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Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Former UC-Hastings Dean:  Legal Education Is 'Delusional About Our Prospects'—With Plummeting Return On Investment, Is Law School A 'Long Con'?

National Law Journal op-ed:  For Legal Education, Adaption is the Only Option for a Better Future, by Frank H. Wu (Former Dean, UC-Hastings):

In legal education, we have become delusional about our prospects. We are paralyzed by a combination of denial and confidence — denial about the nature of the problems and confidence in our own ability to compete.

The public is smarter than professors would prefer to give them credit for. People are avoiding law school. The fact is that the pool of applicants has decreased at an unprecedented rate. Prospective students who would have been rejected outright prior to the recession are being offered scholarships now. Law schools have cut their enrollment, but not enough: at many institutions, the average credentials of those who matriculate are not equivalent to their predecessors.

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

The 25 Most Influential People In Legal Education (2016)

Top 25 (2016)Most Influential People in Legal Education (2016), The National Jurist (Jan. 2017):

This year's list of the Most Influential People in Legal Education recognizes leaders who are shaping the future of law schools. ... As in years past, we sought nominations from U.S. law schools, narrowed the list to 46 names and then asked the law dean and one randomly selected faculty member from each school to rate the influence of the nominees.

Here are the Top 10. The complete Top 25 list is here.

  1. Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Irvine)
  2. Kellye Testy (Dean, University of Washington; 2016 AALS President)
  3. Paul Caron (Professor, Pepperdine)
  4. Bill Henderson (Professor, Indiana)
  5. Brian Leiter (Professor, Chicago)
  6. Blake Morant (Dean. George Washington; 2015 AALS President)
  7. Eugene Volokh (Professor, UCLA)
  8. Marc Miller (Dean, Arizona)
  9. Michael Hunter Schwartz (Incoming Dean, McGeorge)
  10. JoAnne Epps (Provost and Former Dean, Temple)

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January 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sturgeon:  Martin Luther King Jr. And The Three Dimensions Of A Complete Life

MLKStarting to Look Up:  Be the Best of Whatever You Are, by Al Sturgeon (Dean of Graduate Programs, Pepperdine):

Fifty years ago, and just one year before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon at the New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago titled, The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.  Dr. King’s 3D sermon emphasized the height dimension of life (God) along with the length (self) and breadth dimensions (others).  Some of his thoughts about breadth made the entire sermon known as “the street sweeper speech.”  Today, on the holiday that remembers Dr. King, I ask you to remember this:

When I was in Montgomery, I went to a shoe shop quite often, known as the Gordon Shoe Shop. And there was a fellow in there that used to shine my shoes, and it was just an experience to witness this fellow shining my shoes. He would get that rag, you know, and he could bring music out of it. And I said to myself, “This fellow has a Ph.D. in shoe shining.” What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

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

The Demise Of Charlotte Law School Resurrects Talk Of New Law School At University Of North Carolina-Charlotte

UNC CharlotteCharlotte Observer, Charlotte School of Law Crisis Resurrects Talks of a Law School at UNCC:

Long-running problems that may close the Charlotte School of Law have resurrected talks of a public law school at UNC Charlotte.

Chancellor Phil Dubois told the Observer Thursday that “given the developments” at the law school, he will reopen discussions of a UNCC law program next month during the school’s board of trustees meeting.

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

Professional Degrees Yield Much Higher Salaries Compared To Other Graduate Degrees (And Undergraduate Degrees)

Who Cover

Sandy Baum (Urban Institute) & Patricia Steele (Higher Ed Insight), Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds? (Jan. 2017):

During the Great Recession, those with college degrees fared much better than those without degrees, but a number of college graduates struggled to find satisfactory employment, leading many to graduate study. The option of seeking an advanced degree has gained momentum in recent decades, and now some observers call the master’s degree the “new bachelor’s degree.”

This brief is the first in a series addressing questions about enrollment and success in graduate school, funding of graduate students, the conceptual differences between undergraduate and graduate students, and the data available to address these questions.

As participation in graduate programs rises, it is critical to ask who is enrolling, which programs they are choosing, whether they complete their degrees, and how their investment in education beyond the bachelor’s degree pays off. This brief reviews changes over time in educational attainment levels and the earnings premiums for advanced degrees, and then explores differences in enrollment and completion patterns across demographic groups.

