TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, December 19, 2014

NCBE Responds to Law Deans' Complaints About Low Bar Passage Rates

NCBEFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Erica Moeser, President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, has responded in a letter and column to complaints from dozens of law school deans about this year's sharp fall in bar passage rates.  Vikram Amar, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at UC-Davis Law School,shares his preliminary thoughts with TaxProf Blog readers:

Her letter is noteworthy in a few respects, not the least of which is her steadfast refusal to turn over specifics about the adequacy of NCBE’s “equating” process (used to ensure that difficulty remains constant across test administrations) because such information is proprietary.  The tone of her letter also makes clear she feels attacked by law deans (which may understandable on her part).

[Her column] provides additional context for this controversy.  The column covers a lot of ground, but here are a few reactions:  (1) The suggestion that recent MPRE score declines can be seen as precursors to the 2014 MBE decline is interesting, and may tend to support her conclusion that the MBE was properly equated and scored -- assuming the MPRE has been properly equated and scored. (It also may tend to predict further erosion in MBE and bar pass rates in 2015); (2) The mention of LSAC’s change from using the average LSAT score to the highest LSAT score (of each taker) seems odd to me, since that change seems to have predated (by a number of years) the class entering fall of 2011 (that suffered the 2014 MBE decline); (3) The existence of larger transfer classes at some law schools in recent years (which she mentions) wouldn’t appear to say much about aggregate MBE performance (unless some kind of Sanderesque “mismatch” effect is occurring when people transfer to schools for which they are not suited); (4) All of the changes in law school curriculum and grading she discusses have been gradual, and thus wouldn’t easily explain an abrupt one-year change in bar performance.

All of this brings us to her point about the how the “tail of the [incoming credentials] curve” – the folks in the bottom quartile of entering law school class LSAT (and/or) UGPA profiles – is invisible.  To be sure, this may be a group that often struggles with bar passage, and a steeper-than-before drop-off within this group in the class that entered law school in 2011 could explain some decline in 2014 MBE performance.  I leave it to the true gearheads to tell us whether we have the data we need to make that tail more visible on a national level and, if so, what such a close-up view would tell us.  Maybe some of the commentary a month ago already did that, but Ms. Moeser’s response letter and accompanying column seem, at least, to have framed some of the issues more tightly.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

December 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Have Shed 986 Full-Time Faculty (11%) Since 2010

Matt Leichter has published the 2014 edition of Which Law Schools Are Shedding Full-Time Faculty?  The nation's law schools have shed 986 full-time faculty (11%) since 2010, and 719 full-time faculty (8%) since 2013.

134 law schools have shed full-time faculty since 2010, with 11 law schools shedding 20 or more full-time faculty:

Full-Time Faculty (Fall)
RankSchool’10’13’14'13 v '14'10 v '14
1. WMU Cooley 101 115 49 -66 -52
2. G. Washington 106 93 72 -21 -34
3. Florida Coastal 69 51 36 -15 -33
4. Chapman 51 41 20 -21 -31
5. Vermont 55 33 26 -7 -29
6. McGeorge 63 43 36 -7 -27
7. Texas 103 80 80 0 -23
8. Seton Hall 59 47 38 -9 -21
9. Hamline 34 24 14 -10 -20
9. Albany 46 36 26 -10 -20
9. Villanova 49 38 29 -9 -20

45 law schools have added shed full-time faculty since 2010, with 11 law schools adding 10 or more full-time faculty:

Full-Time Faculty (Fall)
RankSchool’10’13’14'13 v '14'10 v '14
1. Columbia 107 154 167 13 60
2. UC-Irvine 0 27 32 5 32
3. Charlotte 35 66 64 -2 29
4. Stanford 68 81 90 9 22
5. UMass 0 15 17 2 17
6. Belmont 0 17 14 -3 14
7. UCLA 86 99 98 -1 12
8. Denver 62 84 73 -11 11
9. Ohio State 42 53 49 -1 10
9. N. Carolina 42 51 52 1 10
9. Wm & Mary 39 53 49 -4 10

December 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

News Worsens for Law Schools: Fall 2015 Applicants Are Down 9.1%; 'J.D. R.I.P.'?

LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

As of 12/12/14, there are 88,926 fall 2015 applications submitted by 13,816 applicants. Applicants are down 9.1% [8.5% two weeks ago] and applications are down 10.5% [9.5% two weeks ago] from 2014.

Gainesville Scene, Thinking About Law School? Think Again:

Enrollment to law schools around the country has dwindled by more than 37 percent since 2010. The decline steadied this year at 8 percent, the first single-digit figure in four years, but this is not sign of an upward swing, according to Alfred Brophy, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Via: Quartz

“In the median term, I don’t think (the number of applicants) will increase because I think the structural reasons why people aren’t going to law school aren’t going to change,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe Ebola will wipe us out.” ...

George Dawson, interim dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, mused that the legal field “may have lost its luster.” Brophy points to various factors when speculating what could be causing the decline: Tuition costs are skyrocketing ahead of inflation, jobs are scarce and, ironically, the legal field just isn’t that lucrative.

In 1985, the average attorney brought home about $90,000 per year, which, adjusted for inflation, equals almost $200,000. But a six-digit paycheck is now an elusive reality for law-school grads. These days, the average U.S. attorney is paid a yearly salary of less than $62,000. ...

“Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, in a 2013 New York Times article. “Today, the law school escalator is broken.”

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Marquette Suspends Tenured Professor for Blogging, Orders Him Off Campus

McAdamsInside Higher Ed, Suspended for Blogging:

Marquette University has suspended with pay and barred from campus the tenured professor who criticized a graduate student instructor in a personal blog, pending an investigation into his conduct.

John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, last month wrote a controversial blog post accusing a teaching assistant in philosophy of shutting down a classroom conversation on gay marriage based on her own political beliefs. He based the post on a recording secretly made by a disgruntled student who wished that the instructor, Cheryl Abbate, had spent more time on the topic of gay marriage, which the student opposed. McAdams said Abbate, in not allowing a prolonged conversation about gay marriage, was “using a tactic typical among liberals,” in which opinions they disagree with “are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”

The story was picked up by various other blogs, and the second-year graduate student soon received critical messages via email, regular mail and online comment boards – some of which included lewd or profane remarks or threats. She also received support from academics across the country, many of whom accused McAdams of violating his ethical and pedagogical responsibilities towards all Marquette students, even teaching assistants.

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

SMU Law Prof's Comments Prompt Sexual Harassment Policy Review

National Law Journal, SMU Law Prof's Comments Prompt Harassment Policy Review:

SMU LogoA complaint by a student at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law that her professor in 2010 referred to her as a “bitch” and “hired bimbo” spurred a federal investigation into the university’s handling of complaints involving sexual harassment, sexual violence and other Title IX violations.

In a report released Dec. 11, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that SMU lacked adequate procedures to respond to complaints and did not always do so in a timely manner. The university has voluntarily agreed to review its Title IX complaint procedures, to better publicize its policies and do more to report and track complaints, among other things.

The Education Department began its investigation in 2011 after the female law student raised concerns about the university’s handling of her harassment claims. Her complaint, which government investigators said they had substantiated, was one of three detailed in the report. ...

The law student, referred to in the report at “Complainant 1,” alleged that her professor, also unnamed, called her “just one of those girls who thinks she’s so pretty.” She added that the professor said that not paying attention in class was “like looking at a beautiful woman only she’s wearing dirty panties.”

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ABA 509 Enrollment Data on All Ranked Law Schools, 2011-2014

Keith Lee has mined the ABA 509 Information Reports for all ABA-accredited law schools for 2011-2014 in There Will Be Blood: ABA 509 Matriculant Data On All Ranked Schools.  126 of the 146 ranked schools experienced enrollment declines from 2011 to 2014; only 18 law schools increased enrollment:

  1. Wyoming (129 in U.S. News):   23.2%
  2. George Washington (20):   13.7%
  3. Pepperdine (54):   12.4%
  4. Baylor (51):  11.3%
  5. Washington University (18):  11.1%
  6. Notre Dame (26):  9.3%
  7. UC-Berkeley (9):  7.9%
  8. Chapman (140):  5.6%
  9. Duke (10):  4.7%
  10. Florida (49):  4.1%
  11. Hawaii (100):  3.5%
  12. Penn State (51):  3.2%
  13. Oklahoma (58):  2.6%
  14. Brooklyn (83):  2.3%
  15. Colorado (43):  1.8%
  16. Harvard (2):  0.7%
  17. NYU (6):  0.4%
  18. Georgetown (13):  0.2%

Check out the many great charts. Here are the Top 51 law schools:

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Harvard Law Prof: Are Today's Students Too Sensitive to Study Rape Law?

The New Yorker:  The Trouble With Teaching Rape Law, by Jeanne Suk (Harvard):

I New Yorkermagine a medical student who is training to be a surgeon but who fears that he’ll become distressed if he sees or handles blood. What should his instructors do? Criminal-law teachers face a similar question with law students who are afraid to study rape law.

Thirty years ago, their reluctance would not have posed a problem. Until the mid-nineteen-eighties, rape law was not taught in law schools, because it wasn’t considered important or suited to the rational pedagogy of law-school classrooms. The victims of rape, most often women, were seen as emotionally involved witnesses, making it difficult to ascertain what really happened in a private encounter. This skepticism toward the victim was reflected in the traditional law of rape, which required a woman to “resist to the utmost” the physical force used to make her have intercourse. Trials often included inquiries into a woman’s sexual history, because of the notion that a woman who wasn’t virginal must have been complicit in any sex that occurred. Hard-fought feminist reforms attacked the sexism in rape law, and eventually the topic became a major part of most law schools’ mandatory criminal-law course. Today, nobody doubts its importance to law and society.

But my experience at Harvard over the past couple of years tells me that the environment for teaching rape law and other subjects involving gender and violence is changing. Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress. ...

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Seto: More on the 2016 New Lawyer Job Projections

Seto (2014)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  More on the 2016 New Lawyer Job Projections, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

On Dec. 10, Matt Leichter published a response to my TaxProf Blog op-ed of Nov. 19 analyzing new Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of the likely demand for lawyers over the next several years. While I am flattered that anyone would spend an entire article responding to my rather pedestrian analysis, I am bemused to be accused of “optimism” and “exuberance.” If I am guilty of these faults, it is entirely unintentional. My goal is to be as ploddingly fact-based as possible.

