TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The U.S. News Law School Rankings:  Engines Of Anxiety

EnginesWendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern) & Michael Sauder (Iowa), Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability (Russell Sage Foundation 2016):

Students and the public routinely consult various published college rankings to assess the quality of colleges and universities and easily compare different schools. However, many institutions have responded to the rankings in ways that benefit neither the schools nor their students. In Engines of Anxiety, sociologists Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder delve deep into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education. Based on a wealth of observational data and over 200 in-depth interviews with law students, university deans, and other administrators, they show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools.

Engines of Anxiety tracks how rankings, such as those published annually by the U.S. News & World Report, permeate every aspect of legal education, beginning with the admissions process. The authors find that prospective law students not only rely heavily on such rankings to evaluate school quality, but also internalize rankings as expressions of their own abilities and flaws. For example, they often view rejections from “first-tier” schools as a sign of personal failure. The rankings also affect the decisions of admissions officers, who try to balance admitting diverse classes with preserving the school’s ranking, which is dependent on factors such as the median LSAT score of the entering class. Espeland and Sauder find that law schools face pressure to admit applicants with high test scores over lower-scoring candidates who possess other favorable credentials.

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April 28, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Foundation Press Publishes Election Law Stories (36th Book in the Law Stories Series)

Election LawFoundation Press has published Election Law Stories (2016), by Joshua A. Douglas (Kentucky) & Eugene D. Mazo (Rutgers):

One of the most dynamic fields in the legal academy now has its own Stories book. This title offers a rich and detailed account of the most significant cases in election law, including the landmark decisions of Reynolds v. Sims, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and Shelby County v. Holder. The book relies on a unique encapsulated approach to storytelling, as each of its authors surveys an important doctrinal area in the field through the telling of his or her story. The volume’s thirteen cases concern the right to vote, redistricting and gerrymandering, campaign finance, and election administration. The book is suited for courses in the law of democracy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The table of contents is here.  Other titles in the Law Stories Series (for which I serve as Series Editor) are:

April 27, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Simkovic: Law School Attendance, Happiness, And Success

GuidePaula Franzese (Seton Hall), A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student (2014):

A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student is a must-read whenever worry or doubt creep in. In this volume you will find essential wisdom for the study of law and life. Learn from the unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Professor of the Year award how to be your best in and out of class, how to prepare for exams, how to succeed on exams, how to put your best foot forward in a job interview, how to find teachers to inspire you, what to do in classes that leave you uninspired, how to cope with stress and how to create value in everything you do.

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Book Encouraging Law Students to be Happy Is Latest Target for Scambloggers:

Paula’s well-intentioned book has rather bizarrely been attacked by scambloggers as “dehumanizing”, “vain”, “untrustworthy” and “insidious.” The scambloggers are not happy people, and reacted as if burned by Paula’s sunshine. They worry that Paula’s thesis implies that “their failure must be due to their unwillingness to think happy and thankful thoughts.”

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April 23, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (26)

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Slow Professor:  Resisting Higher Education's 'Corporatizing Culture Of Speed,' Or 'Self-Indulgent Tenured Faculty Privilege'?

SlowInside Higher Ed, 'The Slow Professor' (reviewing The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (University of Toronto Press, Mar. 28, 2016), by Maggie Berg (Queen’s University) & Barbara K. Seeber (Brock University)) (interview):

New book argues that professors should actively resist the "culture of speed" in academe.

In 2013, the jobs website CareerCast named university professor the No. 1 least stressful job, unleashing a torrent of criticism that only grew after Forbes picked up the ranking. Professors -- those with tenure and without -- said the study ignored the changing dynamics of the university, namely the increasingly administrative nature of academic work, the emerging student-as-customer model, unrealistic research expectations and 24-7 contact with colleagues and students via email. Non-tenure-track professors also pointed out that they in many cases lack all job security.

CareerCast evidently learned something from the controversy -- its 2016 least stressful jobs list specifies tenured professor, at No. 3 -- but old notions about what it is to be a professor die hard. And the CareerCast study is just one example. From the running errands to social and family events, someone always seems to be wondering what it’s like to have summers off and “just think” for a living.

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April 22, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NYU Hosts Book Discussion Today With Anne Alstott On A New Deal For Old Age

AlstottNYU Law Tax Blog, A New Deal for Old Age: Book Discussion with Anne Alstott (today at 12:30 p.m.):

Please join us for a presentation by Anne Alstott, the Jacquin D. Bierman Professor in Taxation at Yale Law School, of her recently published book, A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement (Harvard University Press, 2016). ...

As America’s haves and have-nots drift further apart, rising inequality has undermined one of the nation’s proudest social achievements: the Social Security retirement system. Unprecedented changes in longevity, marriage, and the workplace have made the experience of old age increasingly unequal. For educated Americans, the traditional retirement age of 65 now represents late middle age. These lucky ones typically do not face serious impediments to employment or health until their mid-70s or even later. By contrast, many poorly educated earners confront obstacles of early disability, limited job opportunities, and unemployment before they reach age 65.

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April 20, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clarke Reviews The Hidden Wealth of Nations

HiddenConor Clarke (Ph.D. Candidate, Yale Law School), What Are Tax Havens and Why Are They Bad, 94 Tex. L. Rev. ___ (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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April 20, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Making Better Use Of The First And Last Five Minutes Of Class

SmallJames Lang (Professor of English and Director of Center for Teaching Excellence, Assumption College; ), Small Changes in Teaching (March 2016):

The First Five Minutes of Class:

The opening five minutes offer us a rich opportunity to capture the attention of students and prepare them for learning. They walk into our classes trailing all of the distractions of their complex lives — the many wonders of their smartphones, the arguments with roommates, the question of what to have for lunch. Their bodies may be stuck in a room with us for the required time period, but their minds may be somewhere else entirely.

It seems clear, then, that we should start class with a deliberate effort to bring students’ focus to the subject at hand. Unfortunately, based on my many observations of faculty members in action, the first five minutes of a college class often get frittered away with logistical task. ...

I offer four quick suggestions for the first few minutes of class to focus the attention of students and prepare their brains for learning.

