TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Law Schools Are Looking For Answers In All The Wrong Places

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), US Law Schools: Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places:

On a very regular basis we see reports on the state of how many people are taking the LSAT, applying to law school, actually enrolling in law schools, comparing applicants’ LSAT and GPA credentials with students from previous years, as well as how law schools’ graduates fared in the job market.  This latter category has become a bit more complex and slightly more honest, including paying attention to whether the jobs were subsidized by the law schools in an effort to improve the placement statistics, required a law degree and bar passage, or if an advantage was created for people who had received a law degree.

This entire process of “casting bones” to interpret whether law schools have weathered the storm of declining demand for their educational services is mainly a bunch of unproductive “navel gazing”.  This is because it fails to look closely at what is happening in the world external to the parochial focus of law schools in terms of specific tiers of the legal profession, the dramatic and increasing shrinkage in jobs of many kinds — including law — alternative ways to obtain “law knowledge” and legal services, flat or declining wages over an extended period, the rise of the “gig” economy, and the aging of the American population and the significant financial and employment pressures under which Millennials are now functioning. 

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August 16, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stetson Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Stetson LogoStetson University College of Law invites applications for a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty position for a dedicated teacher/scholar specializing in tax law. While we are particularly interested in receiving applications from experienced lateral candidates, we will consider hiring at all levels, with or without tenure.

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August 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Offers 1-Year Masters In Data Journalism For $106,000

ColumbiaInside Higher Ed, $147,000 for a One-Year Master's? In Journalism?:

For those with an extra $147,514 lying around, there is a new a master of science in data journalism from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

For everyone else, dropping just over $106,000 for tuition and fees — plus $41,232 in living expenses, per Columbia’s estimate — for a master’s degree in an unstable, layoff-ravaged industry where the median annual salary is less than $40,000 might seem ludicrous, or at least deserving of mockery.

“The higher ed Institution is crumbling,” journalist Josh Sternberg wrote on Twitter. “A $100,000 master's of science in data journalism degree?”

Press Release, New Data Journalism Degree at Columbia Journalism School Prepares Next Generation of Newsroom Leaders:

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlotte Law School Closes 'Effective Immediately'

CharlotteWSOCTV, Charlotte School of Law Closing Immediately, Alumni Association Says:

The Charlotte School of Law is closing effective immediately, according to an email the alumni association sent out to former students.

An email obtained by Channel 9 from Lee Robertson, the president of the Charlotte School of Law Alumni Association, said he received a call Monday from Interim Dean Meggett about the school’s future.

During the call, Meggett said that the American Bar Association denied the law school’s Teach-Out Plan and that the North Carolina Board of Governors declined to grant an extension of the law school’s license to operate, according to Robertson.

Robertson said the students would be informed Tuesday of the development.

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Abel Reviews Engines of Anxiety: The U.S. News Law School Rankings As A 'Roach Motel' (You Can Check In But You Can Never Check Out)

EnginesRichard Abel (UCLA), Book Review, 66 J. Legal Educ. 961 (2017) (reviewing Wendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern) & Michael Sauder (Iowa), Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability (Russell Sage Foundation 2016):

Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder’s superb book Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability offers an incisive, comprehensive, and devastating account of the ways in which U.S. News and World Report (USN) rankings influence law schools and the institutions with which they are enmeshed. The authors conducted interviews with 131 law school administrators and faculty members (carefully distributed across the status hierarchy), observed law school forums where admissions officers make pitches to prospective students, analyzed admissions and yield statistics, and collected extensive data from electronic bulletin boards, mass media, other informants, and law school websites and publications. They make sophisticated use of sociological theories of accountability to analyze their data. Given their persuasive demonstration that USN rankings powerfully shape both legal education and the profession, this is a book that should be read by every law school teacher, administrator, and prospective, current, or past student—which means every lawyer.

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August 15, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

McMahon Wins University Of Cincinnati 2017 Teaching Award

McMahon2017 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching:

For over 30 years, students at the University of Cincinnati College of Law have had the opportunity to recognize excellence in teaching by recognizing professors who distinguish themselves in the classroom, and whose accomplishments in research and public service contribute to superior performance in the classroom.

Congratulations to this year’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching awardees: ...

Stephanie McMahon, Professor of Law
Professor Stephanie McMahon goes above and beyond the standard for teaching. Wrote a student in her nomination letter, “She is one of those professors you remember forever who has the ability to change your view on a subject that most expect to dislike.”