Figure 2

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January 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Leef:  Feds Should Eliminate Student Loans For All Law Schools, Not Just Charlotte

FCForbes:  We Have Too Many Law Schools, But This Isn't The Way To Thin The Herd, by George Leef (Pope Center for Higher Education Policy):

It makes no more sense for the government to help a student with a 175 LSAT pay for Harvard than to help a student with a 145 LSAT pay for Charlotte.

On Dec. 19, the U.S. Department of Education announced that as of the end of the 2016, it would no longer allow students to use federal aid money at the Charlotte School of Law (CSL). The reason for this unprecedented move was the decision by the American Bar Association in November to place CSL on probation because of the low passage rate among its students on the most recent administration of the North Carolina bar exam.

Whether CSL will survive is not yet known, although it has announced that it will continue its scheduled spring semester. Whether it should survive is debatable. The question I want to explore is whether the Department’s decision to pull the plug on federal aid is a sensible one.

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January 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (16)

University Of Washington Delays Launch Of New Law School In Tacoma (35 Miles From Seattle)

TacomaFollowing up on my previous post, University of Washington (Seattle) To Open Separate Second Law School In Tacoma:  The News Tribune, UWT Delays Launch of New Law School:

Leaders at University of Washington Tacoma have postponed a proposal to create a law school on the growing campus, citing strong competition from existing schools for the region’s available law students.

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January 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Prof Sues Law School For Not Renewing His Chair, Reducing His Pay

SullivanThe Arkansas Project, More Lawlessness at the Bowen Law School:

A recent case before the state Claims Commission provides a window into yet another instance of taxpayer-supported lawlessness at the Bowen Law School.

In 2004, Professor Tom Sullivan was appointed the Howard Professor of Law at the UALR Bowen School of Law. At that time, the university also granted Sullivan a salary raise and the honorific “distinguished professor.” In 2009, then-Dean John DiPippa refused to renew Sullivan as the Howard Professor. In fact, he was the only named professor who wasn’t reappointed. To add insult to injury, the university subsequently lowered Sullivan’s salary and took away his imprimatur “distinguished professor.”

After giving the university some time to correct its mistake, Sullivan decided to sue in the Arkansas Claims Commission. Sullivan’s complaint aptly emphasized that it is illegal to reduce a tenured professor’s salary once granted.

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January 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Percentage Of Law Students Paying Full Tuition Falls To 28%, Down From 48% In 2011

Matt Leichter, 2015: Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition Fell ~5 Percentage Points (Again):

As with 2014, the proportion of full-time law students paying full freight fell substantially at the average law school not in Puerto Rico. In 2015, the last year for which data are available, the average was 28.1 percent, down from 32.9 percent. In 2011, the average was 20 points higher.

Leichter 1

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January 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

NY Times:  Facing Fierce Competition For Clients, Elite Law Firms Take Unusual Steps To Bolster Their Brands

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book: With Competition Fierce, Even Elite Law Firms Resort to the Unusual, by Elizabeth Olson:

America’s law firms, even the most prominent, are mired in an era of noticeably modest growth and volatility in the industry, and 2017 promises to be no better.

Fierce competition is prompting firms to take unusual steps to bolster their profiles. Top firms are hiring groups of lawyers to expand specific practice areas, changing pay practices, jettisoning or demoting some partners and staff members and seeking ways to distinguish their brands to set them apart from competitors.

Beyond that, the top-drawer firms are increasingly jostling with one another to win lucrative legal work. It is getting tougher for firms to hang onto traditional portfolios of corporate business and avoid elbowing from rivals.

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

Reflections On The AALS

Charleston, Florida Coastal Law Schools Fail 'Gainful Employment' Test, Will Lose Federal Student Loans If They Fail Again Next Year; Three Other Law Schools In Danger Zone

CFNational Law Journal, Two Law Schools Get an ‘F’ for High Student Debt from Education Dept.:

Two law schools have landed on the U.S. Department of Education’s list of college programs with extremely high student loan debt compared with graduates’ earnings.

Florida Coastal School of Law and Charleston School of Law are identified as failing on the department’s “gainful employment list,” released Monday. Should those schools fail a second year in a row, they will lose access to federal student loans—a situation that is currently rocking the Charlotte School of Law as it struggles to remain open after losing federal loan access at the start of the year.