  1. Open with a question or two. ...
  2. What did we learn last time? ...
  3. Reactivate what they learned in previous courses. ...
  4. Write it down. ... Let a writing exercise help you bring focus and engagement to the opening of every class session. Build it into your routine. Class has begun: time to write, time to think.

In writing, as in learning, openings matter. Don’t fritter them away.

The Last Five Minutes of Class:

In my experience — having observed many dozens of college courses over the past two decades — most faculty members eye the final minutes of class as an opportunity to cram in eight more points before students exit, or to say three more things that just occurred to us about the day’s material, or to call out as many reminders as possible about upcoming deadlines, next week’s exam, or tomorrow’s homework.

At the same time, we complain when students start to pack their bags before class ends. But why should we be surprised by that reaction when our class slides messily to a conclusion? We’re still trying to teach while students’ minds — and sometimes their bodies — are headed out the door. We make little or no effort to put a clear stamp on the final minutes of class, which leads to students eyeing the clock and leaving according to the dictates of the minute hand rather than the logic of the class period. ... [L]et us turn to better ways we can make better use of the final five minutes in class.

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April 12, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

WSJ:  Taxation Without Exasperation—It's Time To Adopt Michael Graetz's 'Competitive Tax Plan'

100 2Wall Street Journal, Taxation Without Exasperation:

It doesn’t have to be this way. Raising revenue for the federal government doesn’t have to intrude so much into the lives of so many Americans. Nothing dictates our current system except habit, familiarity and vested interest.

It isn’t hard to imagine a system that would be less of an administrative hassle, less perverse in its incentives and less of an impediment to economic initiative and growth. We could move back to an income tax far more like that of 1913—one that imposes a tolerable burden on upper-middle-class families and the truly rich while leaving the rest of us completely untouched. ...

[A] new tax system that can increase economic freedom, raise just as much revenue as we do today, and foster higher wage and productivity growth is in our grasp. All we need to do is get over our irrational fear of the value-added tax, or VAT, a consumption tax on goods and services that is used by almost all of the world’s rich market democracies.

What would a better tax system look like? It turns out that Mr. Cruz has roughly the right idea. He has come out in favor of a growth-friendly tax on consumption that would allow us to rely less heavily on the income tax. Rather sneakily, he’s calling his consumption tax a “business flat tax,” but everyone knows that it’s a VAT.

The problem with Mr. Cruz’s plan, and it’s a big one, is that he doesn’t use the revenue from the VAT to remove the middle class from the income-tax rolls. He uses it to abolish payroll taxes, the corporate income tax, the estate and gift taxes, and, as if that weren’t enough, to radically reduce income taxes on the rich.

There is a more realistic reform plan out there, only it’s not from one of the presidential candidates. For almost two decades, Michael J. Graetz, a professor at Columbia Law School and one of the country’s leading experts on tax law, has been urging Americans to adopt a saner, more sensible tax system, which he calls the Competitive Tax Plan. The time has come for us to listen.

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April 9, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Academia Isn’t So Bad For Conservative Professors

Book CoverWashington Post op-ed:  Forget What the Right Says: Academia Isn’t So Bad for Conservative Professors, by Jon A. Shields (Claremont McKenna) & Joshua M. Dunn, Sr. (Colorado), coauthors, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University (Oxford University Press, March 2016):

As two conservative professors, we agree that right-wing faculty members and ideas are not always treated fairly on college campuses. But we also know that right-wing hand-wringing about higher education is overblown. After interviewing 153 conservative professors in the social sciences and humanities, we believe that conservatives survive and even thrive in one of America’s most progressive professions.

First, conservative professors are not helpless victims — they have become quite skilled at navigating the progressive university. About a third of the professors we interviewed said they concealed their politics prior to earning tenure. Of course, being in the closet is not easy. (One particularly distressed professor told us: “It is dangerous to even think [a conservative thought] when I’m on campus, because it might come out of my mouth.”) But it’s also a temporary hardship, since nearly all the conservatives whom we interviewed planned to emerge from the ivory tower’s shadows after gaining tenure. Once tenured, conservatives are free to express their politics and publish research that reflects right-wing interests and perspectives. As one put it to us: “I don’t mind causing trouble now.”

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March 13, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

McCaffery:  The Meaning Of Capital In The Twenty-First Century

PikettyEdward J. McCaffery (USC), The Meaning of Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

America is on a path towards a level of both wealth and income inequality unparalleled in recorded history. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century summarizes and conveys the work of Piketty and many co-authors, over many decades, looking at the structure of income and wealth inequality across many nations and centuries. This review essay builds on Piketty’s ambitions as well as his data, in order to put forth a better solution: one that accepts and even embraces the facts of unequal ownership of capital, but changes the social meaning of those facts to avoid the social harms that follow from unfettered private party capitalism. A progressive spending tax does not simply take capital away from the wealthy. It allows the rich to keep and manage their wealth, as they have shown the ability and temperament to do so. But it curtails their ability to spend their capital on themselves and their luxurious wants. The social distinction of holding wealth can continue; the progressive spending tax makes this state of affairs work to the common utility.

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March 9, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Global Tax Fairness

GlobalGlobal Tax Fairness (Thomas Pogge (Yale) & Krishen Mehta (Tax Justice Network, eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2016):

This book addresses sixteen different reform proposals that are urgently needed to correct the fault lines in the international tax system as it exists today, and which deprive both developing and developed countries of critical tax resources. It offers clear and concrete ideas on how the reforms can be achieved and why they are important for a more just and equitable global system to prevail. The key to reducing the tax gap and consequent human rights deficit in poor countries is global financial transparency. Such transparency is essential to curbing illicit financial flows that drain less developed countries of capital and tax revenues, and are an impediment to sustainable development. A major break-through for financial transparency is now within reach. The policy reforms outlined in this book not only advance tax justice but also protect human rights by curtailing illegal activity and making available more resources for development. While the reforms are realistic they require both political and an informed and engaged civil society that can put pressure on governments and policy makers to act.

