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Monday, April 22, 2013

Rapoport Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

Failing Nancy Rapoport (Interim Dean, UNLV), Book Review, 47 Law & Social Rev. 479 (2013) (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

This extremely short book review discusses why Tamanaha's book is a must-read for anyone in the legal education business, even if we don't always agree with what he's saying.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

April 22, 2013 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Teaching Federal Income Tax

TeachingThe Institute for Law Teaching and Learning has made available for free on its website Teaching the Law School Curriculum (Steven Friedland & Gerald F. Hess, eds.) (Carolina Academic Press, 2004):

Teaching the Law School Curriculum draws upon the wisdom of hundreds of legal educators to provide ideas, materials, and alternatives for teaching a variety of law school courses. The book offers guidance for new and experienced law teachers to plan and deliver effective courses. ...

Chapter 10: Federal Income Tax

Approach

  • Teaching Tax through Stories – Paul L. Caron
  • Goals, Philosophy, and Coverage – Nancy Shurtz
  • Statutory Interpretation and the Development of a Civic Perspective – Kim Brooks
  • Problems, Previews, Participation, and Preparation – Leandra Lederman
  • Providing a Framework for Learning – Mary L. Heen
  • Statutory Analysis, Not Arithmetic – Eric Lustig
  • TaxProf: A Virtual Tax Community – Paul L. Caron

Material

  • Tax Case Limericks – Leandra Lederman
  • Tax Stories: An In-Depth Look at Ten Leading Federal Income Tax Cases – Paul L. Caron
  • Tax Returns, Casebooks, and Slides – Eric Lustig
  • Text and Handouts – Nancy Shurtz
  • General Outline of Federal Income Tax (Handout) – Leandra Lederman
  • Computing Taxable Gain (Handout) – Leandra Lederman
  • Introduction to Deductions Problems (Handout) – Leandra Lederman

Exercises

  • Introducing Statutory Interpretation with Song Lyrics – Kim Brooks

Brief Gems

  • Role-Playing – Nancy Shurtz
  • "Boot" – Leandra Lederman
  • Cartoons – Nancy Shurtz
  • IRC 212 Area Code – Leandra Lederman
  • Getting the Class Started and the Power of Bruce – Kim Brooks
  • "How Would the IRS Ever Know . . ." – Leandra Lederman

Feedback and Evaluation

  • Designing Writing Assignments and Exams Based on Course Objectives – Kim Brooks
  • The TaxProf Exam Bank: Practical Help for the Tax Professor – Paul L. Caron
  • Research Paper, Midterm, and Final Exam – Nancy Shurtz

April 17, 2013 in Book Club, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Horwitz: What Ails the Law Schools?

Paul Horwitz Horwitz(Alabama), What Ails the Law Schools?, 111 Mich. L. Rev. 955 (2013):

Everyone engaged in legal education and not utterly asleep agrees that there is a "law school crisis." Building on recent works by Brian Tamanaha [Failing Law Schools] and Walter Olson [Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America], this paper discusses its causes and potential solutions, using a typical dichotomy in recent populist movements -- the "one percent" versus "99 percent" meme -- as a lens. It examines arguments that the problem is economic and that it is primarily cultural; although I conclude the problem is economic and structural far more than cultural, I also argue that one of Tamanaha's primary recommendations for reform -- that law schools ought to display more experimentation and institutional pluralism, and that ABA accreditation requirements ought to make this more possible -- goes some way toward addressing both diagnoses. The paper is more descriptive than prescriptive, although I offer some thoughts on solutions. I emphasize three things: 1) law schools would be better off focusing on regional than national markets, although the US News rankings make regionally oriented approaches more difficult; 2) a serious increase in meaningful faculty governance and involvement is needed; and 3) the role and needs of the client have been surprisingly marginal in recent discussions of law school reform. The client needs to be a prominent part of reform discussions, which suggests, contrary to some extant views, that curricular reform ought to continue to be part of the discussion along with economic and structural reform.

April 14, 2013 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Zelenak Presents Learning to Love Form 1040 Today at Florida

LoveLawrence Zelenak (Duke) presents Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013) today at the University of Florida College of Law Graduate Tax Program Tax Colloquium:

In Learning to Love Form 1040, Lawrence Zelenak argues that filing taxes can strengthen fiscal citizenship by prompting taxpayers to reflect on the contract they have with their government and the value—or perceived lack of value—they receive in exchange for their money. Zelenak traces the mass income tax to its origins as a means for raising revenue during World War II. Even then, debates raged over the merits of consumption-based versus income taxation, as well as whether taxes should be withheld from payroll or paid at the time of filing. The result is the income tax system we have today—a system whose maddening complexity, intended to accommodate citizens in widely different circumstances, threatens to outweigh any civic benefits.

If sitcoms and political cartoons are any indication, public understanding of the income tax is badly in need of a corrective. Zelenak clears up some of the most common misconceptions and closes with suggestions for how the current system could be substantially simplified to better serve its civic purpose.

April 12, 2013 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Foundation Press Publishes Criminal Law Stories (35th Book in the Law Stories Series)

Criminal Law StoriesFoundation Press has published Criminal Law Stories (2013), by Donna K. Coker (Miami) & Robert Weisberg (Stanford):

This collection of case stories illustrates the balance, continuity, and evolution in substantive criminal law doctrine in light of the social and political contexts in which those doctrines are perennially tested. These stories focus on the pre-litigation behavior of defendants, raising important moral and cultural questions about human nature and human society and how social norms get translated into workable legal doctrines. They survey the typical variety of doctrines addressed in a standard criminal law course, elucidating the classic themes of common law jurisprudence.

Other titles in the Law Stories Series (for which I serve as Series Editor) are:

April 10, 2013 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

LexisNexis Publishes Estate and Gift Taxation

Estate & Gift TaxOn behalf of LexisNexis and the Graduate Tax Series Board of Editors (Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Joshua Blank (NYU), Michael Friel (Florida), Philip Postlewaite (Northwestern), and Scott Schumaker (U. Washington)) I am delighted to announce the publication of Estate and Gift Taxation (2d ed. 2013), by Robert Danforth (Washington & Lee) & Brant Hellwig (Washington & Lee).

The  Graduate Tax Series is the first and only series of course materials designed for use in tax LL.M. programs. Like all books in the Series, Estate and Gift Taxation was designed from the ground-up with the needs of graduate tax faculty and students in mind:

  • More focus on Internal Revenue Code and regulations, less on case law
  • Analysis of complex, practice-oriented problems of increasing sophistication
  • Teacher’s manual with solutions to problems and other guidance
  • On-line access to the comprehensive and current Code and regulations, designed to complement the book

This new edition of Estate and Gift Taxation transitions from the temporary estate and gift tax regime that prevailed for the last decade by incorporating the provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that places the federal wealth transfer tax regime on a permanent footing. In addition to noting these fundamental legislative changes, the book devotes additional coverage to a number of recent estate and gift taxation hot topics, including:

  • Defined value transfers and the increasing acceptance of this technique by courts;
  • Portability of the unified credit from a predeceasing spouse to a surviving spouse;
  • Availability of the gift tax annual exclusion for transfers of restricted beneficial interests in closely held entities; and
  • Recent cases examining challenges to the use of family limited partnerships as estate planning vehicles.

Like the first edition of Estate and Gift Taxation published in 2011, the second edition consists of discrete chapters addressing the estate and gift tax regime in a context specific manner (i.e., jointly held property; life insurance; powers of appointment; retained-interest transfers, etc.). Each chapter contains a narrative explanation of the material, with important cases typically summarized rather than reproduced in full. Each chapter closes with a problem set requiring students to apply the relevant doctrine in the context of realistic hypothetical examples. A common technique in the problems is to present students sample trust language and then to ask students to identify tax pitfalls and to suggest drafting solutions around them. The authors provide their suggested answers to the problems in the comprehensive Teacher's Manual for the second edition, which also will be available in July.

Ten other books in the Graduate Tax Series also are available for adoption:

Other information:

April 4, 2013 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Zelenak: Learning to Love Form 1040

LoveLawrence Zelenak (Duke), Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013):

In Learning to Love Form 1040, Lawrence Zelenak argues that filing taxes can strengthen fiscal citizenship by prompting taxpayers to reflect on the contract they have with their government and the value—or perceived lack of value—they receive in exchange for their money. Zelenak traces the mass income tax to its origins as a means for raising revenue during World War II. Even then, debates raged over the merits of consumption-based versus income taxation, as well as whether taxes should be withheld from payroll or paid at the time of filing. The result is the income tax system we have today—a system whose maddening complexity, intended to accommodate citizens in widely different circumstances, threatens to outweigh any civic benefits.

If sitcoms and political cartoons are any indication, public understanding of the income tax is badly in need of a corrective. Zelenak clears up some of the most common misconceptions and closes with suggestions for how the current system could be substantially simplified to better serve its civic purpose.

April 1, 2013 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 11, 2013

In the South and West, a Tax on Being Poor

Taxing the PoorKatherine S. Newman (Dean, School of Arts & Sciences, Johns Hopkins University) & Rourke O’Brien (Ph.D Student, Princeton University), Taxing the Poor Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged (University of California Press, 2011):

This book looks at the way we tax the poor in the United States, particularly in the American South, where poor families are often subject to income taxes, and where regressive sales taxes apply even to food for home consumption. Katherine S. Newman and Rourke L. O’Brien argue that these policies contribute in unrecognized ways to poverty-related problems like obesity, early mortality, the high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, and crime. They show how, decades before California’s passage of Proposition 13, many southern states implemented legislation that makes it almost impossible to raise property or corporate taxes, a pattern now growing in the western states. Taxing the Poor demonstrates how sales taxes intended to replace the missing revenue—taxes that at first glance appear fair—actually punish the poor and exacerbate the very conditions that drove them into poverty in the first place.

New York Times: In the South and West, a Tax on Being Poor, by Katherine S. Newman (Dean, School of Arts & Sciences, Johns Hopkins University):

While the federal government has largely stuck by the principle of progressive taxation, the states have gone their own ways: tax policy is particularly regressive in the South and West, and more progressive in the Northeast and Midwest. When it comes to state and local taxation, we are not one nation under God. In 2008, the difference between a working mother in Mississippi and one in Vermont — each with two dependent children, poverty-level wages and identical spending patterns — was $2,300.