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Budget Cuts Hit UC-Berkeley After Scandal, Drop in Ranking; Law School Reduces Number Of Associate Deans From Seven To Three To Save $1.5 Million

UC Berkeley (2016)The Daily Californian, Budget Cuts Hit Berkeley Law After Scandal, Drop in Ranking:

Chancellor Carol Christ’s substantial budget cuts left few departments unscathed last week, and the UC Berkeley School of Law was no exception. The school will cut its number of associate deans from seven to three to increase its budget surplus by almost $1.5 million. According to a draft Boalt Law divisional budget dashboard, in addition to implementing $2 million in cuts, it will have to hit higher fundraising benchmarks and expand its professional and summer programs. ...

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Write No Matter What: Advice For Academics

Write No Matter WhatJoli Jensen (Tulsa), Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics (University of Chicago Press 2017):

With growing academic responsibilities, family commitments, and inboxes, scholars are struggling to fulfill their writing goals. A finished book — or even steady journal articles — may seem like an impossible dream. But, as Joli Jensen proves, it really is possible to write happily and productively in academe.

Jensen begins by busting the myth that universities are supportive writing environments.  She points out that academia, an arena dedicated to scholarship, offers pressures that actually prevent scholarly writing. She shows how to acknowledge these less-than-ideal conditions, and how to keep these circumstances from draining writing time and energy. Jensen introduces tools and techniques that encourage frequent, low-stress writing. She points out common ways writers stall and offers workarounds that maintain productivity. Her focus is not on content, but on how to overcome whatever stands in the way of academic writing.

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August 14, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bird-Pollan Wins University Of Kentucky 2017 Teaching Award

Bird-Pollan (2017)UK Law's Jennifer Bird Pollan is 2017 Duncan Teaching Award Recipient:

Jennifer Bird Pollan, James and Mary Lassiter Associate Professor of Law, is the recipient of the 2017 Duncan Teaching Award at the University of Kentucky College of Law. 

Every year, a UK Law faculty member is recognized for excellence in the classroom, courtesy of the Robert M. and Joanne K. Duncan Faculty Improvement Fund – established in 1982 to promote outstanding teaching performance at the college.

Professor Bird-Pollan joined the UK Law faculty in 2010. She teaches a variety of Tax Law courses, including Basic Income Tax, Corporate Tax, Partnership Tax and International Tax. She is fully engaged in the academic welfare of her students and they enjoy her both inside and outside the classroom.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Analyzing The Effect Of Financial Aid On Law School Matriculation

Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Vanderbilt), Analyzing the Effect of Financial Aid on Law School Matriculation:

In the wake of recent dramatic reductions in the demand for legal education, law schools are reacting to the changed marketplace in ways that reveal Coasian “firm behavior” by responding to perverse incentives inherent in the competitive legal education marketplace. For example, to fill empty seats, law schools are enrolling students with lower GPA and LSAT scores than before 2010. Also, new evidence suggests that financial aid award allocation might be influenced by increased pressure to meet minimum enrollment requirements since the Recession. These trends evince market responses on the part of providers of legal education — law schools — as well as consumers of legal education — law students. This study aims to isolate the impact of one such firm behavior: financial aid award allocation. In the competition for shrinking pools of potential law students, law schools can discount the expected cost of attendance through institutionally-provided financial aid awards. This study assesses this trend — the effect of increasing median financial aid award amounts on matriculant enrollment totals and yield rates, controlling for law school and law student covariates — through two competing, but not mutually exclusive, theoretical frameworks. The rational choice theory, which holds that demand for legal education is determined by the exchange of information about costs and benefits. Scarce resource theory suggests that, like most institutional scholarships, the majority of law school financial aid awards are cross-subsidized.

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

Testy: LSAT Test-Takers Surged 12% In Sept., On Heels Of 20% Increase In June; Biggest Combined Rate Of Increase In 8 Years

TestyThe Justice Pipeline
A Monthly Column by Kellye Y. Testy (President, Law School Admissions Council)

Thanks again to Dean Caron for the opportunity to post monthly on law school admissions. I chose the title The Justice Pipeline for my column to remind us all that our work at the gateway to the legal profession carries a collective responsibility for our nation’s civil and criminal justice systems. Moreover, the global dimensions of law link our system of justice with others around the world.

As we focus on our gateway role, we have seen some welcome news in the past few months. There was a nearly 20% increase over last year in candidates taking the LSAT in June, and now, an increase of 12% for September registrations. We all hope those upticks will translate to an even more robust pipeline of candidates for law school. Our world needs more law-trained leaders who have both the capacity and the commitment to solve our most complex problems. Legal education is up to this task. During a time of significant challenge for legal education, law schools have worked hard to deliver more value. Many of the innovations are impressive, but even more impressive is the spirit of innovation that has taken root in legal education. That spirit will serve our students and our justice system well.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Welcome, Pepperdine Law School Class Of 2020

Launch Week 4

Welcome to the members of the Pepperdine Law School Class of 2020 who begin their legal education today in a week-long introduction to law school and professional formation, as well the over one hundred students pursuing joint, LL.M., and masters degrees and certificates, including our new LL.M. and certificate programs in Entertainment, Media, and Sports and our new online Masters of Legal Studies.