U.S. Tax Prof chapter authors include:

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February 29, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Manhire Presents Why Lawyers (And Law Professors) Eat Last: A Workshop On Selfless Service Today At Texas A&M

A&MFollowing up on my previous post, Law School Leadership In A Time Of CrisisJack Manhire (Texas A&M) presents Why Lawyers Eat Last: A Workshop on Selfless Service and Lawyers as Leaders at Texas A&M today as part of its Professionalism & Leadership Program:

As a lawyer you’ll always be a leader. In this workshop we’ll examine some of the servant leadership principals outlined by Simon Sinek in his book, Why Leaders Eat Last, followed by a vibrant discussion on what lessons we can glean from this perspective of leading by putting others first…both as attorneys and human beings.

Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (2014):

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February 18, 2016 in Book Club, Colloquia, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Call for Contributions — Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions

FeministThe U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of rewritten judicial opinions and commentary on those opinions for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions. This edited volume, to be published by Cambridge University Press, is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions. The initial volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court, edited by Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. Crawford, will be published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press. (That book’s Introduction and Table of Contents are available here.) Subsequent volumes in the series will focus on different courts or different subject matters. This call is for contributions to a volume of tax decisions rewritten from a feminist perspective. 

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February 8, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marian Reviews The Hidden Wealth Of Nations

WealthOmri Marian (UC-Irvine), Tax Havens and the Rise on Inequality (reviewing Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

Tax literature is bitterly divided on the role that tax havens play in global economy. The negative view of tax havens paints them as parasitic, poaching revenue from other jurisdictions. The positive view suggests that tax havens facilitate low-cost capital mobility, mitigating some of the distortive effects of taxation.

To date, this extensive scholarly debate has produced very little information on tax havens themselves. This is hardly surprising, since tax havens are well known to be secrecy jurisdictions. This aspect of tax havens forces scholars who write about them to resort to financial modeling or available country data – data which is rarely on point. Zucman’s book is a unique breed in this context. In order to address the role of tax havens in global economy, Zucman actually collects and interprets the necessary data. Zucman assesses the wealth held in tax havens based on a long lasting anomaly in public finance: that in the aggregate, more liabilities than assets are recorded on national balance sheets, as if a portion of global assets simply vanishes into thin air, or as Zucman put it: “were in part held by Mars.” Zucman meticulously collected macro-economic data of multiple jurisdictions, and discovered that roughly the same amount of assets missing from national balance sheets shows up as ownership interest in investment pooling vehicles (such as mutual funds) organized in tax havens.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gash:  Divine Collision

Cover 2Jim Gash (Pepperdine), Divine Collision (2016):

Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders. Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda's criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.

The story is as emotional as it is thrilling, and it reads like a major film.  Publishers Weekly

With great courage and conviction, Jim Gash provides an extraordinary glimpse into the power of obedience, prayer, and hope in transforming not only one life-or even one community-but an entire justice system. Divine Collision speaks to what is at the heart of our Christian calling: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17).
Gary A. Haugen, President & CEO of International Justice Mission and author of The Locust Effect

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January 24, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hemel Reviews The Hidden Wealth Of Nations

WealthDaniel Hemel (Chicago), What’s the Matter with Luxembourg? (reviewing Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is rarely the subject of international attention, much less the target of international opprobrium. With fewer than 600,000 inhabitants, it is less populous than the City of Milwaukee. With an area of under 1,000 square miles, it is smaller than the State of Rhode Island. Conquered twice by Germany and thrice by France, it is much more accustomed to the role of victim than villain. In the words of one New York Times writer, “Luxembourg is about as cuddly as countries come.”

But in the view of economist Gabriel Zucman, Luxembourg is the enfant terrible of the European Union. “If we wish to prevent the Irish and Cypriot catastrophes from happening again,” Zucman writes near the end of his new book, “it is essential that Luxembourg go backward” (p. 91). Back to where is not clear, but what is clear is that Zucman wants Luxembourg to change its ways. And if the tiny state refuses to cooperate, Zucman says, Luxembourg should be excluded from the EU and blockaded by its neighbors.

Why does Zucman place so much blame on little Luxembourg? The answer has to do with a statistical quirk—an inconsistency in international economic data. As Zucman notes, Luxembourg’s official statistics show that shares of mutual funds domiciled in the Grand Duchy are worth $3.5 trillion. But when Zucman looks at official data from other countries on their international investment positions, he can account for only $2 trillion of Luxembourgish mutual fund shares recorded as assets. To whom does the remaining $1.5 trillion belong? We don’t know. “This,” says Zucman, “is a big problem” (p. 38).

The big problem has a name: tax evasion. And thanks to Zucman, we can now have a better sense of just how big a problem it is. In 2014, according to Zucman, liabilities on national balance sheets exceeded assets by $6.1 trillion. In other words, $6.1 trillion of the world’s wealth has gone missing. Zucman hypothesizes that this missing $6.1 trillion has been stashed in offshore bank accounts, hiding out of tax authorities’ sight. And while we can’t be sure that’s the case, Zucman persuasively argues that the $6.1 trillion figure is “a reasonable estimate of the amount of offshore portfolios owned by households all over the world” (p. 39). ...

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January 19, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tales Of Tax Reform

TalesJ. Roger Mentz (former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (Tax Policy)), Tales of Tax Reform (2015):

Politicians of all stripes are calling for tax reform. It sounds great: lower the tax rates, get rid of all of the “special interest” provisions, make our tax law simple, fair and an engine for economic growth. Some pundits even suggest that tax reform is “low-hanging fruit” that can easily be accomplished. But is this so? How would we know whether it will be that easy and straightforward? One way of learning about what a legislative tax reform process would entail is to explore what happened in 1986, when fundamental tax reform was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Reagan. This book investigates how this legislative success was accomplished, and what lessons can be learned for those government officials who seek to enact tax reform today. This book is written by J. Roger Mentz, the Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy from December 1985 through July 1987. Mr. Mentz was the point person for the Reagan Administration on tax reform, which was the number one legislative priority for President Reagan in his second Administration. These “tales” or stories describe what really happened in the tax reform legislative process and what elements would need to come together for a successful reformation of the Internal Revenue Code today.

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January 12, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sunstein Reviews The Hidden Wealth Of Nations And The Price We Pay

New York Review of BooksThe New York Review of Books:  Parking the Big Money, by Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (reviewing Gabriel Zucman, The Hidden Wealth of Nations (University of Chicago Press, 2015) & The Price We Pay (film directed by Harold Crooks):

In some circles, “redistribution” of wealth has become a dirty word, and recent efforts to make the tax system more progressive have run into serious political resistance, above all from Republicans. But whatever your political party, you are unlikely to approve of the illegal use of tax havens. As it turns out, a lot of wealthy people in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have been hiding money in foreign countries—above all, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. As a result, they have been able to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Until recently, however, officials have not known the magnitude of that problem.

