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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Ugly Truth About What's Going Wrong In American Law Schools

UglyBloomberg, The Ugly Truth About What's Going Wrong in American Law Schools: With Test Scores and Bar-Passage Rates Falling, Academics Grope for Answers:

Are law students getting dumber, foreshadowing a future dip in the talents available to legal clients nationwide? Or are aspiring attorneys getting a bad rap?

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), the nonprofit that creates the multiple-choice portion of the test used by many states, goes with the diminished-intellect theory. "The group that sat [for bar exams] in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013," NCBE President Erica Moeser said in a blunt memo to law deans last October.

"That's just baloney," Brooklyn Law School's Dean Nick Allard tells me. An innovative leader scrambling to keep his venerable institution afloat in a shrinking legal job market, Allard alleges darkly that unnamed pooh-bahs are fixing the system to exclude his scrappy students. "It's a jaw-dropping story," he says. "The NCBE is a powerful testing organization with a web of financial interests that has an outsize role in determining the future careers of law school graduates." Tens of thousands of law school graduates, he adds, "are ripped off by the bar exam scam twice a year."

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April 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Burk: Much Heat, Some Light In Resurgent Law School Eschatology Debate

Bernie Burk (North Carolina), Much Heat, Some Light in Resurgent Law-School Eschatology Debate:

There has been a flareup in the debate over the purpose and value of law school.  The new discussion has been prompted by a series of posts by Michael Simkovic on Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports in which he summarizes and elaborates on his work with Frank McIntyre in two recent articles, The Economic Value of a Law Degree and Timing Law School. (You can get Mike’s complete set of posts—there are, by my count, 14—on Leiter’s blog by starting here (posted March 19) and scrolling up.  Paul Caron has collected links to commentary on the commentary from both sides of the debate here, not all of which are subject to the objection I register below.) ...

[A]nyone with any intellectual honesty must appreciate the importance of Mike Simkovic’s recent contributions to the ongoing public discussion on the purpose and value of legal education.  His work ...  is by my lights the first serious, empirically grounded, methodologically thoughtful showing that things—at least some things for at least some people—may not be quite as bad as some of us have feared.

Predictably, extremists on both sides of this longstanding debate have popped up to demonize or deify Prof. Simkovic and his work, vilifying or vaunting his motives and methods in sweeping and categorical terms.  I have only one request of all of you—please stop.  Stop the toxic name-calling.  Stop erecting effigies of your adversaries’ graves so you can dance on them.  The subject is much too important to be obscured in petty rivalries.  You’re not enlightening anyone, and it’s way too early to claim a victory lap, let alone drag your enemy in circles at the back of your chariot for the next nine days.  (I, at least, perceive Mike as having managed to hold himself mostly above the fray thus far, with only an occasional descent into the snippy or snide when goaded a bit too much.  But that happens to all of us now and then—not least, I regret to say, your not altogether gentle scribe.  I hope we’ll both try harder from here on out.)

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April 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Smartest People Are Opting Out of Law School

Following up on Tuesday's post, Organ Projects 2.6% Decline in Fall 2015 1L Enrollment, With 12.4% Decline in 165+ LSATs, 4.1% Increase in < 150 LSATs:  Bloomberg, The Smartest People Are Opting Out of Law School:

American law schools have a brain drain problem. Fewer people with high Law School Admission Test scores are applying to and enrolling in law school, and less-qualified students are filling their slots, new research shows.

As schools grapple with a persistent slump in young Americans’ interest in legal education, the programs seem to be compensating for their sudden unpopularity by taking in people who wouldn’t have made the cut five years ago. As of March 2015, about half as many students with scores of 165 and above on the LSAT have applied to law school as did in 2010, according to a new analysis of the latest numbers from the Law School Admission Council, which administers the test. LSAT scores range from 120 to 180. Applications from students with lower scores are falling, too, but not nearly as sharply, as the second chart below shows.

Bloomberg 1

The disenchantment with law school on the part of the people most likely to get in shows up in the classroom head count, too: Around 5,400 people with the highest scores will enroll in law school this year, down from 9,400 in 2010, according to Jerome Organ, the University of St. Thomas School of Law professor who parsed the numbers. 

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Catholic University Turns To Buyouts, Layoffs In Wake Of $10 Million Law School Revenue Shortfall

Catholic Logo (2015)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Washington Post, Catholic University Turns to Buyouts and Layoffs to Cut Spending:

Catholic University, a school with direct ties to the Vatican, is trimming staff through layoffs and buyouts because of financial pressures. It is the third private university in the nation’s capital to disclose layoffs in recent weeks.

Thirty-seven positions were cut from a full-time staff of about 1,300, a Catholic spokesman confirmed Thursday. About two-thirds of those affected took voluntary buyouts, and the rest were laid off.

