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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Top 10 Law Schools for Hispanic Students

HispanicHispanic Business Magazine has published its annual ranking of the Top 10 Law Schools for Hispanics:

  1. Florida International
  2. Florida State
  3. Miami
  4. Amreican
  5. Nova
  6. Texas
  7. USC
  8. San Francisco
  9. UCLA
  10. New Mexico

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

September 2, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harrison: Faculty Jobs for Spouses Reduces Opportunities for Others

Gainesville Sun op-ed:  Faculty jobs for spouses can reduce opportunities for others, by Jeffrey L. Harrison (Florida):

Trailing SPouse 2A front-page story in The Sun on Aug. 23 described efforts to accommodate the trailing spouses of highly desirable faculty candidates. It tells the sunnier side of the story, but not the things fair-minded people should consider. That is, if “fair” means equal opportunity, no cutting in line and hiring the best people.

When a trailing spouse is involved, there typically is no public notice that a job is open. Oftentimes a job paying tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars is manufactured. No other person may apply for that job or is likely to even know about the job regardless of his or her qualifications.

In the modern version of the “ol' boy” and “who do you know” systems, it adds the “who are you sleeping with” system. ...

Marriages and partnerships unfortunately fall apart. When they do, UF is stuck with an employee that it would never have hired (and perhaps a position it never would have created) but for the relationship. Since “trailing” was a requirement of being hired, shouldn't there be a re-evaluation when the relationship ends in which all job seekers are finally given a chance for the position?

Does anyone really believe that a trailing spouse is held to the same standard as others? Put differently, do you want to be the dean who says no to someone when the outcome is the loss of an eminent faculty member in another department who the dean there and the president of the university, on whom your position and greatly enhanced salary depend, desperately want to keep?

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September 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, September 1, 2014

Flying Home to an Empty Nest

My wife Courtney and I are flying back to Malibu today, after helping our daughter Jayne get settled in her apartment in Madison, Wisconsin over the weekend before she starts her job tomorrow at Epic Systems, a health care software company.  Jayne graduated from college three months ago and spent one last special summer with us studying for the MCAT, which she took last Wednesday:

Jayne

Jayne will be living with her brother Reed, who has been working at Epic since his graduation from college last year.  With both of our children now on their own, our new nest is now physically empty (except for Josie), but is overflowing with precious memories of raising two incredible children and launching them into the world.  I will never forget holding hands with Courtney and Jayne this morning, bawling like a baby while praying over Jayne's new life and thanking God for the countless blessings he has showered on us over the past 22 wonderful years.

Empty Nest

September 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Don’t Want Me to Recline My Airline Seat? You Can Pay Me

New York Times:  Don’t Want Me to Recline My Airline Seat? You Can Pay Me, by Josh Barro:

Seat ReclineI fly a lot. When I fly, I recline. I don’t feel guilty about it. And I’m going to keep doing it, unless you pay me to stop.

I bring this up because of a dispute you may have heard about: On Sunday, a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver made an unscheduled stop in Chicago to discharge two passengers who had a dispute over seat reclining. According to The Associated Press, a man in a middle seat installed the Knee Defender, a $21.95 device that keeps a seat upright, on the seatback in front of him.

A flight attendant asked him to remove the device. He refused. The woman seated in front of him turned around and threw water at him. The pilot landed the plane and booted both passengers off the flight.

Obviously, it’s improper to throw water at another passenger on a flight, even if he deserves it. But I’ve seen a distressing amount of sympathy for Mr. Knee Defender, who wasn’t just instigating a fight but usurping his fellow passenger’s property rights. When you buy an airline ticket, one of the things you’re buying is the right to use your seat’s reclining function. If this passenger so badly wanted the passenger in front of him not to recline, he should have paid her to give up that right.

I wrote an article to that effect in 2011, noting that airline seats are an excellent case study for the Coase Theorem. ...

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September 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (29)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Love Does

Love DoesOne of my favorite things about Pepperdine is the opportunity to meet some of the interesting people drawn to this place.  At last Wendesday's inaugural law school bible study, I met Bob Goff, an adjunct professor who is a legend on campus.  After meeting Bob, I bought and devoured his wonderful book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World:

As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren't good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll. 

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world's best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it's not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob's love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don't want to miss.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob's life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

I now have the title picked out for my first non-tax book:  Love Blogs.

August 31, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rachel Moran Will Not Seek Second Term as UCLA Dean

Moran 2From: Moran, Rachel
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2014 11:02 AM
To: All Faculty & Staff
Subject: A Message from Dean Moran

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to share with you that after careful consideration, I have decided not to pursue a second term as Dean. Over the coming months, Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh will be forming a search committee to seek a replacement, and I have offered to stay in place until a successor is named to ensure a seamless and successful transition.

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

This Labor Day Weekend, End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email

New York Times:  End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email, by Clive Thompson:

DisconnectThis Labor Day weekend, odds are you’ll peek at your work email on your “day off” — and then feel guilty about it.

You might envy the serene workers at Daimler, the German automaker. On vacations, employees can set their corporate email to “holiday mode.” Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn’t in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence. “The idea behind it is to give people a break and let them rest,” a Daimler spokesman told Time magazine. “Then they can come back to work with a fresh spirit.”

Limiting workplace email seems radical, but it’s a trend in Germany, where Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends. If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States? Absolutely. It not only could, but it should.

White-collar cubicle dwellers complain about email for good reason. They spend 28 percent of their workweek slogging through the stuff, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. They check their messages 74 times a day, on average, according to Gloria Mark, an authority on workplace behavior and a professor at the University of California, Irvine. And lots of that checking happens at home.