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January 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nurturing The Law Student’s Soul: Law Schools Struggle To Teach Professionalism In an Age of Consumerism

Elizabeth Adamo Usman (Belmont), Nurturing the Law Student’s Soul: Why Law Schools Are Still Struggling to Teach Professionalism and How to Do Better in an Age of Consumerism, 99 Marq. L. Rev. 1021 (2016):

The pronounced increase over the past few decades of the role of consumerism in higher education in general and in law schools specifically, in which schools and students view themselves, respectively, as consumers and sellers of an educational product, has only been accelerated in recent years with the competition over the declining number of potential entering law students. With no end to this trend in site, consumerism appears to have become a part of the reality of legal education.

This Article explores the intersection of consumerism and professionalism in the law school setting with a specific focus on the “Millennial” law student. This Article first explores the contours of what constitutes “professionalism,” concluding that at essence it involves aspirational values of the legal profession. The Article also delineates the unique characteristics of law students from the Millennial generation, focusing on Millennials’ penchant for service and desire for greater meaning through work.

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January 12, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

At The Universities Of Michigan And Virginia, Faculty Salaries Are Tied To Research Productivity, Not The Number Of Students Taught—And That's A Good Thing

Inside Higher Ed, Study Explores How Universities Deploy Faculty and Link Professor Pay:

A common criticism of the faculty reward system is that it tends to value research over teaching. A just-released working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research offers new evidence in support of that contention, suggesting that the number of students a professor teaches has relatively little to do with their compensation [Paul N. Courant (Michigan) & Sarah Turner (Virginia), Faculty Deployment in Research Universities].

Disciplines with bigger class sizes do tend to offer better pay. But the highest-paid faculty members within departments tend to teach fewer undergraduates and fewer undergraduate courses than their lower-paid colleagues. The paper also suggests that changes in faculty pay over time have more to do with discipline than number of students taught, and that universities adjust to various cost pressures by increasing class size and other means.

Yet the paper asserts that universities behave “rationally” in making such decisions, and suggests that prizing research output over teaching doesn’t necessarily affect educational quality. Over all, the paper seems to dispute assertions that higher education spending -- at least on instruction -- is wasteful or inefficient.

Figure 5A

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January 11, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Course Source: The Casebook Evolved

Stephen Johnson (Mercer), The Course Source: The Casebook Evolved, 44 Cap. U. L. Rev. 591 (2016)

Psychologist Abraham Maslow once noted that “it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Law students are changing, law schools are criticized for failing to prepare practice-ready lawyers, and there is nearly universal consensus that legal education must transform. However, the principal tool that many faculty rely on to prepare their courses, the Langdellian casebook, is ill-suited for the transformation. The prototypical casebook that is still the standard for many courses today was designed for the Socratic dialogue and case method mode of instruction. While there is still a place for that method of instruction in legal education, other methods of instruction, the carriage bolts and lag screws of modern legal education, cannot be hammered down with the traditional casebook.

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January 11, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Is Doomsday Imminent For Charlotte Law School? Is The ABA Going To Do Anything About The Other 2 InfiLaw Schools?

Charlotte Logo (2016)National Law Journal, Is Doomsday Imminent for Charlotte Law School?:

After Charlotte School of Law officials announced Friday that it would open for its spring semester on Jan. 19, officials at the troubled school backtracked on Monday and delayed the start until Jan. 27 as it works to secure tuition financing after losing its federal loan eligibility.

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January 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

After 3 Years As Interim Dean, Rachel Janutis Named Dean Of Capital University Law School

Janutis 3Press Release, Capital University Names Rachel Janutis Dean of Law School:

Capital University announced today the appointment of Rachel Janutis as dean of Capital University Law School, effective immediately.

Serving in the position of interim dean for nearly three years, Dean Janutis has distinguished herself as a strategic thinker and innovator, a collaborator across multiple valued stakeholder groups, and a student-centered decision-maker. ...

Dean Janutis is a champion of extending the institution’s mission to multiple communities and articulating its value in a modern-day context. Under her leadership, the Law School has enhanced its support for student success; pioneered a career blueprint program to better position students for post-graduate success; and conducted an extensive analysis of bar passage data leading to the launch of several pilot projects aimed at early intervention for law students who struggle in their first year, and increased bar preparation. ...