These regional disparities go back to Reconstruction, when Southern Republicans increased property taxes on defeated white landowners and former slaveholders to pay for the first public services — education, hospitals, roads — ever provided to black citizens. After Reconstruction ended in 1877, conservative Democrats — popularly labeled “the Redeemers” — rolled taxes back to their prewar levels and inserted supermajority clauses into state constitutions to ensure it could never happen again. Property taxes were frozen; income taxes were held down; corporate taxes were almost nonexistent.

Practically the only tax that could rise was the one that hurt the poor the most: the sales tax. And rise it did, throughout the Deep South in the late 19th century, then spreading into the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and the rest of the region in the 1960s and 1970s. Even liberal politicians weren’t able to buck the tide — just ask Bill Clinton, who as governor of Arkansas urgently sought new revenue to improve his state’s ailing schools and found the sales tax was the only politically viable option.

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

March 11, 2013 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Brooks: Obama Should Embrace Graetz's 100 Million Unnecessary Returns Tax Reform Plan

100 Million Unnecessary ReturnsNew York Times op-ed:  Our Second Adolescence, by David Brooks:

My main complaint with Obama is that he promised to move us beyond these stale debates, but he’s, instead, become a participant in them....My dream Obama would take advantage of the fact that only the president can fundamentally shift the terms. ... My dream Obama would abandon the big government versus small government argument. ... My dream Obama would nurture investment in three ways.

First, he would take spending that currently goes to the affluent elderly and redirect it to the young and the struggling. ...

Second, Obama could nurture investment by starting a debate on the sort of consumption tax plan Michael Graetz describes in his book 100 Million Unnecessary Returns: Enact a value-added tax, use money from that tax to finance an income tax exemption of $100,000, cut the corporate tax rate to 15%, replace the earned-income tax credit with payroll tax relief and debit cards. This is a heavy lift politically, but it achieves Obama’s fairness goals while boosting growth.

Third, Obama could talk obsessively about family structure and social repair. ...

My dream Obama wouldn’t be just one gladiator in the zero-sum budget wars. He’d transform the sequester fight by changing the categories that undergird it. He’d possess the primary ingredient of political greatness: imagination. The great presidents, like Teddy Roosevelt, see situations differently. They ask different questions. History pivots around their terms.

February 26, 2013 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Call for Book Reviews: Michigan Law Review

Michigan The Michigan Law Review has asked me to post its solicitation of book reviews for its 2014 Survey of Books Related to the Law:

The Michigan Law Review publishes an Annual Survey of Books dedicated to book reviews. Book reviews are not included in any other issue of the Michigan Law Review. The Survey includes reviews of books published in the current year and the past two years. So, for example, the 2014 Survey, which will be published in April 2014, will include reviews of books published in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

The 2014 Survey of Books is currently accepting submissions for the 2014 Review. The Book Review Office welcomes unsolicited submissions. Proposal guidelines can be downloaded here. Manuscripts and draft sections to accompany the proposal are appreciated. Please note that all Book Review proposals, drafts, and manuscripts must be submitted via email to michlrev.ed.br@umich.edu. Decisions for the upcoming year's issue are generally made between March and May.

Please note that we require that finished drafts be no more than 8,500 words, including footnotes.

February 22, 2013 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Townsend: Federal Tax Crimes, 2013

Tax CrimesJohn A. Townsend (Houston), Federal Tax Crimes, 2013:

This is the 2013:01 edition of the Federal Tax Crimes book that I started many years ago for use in a Tax Fraud and Money Laundering course at the University of Houston Law School. With some colleagues, we substantially revised that earlier version into a separately targeted book, titled Tax Crimes published by LexisNexis. The full title of the LexisNexis book is John Townsend, Larry Campagna, Steve Johnson and Scott Schumacher, Tax Crimes (LexisNexis Graduate Tax Series 2008).

This pdf text offered here is a self-published version of my original text that I have kept up since publication of the LexisNexis book. The LexisNexis book is more suitable for students in a classroom setting and is targeted specifically for graduate tax students. This pdf book I make available here is not suitable for students in a class setting, but is more suitable for lawyers in practice, covering far more topics and with far more detail and footnotes that may be helpful to the busy practitioner. It cannot be used fruitfully for the target audience of the LexisNexis book.

February 13, 2013 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Brauner & Stewart: Tax, Law and Development

Yariv Brauner (Florida) & Miranda Stewart (Melbourne), Introduction, in Tax, Law and Development (Edward Elgar Apr. 2013):

This book is the first collection of independent legal scholarship exploring the relationship between tax, law and the quest for human development. While acknowledging fully the challenge of tax competition in a global economy, this book rejects calls to end taxation of mobile capital even if this may be perceived to be a theoretical economic inevitability due to the difficulty of collection in an uncooperative environment. New approaches to economic development suggest we must abandon – or significantly downplay – the dominant normative approaches to tax policy, replacing these with contextualized, diverse, partial and incremental tax law reform approaches that take seriously the legal, social and political context. The innovative scholars who contribute to this book examine the role of law in national and international tax regimes across a range of topical tax issues, from the perspective of countries including China, Brazil, South Africa, India and the United States. Chapters discuss the reform of tax laws that are central to economic globalization, including tax incentives for foreign direct investment, their relationship with tax treaties and other international tax law, the problem of how to address fundamental equity concerns, and institutions of budgeting, tax law making and administration in a global era.  

February 5, 2013 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Diamond Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingStephen F. Diamond (Santa Clara), The Future of the American Law School or, How the 'Crits' Led Brian Tamanaha Astray and His Failing Law Schools Fails (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

Debate over the impact of the economic crisis on the future of the American law school has reached an exceptional level of intensity. Brian Tamanaha’s short book, Failing Law Schools, serves as the manifesto for those who believe the law school must undergo radical restructuring and cost cutting. While there is room for disagreement with almost all aspects of the reform argument no critic of Tamanaha has attempted to place his critique in the context of his pre-existing scholarly work on the rule of law. This review essay argues that only an appreciation for the dual nature of the modern rule of law allows us to explain what is happening to the American law school and to see clearly the limitations of the critics’ arguments. The essay suggests that diversity within a tenure based academic model is a valuable characteristic of the current model that must be preserved.

Continue reading

January 29, 2013 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cato Hosts Book Forum Today on Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingThe Cato Institute hosts a Book Forum today at noon EST (free live webcast here) on Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

For decades, American law schools enjoyed one of the world’s great winning streaks. Amid swelling enrollments and what seemed an insatiable demand for new lawyers, they went on a spree of expansion; even as tuitions soared, the schools basked in an air of public-interest rectitude symbolized by Yale law dean Harold Koh’s description of his institution as a “Republic of Conscience.” Then came the Great Recession—and a great reckoning. New graduates were unable to find decently paying legal jobs even as they staggered under enormous debt burdens; it became impossible to ignore long-standing complaints from the world of legal practice that the law curriculum does not train students well in much of what lawyers do; and creative efforts to reduce the cost of law school were stymied by an accreditation process that closely constrains the format of legal education. In Failing Law Schools, one of the most talked-of books in years about higher education, Brian Tamanaha of Washington University has written a devastating critique of what went wrong with the American law school and what can be done to fix it. None of the key contributors to the problem—faculty self-interest, university administrators’ myopia, cartel-like accreditation—escape unscathed in his analysis.

Also appearing with author Brian Tamanaha:

Continue reading

January 16, 2013 in Book Club, Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unleashing Market Forces in Legal Education and the Legal Profession

Failing Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State) & Daniel C. MerrittUnleashing Market Forces in Legal Education and the Legal Profession, 26 Geo. J. Legal Ethics ___ (2013) (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

Brian Tamanaha has written a thoughtful critique of legal education; we agree with his assessment and many of his prescriptions. Tamanaha, however, does not press hard enough on a fundamental flaw that plagues both legal education and law practice: Our profession operates as a tournament guild. Law schools and established practitioners maintain a lengthy, stressful, and expensive series of competitions to separate winners from losers. A small number of lawyers reap most of the guild profits; others toil for much less reward or leave the profession.

Addressing this problem requires easing the market restraints that currently shield the legal profession. Ordinary fraud and consumer protection laws adequately protect clients; tighter constraints benefit established lawyers, while harming new lawyers and consumers. In this essay, we outline law’s status as a tournament guild, then suggest how market competition could address some of the problems identified by Tamanaha and other critics of legal education.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

Continue reading

December 20, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Campbell Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingRay Campbell (Peking University School of Transnational Law), Law School Disruption, 26 Geo. J. Legal Ethics ___ (2013) (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

Parked at the crossroads of higher education and legal practice, U.S. law schools find their once serene setting to be under siege. The legal services industry faces a period of profound structural change with uncertain consequences for the traditional practice of law. Meanwhile, higher education wades through its own Slough of Despond, with its mission unclear and elite institutions spooked by disruptive change.

Just at this moment Brian Tamanaha has entered the scene with a book entitled Failing Law Schools. Tamanaha argues persuasively that law schools are in crisis, with costs so high and employment prospects so poor that most law schools now represent a bad investment for students. He tells how things came to this sad pass, with legal educator selfishness playing the leading role. He builds a compelling case.

Tamanaha falters when he attempts to present a path forward for law schools. In proposing changes for the future, he essentially seeks a return to a more affordable past. In the context of changes sweeping higher education and legal services, such a return may not be possible or desirable. Law schools that find themselves in a challenging situation will need to address -- and perhaps embrace -- radical change in order to chart a path forward.

Tamanaha’s failure to address the future flows from fundamental limitations in his approach. First, Tamanaha errs in treating law schools as a special case. The most severe ills afflicting law schools – the orientation towards benefiting faculty rather than serving students, a system-wide elevation of research over teaching, and soaring tuitions – appear in similar degree across the academic spectrum of modern U.S. universities. Second, Tamanaha also fails to engage with some of the most disruptive (and promising) changes coming to higher education, including eventually law schools. Effective online learning threatens to split the instruction aspect of higher education from the research and networking aspects, with enormous implications for educational finances as well as institutional missions. Tamanaha’s modest “back to the future” vision fails to engage with the ways these new developments create opportunities for schools to be better than they ever have been, at lower costs.

