TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Law School Rankings By Student Quality (LSAT And UGPA)

2018 U.S. News Law 2Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Vanderbilt) & Brian L. Frye (Kentucky), A Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools,  69 Ala. L. Rev. ___ (2017)

The U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Schools Rankings” define the market for legal education. Law schools compete to improve their standing in the rankings and fear any decline. But the U.S. News rankings incite contention, because they rely on factors that are poor proxies for quality like peer reputation and expenditures per student. While many alternative law school rankings exist, none have challenged the market dominance of the U.S. News rankings. Presumably the U.S. News rankings benefit from a first-mover advantage, other rankings fail to provide a clearly superior alternative, or some combination of the two.

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July 25, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  ‘A Bleak Picture’ For Women Trying To Rise At Law Firms

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  ‘A Bleak Picture’ for Women Trying to Rise at Law Firms, by Elizabeth Olson:

Even as more women add a law degree to their résumés, carving out a successful career at a law firm remains an uphill endeavor.

While initiatives and conferences to expand the number of women who are equity partners at law firms are something of a cottage industry, progress for women is, at best, static, according to the “2017 Law360 Glass Ceiling Report,” released on Monday by the legal publication Law 360.

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July 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 24, 2017

AALS Bans Conferences In Texas Due To Immigration, Bathroom Bills

AALS (2019)Texas Lawyer, Law School Association Ditches Texas Over Immigration, Bathroom Bill:

The American Association of Law Schools is moving a 2018 conference from Austin to Chicago and will no longer hold meetings in Texas because of the state's new controversial immigration law and a proposed "bathroom bill" that restricts restroom access for transgender people.

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July 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

California Bar Cut Score, Lawyer Salaries Are Second Highest In Country: Anti-Competitive Or Pro-Consumer Protectionism?

California Bar ExamFollowing up on my previous post (links below):  Michael Simkovic (USC), Is California’s Bar Examination Minimum Passing Score Anti-competitive?:

The deans of almost all ABA approved California law schools have jointly expressed concerns that California’s minimum passing score (‘cut score’) on the nationally uniform, multiple choice, Multi-State Bar Exam bar examination is excessively high.

These leaders of legal education note that California has a higher cut score than any state except Delaware, no justification has been provided for this unusually high cut score, and some parts of California may have a shortage of lawyers.  Moreover, although law graduates from California score better on the MBE than the national average, they are less likely to pass the bar exam because of California’s unusually high cut score. The case for bringing California’s cut score into line with those of other leading legal jurisdictions such as New York has been most forcefully stated by UC-Hastings Dean David Faigman. 

Amid concerns about possible anti-trust lawsuits against the State Bar, the Supreme Court of California has agreed to supervise the state bar of California and may set a lower bar cut score.

High cut scores are not the only signs of possible anti-competitive protectionism in California. California is among the few states that, without exception, forces experienced attorneys licensed in other states to sit for reexamination prior to relicensing. ...

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July 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Number Of Law School Graduates Sitting For California Bar Exam Surges 11%, To Highest Level In More Than A Decade

California Bar ExamLaw.com, Who Says California's Bar Exam Is Too Tough? Would-be California Lawyers Flock to Take July Bar Exam:

Over the last year California’s bar exam has been scrutinized and vilified. But that hasn’t stopped a crush of would-be Golden State lawyers from registering for the latest crucible, which starts Tuesday.

Applications to take the July bar exam topped 10,000 this year — an increase of more than 1,000 above July 2016’s numbers, according to figures released by the state bar. Requests to take the general bar exam are up by 499 to 7,981. The number of out-of-state lawyers who applied to take next week’s test surged to 2,051, up from 1,549 this time last year.

The application rush may be due to the fact that this year’s exam is the first to be held over two days instead of the traditional three.

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July 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

C.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton

MCH2I repeatedly (perhaps excessively) extol the genius of Hamilton (see links below). I often tell people that the play changed my life and led me to seek the deanship of Pepperdine law school.  

Part of the explanation, of course, is the artistic majesty of the play. Like Michelle Obama, I think it is the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life. Like Oskar Eustis, I believe that Lin-Manuel Miranda is the William Shakespeare of our time. But Hamilton also transformed my life like nothing else has since I read C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity twenty-one years ago. 