But people are paying increasing attention to it. A vivid new documentary, The Price We Pay, connects tax havens, inequality, and insufficient regulation of financial transactions. The film makes a provocative argument that a new economic elite—wealthy managers and holders of capital—is now able to operate on a global scale, outside the constraints of any legal framework. In a particularly chilling moment, it shows one of the beneficiaries of the system cheerfully announcing on camera: “I don’t feel any remorse about not paying taxes. I think it’s a marvelous way in life.”

Gabriel Zucman, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, has two goals in his new book, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: to specify the costs of tax havens, and to figure out how to reduce those costs. While much of his analysis is technical, he writes with moral passion, even outrage; he sees tax havens as a “scourge.” His figures are arresting. About 8 percent of the world’s wealth, or $7.6 trillion, is held in tax havens. In 2015, Switzerland alone held $2.3 trillion in foreign wealth. As a result of fraud from unreported foreign accounts, governments around the world lose about $200 billion in tax revenue each year. Most of this amount comes from the evasion of taxes on investment income, but a significant chunk comes from fraud on inheritances. In the United States, the annual tax loss is $35 billion; in Europe, it is $78 billion. In African nations, it is $14 billion.

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January 6, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NYU Tax Law Review Symposium:  Thomas Piketty's Capital In The Twenty-First Century

PikettySymposium on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 68 Tax L. Rev. 443-647 (2015):

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January 5, 2016 in Book Club, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Richard Posner:  How To Fix Law School

Divergent PathsSalon:  Here’s How We Fix Law School: This Is The Real-World Training Future Lawyers Need, by Richard Posner (Judge. U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit) (from Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary (Harvard University Press, 2016)):

The first year of law school, usually so different from the student’s previous educational experiences, is bound to make a lasting, indeed a lifelong, impression.The first-year program at most law schools is demanding, though less than it used to be; current tuition levels tend to induce law schools to treat students more as customers than as plebes. I felt changed after my first year (1959–1960) as a student at the Harvard Law School—I felt that I had become more intelligent.The basic training was in learning how to extract holdings from judicial opinions in common law fields and how to apply those holdings to novel factual situations—in other words how to determine the scope and meaning of a legal doctrine.The courses were very difficult because the legal vocabulary was unfamiliar; the professors asked incessant, difficult questions, usually cold calling; the casebooks had very little explanatory material; and we were told not to waste our time reading secondary materials—and most of us were docile and so obeyed.That first year of Harvard Law School was active learning at its best.

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January 5, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, January 1, 2016

LexisNexis Sells Law School Publishing Business To Carolina Academic Press

LNCAPAs a LexixNexis author, I received the following email:  Law School Publishing News from LexisNexis Matthew Bender and Carolina Academic Press (posted with permission of LexisNexis):

Dear Author,

On December 31, LexisNexis® Matthew Bender® completed the sale of our law school publishing business to Carolina Academic Press. As part of this transaction, Matthew Bender® assigned all of the associated author agreements to Carolina Academic Press, and Carolina Academic Press agreed to assume all of the Matthew Bender obligations under such agreements. Therefore, Carolina Academic Press is now the publisher of your title(s).

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January 1, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Teacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-Envisioning Motherhood In The Academy

YoungTeacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-Envisioning Motherhood in the Academy (Anna M. Young (Pacific Lutheran University), ed.) (2015) (Table of Contents):

Anna Young’s edited collection Teacher, Scholar, Mother offers an important examination into the challenges mother-scholars continue to face, yet the insights provided by the authors extend beyond academia. Covering topics as varied as breastfeeding choices to mediated representations of mothers, the eighteen chapters will be of interest to anyone who is interested in promoting the possibility of a more empowered motherhood. (Sara Hayden, University of Montana)

Teacher, Scholar, Mother is a conceptually rich and accessible interdisciplinary collection that vividly captures the unique challenges women face as they balance their diverse roles at different stages in their lives as mothers and academics. Young’s collection stands out from other works on motherhood and academic life in its reflective focus on how the experience of mothering brings new life and understanding to research in the arts, humanities, and sciences. (Anne T. Demo, Pennsylvania State University)

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December 23, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Baseball And The Law: Cases And Materials

BaseballLouis H. Schiff (Judge, 17th Judicial Circuit, Florida) & Robert M. Jarvis (Nova), Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials (Carolina Academic Press, 2016):

Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials explores the jurisprudence of baseball through 110 principal readings, 619 notes, and 26 photographs. After an introductory chapter that acquaints students with the sport and the role lawyers have played in its development, the authors proceed to examine a multitude of legal issues, from player salaries, franchise relocations, and steroids to fan safety, broadcast rights, and gambling. Special attention is paid to racial and sexual discrimination; tax planning, asset protection, and bankruptcy; and the burgeoning use of technology. A concluding chapter focuses on amateur and youth baseball.

The book draws on a variety of materials—including court decisions, arbitration awards, law review articles, newspapers stories, and blog posts—to place baseball in three different contexts: cultural, historical, and legal.

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December 16, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Alstott:  Taxation In Six Concepts

AnneAnne L. Alstott (Yale), Taxation in Six Concepts: A Student's Guide (Wolters Kluwer 2015):

Tax doctrines rest on a handful of concepts -- just six, in fact. Armed with six concepts, you can decipher the law. In the United States, more so than in any other developed country, the tax law hosts many of the government s most important social and economic policies. Health care, housing, financial markets, education,and poverty, for example, involve tax. In short, tax turns out to host many interesting and pressing public policy problems.

This book introduces the six concepts and uses them to unpack leading cases and real-world transactions. The six are valuation, net income, realization, tax deferral, substance over form and income-shifting. The cases discussed involve one (or two) of the six concepts discussed. This book also looks beyond the classroom. At every step, real-world transactions are included to show how tax planning harks back to the six concepts.