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January 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ABA Legal Ed Section Council, Law School Deans Voice Different Views On Proposed 75% Bar Passage Requirement

ABA JournalNot So Standard: Legal Ed Section's Council and Law Deans Voice Different Views on Proposal to Link Accreditation to Bar Passage Results, ABA Journal 64-65 (Jan. 2017):

No ABA-accredited law school has ever been out of compliance with a standard regarding bar passage percentages, and that may indicate that the standard is not working well. Although some law school officials support a plan to tighten the standard, others are concerned about what it would mean for diversity—both in schools and in the legal profession—if the proposal is implemented.

Under the proposal approved in late 2016 by the council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, being in compliance with Standard 316 of the section’s law school accreditation standards would require that at least 75 percent of an accredited school’s graduates pass a bar exam within a two-year time period. The ABA House of Delegates is expected to consider the proposal in February at the association’s 2017 midyear meeting in Miami.

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January 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Chemerinsky, Schill Debate First Amendment Implications Of University Of Oregon's Punishment Of Law Prof For Wearing Blackface To Halloween Party


Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Irvine), Worries About Offensiveness Threaten Free Speech on Campuses:

Professor Shurtz exercised poor judgment in choosing her costume and not realizing that some would be very offended by it. But poor judgment and offending people cannot be a basis for a university punishing speech. In countless cases, the courts have been adamant that speech cannot be punished because it is offensive. The Nazi party had the right to march in Skokie, Ill., despite the offense to its largely Jewish population and the many Holocaust survivors who lived there. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have the right to go funerals of those who died in military service and express a vile, anti-gay and anti-lesbian message. The government would have almost limitless power to censor speech if offensiveness is a sufficient ground for punishing expression.

Likewise, it cannot be that a university can punish a professor’s expression on the grounds that it offends students and thereby will make their learning more difficult. That is the primary justification for punishing Professor Shurtz. If that is enough to justify suspending or removing a professor, it would provide a basis for doing so any time a faculty member participates in activities that make a significant number of students uncomfortable. ...

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

Charlotte Dean Fires Associate Dean For Academics And Faculty Development Who 'Acted As Shield Between InfiLaw And Faculty And Students'

DavidsonFollowing up on yesterday's post, Charlotte Law School To Reopen Jan. 17, Despite Feds' Decision To Cut Off Student Loans:  Charlotte Observer, Top Academic Dean Forced to Resign as Turmoil at Charlotte School of Law Continues:

The turmoil at Charlotte School of Law appeared to continue Monday with the dean in charge of curriculum telling students she had been forced out of her job.

In an email, Camille Davidson said she was asked to resign as the school’s head of academics by Jay Conison, the head dean of the school. Davidson, a Georgetown University law graduate, said she would remain on the CSL faculty. The change comes less than a week before the beleaguered school is scheduled to reopen for classes.

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

Merritt:  What Happened To The Law School Class Of 2010?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession, 2015 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1043:

Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their JDs in 2010. The analysis offers strong evidence of structural shifts in the legal market. Job outcomes have improved only marginally for the Class of 2010, those outcomes contrast sharply with results for earlier classes, and law firm jobs have dropped markedly. In addition to discussing these results, the Article examines correlations between job outcomes and gender, law school prestige, and geography. In a concluding section, it offers four predictions about the future of the legal market and the economics of legal education.

Table 4A

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January 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Charlotte Law School To Reopen Jan. 17, Despite Feds' Decision To Cut Off Student Loans

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  National Law Journal, Troubled Charlotte Law School Will Open for Spring Semester:

The embattled Charlotte School of Law will remain open — for now. Administrators informed students in an email Friday evening that the school will hold classes this spring semester despite the U.S. Department of Education's decision in December to withhold access to federal student loans.

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

Kaplan Test Prep Predicts Fall 2017 Law School Applicants Will Increase, Despite Early Declines, Due To Later LSAT Test-Taking

KaplanFollowing up on last month's post, Fall 2017 Law School Applicants Down 5.1%:  Jay Thomas, Executive Director of  Pre-Law Programs for Kaplan Test Prep, predicts that this early decline in law school applicants will reversed due to a shift toward later LSAT test-taking:

In 2015, the fall LSAT administration — the most popular administration each year — was October 3rd. This year's fall administration date was September 24th. Many students, particularly undergraduates, will ramp up their LSAT preparation after Labor Day when the semester is earnestly in swing. This year given the early administration date, we are finding many students shifting their desired test date to December, rather than the traditional fall.