This is my first year as Dean, and I am thrilled that you have decided to join our very special law school community. You will learn and study on our spectacularly beautiful campus in Malibu with easy access to Los Angeles, one of the world's most vibrant cities for young professionals. You will experience the faculty and staff's faith-fueled commitment to you and to your success that manifests itself in various ways, large and small, in daily life here. My fervent wish is that you will love your time at Pepperdine as I have since joining the faculty in 2013, and that you will leave here with a deep sense of your professional and personal calling in law and in life.

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

'America's Worst One L': How Jeremy Burnside Went From Being The Worst Student In America's Worst Law School To A Successful Lawyer

Look to Your LeftJeremy M. Burnside, Look To Your Left:  A True Story of Law School Survival in the Face of Impossibility, Murder, and an Appalachian Apocalypse (2015):

Forward (by Judge Mark Painter):

Most Lawyers look back on their law school days with a sense of horror and relief.  As Jeremy Burnside reveals in this soul-searching book, law school is a testing ground that forces us to grow and ultimately, we hope, to become capable, caring lawyers. ...

Jeremy Burnside ... struggled with grades and had squabbles with roommates and romantic interests.  But he was far from home, friends, and family.

In what could only be called an Appalachian Apocalypse, the college town was afflicted with an explosion, which destroyed his apartment on the eve of final exams, and a flood.  And three people, including the Dean, were murdered on campus.  These horrendous incidents came on top of his failure to make grades in his first semester. 

Jeremy was enrolled in America’s newest and presumptively worst law school, the Appalachian State Law School, in rural Virginia, which was working toward accreditation.  It had to have a worst student.  Jeremy’s grades were so low the first semester that he was placed on academic probation.  But since he didn’t totally flunk out (by a hair), he was still technically a law student.  But his grade report said it all.  He was America’s worst One L

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amidst Controversy Over Proposed Changes In Reporting Of Law School-Funded Jobs, ABA Defers Decision Until Late Fall

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Bloomberg, Law Deans Argue Over How to Count Jobs They Fund:

When times got rough a few years ago and student numbers started to slip, deep-pocketed law schools took solace in being able to give some refuge to unemployed graduates. They used their own funds to pay the salaries of students — often times creating temporary positions in law libraries or even dean’s offices — and were able to count them as employed.

Eventually critics of legal education outcomes caught wind of it and the American Bar Association altered its reporting standards to make school-funded jobs more obvious. But several years later, the group, which accredits law firms, is still tussling over those rules.

In June, the requirements were thrown into question again with an unexpected adoption of changes in the way such information is disclosed.

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August 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wax & Alexander: Paying The Price For Breakdown Of The Country's Bourgeois Culture

Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed:  Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country's Bourgeois Culture, by Amy Wax (Pennsylvania) & Larry Alexander (San Diego):

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more raised are by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. ...

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August 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Charlotte Law School's License To Operate Expired Aug. 10, May Shut Down

At The Movies With A Law School Dean: The Big Sick

Big SickNick Allard (Dean, Brooklyn) reviews The Big Sick:

This morning I enjoyed the fascinating experience of meeting our two dozen plus newest LLM students from all over the world; meaning five continents because, this year Australia is unrepresented and, though warming, Antarctica is still too cold to harvest lawyers for graduate legal studies in America.  After I welcomed this amazing cohort and sincerely described how much they enrich the Law School experience for all of us in our increasingly global field of law, I took questions.  The very first question was from a Colombian woman who asked — I am not making this up — “Can you recommend any good movies for us to watch before classes start?”

Without any hesitation, I suggested that they make time to see the new film, The Big Sick: a very deft, captivating, Romeo and Juliet of a romcom, exquisitely and appealingly acted by comedian-writer Kumail Nanjiani, playing a version of himself, and Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of Director Elia Kazan) in the role of Emily, who brilliantly rewrites and updates the great Diane Keaton playbook for adorable quirkiness.