Of course, tax law, like all law, is full of ambiguity and contradiction. Sometimes there is no single right answer. Courts reach conflicting decisions and use inconsistent reasoning. But the six concepts explain the conflicts within the law that give rise to ambiguity and uncertainty.

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December 15, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer

DevelopingE. Scott Fruehwald (Contributing Editor, Legal Skills Prof Blog), Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015):

"Who will I be as a lawyer? This is the most important question any law student can ask. Yet, in traditional legal education, this question rarely comes up. The purpose of this book is to change this.

Professional identity is a lawyer’s personal morality, values, decision-making process, and self-consciousness in relation to the practices of the legal profession (legal culture). It provides the framework that a lawyer uses to make all a lawyer’s decisions.

This book takes a variety of approaches to help you develop your professional identity. Chapter One asks you to take a close look at yourself by asking questions about your childhood, your college years, and who you are today. It is important to know who you are before you can fit into a profession. Chapters Two (Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner), Six (Overcoming Cognitive Biases), and Seven (Attorney Well-Being) give you the tools you will need to develop your professional identity. Chapter Two introduces you to “practical wisdom,” an important approach to understanding and solving ethical problems.

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December 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Recommendations From The University Of Chicago Law School Faculty

Book

Book recommendations from the University of Chicago Law School faculty.

December 10, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Viability Of The $30 Law School Casebook

Lydia Pallas Loren (Lewis & Clark), The Viability of the $30 Casebook: Intellectual Property, Voluntary Payment, Open Distribution, and Author Incentives, 22 J. Intell. Prop. L. 71 (2014):

It is not uncommon for a new hardbound copy of today’s law school casebooks to exceed $200. And, each year, the prices inch ever higher. After exploring the various dynamics in the traditional publishing market that have led to the current prices for casebooks, this article describes the experiences of Semaphore Press, a publisher of law school casebooks that offers a very different approach to providing law school casebooks. Semaphore Press offers digital copies of required textbooks for law school classes, (in pdf format with no digit rights management (DRM) restrictions), at a suggested price of $30. In addition, students can alter the price they pay, paying less or more than the suggested price, or they even download a copy of a required casebook for free. Semaphore Press’s commitment, embodied in this design, is that — whatever else happens — the student obtains access to the course materials.

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December 4, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

NY Times: The Four Secrets To Sustaining High Job Performance

TonyNew York Times, The Secret to Sustaining High Job Performance, by Tony Schwartz (Author, The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance):

How do you drive sustainably high performance in an era of relentlessly rising demand? ...

The typical solution – put in more hours – won’t work anymore. The vast majority of salaried employees are already doing that, and many of them are paying a price that they are finding less and less acceptable. They are exhausted and often overwhelmed, and they deeply want to invest time in their families and the rest of their lives.

But what if people could simply be more efficient and productive during the time they are at work? What if there’s a win-win solution for employers and employees? ...

We feel better and perform better when four core energy needs are met: sufficient rest, including the opportunity for intermittent renewal during the work day; feeling valued and appreciated; having the freedom to focus in an absorbed way on the highest priorities; and feeling connected to a mission or a cause greater than ourselves.

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November 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shaviro Presents Getting A 'Fix' On Recent International Tax Policy Developments Today At McGill

Shaviro (2015)Daniel Shaviro (NYU) presents The Crossroads versus the Seesaw: Getting a 'Fix' on Recent International Tax Policy Developments at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

U.S. international tax policy is at a crossroads, say those who urge the United States to adopt what common parlance would call a territorial system. They argue that one of the two ways forward they identify – trying to fortify the current U.S. system – would lead to ever-costlier outlier status for our tax system, and ever-declining competitiveness for U.S. multinationals. They therefore urge U.S. policymakers to embrace what they identify as the other way forward: conforming to global norms by adopting a territorial system.

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November 10, 2015 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Price We Pay: A Movie About Offshore Tax Havens

The Price We Pay

The Price We Pay is inspired by Brigitte Alepin’s book La Crise fiscale qui vient [Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes...Like We Do]Director Harold Crooks (who co-directed Surviving Progress with Mathieu Roy) blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance with this incendiary documentary about the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, which has seen multinationals depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harboring profits in offshore havens. Tax havens, originally created by London bankers in the 50s, today put over half the world’s stock of money beyond reach of  public treasuries.

Nation states are being reshaped by this offshoring of the world’s wealth. Tax avoidance by big corporations  and the wealthy – citizens of nowhere for tax purposes – is paving the way to historic levels of inequality and placing the tax burden on the middle class and the poor. Crusading journalists, tax justice campaigners and former finance and technology industry insiders speak frankly about the accelerating trends that are carrying the Western world to an  unsustainable future.

Reviews of The Price We Pay:

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November 10, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How Technology Will Transform The Legal Profession

FutureRichard Susskind (Oxford) & Daniel Susskind (Oxford), The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (Oxford University Press Dec. 1, 2015), reviewed by Paul Lippe (ABA Journal), Will There Be a 'New Deal' for the Legal Profession?:

[T]his is the best of Richard’s books, situating the changes facing the legal profession in both the long history of professions generally and the parallel challenges facing other fields such as medicine, accountancy, architecture, journalists, clergy and teaching.

Richard and Daniel begin by describing the implicit “Grand Bargain” between the professions and society, whereby the professions retained many of the protections (including, perhaps most importantly self-regulation) of the medieval guilds. Professions can define the appropriate nature of their service, the credentials needed to offer it, and enjoy reasonably high prestige and income. In exchange, professionals are expected to maintain their expertise, act honestly and in good faith, and put the interests of clients ahead of their own.

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November 8, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stephen Carter, Louis C.K., And Monkeys On Inequality

On InequalityStephen Carter (Yale), Inequality Debate Looks in Wrong Direction (reviewing  Harry Frankfurt (Princeton), On Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2015)):

Inequality is on everybody’s lips these days -- everybody on the left, anyway, and a lot of people in the center and on the right as well. But what if everybody’s wrong?

That’s the contention of On Inequality, a small, smart new volume by Princeton University philosopher Harry Frankfurt. At the very beginning, he states a simple but powerful thesis: “Our most fundamental challenge is not the fact that the incomes of Americans are widely unequal. It is, rather, the fact that too many of our people are poor.” Progressives, in other words, are shooting at the wrong target. The moral problem posed by the distribution of wealth isn’t inequality. It’s poverty.