In particular, Mr. Leichter quotes me as claiming that “by 2016, the number of law graduates [will] exceed the new projected annual job growth rate, creating ‘a significant excess of demand over supply.’” What I actually wrote was: “Based on 2012 and 2013 matriculation rates and historical drop-out rates, we should expect 40,082 ABA-accredited law school graduates in 2015 and 35,954 in 2016. If the new BLS projections are accurate, we should see demand and supply in relative equilibrium in 2015 and a significant excess of demand over supply beginning in 2016. (These estimates only take into account JD-required jobs. Demand from JD-advantage employers is not included.)”

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1L Enrollment Shrank 4.5% in 2014, to the Lowest Level Since 1974 (When There Were 53 Fewer Law Schools)

ABA Journal, 1L Enrollment Drops Nearly 30 Percent From 2010 High:

First-year enrollment at ABA-approved law schools dropped this year to the lowest point since 1974, when there were 53 fewer accredited law schools.

The 204 ABA-accredited law schools enrolled 37,924 full- and part-time first-year students in the fall of 2014, a drop of 4.4 percent from 2013 and a drop of 27.7 percent from the historic high of 52,488 in 2010, according to an ABA press release.

Sixty-four schools reported a drop in first-year enrollment of 10 percent or more since last year. Thirty-three law schools bucked the trend, however, reporting an increase in 1L enrollment this year of 10 percent or more.

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Firms Profits Projected to Grow 5% in 2015

Citi Private Bank & Hildebrandt Consulting, 2015 Client Advisory:

Based on our review of financial data, our discussions with law firm leaders, and other economic data available to us, we project that 2015 revenue for the law firm industry will likely rise in the six percent range, and PPEP in the five percent range. ... We believe transactional work will continue to drive growth, and litigation demand is likely to remain flat, placing continued pressure on firms with a strong dependence on litigation. ...

Just as the uptick in transactional activity is likely to drive demand growth in 2015, we expect to see continued pressure on firms who rely more heavily on litigation. While litigation traditionally drove firm revenue in downward economic cycles, over the past few years, with some exceptions, like intellectual property prosecution or investigations, it has either been flat or declining, as seen in Chart 3. 

Chart 3

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Many Of Your Colleagues Are Hungover Today? 1.6%.

FiveThirtyEight, How Many Of Your Co-Workers Are Hungover?:

I’ve thought about this relatively often, because my career path — from the restaurant business to journalism — has been dominated by occupations where some people roll into work with shades and water bottles. There’s a bit of data on this. ...


Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Local Government Rejects InfiLaw, Backs Nonprofit Takeover of Charleston Law School

Charleston Post and Courier, Charleston County Legislative Delegation Supports Nonprofit Organization, not InfiLaw, Taking the Reins at Charleston School of Law:

ICThe Charleston County Legislative Delegation Monday voted to support a plan for a nonprofit organization to take over the Charleston School of Law instead of the for-profit InfiLaw System.

Thirteen of the 22 delegation members attended a meeting at McClellanville Town Hall, where the vote was taken. Ten voted in favor of supporting the nonprofit launched by Ed Westbrook, one of the school's three owners. [Three] abstained. ...

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean, Unemployed Young Lawyer Living With Parents Differ on Value of Law School

Vegas Seven, Now’s the Time to Break into Law:

Daniel Hamilton, the dean of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law:  ... “This is the best time to apply and go to law school in a generation,” he says. “The competition is fierce, and the ability to negotiate tuition is widespread.” Negotiate tuition? Yep. Nowadays, applicants can—and should—leverage multiple offers to get the best deal, Hamilton says. “A student applies to law school at UNLV or anywhere else, and calls you up and says, ‘I’ve got this offer at school A and this offer at school B. Let’s talk.’” ...

Anyone pursuing a law degree today is likely in it for the right reasons, which is to say they’re wholeheartedly devoted to pursuing a legal career. “I think it’s fair to say that in decades prior you could apply to law school as a kind of holding pattern,” Hamilton says. “[These changes] in legal education have done away with law school as a default option.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette op-ed:  Law School Is Broken, by Steve Waechter ("a 2009 [Drake] law graduate who lives at home and works in a factory to pay down student loans"):

American law schools take bright, ambitious young people and leave them broke, humiliated, deeply indebted and disaffected. They do this by squeezing them for student loan money for three years and then hurling them into an economy that can barely employ half of them. ...

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard 3L: Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from 'Coddled Millennials'

Following up on last week's post, Columbia Law School Lets Students Postpone Exams Due to Grand Jury Decisions; Harvard, Georgetown Students Demand Similar Treatment:

HarvardNational Law Journal op-ed:  Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from 'Coddled Millennials', by William Desmond (Harvard 3L):

Over the last week, much has been said about law students’ petitioning for exam extensions in light of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Students at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and several other schools requested that their administrations allow extensions on final exams for students who have been confronting the aftermath of the recent failed grand jury indictments of the officers who killed the unarmed black men.