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

Suffolk Law School Offers Buyouts to All Of Its Tenured Faculty

Following up on last month's post, Boston Law Schools Shrink Enrollments, Faculties:  Boston Globe, Suffolk University Abruptly Replaces President:

Sufolk Law SchoolJust days before the start of the new school year, Suffolk University Wednesday abruptly replaced president James McCarthy with a year remaining on his contract, and tapped a veteran educator with a reputation for turning around struggling colleges to serve as interim leader. At an afternoon meeting, the university’s board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Norman R. Smith, 68, who is best known for his tenure at Wagner College in New York City, where he led a small school on the brink of closing to new prominence.. ...

Given the general decline in law school enrollment, Smith said he would expect to take a “quality over quantity” approach in assembling new classes. “I don’t think there’s growth there,” he said, referring to enrollment. ...

The unexpected change in leadership comes as Suffolk seeks to stabilize its finances and attract students in the college-dense region. Facing a decline in enrollment and revenue, the university announced in June it would freeze employee salaries for the next fiscal year.

It also offered buyouts to all law school faculty members with tenure or renewable long-term contracts.

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

IMF Names Top 25 Economists Under 45

IMFInternational Monetary Fund, Generation Next: 25 Economists Under 45 Who Are Shaping the Way We Think About the Global Economy:

We asked you, our readers, and assorted international economists and journal editors to tell us which economists under 45 will have the most influence in the coming decades on our understanding of the global economy. F&D researcher Carmen Rollins gathered information from scores of sources to compile this—by no means exhaustive—list of economists to keep an eye on.

International Business Times, IMF Lists 25 Brightest Young Economists

Here is the list of institutes: MIT-five, Harvard - six, Princeton - two, University of Chicago - three, New York University - two, University of California - one, University of Columbia - one, University of Stanford - two, Peterson Institute - one. The non-US institutions are the London Business School, and Paris School of Economics.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Northeastern University Gamed the U.S. News Rankings to Rise From #162 to #49

Northeastern UniversityBoston Magazine, How to Game the College Rankings:

[Richard] Freeland swept into Northeastern [in 1996] with a brand-new mantra: recalibrate the school to climb up the ranks [from #162 in U.S. News]. “There’s no question that the system invites gaming,” Freeland tells me. “We made a systematic effort to influence [the outcome].” He directed university researchers to break the U.S. News code and replicate its formulas. He spoke about the rankings all the time—in hallways and at board meetings, illustrating his points with charts. He spent his days trying to figure out how to get the biggest bump up the charts for his buck. He worked the goal into the school’s strategic plan. “We had to get into the top 100,” Freeland says. “That was a life-or-death matter for Northeastern.” ...

For those at Northeastern, breaking into the U.S. News top 100 was like landing a man on the moon, but Freeland was determined to try. Reverse-engineering the formulas took months; perfecting them took years. “We could say, ‘Well, if we could move our graduation rates by X, this is how it would affect our standing,’” Freeland says. “It was very mathematical and very conscious and every year we would sit around and say, ‘Okay, well here’s where we are, here’s where we think we might be able to do next year, where will that place us?’”

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August 28, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Law School Rankings by BigLaw Associates' Satisfaction With Their Legal Education

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer, Which Schools Produce the Most Satisfied Big-Firm Lawyers?:

As part of our Midlevel Associates Survey, we asked respondents to rate their law schools on how well they prepared them for firm life on a five-point scale, with 5 being the highest possible score. Of all the questions on the survey, this is the one that correlated most strongly with overall job satisfaction. Below are the law schools that had 20 or more respondents to the survey, ranked by the average scores their alumni gave them on this question. The 53 schools that qualified had a total of 4,767 respondents, who gave them an average score of 3.74. Differences in score of 0.05 or less between schools are not statistically significant.

AmLaw Rank

School (Respondents)

Score

US News Rank

1

Duke (79)

4.18

10

1

Michigan (117)

4.18

10

3

Loyola-L.A. (46)

4.17

87

4

Stanford (73)

4.15

3

4

Chicago (87)

4.15

4

6

William & Mary (23)

4.13

24

7

Emory (42)

4.12

19

7

Vanderbilt (34)

4.12

16

9

Virginia (133)

4.06

8

10

Northwestern (108)

4.05

12

11

Georgia (23)

4.04

29

12

Houston (20)

4.00

58

12

Illinois (30)

4.00

40

14

Texas (83)

3.98

15

15

Catholic (23)

3.96

107

15

SMU (27)

3.96

42

17

Temple (43)

3.95

61

17

Washington U. (40)

3.95

18

19

Notre Dame (35)

3.94

26

20

Florida (33)

3.91

49

T14 schools that fared poorly in the ranking: Yale (24), Cornell (28), NYU (35), Penn (37), Harvard (42), Columbia (43), Georgetown (44).

August 28, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Prof Tells Students: Don't Email Me

Inside Higher Ed, Don't Email Me:

Email SyllabusA Salem College faculty member last semester took an uncompromising approach to curbing syllabus and inbox bloat: Why not ban most student emails?

“For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately,” Spring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem College, wrote in a blog post last week. “In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!”

Duvall’s frustration is shared by many in academe -- or anyone with an email account -- from faculty members beset by questions they have answered both in class and in writing to students inundated by university email blasts. This spring, when Duvall taught at the University of South Carolina at Aiken, she adopted a new email policy to cut down on emails from students telling her they would be late, or would miss class, or would have leave early, or any of the countless others that could be

Instead of wasting class time on walking her students through an increasingly complicated flowchart diagram of when they could and could not email her, Duvall stopped the problem at its core: No emails -- unless you’re scheduling an in-person meeting.