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

The Future Of A Once-Doomed Law School Is Brighter Thanks To Trump Administration

Charlotte Logo (2016)The Atlantic, The Future of a Once-Doomed Law School: The For-profit Charlotte School of Law Could Be Saved by Trump-era Regulatory Rollbacks:

Earlier this year, it appeared as though the Charlotte School of Law would have to close its doors. The for-profit school, which had long suffered from poor bar-passage rates and long-term employment figures, was placed on probation last November by its accreditor. A month later, the U.S. Education Department announced that it would be refusing the school’s access to federal loan money, likely spelling the end for an institution heavily reliant on this source of revenue. Its dean quickly resigned, as did the interim dean who replaced him shortly after that. Enrollment dwindled to some 100 students.

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August 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Applicants Plunged 52%, And Acceptance Rates Increased 20%, At Non-T14 Law Schools From 2008 To 2016

U.S. News & World Report, Less Competitive Law School Admissions a Boon for Applicants:

U.S. News data reveal that the average number of applicants at the top 14 schools in the Best Law Schools rankings was 20.6 percent lower for the entering class of 2016 than it was for the entering class of 2008. Meanwhile, the average number of applicants at lower-ranked law schools plunged 52.3 percent between 2008 and 2016.


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August 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

More On Using The GRE In Law School Admissions

Thursday, August 10, 2017

U.S. News Law School Rankings: Part-Time Applicants

U.S. News & World Report, 10 Law Schools That Draw Part-Time Applicants:

For the top 10 schools, the average number of applications was 602 for fall 2016. The average among all 103 schools was around 183. Below are the 10 schools that received the most part-time law school applications for the fall 2016 entering class.

Law School Part-Time Applications U.S. News Part-Time Rank U.S. News Law School Rank
Georgetown 1,381 1 15 (tie)
Loyola-L.A. 939 9 65 (tie)
Mitchell Hamline 510 38 (tie) RNP
George Mason 508 4 (tie) 41 (tie)
G. Washington 495 2 30 (tie)
American 479 6 (tie) 86 (tie)
Akron 456 50 (tie) 134 (tie)
W. Michigan 455 RNP RNP
NY Law School 407 24 (tie) 112 (tie)
Brooklyn 387 16 (tie) 88 (tie)

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August 10, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Justifications For Going To Law School

I'll plead guilty to my own case of availability heuristic here, but it sure seems like law professors lead the parade for defensive justifications of why their segment of academy still makes sense as a post-graduate choice.  Shima Baradaran Baughman (Utah), guest blogging over at PrawfsBlawg, has bravely donned the gladiatorial armor and is sure to endure the largely anonymous opprobrium that will come in the comments as a result of any such effort.  She's committed to a continuing series on "The Case for Law School" with Part I and Part II already posted.

My daily feed-reader scan occurred this morning just before I walked Tia the Wonder Dog, so it meant that I read this paragraph in Prof. Baughman's post, then stewed about it for the next thirty minutes as Tia got her daily constitutional.  

Law school teaches you how to see both sides of an argument better than any other degree. Law school teaches you how to determine a reputable source from a bad one, a good argument from a weak one, and to see through logical fallacies. Often lawyers are criticized for becoming dispassionate because of this great skill. Students that come into law school feeling indignantly opposed to abortion rights will be forced to confront the legitimate arguments on the other side and have to rethink their views. This is an invaluable lifelong skill. There is no other education that will teach you this kind of analytical thinking. And the byproduct of this is that it makes it hard for lawyers to argue with nonlawyers (ask your snarky lawyer friends but it is true). It is important now—more than ever—to have people able to see the holes in arguments and to be able to understand both sides of an issue. It is important for people to be able to decipher real from fake news and be able to see the logical problems in arguments.

Professor Baughman's bravery deserves the wider distribution Tax Prof Blog provides, so I'll give another shot at what spilled out in the Prawfs comments after Tia and I returned home, she got her treat for being a good puppy, and I ventured back to the MacBook Pro.

Punch line: I spent too much of my career as a lawyer-executive among non-lawyers to be a proponent of "J.D. exceptionalism."  And lawyers and law profs tend to drink the rationality Kool-Aid.  It's an occupational hazard.

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August 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

2018 Princeton Review's Best 382 Colleges

Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has released The Best 382 Colleges — 2018 Edition.  According to the press release, the book contains 62 rankings based on surveys completed by 137,000 students at the 382 schools (358 per school) (methodology here), including these categories:

  • Best (U.S. Military Academy) classroom experience
  • Best (Sarah Lawrence), worst (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) professors
  • Most (Colby), least (UC-Santa Cruz) accessible professors
  • Best (Rice) quality of life
  • Most (Vanderbilt), least (U.S. Coast Guard Academy) happy students
  • Students love (Virginia Tech) their school
  • Most (UC-San Diego), least (Harvey Mudd) beautiful campus
  • Best (Richmond), worst (University of Hawaii-Manoa) run school
  • Most liberal (Reed), most conservative (Dallas) students
  • Most (Thomas Aquinas),  least (Reed) religious
  • Students study the most (Harvey Mudd), least (St. John's)
  • Most (Bowdoin), least (SUNY-Purchase) financial aid

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The GRE Is Shaking Up Law School Admissions

GRELSATInside Higher Ed, Shaking Up Law School Admissions:

Harvard Law School announced in March that it would start to accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test. At the time, only one other law school — the University of Arizona's — had such a policy. Many wondered if the move by Harvard, given its stature in legal education, would prompt others to follow.