In response, opponents of exam extensions have declared that to grant these requests would be a disservice to the students. Law students, they argue, must learn how to engage critically with the law in the face of intense adversity. Drawing comparisons to events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement and other times of intense turmoil, these opponents portray today’s law students as coddled millennials using traumatic events as an excuse for their inability to focus on a three-hour exam. In essence, law students are being told to grow up and learn how to focus amidst stress and anxiety—like “real” lawyers must do.

Speaking as one of those law students, I can say that this response is misguided: Our request for exam extensions is not being made from a position of weakness, but rather from one of strength and critical awareness.

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Faculty Fathers: Toward a New Ideal in the Research University

Faculty FathersMargaret W. Sallee (SUNY-Buffalo), Faculty Fathers: Toward a New Ideal in the Research University (SUNY Press, 2014):

For the past two decades, colleges and universities have focused significant attention on helping female faculty balance work and family by implementing a series of family-friendly policies. Although most policies were targeted at men and women alike, women were intended as the primary targets and recipients. This groundbreaking book makes clear that including faculty fathers in institutional efforts is necessary for campuses to attain gender equity. Based on interviews with seventy faculty fathers at four research universities around the United States, this book explores the challenges faculty fathers—from assistant professors to endowed chairs—face in finding a work/life balance. Margaret W. Sallee shows how universities frequently punish men who want to be involved fathers and suggests that cultural change is necessary—not only to help men who wish to take a greater role with their children, but also to help women and spouses who are expected to do the same.

(Hat Tip: Inside Higher Ed.)

December 16, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Artisanal Attorney

Artisinal 2John Frank Weaver, I Am An Artisanal Attorney:

Are you tired of large corporate law firms making the same cookie cutter litigation? Do you fondly remember a time when quality mattered in law suits, when there was art and craftsmanship in every court motion filed, when company records were drafted using the traditional methods and tools? If you have become dissatisfied with mass-produced legal representation, stop by my scriveners shop; for I am an artisanal attorney.

Not long ago, while attending a small-batch honey wine tasting at a meadery with friends, I realized that we bought only organic produce at the local farmers market, ate only free range meat prepared by our traditional neighborhood butcher, and filled our apartments with only free trade, hand crafted furniture. We—and many others like us—insist on authenticity in everything in our lives. We don’t want to eat. We want the fullness that only comes from a meal created by the human experience. We don’t want to drink. We want the buzz that is produced by the draught of a person’s skill. It occurred to me that people who demand realness in their food and homes should also demand it in their legal representation. That was when I became an artisanal attorney.

Continue reading

December 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

InfiLaw Ramps Up Lobbying For Approval of Acquisition of Charleston Law School

Charleston Post and Courier, InfiLaw Making Case to Lawmakers for Charleston School of Law Sale:

ICThe for-profit InfiLaw System has ramped up its behind-the-scenes efforts as a decision on whether the company will be allowed to own and operate the Charleston School of Law bounces back to the state.

That decision has become a political hot potato after the American Bar Association earlier this month deferred its decision on whether to allow the controversial sale of the private school to go through, and lobbed the matter back to the state's Commission on Higher Education. The company, which owns three law schools, must get a license from the state's Commission on Higher Education and the sale must be approved by the American Bar Association, but it remains unclear when either will be considered.

Kathy Heldman, a spokeswoman for InfiLaw, said the company recently has ramped up efforts to get its message out to state lawmakers and others, but it isn't doing anything extreme. The company's efforts "are consistent with what many other companies do in situations like this," she said.

Continue reading

December 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Ph.D.s Rising, Jobs Falling

Inside Higher Ed, Doctorates Up, Career Prospects Not:

Universities are awarding doctoral degrees at an accelerating pace, despite the fact that the career prospects of those who receive their Ph.D.s appear to be worsening. ...

American universities awarded 52,760 doctorates in 2013, up 3.5 percent from nearly 50,977 in 2012 and nearly 8 percent from 48,903 in 2011. Those large increases followed several years of much smaller increases and one decline (in 2010) since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, as seen in the chart below.

The numbers suggest that more people are seeking terminal degrees and that universities are welcoming them with open arms -- but the data on what the Ph.D. holders do with their new degrees raise questions about whether the credentials will pay off for the individuals themselves, at least in the short term.

Continue reading

December 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 14, 2014

College For Grown-Ups

Remaking College 2NY Times: op-ed:  College For Grown-Ups, by Mitchell L. Stevens (Stanford):

A Ccruel paradox of higher education in America is that its most coveted seats are reserved for young people. Four-year residential colleges with selective admissions are a privileged elite in the academic world, but their undergraduate programs effectively discriminate on the basis of age. Admissions officers typically prefer that the best and brightest be children.

Yet leaving home at a young age to live on a campus full-time is not without serious financial, psychological and even physical risk. People make major investment decisions when they are choosing colleges, but with minimal information about quality and fit. Meanwhile flagship public universities, which rely on tuition to offset diminished public subsidies, condone Greek systems that appeal to many affluent families but also incubate cultures of dangerous play. The so-called party pathway through college is an all-encompassing lifestyle characterized by virtually nonstop socializing, often on the male-controlled turf of fraternity houses. Substance abuse and sexual assault are common consequences.