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August 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Pepperdine Bible Study

With my friend and colleague Jim Gash away this semester teaching in Pepperdine's London Program, my wife and I have the honor of hosting the law school's Wednesday night Bible Study, which kicked off last night:

Bible Study 2

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Visualizing Employment by Law School

Lawyer Metrics:  Visualizing Employment By Law School, Part I, by Christopher Zorn:

We looked at the schools in the top 50 of the U.S. News 2014 rankings, and plotted the percentages of each school’s graduates in each of the ABA’s summary outcome categories. Higher values are indicated by blue, and lower values by orange or red (with grey in the middle). We also included a “dendrogram” at the top; this is a visual representation of how similar each of the categories are to each other, based on the distributions of their values across the different schools.

Visualizing I

Lawyer Metrics: Visualizing Employment By Law School, Part II, by Christopher Zorn:

Returning to the ABA’s employment data for 2014, we can use a shaded area plot to see how the various employment outcomes vary as we move through the U.S. News rankings. Each shaded area represents the proportion of a school’s graduates who achieved a particular type of employment outcome, with the schools ordered by their 2014 U.S. News ranking.

Visualizing II

August 27, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 944 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through August 1, 2014) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

39,751

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6758

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

26,455

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2727

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

22,821

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2672

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

20,152

D.Dharmapala (Chicago) 

2537

5

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,011

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1986

6

James Hines (Michigan)

19,710

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1917

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19,094

Omri Marian (Florida)

1868

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

18,976

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1841

9

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

16,044

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1802

10

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,375

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

1708

11

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,025

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1596

12

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

14,304

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1585

13

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,244

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1482

14

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,190

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1474

15

David Walker (BU)

13,911

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1448

16

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

13,907

James Hines (Michigan)

1436

17

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

13,819

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1352

18

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

13,794

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1338

19

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

13,744

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1337

20

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

13,725

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1330

21

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

12,950

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1268

22

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,479

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1251

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,023

Dan Simmons (UC-Davis)

1248

24

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,724

Brian Galle (Boston College)

1190

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,715

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1179

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

Continue reading

August 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schizer Named to Ginsburg Visiting Chair in Taxation at Georgetown

SchizerGeorgetown Press Release, Georgetown Law Appoints David Schizer to Ginsburg Chair:

Georgetown University Law Center Dean William M. Treanor is pleased to announce the appointment of David Schizer to the Martin D. Ginsburg Chair in Taxation. Schizer will hold the chair as a visiting professor during the 2015 spring semester.

“David Schizer is an extraordinarily gifted scholar of tax law and policy and a wonderful teacher, and he left a great mark as dean at Columbia. We are delighted that he will be visiting at Georgetown, and he is the ideal choice to hold the Ginsburg Chair. Marty Ginsburg was an important mentor for David, who also clerked for Justice Ginsburg,” said Treanor. “We are deeply grateful to H. Ross Perot for his generosity in endowing this chair, a fitting tribute to Marty’s great contributions as a lawyer, a scholar and a teacher.”

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August 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today Marks My 25th Year as a Law Professor

25 YearsToday I taught my first class of the 2014-15 academic year, my 25th year as a full-time law professor. Things certainly have changed in my Estate & Gift Tax course:

 

1990

2014

Exemption

$600,000

$5,340,000

Rate

55%

40%

Estates Subject to Tax

1.19%

0.15%

Annual Exclusion

$10,000

$14,000

August 26, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Arizona State Hosts 6th Annual Aspiring Law Profs Conference on Sept. 27

Aspiring Law Profs 2Arizona State is hosting the 6th Annual Aspiring Law Professors Conference on Saturday, September 27 (details here):

  • Learn to succeed in the entry-level law teaching market
  • Obtain an insiders perspective on the appointments process from faculty with extensive hiring experience
  • Participate in a mock interview or mock job talk and gain feedback from law professors

I will be delivering the keynote address on Law School Rankings, Faculty Scholarship, and the Missing Ingredient. Previous keynote speakers were Brian Leiter (2009), Dan Filler (2010), Eugene Volokh (2011), Paul Horwitz (2012), and Christine Hurt (2013).

The conference is free of charge to all attendees.  See here to register.

August 26, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Details Emerge in Murder of Dan Markel

Markel[Continually Updated]  More details are emerging in the July 18 murder of Dan Markel, D’Alemberte Professor of Law at Florida State and founder of PrawfsBlawg, as the result of a shooting in his home:

I have collected links to the many tributes to Dan here.

Dan Markel Memorial Fund To Benefit His Sons, Benjamin Amichai Markel and Lincoln Jonah Markel:

Markel

August 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Google Law Review Rankings

Google Scholar LogoMy friend and colleague Rob Anderson (Pepperdine) has updated his Google Law Review Rankings to cover 229 law reviews.  Here are the Top 25:

Rank

Law Review Name

H5 Index

H5 Median

Avg

1

Harvard Law Review

39

71

55

2

Stanford Law Review

34

63

48.5

3

Yale Law Journal

37

56

46.5

4

Columbia Law Review

37

56

46.5

5

University of Pennsylvania Law Review

38

49

43.5

6

Michigan Law Review

31

56

43.5

7

UCLA Law Review

32

51

41.5

8

Duke Law Journal

31

52

41.5

9

Georgetown Law Journal

30

52

41

10

Cornell Law Review

31

48

39.5

11

Virginia Law Review

32

46

39

12

Texas Law Review

31

47

39

13

New York University Law Review

29

46

37.5

14

California Law Review

31

43

37

15

Minnesota Law Review

29

44

36.5

16

Journal of Law & Economics

27

46

36.5

17

Northwestern University Law Review

28

43

35.5

18

Iowa Law Review

27

43

35

19

University of Chicago Law Review

27

41

34

20

William and Mary Law Review

27

37

32

21

Vanderbilt Law Review

25

37

31

22

University of Illinois Law Review

24

38

31

23

Notre Dame Law Review

26

35

30.5

24

Boston College Law Review

24

37

30.5

25

Emory Law Journal

22

39

30.5

August 25, 2014 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

George Washington Tells Faculty Not to Inform Students of Cheaper Textbook Alternatives to Protect Campus Bookstore, Then Relents

George Washington University LogoInside Higher Ed, Don't Shop Online:

Faculty members at George Washington University are once again free to tell students they can save money by buying their textbooks online, after the university initially urged professors to stop pointing students to sources other than the campus bookstore.

In a letter dated July 17, the university reminded faculty members of its “contractual obligation” with Follett, which runs the campus bookstore. Since the company has the “exclusive right” to provide textbooks and other course materials for all of the university’s courses, “alternative vendors may not be endorsed, licensed or otherwise approved or supported by the university or its faculty.”

The letter irked many faculty members -- not only did it prevent them from helping students save some money on textbooks, but it also seemed to prohibit them from listing on their syllabuses open educational resources, online exercises and other content that could help students understand the material.

With students heading to college this month, the additional expenses they incur while on campus -- particularly the cost of textbooks -- are again making headlines. On Monday, Mark J. Perry, a University of Michigan professor and scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, shared a graph showing the cost of textbooks has grown by 150 percent since 1998.

 Chart

On Aug. 11, the university sent a clarification, walking back the guidelines and reiterating its commitment to curbing the rising cost of textbooks. “Individual faculty have discretion as to what information they put on their syllabus, including any options available to students to obtain texts,” Nancy M. Haaga, managing director of campus support services wrote, apologizing for the confusion. ...

Continue reading

August 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

50% of Concordia 3Ls to Take Fall Semester Off Amidst ABA Delay of Provisional Accreditation

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Number of Prospective Law Profs Drops 17% from 2013 (26% From 2010)

Sarah Lawsky (UC-Irvine), Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time:

The first distribution of the FAR AALS forms came out this week. Here are the number of FAR forms in the first distribution for each year since 2009.

FAR

August 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Slate: 170+ LSAT Scorers Are Returning to Law School

Slate:  One Group of Law School Applicants That’s Growing: High-Scoring Students, by Jordan Weissmann:

When law school applications began collapsing a couple of years back, a troubling pattern emerged. Some of the biggest percentage drops were among elite applicants with high LSAT scores. The smallest declines, meanwhile, were among candidates with especially low LSAT scores. ...

The number of top-tier applicants—those with at least a 170 on their LSAT—is growing again. ... Their numbers are still well down from a few years ago but seem to have stabilized—they're realizing that now really is a good time to go to law school.

 Slate 1

For those who are extra-obsessive about this topic, I've put together this chart showing the three-year changes to law school applications by LSAT band.

Matt Leichter, Slate Thinks LSAT-Takers Are Clairvoyant:

Jordan Weissman argues that the ~7.5 percent growth in law school applicants in the 170-174 and 175-180 LSAT brackets this year is a sign that “the right people” have decided to go to apply to law school again. It might have helped readers if he’d told them that these applicants only account for about 5 percent of the total applicant decline since 2010.

Change in Applicants by LSAT Score Share of Net Change in Applicants (2010-2014)

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

Academics and the Social Network

Friday, August 22, 2014

Shadow Syllabus

SyllabusSonya Huber (Fairfield University), Shadow Syllabus:

  • I could hardly hear my own professors when I was in college over the din and roar of my own fear.
  • Those who aim for A’s don’t get as many A’s as those who abandon the quest for A’s and seek knowledge or at least curiosity. ...
  • The goals and outcomes I am required to put on my syllabus make me depressed; they are the illusion of controlling what cannot be controlled. 
  • I end up changing everything halfway through the semester anyway because the plan on paper is never what the living class ends up being about. 
  • I desperately needed A’s when I was in college because I didn’t know what else I was besides an A. 
  • Our flaws make us human; steer toward yours. I steer toward mine. That won’t always be rewarded in “the real world.” ...
  • I realize that I, as the authority figure in this room, might trigger all kinds of authority issues you have. Welcome to work and the rest of your life. ...
  • One of you who is filled with hate for this class right now will end up loving it by the end.
  • One of you who I believe to be unteachable and filled with hate for me will end up being my favorite.
  • One of you will drive me bat-shit crazy and there’s nothing I can do about it.
  • Later I will examine the reason you drive me bat-shit crazy and be ashamed and then try to figure out my own limitations. ...
  • Sometimes I will be annoyed, sarcastic, rushed, or sad; often this is because you are not doing the readings or trying to bullshit me. 
  • Students are surprised by this fact: I really really really want you to learn. Like, that’s my THING. Really really a lot. ...
  • Everyone sees you texting. It’s awkward, every time, for everyone in the room. ...
  • Secret: I get nervous before each class because I want to do well.
  • Secret: when I over-plan my lessons, less learning happens.
  • Secret: I have to plan first and THEN abandon the plan while still remembering its outline.
  • Secret: It’s hard to figure out whether to be a cop or a third-grade teacher. I have to be both. I want to be Willie Wonka. That’s the ticket. Unpredictable, not always nice, high standards, and sometimes candy. ...
  • Secret: Every single one of your professors and teachers has been at a point of crisis in their lives where they had no idea what the fuck to do. 
  • Come talk to me in my office hours, but not to spin some thin line of bullshit, because believe it or not, I can see through it like a windowpane.
  • Some of you will lose this piece of paper because you’ve had other people to smooth out your papers and empty your backpack for as long as you can remember, but that all ends here. There’s no one to empty your backpack. That’s why college is great and scary.
  • Maybe there’s never been anyone to empty your backpack. If there hasn’t been, you will have a harder time feeling entitled to come talk to me or ask for help. 
  • I want you, especially, to come talk to me. 
  • You can swear in my classroom.
  • Welcome. Welcome to this strange box with chairs in it. I hope you laugh and surprise yourself.

August 22, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Faculty Development, Faculty Incentives, and Law School Innovation

Stephen Daniels (American Bar Foundation), William M. Sullivan (Denver) & Martin Katz (Dean, Denver), Analyzing Carnegie's Reach: The Contingent Nature of Innovation, 63 J. Legal Educ. 585 (2014):

Our interest is curricular innovation, with a focus on the recommendations of the 2007 Carnegie report – Educating Lawyers. Recognizing that meaningful reform requires an institutional commitment, our interest also includes initiatives in the areas of faculty development and faculty incentive structure that would support curricular innovation. Additionally, we are curious as to what might explain change and whether certain school characteristics will do so or whether external factors that challenge legal education offer an explanation. To explore these issues we surveyed law schools (a 60.5% response rate). The results show that while there is much activity in the area of curriculum – including the key matters of lawyering, professionalism, and especially integration – there is much less in the important areas of faculty development and faculty incentive structure. School characteristics, including rank, do not provide a sufficient explanation for the patterns emerging from the survey’s results. Additionally, activity by law schools with regard to curriculum, faculty development, and faculty professional activity is not simply a response to external challenges either. However, it appears that those pressures are providing a potential window of opportunity for innovation, reinforcing the need for change, and accelerating its pace.

Table 2

August 22, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why Did American University’s Law School Plunge in the Rankings?

Washington City Paper, Why Did American University’s Law School Plunge in the Rankings?:

American Logo (2014)American University’s law school woos its students with a chance at the kind of international law jobs in which they might handle classified documents. In the spring of 2012, however, one graduate says his classmates got some practice being secretive about something decidedly less important to national security: their own job prospects.

In order to avoid offending classmates who faced unemployment after racking up more than $150,000 in student debt—nine months after graduation, just 42 percent of the class had jobs that required passing the bar—students who actually had offers had to engage in their own cover-ups. “Everything was sort of hush-hush,” says the graduate, who asked not to be named to avoid so as not to damage his new, nonlegal career.

Lately, the prospects for American University’s Washington College of Law have looked just as grim. Since 2013, the school has plummeted down the U.S. News and World Report law-school rankings, dropping 23 positions from 49th in the country to 72nd. Thanks to its graduates’ dubious employment prospects, meanwhile, Washington College of Law has become a target for activists who see it as one of the worst examples of a law school that dupes students with unlikely legal ambitions, only to stick them with a mountain of inescapable debt when they graduate. 

All the same, the school has started construction on a new campus in Tenleytown that the university expects will cost $130 million. As the Washington College of Law expands its goals in the face of its ratings collapse and a nationwide drop in law applications, it looks headed for a collision between its aspirations and the realities of what a mid-tier law school can realistically offer its students. ...

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August 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Dear Committee Members: A Novel

Slate Book Review:  Strongest Possible Endorsement: A Funny and Lacerating Novel of Academia Written in the Form of Letters of Recommendation:

Dear CommitteeI have been tasked with assessing Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members, an epistolary novel consisting entirely of fictionalized letters of recommendation penned by professor Jason Fitger (failed novelist, failed husband, successful misanthrope). Although professor Fitger is—despite his correct opinions on the current state of the academic professions, and rare mitzvahs for his few remaining friends—an abhorrent human being, I cannot help but give this year in his life—which is narrated solely through his self-centered, off-topic, usually-counterproductive “endorsements” of colleagues, students, and friends—my strongest possible recommendation. 

Indeed, like his innumerable crotchety-white-male-academic protagonist predecessors (some of my favorites: Nabokov’s Humbert, Goethe’s Faust, Chabon’s Grady, Franzen’s Chip), Jason Fitger makes up in self-importance what he lacks in human contact with anyone who can stand him. “I’ll get around to my evaluation of Professor Ali,” Fitger explains in an alleged letter of support for a colleague’s tenure case. “But I have a few other things on my mind also, and it would be foolish of me, I think—it would be remiss—if I didn’t take this opportunity to address a few of them. After all, how often does a lowly professor of creative writing and English have the ear” of the associate vice provost? He then unleashes a tirade of grievances about the decrepit facilities and lackluster funding of his department, touching only briefly on his colleague’s many accomplishments. ...

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August 21, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Profs on Twitter

August 21, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Case for Undergraduate Law Degrees

Following up on my previous post, Arizona Launches Nation's First B.A. in Law:  Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Case for Undergraduate Law Degrees, by Brent T. White (Arizona):

Arizona Logo[N]o university or law school in the United States offers an undergraduate degree in law. That is, until this fall, when the University of Arizona will introduce the nation’s first bachelor of arts in law. Stepping back from the culturally embedded assumption in America that legal training should be provided in professional schools, the lack of an undergraduate route to legal education is perplexing.

First, in most countries—including those requiring additional graduate-level training to become a licensed attorney—law is an undergraduate degree. Second, there is little rationale for excluding the study of law from the full range of undergraduate academic subjects. ... Third, a law degree would offer many benefits to undergraduates, including the ability to independently research, read, and understand the law, as well as training in critical thinking and problem solving, analytical reasoning, and persuasive writing—all of which are highly marketable skills that translate well into a variety of professions, law-related or not. Finally, undergraduate law degrees would be the best response to the reality that many law-related tasks are performed by people who are not lawyers but who need legal training. Examples include accountants who act as tax advisers, human-resource managers who must navigate employment law, school-compliance officers who create policies related to education law, mediators who provide conflict-resolution services, legal technicians who conduct e-discovery, and contract managers who draft and negotiate contracts.

The question is not whether nonlawyers will provide legal services; it’s whether they will be well trained. Undergraduate law degrees offer the most cost-effective and broadly accessible way to offer such training. ...

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August 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Measuring Merit: The Shultz-Zedeck Research on Law School Admissions

Kristen Holmquist, Marjorie Shultz, Sheldon Zedeck & David Oppenheimer (all of UC-Berkeley), Measuring Merit: The Shultz-Zedeck Research on Law School Admissions, 63 J. Legal Educ. 565 (2014):

Law schools profess a commitment to racial diversity both for the educational benefits diversity confers and for its contribution to the profession. But they admit students based on standards that, while not discriminatory in a legal sense, undeniably favor white applicants. Today the question of who belongs in any given law school, or law school at all, turns almost exclusively on an applicant’s score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Law schools are not blind to the racial impact that accompanies this narrow measure of merit. But rather than taking a hard look at whether legal educators have adequately, or accurately, identified what qualities best qualify students for law school, the admissions process largely relies on affirmative action to ameliorate the current process's negative effects. That approach is imperfect for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is that affirmative action’s legal use in higher education may be about to end. Should race-conscious admissions practices be banned, every law school that truly values diversity will have to explore race-neutral means of achieving it. The good news is that research conducted by Marjorie Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck suggests that this is possible -- that qualities relevant to effective lawyering can be defined and predicted without recreating the LSAT's disparate impact [Predicting Lawyer Effectiveness -- A New Assessment for Use in Law School Admission Decisions]. This essay describes that research and the promise that it holds for improved, race-neutral, admissions processes.

August 21, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Survey: Grads Give High Marks to Law Schools for Professors, Training & ROI, But Not Job Placement

Kaplan, Class of 2014 Law School Graduates Give Their Schools Solid Grades in Professor Quality, “Practice Ready” Training and ROI — But Job Placement Gets More “F”s than “A”s:

Kaplan LogoAccording to a Kaplan Bar Review survey* of over 1,200 law school graduates from the class of 2014, a strong majority of tomorrow’s attorneys give their alma maters strong marks overall: 40% of law school graduates gave their overall law school education an “A” (up from 37% in 2012), while 45% gave it a “B”.  Only 11% gave their legal education a “C”; and a relatively small percentage (4%) scored it as below average or failing.  And while law school grads gave their former JD programs generally favorable marks in a number of subcategories, there was one glaring exception:  job placement.

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August 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

LinkedIn Law School Rankings?

LinkedInInside Higher Ed, The New Rankings?:

LinkedIn is one of several players in a growing market: the business of aggregating data about career outcomes for prospective college students. Rankings still dominate conversations about which colleges are best, to the chagrin of many college presidents. But a number of companies are developing data-backed search tools to help students decide where to apply, where to attend and what to study.

Students and parents are the consumers most of these companies have in mind. But the services also attract business from colleges and universities that the aggregated data depicts favorably. Tulane now features its LinkedIn page in its promotional materials. ...

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August 20, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professor Blogs Network Launches Legal Technology Blog

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is thrilled to announce the launch of Legal Technology Blog, edited by Jeanne Eicks (Vermont), Oliver Goodenough (Vermont), Stephanie Kimbro (Stanford), and Michele Pistone (Villanova). From their inaugural post:

What will law practice look like in the next decade? What should legal professionals know about technology to be competent and profitable in legal practice? How will we educate the next generation of lawyers entering a legal field deeply altered by technology? Who are these legal entrepreneurs changing the face of law – and should we fear them or emulate them? Will innovation happen at a stately pace, trimming the edges of inefficiency and risk aversion in legal practice? Or will innovation happen disruptively as technology entrepreneurs make an end-run around the more deliberate pace of legal practitioners? To borrow from Richard Susskind, a visionary in this field, who are tomorrow’s lawyers and how will they be trained?

We seek answers to these questions and more. This blog will focus on the topics at the nexus of law, legal practice and legal education and technology. Welcome.

With the support of our sponsor, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, the Network is seeking to expand in two ways.

First, I am actively recruiting law professors to launch blogs in other areas of the law school curriculum not currently covered by the Network, including Administrative Law, Bankruptcy, Intellectual Property, National Security, Native American Law, Race and the Law, and Trial Advocacy.

Second, I am actively recruiting law professors to affiliate their existing blogs with the Network, like Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings, Mirror of Justice, REFinBlog, The Right Coast, and Sentencing Law and Policy

The Network offers law professors the premier blogging platform and the opportunity to share in growing sponsorship and advertising revenues. For more information about these opportunities, see here.

August 20, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to the Law School Class of 2017: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Forbes:  Law School Begins: Here's A Message to the New Crop of 1L's, by Michael I. Krauss (George Mason):

Clash 1Later this week I will teach the first Torts class to George Mason Law School’s newly matriculated 1L’s.  Here is my message, both to them and to 1L’s nationally.

You have decided to enter law school during “interesting” times.  The business model for the private practice of law is a-changin, and many say it is broken.  Law school tuition is higher than ever, yet incomes are stagnant and perhaps dropping.  Law school loans, guaranteed by Uncle Sam and not dischargeable by bankruptcy, help you pay for tuition, but every increase in the generosity of federal largess is yet another incentive for universities to capture rents by increasing tuition further.

Mason students are at a “top-50″ school, but many readers of this column will be matriculating at lower-ranked institutions (and others will be at higher-rated schools).  Most Mason students ranked near the top of their undergraduate class and did quite well on their LSAT.  But half of you will get GPA’s at Mason that are lower than you’ve ever experienced before, both because your undergrad institution had succumbed to grade inflation and because our mandatory GPA mean immunizes us against this to some extent.  Those in the bottom half of the class won’t be eligible for Law Review, and they generally won’t be invited to those coveted on-campus interviews with BigLaw firms.  For them, and for many in the top half of the class as well, “summer camp” at a BigLaw firm after 2L will never happen; and the famous $160K starting salary after graduation will be pie in the sky.  Most law grads learn to their sorrow that the income distribution for freshly-minted JD’s is quite bimodal.  And those who do catch that brass ring will be in for a life that is usually exhausting and often boring, if not soul-destroying.

Are these facts part of an effort to get you to rethink your decision to attend law school?  For some of you, frankly, yes; but for others, absolutely not.  ...

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August 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Cause of Higher Tenure Rates for Men: Productivity or Sexism?

Inside Higher Ed, Productivity or Sexism?:

In discussions about the gender gap among tenured professors at research universities, there is little dispute that there are far more men than women with tenure in most disciplines. But why? Many have speculated that men are outperforming women in research, which is particularly valued over teaching and service at research universities. With women (of those with children) shouldering a disproportionate share of child care, the theory goes, they may not be able to keep up with publishing and research to the same extent as their male counterparts.

A study presented here Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association finds that those assumptions may be untrue in some disciplines. [Kate Weisshaar (Stanford), Measuring the Glass Ceiling Effect: An Assessment of Discrimination in Academia.] The study compared tenure rates at research universities in computer science, English and sociology -- and then controlled for research productivity. 

Not only are men more likely than women to earn tenure, but in computer science and sociology, they are significantly more likely to earn tenure than are women who have the same research productivity. In English men are slightly (but not in a statistically significant way) more likely than women to earn tenure. ...

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August 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quinnipiac Law School Opens New $50 Million Building Amidst 33% Decline in 1L Enrollment

New Haven Register News, Quinnipiac University Opens New Law School Building in North Haven:

Quinnipiac LogoOn Monday, Quinnipiac University law students will start the academic year in a $50 million new building at the school’s North Haven campus. ...

Currently, the school has 292 students enrolled, but [President John] Lahey said the new building was built with the potential to grow the law student population after numbers declined from 400 students. “It’s designed to get back to 400, but it can hold up to 500,” Lahey said.

Despite student enrollment dropping, Lahey said he’s looking forward to the law school growing in its new location. “There’s a decline for the demand for lawyers. Even with the decline, we’re the only school in country to spend $50 million for a new (law)school. It shows that Quinnipiac has a long-term, strategic commitment to law. It reflects my confidence and the university’s confidence in [Dean] Jen Brown,” Lahey said. 

Quinnipiac enrolled 84 students (65 full time) in Fall 2013 (with 154 LSAT/3.34 GPA medians), compared to 127 students (107 full time) in Fall 2012 (with 156 LSAT/3.39 GPA medians).

(Hat Tip: Above the Law.)

Update:  News 8, Tuition on the Rise at Quinnipiac

August 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Accreditation Standards: Implementation and Next Steps

ABA Logo 2Following up on last week's post, ABA Approves Changes to Law School Accreditation Standards:

ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, Transition to and Implementation of the New Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools:

The Standards Review process was a major project, and now the Council, Accreditation Committee, staff, and law schools have another major undertaking in implementing what the Council has adopted. Faculties and staff will have to consider the ways in which the new Standards require action and changes to their program of legal education. For the Section, implementing and transitioning to the new Standards and Rules involves questions of timing; substantial work that will need to be done to the Site Evaluation Questionnaire (SEQ), Annual Questionnaire (AQ), and related documents; and education and training for schools, the Council and Accreditation Committee, and site evaluators.

The revised Standards (referred to here as the “new Standards”) and Rules became legally effective at the end of the ABA Annual Meeting on August 12, 2014. ...

While the new Standards and Rules are effective now, some of the new Standards will require changes that it will take schools time to make. It will also take time to integrate all of the changes into our systems and processes. In the past when a Standards change required a phase-in period or a delayed effective date, that has been done, and we will do that on this occasion as well.

With that background, the transition and implementation plan is ...

Dan Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern), What’s Next for ABA Standards Review?:

One suspects that the ABA Council is taking a deep breath, and perhaps also a victory lap, after several years in which it reviewed existing standards and made some meaningful reforms. Attention rightly shifts to the implementation of these reforms and, one hopes, to working constructively with law schools to best manage the burdens (and also the benefits) of these new standards.

But we should not lose sight of the fact that there is much more constructive work to do. The multiyear process just completed was described as a comprehensive one. Yet, the most comprehensive approach to reform would look freshly at all the rules in toto, asking simultaneously the questions: What is the fundamental purpose of law school regulation? How do the standards maintain public confidence in legal education while encouraging law schools to revisit their basic instructional and economic models, in light of the changing landscape for students, faculty, and lawyers? And how can these standards be framed as drivers of innovation and of creative reform, rather than as maintenance of a model of legal education that is coming under challenge, and from many quarters, as ill-suited to the needs, wants, and exigencies of the profession?

Drilling deep into these questions can assist the Council and its many stakeholders in opening the kind of dialogue that promises to lead, albeit not in the next few months or even couple years, to important change.

More specifically, the ABA Council might think in earnest about the following ...

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August 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Meet the Law Professor Who’s Crashing the Inversion Party

Following up on my previous posts (here and here):  Wall Street Journal, Meet the Law Professor Who’s Crashing the Inversion Party:

ShayHarvard Law School professor Stephen Shay may have single-handedly crashed the corporate inversion party.

The U.S. Treasury Department has in recent days begun weighing how it could use its power to write regulations that would eliminate some of the key economic benefits U.S. corporations get when they acquire a non-U.S. company.

Mr. Shay, who served for seven years in the Treasury during two different administrations and spent 22 years as a tax partner at Ropes & Gray LLP, appeared to be the first person to make the government aware of its powers to crack down on the advantageous tax treatment of inversions in an article published on July 29, 2014 in Tax Notes, a publication closely followed by tax professionals.

“I just started asking the question, ‘What could be done with regulation rather than legislation’,” Mr. Shay said in an interview.

His answers — in the article entitled Mr. Secretary, Take the Tax Juice Out of Corporate Expatriations — have sent chills through corporate boardrooms and the law firms that have been profiting off the recent merger mania.

August 18, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Welcome, Pepperdine 1Ls

Welcome to the Pepperdine 1Ls, beginning their legal education today with a week-long program put on by our new Parris Institute for Professional Formation, ably led by Al Sturgeon and Danny DeWalt.

LAUNCH WEEK 2014

August 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Who Killed Dan Markel?

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

New York Times Sunday Review:  Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain, by Daniel J. Levitin (McGill) (author, The Organized Mind (2014)):

Organized MindThis month, many Americans will take time off from work to go on vacation, catch up on household projects and simply be with family and friends. And many of us will feel guilty for doing so. We will worry about all of the emails piling up at work, and in many cases continue to compulsively check email during our precious time off.

But beware the false break. Make sure you have a real one. The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains. ...

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a reason: The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited. This is a result of how the brain’s attentional system evolved. Our brains have two dominant modes of attention: the task-positive network and the task-negative network (they’re called networks because they comprise distributed networks of neurons, like electrical circuits within the brain). The task-positive network is active when you’re actively engaged in a task, focused on it, and undistracted; neuroscientists have taken to calling it the central executive. The task-negative network is active when your mind is wandering; this is the daydreaming mode. These two attentional networks operate like a seesaw in the brain: when one is active the other is not. ...

Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

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August 17, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are You a Faculty of Hunters or a Faculty of Farmers?

Above the Law, Are You A Hunter Or A Farmer?:

David Maister, in his classic book Managing the Professional Firm, makes an observation that most professional firms fall into two categories: Farmers and Hunters.

Hunters

Traits

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August 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why Law School Rankings Matter More Than College, Business School, and Medical School Rankings

U.S. News (2015)Forbes, Why Law School Rankings Matter More Than Any Other Education Rankings:

[I]s all the hysteria warranted? Does a higher rank really guarantee better job prospects, higher salaries, and ultimately, a better life? The data says no…for the most part. While rankings are certainly helpful in a broad, directional sense, most of the obsession is groundless…with the exception of law school. At FindTheBest, we took a look at each major type of institution—undergraduate, business, medicine, and law—to see which rankings actually matter.

Undergraduate Rankings ... Conclusion: rankings don’t matter much
Business School Rankings ... Conclusion: rankings only matter a little, and can change quickly
Medical School Rankings ... Conclusion: rankings do matter, to a point, but residencies and concentrations should be your primary concern

Law School Rankings And so we finally arrive at law school, where as it turns out, rankings couldn’t be more important. For starters, consider that the top 14 schools in the nation have remained unchanged for 25 years—without a single new contender since US News started publishing law school rankings in 1989. Yes, the exact order among these 14 has changed a bit from year to year, but the top 14 (often abbreviated as the T14), has maintained its elite, unassailable status.

The T14’s dominance has created a year-after-year, self-fulfilling prophecy, where students covet these top institutions, the best professors desire to teach at these institutions, and law firms choose to hire from these institutions, essentially ensuring that the same group will remain the T14 for years to come. Employers admit that JDs from the T14 will be welcomed at law firms across the nation, while graduates of even the next best schools (like UCLA or Texas, perennially ranked between 15-20) will be much better off sticking to local markets.

Note how the top 14 schools claim the best employment rates in the nation:

The discrepancy is even more obvious if you look at employment at the largest, most desirable firms:

The T14 phenomenon has been around for decades, but recent trends in the legal market have exacerbated the situation. With an over-saturated pool of lawyers and law firms receiving an unprecedented number of applications, employers can be extremely picky, choosing only candidates guaranteed to be stellar. T14 graduates quickly snap up spots at the best employers, leaving lower-ranked law school graduates the smaller-firm crumbs.

Conclusion: rankings matter tremendously—a spot in a top 14 school is essential

So when it comes to most educational rankings, don’t worry so much about whether you’re attending the #1, #10, or even #50 school: students end up doing just as well, and there are often more important details to keep in mind. Don’t worry, that is, unless you’re going to law school, where it can make all the difference in the world.

Above the Law, Why You Absolutely Should Care About Law School Rankings

August 16, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)