That question may have been answered Monday, when the law schools of both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities announced that they too would now accept the GRE, a test from the Educational Testing Service. Both Georgetown and Northwestern are highly regarded law schools and have no shortage of applicants.

But even as the announcements give momentum to the test-choice movement, they come at a time when the American Bar Association may clamp down on such experimentation. Currently the ABA requires law schools to either use the LSAT or another test the law school has determined to have "validity" in predicting student success. Arizona, Georgetown, Harvard and Northwestern all say that they have done such studies, and so comply with ABA rules.

The ABA is, however, considering a rules change that would permit law schools to use alternatives to the LSAT only if the ABA has determined the validity of the alternative test — something the ABA has yet to do with any test besides the LSAT. And many law deans — including some who have not moved beyond the LSAT — are angry that the ABA (with backing from the Law School Admission Council, which runs the LSAT) may limit their options going forward. ...

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

Law Review v. Peer Review

Law Review v. Peer ReviewSteven Lubet (Northwestern), Law Review vs. Peer Review: A Qualified Defense of Student Editors, 2017 U. Ill. L. Rev. Online 1:

The Harvard economist George Borjas has also written about the shortcomings of peer review:

The point is that many human emotions, including nepotism, professional jealousies, methodological disagreements, and ideological biases go into the peer review process. It would be refreshing if we interpreted the “peer-reviewed” sign of approval as the flawed signal that it is, particularly in areas where there seems to be a larger narrative that must be served. The peer-review process may well be the worst way of advancing scientific knowledge — except for all the others.

Let me suggest that Borjas may well be wrong about the latter point. For all of their flaws and naiveté, law review editors are likely to demand proof, or at least citations, for assertions that go unquestioned by peer reviewers—not because they know more than the experts, but because they recognize that they know less. And therein lies their virtue.

Brian Frye (Kentucky), The Past & Future of Law Reviews (Aug. 6, 2017):

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

Amid Criticism, ABA Pulls Back On Change To How Law Schools Report Jobs

Following up on last week's post, Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency:  National Law Journal, Amid Criticism, ABA Pulls Back on Change to How Law Schools Report Jobs:

The American Bar Association has pumped the brakes on newly adopted changes to how law schools report graduate employment, after critics complained that they obscure the number of recent graduates in jobs paid for by the schools themselves.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the changes at its last meeting in June, but is scheduled to revisit them when it meets Friday in New York in light of the negative response they’ve generated from legal transparency advocates and legal educators, who said they were instituted without the chance for public input.

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Amar: A Guided Tour Through The Debate Over Changing The ABA Employment Data Form

Vikram Amar (Dean. Illinois), A Guided Tour Through The Debate Over Changing The ABA Employment Data Form:

It is, I think, a sign of the lingeringly tight job and law school applicant markets that over the past few weeks many law deans have been weighing in on a contentious change in the form the American Bar Association (ABA) uses to record and communicate employment outcomes for each law school’s most recently graduated class. As I explain below, the issue involves a complicated mix of arguments about substantive policy, procedural thoroughness, and perceptions by the outside world.

As other commentators, such as Kyle McEntee (for this website) and Jerry Organ (on TaxProf Blog), have documented in great detail, the ABA Council on Legal Education earlier this summer amended the form to be used to depict employment results, beginning with the Class of 2017. 

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

Villanova Seeks To Hire A Tax Clinician

Villanova Logo (2015)Assistant/Associate/Full Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic:

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law seeks an outstanding lawyer-educator to direct and teach its nationally regarded Federal Tax Clinic. The Clinic represents low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS. The Director oversees students working in teams on examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters, and cases before the United States Tax Court, Federal District Courts and Appeals, as well as on comments projects relating to guidance issued by the IRS or Treasury.

The Director will be either a full-time continuing non-tenure track (governed by ABA Standard 405(c)), tenure-track, or tenured member of the faculty, depending on the qualifications and aspirations of the successful candidate.