Even at the schools where the party pathway is carefully policed, life on a residential campus can be a psychological strain. A substantial body of research demonstrates that first-generation college students, those from low-income families and racial minorities are particularly at risk for feelings of exclusion, loneliness and academic alienation. The costs of leaving college can be large for everyone: lost tuition, loan debt and a subtle but consequential diminishment of self-esteem.

The source of these problems is baked into the current organization of residential higher education. Virtually all selective schools arrange their undergraduate programs on the presumption that teenagers are the primary clients. Administrators plan dormitory architecture, academic calendars and marketing campaigns to appeal to high school juniors and seniors. Again the cruel paradox: In the ever-growing number of administrators and service people catering to those who pay tuition, there are grown-ups all over campus, but they are largely peripheral to undergraduate culture.

If we were starting from zero, we probably wouldn’t design colleges as age-segregated playgrounds in which teenagers and very young adults are given free rein to spend their time more or less as they choose. Yet this is the reality.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Continue reading

December 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Witte: From Critical Legal Studies to Christian Legal Studies

Law Bible 4John Witte Jr. (Emory), Foreword: From Critical Legal Studies to Christian Legal Studies, in Law and the Bible: Justice, Mercy and Legal Institutions (Robert Cochran & David VanDrunen, eds.  2013):

This text reflects briefly on the precocious rise of Christian legal studies in North American and European law schools, and the past, present, and potential role of Scripture and the Christian tradition in shaping modern understandings of public, private, penal, and procedural law.

December 14, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Four Charts That Explain Why America Has Too Many Law Schools

Bloomberg Businessweek, Four Charts That Explain Why America Has Too Many Law Schools:

It is probably the worst time in decades to be a law school. The four charts below show why we don't need to be minting any new ones. 

Continue reading

December 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Life and Death in the Federal Income Tax Class

TedTheodore Eisenberg, Henry Allen Mark Professor of Law at Cornell, died suddenly of a heart attack on February 23, 2014 at the age of 66 (remembrance here).  I was a student of Ted's in his bankruptcy class, and I later convinced him to participate in our law school rankings symposium at Indiana.  Although Ted was primarily known for his empirical research in bankruptcy, civil rights, and the death penalty, he also taught federal income tax.  Here is an excerpt from a student evaluation in Ted's federal income tax class as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School from In Memoriam: Theodore Eisenberg [1947-2014], 100 Cornell L. Rev. 1, 3 (2014):

Thank you, Professor Eisenberg, for making a course I feared taking since day one of HLS enjoyable. Really enjoyable. There were days when I thought, My god, it can’t be, I like tax. Prof. Eisenberg is the best teacher I’ve had at HLS. An unpretentious, patient, searching attitude and a brilliant teaching style. I can’t say enough in favor of this unique, witty, and motivating professor. Profs at HLS should be required to take lessons from Eisenberg on how to teach a law school class. Made a class of 150 seem like a class of 15. A great communicator. I’m not afraid of tax anymore. EISENBERG IS A GOD. HLS does not deserve him. But HLS stu- dents do. 

TyreUNLV, Q&A: New Grad Tyre Graym:

You've had significant health issues during your studies. Did that influence the direction you wanted to take with your degree?
I suffered from focal segmental glumerulosclerosis, which is a chronic kidney disease. On Sept. 11, 2012, while sitting in Professor (Francine) Lipman’s federal income tax course, I received the call I had been waiting to get for about three years: A kidney was available and I needed to rush to the hospital. At 4 a.m. on the next day, I received a kidney transplant. ...

My long-term goals include establishing a nonprofit that will provide legal advice to people who are candidates for transplant and major medical procedures. I believe that I can and will be able to raise awareness about kidney disease and organ donation.  I am here today because of the selfless act of another. If through my efforts, I can do the same for one other person, my time on this earth will have been well spent.

December 13, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pepperdine Survived Today's Rain

The view from the law school atrium (via Al Sturgeon):

Rainbow Law School

The view from the pool (via Marcelo Ferreira):


December 12, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Study Gauges the Stress of Waiting for Bar Exam Results

BarNational Law Journal, Study Gauges the Stress of Waiting for Bar Exam Results:

Any lawyer can tell you that awaiting the results of the bar examination is stressful. Now there is a study to prove it.

A pair of psychologists at the University of California, Riverside, tracked the emotional states of 50 law graduates who sat for the California bar exam in 2011. Their goal was to better understand how people cope with the uncertainty while awaiting important news.

They found a general pattern: Stress and anxiety peaked immediately after the three-day exam, and then dropped significantly during the monthslong wait for the results. However, anxiety shot up again in the weeks before the results were released.

“Our research suggests that you’re really stressed out in the beginning and the end, but you relax a little bit in the middle,” said psychology professor Kate Sweeny, who wrote the article with graduate student Sara Andrews.

“It’s tough in the beginning, when that exam is fresh in your mind. My guess is that people are focusing on the questions they missed. And in the solid month before they get the results, the rumination and stress ramps up.”