While LSAC has not released test-taker numbers for the December exam date yet, we are anticipating a fairly sizable year-over-year increase (at least by recent standards). In fact, the 1% increase we saw for this fall's administration was probably 5-10 points "better" than we would've predicted, suggesting the December increase year-over-year could be 10 or even 15 points. As you know, an applicant's law school application is not complete until they have a reportable LSAT score. December LSAT scores will be returned in early January, at which point, I'd anticipate a sizable bounce/rebound in your trends — and ultimately, a likely increase in both applicants and applications.

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January 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Prof Objects To Vilification Of Nancy Shurtz, But Concedes 'Her Social Skills May Need Work': Tax Faculty 'Tend To Be A Bit 'Different''


David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Vilification of Nancy [Shurtz]:

I don’t know Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz. But I do know that no American law professor at this point in time would knowingly or intentionally use racist language or dress up in “blackface” as a demonstration of personal racial bias against Americans of African ancestry. I believe her when she says what she was doing was intended as the opposite of racial disparagement and that it represented her intention to bring out to colleagues at a social gathering the continuing discrimination and denial of opportunity that blacks in America still disproportionately suffer. Professor Shurtz’s attempted message about the continuing effects of racial discrimination obviously fell flat.

Perhaps, unlike most law professors, Shurtz’s social skills need work. After all, she teaches tax and we know that many tax faculty members tend to be a bit “different”. One thing I have no difficulty concluding, however, is that while her execution wasn’t the smartest thing to do, her intentions were good (and perhaps even noble). I also have no doubt that given the attacks on her professional and personal character by some extremely vocal and hyper-sensitive law students, by the “usual suspects” who feed on accusations of racial bias, and by “trusted colleagues” at the law school and in the University of Oregon’s administration bleating about “sensitivity”, “inclusiveness”, “offensiveness” and the like that Nancy Shurtz has been dehumanized and objectified to such a degree that she must feel she is traveling the “road to Hell” regardless of her intentions.

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

Three Four Law Profs Criticize 'Smug Self-Delusion' Of 1,400 Law Prof Signatories To 'Scandalous' Letter By 'Partisan Hacks' Opposed To Jeff Sessions

DOJ Logo (2016)Following up on last week's post, Tax Profs Join Over 1,300 1,400 Law Profs In Opposing Jeff Sessions For Attorney General:

Stephen B. Presser (Northwestern), Sen. Sessions and the Smug Self-Satisfaction of the Law Professoriate (Chicago Tribune):

The first striking thing about the recent letter signed by 1,100 law professors urging the U.S. Senate not to confirm attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is its extraordinary arrogance and presumption. ...

The exaggerated self-importance of the teacher of law is buttressed by immersion in an ideology very different from what most senators and most Americans believe about the law in particular and the world in general. It is strongest in the elite bastions of the Ivy League and on the coasts, where most American law professors trained. Now, one can find it dispersed in most of our centers of legal education. ...

It is time for law professors to emerge from the smugness and self-delusion in which they have been mired for some time, and to recommit themselves to the noble task of teaching the law as a repository of timeless truths, as something above politics, and certainly above character assassination.

Michael I. Krauss (George Mason), The Law Professors' Scandalous Statement Against Jeff Sessions (Forbes):

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January 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hari Osofsky (Minnesota) Named Dean At Penn State After Failed Search Last Year

HariFollowing up on my previous post, Penn State Law Faculty 'Discontent' Amidst Failed Dean Search, Two Year 'Downward Descent (From #51) Into Rankings Oblivion (#86)':  Press Release, New Dean Named for Penn State Law and School of International Affairs:

A leading scholar of and contributor to public policy work on energy transition and climate change has been named the new dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs (SIA) at University Park beginning July 1, pending approval of the Board of Trustees.

Hari M. Osofsky, the Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab and director of the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science and Technology, all at the University of Minnesota Law School, was the successful candidate following a national search. ...

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January 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Students In College Bible Class Get Trigger Warning, Permission To Skip Studying Crucifixion Of Jesus Christ

TWCNational Review, If You Are Too Triggered by Lessons About the Crucifixion, You Cannot Be a Religious Scholar:

Students in a Bible course at the University of Glasgow are being given trigger warnings before being shown images of the crucifixion — and permission to skip those lessons altogether if they are worried they’ll feel too uncomfortable.