Preferred Qualifications:

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Journal Of Legal Education Symposium: ABA Accreditation Standard 405(c) And Security Of Position For Faculty

Journal of Legal Education (2018)American Bar Association Accreditation Standard 405(c) Symposium, 66 J. Legal Educ. 538-652 (2017):

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Georgetown Is Fourth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades; LSAC Disagrees, Says 'The Rest Of The Top 14 Will Go Like Lemmings Off The Cliff'

GRE or LSATFollowing up on yesterday's post, Northwestern Is Third Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades:

Don’t Let the LSAT Get You Down — Georgetown Law Admissions Now Accepts the GRE:

You would like to apply to law school, but for whatever reason, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) process is not serving you well. Maybe the LSAT test dates — four dates per year — aren’t ideal. Maybe the problem is financial. You’d also like to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and the cost of prep classes and fees for multiple standardized tests, on top of applications and other expenses, is a burden. Or maybe you feel that the LSAT does not reflect your skills, in a competitive law school admissions process, as well as the GRE. For some, the dream of Georgetown Law and its peer schools may appear, perhaps unfairly, out of reach. 

Or is it? Georgetown Law hopefuls facing this dilemma may see some relief, since the Law Center will now consider GRE scores — in addition to the LSAT or in place of the LSAT — if applicants wish to submit them.  

“We did a correlation study, which tells us that the GRE is an equally reliable indicator of academic success, if not more predictive than the LSAT,” said Georgetown Law Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt.

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Northwestern Is Third Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades

GRELSATNational Law Journal, Northwestern Is Latest Law School to Accept GRE for Admissions:

A third law school has joined the GRE party, and it’s another big name.

The Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is set to announce Monday that it will start accepting scores from the GRE in addition to the LSAT, starting with the fall 2019 admissions cycle. It joins the Ivy League’s Harvard Law School as an early adopter of the GRE, as well as the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The GRE, or Graduate Record Exam, is used in admissions for nearly all graduate programs outside of law, medicine and business. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Does UNC Board's Vote To 'Defang' Civil Rights Clinic Unduly Intrude On Law School's Curricular Decisions And Academic Freedom?

North Carolina LogoFollowing up on last week's post, UNC Votes To Block Law School Civil Rights Clinic From Taking On New Clients:  Inside Higher Ed, Banning the Right to Sue:

UNC Board of Governors may bar civil rights center from litigation, raising questions about the role of law schools and academic freedom.

The University of North Carolina School of Law's Center for Civil Rights has long been a thorn in the side of the state government from its perch in Chapel Hill, as it sometimes files and joins in on lawsuits against the state.

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Quinnipiac Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Quinnipiac LogoFull-Time Tenure Track Faculty Job Posting:

Quinnipiac University School of Law invites applications for two full-time tenure-track faculty positions for the fall of 2018. The principal curricular focus for one position will be tax law. Applicants for this position should expect to teach at least one section of Federal Income Taxation plus other courses in taxation and/or related fields of interest, including real estate, trusts & estates, business entities, and non-profit organizations. The principal curricular focus for the second position will be property law, broadly construed to include the traditional first-year Property course, plus real estate transactions and financing, land use, and planning and zoning. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Microsoft Shifts From Paying Its Outside Lawyers By The Hour

Microsoft (2015)New York Times, Microsoft Shifts From Paying Outside Lawyers by the Hour:

Companies have long chafed at law firms’ practice of billing by the hour.

Now, a huge corporation, Microsoft, is taking steps to move away from the traditional billing arrangement.

David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, said that under a program begun last month, the software giant planned to rely much more heavily on alternative fee arrangements. Microsoft is aiming to move 90 percent of the company’s legal work to such arrangements within two years, he said in a phone interview this week.

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bloomberg: DeVos Offers Lifeline To For-Profit Law School That Hired Her Former Advisor

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts:

Bloomberg, DeVos Offers a Lifeline to For-Profit Law School That Hired Her Former Advisor:

The feds had cut off federal student aid to Charlotte School of Law. Then it hired Betsy DeVos’s confirmation “sherpa.”

Early this year, Charlotte School of Law looked ready to collapse. The government had cut off the private equity-backed, for-profit law school’s access to federal student loans, determining in a review that it had violated federal law and misled students, allegations the school denied. But for a school that more than nine in 10 students borrow money to attend, the decision had the ring of a death knell.

Until Donald Trump took office.

One day before Betsy DeVos was confirmed as secretary of education, Charlotte Law hired the adviser who had just steered her through her confirmation hearings to lobby her agency on its behalf. Lauren Maddox, a lobbyist with the Podesta Group in Washington and a former Education Department spokeswoman, has worked for senior Republicans in Congress. But in lobbying for Charlotte Law, she and her colleagues would appear to have a tougher task: Charlotte graduates are leaving school owing more than three times as much on their loans as they wind up earning every year. Fewer than half pass the bar in their first try.