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July 24, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 23, 2017

McIntyre & Simkovic:  Timing Law School

Frank McIntyre (Rutgers) & Michael Simkovic (USC), Timing Law School, 14 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 258 (2017):

We investigate whether economic conditions at labor market entry predict long-term differences in law graduate earnings. We find that unemployment levels at graduation continue to predict law earnings premiums within 4 years after graduation for earners at the high end and middle of the distribution. However, the relation fades as law graduates gain experience and the difference in lifetime earnings is moderate. This suggests that earnings figures from After the JD II and III — which track law graduates who passed the bar exam in 2000 — are likely generalizable to other law cohorts because these studies are outside the window when graduation conditions predict differences in subsequent earnings.

Figure 2

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July 23, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tribute To Erik Jensen

JensenTribute to Erik Jensen, 67 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 637-78 (2017):

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July 23, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Censures Texas Southern Law School Following Gender Discrimination Complaint By Associate Dean

Thurgood Marshall Logo

Texas Lawyer, ABA Fines, Publicly Censures Law School for Noncompliance With Anti-Discrimination Standard:

Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law was publicly censured and must pay $15,000 for not complying with an American Bar Association standard that prohibits schools from discriminating against faculty members.

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July 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Ohio State Bar Association Futures Commission Report 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ousted Cincinnati Dean Jennifer Bard Named Penn State Visiting Professor

BardPress Release, Jennifer Bard to Join Penn State Law, College of Medicine as Visiting Professor:

Jennifer S. Bard, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of law, public health and bioethics, will join the faculties of Penn State Law and the Penn State College of Medicine this summer for a one-year appointment as a visiting professor of law and medicine.

Bard is a professor of law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law where she also holds an appointment as professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She served as dean of Cincinnati Law from 2015 to 2017.

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July 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Allard:  The California Bar Exam Is The Tip Of The Lawyer Licensing Iceberg

Allard (2018)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  California Bar Exam Developments: Tip of the Iceberg, by Nicolas W. Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

Legal climate change is starting to dramatically crack the frozen status quo of the antiquated bar exam and testing industry. Now we should collectively move forward with determination and deliberateness to address bar exam reform comprehensively and thoughtfully.

The recent initiatives of the California Supreme Court to take back control of licensing and admitting new lawyers, like a huge ice shelf breaking off in Antarctica, signals that there are much larger concerns that will force an overhaul of legal testing and licensing practices eventually everywhere.

Traditional bar exam and licensing practices have outlived their sell-by date. In their present state they are increasingly hard, if not impossible, to justify as serving the best interests of the profession or the public.

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July 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wendi Adelson Named Executive Director Of The Immigration Partnership & Coalition Fund

AdelsonFollowing up on yesterday's post, On Three Year Anniversary Of Dan Markel's Murder, Wheels Of Justice Continue To Turn Slowly:  Gates Cambridge, Press Release:

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been named executive director of an organisation focused on raising funds to finance existing legal services for undocumented individuals with no criminal background in the US.

Wendi Adelson has been appointed head of the Immigration Partnership & Coalition (IMPAC) Fund.

Prior to IMPAC, Adelson served as a law clerk to the Honorable Adalberto Jordan on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit from 2015 to 2016 and for seven years was a law professor specialising in immigration at Florida State University.

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July 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Portrait Of Asian Americans In The Law

A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law:

Published by Yale Law School and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law is a systematic analysis of how Asian Americans are situated in the legal profession. ... We address five broad sets of questions:

  1. How are Asian Americans distributed across law schools and the legal profession? In what sectors and positions are they overrepresented or underrepresented?
  2. What factors influence how Asian Americans are distributed in the legal profession? What motivations or aspirations do Asian Americans have when they decide to attend law school? What incentives and obstacles—familial, societal, financial, or professional— affect the career decisions of Asian American law students and lawyers? What stereotypes do they face in navigating the legal profession? In what ways do they seek to counter or assimilate to those stereotypes?
  3. Are Asian American lawyers satisfied with their careers? With what aspects of their careers are they most satisfied? Least satisfied? Does their career satisfaction vary over the course of their career?
  4. To what extent have Asian Americans achieved positions of leadership that enable them not only to practice and implement the law, but also to shape the law and the legal profession?
  5. To what extent do Asian American lawyers experience mental health challenges? How do they compare on this dimension to the profession as a whole? How often do Asian American lawyers seek treatment?

