TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

USC Eliminates Student Evaluations In Faculty Promotion And Tenure Decisions

USC LogoFollowing up on my previous post, Why We Must Stop Relying On Student Evaluations Of Law School Teaching — Like The University Of Oregon Is Doing:  Inside Higher Ed, Teaching Eval Shake-Up:

Research is reviewed in a rigorous manner, by expert peers. Yet teaching is often reviewed only or mostly by pedagogical non-experts: students. There’s also mounting evidence of bias in student evaluations of teaching, or SETs — against female and minority instructors in particular. And teacher ratings aren’t necessarily correlated with learning outcomes.

All that was enough for the University of Southern California to do away with SETs in tenure and promotion decisions this spring. Students will still evaluate their professors, with some adjustments — including a new focus on students’ own engagement in a course. But those ratings will not be used in high-stakes personnel decisions.

The changes took place earlier than the university expected. But study after recent study suggesting that SETs advantage faculty members of certain genders and backgrounds (namely white men) and disadvantage others was enough for Michael Quick, provost, to call it quits, effective immediately. 

“He just said, ‘I’m done. I can’t continue to allow a substantial portion of the faculty to be subject to this kind of bias,” said Ginger Clark, assistant vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and director of USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching. “We’d already been in the process of developing a peer-review model of evaluation, but we hadn’t expected to pull the Band-Aid off this fast.”

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May 24, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Admissions, Accreditation and the ABA: An Analysis Of Recent Law School Lawsuits

David Frakt, Admissions, Accreditation and the ABA: An Analysis of Recent Law School Lawsuits:

Recently, the ABA has been sued by Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley School of Law, and two InfiLaw schools: Florida Coastal School of Law and the defunct Charlotte School of Law. In addition, the ABA was named as a co-defendant along with InfiLaw and Charlotte School of Law in an amended complaint filed in a fraud lawsuit by a former Charlotte law professor and a Charlotte law student. These lawsuits allege that the ABA has failed in its duties as a law school accrediting agency in a variety of ways.

In this (very long) article, I will attempt to make sense of the various allegations made against the ABA in these lawsuits.

May 24, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Stetson Named Inaugural ABA Competitions Champion

Stetson (2018)ABA Press Release, Stetson University College of Law Named Inaugural ABA Competitions Champion:

The American Bar Association has named Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., the inaugural ABA Competitions Champion.

Competitions Champion is awarded to the law school that garnered the most points through team achievements and participation in the ABA Law Student Division’s four practical skills competitions: The Arbitration CompetitionNegotiation CompetitionClient Counseling Competition and National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC Moot Court). Ranking criteria and the point totals for the top teams can be found here. ...

ABA competitions teach law students real-world legal skills in a simulated practice environment. Judges for the competitions included volunteer attorneys and sitting members of the bench. This year, over 1,300 students from 156 law schools participated in one or more of the competitions sponsored by the Law Student Division.

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May 23, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

2018 AccessLex Institute Legal Education Data Deck

AccessLex

AccessLex Institute, 2018 Legal Education Data Deck: Key Trends on Access, Affordability, and Value:
AccessLex Institute offers this 2018 Legal Education Data Deck for the use of the legal education community, policymakers, and others interested in viewing a snapshot of certain data and trends organized around the three driving principles of AccessLex Institute’s research agenda: access, affordability and value. 

AL1

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May 23, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

43% Of Lawyers Are Millennials, Outnumbering Gen Xers And Baby Boomers

American Lawyer, Law Firm Survey Says Millennial Era Is Here, But Change Has Just Begun:

Millennials now make up the largest generational group of attorneys in the U.S., and a new study finds that they are poised to bring about an unprecedented change to a traditionally static legal industry.

A new report by global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, in collaboration with ALM and Law.com, found that as millennials make their way through the ranks at law firms, their demands for change in their work environment will recast how firms structure their compensation, real estate decisions, information technology and flextime policies.

Millennials now account for 43 percent of attorneys, outnumbering Gen Xers and baby boomers in the legal industry, the study found.

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May 23, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Muller:  The Sensational Hype Over Lawless Law School Admissions

GREDerek Muller (Pepperdine), The Sensational Hype Over Lawless Law School Admissions:

There's been a lot of hype about the proposal to end of the requirement that law schools use the LSAT in admissions. Some sources (here unlinked) fret about standardless admissions in law schools and a race to the bottom.

There are many reasons to doubt this. But I wanted to take a few (?) paragraphs to look at the recent past of the LSAT and the transition we may be experiencing. ...

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May 23, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Should The Law School Of The Future Eliminate Faculty Offices — And Even Assigned Desks?

Faculty OfficeChronicle of Higher Education, Does the Faculty Office Have a Future?:

You can picture the traditional faculty office easily enough: A wall of shelves cluttered with books, journals, and mementos. A filing cabinet or two. A desk in front of a tall window. Maybe a rug or an armchair brought from home.

But is the faculty member actually in the office you’re picturing? Increasingly, no. Perhaps she’s team-teaching several buildings away with a colleague from another discipline, or in a committee meeting on the downtown campus. Or she’s grading essays and answering student messages at home, or Skyping in the library with an overseas research collaborator, or reading a journal article on her iPad at a Starbucks near her 11-year-old’s soccer practice. In fact, she may not be back in her office till Tuesday at 2:30, for office hours.

On many campuses, offices of all kinds take up 25 to 35 percent of nonresidential space. Faculty offices are typically occupied less than those for administrators — often less than half of the workweek. They are expensive to build (think $350 per gross square foot, one architect says) and costly to maintain, heat, air-condition, and clean. But whether professors could manage without offices of their own is a question most college leaders avoid asking in public.

"A lot of institutions are struggling with this," says Graham Wyatt, a partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, which does a lot of work in higher education. "There is clearly pressure to economize on facility costs and to make sure that institutions are getting highest value for the dollar. We hear repeatedly that in the private sector the private office is going away — shouldn’t we be doing that in academia?"

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May 22, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Should Law Schools Ban Smartphones In Faculty Offices?

No iPhoneWall Street Journal, ‘I Lost It’: The Boss Who Banned Phones, and What Came Next:

Many managers are conflicted about how—or even whether—to limit smartphone use in the workplace. Smartphones enable people to get work done remotely, stay on top of rapid business developments and keep up with clients and colleagues. But the devices are also the leading productivity killers in the workplace, according to a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 executives and human-resource managers conducted by CareerBuilder, an HR software and services company.

There is also some evidence that productivity suffers in the mere presence of smartphones. When workers in a recent study by the University of Texas and University of California had their personal phones placed on their desks—untouched—their cognitive performance was lower than when their devices were in another location, such as in a handbag or the pocket of a coat hanging near their workspace.

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May 22, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top 14 Law Schools Demand That Law Firms Disclose Summer Associate Arbitration Agreements

Monday, May 21, 2018

WSJ: Faculty No-Confidence Votes Against College Presidents Skyrocket Amidst Declining Enrollments, Budget Challenges

WSJ 2Wall Street Journal, No Confidence: College Faculties Rebel With More Votes Against Leadership:

In a sign of the changes roiling academia, faculties are voting no-confidence in university and college presidents four times more frequently than a decade ago.

Between 2013 and 2017 there were an average of 15 such votes a year, up from an annual average of three between 2000 and 2004, according to research by Sean McKinniss, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on shared governance in higher education and now works in corporate training. As part of his academic research, Mr. McKinniss tracked 184 votes of no confidence against presidents dating back to 1989 [No-Confidence Vote Database].

At different schools, the votes can be generated by a single adamant faculty member or after a committee investigation and can focus on anything from perceived financial mismanagement to leadership style.

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May 21, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Suing The ABA Over Law School Accreditation? Get In Line

CFWLaw.com, Suing the ABA Over Accreditation? Get In Line:

The queue of plaintiffs suing the American Bar Association’s legal education arm is snaking out the courthouse door.

The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has been named as a defendant in three different lawsuits in the past week and a half, each centered on its law school accreditation activities [Charlotte I, Charlotte II, Florida Coastal]. A fourth accreditation suit brought by Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley Law School in November is pending.

The flurry of litigation is unprecedented for the ABA’s legal education section and appears to be a byproduct of its two-year-old effort to step up enforcement of its accreditation standards. The section has warned at least 10 law schools of accreditation shortcomings in the past two years, including the three schools that have sued. Previously, such warnings and sanctions were rare. ...

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May 21, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Faculty Views On The Koch Brothers' Influence At George Mason University

George Mason University (2018)Following up on my previous posts (links below): 

Washington Post op-ed:  I Teach at George Mason. The Kochs Didn’t Cause Our Ideology Problem, by Steven Pearlstein (George Mason):

Thanks to a group of courageous and persistent students, George Mason University was recently forced to acknowledge that it had accepted millions of dollars from billionaire Charles Koch and other conservatives under arrangements that gave the donors input into appointments at the university’s famously libertarian economics department. These arrangements violated traditional norms meant to insulate academic institutions from donor influence and come two years after similar gifts led to the naming of Mason’s law school after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The story fits neatly into the liberal narrative that the Koch brothers, Charles and David, have used their inherited oil wealth to fund the development of radical economic theories at Koch-funded universities. This, the narrative goes, translated into concrete policies at Koch-funded think tanks and legislation implemented by Koch-funded Republicans. For many liberals, this brainwashing of the American mind explains the ascent of the tea party and the election of President Donald Trump.

There is some truth to this narrative of the rich, all-powerful puppeteers. But at Mason, the story is more complicated.

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May 21, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Persistence Of Dumb Contracts

Common-accord-cmacc-transact-iaccm-presentation-20170509-1-638I'm going to spend this summer working on a project about language, law, and code — what lawyers with meat rather than silicon brains are likely to retain as their domain over the foreseeable future.  Hence, The Persistence of Dumb Contracts.  I want to say a couple words about it, but only to highlight a convergence with the cutting edge practical work of James Hazard (founder of CommonAccord) and others at the intersection of contracts and computers.

As to the paper, I would link you to something but it's not nearly ready for prime time.  For the time being, consider the development of doctrine over the last 150 years or so regarding the parol evidence rule and the interpretation of the contractual text.  It's an ontological issue — is the "reality" of the deal bound by the metaphoric "four corners" of the document or is the text a mapping onto something else?  An early paragraph from an early draft of the intro:

Now imagine this debate in the context of digitally documented transactions that span the complexity gamut from one-shot commodity sales to longer term relationships like commercial leases or shareholder agreements. There is or will be a continuum across which “smarter” contracts will do less mapping of antecedent understandings and create more generally accepted social realities than dumber ones. I see no point in trying to create mutually exclusive sets. At one end of the continuum, the smart contract is little more than a cybernetic artifact like Bitcoin, a virtual dollar bill having a social ontology and no less a fixed and timeless meaning than a physical Federal Reserve note. At the other end, it is like more than a digitized form into which someone plugs a few chunks of data and comes out with a Kindle book or a mortgage loan. Somewhere in the middle, say in connection with a program that can sort out the puts and takes of ten years’ worth of contingency in a 50,000 square foot office lease, the contract needs to be able to create virtually a world of real estate business and law that either maps on or substituted for the physical version. Dumb contracts will persist, and the extent to which individual contracts are dumb rather than smart will depend on the extent to which there is utility to smartness or dumbness in the particular circumstance.

As to Jim Hazard, my colleague, Gabe Teninbaum, who directs Suffolk Law's Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation, introduced us.  Jim's passion and project is CommonAccord.org, "an initiative to create global codes of legal transacting by codifying and automating legal documents, including contracts, permits, organizational documents, and consents."

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May 21, 2018 in Jeff Lipshaw, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 20, 2018

California Bar Exam Pass Rate Sinks To All-Time Low: 27.3%

California Bar ExamState Bar of California Releases Results of the February 2018 Bar Exam:

Today the State Bar of California released the results of the February 2018 California Bar Exam, and announced that 1,282 people (27.3 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam.

CA Bar

Sacramento Bee, A Bar Too High? Pass Rate Plummets to Record Low for California Lawyer Exam:

Only a quarter of applicants passed the California bar exam in its most recent sitting, the State Bar of California announced this week, a record low for the test that lawyers must successfully complete to practice in the state.

The pass rate for the February exam sank to just 27.3 percent, about 7 percentage points lower than last year and the first time since 1986 that it has fallen below 30 percent. The previous low, according to a summary of results since 1951, came in the spring of 1983, when 27.7 percent of applicants passed.

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May 20, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Catholic University Moves Forward With Plan To Lay Off Tenured Faculty, Increase Teaching Loads

CatholicFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Chronicle of Higher Education, Catholic U. Plan, Which Could Result in Layoffs of Tenured Profs, Moves Ahead:

A controversial cost-cutting plan that would allow Catholic University of America to lay off tenured professors has cleared a major hurdle.

The university’s Academic Senate, which includes faculty members and administrators, voted 35 to 8 last week to send the so-called academic-renewal proposal to the Board of Trustees for a final vote. The plan, designed to close a $3.5-million budget gap and stem enrollment declines, has generated fierce debate on the campus, in Washington, D.C., about the strategic direction of the university, the marketability of its Catholic identity, and the fragility of tenure in the face of financial challenges.