Tamanaha also fails to take into account the changing nature of the legal services market. He focuses on training traditional lawyers for traditional legal practice. Both at the high and low ends, however, change is coming to the legal services market, impacting both the demand for traditionally schooled lawyers and potentially creating demand for new kinds of service providers. Tamanaha’s prescription fails to address this systemic change, and as a result fails to look at how law schools might be best reconfigured to serve a society with changing needs. That said, Tamanaha has helped launch a discussion that needs to be had. No professor with a conscience can comfortably watch half his or her students spend three years of their youth and significant sums on a legal education only to find no jobs that justify the investment. For those schools not in the very upper tier of American legal education, something needs to change, and Tamanaha’s book helps structure the discussion of what that change should be.  

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

December 6, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Schrag Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingPhilip G. Schrag (Georgetown), Failing Law Schools -- Brian Tamanaha's Misguided Missile, 26 Geo. J. Legal Ethics ___ (2013) (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

Professor Brian Tamanaha’s book, Failing Law Schools, usefully collects in one place the recent critiques of law schools for reacting excessively to U.S. News rankings, manipulating admissions data, spending excessive amounts of money to hire “star” professors and to circulate glossy brochures and magazines, and in some cases, falsifying graduates’ employment statistics. But Tamanaha’s main argument is that law school has become unaffordable for most applicants, because it will saddle them with debt that they cannot afford to repay on the incomes that they can reasonably expect. His thesis is based on a misunderstanding of student loan repayment methods. In particular, he erroneously assumes that the only proper way to repay student loans is through so-called “standard” repayment (over a ten year period). Actually, many law graduates will find typically law school debt manageable if they repay federal student loans through income-based repayment plans, particularly the new Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan. Tamanaha disparages income-based repayment, however, because he incorrectly believes that total debt, rather than the ratio of current repayment obligations to current income, primarily determines a borrower’s credit-worthiness for mortgages and other large loans.

Based on his belief that law school is no longer affordable for most students, Tamanaha offers several radical proposals, such as amending accreditation standards to permit a two-tier system, in which only a few expensive law schools would continue as research institutions offering three-year degrees, while most would offer law degrees after two years of classroom study and a year of some sort of lightly-supervised apprenticeship. He would also do away with the standard that requires schools to put most faculty members on tenure tracks and to support faculty research. This review essay questions the need for those far-reaching changes in legal education and concludes with the suggestion that Tamanaha focus his considerable critical skills on the problems not of law students, but of lower-income clients who are unable to obtain the legal services that they need.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

Update #1:   Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), What's Wrong With Income Based Repayment In Legal Academia: A Response to Schrag:

Phil Schrag has written a strong critique of my analysis, which I encourage everyone interested in these issues to read. He criticizes me for directing a "nuclear weapon" at the structure of legal education, when "small arms fire, to curb a few evident abuses, would have been a more appropriate response." The Income Based Repayment program (IBR) solves the economic problems I identify, he argues. IBR allows graduates to make monthly loan payments based upon their income (10% of income above 150% of the poverty rate), and forgives the remaining balance after 20 years. In a section called "Sarah gets rich," Schrag shows that law graduates on IBR end up doing very well. He also argues that, contrary to concerns I expressed, their credit scores (FICO) will not be adversely affected by the fact that their loan balances will remain very large (and in many instances grow), because creditors will care only about their fixed and manageable low monthly payments. ...

Schrag makes a convincing case. The recently implemented version of IBR is far more generous than the formula in place when I wrote the book (15% of income above 150% of the poverty line, forgiveness after 25%). Under the previous program, a student on IBR would end up paying more each month and a much higher amount of interest on the loan before forgiveness. ...

That said, in my view IBR does not solve the basic underlying problem of the warped economics of legal education, but actually has the potential to make it worse. I will identify just two reasons to doubt Schrag's assertion that no big changes are necessary.

First, I find it alarming, not reassuring, to be told that IBR should be viewed as the "standard payment" for contemporary law grads. ... The second reason for concern is that the operation of IBR exacerbates the situation in several ways. ... Because monthly loan payments under the program are tied to salary, not to the amount owed, IBR renders the size of the debt irrelevant. ... Besides encouraging inefficient economic decisions by students, IBR will artificially keep alive law schools that should not exist. ... Finally, the fact that IBR makes the size of the debt irrelevant means that law schools can increase tuition without worrying about adverse consequences for our students. ... Law schools benefit from and are happy about these aspects of IBR. But legal educators should also consider whether they are good for our students and for society.

Update #2:  Paul Campos (Colorado), Sarah's Problem:

There are a whole lot of problems with Schrag's claim that IBR is a good thing for law students (let alone for the public as a whole, which of course is picking up this particular bill), but I'll leave those for another day. Here I'll stick to a much simpler and more fundamental point:

Sarah's real problem is that she's not getting a job, or if she does get a job it's not paying $60,000, or if it does pay $60,000 she's not going to be able to keep it.

Law professors tend to live in a bubble where they imagine that Sarah's hypothetical career path is a typical outcome for people who don't make the big bucks in Big Law.  That's why arguments about "affordability" end up assuming a series of can openers, consisting of solid salaries, career stability, and other features that have very little to do with what the large majority of current law graduates can realistically expect to obtain in return for taking out ever-more enormous piles of taxpayer-funded debt that will never be repaid.

November 30, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Burman & Slemrod: Taxes in America -- What Everyone Needs to Know

Taxes in AmericaLeonard E. Burman (Syracuse) & Joel B. Slemrod (Michigan), Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, Nov. 22, 2012):

Despite their passion and fury, contemporary Americans are remarkably clueless about how their tax system works. But with heated debates over taxation now roiling Congress and the nation, an understanding of our tax system is of vital importance. Taxes in America, by preeminent tax scholars Leonard E. Burman and Joel Slemrod, offers a clear, concise explanation of how our tax system works, how it affects people and businesses, and how it might be improved. Accessibly written and organized in a clear, question-and-answer format, the book describes the intricacies of the modern tax system in an easy-to-grasp manner. Burman and Slemrod begin with the basic definitions of taxes and then delve into more complicated and indeed contentious concerns. They address such questions as how to recognize Fool's Gold tax reform plans. How much more tax could the IRS collect with better enforcement? How do tax burdens vary around the world? Why do corporations pay so little tax, even though they earn trillions of dollars every year? And what kind of tax system is most conducive to economic growth?

November 12, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bard Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingJennifer S. Bard (Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Texas Tech) reviews Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012):

The usual practice of The Journal of Legal Medicine is to not go out of our way to review a book we do not think would be of interest to our readers. There are more good books published than any of us can read and we see no benefit of wasting our readers’ time with those we cannot endorse. However, Failing Law Schools ... is not just a book. It is a book which represents what has become a movement to blame the legal education system for the loss of legal jobs due to the crash of the United States. It also is a book which has become closely associated with an on-going series of articles in the popular press, most notably the New York Times, alleging that legal academics have acted in bad faith to preserve a broken system which rewards us at the expense of our students. It also is a book which cannot be ignored.

Law professors, lawyers and journalists across the country have reviewed the book and fall into two camps: those who find Tamanaha’s expose “courageous,” and those who vigorously object to his claims of intentional fraud. Moreover, reaction to the book has created what can only be described as a classic double bind. Those law professors who reject his premises have been called blinded by self-interest and therefore unreliable critics. One law professor reviewing the book describes Tamanaha as “a prosecutor arraying the evidence to prove intent [who] offers up a very compelling narrative that the dispassionate observer is likely to find convincing,” and warns that those professors who do not essentially confess their complicity will “by history at least” end up “look[ing] foolish.” Maybe so. But as a relative late-comer to legal academe who first spent 10 years practicing law in both the public and private sector, I think it is important to disentangle the criticism that legal academe does not adequately prepare students to practice law, from the accusation that this failure bears any relationship whatsoever to our graduates’ ability to find legal employment that pays enough to cover their educational debts. Because one thing has nothing to do with the other.

In reading and reviewing Failing Law Schools, I do not seek to criticize Professor Tamanaha’s skill as a writer or researcher, nor to suggest that he has no basis for the conclusions he has drawn here. But in the face of what no one can deny is a very different market for legal employment, I do want to challenge his conclusion that the solution going forward is to dismantle legal education in its current form and replace it with a form of structured apprenticeship, in which students are taught what they need to know by part-time instructors who, as practicing attorneys, can better prepare them for the career that lies ahead of them.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

November 2, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

LexisNexis Publishes Federal Taxation of Property Transactions

FTPT2On behalf of LexisNexis and the Graduate Tax Series Board of Editors (Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Elliott Manning (Miami), Philip Postlewaite (Northwestern) and David Richardson (Florida)), I am delighted to announce the publication of Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (2012), by Elliott Manning (Miami) and David Cameron (Northwestern).

The Graduate Tax Series is the first and only series of course materials designed for use in tax LL.M. programs. Like all books in the Series, Federal Taxation of Property Transactions was designed from the ground-up with the needs of graduate tax faculty and students in mind:

  • More focus on Internal Revenue Code and regulations, less on case law
  • Analysis of complex, practice-oriented problems of increasing sophistication
  • Teacher’s manual with solutions to problems and other guidance
  • On-line access to the comprehensive and current Code and regulations, designed to complement the book

Two significant complications affect the taxation of property transactions. The first complication is the special treatment of capital gains and losses. The second complication arises from the time value of money. This book aims to provide students with an appreciation for these two significant complexities through the descriptive materials and problems presented.

Chapter 1 introduces the concepts of basis and realization that are fundamental to the taxation of all transactions involving property. Chapter 2 follows with the effects of taxing gains and losses from capital assets differently from ordinary gains and losses. Chapter 3 deals with liabilities, which are essentially the opposite of assets or property, so that they can be considered negative property. Chapter 4 covers the rules applicable to the capitalization of costs incurred in the creation or acquisition of property and the recovery of those costs through a variety of expensing, amortization, and depreciation provisions. Chapter 5 covers non-recognition transactions (other than transfers involving partnerships, corporations or trusts) in which gain or loss is not recognized on disposition but is deferred through the mechanism of substituted basis. Chapter 6 deals with deferred compensation issues and other special problems arising in executive compensation arrangement using employer stock or stock options that reflect the lure of capital gain treatment. Chapter 7 covers the complexities that arise from the cliché that property is a bundle of rights, particularly when the ownership and long-term right to possession is divided under a lease or similar arrangement. Finally, Chapter 8 covers a number of special provisions that affect the deductibility of losses, including the wash sales rules, limitations on related party transactions, the at-risk and passive loss rules, and losses arising in certain leasing transactions.