Figure 2A

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July 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Court Denies Billionaire's $33m Charitable Deduction; Did University Of Michigan 'Rent Its Brand To Brazen 10:1 Tax Avoidance Scheme'?

Michigan LogoForbes, Billionaire Miami Dolphins Owner Gets Shut Out At Tax Court:

Billionaire Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, who thanks to a $200 million donation (largest in the history of the school) was described as Leader, Visionary, Philanthropist, Wolverine by the Universtiy of Michigan. ... Mr. Ross got his start in real estate based on his knowledge of federal tax garnered as a tax attorney for Coopers and Lybrand. ... I have to wonder whether the name of his flagship Related Companies is a tax geek joke.

Forbes, Billionaire Stephen Ross And The Ten For One Charitable Deduction:

The brazenness of the charitable plan with the University of Michigan designed to benefit Wolverine Billionaire Stephen Ross revealed in the Tax Court RERI Holdings I  decision is stunning.

The bare bones of the plan are that RERI, whose principal investor was Mr. Ross, bought an asset (call it "the thing") which it donated to the University of Michigan toward a $5 millon pledge that Mr. Ross had made.  Under the gift agreement UM had to hold onto "the thing" for two years, then sell it.  The amount that UM received would be credited to Mr. Ross's pledge. Round numbers RERI acquired "the thing" for $3 million.  When it came time to sell it UM had it appraised at $6 million.  UM sold it to a partnership for $2 million under pressure from Mr. Ross who threatened to count that amount towards his pledge, if they ended up getting less.  How large was the charitable deduction taken by RERI, of which Ross was the principal investor? That would be $33,019,000.

Mr. Ross is a prominent philanthropist.  It is tough to characterize this particular transaction as philanthropic as the claimed tax savings dwarf the amount out of pocket or the amount netted by the University of Michigan.  You have to wonder to what extent University development officers knew what was going on. Was University of Michigan seeking charitable donations or renting its brand to a tax avoidance scheme?

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July 19, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Legal Education, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Can Law Schools Lure Back Smart Applicants?

160+ LSATLaw.com, Law Schools Are Losing Smart Applicants. How Do They Lure Them Back?:

Law school has lost its allure. Enrollment at American Bar Association-accredited law schools has plummeted 25 percent since 2010 and several law schools have or soon will close up shop for lack of demand [emphasis added].

Why? It’s a combination of factors including rising tuition, a stagnant job market and the perception that better options exist elsewhere.

So what’s it going to take to lure back would-be lawyers—especially those with the high Law School Admission Test scores that schools covet? (Applicants with LSAT scores of 160 or above are down a whopping 45 percent over the past six years.)

We asked 11 leaders from the legal academy, the bench and law firms to tell us how law schools can make up those recruiting losses and appeal once again to top prospects. Their perspectives vary, but a few overarching themes emerged.

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July 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

On Three Year Anniversary Of Dan Markel's Murder, Wheels Of Justice Continue To Turn Slowly

Markel SuspectsWCTV, Markel Shooting Reaches Third-Year Anniversary:

Three years ago, on July 18, 2014, FSU law professor Dan Markel was gunned down in his own driveway.

The shocking shooting and subsequent allegation that it's a murder for hire are still unraveling in court.

Accused trigger man Sigfredo Garcia and accused go between Katherine Magbanua are still awaiting trial. Accused getaway driver Luis Rivera accepted a plea deal and is expected to testify against them both. ...

Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman is responsible for proving it all.

Attorneys for Garcia, Magbanua and the ex-wife's family have repeatedly called the plot a "theory" and a '"fishing expedition."

Neither the ex-wife nor any of her family members has been charged with a crime and their attorneys have previously denied any involvement.