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May 20, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Congratulations, Pepperdine Law School Class of 2018

Breakfast:

3L Breakfast

Breakfast 2

Baccalaureate Service:

Stauffer 2

Graduation:

Stage

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May 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Shavuot: A Holiday For The Rule Of Law

ShavuotWall Street Journal op-ed:  Shavuot: A Holiday for the Rule of Law, by Joe Lieberman (Former U.S. Senator (D-CT)):

[Lawyers] play a crucial role in maintaining the rule of law, which creates order. A good legal system makes the difference between a civilized society and a chaotic one, and it all began when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

For Jews, now is the perfect time of year—between Passover and the much less observed holiday of Shavuot—to contemplate the role of law in our lives.

In the Bible, the exodus from Egypt is not an insulated experience. It is part of a larger cycle that goes from slavery in Egypt, to freedom in the desert, to the Ten Commandments. Every year, religiously observant Jews count the 49 days from Passover to Shavuot, which begins this Saturday evening. The former holiday emphasizes liberty, the latter law. These values balance each other, which is why it’s unfortunate that so few people who observe Passover continue to Shavuot. ...

How do the children of Israel serve God? By accepting and obeying a code of law, the Ten Commandments. Freedom is not enough. Liberty without law leads to chaos, immorality and violence. Law without liberty is what the Israelites endured under Pharaoh’s tyrannical rule.

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May 19, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Kentucky Moves To Fire Tenured Professor For Assigning His Book In His Classes And Keeping The $6k Royalties

UK Logo (2018)Lexington Herald Leader, UK Moves to Fire Professor, Says Book Sales 'Stole From Students.' He Vows to Fight.:

University of Kentucky officials are trying to fire a tenured professor because they say he made students buy his book for classes he taught and then kept the proceeds without telling administrators.

The move against journalism faculty Buck Ryan – who was sanctioned for inappropriate behavior in 2016 — is nearly unprecedented for tenured faculty in the last 50 years at UK, and will be a test of UK’s tenure policies and procedures.

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May 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Seven Female Denver Law Profs To Receive $2.7m In EEOC Settlement Of Equal Pay Claim

Denver Logo (2015)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Press Statement of Prof. Lucy Marsh, EEOC Equal Pay Case Against University of Denver Law School Settles For $2,660,000 and Sweeping Reforms:

In early 2013 Prof. Lucy Marsh discovered she was the lowest paid, though second most senior full professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She asked law dean Martin Katz what he was going to do about pay discrimination against women at the school. “Nothing,” was his answer. So she decided to do something about it herself.

After five years of investigations, attempts at resolution, passionate support from students, alumni, and the legal community, unjustified attacks by the D.U. administration, multiple depositions, and three months of mediation, something big is happening, with wide-ranging implications for equal pay for women throughout the country. ...

As set forth in the Consent Decree, D.U. will pay Marsh and six female colleagues $ 2.66 million for back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. The law school will also significantly increase the compensation of all seven going forward with the goal of pay equity between male and female
professors at the law school.

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May 18, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Horwitz: Candor And Integrity In Legal Scholarship

Paul Horwitz (Alabama), Institutional Pluralism and the (Hoped-For) Effects of Candor and Integrity in Legal Scholarship, 101 Marq. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

This Article is a contribution to a symposium on the ethics of legal scholarship, held at Marquette Law School in September 2017. It has two goals: 1) to consider whether it is possible to contribute to debates on the ethics of legal scholarship while favoring an institutional pluralism in which different forms of legal scholarship are possible and legitimate; and 2) if one concludes (as I do) that it is possible to for an institutional pluralist to hold and advocate views on the ethics of legal scholarship, to explore the implications of the core values of ethical legal scholarship that I focus on here — candor and integrity — for different models or visions of legal scholarship.

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May 18, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Malavet: The Accidental Crit III — Law Faculty Hiring, Promotion, And Tenure In The Age Of Trump

Pedro A. Malavet (Florida), The Accidental Crit III: The Unbearable Lightness of Being ... Pedro?:

This article is a narrative about law faculty hiring, promotion and tenure. It is part of my process of coming to terms with the promotion and tenure process that I endured through a type of scholarly catharsis; in this essay I review my continued presence in the legal academy from the safety of post-tenure academic life, but while immersed in the openly racist climate of the presidency of Donald Trump.

May 17, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Bullshitization Of Academic Life

ChronicleChronicle of Higher Education, Are You in a BS Job? In Academe, You’re Hardly Alone:

I would like to write about the bullshitization of academic life: that is, the degree to which those involved in teaching and academic management spend more and more of their time involved in tasks which they secretly — or not so secretly — believe to be entirely pointless.

For a number of years now, I have been conducting research on forms of employment seen as utterly pointless by those who perform them. The proportion of these jobs is startlingly high. Surveys in Britain and Holland reveal that 37 to 40 percent of all workers there are convinced that their jobs make no meaningful contribution to the world. ... According to a 2016 survey, American office workers reported that they spent four out of eight hours doing their actual jobs; the rest of the time was spent in email, useless meetings, and pointless administrative tasks. ...

And then there’s higher education.

In most universities nowadays — and this seems to be true almost everywhere — academic staff find themselves spending less and less time studying, teaching, and writing about things, and more and more time measuring, assessing, discussing, and quantifying the way in which they study, teach, and write about things (or the way in which they propose to do so in the future). ... 

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May 17, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Legal Education, Public Goods, And Rankings

Jeffrey Harrison (Florida), Legal Education, Public Goods, and the Ratings Race:

Once upon a time the public good rationale might have been  the basis for subsidizing legal education.  ...

[L]et's suspend our disbelief if necessary and say there continues to be a public good rationale. Let's see how law schools are responding in the era of a rankings race (or law school mutually assured destruction). Law Schools cut the size of classes as a way to increase their entering class GPAs and LSAT scores. The compete for and recruit  students for the same reason almost as aggressively as college coaches. They attract students by paying them — REGARDLESS OF NEED — and, unlike college athletes, there appears to be no limit to what can be offered. Yes, they pay students to attend a specific law school who would attend a law school somewhere without the payment.  Law schools operate  massive "development" offices that seek financial support for their addiction to the rankings racket.

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May 16, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Set To Double (To 30) The Number Of Credits Law Students Can Earn Online, Including 10 For 1Ls

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Following up on my previous post:  Law.com, ABA Set to Approve More Online Credits for Law Students:

An online class in the first year of law school?

It’s coming.

The American Bar Association is poised to eliminate its ban on distance education during the crucial 1L year, and the change will likely go into effect by the time fledgling law students arrive on campus in the fall.

Allowing students to take some online classes their first year is part of a larger proposal to ease rules that limit the number of distance education credits J.D. students may take at ABA-accredited law schools. The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which oversees law schools, on May 11 voted in favor of a new accreditation standard that will allow J.D. students to take up to one-third of their credits online, including as many as 10 credits during their first year.

The change is slated to go before the ABA’s House of Delegates in August, and would go into effect immediately should that body concur with the council’s recommendation as expected. ...

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May 16, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Second Law School Represented By Kirkland & Ellis Sues ABA Alleging Arbitrary Enforcement Of Accreditation Standards

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on last week's post, Florida Coastal Law School Sues ABA; Kirkland & Ellis Alleges Arbitrary Enforcement Of Accreditation Standards:  Press Release, Charlotte School of Law Files Suit Against American Bar Association:

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte Division), Charlotte School of Law (CSL) alleges that the American Bar Association (ABA) acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its dealings with CSL, failed to meet statutory and other standards for fairness and due process, and rendered decisions against CSL despite noting CSL's "strong commitment to academic success."

CSL is represented by former Solicitor General of the United States Paul D. Clement, former Assistant Attorney General of the United States Viet D. Dinh, and H. Christopher Bartolomucci, all of the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a worldwide law firm of nearly 2,000 lawyers.

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May 16, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ohio State Prof Bans Laptops, Sees Grades Rise

NoInside Higher Ed, Professor Bans Laptops, Sees Grades Rise:

Trevon Logan, a professor of economics at Ohio State, posted on Twitter this week that he had banned all electronics from his courses, with positive results.

“I thought I would get much more pushback on this from students, and I didn’t think student outcomes would be so significant,” Logan said in a Twitter thread. “Given these results, I’m very encouraged to continue with the policy.”

Logan, who enacted the ban this semester, reported that student performance had improved significantly in midterms compared with previous years. “Results were significant — average scores were about half a standard deviation higher than previous offerings,” he said.

The most surprising finding, said Logan, was that students seemed to like the policy. About 25 percent mentioned the policy in their open-ended course evaluations, “and everyone who talked about it enthusiastically endorsed it.”

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May 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Advice On Writing And Grading Law School Exams

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Policy Questions on Law School Exams:

I've had mixed feelings about policy questions on exams. On the one hand, I fear they can turn into overly-subjective or rambling thoughts loosely related to the course. On the other hand, they can sometimes reflect a student's passion or zeal about the subject, including a deep grappling of elements of the course, that may not be apparent from the rest of the exam. I've come up with pretty good ways to grade these parts—include some clear calls in the question (pick two cases, etc.), require them to address certain elements, and award greater points for deeper analysis.

But each time I've done a policy question, I've noticed that the grading rarely lines up with remainder of the exam. If I have five essays, and one of them is a policy question, for instance, I'll notice fairly high correlations between each of the first four essays. But the correlations with any of the first four essays and the policy question will be almost nonexistent.

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), How to Evaluate Multiple Choice Questions on Your Exam:

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May 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Citations Are Not A Good Proxy For The Quality Of A Law Review Article

Jeff Schmitt (Dayton), Citations are not a Good Proxy for Article Quality:

Most people seem to agree that article placement is not a good proxy for the quality of a law review article. ... [Barry Friedman (NYU), Fixing Law Reviews, 67 Duke L.J. 1297 (2018),] assumes that citations are a better proxy for article quality. I think many people share this assumption. As I explain after the fold, however, I am very skeptical about this being true. As someone who has been on a very active appointments committee for the past two years, I wish that a better proxy existed. However, I think that the only way to judge the quality of an article is to actually read it.

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May 15, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Lawyer's Bliss: 3,600 Billable Hours In 2017

Bliss 2American Lawyer, Racking Up Those Billable Hours? This Michigan Lawyer Has You Beat:

Ever wonder how your billable hours measure up? Consider this: Daniel Bliss billed 3,600 hours last year.

That’s almost 70 billable hours a week for 52 weeks. That’s 10 billable hours a day if you work seven days. That’s nearly 12 billable hours a day if you decide to take off one day a week.

However you look at it, that’s a lot of hours.

“You know what?” Bliss said. “When the sun shines, you have to make hay.”

You evidently have to “make hay” when the sun doesn’t shine as well if you want to rack up those numbers. Bliss, an intellectual property lawyer and partner at Michigan-based Howard & Howard admits he worked plenty of 12-hour days, evenings and weekends last year. He even racked up billable hours while on vacation.

The self-proclaimed workaholic is actually one of dozens of lawyers in the United States who billed more than 3,000 hours in 2017, according to information reported by law firms for the Am Law 200/NLJ 500 survey. The firms were asked to report the total hours billed by the lawyer who billed the most hours during 2017. ...

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May 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Former Prof, Student Sue ABA For Negligently Accrediting Charlotte Law School

Charlotte Logo (2016)ABA Journal, ABA Should Never Have Accredited Now-Closed Charlotte School of Law, Lawsuit Claims:

A former professor and former student from the Charlotte School of Law have sued the ABA, accusing it of negligence in accrediting the school. 

Charlotte graduate Ese Love and former professor Barbara Bernier say the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar knew or should have known the school was not complying with accreditation standards, the complaint in U.S. ex rel Bernier v. Infilaw says. The ABA’s imprimatur misled students like Love and teachers like Bernier into joining a school that was focused more on profit than legal education, they argue.

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May 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: The Trashing Of George Mason University

MasonFollowing up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal editorial, The Trashing of George Mason University: The Left Gangs Up on the School for Having Conservative Professors:

Progressives dominate all but a few corners of American academia, but apparently they want it all. Witness the political and media assault on George Mason University, an island of intellectual diversity in Northern Virginia that has committed the sin of accepting money from conservative donors.

A public university with some 36,000 students, George Mason has made a mark in economic debates through its Mercatus Center. This has caught the attention of an outfit called UnKoch My Campus, which claims that donors like Charles and David Koch inappropriately influence university decisions. The demand is for “transparency” but the real goal is to silence conservative views.

George Mason recently released hundreds of pages of public records in response to requests by Transparent GMU, the local UnKoch affiliate. They include contracts and correspondence related to a $30 million donation in 2016, the largest in school history. Ten million dollars came from the Koch Foundation, and $20 million from an anonymous donor represented by attorney Leonard Leo. Mr. Leo is also a vice president of the Federalist Society, the non-secret network of conservative lawyers.

Cue the outrage.

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May 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Women, Education, And Achievement At The University Of Chicago Law School: Recommendations For Faculty

ChicagoWomen's Advocacy Project, Speak Now: Women, Education, and Achievement at The University of Chicago Law School:

The Women’s Advocacy Project began with casual observations and conversations among friends. As we progressed through our 1L and 2L years at UChicago Law School, we remarked on the gender dynamics we observed in classroom participation and on our surprise at a Moot Court board that did not have a single woman on it. When 1L writing prizes were announced, women locked eyes with one another across the Green Lounge as male name after male name was called. We raised eyebrows at one another after certain comments in class; we related stories of gendered career advice we received; we scanned the Law Review masthead and noticed a scarcity of female names. Speaking to one another and sharing our experiences made us feel that we were not alone in our perceptions and frustration.

We wondered if our observations were anomalous and unrepresentative of the Law School as a whole, but we had no way of knowing. Law school, with its serious academic and professional demands, is a short, intense three years. It provides little opportunity for serious reflection, or long-term institutional knowledge building among the student body. So, inspired by work done by students at Harvard and Yale Law Schools, we set out to fix that. We sought to explore and document gender dynamics at the Law School, and to discover whether our own unique experiences aligned with those of other women and men pursuing their legal educations at UChicago, beyond our social circles, demographic backgrounds, and class years, and in the recent past.

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May 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day Remembrance: The Day You Were Born

May 13, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Catholic University Provost Blasts Critics Of Plan To Lay Off Tenured Faculty, Increase Teaching Loads: 'Shared Governance Means Not Just Sharing, But Also Governing'

CatholicFollowing up on my previous posts:

Chronicle of Higher Education, Seeking to Lay Off Tenured Professors, Catholic U. Provost Blasts Critics for ‘Spreading Half-Truths and Fear’:

In a fiery treatise on Monday, the provost of Catholic University of America rejected what he described as a faculty committee’s attempt to "mutilate" and "neuter" a layoff plan that some professors describe as a threat to the institution of tenure. He also condemned the plan’s toughest critics, whom he accused of "spreading half-truths and fear" instead of collaborating on a cost-cutting proposal. The provost says that layoffs or buyouts are needed to close a $3.5-million budget deficit that came about in part from enrollment declines.

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May 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The ABA Is One Step Away From Eliminating The LSAT Accreditation Requirement

GRELSAT2National Law Journal, ABA Moves Forward With Plan to End Law School Admission Test Requirement:

The American Bar Association law school accrediting arm on Friday approved a plan to remove an admission test requirement for accredited law schools.

The change, approved by the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, must be adopted by the ABA House of Delegates. If passed, it will pave the way for schools nationwide to more easily use the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and other tests besides the Law School Admission Test.

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May 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Applicants Are Up 8.8%

From LSAC:

As of 5/4/18, there are 368,312 applications submitted by 55,830 applicants for the 2018–2019 academic year. Applicants are up 8.8% and applications are up 9.2% from 2017–2018. Last year at this time, we had 91% of the preliminary final applicant count.

ABA

Report From LSAC (May 2018):

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May 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Democrats On Elite Liberal Art College Faculties Outnumber Republicans By 10:1

Mitchell Langbert (Brooklyn College), Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty:

In this article I offer new evidence about something readers of Academic Questions already know: The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, faculty political affiliations at 39 percent of the colleges in my sample are Republican free—having zero Republicans. The political registration in most of the remaining 61 percent, with a few important exceptions, is slightly more than zero percent but nevertheless absurdly skewed against Republican affiliation and in favor of Democratic affiliation. Thus, 78.2 percent of the academic departments in my sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.

My sample of 8,688 tenure track, Ph.D.–holding professors from fifty-one of the sixty-six top ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News 2017 report consists of 5,197, or 59.8 percent, who are registered either Republican or Democrat. The mean Democratic-to-Republican ratio (D:R) across the sample is 10.4:1, but because of an anomaly in the definition of what constitutes a liberal arts college in the U.S. News survey, I include two military colleges, West Point and Annapolis.1 If these are excluded, the D:R ratio is a whopping 12.7:1.

Langbert 3

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May 11, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (20)

University Of Minnesota Increases Law School's Annual Subsidy To $12 Million Amidst Declining Applications, Enrollment (On Top Of $40 Million Subsidy Since 2012-13)

Minnesota LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (link below):  Twin Cities Pioneer Press, UMN Subsidy For Law School Soars as Applications Suffer a Steep Drop:

Still suffering from a steep drop in student applications, the University of Minnesota School of Law says it can’t balance its budget without even more help from the rest of the university.

Since 2012-13, the U has given the law school $39.9 million to cover budget shortfalls. The ongoing annual subsidy has reached $7.5 million.

President Eric Kaler is proposing to increase the yearly subsidy to $12 million by 2020-21, while also covering a $1.9 million shortfall next year.

The law school has seen its applications fall by more than half since 2010 as the nationwide trend away from legal education has hit the Midwest especially hard.

Rather than admitting lower-quality applicants, the U has stuck to its high standards in order to maintain its place as the No. 20 law school in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The school’s J.D. enrollment fell to 555 this year from 752 five years earlier, and it had to step up financial aid offers to field that class.

To offset the drastically shrinking revenue, Dean Garry Jenkins said the school has cut $6.3 million in recurring expenses since 2014. The number of faculty is down 21 percent and staff 14 percent.

It hasn’t been enough. ... Jenkins told regents Thursday that the additional money from the U — $3.6 million, $3.2 million and $4.5 million in the next three years — should eliminate the school’s structural deficit.

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May 11, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

LSAT Test-Takers Surge 18.1%, The Biggest Increase In 16 Years

The number of LSAT test-takers in the 2017-18 admissions cycle increased 18.1%, the largest increase since 2001-02.

LSAC

May 11, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Florida Coastal Law School Sues ABA; Kirkland & Ellis Alleges Arbitrary Enforcement Of Accreditation Standards

Florida Coastal (2017)Press Release, Florida Coastal School of Law Files Suit Against American Bar Association:

  • Complaint Cites Arbitrary and Inconsistent Enforcement of Accreditation Standards
  • School alleges ABA's actions constitute an attack on diversity

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, (Jacksonville Division), Florida Coastal School of Law (Florida Coastal) alleges that the American Bar Association (ABA) has acted arbitrarily in its dealings with Florida Coastal while applying its law school accreditation standards, despite Florida Coastal posting top marks state-wide in recent bar passage rates, as well as Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) passage rates, and the achievements of its nationally lauded National Moot Court team.

Florida Coastal is represented by former Solicitor General of the United States Paul D. Clement, former Assistant Attorney General of the United States Viet D. Dinh, and H. Christopher Bartolomucci, all of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

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May 11, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

He Made A Joke, She Isn't Laughing: ‘Lingerie’ Comment In Elevator Leads To Uproar Among Scholars

LSChronicle of Higher Education, He Makes a Joke. She Isn't Laughing: ‘Lingerie’ Comment in Elevator Leads to Uproar Among Scholars:

He says he was joking when he asked to be let off an elevator at the ladies’ lingerie department. A female scholar who was attending the same annual meeting of the International Studies Association was not amused, and neither was the association when she complained.

Now his refusal to formally apologize has touched off the latest skirmish in the #MeToo battles rocking academe. At issue is whether a comment made in jest rises to the level of a punishable offense, and what happens when a complaint some deem as trivial results in a vicious online backlash against the offended party.

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May 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

University Of Montana To Lay Off 50 Faculty To Close Budget Deficit

Montana LogoChronicle of Higher Education, 4 Months Into His Tenure, a Flagship’s President Proposes 50 Faculty Layoffs:

About 50 full-time faculty positions may be on the chopping block at the University of Montana at Missoula, according to a new proposal that seeks to plug the college’s $10-million deficit over the next three years.

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May 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

James Comey's Five Principles Of Ethical Leadership For Law School Deans

Higher LoyaltyJack Goldsmith (Harvard), Comey on Ethical Leadership:

“A Higher Loyalty” conveys what Comey learned about ethical leadership over the course of his life. ... It is also a book about how and why he practiced ethical leadership during his career, and his self-criticisms of those efforts.

I will analyze Comey’s assessment of his controversy-filled time as FBI director in a subsequent review. Below I simply try to summarize, in a way that cannot begin to do the book justice, some of what we might term Comey’s “Principles of Ethical Leadership.” ...

1. The Sacrosanctity of Truth
The subtitle of Comey’s book—“A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership”—indicates the priority of truth in Comey’s thinking. He believes truth is the most important value in private and public life. ...

2. Openness to Criticism and Contrary Points of View
“The danger in every organization, especially one built around hierarchy, is that you create an environment that cuts off dissenting views and discourages honest feedback,” Comey cautions. “That can quickly lead to a culture of delusion and deception.” This danger is worrisome because leaders need to know the truth, and “to see the world as it is and not as they wish it to be,” in order to make wise decisions. To fight this danger, advises Comey, the ethical leader must seek out and create an environment that invites criticism. “Ethical leaders do not run from criticism, especially self-criticism, and they don’t hide from uncomfortable questions,” he says. “They welcome them.” ...

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May 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Cleary Gottlieb Legal Secretary Dies At Age 96, Leaves $8.2m To Charity

Cleary GottleibABA Journal, Frugal Cleary Gottlieb Secretary Who Invested in Stocks Leaves $8.2m to Charities:

Longtime Cleary Gottlieb secretary Sylvia Bloom, who died soon after her retirement at age 96, made some smart stock picks during her lifetime.

Bloom had accumulated more than $9 million when she died in 2016, and she left $8.2 million to charities to establish scholarships for disadvantaged students, according to the New York Times. Bloom “joins the ranks of unassuming and magnanimous millionaires next door, who have died with fortunes far larger than their lifestyles ever would have suggested,” the Times reports. ...

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May 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)