Predictably, much of the conversation surrounding this has been focused on the cultural implications of the policy, and how it contributes to creating a generation of weak little snowflakes. ... But the problems with this policy go far beyond the abstract cultural implications. It’s also objectively, indisputably wrong on a logical level — because receiving credits for a class signifies that you have learned enough about the subject matter to earn those credits, and no student in an introductory Bible course could meet that qualification without having learned about the crucifixion.

The crucifixion may be a traumatic Biblical event, but it is also arguably the most monumental one. The crucifixion and corresponding resurrection of Jesus Christ are the entire foundation of the Christian religion, and yet somehow we have an institution willing to give students credit for a class about that religion’s holy book without them having to learn anything about the book’s most consequential event?

I would have no problem with professors offering warnings before displaying graphic images — giving the squeamish ones time to cover their eyes — but giving students the opportunity to opt out of crucifixion-related lessons entirely? Sorry, but . . . nope. Giving a student who did not learn class material about the crucifixion credit for a Bible class is like giving a student who did not learn to do a cartwheel a spot on the gymnastics team, and Glasgow University should be ashamed of itself.

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January 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Op-Ed:  Critics Of University Of Oregon's Punishment Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz For Wearing Blackface To A Halloween Party In Her Home Need To "Move On' And 'Get Over It'


Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Register-Guard op-ed: UO Is Right to Insist Upon Cultural Competency, by Martha Moultry:

Get over it!”

“It’s no big deal!”

“You’re too sens­itive!”

“There are people with real problems in the world!”

“Let it go and move on with your life!”

As an African-American woman who grew up in the segregated South and has spent the past 30-plus years in liberal Eugene, I’ve heard these messages all of my life — and they are now being played in stereo in letters to the editor regarding the recent blackface incident at the University of Oregon.

Well, let me add my two cents’ worth.

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January 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Law Students Performed 2.2 Million Pro Bono Hours Worth $52 Million In 2016

Pro BonoNational Law Journal, Law Students Performed 2.2 Million Pro Bono Hours Last Year:

In between reading cases and studying for exams, law students found time in 2016 to take on volunteer legal work — a lot of it.

The law class of 2016 performed more than 2.2 million hours of pro bono work while on campus, which is valued at more than $52 million.

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January 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Rethinking Faculty Hiring At Fourth-Tier Law Schools

Meat MarketPhilip L. Merkel (Western State), Scholar or Practitioner? Rethinking Qualifications for Entry-Level Tenure-Track Professors at Fourth-Tier Law Schools, 44 Cap. U. L. Rev. 507 (2016):

[M]any fourth-tier law schools have lost their way. Rather than embracing their responsibility to educate practitioners, they are trying to look, act, and spend like elite schools. They operate as if they are research centers whose purpose is to produce academic scholarship, not places where future lawyers learn their trade. The research center model creates costs for fourth-tier law schools that ultimately fall on the students. Because most fourth-tier schools rely on tuition for operating expenses and capital budgets, students are paying more tuition and taking on more debt to support their professors’ scholarship. Students subsidize these activities but receive little benefit. They are further short-changed when they graduate and discover their professors taught them little about the actual practice of law.

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January 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (12)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 NALP Report On Diversity In U.S. Law Firms

NALPNALP, 2016 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms:

Women and Black/African-Americans made small gains in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2016 compared with 2015, according to the latest law firm demographic findings from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). However, representation of both these groups remains below 2009 levels. NALP’s recent analyses of the 2016-2017 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP — shows that although women and minorities continue to make small gains in their representation among law firm partners in 2016, the overall percentage of women associates has decreased more often than not since 2009, and the percentage of Black/African-American associates has declined every year since 2009, except for the small increase in 2016.

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January 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charlotte Law School Works On Transfer Plan With Florida Coastal As Rumors And Lawsuits Swirl After Feds Cut Off Student Loans

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the ramifications of the Department Of Education's decision to cut off federal student loans for Charlotte Law School:  

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

January 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Profs Join Over 1,300 Law Profs In Opposing Jeff Sessions For Attorney General

DOJ Logo (2016)Statement From Law School Faculty Opposing Nomination of Jeff Sessions for the Position of Attorney General:

We are 1330 faculty members from 177 different law schools in 49 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.