Ten other books in the Series also are available for adoption:

Other information:

October 24, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tax Policy Center Hosts Program Today on Federal Budget Politics and the Next President

Red Ink BookThe Tax Policy Center hosts a program today on Red Ink and Bad Blood: What Do Federal Budget Politics Mean for the Next President and You? (webcast here):

Fiscal cliff. Taxmaggedon. Debt default. The Great Recession. Political gridlock. Sequestration. The making -- or unmaking -- of the federal budget is at play with each of these. Making sense of it all is the focus of David Wessel’s new book, Red Ink: Inside the High Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget.

  • David Wessel (Economics Editor, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Alice Rivlin (Co-chair, Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force)
  • Joseph Minarik (Senior Vice-President, Committee for Economic Development)
  • Eugene Steuerle (Co-founder, Tax Policy Center)

October 22, 2012 in Book Club, Books, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Morriss Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingAndrew Morriss (Alabama) reviews Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012), in the Library of Law and Liberty:

Tamanaha ... has written a timely, thoughtful, and provocative book about the state of legal education. ... Tamanaha also writes extraordinarily clearly and precisely, and the book is a pleasure to read. The book is ultimately disappointing, however, because, despite a bold claim that talking honestly about the economics of the legal academy will “affront” his colleagues, Tamanaha ultimately pulls his punches both in describing the problems and suggesting solutions.  ... [T]he book falls short of its ambitious goals in several ways.

First, law schools are far from unique in being captured by the professors. Faculties have captured universities and colleges generally. ... There is a considerable literature on these larger trends in academia, but Tamanaha discusses almost none of it. Are law schools different in kind or merely in the size of the economic rents their faculties are able to extract? Given how widespread the discussion is now about a “higher education bubble”, it is important to know the extent to which law schools’ failures are unique to them or merely part of an overall problem in American higher education. ...

Second, Tamanaha identifies only part of the issues surrounding the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. He correctly identifies a number of significant impacts the rankings have had, but then falls short in his analysis. ... “The rankings made us do it” for unethical behavior is as poor an excuse by those purporting to be educating future leaders of a self-regulating profession as “all my friends are snorting coke” is for a high school student caught by his parents with a backpack full of drugs. ...

Third, Failing Law Schools fails to address the full consequences of the capture. Tamanaha does a tremendous job illustrating how law professors have come to dominate the ABA’s Section on Legal Education. In particular, he gives a clear explanation of how the accreditation process has increased law professors’ salaries and improved their working conditions. But again, Tamanaha pulls his punches. Emory law professor George Shepherd has thoroughly documented how the ABA standards are not simply a means of feathering the nests of faculties but also are responsible for creating the problem of access to justice for the poor. ...

Fourth, Tamanaha is far too circumspect on the failings of legal scholarship. Although he notes that much legal scholarship is never cited, that law schools today do not value doctrinal analysis as much as they did in the past, and that many lawyers and judges do not find legal scholarship to be particularly useful, his conclusion is merely that “We must inquire whether it is appropriate that law students are forced to pay for the production of scholarship at current levels and to the same extent at law schools across the board. Not all law schools and not all law professors must be oriented toward research.” This is a weak conclusion that avoids the hard questions. ... Tamanaha offers no metric by which deans, university boards, or the legal community can choose how much or what kinds of legal scholarship is worth the cost. This is a fundamental question for the future of the legal academy, yet all Tamanaha provides is the obvious point that some legal scholarship is not worth the cost without offering a means by which to identify that which is worthwhile and that which is not. This was a major missed opportunity to start a dialogue on a critical point.

Failing Law Schools is an important book, one that raises more questions than it answers. Its greatest virtue is the concise, clear statement of the economic problem of legal education. Its greatest flaw is its failure to probe below the surface of the problem. Prof. Tamanaha is a worthy contributor to the debate over the future of legal education; and I hope he will continue to make contributions as the debate progresses.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

October 17, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Brown: Implicit Bias and the Earned Income Tax Credit

ImplicitDorothy Brown (Emory), Implicit Bias and the Earned Income Tax Credit, in Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law (Justin D. Levinson (Hawaii) & Robert J. Smith (North Carolina), eds., Cambridge University Press 2012):

In President Obama’s January 2011 State of the Union Address, he called for simplifying the tax code. There is no better place to start than with the EITC. Yet implicit bias has largely gotten in the way of EITC simplification. Implicit bias allows members of Congress to make judgments based on the high error rates and conclude fraud and not complexity. Members of Congress see lazy, welfare cheats instead of the reality of hard working taxpayers struggling to make ends meet while trying their best to calculate their proper share of EITC benefits – or trusting tax return preparers to do it for them. The EITC lifts millions of Americans and their families out of poverty every year. Implicit bias has gotten in the way of simplification for far too long. America’s working poor deserve better. The time for change is now.

October 16, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 12, 2012

AEI Forum: The Redistribution Recession

MulliganThe American Enterprise Institute hosts a forum today on the new book by Casey B. Mulligan (University of Chicago, Department of Economics), The Redistribution Recession (Oxford University Press, Oct. 2012):

The social safety net became more generous under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and as a result massively altered employment patterns in the labor market.

I have explained in previous posts how public moneys have recently been used to help the unemployed, the poor and the financially distressed endure the recession, but at the same time have dramatically eroded incentives for people to maintain their own living standards by seeking, accepting and retaining jobs, as well as incentives for employers to create jobs that are attractive to workers.

My forthcoming book The Redistribution Recession [Oxford University Press, Oct. 2012] (see the introductory chapter online) quantifies those incentives and their changes over time in terms of marginal tax rates, which refer to the extra taxes paid, and subsidies forgone, as a result of working, expressed as a ratio to the income from working. ...

At this AEI event, Mulligan will present the findings of his book, followed by comments from Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University and an audience question-and-answer session. AEI’s Alan Viard will moderate.

October 12, 2012 in Book Club, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moore: Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America

Who

Stephen Moore (Member, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board), Who's the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth About Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America (Encounter Books, Oct. 9, 2012):

President Obama has declared that the standard by which all policies and policy outcomes are judged is fairness. He declared in 2011 that "we've sought to ensure that every citizen can count on some basic measure of security. We do this because we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any moment, might face hard times, might face bad luck, might face a crippling illness or a layoff." And that, he says, is why we have a social safety net. He says that returning to a standard of fairness where anyone can get ahead through hard work is the "issue of our time." And perhaps it is.

This book explores what it means for our economic system and our economic results to be "fair." Does it mean that everyone has a fair shot? Does it mean that everyone gets the same amount? Does it mean the government can assert the authority to forcibly take from the successful and give to the poor? Is government supposed to be Robin Hood determining who gets what? Or should the market decide that? The surprising answer: nations with free market systems that allow people to get ahead based on their own merit and achievement are the fairest of them all.

October 10, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reforming Legal Education: Law Schools at the Crossroads

ReformReforming Legal Education: Law Schools at the Crossroads (David M. Moss (University of Connecticut, School of Education) & Debra Moss Curtis (Nova Southeastern University Law School), eds. 2012):

In today's volatile law school environment, curriculum reform has emerged as a significant focus. It is commonly understood that law schools effectively teach certain analytical skills, but are less successful in other areas, and often scramble to adapt to evolving aims. This book demonstrates how law schools are successfully reforming their curriculum -- and lays the framework to show how all schools of law can engage in a continuous reform model that proactively shapes our profession.

It is expected that faculty and professional staff engaged in legal education will utilize this book as a primary resource to guide their respective reform efforts. Each contributed chapter presents a case study of a data-driven curriculum reform effort. The initial chapters set the conceptual context for the book, while the final chapter offers summative recommendations for considering legal education reform as derived from the earlier case study chapters. This book adds significantly to the literature in legal education, as we gain first hand insight into evidence based reform for the legal education community.

The Table of Contents and Introduction are material is available on SSRN.

October 4, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mulligan: The Redistribution Recession -- How Redistributive Policies Have Destroyed Jobs (Especially for Less-Skilled Workers)

MulliganNew York Times:  Labor-Market Scars Left by Redistributive Public Policy, by Casey B. Mulligan (University of Chicago, Department of Economics):

The social safety net became more generous under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and as a result massively altered employment patterns in the labor market.

I have explained in previous posts how public moneys have recently been used to help the unemployed, the poor and the financially distressed endure the recession, but at the same time have dramatically eroded incentives for people to maintain their own living standards by seeking, accepting and retaining jobs, as well as incentives for employers to create jobs that are attractive to workers.

My forthcoming book The Redistribution Recession [Oxford University Press, Oct. 2012] (see the introductory chapter online) quantifies those incentives and their changes over time in terms of marginal tax rates, which refer to the extra taxes paid, and subsidies forgone, as a result of working, expressed as a ratio to the income from working. ...

The group-specific incentive changes are measured (most recently in my paper “Recent Marginal Labor Income Tax Rate Changes by Skill and Marital Status“) on the horizontal axis in the chart below as percentage changes in the share of what people keep from what they earn, net of taxes paid and subsidies forgone. ...

NY Times Chart
The fact that marginal tax rates rose so differently for various groups means not only that redistributive public policy depressed the labor market but has also sharply, and arbitrarily, altered the composition of the work force in the direction of people who are married and more skilled.

September 26, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Johnston: Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind

The Fine PrintDavid Cay Johnston, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind (Portfolio Hardcover, Sept. 18, 2012):

"No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge cus­tomers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news ... addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward."

You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally. How? It’s all in the fine print.

David Cay Johnston, the bestselling author of Per­fectly Legal and Free Lunch, is famous for exposing the perfidies of our biggest institutions. Now he turns his attention to the ways huge corporations hide sneaky stipulations in just about every contract, often with government permission. ...

Johnston shares solutions you can use to fight back against the hundreds of obscure fees and taxes that line the pockets of big corporations, and to help end these devious practices once and for all.