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July 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Morriss:  Legal Education Through The Lens Of The U.S. News Law School Rankings

2018 U.S. News Law 2Andrew P. Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M), Legal Education Through the Blurry Lens of US News Law School Rankings, 20 Green Bag 2d 253 (2017):

The Chinese Characters in the title of this piece are the closest thing to the apocryphal “Chinese curse” of “may you live in interesting times.” The closest actual proverb is “Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic period. This seems a fitting metaphor for what has been going on in legal education since 2008, when things began to get “interesting.” That the attribution of the English version of the curse is apocryphal and that I’ve taken the “true” meaning from Wikipedia (although I did check with a native Chinese-speaking friend, who assures me that Wikipedia is accurate on this point) is a good metaphor for rankings and their impact on legal education. Applicants, law review editors, alumni, and many more people rely on US News’s law school rankings to evaluate law schools, as secure in their knowledge that these are a valid source of information on relative merit as are those people who confidently attribute the “may you live in interesting times” version of the curse to a non-existent Chinese language source are in theirs.

Just as the apocryphal curse bears a resemblance to an actual proverb about dogs and peaceful times, so the US News rankings reflect — if through rather blurry glass — where legal education is. With the caveats that there are many bad things that have come from rankings, and from the illusory precision of US News rankings in particular, and that a great deal of what the rankings reflect is a fairly stable pecking order, as well as having tortured this metaphor as far as I can, let’s look at the data that US News uses and see what it reveals about where legal education is headed.

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July 18, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hamilton, The Play Has Caused A Boon At Hamilton, The College

HamChronicle of Higher Education, Before the Musical, There Was the College:

Hamilton, that is. The popularity of the musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton has apparently rubbed off on the liberal-arts college in upstate New York, which has seen applications rise in the past year, says David Wippman, Hamilton’s president. The college was named for the once-forgotten founding father, who was a trustee of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy (renamed Hamilton College in 1812), and the college's mascot, “Alex,” is a representation of Hamilton in his Continental Army uniform. Although it’s not something he can quantify, Mr. Wippman says the hit musical “certainly hasn’t hurt,” and it’s been a boon for alumni: As the show tours the country, the college buys blocks of tickets so Hamilton alums can attend.

For more on my obsession with interest in Hamilton, see here and:

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July 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Anderson:  College Majors That Produce The Highest (And Lowest) LSATs And UGPAs

Following up on my previous posts (links below): Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Law School Admissions and College Majors:

For US News purposes, a GPA is a GPA, whether the GPA comes from a B.A. in French or a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Conventional wisdom suggests that GPAs in humanities disciplines may not be equivalent to GPAs in STEM fields, but there is little data that compares the two.

In looking at this question, I recently came across this Law School Admission Council resource that provides admissions data by college majors for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The report contains the mean GPA and LSAT score for over 100 college majors, along with acceptance rates and "yield" rates. I collected this data and made the following chart that shows the relationship of undergraduate GPA and LSAT for dozens of college majors. Undergraduate GPAs are along the left axis and LSAT scores are along the bottom axis. The size of the circles represent the number of applicants. ...

Anderson

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July 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

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

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

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

Inside Higher Education, ‘The Toxic University’:

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

NY Times:  The Lawyer, The Addict

New York Times, The Lawyer, the Addict:

In July 2015, something was very wrong with my ex-husband, Peter. His behavior over the preceding 18 months had been erratic and odd. He could be angry and threatening one minute, remorseful and generous the next. His voice mail messages and texts had become meandering soliloquies that didn’t make sense, veering from his work travails, to car repairs, to his pet mouse, Snowball.

I thought maybe the stress of his job as a lawyer had finally gotten to him, or that he was bipolar. He had been working more than 60 hours a week for 20 years, ever since he started law school and worked his way into a partnership in the intellectual property practice of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a prominent law firm based in Silicon Valley. ...

Peter, one of the most successful people I have ever known, died a drug addict, felled by a systemic bacterial infection common to intravenous users.

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July 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Conflicts Of Interest, Disclosure, And The Moonlighting Law Prof

MoonlightingFollowing up on my previous post, WSJ: Paying Law Professors — Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign:  Jeffrey L. Harrison (Florida) & Amy R. Mashburn (Florida), Moonlighting Sonate: Conflicts, Disclosure, and the Scholar/Consultant:

Although the impact of conflicting interests is of constant concern to those in legal education and other fields, a recent scholarly article [Robin Feldman (UC-Hastings), Mark Lemley (Stanford), Jonathan Masur (Chicago) & Arti Rai (Duke), Open Letter on Ethical Norms in Intellectual Property Scholarship, 29 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 339 (2016)] and an extensive analysis in the New York Times [Think Tank Scholar or Corporate Consultant? It Depends on the Day] suggest the problem is more pressing than ever. In the context of legal scholarship the problem arises when a professor is, in effect, employed by two entities.