Some $130,000 in fees later, the lobbying effort appears to have paid off. Last week, according to a copy of official correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg News, DeVos's agency told the law school that — provided it puts up $6 million in collateral and agrees to certain conditions, such as offering refunds to first-years and hiring a monitor — it would consider reinstating its access to the federal student-aid program.

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August 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times: Trump Can’t Save American Christianity

New York Times op-ed:  Trump Can’t Save American Christianity, by Rob Dreher:

According to Genesis 1, in four days, God made the heavens, the earth and all the vegetation upon it. But four days after Anthony Scaramucci’s filthy tirade went public, Team Trump’s evangelical all-stars — pastors and prominent laity who hustle noisily around the Oval Office trying to find an amen corner — still had not figured out what to say.

Fortunately, the White House relieved them of that onerous task by firing Mr. Scaramucci — not, please note, on the president’s initiative, but rather at the request of John Kelly, the new chief of staff. Meanwhile, the Christian Broadcasting Network ran a puff piece proclaiming that a “spiritual awakening is underway at the White House,” thanks to a Bible study with what “has been called the most evangelical cabinet in history.” That ought to still any skepticism emerging among the true believers for a while.

Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.

This is not only wrong, but tragically so. The most pressing problem Christianity faces is not in politics. It’s in parishes. It’s with the pastors. Most of all, it’s among an increasingly faithless people.

The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States. As a theologically conservative believer, it gives me no pleasure to say that. In fact, the waning of Christianity will be not only a catastrophe for the church but also a calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate.

But preparing for this post-Christian future requires a brutally honest assessment of both the modern church and the contemporary world. This is painful, but denial will only make the inevitable reckoning worse.

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August 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Turing on AI and Lawyer-Automatons

As I've mentioned previously, the Savannah Law Review is hosting a colloquium on September 15, 2017 entitled The Rise of the Automatons, examining the legal implications of automation.  Ominous predictions like "the Singularity is coming" usually provoke me, and this one prompted my project for this summer, Halting, Intuition, Heuristics, and Action: Alan Turing and the Theoretical Constraints on AI-Lawyering, now available.  

I'm unimpressed with frenzied reactions generally and in this area particularly. Here's the abstract:

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August 5, 2017 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 4, 2017

President Trump’s Student Loan Plan Hurts Law Students

Following up on my previous posts:

Brookings Institution, Winners and Losers in President Trump’s Student Loan Plan:

President Trump proposed major changes to the federal student loan program in his first budget request to Congress. These include reforms to the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program and the interest-free benefit on some loans for undergraduates. This paper offers a first look at the likely net effect of these changes proposed for undergraduate and graduate students (excluding the effects of eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program). We use hypothetical borrower scenarios to compare how much borrowers with different loan balances would pay under the Trump proposal as compared to the existing program. Generally, we show that undergraduate students would receive a net increase in benefits relative to the current program due to earlier loan forgiveness. Those benefits are largest for borrowers with above-average debts and relatively higher incomes in repayment. The analysis also provides a reminder that graduate students can receive generous benefits under the current IBR program without having to earn a low income. The Trump proposal would substantially reduce benefits for graduate students below what they could receive under the current IBR program and even under the original 2007 version of IBR.


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

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Some Law School Deans Embrace JD Advantage Jobs

JDBloomberg Law, Today’s Law Degree Takes on a Broader Meaning:

[T]he proportion of law school graduates obtaining JD advantage jobs has steadily increased — from 8 to 14 percent — since 2007. As a result, deans are reacting — but it’s a delicate issue to address, as schools are under pressure to report their graduates take jobs where people employ their hard-earned law degree.

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August 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools

LawMartRiaz Tejani (Illinois), Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools (Stanford Univ. Press 2017):

American law schools are in deep crisis. Enrollment is down, student loan debt is up, and the profession's supply of high-paying jobs is shrinking. Meanwhile, thousands of graduates remain underemployed while the legal needs of low-income communities go substantially unmet. Many blame overregulation and seek a "free" market to solve the problem, but this has already been tested. Seizing on a deregulatory policy shift at the American Bar Association, private equity financiers established the first for-profit law schools in the early 2000s with the stated mission to increase access to justice by "serving the underserved". Pursuing this mission at a feverish rate of growth, they offered the promise of professional upward mobility through high-tech, simplified teaching and learning.