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Law Review Symposium Today On International Arbitration And The Courts

Brochure 2I am sitting in on a wonderful Pepperdine Law Review symposium on International Arbitration and the Courts, organized by my friends and colleagues Trey Childress and Jack Coe. There is an all-star cast of speakers, including George Bermann (Columbia), Andrea Bjorklund (McGill), Christopher Drahoal (Kansas), Alan Rau (Texas), Jan Schaefer (King & Spalding, Frankfurt), Maxi Scherer (Queen Mary University of London), Abby Cohen Smutny (White & Case, Washington, D.C.), and Jarrod Wong (McGeorge). You can view the live stream here.

April 17, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Welcome To Your First Year As A Lawyer. Your Salary Is $160,000.

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book, Welcome to Your First Year as a Lawyer. Your Salary Is $160,000.:

Salaries for lawyers starting out at firms have remained flat, with an annual pay of $160,000 continuing to be the top of the market, according to a new survey from the National Association for Law Placement. [First-Year Associate Salaries at Large Law Firms Have Become Less Homogenous, Though $160,000 Continues to Define the Top of the Market].

Some 39 percent of the largest firms — those with 700 lawyers or more — reported paying that amount in the association’s 2015 law associates’ salary survey. This was up from last year, when only 27 percent of the big firms reported paying their new legal hires at the uppermost level. But the percentage was still below 2009, when nearly two-thirds of the first-year salaries were at the top point of $160,000. [Click on chart to enlarge.]


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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

David Han And Greg McNeal Receive Pepperdine Faculty Scholarship Award

Congratulations to my friends and colleagues David Han and Greg McNeal, recipients of Pepperdine Law School's 2015 Dean's Award For Excellence in Scholarship for their outstanding 2014 publications:

HanDavid Han:

Courts generally craft speech-tort jurisprudence as a binary proposition. Any time state tort law and the First Amendment come into potential conflict, courts typically hold either that the First Amendment comes into play and the defendant is completely exempt from traditional tort liability, or that it does not come into play and the plaintiff is entitled to the full complement of tort remedies. In other words, courts generally adopt an unspoken assumption that in speech-tort cases, liability and full tort remedies necessarily go hand-in-hand.

This rigid approach, however, significantly limits courts’ ability to craft a nuanced balance between First Amendment and tort interests. In individual cases, it forces them to choose only one set of interests to be vindicated to the complete exclusion of the other, and on a jurisprudential level, it gives courts only the bluntest of instruments to tailor speech-tort doctrine to widely varying facts. Furthermore, the current approach exacerbates the distributional problem inherent to speech-tort cases: any time the First Amendment intervenes to completely invalidate a subset of common law tort liability, plaintiffs left without liability or remedy are effectively forced to subsidize the costs of free speech, the benefits of which are shared broadly by the public at large.

In this Article, I argue that courts should incorporate a greater degree of remedial flexibility into speech-tort doctrine. Rather than simply adhere to an all-or-nothing approach, courts should consider intermediate approaches in which the First Amendment applies not to vitiate a finding of tort liability but merely to limit or eliminate the damages to which plaintiffs are entitled. These approaches allow courts to shape the complex balance of speech and tort interests with a scalpel rather than a chain saw, both on a case-by-case basis and on the broader level of doctrinal design.

In recent years, this remedy-based approach to speech-tort jurisprudence has rarely been discussed by courts and commentators, while the shadow cast by the First Amendment over tort law has expanded well beyond the defamation context. This calcification of a rigid, binary approach to speech tort cases represents a significant lost opportunity for courts to design more sensible and equitable doctrines. By providing a detailed account of the benefits underlying the use of flexible remedies, evaluating potential critiques to such an approach, and laying out concrete examples of what a remedy-based regime might look like in practice, this Article seeks to rekindle judicial, legislative, and academic interest in adopting such approaches within speech-tort doctrine.

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Loyola-L.A. Law School Shrinks Enrollment By 20%, Taps $20 Million From University Endowment For Student Scholarships

Loyola-L.A. Logo (2013)Los Angeles Loyolan, LMU Approves Special Payout for Loyola Law:

Law school enrollment has seen a dramatic decline in the last five years. Since hitting its peak of 52,488 in 2010, enrollment at U.S. law schools has steadily fallen, plummeting to 37,924 this year, according to the ABA. Law schools around the country have adopted various strategies in order to deal with this 27.7 percent decrease.

Loyola Law School (LLS) has seized this opportunity to restructure and intentionally get smaller. LMU has also approved an approximately $20 million special payout from the University’s endowment towards student scholarships at the law school. ...