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July 17, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Meets To Consider Elimination Of 49% Adjunct Professor Cap And Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)The Standards Review Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar met July 14-15 in Chicago.  Here are the agenda and meeting materials.  

The ABA Journal reports on comments received on proposed changes to Standard 403(a) to eliminate the requirement that more than 50% of law teaching be performed by full-time faculty. Here are links to all of the comments:

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July 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Did 'Trump Bump' Cause Surge Of LSAT Test-Takers?

Following up on Thursday's post, Fall 2018 Law School Admissions Season Opens With A Bang: LSAT Test-Takers Increased 19.8% In June, The Biggest Jump In 8 Years:  Law.com, Number of LSAT Test-Takers Surges. Is It a Trump Bump?:

The hoped-for law school “Trump Bump” might actually have legs.

The number of people who took the Law School Admission Test in June climbed nearly 20 percent over last year — the largest percentage increase for any individual LSAT administration since September 2009. ...

Professors and deans speculated this spring that turmoil in Washington — and more specifically President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban and the high-profile response of lawyers who flocked to airports to help those affected — would prompt more people to consider law school. The June LSAT, which is widely viewed as the first of the 2018 admissions cycle, offered the first real test of the Trump Bump theory. ...

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July 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Gerken:  Law Schools (And Law Students) Have Much To Teach Universities About Campus Free Speech

Yale LogoTime op-ed:  Campus Free Speech Is Not Up for Debate, by Heather Gerken (Dean, Yale):

In this, the summer of our discontent, many college presidents are breathing a sigh of relief that they made it through a politically fraught spring without their campuses erupting. Nobody wants to be the next Middlebury or Claremont McKenna, where demonstrations disrupted controversial speakers.

Law deans, in sharp contrast, have reason to be cheery. Their campuses have been largely exempt from ugly free-speech incidents like these. Charles Murray, the controversial scholar whose speech drew violent reaction at Middlebury, has spoken at Yale Law School twice during the past few years. Students and faculty engaged with him, and students held a separate event to protest and discuss the implications of his work. But he spoke without interruption. That's exactly how a university is supposed to work.

There may be a reason why law students haven't resorted to the extreme tactics we've seen on college campuses: their training. Law school conditions you to know the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness. That's why lawyers know how to go to war without turning the other side into an enemy. People love to tell lawyer jokes, but maybe it's time for the rest of the country to take a lesson from the profession they love to hate.

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July 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Rodriguez:  Changing Law Schools

Daniel B. Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern), Changing Law Schools:

Last fall, 203 ABA accredited law schools opened their doors to a new class of would-be lawyers. Next month, that number will drop to 202, as Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California announced in April that it would shut down, making it the first fully accredited law school to do so in three decades. Whittier’s closing was a blow to the legal academy, and of course to the esteemed alumni from this established law school. When coupled with news of decreasing law school applications across the board, declining LSAT scores, and state bar passage rates at an all-time low, it put the finishing touches on the “law school train wreck” story that reporters have been reveling in for years.

But the resulting debate — law schools are failing! No, everything’s fine! — buries the truly important question: How can law schools, the very institutions that teach a discipline reliant on precedent, tradition, and entrenched rules become dynamic and innovative change-makers? And I don’t just mean throwing “innovation” in the title of a course or an academic center. How can we convince top students that if you want to change the world — be it through social justice or disruptive technology — you need to start with a legal education?

To start, let’s talk about those “top” students: Data released in June by the Law School Admission Council found that while the number of applicants to law school for the 2017-2018 school year dropped by only 0.5 percent, the number of applicants who scored [160 or more] on the LSAT has decreased [45] percent since 2010, as Paul Caron, Dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, wrote on his TaxProf Blog. These are the students with credentials who would likely be admitted to top law schools, perhaps even with merit scholarships. ...