These might seem like the same issue, but Frankfurt shows us with elan that they are not. Suppose, he says, there is a resource that will keep a person alive, but only if that person has five units of it. There are 10 people, and there are 40 units of the resource. If the resource is distributed equally, everybody gets four units -- and everybody dies. To insist on equality in that case, he argues, “would be morally grotesque.” ...

Frankfurt suggests that the instinct that leads many to complain about inequality isn’t about equality at all: “What I believe they find intuitively to be morally objectionable ... is not that some of the individuals in those circumstances have less money than others. Rather, it is the fact that those with less have too little.”

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October 22, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Ed Kleinbard Discusses We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money

We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

October 22, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tax Protester Irwin Schiff Dies In Prison At Age 87

Schiff 5New York Times, Irwin Schiff, Fervent Opponent of Federal Income Taxes, Dies at 87:

Irwin A. Schiff, who built a national following by arguing that income taxes are unconstitutional and spent more than 10 years in prison for evading them and for helping thousands of others to do the same, died on Friday at a hospital affiliated with a federal prison in Fort Worth. He was 87.

The cause was lung cancer, his son Andrew said.

At his death, Mr. Schiff was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution, where he was serving his third prison term, a 14-year sentence handed down in 2005.

Mr. Schiff sold more than 250,000 copies of six self-published books, including How Anyone Can Stop Paying Income Taxes (1980), The Great Income Tax Hoax (1985) and The Federal Mafia: How the Federal Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Federal Income Taxes (1992).

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October 20, 2015 in Book Club, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lisa McElroy's Novel, Called On: 'This Generation's 1L'

COPB cover front_001Lisa McElroy (Drexel), Called On (2015):

Called On may be this generation’s One L — Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal

Lisa McElroy perfectly captures the pressures, challenges, and triumphs of both teaching and studying the law. Filled with big, memorable personalities, Called On is an utterly charming depiction of the 1L experience. — Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author of The Ex

Lisa McElroy nails law school—from first-day jitters to gunners and back-benchers—in a funny, perceptive, and poignant (but never predictable) first novel. Grab a Diet Coke and a handful of M&Ms and settle in; once you start reading, you won't want to stop. — Amy Howe, co-founder & editor, SCOTUSblog

In Called On, Lisa McElroy deftly chronicles the stories of law professor Connie Shun and first year law student Libby Behl, each of whom is trying to move past tragedy and forge a new path for herself. The intersection of their lives is both humorous and heartbreaking. In this thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary on life, love, and the law, McElroy demonstrates the rare gift to simultaneously entertain, educate, uplift, and inspire. — Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl

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October 5, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Zucman: Hidden Wealth Of Nations — The Scourge Of Tax Havens

Zucman CoverGabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, Sept. 22, 2015):

We are well aware of the rise of the 1% as the rapid growth of economic inequality has put the majority of the world’s wealth in the pockets of fewer and fewer. One much-discussed solution to this imbalance is to significantly increase the rate at which we tax the wealthy. But with an enormous amount of the world’s wealth hidden in tax havens—in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands—this wealth cannot be fully accounted for and taxed fairly. No one, from economists to bankers to politicians, has been able to quantify exactly how much of the world’s assets are currently hidden—until now. Gabriel Zucman is the first economist to offer reliable insight into the actual extent of the world’s money held in tax havens. And it’s staggering.

In The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Zucman offers an inventive and sophisticated approach to quantifying how big the problem is, how tax havens work and are organized, and how we can begin to approach a solution. His research reveals that tax havens are a quickly growing danger to the world economy. In the past five years, the amount of wealth in tax havens has increased over 25%—there has never been as much money held offshore as there is today. This hidden wealth accounts for at least $7.6 trillion, equivalent to 8% of the global financial assets of households.

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September 30, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Posner: Divergent Paths — The Academy And The Judiciary

PosnerRichard A. Posner (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Chicago Law School), Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary (forthcoming Harvard University Press, 2016):

Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics couch their criticisms of judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges―at the risk of intellectual stagnation―to dismiss most academic discourse as opaque and divorced from reality. In Divergent Paths, Richard Posner turns his attention to this widening gap within the legal profession, reflecting on its causes and consequences and asking what can be done to close or at least narrow it.

The shortcomings of academic legal analysis are real, but they cannot disguise the fact that the modern judiciary has several serious deficiencies that academic research and teaching could help to solve or alleviate. In U.S. federal courts, which is the focus of Posner’s analysis of the judicial path, judges confront ever more difficult cases, many involving complex and arcane scientific and technological distinctions, yet continue to be wedded to legal traditions sometimes centuries old. Posner asks how legal education can be made less theory-driven and more compatible with the present and future demands of judging and lawyering.

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September 15, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tax Law and Racial Economic Justice: Black Tax

Black TaxAndre L. Smith (Widener-Delaware), Tax Law and Racial Economic Justice: Black Tax (2015):

No study of Black people in America can be complete without considering how openly discriminatory tax laws helped establish a racial caste system in the United States, how they were designed to exclude blacks from lucrative markets and the voting franchise, and how tax laws extracted and redistributed vast sums of black wealth. Not only was slavery nearly a 100% tax on black labor, so too was Jim Crow apartheid and tax laws specified the peculiar institution as “negro slavery.” The first instances of affirmative action in the United States were tax laws designed to attract white men to the South. The nineteenth-century Federal Tariff indirectly redistributed perhaps a majority of the profits from slavery from the South to the North and is the principle reason the Confederate states seceded. The only constitutional amendment obtained by the Civil Rights Movement is the Twenty-Sixth Amendment abolishing poll taxes in federal elections. Blending traditional legal theory, neoclassical economics, and a pan-African view of history, these six interrelated essays on race and taxes demonstrate that, even in today’s supposedly post-racial society, there is no area of human activity where racial dynamics are absent.

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September 10, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shaviro Reviews Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This

We Are Better Than This (2014)Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Book Review (Edward D. Kleinbard (USC), We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (Oxford University Press, 2014)):

This short book review of Edward Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money both discusses the book's many strengths, and addresses the significance to the book's analysis of issues of high-end (as distinct from low-end) inequality that it generally does not emphasize.