September 20, 2012 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brian Tamanaha: The Cassandra of Legal Education

FailingRonald C. Den Otter (California Polytechnic State University, Department of Political Science) reviews the new book by Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012) in the Law and Politics Book Review:

This book is bound to upset just about everyone: law school deans and other administrators, law professors, and anyone else who has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. As with any exposé, the author is bound to make plenty of enemies. Those who benefit from the status quo will continue to rationalize their own self-interested behavior by minimizing the aforementioned problems or passing the blame. Or they will complain that Tamanaha has been unfair. If anything, he is too easy on law schools. Many of them are taking advantage of the naivety of their students. If that were not enough, students considering law school also may not be receptive to Tamanaha's message because they would rather follow their dreams than be practical. As long as they continue to make poor judgments about attending law school, co-enabled by federal loans and misleading data produced by law schools, the situation will not improve until, perhaps, the bubble bursts.

In any event, they should not kill the messenger. Tamanaha is a well-respected law professor but does not spare anyone, even himself, who bears at least some responsibility for this disturbing state of affairs. Some will see him as an apostate. Others will see him as exaggerating how bad the situation is. Above all, I admire his courage to reveal the truth. As a J.D. myself and a pre-law advisor, it is hard to be candid with students who want to become a lawyer. Who wants to pour cold water on their professional aspirations? Nevertheless, someone needs to impress upon them the possibility that law school may not be the right choice. If the tone of this review seems indignant, it is designed to be. Law schools still have incentives to paint a rosy picture of legal employment when doing so brings in much-needed revenue. Far too many applicants will continue to put their heads in the sand. Tragically, then, Tamanaha is likely to be our Cassandra after all.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

September 19, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Campos: 80% of Students Are Worse Off Going to Law School

CamposNational Law Journal:  Book Asks: Are You Sure You Want to Go to Law School? Really?:

Paul Campos, the University of Colorado Law School professor who writes the incendiary Inside the Law School Scam blog, is back at it, with a new book of advice for would-be law students.

Campos said he was inspired to write Don't Go To Law School (Unless) — an electronic book slated to go on sale on Amazon.com this week — in part because so many prospective law students have asked him for counsel about whether they should enroll.

"I'm trying to make it clear to anybody who is considering going to law school right now that they ought to consider that to be a fairly risky endeavor, and should do that in only a fairly narrow set of circumstances," he said. ... Going to law school because you don't know what else to do with a liberal arts undergraduate degree was never a good idea, Campos writes, but it's a particularly poor choice when the average law student graduates with $150,000 in loan debt and a well-paying job is hardly guaranteed. ...

Ultimately, Campos suggests, paying full tuition makes sense at only a handful of elite schools, and paying a significantly reduced tuition only makes sense at between seven and 10 "truly national law schools." Even accepting a free ride makes sense at only about three dozen "good regional schools," by Campos' estimate.

"The most important thing for any prospective law student to keep in mind is that, at present, the large majority of law graduates — perhaps 80% — end up worse off after going to law school that they were before they enrolled," the book reads.

September 18, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Foundation Press Publishes 2012 Supplement to Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation

CoverThe late Paul McDaniel (Florida), Jim Repetti (Boston College), and I have published a 2012 Supplement (134 pages) to our two Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation (Foundation Press, 6th ed. 2009) books: our casebook and study problems book. Faculty, students, and other interested readers are welcome to download a free copy. Here is the Preface:

This supplement is designed to update our Casebook and accompanying Study problems book: Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2009), and Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation: Study Problems (6th ed. 2010). We hereby grant permission to users of Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation to distribute copies of this supplement to students, either in hard copy or in electronic form.

This supplement is current through July 1, 2012 and incorporates The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (Pub. L. No. 111-312, 124 Stat. 3296 (2010)), passed by Congress on December 16, 2010, and signed into law by President Obama on December 17, 2010.

We also have published a 2012 Supplement (63 pages) to our teacher's manual accompanying our Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation casebook and study problems book. The 2012 Supplement provides detailed answers to the new and revised study problems, as well as commentary on new and revised material in the casebook. Faculty who would like a free copy of the 2012 Supplement to our Teacher's Manual can email Jim or me.

August 27, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Five Keys to Faculty Job Satisfaction

Cathy A. Trower Tenure(Harvard University, Graduate School of Education), Success on the Tenure Track: Five Keys to Faculty Job Satisfaction (2012):

Landing a tenure-track position is no easy task. Achieving tenure is even more difficult. Under what policies and practices do faculty find greater clarity about tenure and experience higher levels of job satisfaction? And what makes an institution a great place to work?

In 2005–2006, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education surveyed more than 15,000 tenure-track faculty at 200 participating institutions to assess their job satisfaction. The survey was designed around five key themes for faculty satisfaction:

  1. Tenure Clarity
  2. Work-Life Balance
  3. Support for Research
  4. Collegiality
  5. Leadership.

Success on the Tenure Track positions the survey data in the context of actual colleges and universities and real faculty and administrators who talk about what works and why. Best practices at the highest-rated institutions in the survey—Auburn, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina at Pembroke—give administrators practical, proven advice on how to increase their employee satisfaction. Additional chapters discuss faculty demographics, trends in employment practices, what leaders can do to create and sustain a great workplace for faculty, and what the future might hold for tenure.

(Hat Tip: Derek Muller.)

Update: Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee) adds a sixth key to faculty job satisfaction:

I’ll add one more: Outside income. When I first got tenure, I talked to the older guys who seemed happy in their positions to try to figure out what worked, and all of them mentioned that. It doesn’t have to be a lot — a few thousand bucks a year is enough, really — the key is to feel sufficiently independent that you don’t become one of those people who obsess over whether this year’s raise is two percent or two-and-a-half. And yes, such people exist. They’re not among the happy faculty, though. . . .

August 25, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sex and God at Yale

Sex Sexand God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad (St. Martin's Press, Aug. 21, 2012), by Nathan Harden (B.A. 2009, Yale):

To glimpse America’s future, one needs to look no further than its college campuses. Of those institutions, none holds more clout than Yale University, the hallowed “cradle of presidents.” In Sex and God at Yale, recent graduate Nathan Harden undresses perversity among the Ivy and ideology gone wild as the upper echelon of academia is mired in nothing less than a full-fledged moral crisis.

Three generations ago, William F. Buckley’s classic God and Man at Yale, a critique of enforced liberalism at his alma mater, became a rallying cry of the conservative movement. Today Harden reveals how a loss of purpose, borne of extreme agendas and single-minded political correctness shielded under labels of “academic freedom,” subverts the goals of higher education.

Harden’s provocative narrative highlights the implications of the controversial Sex Week on campus and the social elitism of the Yale “naked party” phenomenon. Going beyond mere sexual expose, Sex and God at Yale pulls the sheets off of institutional licentiousness and examines how his alma mater got to a point where:

  • During “Sex Week” at Yale, porn producers were allowed onto campus property to give demonstrations on sexual technique—and give out samples of their products.
  • An art student received departmental approval—before the ensuing media attention alerted the public and Yale alumni—for an art project in which she claimed to have used the blood and tissue from repeated self-induced miscarriages.
  • The university became the subject of a federal investigation for allegedly creating a hostile environment for women.

Much more than this, Harden examines the inherent contradictions in the partisan politicizing of higher education. What does it say when Yale seeks to distance itself from its Divinity School roots while at the same time it hires a Muslim imam with no academic credentials to instruct students? When the same school that would not allow ROTC on its campus for decades invites a former Taliban spokesperson to study at the university?

August 23, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Steinbuch Reviews Brian Tamanaha's New Book, Failing Law Schools

FailingRobert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock) reviews the new book by Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012) in the National Law Journal:

Tamanaha does not seek to indict law schools. He seeks to reform them — a goal that he has pursued for many years. As a law professor, I find many of his arguments persuasive. ...

Tamanaha offers several reform suggestions, such as allowing schools to have two-year J.D. programs, stripping the ABA of its inappropriate and harmful monopoly over law school accreditation and limiting the maximum federal aid available to law schools — as well as tightening the requirements therefor. Tamanaha speaks truth to law school institutional power and has done so throughout his career.

He names names and identifies schools in a noble effort to tell the story of how legal education arrived at its current position. Failing Law Schools is a must-read for all legal academics, prospective law students and anyone else interested in law schools.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

August 15, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Washington Post Reviews Brian Tamanaha's New Book, Failing Law Schools

FailingThe Washington Post reviews the new book by Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012):

In Broadway Danny Rose, Woody Allen plays a theatrical agent forever looking on the bright side of his clients’ sorry careers. Don’t worry, he tells a washed-up lounge singer, “you’re the kinda guy that will always make a beautiful dollar in this business.”

For the past generation or so, Danny Rose’s optimism also applied to anyone with a law degree. Lawyering might be disappointingly tedious, but at least it was remunerative enough to justify investing thousands of dollars in tuition. Heck, a law degree even opened doors in business and journalism.

Thousands of liberal arts BAs grew up on those assumptions. “Everyone is pre-law,” journalist Michael Kinsley quipped, “until the day they enter medical school.” A JD himself, Kinsley knew whereof he spoke.

Alas, the economic benefits of a legal education are no longer certain. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, only 55% of the 44,000-member law school class of 2011 landed a legal job within nine months of graduation. Twelve percent had found other professional employment. Meanwhile, the average law grad carried $100,000 in student-loan debt.

Far from guaranteeing a “beautiful dollar,” law school looks increasingly like a bad deal — even, for some, a rip-off. ...

Of the 201 ABA-accredited schools, only 12 reported that 80 percent of their 2011 graduates had landed full-time, long-term legal jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal. At almost two dozen less-prestigious schools, fewer than 40 percent of graduates had secured such jobs. “Many law professors at many law schools across the country are selling a degree to their students that they would not recommend to people close to them,” Tamanaha writes. He also accuses them of lying about it: Some schools have been caught luring students with inflated post-graduation employment statistics.

Law school faculties are also bastions of liberal politics, and this irony is not lost on Tamanaha, who accuses the professoriate of not only enriching itself but also erecting de facto barriers to upward social mobility and true public-service law practice, all in the name of “academic freedom” and other abstractions.

Tamanaha argues that most law schools should emphasize lower-cost practical training, perhaps in fewer than the three years of study that are standard now. The resulting lawyers would serve the mundane but vital needs of ordinary people, a surprisingly large number of whom cannot afford representation even though they are not indigent. It would be an honorable calling and a decent living.