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July 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

NY Times:  California Supreme Court Moves To Make Bar Exam Easier To Pass

California Bar ExamFollowing up on Wednesday's post, California Supreme Court Strips Authority Of Bar Examiners To Set Cut Score; Lower Cut Score May Apply Retroactively To July Test-Takers:  New York Times, California Supreme Court Moves to Make Bar Exam Easier to Pass:

California has long had a reputation for having one of the most difficult bar exams in the country. Now, with passage rates sagging, the state will make it easier to pass the test, which is required to be licensed as a practicing lawyer.

The California Supreme Court, the ultimate authority over the bar exam, has decided to change the way the certification score is set. The court has not yet decided where the threshold will be set, but the changes will take effect in January.

The move follows a sometimes furious debate in California legal circles over whether the state’s passing score, or “cut score” — 144 — was unrealistic. ...

Last year, just 62 percent of first-time test takers passed the California bar exam, compared with 83 percent in New York.

And only 51 percent of the graduates of the University of California Hastings College of the Law passed the state’s exam in July 2016. That result, the school’s dean, David L. Faigman, wrote the California Committee of Bar Examiners last December, was “outrageous and constitutes unconscionable conduct on the part of a trade association that masquerades as a state agency.”

“The cut score is almost everything,” said Robert Anderson, a professor of corporate law at Pepperdine School of Law in California, who did a study of the 10 most difficult state exams in 2013. That study concluded that “California’s is probably the most difficult” in the country. “If California changed its minimum score to 133, which is the same as New York’s, then I would say, California’s is easy,” he added. (Delaware’s passing score is 145.)

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July 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Dean Andy Morriss On Law School Innovation

MorrissFollowing up on my previous post, Andy Morriss Steps Down As Texas A&M Law School Dean To Lead New School Of Innovation:  Law.com, Law Dean Who Helped Texas School Shine Takes on 'Innovation' Role:

Andrew Morriss oversaw the transformation and dramatic rise in the rankings of the former Texas Wesleyan School of Law into the Texas A&M School of Law. He was the first dean hired by Texas A&M after it bought in 2013, and since then the school has steadily risen from U.S. News & World Report’s unranked tier to claim the No. 92 spot—an almost unheard of ascent.

Now, the university has a new challenge for Morriss: heading up a brand new School of Innovation at its main campus in College Station, a gig he will assume Aug. 1.

Legal academics generally aren’t known as innovators. After all, modern law school largely follows the case method format pioneered by Christopher Columbus Langdell at Harvard Law School more than 120 years ago. But Morriss introduced a steady stream of changes at the Fort Worth law school intended to make it more competitive and relevant in today’s legal market.

We spoke with Morriss about what a school of innovation is, the changes at Texas A&M’s law school, and the need for legal educators to embrace new ways of teaching and structuring their law schools. His answers have been edited for length.

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July 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

ABA May Add Gender Identity, Ethnicity To Law School Accreditation Diversity Rules

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)ABA Journal, ABA Committee Weighs Adding Gender Identity, Ethnicity to Law School Accreditation Diversity Rules:

Proposed revisions to add gender identity and ethnicity to existing rules regarding diversity, nondiscrimination and equal opportunity are being considered by the Standards Review Committee of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar at its July 15 meeting in Chicago.

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July 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

George Washington Seeks To Hire A Junior Tax Prof

George Washington Law Logo (2016)George Washington seeks to hire a Tax Prof with 0-2 years of experience.  For more information or to apply, email Faculty Appointments Committee Chair Catherine Ross or Faculty Appointments Committee Member (and Tax Prof) Karen Brown.

July 13, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fall 2018 Law School Admissions Season Opens With A Bang: LSAT Test-Takers Increased 19.8% In June, The Biggest Jump In 8 Years

LSACThe number of LSAT test-takers rose 19.8% in June, the first test administration in the 2017-18 admissions season.  The 19.8% increase is the biggest increase since the September/October 2009 test administration and comes on the heels of a 3.3% increase in 2016-17 and a 4.1% increase in 2015-16,  which followed five consecutive years of declines.

LSAC 2

LSAC also has announced that "As of 7/7/17, there are 350,205 applications submitted by 54,871 applicants for the 2017–2018 academic year. Applicants are down 0.5% and applications are up 1.2% from 2016–2017. Last year at this time, we had 98% of the preliminary final applicant count."