A number of important recent books have brought broad public attention to rising high-end inequality. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, while the best-known, is merely one entry in this genre.1However, until the 2014 publication of Edward Kleinbard’s We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money, there had been no comparably prominent and important recent contributions within the tax law or public economics realms addressing low-end inequality. ...

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September 9, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lawyers Are Just As Likely To Lose Their Jobs To Robots As Truck Drivers And Factory Workers

HumanTech Insider, Lawyers Are Just as Likely to Lose Their Jobs to Robots as Truck Drivers and Factory Workers:

It's no surprise that the coming robotic workforce will take over jobs that require manual labor.

But white-collar workers like lawyers are equally at risk of losing their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI) that's cheaper and better than human workers, according to Jerry Kaplan, author of Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Kaplan said any person that toils through many "repetitive and structured" tasks for a living won't be safe from the bread lines.

"Even for what you think of as highly-trained, highly-skilled, intuitive personable professions, it is still true that the vast majority of the work is routine," Kaplan told Tech Insider.

Lawyers, for example, may conjure up images of formidable debators pontificating in front of grand juries, but the reality is much more mundane.

"The vast majority of activities that lawyers are engaged in are straightforward drafting of contracts, putting together things like apartment leases, real estate deals, pre-trial discovery," Kaplan said. "It's these very tasks that make the profession susceptible to automation."

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August 30, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Historical Novel: Could Flaws In Enactment Of 16th Amendment Bring Down Income Tax, Global Economy?

PatriotSteve Berry, The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone Series Book 10) (2015):

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution is why Americans pay income taxes. But what if there were problems associated with that amendment? Secrets that call into question decades of tax collecting? In fact, there is a surprising truth to this hidden possibility.

Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in Denmark. But when his former-boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury Department files—the kind that could bring the United States to its knees—Malone is vaulted into a harrowing twenty-four hour chase that begins on the canals in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of Croatia.

With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and some eye-opening revelations from the $1 bill, this riveting, non-stop adventure is trademark Steve Berry—90% historical fact, 10% exciting speculation—a provocative thriller posing a dangerous question.

What if the Federal income tax is illegal?

The story line is compressed into a tight time frame, taking place in less than a day in real time.  And Berry cleverly mixes the history of the federal income tax law with the creation of the National Gallery of Art.  Speculation and gunplay make The Patriot Threat one of Berry’s best books to date.
The New York Times

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August 26, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Foundation Press Publishes Seventh Edition Of Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation

Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation CoverFoundation Press has published the seventh edition of Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation (amazon), by the late Paul McDaniel (Florida), Jim Repetti (Boston College), and me:

This edition continues the comprehensive, yet flexible, presentation of prior editions. It explores technical and policy issues and is adaptable for use in a single course covering basic wealth transfer taxation or a sequence of such courses at either the J.D. level or LL.M. level. It includes approximately 300 problems, designed to help students master the material covered in each chapter. Within each section, the book moves from the straightforward to the more complex, empowering the professor to select the appropriate level of complexity for her course. It thoroughly integrates all changes in the law through May 1, 2015, including case law, legislation, regulations, rulings, and other administrative pronouncements.

Jim and I have sent the 212-page Teacher's Manual to Foundation Press:

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August 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Weissenberger's Made to Measure Man: 'Outrageously Humorous Law School Academic Politics Interweave With Intrigue Of Nazi Stolen Art'

GlenMy dear friend and former Cincinnati colleague Glen Weissenberger, whose firing as Dean of DePaul Law School in 2009 sparked nationwide condemnation (links below), has published his first novel, Made to Measure Man (Aug. 11, 2015):

What happens when charming law school dean, Garth Matthews' predictable life is completely upended by his surprise receipt of a multimillion dollar award for his leadership? While Garth is intrigued by the hilarious, crotchety octogenarian matriarch of the Schmidhausen Foundation that created the award, Agnes, he is immediately romantically captivated by Agnes’ granddaughter, Julia, whose beauty and brilliance are accompanied by an enchanting mysterious quality. Romantic suspense and entertaining humor characterize the ten days of Garth’s life captured in Made to Measure Man in his adventures to find out more about this upcoming achievement award from the bestowing Zürich foundation, and more about the elusive Julia. Is the Schmidhausen Foundation involved in nefarious activities? What if the lovely, elegant Julia is not who she appears to be? And despite Garth’s being a man who is usually in control of his surrounding environment, what happens when he is drawn into the suspenseful world of art theft when he is actually considered a suspect? Outrageously humorous episodes of law school academic politics interweave with the intrigue of Nazi stolen art, and Garth travels from his home in Chicago to New York City to unravel these mysteries.

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August 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Controversies In Tax Law: A Matter Of Perspective

Controversies in Tax Law CoverControversies in Tax Law: A Matter of Perspective (Anthony C. Infanti, ed. Ashgate 2015):

This volume presents a new approach to today’s tax controversies, reflecting that debates about taxation often turn on the differing worldviews of the debate participants. For instance, a central tension in academic tax literature - which is filtering into everyday discussions of tax law - exists between 'mainstream' and 'critical' tax theorists. This tension results from a clash of perspectives: Is taxation primarily a matter of social science or of social justice? Should tax policy debates be grounded in economics or in critical race, feminist, queer, and other outsider perspectives?

To capture and interrogate what often seems like a chasm between the different sides of tax debates, this collection comprises a series of pairs of essays. Each pair approaches a single area of controversy from two different perspectives - with one essay usually taking a 'mainstream' perspective and the other a 'critical' perspective. In writing their contributions, the authors read and incorporated reactions to each other’s essays and paid specific attention to the influence of perspective on both the area of controversy and their contribution to the debate. With contributions from leading mainstream and critical tax scholars, this volume takes the first step toward bridging the gap between these differing perspectives on tax law and policy.

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August 14, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Barton: The Upside Of The Law School Crisis

GlassFollowing up on my previous post (here and here):  Chronicle of Higher Education,  The Upside of the Legal Profession's Crisis, by Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee); author, Glass Half Full The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford University Press, 2015)):

Four different interlocking trends are squeezing American lawyers and law schools. First, after a 50-year ride of growth in size and profits, corporate law-firm revenues have slowed since 2008.Businesses have grown tired of paying ever-higher fees and are using insourcing, outsourcing, and computerization for more-straightforward legal work, though they have continued to pay more for true bet-the-company transactional and litigation work.

