of social justice. Discussing digital innovations in higher education as well as what these changes mean in an age of austerity, this book provides both a vision of what scholars can be in the digital era and a road map to how they can enliven the public good.

Inside Higher Ed, The Tech-Enabled Scholar:

Q: On the topic of metrics: as you point out, few (if any) academic departments use altmetrics in tenure and promotion cases. We’ve seen the same sort of hesitancy when it comes to evaluating digital scholarship more broadly. Do you feel that colleges have been right to wait it out while these evaluation methods mature, or should they have taken a more active role?

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October 11, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Graetz Presents Can A 20th Century Business Income Tax Regime Serve A 21st Century Economy? Today At Columbia

Graetz (2015)Michael J. Graetz (Columbia) presents Can a 20th Century Business Income Tax Regime Serve a 21st Century Economy? (in Follow the Money: Essays on International Taxation Introduction & Ch. 7 (Yale 2016) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Chapter 7 is the most recently published essay of this collection. It reviews the contemporary challenges of international tax policy, as set forth in my Parsons Lecture, delivered to the University of Sydney Law School in April 2015. After describing the decisionmaking choices and flexibility of multinational corporations and the pressures of inter-nation tax competition, the chapter explains why our 20th Century international tax system is poorly equipped to cope with the 21st Century’s technologically driven, integrated global economy. The chapter concludes with a number of predictions about directions international tax policy is likely to take.

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October 4, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers And The One Percent

CapitalFollowing up on my previous post, Inside The Secretive World Of Tax-Avoidance Experts:  Brooke Harrington (Copenhagen Business School),  Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent (Harvard University Press Sept. 2016) (review here):

How do the one percent hold on to their wealth? And how do they keep getting richer, despite financial crises and the myriad of taxes on income, capital gains, and inheritance? Capital Without Borders takes a novel approach to these questions by looking at professionals who specialize in protecting the fortunes of the world’s richest people: wealth managers. Brooke Harrington spent nearly eight years studying this little-known group—including two years training to become a wealth manager herself. She then “followed the money” to the eighteen most popular tax havens in the world, interviewing practitioners to understand how they helped their high-net-worth clients avoid taxes, creditors, and disgruntled heirs—all while staying just within the letter of the law.

Capital Without Borders reveals how wealth managers use offshore banks, shell corporations, and trusts to shield billions in private wealth not only from taxation but from all manner of legal obligations. And it shows how practitioners justify their work, despite evidence that it erodes government authority and contributes to global inequality.

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September 15, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 12, 2016

JFK & Reagan Provide Path Toward Brighter Economic Future: Bipartisan Tax Cuts

JFKWall Street Journal op-ed: Return to JFK’s ‘Rising Tide’ Model: Kennedy and Reagan Both Spurred Growth Through Bipartisan Tax Cuts. That’s Just What Is Needed Now., by Lawrence Kudlow & Brian Domitrovic (co-authors, JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity” (Sept. 6, 2016)):

since 2000, U.S. economic output has inched along at a rate of 1.8% a year, an astoundingly low number almost half of the long-term average of over 3%. This is not the way America is supposed to be. The United States has regularly achieved more than 3% economic growth as a matter of course, as it has led the global industrial and technological revolutions with millions of new jobs, entrepreneurial wonders and mass prosperity in tow.

The two greatest political figures in America since World War II staked their presidencies on economic growth: John F. Kennedy in the 1960s and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Kennedy was the pioneer. When Reagan rallied to the cause of growth 20 years later, he did so explicitly following Kennedy’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” model. ...

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September 12, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Perdue:  Law Schools, Universities, And The Challenge Of Moving A Graveyard

Rethinking 2Wendy Collins Perdue (Dean, Richmond), Law, Universities, and the Challenge of Moving a Graveyard, 50 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online 3 (2015) (reviewing Carel Stolker, Rethinking the Law School: Education, Research, Outreach and Governance (Cambridge University Press 2015)):

The last five years have been difficult ones for American legal education. With applications to law schools declining 40% nationally, many schools are struggling to maintain quality in the face of significant budgetary pressures. But one component of the legal-education world has been robust: there is a boom market in books, articles, reports, websites, and blogs filled with criticism and even anger at the current state of legal education. There are many villains in these narratives—greedy universities that suck resources, self-absorbed faculty who are indifferent to their students, and dishonest deans willing to misrepresent their current reality—and many victims—duped college graduates and lawyers leading miserable lives of tedium, long hours, and depression.

Against this dark narrative genre, Carel Stolker’s new book, Rethinking the Law School, stands in sharp contrast. Having been both a law school dean and university president at Leiden University in The Netherlands, Stolker brings the perspective of a dean who has sought to innovate, and of a university president who has dealt with the political, academic, financial, and managerial complications of a modern university. The book offers a broad look at legal education around the world, along with a thoughtful exposition of the challenges facing law schools and law deans. Stolker is no cheerleader for the current state of legal education, but recognizing that “the nature, content and quality of legal education is a subject that flares up frequently and dies down again,” he approaches the issues without the shrillness and anger that characterize some of the current commentary. He also leavens his realism with some welcomed humor, noting, for example that “changing a university is like moving a graveyard, you get no help from the people inside.” ...

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September 6, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)