Tamanaha’s message -- that law schools fail to fulfill this social purpose and that their failure is due to their selfishness and myopia -- may not go over well in faculty lounges. But it is an important one nonetheless.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

August 14, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shanske: The Philosophy of Tax: A Review The Pale King

Darien Shanske Pale King(UC-Hastings), The Philosophy of Tax: A Review of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King:

David Foster Wallace's last novel, The Pale King, revolves around the administration of the federal income tax. Wallace’s portrayal of this system, for all its hilarity and incisiveness, might ultimately seem a bit banal because he emphasizes that the tax system is boring; surely we all knew that (or at least think we do). Yet the portrayal of boredom in The Pale King is nuanced and provocative, recalling a long tradition of thinking about modernity and boredom. Most notably, Kierkegaard diagnosed modernity as an age beset by a particular form of boredom. In the modern age people have more and more leisure, but less and less guidance as to how to lead one’s life either through religion or the rigorous patterns of agricultural life, and thus modern people have found themselves bored in a new way. This insight has been picked up on by many and was most developed by Martin Heidegger. What can one learn about tax from learning more about boredom? Within the novel it is observed that a new notion of the “interesting” arose along with the new modern kind of boredom. One needs to find something interesting to fend off boredom. Looked at in this way, the most profound way to alter our engagement with a tax system that is boring would not be to make it interesting, but to make it neither boring nor interesting. What would such a tax system look like? Wallace suggests that it would be a system soberly administered by adults, much like the other key parts of the apparatus central to modernity.

August 3, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Morse: Corporate Tax Reform in Theory and in Politics

CTRSusan Morse (UC-Hastings), Corporate Tax Reform in Theory and in Politics (reviewing Martin A. Sullivan (Tax Analysts), Corporate Tax Reform: Taxing Profits in the 21st Century (Apress, 2011)):

To find out what is going on with corporate tax reform, read Martin Sullivan. Read his columns, and read his book, Corporate Tax Reform: Taxing Profits in the 21st Century. Read him because he squarely tackles the interaction of theory and politics in the area of tax policy.

Academic theories of legislative process make more sense in context. Daniel Shaviro’s analysis of the 1980’s individual base-broadening, rate-lowering reform package is a case in point.  In the area of corporate tax reform, scholars have worked with the understanding, developed for example by William Eskridge, Philip Frickey and Elizabeth Garrett, that the U.S. legislative process favors the status quo.  Against this backdrop, Jennifer Arlen and Deborah Weiss argue that agency costs further hamper reform because managers favor policies like accelerated depreciation that provide targeted incentives for new corporate investment, even though shareholders prefer policies that also enrich existing investment.  Michael Doran builds on the Arlen and Weiss analysis with a public choice account of heterogeneity of interests among different corporations.  The result, he argues, is an incentive for corporations that disproportionately benefit from a certain tax break, for example the research and development credit, to lobby energetically to keep that tax break rather than supporting more general reform proposals like base-broadening and rate-lowering.

Corporate Tax Reform and Sullivan’s related columns connect academic theories about corporate income tax reform to the political morass facing current corporate income tax reform proposals.  Like Doran, Sullivan emphasizes heterogeneity of interests.  It is possible to identify three broad factions in corporate tax reform:  global U.S.-parented multinational corporations, domestic incorporated businesses, and domestic unincorporated businesses.  And within each faction, there are significant differences in specific interests.  In his book, Sullivan devotes two chapters and an appendix to corporate tax expenditures, which are one main source of the differences between and within factions.

July 24, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Horwitz: What Ails the Law Schools?

Paul Horwitz Horwitz(Alabama), What Ails the Law Schools?, 111 Mich. L. Rev. ___ (2013):

Everyone engaged in legal education and not utterly asleep agrees that there is a "law school crisis." Building on recent works by Brian Tamanaha [Failing Law Schools] and Walter Olson [Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America], this paper discusses its causes and potential solutions, using a typical dichotomy in recent populist movements -- the "one percent" versus "99 percent" meme -- as a lens. It examines arguments that the problem is economic and that it is primarily cultural; although I conclude the problem is economic and structural far more than cultural, I also argue that one of Tamanaha's primary recommendations for reform -- that law schools ought to display more experimentation and institutional pluralism, and that ABA accreditation requirements ought to make this more possible -- goes some way toward addressing both diagnoses. The paper is more descriptive than prescriptive, although I offer some thoughts on solutions. I emphasize three things: 1) law schools would be better off focusing on regional than national markets, although the US News rankings make regionally oriented approaches more difficult; 2) a serious increase in meaningful faculty governance and involvement is needed; and 3) the role and needs of the client have been surprisingly marginal in recent discussions of law school reform. The client needs to be a prominent part of reform discussions, which suggests, contrary to some extant views, that curricular reform ought to continue to be part of the discussion along with economic and structural reform.

This is an early and imperfect draft intended for discussion and feedback, given both the importance of the issue and the need for increased public discussion. Comments are welcome.

July 20, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bulls, Bears, and the Ballot Box

BullsMy Cincinnati colleague Lew Godfarb has published Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box: How the Performance of OUR Presidents Has Impacted YOUR Wallet (Advantage Media Group, July 1, 2013) (with Bob Deitrick):

Which U.S. Presidents have been the best and worst economic stewards for our nation, the business community, and the average American family? Which political party has demonstrated superior economic performance while serving in the White House? Which economic principles have led to each President’s success or failure? What have our elected officials and the voters learned from these results? Bulls, Bears, and the Ballot Box will examine these and many other questions. The answers will surprise you.

The authors review 80 years of our nation’s economic history from the Great Depression and Herbert Hoover, to the Great Recession and George W. Bush; a time period in which the Democratic and Republican Parties occupied the Oval Office for precisely 40 years each. This is where the similarity ends. The authors explore this unique comparative opportunity by using historical data, as well as statistical analysis, to objectively score the Presidents and the political parties under their customized ranking system. Using their Presidential Rules for Economic Success, they explain the economic stumbles and triumphs posted by these 13 presidents as CEO’s of the American economy.

July 6, 2012 in About This Blog, Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Anti-Tax Movement and the Affordable Care Act

CoverBalkinization:  Research Note: The Postwar Right’s Constitutionalist Anti-Tax Movement, by Ken Kersch (Boston College):

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s holding that the ACA mandate is a tax, we’re probably due to recall that while there was certainly staunch objection on the Right to the expansive new interpretations of the commerce clause that underwrote the New Deal, conservatives also had vigorous objections to its innovative taxation initiatives as well. They even got up considerable steam for calling a constitutional convention to deal with tax issues. David Beito wrote an important book on this that is well worth a look (Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance during the Great Depression (University of North Carolina Press, 1989)). ...

“When we adopted this income tax amendment, ... we departed from our constitutional method of taxation.” “For one hundred and twenty-five years, the Federal Government had levied taxes and they were always apportioned among the several States. Why do you suppose the Constitution is so specific and so explicit that Federal taxes shall be uniform and apportioned among the States? For one reason only. Our forefathers were determined to build a republic with equal opportunity and equal responsibility for each and everyone of us. They knew that the power to tax is the power to destroy, and they did not wish to have one group of citizens, or one part of the country penalized for the unfair advantage of another.”

It was the tax system as originally designed by the nation’s Founders that had helped make the United States “the richest, most powerful nation in the world.” Then “[w]e chucked our proven system of taxation out the window, and we passed the income tax. Gone was our uniformity, gone was our apportionment among the States. And with uniformity and apportionment went a great deal more—our fundamental American rights.” The income tax started at the relatively painless level of two percent, but had moved up to exorbitant, even confiscatory, levels ever since. With the barn door open, soon the rest of the horses were out too. ...

For many on the Right, these arguments have never lost their purchase. Their ideological frames tie the ACA directly to the ongoing economic meltdown. In this context, Romney – not in spite of his status as a proud capitalist, but because of it -- can play the hero to a well-tutored conservative movement.

July 3, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 18, 2012

NLJ Reviews Brian Tamanaha's New Book, Failing Law Schools

FailingThe National Law Journal reviews the new book by Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, June 15, 2012):

"This is not a career-enhancing book, and people early on told me not to write it for that reason," Tamanaha said before the book's June 15 release. The blunt title, Failing Law Schools, tells why. Its central argument is that going to law school is a raw deal for most students. Tamanaha and other law professors and administrators who have watched graduates struggle with debt, declining career prospects and stagnant salaries hope the book's dissection of the problem will jolt colleagues out of complacency. ...

Failing Law Schools essentially flips the standard script on the rising cost of legal education. Bloated faculties of overpaid professors, the gaming of the U.S. News & World Report rankings and reams of academic scholarship pumped out each year actually are the effects of increased tuition revenue, not its root cause, Tamanaha argues.

The real culprits (the average public school tuition is now $22,116 per year, with private schools costing an average $39,184, according to the ABA) are high demand and the fact that for years law schools have been able to raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation and still turn away potential students, he writes.

Average Law School Tuition:

Tuition 2
But others view the book as just the latest overly dire prediction about the fate of law graduates and misplaced finger-pointing over tuition costs. "Most people in the profession were already concerned about what it costs to get a law degree," said John O'Brien, dean of the New England School of Law and chairman of the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. "Nobody feels good that tuitions have gone up. But the claim that a law degree is a bad investment doesn't hold water."

Perhaps the freshest information in Failing Law Schools comes from Tamanaha's attempts to use recent job data, salary figures and debt estimates to calculate whether a law degree is worth the cost of attendance for most students. These are chapters the author hopes will find their way to would-be law students via pre-law counselors.

That equation will work out well for certain students — namely, graduates of elite law schools who land high-paying corporate law jobs, or those able to keep their debt loads below $50,000. Flagship state schools with tuition below $20,000 are a fairly good bet, he writes, recommending against any debt load above $150,000 for anyone not attending a school ranked within the top five. ...

Failing Law Schools faults the federal loan system for making it far too easy for law students to borrow tuition money, even if going to law school makes no sense for them. Tightening the availability of such loans, or at least enacting accountability standards for schools whose recent graduates are struggling to pay back their loans, would force law schools to get serious about cost containment, Tamanaha argues. Specifically, the government could cap the amount of federal loans any individual law student or law school could take out, or it could stop lending to any law school where a third or more of graduates can't pay back the loans they took out.