In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.

Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.

All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.

As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.

Tax Prof signatories include:

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

Jones:  The University of Oregon, Nancy Shurtz, And The Racial Rules That Keep Us Apart

JonesFollowing up on my previous posts (links below): TaxProf Blog op-ed: The Racial Rules That Keep Us Apart, by Darryll K. Jones (Florida A&M):

What are Nancy Shurtz’ colleagues of color, particularly her African American colleagues, to think about (1) her having dressed up as a “Black Man in a White Coat,” and (2) the reaction to what she did?  She has a friendly smile with genuine eyes, and she teaches Tax.  But I only know that from picture and her bio.  If we ever met I don’t remember.  But I accept, as has her University and even her colleagues who want her out, that she intended no offense and indeed is a strong supporter of diversity and other issues generally thought to involve restorative justice for America’s racism. 

Somehow, I am made to feel defensive by calls for her punishment.  It just makes me very uncomfortable and I don’t want her stoned in the public square for my vindication.  If I were on the faculty at Oregon I would feel compelled to protest the crowd’s outrage ostensibly expressed in recognition of my heritage and feelings.  But I might just sit, quietly grinding my teeth and hoping that the whole thing would just die down.  It is the punishment, the demand for this poor woman’s head on a platter that makes me uncomfortable.  There are clear dangers in an African American saying so.  I imagine that some colleagues might shake their heads in disgust at my own lack of outrage.  There is always the danger of being labeled an “uncle tom” or an apologist for racists if one doesn’t adopt the hot tone of indignation.  Or just plain ignorant. 

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January 5, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Kuehn:  Law Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students For Legal Practice

KuehnTax Prof Blog op-ed:  Do Law Schools Adequately Prepare Students For Practice? Surveys Say . . . No!, by Robert Kuehn (Associate Dean for Clinical Education, Washington University):

Under ABA Accreditation Standard 301, law schools have two educational objectives: prepare their students “for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.” There has been much concern lately over declining bar passage rates, focusing attention on whether some schools are admitting students who may not be capable of passing the bar exam and whether a school’s program of legal education adequately prepares its graduates for the exam.

In focusing on the bar exam, it’s important not to lose sight of legal education’s primary duty of ensuring that law school prepares students for entry into the legal profession and a successful career. If studies of practicing lawyers and recent law graduates matter, it is clear that law schools are failing, even worse than in preparation for bar admission, to adequately prepare their students for legal practice.

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January 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Yoon:  Law Profs Continue To Publish After Tenure, But In Less Competitive Outlets

Albert Yoon (Toronto), Academic Tenure, 13 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 428 (2016):

In academia, a subset of faculty has tenure, which allows its beneficiaries to retain their professorships without mandatory retirement and with only limited grounds for revocation. Proponents of tenure argue it protects intellectual freedom and encourages investment in human capital. Detractors contend it discourages effort and distorts the academic labor market. This Article develops a framework for examining academic tenure in the context of U.S. law schools. We construct a unique dataset of tenured U.S. law professors who began their careers between 1993 through 2002, and follow their employment and scholarship for the first ten years of their career. Across all journal publications, tenured faculty publish more frequently, are cited with roughly the same frequency, and place in comparable caliber of journal. These productivity gains, however, largely disappear when excluding solicited publications. These results suggest that legal academics continue to produce after tenure, but channel more of their efforts towards less competitive outlets.

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January 4, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Dent:  Conservatives Are Not Welcome At AALS

AALS (2018)National Association of Scholars: Association of American Law Schools: Conservatives Not Welcome, by George Dent (Case Western):

As appropriate to its quasi-governmental status, the AALS nods toward non-partisanship. Its by-laws state that it “expects its member schools to value . . . diversity of viewpoints.” Unfortunately, this commitment has been pure window-dressing. In its law school inspections the AALS often criticizes schools for lack of racial or gender diversity, and it makes a big issue of sexual-orientation diversity, but it never criticizes schools for lack of political diversity.

This is not because law faculties reflect the political diversity of the nation. Empirical evidence confirms the obvious; law faculties tilt overwhelmingly to the left [John O. McGinnis et al., The Patterns and Implications of Political Contributions by Elite Law School Faculty, 93 Geo. L.J. 1167 (2005)]. And in its own programs the AALS displays the same bias. An announcement about the 2016 annual meeting included a list of thirteen scheduled “Speakers of Note.” One or two of them might be considered moderate or non-political, but all others were liberals or radicals; not one was a conservative or libertarian.

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January 4, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlight

AALS (2018)Today's highlight at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco:

Section on Balance in Legal Education:
Understanding and Connecting the Student Experience
Moderating and Speaking: Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Rhonda Magee (San Francisco)

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January 4, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reinventing The Liberal Arts: College In One Year For $5

ReinventingTuck Newport, Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5:

Hardly a week passes without some luminary decrying the exorbitant cost of higher education and the sorry state of the liberal arts. But none of them explain, in detail, how to obtain a liberal arts education better than that offered by colleges and universities–in less than a year and at a fraction of the cost. "Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5" provides a comprehensive science and humanities curriculum, with key elements field tested at a well-known liberal arts college over the past two decades. It includes an interdisciplinary survey of crucial concepts in physics, geology, molecular biochemistry, neuroscience, history, literature, ethics, politics, language, information technology, and management.

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January 4, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Martha Minow To Step Down As Harvard Law School Dean

MinowHarvard Gazette, Minow to Step Down as Law School Dean:

Harvard Law School (HLS) Dean Martha Minow announced today that she will step down from that post at the end of this academic year. A legal scholar and human rights expert, Minow has led the diversification of the School’s faculty, staff, and student body, and has overseen significant growth in clinics and research programs, along with record fundraising. She will remain on the faculty and return to active participation in public dialogue and legal policy.

Minow, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, took over in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. She steered the School through the resulting economic challenges to a period of program and faculty growth, strengthened commitment to public service, and campus renewal, with construction of the Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center and Clinical Wing Building (WCC), and creation of the campus courtyard. She has continued to teach, write, and advise students throughout her tenure as dean.

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January 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Volokh:  University Of Oregon's Punishment Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz May Signal The End Of Free Speech For All Professors At All Universities


Following up on last week's post, Volokh: Punishment Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Means The End Of Free Speech At The University of Oregon: Washington Post (The Volokh Conspiracy): Silencing Professor Speech to Prevent Students From Being Offended — Or From Fearing Discrimination by the Professors, by Eugene Volokh (UCLA):

People often support disciplining and even firing professors who say things that are perceived as racist on the grounds that 1) those professors can’t be trusted to evaluate minority students fairly, 2) students will be afraid that they won’t be judged fairly, or 3) students will more broadly lose confidence in the professors (or just couldn’t stand to be in the room with them) or even in the institution, and won’t learn as effectively. I’ve seen these arguments made often, most recently as to the University of Oregon controversy. ...

I appreciate the force of these arguments, and indeed, if all you care about is maximum teaching effectiveness and reliability, you might take such a view. But, if accepted, these arguments really will be the end of freedom of expression — both casual and more formally academic — on university professors’ part, because they reach far beyond black makeup in Halloween costumes.

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January 3, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Top 10 Legal Education Stories Of 2016

Top 10

National Law Journal, ABA's Spanking, Law Dean's Ouster Among Top 10 Law School Stories of 2016:

The legal education beat was a wild ride in 2016. Law schools continued to face pressure from the market and regulators, and dust ups involving everything from a handsy dean to a law school's unfortunate new acronym caught the public's attention. We've rounded up the year's top 10 law school stories.

DOEC1.  The U.S. Department of Education cracks down on the American Bar Association and law schools

TaxProf Blog coverage:

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January 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, January 2, 2017

NY Times Op-Ed:  Let's Resolve This New Years To Finally Ban Laptops In The Law School Classroom

No LaptopFollowing up on my previous posts (links below): New York Times op-ed: Leave Your Laptops at the Door to My Classroom, by Darren Rosenblum (Pace Law School):

When I started teaching, I assumed my “fun” class, sexuality and the law, full of contemporary controversy, would prove gripping to the students. One day, I provoked them with a point against marriage equality, and the response was a slew of laptops staring back. The screens seemed to block our classroom connection. Then, observing a senior colleague’s contracts class, I spied one student shopping for half the class. Another was surfing Facebook. Both took notes when my colleague spoke, but resumed the rest of their lives instead of listening to classmates.

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