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August 3, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency

At its June 1-2 meeting, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to completely eviscerate the steps it approved in 2015 to assure greater transparency in reporting law-school-funded positions.  Indeed, the Council went even further, changing the rules to make it impossible for anyone to discover what number/percentage of a law school’s graduates are in law-school-funded positions, so long as those positions pay $40,000. 

The Council did this with no notice, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with this change.  Rather, it simply approved a proposal purporting to simplify reporting of employment outcomes that was submitted by one Council member, Paul Mahoney, whose law school was among several that would benefit from the reclassification of law-school-funded positions. 

More significantly, in approving the proposal, the Council also approved several other changes in reporting of employment outcomes that merit much more discussion.  These changes, discussed below, were not meaningfully discussed in the proposal, nor do they appear to have been meaningfully discussed by the Council in approving the proposal.  Once again, there was no notice of these changes, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with these changes.

It pains me to write this, as I hold the members of the Council in high regard and believe the Council has done a very good job over the last several years navigating legal education through uncharted waters, particularly with its emphasis on increased transparency regarding conditional scholarships and employment outcomes. 

In this instance, however, the Council’s laudable desire to support simplification in reporting of employment outcomes meant that a number of other policy considerations that merit much more attention and thoughtful deliberation did not get due consideration prior to the Council taking action that effectively erodes transparency.

The Council should rescind its action, and send out the proposed changes for notice and comment and for consideration by the Standard’s Review Committee, which can give due consideration to intended and unintended consequences in recommending an appropriate set of changes regarding the reporting of employment outcomes.

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August 3, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Elsevier Acquires bepress

EBFollowing up on my previous post, Elsevier Acquires SSRN:  Press Release, Elsevier Acquires bepress, a Leading Service Provider Used by Academic Institutions to Showcase Their Research:

Elsevier, the global information analytics business specializing in science and health, today acquired bepress, a Berkeley, California-based business that helps academic libraries showcase and share their institutions’ research for maximum impact. Founded by three University of California, Berkeley professors in 1999, bepress allows institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output, including preprints, working papers, journals or specific articles, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and a wide variety of other data.

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

Allard: Valuing The Bar Exam — A Call To 'Poll the Customers'

Allard (2018)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Valuing the Bar Exam: A Call to "Poll the Customers," by Nicolas W. Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

No doubt you have heard the aphorism: "everybody complains about the weather but no one can do anything about it".  Well, the bar exam is easier to change than the weather and at least this time of year there are more complaints about it.

Recently, I and other legal educators and leaders, such as Georgia State University, School of Law Professor Andrea Curcio (Scholarship on Bar Exam Alternatives Needed (July 28, 2017)), noted that there has been little change despite years of growing concerns about the need to overhaul the outdated structure of the bar exam.  The entire process is a painfully time consuming, costly, creaky drawbridge to law practice that neither serves the profession nor the public.  The many responsibilities and calendars of those concerned in the judiciary, professional organizations and law schools leads to episodic reactive responses to problems as they pop up.  It is like an unsatisfying game of whack-a-mole rather than sustained critical thinking and research with an eye to meaningful, comprehensive reform.   The sheer inertia favoring the status quo is formidable and it is reinforced by the interlocking relationships of those who benefit from perpetuating the only game in town: a testing business that impolitely might be described as an unregulated monopoly.  Unchallenged by competition and tolerated by the establishment, the bar exam continues to offer an expensive time consuming all or nothing rite of passage only twice a year whose benefits are assumed but not proven.

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August 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Law Grad Class Of 2016 Secured Fewest Private Practice Jobs Since 1996, But Employment Rose 1% Due To Reduced Class Size

NALP 3NALP, Employment Rate for New Law School Graduates Rises as the Overall Number of Jobs, Class Size, Continue to Shrink:

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) today released its Employment for the Class of 2016 – Selected Findings, a summary of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates — Class of 2016 report, coming out in October 2017. Despite a drop in the number of jobs and the graduating class size, this year’s Selected Findings show a slightly improved employment rate of 87.5% for the Class of 2016 compared to 86.7% measured for the Class of 2015.

“For the third year in a row the employment rate is shaped by a smaller number of jobs and a smaller graduating class size, with graduates benefitting from slightly less competition for the jobs that exist. The employment rate has risen because the falloff in the size of the graduating class has been larger than the falloff in the number of jobs secured,” noted James G. Leipold, NALP’s executive director. “While the percentage of law school graduates who are unemployed and still seeking work ten months after graduation has come down by two and a half percentage points to 8.7% over the last three years, it continues to be more than twice as high as the unemployment rate measured nine months after graduation in the period prior to the recession, and this, more than anything, remains an important marker of the current job market for new law school graduates.” ...


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August 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)