Average Amount Borrowed by Law Grads:

Loans
Although Tamanaha's concern over high law school costs is justified, his suggested reforms of the federal student loan system "is fairly simplistic and misses some key points," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the government and public affairs division of the American Council on Education. ...  [R]educing access to federal student loans could prevent law schools from admitting lower-income students. "We could inadvertently make things worse," Hartle said.

National Law Journal, How law schools fail students:

In Failing Law Schools, Brian Tamanaha argues that law school is no longer a realistic option for most students, who emerge deeply in debt and with slim prospects for well-paying legal jobs. Here are his arguments in summary:

The causes:

  • For decades, high dem­and for seats in law schools has allowed them to raise tuition far beyond the rate of inflation.
  • The ABA historically has been dominated by legal educators who advance their self-interest through features including faculty tenure and a three-year J.D. curriculum that drive up educational costs.
  • Pressure to maintain or improve their U.S. News & World Report ranking resulted in administrators prioritizing factors that weigh in the rankings formula regardless of their cost to students.

The effects:

  • Increased tuition revenues allowed law schools to reduce faculty teaching loads and prioritize academic scholarship, inflating faculty size. Meanwhile, competition for faculty superstars, and the prestige they bring, has bloated salaries.
  • Law schools funneled money into merit scholarships to lure students with high SAT scores and GPAs. This improved their U.S. News rankings but left the bottom half of the class subsidizing the top half.
  • Tuition at public law schools has increased by an average 10% per year since 1987; average tuition at private law schools, already higher than at public schools, increased by $15,000 in the past 10 years. Average graduate debt loads have skyrocketed, topping out at $145,621 at California Western School of Law in 2010.
  • Servicing law school loans has become more difficult, given the recession, but schools are struggling to place their graduates in legal jobs. Since at least 2001, about one-third of law graduates have failed to land jobs as lawyers.
  • About half or more of the law graduates of 2010 would likely qualify for Income Based Repayment — a federal hardship program.

The solutions:

  • Legal educators must recognize that law schools are in a crisis and must advocate for change from within.
  • The ABA should de-emphasize faculty tenure and academic scholarship, allowing for greater differentiation between law schools and the emergence of cheaper, teaching-based law schools.
  • The federal government should cap either the amount of money each law student may receive in federal loans or the total going to any single law school. The Department of Education should demand greater accountability, stripping federal loan-program eligibility from law schools with high percentages of graduates who cannot repay their loans.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

Update:  

To see what I mean we need look no further than Dean O'Brien's own institution, New England School of Law. Nine months after graduation, only 34.4% of the 2011 class had obtained full time, permanent lawyer jobs (see ABA data broken down here). The average debt for 2011 NE law grads was $120,480 (90% of the class had debt). NE claims that the median salary in the private sector for the class of 2010 was $67,500, but only 15% of the grads in private employment reported their salaries so the actual median salary for the class is undoubtedly much lower. People who earn that much will struggle to make the monthly payments ($1,400) due on the average debt. (Meanwhile, Dean O'Brien received $781,710 in total compensation in 2009.)

Paul Campos (Colorado), Man Paid $867,000 to Run Fourth-Tier Law School Says Law School Is a Good Investment:

O'Brien currently heads the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education, whose regulatory mission is to decide whether it's a good idea for John O'Brien to get paid ... $867,000 per year to run a law school with these outcomes for its graduates.

June 18, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jim Chen Reviews Brian Tamanaha's New Book, Failing Law Schools

FailingOutgoing Louisville Dean Jim Chen reviews Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, June 15, 2012), by Brian Z. Tamanaha (Washington U.):

Legal education is a broken, failed, even corrupt enterprise. It exalts and enriches law professors at the expense of lawyers, the legal profession, and most of all the students whose tuition dollars finance the entire scheme. With hard numbers and piercing insights, Brian Z. Tamanaha tells the disturbing, scandalous truth. His book is essential reading for anyone who is even contemplating law school, much less committing to a career in law teaching. With any luck, his book will inspire law professors and law school deans who have no other career options to subject themselves to the deepest levels of ethical introspection, the better to lead legal education back into the service of its true stakeholders.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

June 13, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Forum: Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X-Tax Revisited

ProgressiveThe American Enterprise Institute hosts a forum at 12:30 EST today on the forthcoming book Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X-Tax Revisited, by Robert Carroll & Alan D. Viard (webcast here):

The X tax, first proposed by Princeton University economist David Bradford, is a progressive consumption tax that offers a game-changing solution to the tax problems that have hampered the U.S. economy and poisoned its political system. Replacing America's current income tax system with the X tax would remove tax penalties on saving and investment while maintaining progressivity.

Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X-Tax Revisited ... is the most thorough analysis of the X tax available. It tackles the difficult issues of transition and implementation that are often glossed over in big-think conversations about tax reform. At this event, Alan Viard will present the X tax proposal while James Mackie of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute will offer commentary.

June 4, 2012 in Book Club, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rhee: Essential Business Concepts for Lawyers

Robert J. Rhee Rhee(Maryland), Essential Concepts of Business for Lawyers (Aspen, 2012):

Accounting and finance cannot be taught through the dense text and format typical of legal casebooks. Mirroring textbooks used at business schools with significant quantities of visuals, Essential Concepts of Business for Lawyers uses many graphical elements, including pictures, charts, diagrams, and tables. Engaging hypotheticals are fun and engaging, but they also illustrate the application of important concepts in business situations. At the end of every chapter, there are three forms of review and summary: Essential Terms, Key Concepts, and Review Questions. The text uses many examples, specially set in example boxes, to illustrate and reinforce difficult concepts. Completely up to the minute, the book features material on important, recent events such as the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the collapse of investment banks, the Bernie Madoff fraud case, and Enron. While this book is not a casebook, it includes edited appellate cases at the end of every chapter. These cases provide essential contextualization, illustrating the legal application of the business concepts presented, and make more concrete the lawyer’s need to understand business. This makes Essential Concepts of Business for Lawyers unique among available books, as the cases connect the unfamiliar (business concepts) with the familiar (case law). Flexibility makes it stand out as well. It can be easily used as a primary text in an independent course on essential business concepts and is the only single book that adequately serves this function. Additionally, this book can be used as a required or recommended supplement in doctrinal business law courses such as business associations, securities regulations, corporate finance, taxation, banking law, financial regulation, and business planning. A Teacher’s Manual accompanies with PowerPoint slides.

May 24, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kalsem: 19th Century Women, Law, and Literature

KalsemMy Cincinnati colleague Kristin Kalsem has published In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature (Ohio State University Press, 2012):

In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature, by Kristin Kalsem, explores the legal advocacy performed by nineteenth-century women writers in publications of nonfiction and fiction, as well as in real-life courtrooms and in the legal forum provided by the novel form.

The nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented reform in laws affecting married women’s property, child support and custody, lunacy, divorce, birth control, domestic violence, and women in the legal profession. Women’s contributions to these changes in the law, however, have been largely ignored because their work, stories, and perspectives are not recorded in authoritative legal texts; rather, evidence of their arguments and views are recorded in writings of a different kind. This book examines lesser-known works of nonfiction and fiction by legal reformers such as Annie Besant and Georgina Weldon and novelists such as Frances Trollope, Jane Hume Clapperton, George Paston, and Florence Dixie.

In Contempt brings to light new connections between Victorian law and literature, not only with its analysis of many “lost” novels but also with its new legal readings of old ones such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), George Eliot’s Adam Bede (1859), Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Rider Haggard’s She (1887), and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895). This study reexamines the cultural and political roles of the novel in light of “new evidence” that many nineteenth-century novels were “lawless—showing contempt for, rather than policing, the law.

Kristin Kalsem’s In Contempt makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the history of feminist jurisprudence. She covers thorny legal issues including married women’s property, infanticide, and lunacy law, as well as birth control, imperialism, and women’s admission to the bar. In her afterword she urges scholars to engage the ‘new evidence’ she has brought to light—and I have no doubt that this evidence will be welcomed enthusiastically.” -- Christine L. Krueger, professor of English, Marquette University

May 23, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bill Henderson Reviews Brian Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingOn The Legal Whiteboard: a review by Bill Henderson (Indiana) of the new book by Brian Z. Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012):

Many legal academics are going to dismiss Brian Tamanaha's book, Failing Law Schools, without ever reading a page.  A larger number may simply ignore it.  That is ironic, because this is the response one would expect if Tamanaha's account of a corrupt, self-indulgence academic culture were true. ...

For us law professors, here is our conundrum. From the outside looking in, things look bad, even corrupt.  Yet we don't feel we have done anything wrong.  We are certain that we lack the intent to cheat or defraud.  But that, unfortunately, is error #1.  As we all know, proving intent is always a matter of circumstantial evidence.  So let's review that evidence from the perspective of the neutral fact finder.

Life is objectively good for us:  We have high salaries, social prestige, lots of travel, job security, and near absolute freedom to organize our time outside the three to six hours a week we teach, 30 weeks a years.  Against this backdrop, there is consensus among legal employers that we are not very good at practical training including, in the eyes of many, basic legal writing.  Moreover, the overproduction of lawyers creates problems for the legal profession as a whole.  Similarly, our students  are saddled with enormous debt and nothing we are doing curricularly seems geared to solving their burgeoning unemployment  or underemployment problem.  The federal government finances this "system."  And through Income-Based Repayment programs, the U.S. taxpayers are backstopping our high costs.

Because law faculty seems to be getting the long end of the bargain here, our subjective feelings of honesty and rectitude are unlikely to be viewed by many students, practicing lawyers, or the broader public as credible.  In fact, they may be viewed as insincere or out of touch.  How did things get so badly out of kilter? ...

But for Tamanaha, some pesky journalists, angry students, and the ticking time-bomb of law students debt, I am confident that we law professors could coast along on our present track for another several decades.  As an insider, I can honestly testify that we believe--sincerely beheve--that we care about our students, the quality of their education, their debt loads, and their future job prospects.  But  looking at the same set of facts, history will draw its own conclusions. And Tamanaha, akin to a prosecutor arraying the evidence to prove intent, offers up a very compelling narrative that the dispassionate observer is likely to find convincing. ...