Second, computerization has started to squeeze ordinary lawyers. LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and others are horning in on traditional areas of practice, like drafting incorporation papers and wills, and are also offering inexpensive legal-advice plans. Right now they are reaching only low-hanging fruit by offering simple legal documents or monthly legal-advice plans. As they grow in size, complexity, and acceptance, price competition will further stiffen. ...

Third, courts and legislatures have reined in litigation since the 1980s. Tort reform has limited class actions, damages, and fees, and tort law is less lucrative for the lawyers involved.

Last, there has been a 30-year decline in earnings for small firms and solo practitioners. ...

In 2008 hard times for corporate law firms finally brought public attention to the employment numbers for law graduates, and applications and attendance at law schools have fallen steeply since 2010. ... [T]roubled law schools will risk disaccreditation by admitting anyone they can and radically cutting costs rather than actually closing their doors. This could mean closing the law library or replacing the bulk of the tenured faculty with adjuncts. It would be inexpensive to run a skeleton law school that has few administrators and is taught by adjunct faculty. The question would then shift to how the A.B.A. might respond. It has never disaccredited a fully accredited American law school, and the legal and public-relations ramifications of such a move are unclear. ...

I think that after some rough sledding, the public, the profession, and the professoriate will all benefit from the law’s transformation. ...

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August 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Graetz: The End Of Energy

GraetzMichael Graetz (Columbia), The End of Energy The Unmaking of America's Environment, Security, and Independence (Chapters 11 & 12) (MIT Press, 2011):

With the permission of MIT Press, this document includes Chapters 11 and 12 from my 2011 book, The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America’s Environment, Security, and Independence. These two chapters discuss some of the history and merits of taxes, subsidies, and regulation (including cap and trade) as mechanisms to implement policies to curb greenhouse gases. In light of the renewed interest in and discussion of command and control regulations and carbon taxes, these chapters may be useful to readers who do not have the book. The bibliographic material relating to these chapters is contained in the book and has been omitted here.

Description of the book:

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August 12, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Barnhizer: The Warrior Lawyer

WarriorDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Warrior Lawyer II: Using The Art of War and A Book of Five Rings to Gain Victory Through Disciplined Strategy (2015):

The force that ties all the pieces of law practice together into a coherent system is strategy—which can be understood as the ability to both plan and take action to achieve desired goals, or to at least significantly increase the probability of achieving a client’s goals. One of the main reasons for studying strategy is that it improves our ability to evaluate, diagnose, estimate risks and costs and resolve the problems and opportunities our clients bring to us. Sun Tzu's Art of War and Musashi's Book of Five Rings offer a unique strategic language. Sun Tzu’s Art of War is one of history's most widely read works on strategy. It has had significant influence on military strategy in Asia, including Japan and China. Sun Tzu and Musashi are like puzzle boxes with multi-layered expositions of strategic understanding the strategist can return to again and again. There is no finality to the insights. Musashi observes: "Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy." This is the essence of the master strategist, whatever the discipline. The strategist is always in control of self. The Way of strategy offered by the combination of Sun Tzu's and Musashi's strategic thought is a methodology of greater awareness and effectiveness. Their insights as applied to the practice of law enable the strategist to perceive the world more sharply, extensively, and deeply.

August 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Krugman Slams Piketty's 'New' Book On Inequality

PikettyNew York Times Book Review:  Thomas Piketty, The Economics of Inequality (Harvard University Press 2015), reviewed by Paul Krugman (Princeton):

Let me be blunt: I don’t know how the decision was made to release this “new” Piketty book in its current form, but it’s not at all the book one might have expected. It is, instead, a slightly revised version of a volume first published in 1997, when Mr. Piketty was in his mid-20s.

And by slightly I mean very slightly. Even the data tables have not, for the most part, been updated, in many cases containing no information later than 1995. Perhaps more important, the basic outlines of the argument haven’t been updated to reflect later scholarship — not even Mr. Piketty’s own work with Mr. Saez. As the author concedes in a note to readers, “This book does not fully take into account the results of the past 15 years of international research on the historical dynamics of inequality.”

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August 7, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mehrotra Reviews Zelenak's Learning To Love Form 1040

Learning to Love 1040Ajay K. Mehrotra (Indiana), Reviving Fiscal Citizenship, 113 Mich. L. Rev. 943 (2015) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013)): 

In recent years, numerous lawmakers, policy analysts, and scholars have been decrying the many defects of the present U.S. income tax system. Few have attempted to defend our return-based mass income tax. This essay reviews Learning to Love Form 1040, Lawrence Zelenak’s stirring and persuasive defense of a simplified version of our present federal income tax system. In contrast to the conventional economic critiques, Zelenak explores the underappreciated social, cultural, and political benefits of a return-based, mass income tax. Chief among these, he argues, is the existing regime’s potential to raise the tax consciousness of the average citizen and to enhance modern notions of fiscal citizenship.

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August 6, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rhode: The Trouble With Lawyers

TroubleDeborah L. Rhode (Stanford), The Trouble with Lawyers (Oxford University Press, June 1, 2015):

By any measure, the law as a profession is in serious trouble. Americans' trust in lawyers is at a low, and many members of the profession wish they had chosen a different path. Law schools, with their endlessly rising tuitions, are churning out too many graduates for the jobs available. Yet despite the glut of lawyers, the United States ranks 67th (tied with Uganda) of 97 countries in access to justice and affordability of legal services. The upper echelons of the legal establishment remain heavily white and male. Most problematic of all, the professional organizations that could help remedy these concerns instead jealously protect their prerogatives, stifling necessary innovation and failing to hold practitioners accountable.

Deborah Rhode's The Trouble with Lawyers is a comprehensive account of the challenges facing the American bar. She examines how the problems have affected (and originated within) law schools, firms, and governance institutions like bar associations; the impact on the justice system and access to lawyers for the poor; and the profession's underlying difficulties with diversity. She uncovers the structural problems, from the tyranny of law school rankings and billable hours to the lack of accountability and innovation built into legal governance-all of which do a disservice to lawyers, their clients, and the public.

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August 6, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)