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July 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Case For An ABA Accreditation Standard On Employment Outcomes

Scott F. Norberg (Florida International; Former Deputy Managing Director, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (2011-14)), The Case for an ABA Accreditation Standard on Employment Outcomes:

Students graduating from American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law schools over the past ten years have faced a declining entry-level legal employment market, stagnant or decreased starting salaries, and increased tuition debt burdens. While most law schools report strong legal employment rates, some consistently place fewer than 40 or 50 percent of their graduates in law jobs (roughly defined as those full-time, long-term jobs for which bar passage is required or the J.D. degree is an advantage in obtaining or performing the job) within 9-10 months after graduation. At least partly in response to the declining legal employment market, law school applications and enrollments have decreased sharply in the past six years. However, some law schools with persistently very weak graduate employment outcomes have lowered admissions standards in order to minimize reduction in class sizes. In doing so, they almost inevitably exacerbate existing problems because their bar passage rates suffer and their graduates’ employment prospects are further diminished.

SN1

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July 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

American University Provost Denies Tenure To Latina Prof Based On Standard Deviation Of Her Student Evaluations, Rather Than Relying On The 'Tyranny Of The Mean'

BrownInside Higher Ed, Student-Evaluated Out of Tenure:

Carolyn Brown, an assistant professor of journalism at American University, says it’s her ethical duty to hold her students to high standards, especially the kinds of firm deadlines they’ll face in their careers. So she wonders why American is denying her tenure over some moderately lower than average student evaluations of her teaching, which she says are linked to her at-times unpopular rigor — not poor teaching.

So do many of her colleagues, who have appealed to Scott Bass, provost, on her behalf. “Denying her tenure after six years based on the clearly specious basis of teaching evaluations is clearly wrongheaded,” John C. Watson, associate professor and director of the journalism division, said this week. “That’s as a matter of principle, and more specifically in terms of what’s happening at the university today.”

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July 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

New Dean Wants To Make Mercer Georgia's 'Premier Law School'

MercerThe Telegraph, New Dean Wants to Make Mercer the State’s ‘Premier Law School’:

Cathy Cox has returned to the roots of her legal career. As the new dean of Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law, she wants to help take the institution she loves to the next level. ...

“(Macon) has really grown a lot since I was in school here, but my husband, Mark, and I are really glad to be a part of this community and look forward to getting involved in a lot of things,” Cox said. “I really want to make sure that Mercer stands out as the premier law school in this state."

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July 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

California Supreme Court Strips Authority Of Bar Examiners To Set Cut Score; Lower Cut Score May Apply Retroactively To July Test-Takers

WSJ:  Paying Law Professors — Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign

GoogleWall Street Journal, Hidden Influence | Paying Professors: Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign:

Google operates a little-known program to harness the brain power of university researchers to help sway opinion and public policy, cultivating financial relationships with professors at campuses from Harvard University to the University of California, Berkeley.

Over the past decade, Google has helped finance hundreds of research papers to defend against regulatory challenges of its market dominance, paying $5,000 to $400,000 for the work, The Wall Street Journal found.

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July 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Charleston Law School's Unexpected Rebound

Charleston Logo (2017)preLaw, Charleston Law's Unexpected Rebound:

Just two years ago, Charleston School of Law was on the brink of failing. Enrollment numbers were dwindling. Its financial health was in peril. Graduate’s debt to income ratios were high. Above all, the school was beleaguered by a controversial pending sale to a private company.

But the for-profit law school has rebounded and improved at an unexpected rate. By making a series of tough choices under the leadership of President Ed Bell, the law school has improved its financial standing and attracted more students to its urban campus in downtown Charleston.

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July 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Moral Case For Renaming UC-Hastings Law School Due To 'Indian Hunting' By Serranus Hastings In The 1850s

UC Hastings LogoFollowing up on my previous post, UC-Berkeley Adjunct Calls For Renaming Boalt Hall Due To John Boalt's 1870s Anti-Chinese Racism:  San Francisco Chronicle op-ed:  The Moral Case for Renaming Hastings College of the Law, by John Briscoe (Adjunct Professor, UC-Hastings):

Between the first European “contact” in 1542 and 1834, the native Californian population dropped from 350,000 to 150,000. The causes of the population collapse were European diseases, abuse at the hands of the Spanish and suicides. After 1834, however, when the native population plummeted from 150,000 to 18,000, the cause was different: Indian hunting was sport for the mostly white gold-seekers and settlers. Indian-hunting raids nearly annihilated the population and had the added benefit of ridding the state of those who might assert their land rights, rights guaranteed under international law.