History is now playing out right before our eyes.  I believe there is a good chance that Brian Tamanaha's book will be viewed--by history at least--as a great act of courage.  The implication, of course, is that the rest of us will look foolish.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

May 15, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Greek Bestseller: Serial Killer Murders Rich Tax Cheats

PetrosThe Guardian: This Greek Bestseller Stars A Serial Killer Who Murders Rich People Who Cheat On Their Taxes:

A serial killer is stalking the wealthy suburbs of Athens with an idiosyncratic choice of victims. They are all rich Greeks who have failed to pay their taxes, and their corpses have been left scattered among the ruins of the ancient city, dead of hemlock poisoning, the means of Socrates' execution.

Greece is going through a lot right now, including a significant surge in crime, but this particular horror is mostly fictional. It is the plot of the latest bestselling novel by Petros Markaris, who has combined the roles of thriller writer and social commentator in Greece to such an extent that he has become one of the most widely quoted voices in the crisis.

The murders at the heart of Markaris's new book, I Pairaiosi, or The Settlement, resonate strongly with a mass readership furious at the country's tax-dodging elite whose fecklessness has helped bring Greece to its knees. Many readers, like its hero-narrator, Inspector Costas Haritos, are torn between disgust and sneaking admiration for the murderer, who calls himself the National Tax Collector, and who is demanding money not for himself but for the national coffers. Such was the public sympathy for the killer that Markaris found it prudent to put a note on the book's back cover saying: "Warning: This novel is not to be imitated."

(Hat Tip: David Miller.)

May 14, 2012 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tax Cheating: Illegal -- But Is It Immoral?

Tax CheatingDonald Morris (University of Illinois-Springfield, Department of Accounting), Tax Cheating:  Illegal -- But Is It Immoral? (SUNY Press, June 2012):

From unreported gambling winnings and inflated claims of the value of clothing donated to charity to money hidden in Swiss bank accounts and high-profile tax schemes plotted by celebrities and business leaders, the range of tax cheating opportunities is wide and the boundaries and moral status can be hazy. Considering the behavior of individuals and small businesses as well as the involvement of congress and the IRS, Donald Morris combines insights from law, psychology, sociology, criminology, accounting, economics, and philosophy to examine the ethical issues surrounding tax cheating and implications for tax policy.

“Morris gives us a thorough collection of thoughts and quotations about a sensitive subject—how do morals and ethics affect the completion of a tax return? Who is more unethical, Congress in writing the current tax law or the taxpayer in paying ‘too little’ tax? What motivates a citizen to ‘volunteer’ to pay a tax bill?  Does Congress really want to close the tax gap? Should a court apply only the letter of the law in a tax case, or should a higher moral principle also apply? By approaching the term ‘cheating’ in a morally neutral manner, Morris removes much of the baggage that restricts the usual talk about taxes—the book allows for a more fruitful review of the economics of the deal between the citizen and the government, that we call taxation. Intriguing, fresh, accessible, up to date.” — William A. Raabe, coauthor of Federal Tax Research, Ninth Edition

May 11, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Carroll & Viard: Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X-Tax Revisited

ProgressiveRobert Carroll (Ernst & Young, Washington, D.C.) & Alan D. Viard (American Enterprise Institute), Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X-Tax Revisited (AEI Press June 2012):

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in having no broad-based consumption tax at the national level. Yet, economic analysis suggests that consumption taxation is likely to be superior to income taxation, because it does not penalize saving and investment. This book proposes to completely replace the income tax system with a progressive consumption tax. This approach avoids the problems arising from the adoption of a consumption tax alongside the income tax and also avoids the distributional problems posed by regressive consumption taxes, such as the VAT.

This book argues that the Bradford X tax, developed by the late David Bradford, offers the best form of progressive consumption taxation. The X tax modifies the VAT, so that it no longer imposes a flat-rate tax on all consumption. It splits the value-added tax base, which equals aggregate consumption, into two components, wages and business cash flow. The X tax achieves progressivity by applying graduated tax rates to wages and a high flat tax rate to business cash flow, which reflects consumption financed from wealth accumulated prior to the reform and from above-normal business investment returns, which largely accrue to well-off households.

Because the X tax is relatively unfamiliar, however, there is concern about how it can be implemented. This book sets forth solutions to commonly perceived problems concerning the taxation of pensions and fringe benefits, business firms, financial intermediaries, international transactions, owner-occupied housing, state and local governments, and nonprofit institutions, and the transition. By adopting these approaches, the United States can move to a progressive tax system that no longer penalizes saving and investment.

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Excellent New Book on Progressive Consumption Taxation:

This book does a great job of explaining both the rationale for enacting an X-tax, and how it might actually work.

In some other universe, or perhaps some other part of our universe, perhaps in the far end of the Gamma Quadrant, I would like to think that there is a world much like our own, except that enacting a progressive consumption tax is actually a feasible left-right compromise that one could imagine really happening. It truly has potential Clintonian Third Way merits, although it has never gotten very far politically. The left gets progressivity comparable to that under present law, but much more transparently and at a far lower efficiency cost. The right gets exemption for the part of capital income that it may be sensible to want to exempt that is, for the "normal" return to waiting. Everyone ought to be happy.

But here on planet Earth things took a very different turn, perhaps starting in the early 1990s. Plus, despite its considerable policy merits, the X-tax may somehow fail to be sufficiently salient and reasonable-looking to an ill-informed public. So I personally believe that it is not going anywhere, and I have not for several years devoted significant intellectual effort to examining or emphasizing it.

Still, this is an excellent book that deserves a wide readership. Special comment to readers on the left: however suspicious you might be of other publications emanating from AEI and/or the Tax Foundation, this is one that you should classify as straight-shooting and worthy of your time.

May 10, 2012 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

More Reviews of Brian Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingMore Reviews of the forthcoming book by Brian Z. Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012):

Chronicle of Higher Education, Law Professor Gives Law Schools a Failing Grade:

Law schools are bloated with too many underworked, overpaid professors whose salaries are supported by tuition increases that are making law school a losing bet for many students, a forthcoming book argues. ...

Some have praised the new book as a long-overdue wake-up call for law schools, while others have dismissed it as an ill-conceived formula to radically restructure an education system that is basically sound. ...

"Law schools at every level have been failing their ethical responsibilities while pointing the finger at others rather than themselves," Mr. Tamanaha writes. He wrote the book, he says, "to expose the disconnect between the cost of a legal education and the economic return it brings" and to find ways to fix the problem. Annual tuition has climbed to $50,000 at a half-dozen law schools, and, adding in living expenses, a law degree can cost $200,000, he writes. Meanwhile, the median starting salary of 2010 law graduates in private practice was less than $63,000, too little to manage debts that average around $100,000, he says.Meanwhile, many graduates are struggling to find work in "the worst job market in decades." ... "Law schools are thriving, kept afloat by students making poor judgments to attend, while the federal government obligingly supplies the money to support their folly," he writes.

Legal academics who reviewed "Failing Law Schools" reacted with mixed responses.

Mr. Tamanaha's book "should shake up legal academia," says Paul F. Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado and author of a blog called Inside the Law School Scam. "The critique he puts forward is really quite devastating," Mr. Campos said in an interview. "Legal academics are going to have to pull their heads out of the sand and recognize that we are all part of a model that doesn't work anymore."

Paul S. Berman, dean of law at George Washington University, says there is some truth to Mr. Tamanaha's arguments about the economic consequences of attending law school, particularly when students attend expensive, low-ranked schools in weak job markets. But he says Mr. Tamanaha exaggerates the extent of the problem, in part by failing to adequately consider the flexibility that federal income-based loan-repayment plans offer students. "Too much of the debate has focused on employment nine months after graduation," he says, arguing that if a law degree bumps up a graduate's income by $20,000 a year, the cost of earning the degree will be paid off over the course of a career.

Michael A. Olivas, a professor of law at the University of Houston and a past president of the Association of American Law Schools, says relaxing accreditation standards to allow more-diverse education models, which Mr. Tamanaha calls for, could lead law schools in the direction of for-profit institutions like the University of Phoenix, which critics contend shortchange students. As Mr. Olivas puts it, the result could be "the Phoenix-ation of law schools, churning students through, having a contingent and transient faculty, and none of the institutional investment in the broad roles of legal education." ...

Mr. Tamanaha argues that law professors are, by and large, underworked and overpaid. Citing recent studies, he says that law professors at elite law schools today teach courses worth about eight credits a year, compared with 15 credits for most of the 20th century. That trend is due largely, he says, to recruiting wars for top professors who would rather spend their time researching than teaching. Meanwhile, salaries have skyrocketed, with senior professors at elite schools earning more than $300,000 a year. Law students have shouldered the burden of much of the added cost through escalating tuition, Mr. Tamanaha writes.

And in a section that is sure to get some law professors' blood boiling, he takes on tenure, which he calls "costly and inflexible for schools—a lifetime marriage with a professor with almost no possibility of a divorce (except paying a ransom to purchase their departure)." 

Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, CHE Write-up on Tamanaha's Forthcoming Book on Law Schools:

If there's one theme that runs through his book it is that we need more *kinds* of law schools out there, that the "Chicago model" or the "Harvard model" shouldn't be the only one. And that will require the ABA to loosen up some of its accreditation requirements. Given the neoliberal paradigm in which we live, the only 'solutions' are going to come through the marketplace--no one can just mandate that faculty teach more and write less. Some institution has to show that there's an actual market for a cheaper law degree delivered by faculty who emphasize teaching over research.

A lot of the book is clearly a fair description of the current state of legal education in America, and a useful compendium of data. ... Although he gives sustained attention to the perverse influence of the U.S. News rankings, in some ways he still understates their impact. For example, he notes, correctly, that schools have been expanding their faculties, but notes that this is unlikely to improve academic reputation as measured by U.S. News. But that's not the issue:  the issue is that, all else being equal, the U.S. News rank of a law school is a function of per capita expenditures, and almost nothing else. The most profligate spender per capita is the "best" law school--that's why Yale always tops Harvard. While many of the trends in legal education are just part of broader trends in higher education over the last generation (as he sometimes notes), there's no doubt that the U.S. News "incentives" have pushed law schools further in the wrong directions.

May 10, 2012 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)