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Moody's: Rich Colleges and Universities Are Getting a Lot Richer

Moody'sWashington Post, Rich Colleges and Universities Are Getting a Lot Richer, Study Finds:

The 10 richest universities in America hold nearly a third of the total wealth, in cash and investments, amassed by about 500 public and private institutions. The 40 richest hold almost two-thirds of the total wealth.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Culture of Cheating' Prevalent at Stanford, Other Elite Colleges

LogoLos Angeles Times, Colleges Grapple With Cheating in the Digital Age:

Stanford University's honor code dates to 1921, written by students to help guide them through the minefield of plagiarism, forbidden collaboration, copying and other chicaneries that have tempted undergraduates since they first arrived on college campuses.

Exams aren't proctored, and students are expected to police themselves and speak up when they see others committing violations.

But there appears to have been a massive breakdown during the recent winter quarter, culminating in "an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty" reported to officials, according to a letter to faculty from Provost John Etchemendy.

"Among a smattering of concerns from a number of winter courses, one faculty member reported allegations that may involve as many as 20% of the students in one large, introductory course," Etchemendy said in the March 24 letter. ...

Although the Stanford allegations may have surprised some, for many others they cemented the belief that a culture of cheating pervades higher education. Harvard, Dartmouth, the Air Force Academy and other prominent institutions have recently grappled with allegations of large-scale cheating.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

North Carolina Law Review Festschrift In Honor Of Bill Turnier

TurnierJohn Charles Borger (Dean, North Carolina), An Issue in Tribute to a Splendid Career William J. Turnier: UNC Law Colleague, 1973–2014, 93 N.C. L. Rev. 643 (2015):

It is not every senior faculty member whose fondest wish upon retirement is less a dinner hosted in his honor or a public celebration in the Rotunda of Van Hecke-Wettach, but rather an issue of the North Carolina Law Review devoted to tax scholarship. Yet it seems completely fitting that William J. Turnier, a member of the University of North Carolina law faculty for the past forty-one years, has acquiesced in the tribute that appears in these pages, a series of tax articles his scholarly colleagues have assembled in this issue of the Review to mark his departure from full-time academic life. ...

There is always some sadness in watching the departure from our halls of learning of someone who has built such a rich career and commanded such gratitude from more than two generations of students. Yet Bill Turnier’s impact on Carolina Law will remain, and by suggesting this special issue, designed in tribute to his chosen field, Bill has afforded us one last gift that will endure as long as readers strive to read, research, and understand law and its potential for ordering the commonweal.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Georgetown Launches 'Low Bono' Law Firm With DLA Piper, Arent Fox

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Dozen University of Texas Law Profs Are Victims of Tax Identity Theft

Texas LawAustin American-Statesman, UT Law School Faculty Members Fall Victim to ID Theft, Tax Scam:

University of Texas officials are investigating whether a data breach may have led to the identity theft of at least a dozen Law School faculty members who appear to be victims of a tax scam.

The identity theft was discovered when faculty members attempted to file their federal tax returns only to have the Internal Revenue Service reject the submissions, stating that their returns had already been filed, Law School spokesman Christopher Roberts said Tuesday.

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April 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call for Book Reviews: Michigan Law Review

Michigan The Michigan Law Review has asked me to post its solicitation of book reviews for its 2016 Survey of Books Related to the Law:

The Michigan Law Review publishes an Annual Survey of Books. These book reviews are not included in any other issue of the Law Review. Typically, the Survey includes only reviews of books published in the past year. The Volume 114 Book Review issue will be published in spring 2016.

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April 15, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Temperature Rises In Law School Crisis Debate

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (31)

Organ Projects 2.6% Decline in Fall 2015 1L Enrollment, With 12.4% Decline in 165+ LSATs, 4.1% Increase in <150 LSATs

The Legal Whiteboard:  Projections for Law School Enrollment for Fall 2015, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

This blog posting is designed to do three things.  First, following up on recent discussions regarding trends in applicants by Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge and Derek Muller at Excess of Democracy, I provide a detailed analysis to project the likely total applicant pool we can expect at the end of the cycle based on trends from March through the end of the cycle in 2013 and 2014 [54,000, down 3.1% from 2014].  Second, using the likely total pool of applicants, I estimate the number of admitted students and matriculants, but also question whether the estimates might be too high given the decline in quality of the applicant pool in this cycle [36,975, down 2.6% from 2014].  Third, building on the second point, I suggest that law schools in the lower half of the top tier are likely to see unusual enrollment/profile pressure that may then have a ripple effect down through the rankings.

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tacha: Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?

Deanell Reece Tacha (Dean, Pepperdine), Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 729 (2014):

You are the people who must be the spokespersons for the enduring and essential need for well-trained lawyers who can guide the nation and the world through the challenging and exciting issues and disputes that lie ahead. The lawyers’ ability to focus on germane issues, negotiate reasoned practical resolutions, and settle and litigate disputes, will be in high demand in this complex society. The debate about the value of legal education goes to the core of our understanding of what it is to prepare legal professionals for a world we cannot see with any particularity. That is what lawyers do. What we must foresee clearly, is that the legacy of freedom and of people governed by the rule of law is our highest calling and the source of our professional responsibility. The modes of delivering legal services, and even the understanding of what is a legal service, will change. What will not change is the need for lawyers who are problem solvers, client servers, articulators of the American ideal of self-government, models of the rule of law, and servants of the common good. We will always need lawyer-patriots.

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 13, 2015

HeinOnline Law Faculty Scholarly Influence Rankings

HeinMy colleague Rob Anderson blogs the new HeinOnline faculty scholarship rankings called ScholarCheck, which counts how often your articles have been:

  • Cited in cases
  • Cited in law review articles
  • Accessed on HeinOnline over the past 12 months

Rob notes that measuring the number of times each author's papers have been accessed on HeinoOnline "reduce[s] the 'lag time' between the time a scholar is active and the time that citations accumulate."

Your ScholarCheck ranking is the average of your ranking in each of these three categories.  HeinOnline has released the Top 250 Authors; individual faculty rankings outside the Top 250 are available here.

Two tax professors are in the Top 250:

Kaplow, Louis:

Cited by Cases 23 (Rank 1703)
Cited By Articles 3285 (Rank 80)
Accessed (Past 12 Months) 1219 (Rank 191)
Scholar Check Rank 213

Asimow, Michael:

Cited by Cases 45 (Rank 649)
Cited By Articles 747 (Rank 1002)
Accessed (Past 12 Months) 860 (Rank 421)
Scholar Check Rank 233

Here are the Top 50 law faculty authors:

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April 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kerr: New (And Free) Legal Research Tool From Google

Google Scholar (2015)Orin Kerr (George Washington), New (and Free) Legal Research Tool:

If you use the Google Chrome browser, and you do legal research online, you should add the new Google Scholar Button to your browser. It’s really easy to do. Just click here and add the button. At that point you can use the button to research academic articles using Google Scholar’s database.


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April 13, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Saturday, April 11, 2015

75% of Harvard Law Students Do Not Matriculate Right Out Of College

Harvard Crimson, Law School Admissions ‘Actively Preferences’ Work Experience:

In the last five years, work experience has played an increasing role in Harvard Law School admissions.


In 2009, 40 percent of Harvard Law School’s entering class, according to data provided the school’s Admissions Office, arrived directly from their senior year of college, maybe even still sporting the odd T-shirt from last year’s big rivalry football game.

It was the continuation of a years-long trend: From 2005 to 2009, between 39 and 45 percent of each incoming class were just recently undergraduates, with the remainder having spent at least one year working or studying elsewhere. But the next year, in 2010, the young students matriculating straight from undergrad only constituted 28 percent of the entering Law School class. More than two-thirds had post-graduate experience.

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April 11, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Merritt: Law School Statistics

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Law School Statistics:

Earlier this week, I noted that even smart academics are misled by the manner in which law schools traditionally reported employment statistics. Steven Solomon, a very smart professor at Berkeley’s law school, was misled by the “nesting” of statistics on NALP’s employment report for another law school.

Now Michael Simkovic, another smart law professor, has proved the point again. Simkovic rather indignantly complains that Kyle McEntee “suggests incorrectly that The New York Times reported Georgetown’s median private sector salary without providing information on what percentage of the class or of those employed were working in the private sector.” But it is Simkovic who is incorrect–and, once again, it seems to be because he was misled by the manner in which law schools report some of their employment and salary data. ...

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April 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

NY Times: Past Drug Charges Derail a Law Student’s Education

New York Times, Past Drug Charges Derail a Law Student’s Education:

David Powers came out of a drug rehabilitation program about 15 years ago hungry to swing his life in a significantly different direction. And that he did.

He went back to college and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. He was hired at a major accounting firm, worked in senior positions at three hedge funds, and was accepted to the law school at St. John’s University.

Mr. Powers still calls the day of his arrest, when he was pulled off a destructive path, the “best day of my life.”

Halfway through his coursework, while trying to get ahead on his application to the bar, he acknowledged to St. John’s how far he had come. Not only had he been convicted of drug possession, a fact he disclosed on his application, but he had also originally been charged with selling drugs, a fact he had not. St. John’s then rescinded his acceptance — kicked him out — saying that if it had known his complete history, it would never have admitted him in the first place.

Mr. Powers sued the school, taking the case all the way to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Last week, the court handed down the final word in a 5-to-1 decision: Mr. Powers would not return to St. John’s.

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April 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Muller: Number Of Law School Applicants Has Bottomed Out, But Quality Of Applicants Continues To Plummet

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), The Wrong Sort of Law School Applicants, Visualized:

There's good news and bad news for law schools. The good news is that total law school applicants appear to be reaching the bottom. After projections last year that the worst may be yet to come, it appears that the Class of 2018 will have only slightly fewer applicants than the Class of 2017. Current projections are about a 2.8-point drop in applicants, and that gap may narrow if recent trends of late applicants continue. ...


But the bad news is [] the quality of the applicants. In short, the wrong sort of applicants are applying. ... 

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law Students

Dan Kahan (Yale), David Hoffman (Temple), Danieli Evans (Yale), Neal Devins (William & Mary), Eugene Lucci (Judge. Ohio Court of Common Pleas) & Katherine Cheng (Yale), 'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment, 163 U. Pa. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

This paper reports the results of a study on whether political predispositions influence judicial decisionmaking. The study was designed to overcome the two principal limitations on existing empirical studies that purport to find such an influence: the use of nonexperimental methods to assess the decisions of actual judges; and the failure to use actual judges in ideologically-biased-reasoning experiments. The study involved a sample of sitting judges (n = 253), who, like members of a general public sample (n = 800), were culturally polarized on climate change, marijuana legalization and other contested issues. When the study subjects were assigned to analyze statutory interpretation problems, however, only the responses of the general-public subjects and not those of the judges varied in patterns that reflected the subjects’ cultural values. The responses of a sample of lawyers (n = 217) were also uninfluenced by their cultural values; the responses of a sample of law students (n = 284), in contrast, displayed a level of cultural bias only modestly less pronounced than that observed in the general-public sample. Among the competing hypotheses tested in the study, the results most supported the position that professional judgment imparted by legal training and experience confers resistance to identity-protective cognition — a dynamic associated with politically biased information processing generally — but only for decisions that involve legal reasoning. The scholarly and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Wall Street Journal Law Bog, Study: Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law School Students:

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Rules San Diego's Law Prof's Blog Post Was Not Defamatory

MartinNational Law Journal, Law Prof’s Blog Post Was Not Defamatory, Court Rules:

A San Diego law professor did not defame the plaintiff in a disability-benefits lawsuit when he blogged about her case in 2012, a California appellate court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the state Fourth District Court of Appeal on April 2 affirmed dismissal of Melanie Welch’s suit against Shaun Martin [right], a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, dean Stephen Ferruolo and the university itself.

Martin maintains a blog about decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and California appellate courts.

The court found that the information in Martin’s Jan. 31, 2012, post about the court’s decision in Welch’s lawsuit against the California State Teachers’ Retirement System was pulled directly from the ruling or clearly identifiable as his opinion.

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lat, Diamond Debate The Law School Crisis

Washington Post op-ed:  Law School Is Way Too Expensive. And Only The Federal Government Can Fix That., by David Lat:

There’s no shortage of lawyers in this country. Only 57 percent of 2013 law school graduates obtained full-time legal jobs nine months after graduation. Yet the federal government subsidizes the production of even more lawyers by lending the cost of attendance to basically anyone who decides to enroll in law school, without regard for the quality of the school or the job prospects of its graduates. A student going to Harvard Law School, where 86.9 percent of 2013 grads had full-time legal jobs, has the same access to federal funds as a student going to Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where just 22.9 percent of 2013 grads work as lawyers.

This policy is hurting students. Federally subsidized loans have enabled law school tuition to spiral out of control. As noted by Professor Paul Campos, “[i]n real, inflation-adjusted terms, tuition at private American law schools has doubled over the past 20 years, tripled over the past 30, and quadrupled over the past 40,” and resident tuition at public law schools has climbed even faster. So long as the federal loans keep coming, tuition is unlikely to stop rising. In the words of Professor Brian Tamanaha author of  Failing Law Schools, “Federal loans are an irresistible (and life-sustaining) drug for revenue addicted law schools … law schools have been ramping up tuition and enrollment without restraint thanks to an obliging federal loan program.”

If the government were to stop lending for law school or even just impose per-student or per-school caps on loan amounts (perhaps combined with making it easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy), law schools would have to dramatically lower tuition, in order to attract students. There would be no other way for most students to finance their education. (And many law schools are already struggling to fill their seats.) Private lenders might step into the breach – but carefully, because banks have a stronger interest than the government in actually getting repaid. Private lenders would focus on borrowers going to law schools with strong job placement records. And if banks are unwilling to lend to all law students, that’s further proof that the market produces too many lawyers.

Stephen F. Diamond (Santa Clara), Washington Post Feeds the Anti-Law School Myth Making Again:

Above the Law’s David Lat was let into the pages of the Washington Post today in an attempt to feed the beast of myth making about law school. This is becoming a bit of a habit at the Post which recently allowed one of its own columnists to mislead the public about law schools as I explained here. Perhaps it’s the influence of their new owner, Jeff Bezos, known to lean libertarian.

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 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 April 1, 2015) 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):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)


Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


William Byrnes (T. Jefferson)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


James Hines (Michigan)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



David Walker (BU)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)


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.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dr. Joe Bankman: Stanford Tax Prof Uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Law Student Stress

BankmanStanford Report, Stanford Law Professor Creates New Way to Help Students Deal With the Stress Of It All:

Six years ago, Joe Bankman, a professor at Stanford Law School, wanted to broaden his legal scholarship.  So in his spare time, he went back to school to train as a clinical psychologist.

"I never intended to quit my day job," he said.  "But my scholarship and policy work were venturing into behavioral psychology and the law, and I wanted to understand more about human behavior."

Bankman decided to enroll in the Palo Alto University/Stanford School of Medicine joint PsyD (doctor of psychology) program, for which he is currently completing an internship in his fifth and final year.   

But while Bankman went into the program with scholarship and policy projects in mind, he came out of it with another goal as well.

"I have all these brilliant students whom I can help by giving them some useful knowledge and improving their analytical skills.  But, as I came to realize over the years, if they crash and burn it will not be because they lack these necessary skills.  It will be because they lack emotional resilience to cope with the stresses and challenges of a demanding professional career.  Like millions of others, they need help with anxiety and, for some, depression," he said.

So Bankman launched a pilot project on emotional health among law students.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

MIT Law School: Legal Education in the 21st Century

Daniel Martin Katz (Michigan State), The MIT School of Law? A Perspective on Legal Education in the 21st Century, 2014 Ill. L. Rev. 1431  (slides here):

MITDespite some of the blustery rhetoric attendant to the ongoing market transition, lawyers and the market for legal services are not going away. Lawyers serve integral roles in a wide variety of social and political systems. Their work supports the proper functioning of markets and helps individuals and organizations vindicate their respective rights. At the same time, the processes associated with completing their work — as well as the contours of their respective expertise and judgment — are already changing. These changes are being driven by a number of economic and technological trends, many of which Larry Ribstein identified in a series of important articles published in the years before his untimely death.

This Essay is offered as part of a symposium honoring the work of the late Larry Ribstein. This Essay is a thought exercise about a hypothetical MIT School of Law — an institution with the type of curriculum that might help prepare students to have the appropriate level of substantive legal expertise and other useful skills that will allow them to deliver value to their clients as well as develop and administer the rules governing markets, politics, and society as we move further into the 21st Century. It is a blueprint based upon the best available information, and like any other plan of action would need to be modified to take stock of shifting realities over time. It is not a solution for all of legal education. Instead, it is a targeted description of an institution and its substantive content that could compete very favorably in the existing and future market. It is a depiction of an institution whose students would arguably be in high demand. It is a high-level sketch of an institution that would be substantively relevant, appropriately practical, theoretically rigorous and world class.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tax Teachers of the Year


The AALS has released the names of Teachers of the Year (2013-14) at their respective law schools. The Tax Prof Teachers of the Year are Joshua Blank (NYU), Jeffrey Maine (Maine), and Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane).

April 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Simkovic: The Choice Of Whether Or Not To Go To Law School -- Compared To What?

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Compared to What?:

The choice of whether or not to go to law school is always a choice between law school and the next best alternative.  College graduates do not vanish from the face of the earth if they choose not to go to law school.  They still must find work, continue their education, or find some other source of financial support. 

The question everyone who decides not to go to law school, and every critic of law schools, must answer is—what else out there is better?* 

To enable prospective students to compare law school to the next best alternative, we need standardized measurements that apply to both law school and alternatives to law school. ...

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The NY Times and Deceptive Law School Statistics

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on last week's post, NY Times: Law Schools and Legal Industry Show Signs of Life, Despite Forecasts of Doom:  Kyle McEntee (Executive Director, Law School Transparency), Deceptive Statistics 101, Courtesy Of A Law Professor And The New York Times:

The New York Times published an irresponsible column yesterday by Steven Solomon, a law professor at Berkeley. Solomon starts off on the right foot: he acknowledges that the recent drop in law school applications “is partly a problem of the schools’ own making” because schools previously “fudged the numbers on graduates’ employment.”

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shepard: The Crisis In American Legal Education

Randall T. Shepard (Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court; Chair, ABA Task Force on The Future of Legal Education), 'Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?': The Crisis In American Legal Education--A Challenge For The Whole Profession, 40 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 679 (2014):

The broad outlines of the current distress in legal education are visible, even in the public press: rising tuition, growing student debt, poor job prospects, and falling enrollment. It is a perfect storm, if you will, in a profession that is not accustomed to such storms.

To begin to understand it, one really must consider the multiple elements of the profession facing genuine crises. I will describe how this present set of challenges reflects on various parts of the profession, before I say why I think they are happening and where it is we might want to look for answers. I will start, because they deserve it, by describing what confronts new graduates from law schools.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

South Dakota Seeks to Hire Tax Clinic Director

South Dakota 2The University of South Dakota School of Law seeks to hire a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Director:

The position is non-tenure track and paid out of a federal grant beginning July 2015. Continued employment is contingent on availability of grant funding.

The Director will lead the only LITC in South Dakota. Responsibilities will include representing low-income taxpayers before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court, teaching and supervising clinical law students in the representation of clients, engaging in outreach to South Dakota communities, developing and coordinating a panel of pro bono attorneys, managing the LITC's docket, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of an IRS-funded LITC.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saving Appalachian Law School, But Hurting The Town

Appalachian LogoInside Higher Ed, Saving the Law School, Hurting the Town:

Appalachian School of Law, in the coalfields town of Grundy, Va., is struggling as much as any law school amid a plunge in applicants.

Last year, the stand-alone law school had an entering class of 48 students, down from 146 students in 2011. There has also been an exodus of professors and, as of now, there are at most eight professors on staff -- some say fewer -- to teach next fall.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Vermont Law School Contributes $30.5 Million in Direct Expenditures, 376 Jobs to State Economy

VermontVermont Law School, faced with a 25% enrollment decline since 2011 (from 566 to 424) and  a decline in the credentials of its entering 1L class since 2011 (median LSAT from 154 to 152, 25th percentile LSAT from 151 to 146), has issued a press release, Study: Vermont Law School Contributes $30.5 Million in Direct Expenditures, 376 jobs to Vermont Economy (April 1, 2015):

Vermont Law School contributed $30.5 million in direct expenditures to the Vermont economy and generated 376 jobs in 2014, reports a study detailing the economic impact of the institution released today by VLS [Economic Impact of the Vermont Law School on the Vermont State Economy].

Prepared by Nicolas O. Rockler of Belmont, Mass.-based Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC, the in-depth study covers direct expenditures and secondary impact estimates based on a model created by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) of Amherst, Mass. The REMI model incorporates current economic data with a theoretical framework from which to develop secondary impact estimates.

"This economic impact study reinforces what we've long known about Vermont Law School's role in the Vermont economy," said VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly. "We provided detailed accounting data to best inform the study. We are a small school, but our impact on the Vermont economy is great—far greater than what typically would be expected from an institution of our size, according to the report."

Economic Impact of the Vermont Law School on the Vermont State Economy:

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School

HybridCNBC, Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School:

Law schools will never be the same thanks to a Minnesota law school which went up against the American Bar Association and won.

The William Mitchell College of Law applied to the ABA for permission to design a hybrid online program to students. In an unprecedented move, the ABA approved it.

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Academic Analytics for Law Schools

Academic AnalyticsCarissa Byrne Hessick (Utah), Contemplating Academic Analytics for Law Schools:

There is a recent trend in higher education to standardize assessment of faculty’s academic achievement across disciplines.  For example, a company called Academic Analytics markets itself as providing university administrators “with objective data that administrators can use . . . as a method for benchmarking in comparison to other institutions.”  As its website explains, it measures productivity and excellence by quantifying:

  1. the publication of scholarly work as books and journal articles
  2. citations to published journal articles
  3. research funding by federal agencies
  4. honorific awards bestowed upon faculty members

Because it is seeking to assess academics generally, the metrics that Academic Analytics uses are not necessarily well suited to assessing law faculty. ... Looking at the academic analytic metrics, I’m contemplating how it is that one might attempt to construct an instrument that would assess law faculty productivity and excellence. ... I’ll share some preliminary thoughts about what those metrics might look like in a future post.

For my perspective, see:

See also Patrick Arthur Woods, Stop Counting (Or At Least Count Better):

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April 6, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Law School Social Network

Twitter (2014)Following up on my previous post, Law Prof Twitter Rankings:  Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), The Law School Network & Legal Network Analysis:

I thought I’d start things off with another interactive network and a discussion of networks more generally. The network below (click-through the image for an interactive version) is an alternate projection of the law prof twitter network. I’ve taken the law prof follower relations and changed the unit of analysis to the school that each prof teaches at. This shows us an electronic social network of law schools. Schools that are strongly linked in this network have a lot of profs following one another on twitter. The larger a school’s node, the more influential it is (as gauged by twitter followers) in the law prof social media world.

Twitter Network

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dan Markel's Father Speaks To The Media For The First Time About His Son's Murder

MarkelDaily Mail, EXCLUSIVE: 'I Have My Own Theory About Who Killed My Son.' Father of Harvard-Educated Professor Shot in the Head in His Own Garage by Mystery Gunman Finally Speaks Out:

The father of a top law professor who was shot dead at his home has spoken for the first time at his family's 'frustration' that his son's killer has yet to be caught.

It is almost eight months since Dan Markel was gunned down in an execution style killing as he sat in his car in the garage of his home in Florida.

The 41-year-old father of two young sons, who worked at Florida State University, was shot in the head.

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April 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Two William Mitchell Law Profs Sue Over Abrogation of Tenure in Merger With Hamline Law School

MitchellFollowing up on my previous post, William Mitchell and Hamline Law Schools to Merge Amidst Enrollment Declines:  Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Merging Law Schools Causes Tenure Fight at William Mitchell:

Two professors at William Mitchell College of Law have accused the school of proposing unacceptable changes to its tenure policy in order to cut faculty in a planned merger with another law school.

MoyRadsanProfessors Carl Moy and John Radsan filed their complaint Friday in Ramsey County District Court. The complaint asks the court to rule that the school’s attempt to amend its tenure code is a breach of contract. ...

“Defendant’s proposed amendment would alter the tenure code so that it would deny otherwise-tenured faculty ‘tenure’…,” the suit said. “Defendant would be able to terminate a tenured faculty member without adequate cause …”

The professors’ complaint alleges that Mitchell couldn’t find enough faculty to voluntarily retire or take part-time positions in order to cut the school’s staffing in time for the merger, so officials proposed amending its tenure code to facilitate the dismissal of more instructors.

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April 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Economist: America's Flagging Higher Education System

Economist Logo (2015)The Economist, More and More Money Is Being Spent on Higher Education. Too Little Is Known About Whether It Is Worth It:

America’s early and lasting enthusiasm for higher education has given it the biggest and best-funded system in the world. Hardly surprising, then, that other countries are emulating its model as they send ever more of their school-leavers to get a university education. But, as our special report argues, just as America’s system is spreading, there are growing concerns about whether it is really worth the vast sums spent on it.


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April 4, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, April 3, 2015

L.A. Magazine Profile: Eugene Volokh

VolokhLos Angeles Magazine, Right Side of the Law: Eugene Volokh’s Global Influence:

The wunderkind-turned-law professor is that L.A. anomaly: an influential conservative blogger 

Even though he’s 47, Volokh still exudes a smartest-kid-in-the-classroom vibe. He first came to local prominence when the Los Angeles Times profiled him in 1980 in a feature story that ran under the headline “ ‘Gifted’ 12-Year-Old Math Genius Is UCLA’s Youngest Undergrad.” Now, after two decades as a law professor at his alma mater, he’s emerged as one of the nation’s leading constitutional scholars. He’s also become a leading conservative and libertarian legal theorist, establishing himself as one of the few Angelenos to play a prominent role in hard-right political circles. Volokh writes prolifically—law review articles, op-ed essays, legal textbooks—but it’s his Web presence that has earned him the most recognition. Founded in 2002, The Volokh Conspiracy is among the oldest and most widely read legal blogs in the country. The site’s mainstream reach expanded dramatically after the left-leaning Washington Post started carrying it on its Web site last year, and its impact extends far beyond its 22,500 unique visitors per weekday. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is said to be a regular reader. ...

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April 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rutgers Board Approves Merger of Camden, Newark Law Schools, Pending ABA Approval

Rutgers Law SchoolsFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Press Release, Rutgers Board of Governors Approves Merger of Two Law Schools with Distinct Locations Pending ABA Approval:

The Rutgers Board of Governors today approved the merger of the two Rutgers law schools into one unified law school with two distinct locations in Camden and Newark, contingent upon  approval by the American Bar Association. ...  ...

Rutgers Law School will employ a robust faculty of 100 scholars. ... With more than 1,000 students drawn from across the country, Rutgers Law School also will be among the nation’s largest law schools, yet it will boast a student-faculty ratio on par with other leading public law schools.

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April 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weil Gotshal's April Fools' Memo Promising Better Work/Life Balance For Associates By Banning Late Night and Vacation Email Backfires

WeilWeil, Gotshal & Manges sent this firm-wide memo announcing an Important New Email Policy on April 1, promising a better embrace work/life balance for associates:

Reports that both France and Germany have either considered or adopted workplace rules that ban emails to employees after their work hours have caused us to examine our own workplace and the impact that being “always on” has on our employees and their families. All studies we have seen point to reduced productivity. The issues are exacerbated in an international firm like Weil where offices span many different time zones. In Europe, there has been discussion of shutting down email for all from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. We have decided not to go that far, but effective May 1, 2015, the following rules will be in effect, implemented by software in each office:

(1) Email will not be transmitted between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. This will be implemented in the local time zone for each Weil office. This will be the default email setting, subject to opt-outs as described below.

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April 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)