Serranus Clinton Hastings was promoter and financier of Indian-hunting expeditions in the 1850s. Hastings later founded Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, now the oldest law school in the state, and a part of the University of California system.

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July 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Robot Lawyers, 'Skills Training,' And Legal Education

Following up on Paul's follow up on Whittier Law School, my summer project has to do with the limits of artificial intelligence in the process of lawyering, and its impact on how and what we teach in law school.  (The Savannah Law Review is holding a provocative symposium on September 15, 2017 entitled The Rise of the Automatons.  The call for papers provoked me — see below.)

I want to connect three things here:  (a) the role of "machine lawyering" referred to in the discussion about Whittier, (b) the essay by Jay Finkelstein on "skills training" particularly in transactional law to which I provided a link a couple days ago (plus the  comments to the post), and (c) what I think about law schools of the future.  The punch line is that I hope to reveal just how radical I am as a futurist on the last point, even if, as I descend into my own dotage, I probably don't have the energy to carry off the revolution.  

Here's a teaser to get you past the break.  Law school curricula, by and large, are the educational versions of the Winchester Mystery House.  Sarah Winchester was the widow of the inventor of the Winchester repeating rifle.  It's been disputed, but some say she believed that unless she kept building rooms onto her house in San Jose, California, she would not appease the ghosts that were haunting her.  The result was a bizarre mansion, built haphazardly with no planning at all, containing doors and stairs that go nowhere, windows opening into other rooms, and stairs with irregular risers.  That is an apt metaphor for standard legal education, at least beyond the first year.  So if we were to redesign it from the ground up, in light of the possibility of robot lawyers, the cry for skills training, and the dilemma of law schools like Whittier, what would we do? 

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July 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Caron & Testy:  The Quantity And Quality Of Law School Applicants

CaronTestyPaul L. Caron (Dean, Pepperdine) & Kellye Y. Testy (President & CEO, LSAC; Former Dean, University of Washington), Corrected Data: The Quantity and Quality of Law School Applicants:

We spent some time together at the recent ABA Deans Workshop in Washington, D.C. and discussed recent blog posts Paul had written about the declining quantity and quality of law school applicants.  These posts have attracted quite a bit of attention in the blogosphere and mainstream media.  Unfortunately, Paul relied on incomplete data on the Internet and conflated some of the reporting categories rather than using official LSAC data and categorization.  We want to set the record straight in this blog post and also announce a new initiative to ensure that accurate legal education data is more easily accessible by the law school community and the public.

The trend Paul reported — the decline in the number of law school applicants and the disproportionately greater decline in the higher LSAT score band — is correct.  But the rate of decline in the higher LSAT score band is less than Paul reported.  The highest scoring band has moved by 3%, from 29% to 26%, between 2010-11 and 2016-17.  The larger change, as we have all understood for some time, is in the overall number of applicants to law schools.  Here are the official LSAC data:

Chart 1

Chart 2

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July 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Howard Law School Finds Tenured Prof Guilty Of Sexual Harassment Due To Exam Question About A Client Receiving A Brazilian Body Wax

Howard (2017)Inside Higher Ed, Brazilian Wax Question Lands Professor In Hot Water:

Howard University has found a professor of law guilty of sexual harassment in relation to a 2015 test question involving Brazilian waxing. At first blush, it’s the kind of case that might anger even modest professors concerned about the rising tide of what’s been called campus illiberalism, or student calls for censorship of emotionally discomfiting speech.

But Reginald Robinson’s full question about a client who fell asleep during a wax and later alleged improper touching is rather graphic, with references to a “landing strip,” hairlessness from “belly button to buttocks" and more. Still, some free speech and academic freedom advocates are calling Howard’s response excessive: mandatory sensitivity training for Robinson, prior administrative review of his future test questions, classroom observation and a warning that any further violations of the university’s sexual harassment policies may result in termination.

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July 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts