TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Taking Law School Mission Statements Seriously

Irene Scharf (Massachusetts) & Vanessa Merton (Pace), "Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It . . .": Taking Law School Mission Statements Seriously, 56 Washburn L.J. 289 (2017):

[W]e have constructed a Word Cloud showcasing the key themes embodied in these statements. Take a look.


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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

WKRP in Cincinnati Thanksgiving Turkey Drop

November 23, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

What Tax Profs Are Thankful For

  • ThanksgivingBryan Camp (Texas Tech):  "I am thankful for being able to recognize the joy that comes in life. It’s not always a happy journey, but the bad parts help me appreciate the good."
  • Paul Caron (Pepperdine):  "I am thankful for the incredible opportunity to serve in my new role at this wonderful institution."
  • Bridget Crawford (Pace):  "I am thankful for the health care professionals at the Cleveland Clinic and the Hospice of the Western Reserve who have cared for my family members. I’m also thankful for librarians, hard copy books, my co-authors and co-editors."
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU):  "More than ever, I'm thankful for the checks and balance in our Constitution."
  • David Hasen (Florida):  "I am thankful for John 3:16 ('For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.')."

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

Oxford Sued Over Grades By Student Who Didn't Get Into Yale Law School

OxfordyaleBloomberg, Oxford Sued Over Grades by Student Who Didn't Get Into Yale:

Lawyers for an Oxford graduate who is suing the university over his “disappointing” exam grades nearly two decades ago told a London court Tuesday that he missed out on going to law school in the U.S. because of his results.

Faiz Siddiqui, who received a 2:1 degree, the second-highest grade available, says in a submission to the court that he received poor teaching for one of his papers.

“While a 2:1 degree from Oxford might rightly seem like a tremendous achievement to most, it fell significantly short of Mr. Siddiqui’s expectations and was, to him, a huge disappointment,” his lawyers said in court filings.

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

University Of Arkansas To Permit Firing Of Tenured Faculty For Lack Of Collegiality

Arkansas LogoFollowing up on last month's post, University Of Arkansas To Change Tenure Policy To Permit Firing Of Faculty For Lack Of Collegiality

Chronicle of Higher Education, When ‘Collegiality’ and Evaluating Faculty Collide:

Faculty members typically must meet standards related to their research, teaching, and service to earn tenure and keep their jobs. But sometimes, an additional criterion — collegiality — gets added to the mix, and it tends to raise professors’ hackles.

In fact, even the specter of collegiality is enough to cause alarm. Proposed changes to policies that govern tenure, promotion, and faculty dismissals within the University of Arkansas system included language that moved professors there to quickly mobilize in opposition last month. Among the concerns is what faculty see as a thinly veiled attempt by the Board of Trustees to use collegiality — or the lack thereof — as grounds for terminating a tenured professor.

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November 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gillman & Chemerinsky: Professors Are Losing Their Freedom of Expression

Free SpeechWashington Post op-ed:  Professors Are Losing Their Freedom of Expression, by Howard Gillman (Chancellor, UC-Irvine) & Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Berkeley) (Co-Authors, Free Speech on Campus (Yale University Press 2017)):

With so much attention focused on whether controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannapoulos or Richard Spencer should be allowed to appear on campus, an even more basic issue has been obscured: universities punishing faculty who, outside of professional settings, express views that are considered controversial or even offensive.

There are many recent examples of this. A year ago, a University of Oregon law professor was suspended for wearing blackface at a Halloween party held at her house. Twenty-three law school faculty members wrote a letter urging the professor to resign. A campus investigation found that by wearing this costume at a party in her home she had engaged in “discriminatory harassment.” [More here]. ...

In responding to those who would silence or censor speakers, many people, especially on the right, argue that, at universities, all ideas should be expressible, and if someone doesn’t like particular ideas, the response should be to engage and rebut the speakers rather than harass them or shout them down. These same sentiments should apply when faculty members express controversial opinions. ...

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November 22, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

2018 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition

Tannenwald (2013)The Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and American College of Tax Counsel are sponsoring the 2018 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition:

Named for the late Tax Court Judge Theodore Tannenwald, Jr., and designed to perpetuate his dedication to legal scholarship of the highest quality, the Tannenwald Writing Competition is open to all full- or part-time law school students, undergraduate or graduate. Papers on any federal or state tax-related topic may be submitted in accordance with the Competition Rules.


  • 1st Place:  $5,000, and publication in the Florida Tax Review
  • 2nd Place:  $2,500
  • 3rd Place:  $1,500

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November 22, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

UC-Hastings Law Dean Calls Bar Exam Failure For Top Schools 'Unconscionable'

July 2017 California BarFollowing up on yesterday's post, July 2017 California Bar Exam Results Rebound From 32-Year Lows: The Recorder, UC Hastings Law Dean Calls Bar Exam Failure for Top Schools 'Unconscionable':  

The pass rate on California’s July bar exam may have risen to a five-year high but one dean says the state remains on “a wayward path” by holding on to a score requirement that is the second highest in the country.

UC Hastings Dean David Faigman said Monday he’s disappointed that only 70 percent of first-time test-takers at American Bar Association-approved schools such as his passed the test. The pass rate for comparable students in New York was 86 percent.

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November 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Ten Law Schools Sanctioned By ABA For Lax Admissions

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on last month's post, ABA Notices To Law Schools About Potential Non-Compliance With Accreditation Standards:, 10 Law Schools Sanctioned by ABA for Lax Admissions:

The American Bar Association has publicly disciplined 10 law schools since August 2016 for enrolling students that it says are unlikely to graduate and pass the bar — an unprecedented crackdown, given that such actions historically are rare.

The sanctions issued by the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar range from letters of noncompliance setting out remedial plans to censure to probation.

The schools are:

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November 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

ABA Opposes TRO To Block Release Of Western Michigan-Cooley Law School's Noncompliance With Accreditation Standards: 'Students Deserve To Know The Truth'

Thomas Cooley Logo (2014)Following up on last week's post, Western Michigan-Cooley Law School Seeks TRO To Prevent ABA From Releasing A Letter About Its Accreditation Status:  ABA Journal, Cooley Law School Has It 'Exactly Backward' and Students Deserve to Know the Truth, ABA Filing Says:

The American Bar Association decision that Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School was “significantly out of compliance” with an accreditation standard regarding admissions was final and not subject to further appeal, the association argued Friday in a response brief to Cooley Law's motion for a temporary restraining order to seal the finding.

Cooley filed the complaint (PDF) and TRO motion (PDF) on Nov. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. They asked the court to seal the ABA’s accreditation standards finding pending further appeals by Cooley. “Cooley has it exactly backward. Those students deserve to know the truth. The preliminary injunction should be denied,” the ABA writes in its Nov. 17 response (PDF).

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November 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Syracuse Faculty Attribute 92% Bar Pass Rate To Requiring Nine Courses For Students With GPAs < 2.5, Repeating 1L Courses For Students < 2.2 GPA

Syracuse (2018)The Daily Orange, Professors: First-year Curriculum May be Reason for Improved College of Law’s Bar Exam Pass Rate:

About 92 percent of Syracuse University College of Law graduates passed the state bar exam this summer, the university recently announced, marking a two-decade high pass rate.

Seven years ago, in 2010, SU’s College of Law had the lowest bar exam pass rate in New York after just about 70 percent of graduates passed the test — 16 percent lower than the state’s average that year, reported.

A new law curriculum could be part of the reason why the college’s pass rate has improved, two professors said. ...

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November 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 2017 California Bar Exam Results Rebound From 32-Year Lows

The California State Bar has released the results from the July 2017 bar exam. The overall pass rate was 49.6%, up 6.6 percentage points from last year. For California ABA-accredited law schools, the pass rate rose 8 percentage points from 2016, to 70%, but down 13 percentage points from 2008.

July 2017 California Bar


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November 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of Illinois-Chicago May Absorb John Marshall, Creating Chicago's First Public Law School

JMUICCrain's Chicago Business, UIC May Absorb John Marshall Law School:

The University of Illinois at Chicago is in "preliminary discussions" with John Marshall Law School about the law school becoming a part of the university, which would create the only public law school in the city.

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Poser disclosed the discussions in a campus-wide memo today, noting that the institutions' missions are complementary and would allow for opportunities that "bridge the discipline of law with the disciplinary strengths of UIC."

John Marshall Law School Dean Darby Dickerson sent a similar memo to her school's community, saying “these opportunities come with many questions—a number of which we simply don't have answers to yet—but this will be a transparent process, and I will provide further updates as they emerge.” She said she would host a meeting for students on Nov. 27. ...

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November 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

BYU Is Eleventh Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions

BYU (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  BYU is the eleventh law school to accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, joining (in chronological order) Arizona, Harvard, Northwestern, Georgetown, Hawaii, Washington University, Columbia, St. John'sTexas A&M, and Wake Forest.

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November 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cost, Affordability, And Access In Legal Education

ABFStephen Daniels (American Bar Foundation), The Perennial (and Stubborn) Challenge of Cost, Affordability, and Access in Legal Education: 'We Will Continue to Muddle Through':

This paper explores the long-term challenge of legal education’s financial viability and focuses on the business model that serves contemporary legal education. That model — based on a value proposition — sees long-term student loans and plentiful lawyer jobs as the way to underwrite legal education’s sustainability, even as tuition rises. Loans and jobs are inextricably connected; the idea being that student debt can be manageably repaid over some amount of time after graduating and obtaining a well-paying lawyer job.

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

Cunningham: Compliance Costs Of The ABA's New Bar Passage Data Collection Requirement Outweigh Its Benefits

ABA Logo (2016)Larry Cunningham (Vice Dean, St. John's), Collecting Ultimate Bar Passage Data: Weighing the Costs and Benefits:

Friday afternoon the ABA Associate Deans’ listserv received a message from William Adams, Deputy Managing Director of the ABA.  In it, he described a new process for collecting data on bar passage. A copy of the memo is on the ABA website. This change was authorized at the June 2017 meeting of the Council.  Readers may remember that the June meeting was the one that led to a major dust-up in legal education, when it was later revealed that the Council had voted to make substantial (and some would say, detrimental) changes to the Employment Questionnaire. When this came to light through the work of Jerry Organ and others, the ABA wisely backed off this proposed change and indicated it would further study the issue.

The change that the ABA approved in June and announced in greater detail on Friday is equally problematic.  In the past, schools would report bar passage as part of the Annual Questionnaire process. The bar passage section of the questionnaire asked schools to report first-time bar passage information. If a school was going through a site visit, it would also report this information on the Site Evaluation Questionnaire. If a school could not demonstrate compliance with Standard 316 with first-time bar passage, it was asked to show compliance using ultimate bar passage in the narrative section of the SEQ, specifically question 66, or as part of an interim monitoring or report-back process, described here (page 6).

Now, per the ABA, all schools — even those that can show that their graduates meet the minimums of Standard 316 through first-time passage data—must track, collect, and report ultimate bar passage information going back two years. (There is a phase-in process as outlined in the memo.) Hypothetically, let us assume that a school always has a pass rate of 80% (for sake of argument with 100% of graduates reporting) in a state with a consistent average of 75%. The school is in compliance with Standard 316, but it must nevertheless track the 20% of graduates who did not pass on the first attempt to see if they passed on subsequent attempts.

I have several problems with this change.

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November 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 19, 2017

ABA Proposes Changes To Law School Accreditation Standards

ABA Logo (2016)Memorandum From Maureen A. O’Rourke (Council Chair) & Barry A. Currier (Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education), ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (Nov. 17, 2017):

At its meeting held on November 3-4, 2017, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved for Notice and Comment proposed revisions to the following Standards and Rules of Procedure of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools:

  • Standard 205. Non-Discrimination and Equality of Opportunity
  • Standard 206. Diversity and Inclusion
  • Standard 303. Curriculum
  • Standard 304. Simulation Courses, Clinics, and Field Placements
  • Standard 503. Admissions Test
  • Standard 601. Library and Information Resources, General Provisions
  • Rule 3: Accreditation Committee Responsibility and Authority
  • Rule 5: Site Evaluations
  • Rule 10: Notice of Accreditation Decision by Other Agency
  • Rule 14: Actions on Determinations of Noncompliance with a Standard
  • Rule 22: Council Consideration of Recommendation of Accreditation Committee
  • Rule 23: Council Consideration of Appeal from Accreditation Committee Decision
  • Rule 24: Evidence and Record for Decision
  • Rule 25: Decisions by the Council
  • Rule 34: Teach-Out Plan
  • Rule 52: Disclosure of Decision Letters

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

Lawmakers Ask Dept. Of Ed To Extend Student Loan Discharge For Charlotte Law School Students

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below): ABA Journal, Lawmakers Ask Dept. of Ed to Extend Student Loan Discharge for Charlotte School of Law Students:

The Department of Education has the authority to extend enrollment requirements for school loan discharges if there are “exceptional circumstances,” which is what should happen for students at the now-shuttered Charlotte School of Law, say a group of North Carolina U.S. Congress members.

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Cornell Law Prof: I Never Thought The Anti-Free Speech Mob Would Come Me. Until They Did.

Vassar 3USA Today op-ed:  My Pro-free Speech Views Made Me the Target of a Smear Campaign at Vassar College, by William Jacobson (Cornell):

From UC Berkeley in the west to Middlebury College in the northeast, and at dozens of colleges and universities in between, we have seen speakers disrupted, shouted-down, shut-down and threatened. Almost all such speakers were right of center, and almost all of the perpetrators were progressive students.

At Cornell University, where I teach at the law school, former Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum was heckled and Tea Party activist Michael Johns was forced to hold his appearance at a secret location due to threats of disruption.

I have watched these anti-free speech mobs from a distance, and from a news perspective. At my website, Legal Insurrection, I’ve written about many dozens of such incidents which started with attacks on Israeli and pro-Israeli speakers going back almost a decade and now have migrated into the mainstream. ...

I’m not a household name. And I’m not particularly controversial, although I do stick out at Cornell as one of only a small number of openly politically conservative faculty members.

So despite my campus speeches and conservative politics, I never really thought the anti-free speech mob would come for me. Until they did, at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. ...

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November 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

The 'Trump Bump' Grows As College Grads From Both Sides Of The Political Spectrum Flock To Law School

LSAT TrumpChicago Tribune, After Trump's Election, More Students Consider Law School, Hoping to Make a Difference:

[There is] a group of students across the political spectrum who were so moved by last November’s election that they decided to take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, because they view law school as a means to making a difference

In the past year, the number of people taking the test, which is administered nationally four times a year, has surged. In February, 21,400 people took it, up 5.4 percent from a year earlier. In June, the number of test-takers was up 19.8 percent year-over-year, to 27,606 people. And the number of people who took the test in September rose 10.7 percent from a year ago, to 37,146 people. As of Oct. 30, registrations for the Dec. 2 exam were up 21.4 percent.

It’s been called the “Trump bump” by some in the legal community who believe strong reactions to the current political climate are spurring people on both sides of the political spectrum into action. ...

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November 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

After 86% Enrollment Decline, Valparaiso Law School Stops Admitting Students And Will Likely Close

Valpo (2018)Wall Street Journal,  Valparaiso Law School Suspends Admissions:

The tough climate for legal education has claimed another victim.

Valparaiso University, a private university in Northwest Indiana, said Thursday its board of directors voted to stop enrolling new law school students, meaning the law school will likely be wound down over the next few years.

Enrollment has plummeted at Valparaiso University Law School, once a well-respected regional school. This year’s incoming class had just 29 full-time students, down from 206 in 2013.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Calls For Tougher Oversight Of Florida Coastal Law School

Florida Coastal (2017)Following up on my previous post, Florida Coastal Responds To ABA's Finding Of Noncompliance With Accreditation Standards: 'Our 1L Entering Credentials Exceed 23 Other Law Schools':  Inside Higher Ed, Calls for Tougher Oversight of For-Profit Law School:

Observers say the apparent issues at Florida Coastal are reason for regulators, including the ABA and the Department of Education, to take a more comprehensive look at the law school's parent company, InfiLaw. The company saw one of its law programs, Arizona Summit, placed on probation by the ABA in March over similar issues, and another, Charlotte School of Law, shut down in August after being placed on probation and losing access to Title IV funds last year. And Florida Coastal was one of only two law programs to fail the Department of Education's gainful-employment test in January with a debt-to-discretionary-income ratio of more than 34 percent (the department has since delayed accountability provisions of the gainful-employment rule that would affect an institution's access to Title IV funds).

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November 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wake Forest Is Tenth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions

Wake Forest Law School (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Wake Forest is the tenth law school to accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, joining (in chronological order) Arizona, Harvard, Northwestern, Georgetown, Hawaii, Washington University, ColumbiaSt. John's, and Texas A&M:

As the college of Wake Forest University attracts more and more students with STEM backgrounds and interests, the law school should be prepared … for an increasingly educationally diverse student body, with students who want to pursue a law degree, perhaps in combination with another graduate degree.

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November 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas A&M Is Ninth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions

Texas A&M 2Following up on my previous posts (links below): Texas A&M is the ninth law school to accept the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT, joining (in chronological order) Arizona, Harvard, Northwestern, Georgetown, Hawaii, Washington University, Columbia, and St. John's

“Our decision to accept the GRE will make it easier and cheaper for Texans to gain access to law school,” said Interim Dean Thomas W. Mitchell. “It will also make law school more attractive to highly qualified students who have diverse educational backgrounds and interests, including students from fields such as engineering and science.”

To comply with American Bar Association standards, the Law School participated in a validity study involving current and past Texas A&M students. The study found that the GRE is a strong predictor of success in the first year at Texas A&M.

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November 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Western Michigan-Cooley Law School Seeks TRO To Prevent ABA From Releasing A Letter About Its Accreditation Status

Thomas Cooley Logo (2014)Following up on my previous post, ABA Notices To Law Schools About Potential Non-Compliance With Accreditation Standards:  Western Michigan University Cooley Law School has filed a  Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction seeking to prevent the ABA from publishing a letter concerning Cooley's accreditation status during "the most critical time for students selecting their law school":

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 and Local Civil Rule 7.2, Plaintiff Thomas M. Cooley Law School moves for a temporary restraining order against the Defendant, the American Bar Association (“ABA”). The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, through its Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, has informed Cooley that it intends to publish and disseminate a letter on November 14, 2017 pertaining to proceedings related to Cooley’s accreditation as an accredited law school. ABA purports to publish the letter “in accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulation 34 C.F.R. § 602.26.” However, that section provides authorization for disclosing “final decisions” to take “adverse actions” against an institution. Nothing of the sort is present in the ABA’s letter and permitting the ABA’s letter to be published now, in the middle of the most critical time for students selecting their law school, poses an unreasonable high risk of immediate and irreparable harm to Cooley going forward. 

Brief in Support of Motion For Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction:

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November 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Places Thomas Jefferson Law School On Probation

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)Following up on my previous post, ABA Notices To Law Schools About Potential Non-Compliance With Accreditation Standards:  ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, Council Decision: Notice of Probation and Specific Remedial Action — Thomas Jefferson School of Law:

At its November 3-4, 2017 meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (the “Council”) conducted a hearing pursuant to Rules 2, 3, 16, 22, 24, and 25 of the Rules of Procedure to with respect to the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee (the “Committee”) that the Thomas Jefferson School of Law (the “Law School”) be placed on probation and be directed to take specific remedial action with regard to its non-compliance with Standards 202(a) and (d), 301(a), 501(a) and (b), and Interpretations 501-1 and 501-2

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November 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ed Larson Receives 2017 Friend Of Darwin Award

It was my great honor to present the 2017 Friend of Darwin Award to my dear friend and colleague Ed Larson at our faculty meeting yesterday.  The Friend of Darwin Award is given annually by the National Center for Science Education:

NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of Darwin award for 2017:  Edward J. Larson, the Pepperdine University historian and legal scholar who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 book about the Scopes trial, Summer for the Gods. ... "The legal history of the creationism/evolution controversy is important to NCSE, and nobody has studied it more thoroughly and insightfully than Ed Larson," commented NCSE's executive director Ann Reid.

Ed Larson Award

Here is the text that the National Center for Science Education asked me to read in presenting the award to Ed:

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November 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

ABA Removes Public Censure Of Valparaiso Law School

The Most Interesting LL.M. Students in the U.S.: Priyanka Sharma (Pepperdine)

The Most Interesting LL.M. Students in the U.S., Nat'l Jurist, Fall 2017, p.26

Foreign attorneys flock to the U.S. to earn LL.M.s, and many return home to help improve their countries' legal systems. We talk with some of the most interesting foreign students at American law schools this year. 

Sharma 2Priyanka Sharma's reason for coming to the U.S. for an LL.M. is ... that she sees a need in the world. Sharma says her home country of India has a dire need for lawyers who can use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques. She hopes to make the ADR process work more effectively and also build a name for herself. Her path to Pepperdine University School of Law hasn't been easy. Sharma said her family thought an LL.M. for a woman was a waste of money.

But she's always been rebellious and wanted the freedom to do more than get married and raise a family.

Sharma compares her journey to the freedom that dispute resolution provides: "Freedom from long court procedures , free­dom from biases, freedom from costs and freedom from traditional litigation. l have new life, new opportunities with more confidence. This new journey will hopefully bring more confidence in me and help me to build an individual identity so that I can set an example for other girls in my family who, like me, want to achieve their dreans."

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November 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard: A Tax-Free Hedge Fund That Happens To Have A University

Harvard 1Wall Street Journal op-ed:  A Hedge Fund That Has a University, by Thomas Gilbert (University of Washington) & Christopher Hrdlicka (University of Washington):

Whatever you may hear, the Republican tax-reform proposal isn’t an assault on higher education. The House and Senate plans include a new 1.4% excise tax on the net investment income of university endowments, but the levy applies only to private colleges with at least 500 students and endowments of more than $250,000 a student. Schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton—which together hold over $100 billion—are predicting doom. Yet this long-overdue tax will benefit higher education in the end.

Over the past 30 years universities have chased higher returns on their endowments, leading them to take greater risks. Our research shows that more than 75% of the assets in university endowments are now in risky investments: equities, hedge funds and private equity. Think of Harvard as a tax-free hedge fund that happens to have a university.

The proposed levy on investment income—dividends, interest and capital gains—is fundamentally a tax on this risk-taking, not on the endowments themselves. By taxing risk-driven income, the GOP plan doesn’t target higher education. It goes after hedge funds masquerading as university endowments. ...

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November 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Will Florida State's Alcohol Ban Cause Law School's Ranking To Fall?

Florida State logoTallahassee Democrat op-ed:  Open Letter to President Thrasher About Unintended Consequences, by Lex Lorenzo (J.D. 2018, Florida State):

I am a law student and president of a registered student organization at FSU Law, one of the around 700 RSOs that have been affected by your broadly worded blanket alcohol ban.

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November 14, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Ohio State Accuses 83 Students Of Cheating Through GroupMe Messaging App

GroupMeInside Higher Ed, Cheating Without Intent:

News dropped this month that Ohio State University charged scores of students with cheating in a business course taken in the spring, saying that 83 students used the messaging app GroupMe for “unauthorized collaboration on graded assignments.”

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November 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Caron: Pepperdine's Place In The New World Of Legal Education

Dean Caron PhotoPaul L. Caron (Dean, Pepperdine), Pepperdine's Place in the New World of Legal Education, Pepperdine Magazine, Vol. 9, Issue 3, Fall 2017, p. 4:

This is an epochal moment in legal education. The legal profession has yet to fully recover from the 2007–08 financial crisis as technology disrupts law firm business models. Law schools, in turn, facing a declining applicant pool, have responded by reducing the size of their entering classes to maintain the academic credentials of their students and equip them to pass the bar exam and obtain meaningful professional employment after graduation

In the midst of these challenges, the University has asked the School of Law to recommit to becoming what we have long aspired to be: the nation’s premier Christian law school, combining academic and research excellence with an ever-deepening Christian faith while being welcoming to all.

With the University’s assistance, we reduced the size of our entering class by 25 percent this fall and increased our median LSAT (to 160) and UGPA (to 3.62). This reduced class size will enable us, over time, to continue to increase our students’ academic credentials and fuel our efforts to continue to increase the rates of our students’ bar passage and job placement.

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Percentage Of Women Making BigLaw Partner Continues To Rise, But Still Lags Men

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, New Partner Report:

The Alliance’s New Partner Report is a yearly compilation and examination of data from over 100 of the nation’s largest and top-grossing law firms about the attorneys promoted to partnership in U.S. offices. ...


Based upon this data, roughly 38 percent (38.1) of attorneys promoted to partnership in 2017 in the U.S. offices of many of the nation’s largest law firms were women, while 61.9 percent were men. Among the 133 firms for which data was collected, 43 firms (32.3%) reported a 50/50 split or greater in favor of women, marking a significant increase over previous years. ...

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Increases In Federal Student Loan Limits Do Not Induce Private Law Schools To Raise Tuition

Robert Kelchen (Seton Hall), An Empirical Examination of the Bennett Hypothesis in Law School Prices:

Whether colleges increase tuition in response to increased federal student loan limits (the Bennett Hypothesis) has been a topic of debate in the higher education community for decades, yet most studies have been based on small increases to Pell Grant or undergraduate student loan limits. In this paper, I leverage a large increase in Grad PLUS loan limits that took place in 2006 to examine whether law schools responded by raising tuition or other living expenses and whether student debt levels also increased. Using data from 2001 to 2015 across public and private law schools and both interrupted time series and difference-in-differences analytical techniques, I found rather modest relationships across both public and private law schools. I conclude with some possible explanations for the lack of strong empirical support for the Bennett Hypothesis.


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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Friday, November 10, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

2d Circuit Dismisses SUNY-Buffalo LRW Prof's Wrongful Termination Claim; Former Dean Claims 'Unequivocal Vindication' And Blames 'Small Cabal Of Racist Law Faculty Who Had Trouble Accepting A Black Man Running The Law School'

Mutua 2Buffalo News, Federal Case That Roiled UB Law School Now Over:

An eight-year legal battle that helped expose deep strife within the University at Buffalo Law School is finally over.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a federal district court decision in favor of Makau W. Mutua, the law school's former dean [Malkan v. Mutua, Nos. 17-38, 17-228 (2d Cir. Oct. 30, 2017)]. The ruling marks the end of the legal process for a former professor, Jeffrey Malkan, who sued Mutua and the university claiming he was wrongfully terminated. ...

Mutua resigned as dean in 2014 amid criticism of his management and remains on the UB Law School faculty. He described the court's decision as a "total, unequivocal vindication. I had no doubt that Jeff Malkan’s claims against me and UB were malicious, unfounded and frivolous. He lost in every single forum where he sued — PERB, state courts, U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, and now finally in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit," Mutua said in an email to The News.

Malkan, 63, had taught legal research and writing since 2000 at UB. He claimed Mutua wrongfully terminated him in 2008 and then lied twice under oath about it.

The case laid bare a rift at the law school between several highly regarded senior faculty members and Mutua, a world renowned human rights activist. The turmoil occurred as the school was suffering through steep enrollment declines. Faculty produced a scathing evaluation of Mutua's leadership and nearly took a vote of no-confidence in him. In addition, nine senior law professors went on record in court papers supporting Malkan's account of a tenure and promotion vote that was the crux of the professor's lawsuit. ...

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November 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

NY Times: Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Stanford, Texas & USC Are Among Colleges Using 'Blocker Corporations' To Avoid Taxes On Endowment Income

New York Times, Endowments Boom as Colleges Bury Earnings Overseas: American Universities Are Using Offshore Strategies to Swell Their Coffers, Skirt Taxes and Obscure Investments That Could Spark Campus Protests:

A trove of millions of leaked documents from a Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby, reflects some of the tax wizardry used by American colleges and universities. Schools have increasingly turned to secretive offshore investments, the files show, which let them swell their endowments with blocker corporations, and avoid scrutiny of ventures involving fossil fuels or other issues that could set off campus controversy.

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November 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Jim Hines Receives 2017 Holland Medal

Hines (2017)James R. Hines Jr., Richard A. Musgrave Collegiate Professor of Economics and L. Hart Wright Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, receives the 2017 Holland Medal for lifetime achievement in the study of the theory and practice of public finance today at the National Tax Association 110th Annual Conference on Taxation in Philadelphia.  He is the second youngest person ever to receive the Holland Medal (Jim Poterba (MIT) was the youngest).

The Holland Medal was created in 1993 in the memory of Dan Holland (MIT).  Recent winners include:

  • 2016  Alvin C. Warren, Jr. (Harvard)
  • 2015  William D. Andrews (Harvard)
  • 2014  James Poterba (MIT)
  • 2013  Michael Graetz (Columbia)
  • 2012  Joel Slemrod (Michigan)
  • 2011  Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley)
  • 2010  Henry Aaron (Brookings)

Session Organizer & Chair:  Rosanne Altshuler (Rutgers)

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November 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Ivory Tower Tax Haven

HaasUC-Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, The Ivory Tower Tax Haven: The State, Financialization, and the Growth of Wealthy College Endowments:

Popular anxiety about economic inequality has been compounded by the lavish consumption of the super-rich. In the domain of higher education, there are parallel signs of growing popular resentment towards perceived excesses at the wealthiest private colleges. Consistent with these public perceptions, I argue that private colleges with substantial endowment wealth have increasingly become ivory tower tax havens. I use new college-level data going back to 1976 to show that endowment growth at these colleges has been supported by a three-part federal tax expenditure that I estimate as averaging $19.6 billion per year in 2012. The growth of benefiting endowments contributed to new organizational inequalities in U.S. undergraduate enrolling institutions.

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November 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ohio Bar Exam Results: Case Western #1

Ohio State BarHere are the results of the July 2017 Ohio Bar Exam for first-time test-takers by law school, along with each school's U.S. News ranking:

  1. Case Western:  93.4% (#62 in U.S. News)
  2. Ohio State:  86.9%  (#30)
  3. Ohio Northern:  86.7% (Tier 2)
  4. Cincinnati:  82.5% (#72)
  5. Cleveland State:  80.0% (#127)
  6. Akron:  73.7% (#134)
  7. Toledo:  73.5% (#132)
  8. Capital:  67.9% (Tier 2)
  9. Dayton:  62.5% (Tier 2)

November 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Innovation Rankings, Think Your Law School is 'Innovative'? This Professor Has a Ranking System:

If you ask Daniel Linna, professor of law at Michigan State University College of Law, what changes he’d like to see in legal education around technology, he probably won’t share a list of programs and curricular offerings he’s helped put together. Nor is he likely to tell you offhand what changes some of his colleagues at other schools have instituted. Instead, he’ll tell you to check the data.

“We need to become more data-driven in this industry. We can’t just talk about innovation, we can’t just talk about technology. We’ve got to describe what it is, and then we’ve got to measure it,” Linna said.

Linna is director of MSU Law’s LegalRnD program, which trains students in leveraging technology and nontraditional workflows for what its website refers to as “leaner, more effective legal-service delivery.” In August, Linna and a group of students launched the Legal Services Innovation Index, a data collection of law firms’ use of technology and “innovative” workflows.

Recently, he and Jordan Galvin, LegalRnD innovation counsel, expanded the index to measure law schools’ work around innovation and technology. The index now outlines how many different legal technology disciplines 40 different law schools offer.


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November 9, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

New State Street CEO Withdrew From Vanderbilt Law School After Admitting To Plagiarism As Law Review Editor-In-Chief

VandyBoston Globe, State Street CEO-Designate Says Law School Plagiarism Was a ‘Very Big Mistake’:

In a career spanning more than three decades, Ronald P. O’Hanley 3d has climbed up the ranks of several prestigious financial firms, and this week he capped that ascent when he was named the next chief executive of State Street Corp., a Boston investment and banking giant that oversees trillions of dollars in retirement funds.

While his resume is familiar to many in the business world, one piece of it is not.

In 1983, O’Hanley withdrew from Vanderbilt University Law School after admitting to plagiarism as editor-in-chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review in his third year. It was a mistake O’Hanley, 60, now says he deeply regrets. ...

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November 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

IRS Seeks To Tax Disabled Vet's Forgiven Law School Loans

USA Today, Wounded Army Vet Wins the Battle But Loses the Tax War:

The federal government forgave wounded veteran Will Milzarski’s sizable student debt but, in an ironic twist, the IRS wants him to pay $62,000 in income taxes on the loan cancellation.

Retired 1st Lt. Milzarski, 47, is a lawyer from Bath Township who specialized in disability rights. At 40, he took a leave from his state job to return to the Army to attend Officer Candidate School.

His two tours of duty in Afghanistan left him with a traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder and hearing loss. The Department of Veterans Affairs considers him totally and permanently disabled, leading to a cancellation of nearly a quarter-million in student loans.

Joshua Wease, a clinical associate professor of law who directs Michigan State University’s low-income tax clinic, said the tax in this case is not logical. "If an individual has been deemed disabled and unable to pay their student loans, it seems incredible that they wouldn’t also be deemed unable to pay the taxes on the forgiveness of those same student loans,” he said. ...

Milzarski led soldiers on 244 combat missions and 43 engagements with the enemy. Six soldiers under his command died, and a ricocheted bullet hit him in the face during combat in Afghanistan. Among his 18 awards are Purple Heart and Meritorious Service medals.

Milzarski's high student debt was largely attributed to his law degree, which he earned in 2002 from Cooley Law School.

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November 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)