The article, Mapping Individual Differences in the Experiences of a WaitingPeriod, appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Continue reading

December 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dumpster Diving Into the ABA’s 509 Information Reports

Associate's Mind, Dumpster Diving Into the ABA’s 509 Information Reports (Statistics + Graphs):

So I noticed on the TaxProf Blog that the newest crop of ABA 509 Information Reports on accredited law schools came out recently. It’s good that the ABA has begun to release this data. It can help students look at trends at schools over time. Unfortunately, there are only reports from 2011 to date available. Whenever some official body like the ABA or the LSAC dumps of numbers, I like to dig around for a bit and see what I can find. For the past couple of years I’ve done it with LSAC data that indicated that top university students are avoiding law schools, and schools where there have been increases in law schools applicants (2013, 2014). The general theme was that “the best and brightest students” from top schools have been shying away from going to law school. And that lower ranked schools were increasingly sending more students to law school.

For a lark (and because I’m stuck at home sick with the flu), I decided to go through some of the 509 reports and pull data. I picked the Top Ten schools as listed in Above The Law’s Top 50 Law School Rankings (represent) to see if any particular trends were visible. I also choose the ten lowest ranked schools according to US News & World Report’s Best Law School Rankings (note, I choose the bottom ranked schools, not those listed as “unranked”). I pulled out three sets of data to compare. GPA percentiles, LSAT percentiles, and matriculant percentage change from 2011 to 2014.


[Click on chart to enlarge.]

Continue reading

December 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prof Sues UDC Law School For Discrimination After Tenure Denial

Legal Times, Former UDC Law Professor Sues School for Discrimination:

MawakanaA former law professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is accusing the school of discriminating against African-American faculty. Kemit Mawakana filed a lawsuit against the university claiming he was denied tenure and a promotion because of his race. ...

Mawakana joined the law school faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor, according to his complaint. He was promoted to associate professor in 2010. Mawakana applied for tenure in 2011 and maintains in his lawsuit that he “met or exceeded all of the criteria” in the school’s faculty handbook and tenure guidelines.

The school denied him tenure, according to the suit, citing his failure to meet scholarship standards—a finding that Mawakana said was false and rooted in racial discrimination.

Continue reading

December 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barnhizer: Traditionalism and Faculty as Legacy Costs

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), ‘We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us’: Traditionalism and Faculty as Legacy Costs:

[I]n 1950 there were 114 law schools and about 950 law teachers in those schools. ...Today there are 205 ABA approved law schools with more than 8400 faculty members, a 900 percent growth in the law professoriate relative to 1950. ...

[L]aw school faculties and deans need to understand a fundamental truth directly linked to their ability to fashion new strategies that strengthen their institutions and increase the chances of survival. We are the primary obstacle to designing and implementing effective and innovative solutions. It is our excessive traditionalism, our self interest, our resistance to change, our ego gratification and our carefully constructed blindness to the need for transformation that erects the greatest obstacles to solutions that are more than minimalist “tinkering” on the edge of the institution of legal education. ...

Numerous law schools are burdened by costs that are unsustainable in terms of their ability to operate the educational business model that has existed until the past several years. There are very limited options available to those law schools as they seek to figure out how and when to shift to a different business model. One challenge, or “albatross”, in all this is that the single most significant set of costs for a law school involves expenditures for tenured and tenure track faculty. For a substantial number of law schools, unless they can rid themselves of the “troublesome” burden of expensive faculty, they will lose out in the competitive “game of thrones” in which American legal education is now engaged.

Continue reading

December 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Law Student Transfer Market: Arizona State, Florida State, George Washington, Georgetown & Utah Lead The Way

The Legal Whiteboard:  Better Understanding the Transfer Market, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas): 

TransferUp until this year, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar only asked law schools to report the number of transfer students “in” and the number of transfer students “out.”  This allowed us to understand roughly how many students are transferring and gave us some idea of where they are going, and where they are coming from, but not with any direct “matching” of exit and entrance.

Has the number and percentage of transfer students changed in recent years? ...

Using data published in the law school Standard 509 reports, the number of transfers in 2011, 2012 and 2013 has increased only marginally, from 2427 to 2438 to 2501, but, given the declining number of law students, it has increased as a percentage of the preceding year’s first-year “class,” from 4.6% to 5.6%.  ...

The following two charts list the top 20 transfer schools in Summer 2011 (fall 2010 entering class), Summer 2012 (fall 2011 entering class) and Summer 2013 (fall 2012 entering class) – with one chart based on “numbers” of transfers and the other chart based on the number of transfer students as a percentage of the prior year’s first year class. ... [T]hree of the top four schools with the highest number of transfers were the same all three years, with Georgetown welcoming 71 in the summer of 2011, 85 in the summer of 2012, and 122 in the summer of 2013, George Washington, welcoming 104 in the summer of 2011, 63 in the summer of 2012, and 93 in the summer of 2013, and Florida State welcoming 57 in the summer of 2011, 89 in the summer of 2012 and 90 in the summer of 2013.  (Notably, Georgetown and Florida State were the two top schools for transfers in 2006, with 100 and 59 transfers in respectively.) Similarly, three of the top four schools with the highest “percentage of transfers” were the same all three years, with Utah at 19.7% in 2011, 17.5% in 2012 and 34.7% in 2013, Arizona State at 17.8% in 2011, 24.6% in 2012 and 48% in 2013, and Florida State at 28.6% in 2011, 44.5% in 2012 and 48.1% in 2013. More specifically, there are several schools that have really “played” the transfer game in the last two years – increasing their engagement by a significant percentage.  These eight schools [Texas, Arizona, Emory, Arizona State, Georgetown, Flodia State, USC, Minnesota] had 10.2% of the transfer market in 2011, but garnered 22.2% of the transfer market in 2013. ...

Continue reading

December 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Ten Best States For Paying Back Your Law School Debt

Huffington Post:  10 Best States for Paying Back Your Law School Debt, by Stephen Dash (CEO, Credible):

Average law school debt at graduation exceeds a staggering $100,000. Everyday at Credible, we see young lawyers trying to deal with their student debt, whether by refinancing their student loans, finding an appropriate federal or state forgiveness program, or even relocating for a better job.

Having helped over 1,000 lawyers with their student debt in the last three weeks alone, we have perspective on which states are most attractive destinations for young lawyers trying to repay their law school debt.

We have found that the most important factors are the ability for young lawyers to get a job, their ability to save once they have a job (which is a product of salary and cost of living), and the breadth and magnitude of each state's loan forgiveness programs.

With those factors in mind, we have created a list of the Best States for Paying Back your Law School Debt. Bear in mind that this list uses aggregated data -- so for lawyers not taking advantage of forgiveness programs, whichever state they can get a stable high-paying job is likely the best for them.

That said, we looked at the numbers and identified the top 10 states for young lawyers to reduce their loan repayment timeline, and detailed some determining metrics [employment ratio, mean salary, cost of living] below:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Georgia
  3. Texas
  4. California
  5. Virginia
  6. Arizona
  7. Colorado
  8. Utah
  9. Illinois
  10. Delaware

Continue reading

December 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Over/Under On The Number Of Law Schools Closing By 2020: Less Than Five (Probably Zero)

ClosedPeter Nemerovski (Miami), Reality Check: Law School Closures Are Unlikely:

For several years now, law professors and journalists who cover the legal profession have been predicting that multiple U.S. law schools will be forced to close in the very near future. In 2010, Bernard Burk and David McGowan wrote that “contraction in the number of schools seems probable.”

Brian Leiter predicted in 2012 that up to ten law schools would close “during the next decade.” In October of this year, Jerry Organ wrote that it is possible that as many as ten percent of law schools will be forced to close. Not to be outdone, David Barnhizer recently opined that eighty law schools are “at some degree of risk” of closure.

Earlier this week, Slate’s Jordan Weissmann got into the act with a piece headlined “Get Ready for Some Law Schools to Close.” Weissmann quickly followed up with another piece describing a bet he made with Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon of Berkeley Law that at least one ABA-accredited law school will close or merge by the end of 2018. While I applaud Weissmann for putting his money — two dollars of it, anyway  —where his mouth is, I’m afraid he’s going to lose his bet.

Unfortunately for Weissmann, the reality is that new law schools open all the time, and existing law schools almost never close. I had to go all the way back to 1955 to find the last ABA-accredited law school that closed for good. That’s when Lincoln University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, shut its doors. ...

Of course, just because something hasn’t happened, or hasn’t happened recently, doesn’t mean it won’t. Weissmann’s argument is that law schools have experienced an unprecedented decline in enrollment — 24 percent between 2010 and 2013 — and that the end result of that decline in demand for law degrees will be a decrease in the “supply” of schools offering them.

I have two responses to this. First, Weissmann is comparing 2013 enrollment to a year — 2010 — in which first-year enrollment reached an all-time high of 52,488. So 2013 enrollment was not 24 percent lower than normal; it was 24 percent lower than it was the year more people went to law school than ever before or since.

Wake me up when the decline hits 50 percent.

Continue reading

December 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

2016 Law Grads Shouldn't Take Comfort in New Lawyer Jobs Projection

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer:  2016 Grads Shouldn't Take Comfort in New Jobs Projection Approach, by Matt Leichter:

[I]t took only two days after I first reported on the proposed change for a law professor, Theodore P. Seto of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, to declare to "commentators who believe the end of the world is near for legal education" that by 2016, the number of law graduates would exceed the new projected annual job growth rate, creating "a significant excess of demand over supply."

Seto's optimism is misplaced, and other law school stakeholders hoping to benefit from the new methodology should be very careful not to make similar statements if they do not wish to mislead students about their future careers.

Continue reading

December 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ABA Releases 2014 Law School Standard 509 Information Reports

ABA Logo 2The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar has released the 2014 Standard 509 Information Reports for all ABA-accredited law schools.  The reports contain a wealth of data for each school, including:

  • Tuition and Living Expenses
  • Conditional Scholarships
  • J.D. Enrollment and Ethnicity
  • Admissions (applications, offers, matriculants, 75/50/25 GPA and LSAT Scores)
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • J.D. Attrition and Transfers In
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty and Administrators
  • Bar Passage Rates

David Frakt (Barry), What Would Really Useful Law School Consumer Data Look Like?:

I propose that each law school be required to have a calculator on their website which would provide customized, tailored predictors of success to all prospective students.  Each law school would be required to maintain a master database which tracked every law student who matriculated.  The database would include the students undergraduate GPA (UGPA) and LSAT score.  The database would track whether the student was academically attrited, voluntarily left school, transferred to another law school, or graduated.  The database would also track each student who reported taking the bar and whether they passed on their first or a subsequent attempt.  Of course, law schools are already collecting most, if not all, of this data already.   What I propose is that this data be made available to prospective students through the personal success calculator.  Here's how it would work: the prospective student would plug in their UGPA and LSAT score into the calculator, and the school's website would then provide a customized personal report describing the experience of similarly qualified students, which I would define as those within +/- 1 point on the LSAT and +/- .10 UGPA.  So, if a student entered a UGPA of 3.0 and an LSAT of 150, the website would provide the following information:

"Over the last 7 years, we have matriculated x# of students with similar entrance credentials to your own, defined as those with a UGPA of 2.9 to 3.1 (+/- .10 from your self-reported UGPA) and an LSAT of 149-151 (+/- 1 point of your self-reported LSAT score).

Continue reading

December 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Is the Bar Exam Broken? Or Are Law Students Dumber?

Bloomberg, Is the Bar Exam Broken? Or Are Law Students Dumber?:

Law schools and the bar exam's creators agree: The plunge in test scores that hit several states this year is alarming, and it's probably the other side's fault. ...

[S]ome deans and legal experts are floating tentative theories about the historically bad results. Derek Muller, a law professor at Pepperdine University, says he has tested and rejected every explanation not tied to the test itself. Muller compared LSAT scores with bar exam scores and found that this year’s law grads should have done only slightly worse than last year. He also rejected the idea that a glitch in Examsoft, the software used to upload the July test, could have made the difference, because states that did not use Examsoft, such as Arizona and Virginia, still saw their pass rates dip. “By process of elimination, I’m running out of alternative explanations and looking more to the NCBE as a possibility,” he says.


Continue reading

December 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Harvard B-School Prof Goes to Legal War With Chinese Restaurant to Redress $4 Overcharge

Boston Globe, Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food:

EdelmanBen Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit. ... He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, and a law degree from Harvard Law School. ...

Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location of Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant founded by his parents.

Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location.

Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out.

(Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)

Continue reading

December 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

36 Presidents of Private Colleges Earn More Than $1 Million

Chronicle of Higher Education, 36 Presidents of Private Colleges Earned More Than $1-Million in 2012 (complete salary data of 537 private college presidents here):

One Million

December 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Posner on Legal Education: Tenure, Socratic Method, Con Law in the First Year, Balance Between Scholarship and Teaching

PosnerFollowing up on my previous post, Crowd-Sourced Interview of Judge Richard Posner: Ronald K.L. Collins (University of Washington), On Legal Education & Legal Scholarship — More Questions for Judge Posner:

Question: What do you think is the single greatest shortcoming of legal education in America today?

Posner: There are several shortcomings; I don’t know how to rank them.

  1. Legal education is too expensive, in part because law school faculties are too large.
  2. Not enough law professors, especially at the elite law schools, have substantial practical experience as lawyers, and
  3. Law school teaching focuses excessively on legal doctrine, to the exclusion of adequate attention to facts, business practices, science and technology, psychology, judicial mentality and behavior, legal practice, and application of legal principles. ...

Question: In Tagatz v. Marquette University (1988) you noted that tenure “tends to take some of the edge off academic ambition.” What are your views on the current tenure system as it operates in law schools and how, if at all, might you change it?

Posner: Tenure is a form of nonmonetary compensation, hence attractive to universities. The downside is it undermines the work ethic. I don’t know whether the benefits exceed the costs. ...

Continue reading

December 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Approves Duncan Law School, Defers Action on InfiLaw’s Acquisition of Charleston Law School

LMU LogoABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Memorandum (Dec. 8, 2014):

The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association, at its meeting on December 5-6, 2014, granted provisional ABA approval to Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law.

ICNational Law Journal, InfiLaw’s Acquisition of Charleston Law Hits Snag at ABA:

The proposed sale of the Charleston School of Law to the venture capital-backed InfiLaw chain of law schools remains in limbo.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Dec. 6 deferred action on InfiLaw’s request for its acquiescence in the sale. During its two-day meeting in Puerto Rico, the council decided that InfiLaw must first win the blessing of state regulators. “There was no decision reached on the merits,” said Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director for legal education.

Continue reading

December 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Columbia Law School Lets Students Postpone Exams Due to Grand Jury Decisions; Harvard, Georgetown Students Demand Similar Treatment

Wall Street Journal, Columbia Law School Lets Students Postpone Exams Due to Grand Jury Decisions:

Columbia LogoColumbia University Law School is allowing its students to reschedule their exams if they feel traumatized by the recent grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.

The school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, notified students of the option in an email circulated to the student body on Saturday on the eve of the December exam period.

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Mr. Scott’s letter said. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

As a result, “students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition [head of registration services] Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” he wrote. ...

Continue reading

December 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

MBAs for 'Newly Admitted Attorneys Who Are Facing Employment Challenges'

MBAWilliam Howard Taft University, Information for Law School Administrators About The Master of Business Administration – with a Concentration in Professional Practice Management Program:

The Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in Professional Practice Management is believed to be the first program of its kind – designed specifically for newly admitted attorneys who are facing employment challenges.

Starting in February of 2015, this distance education Program will address the business concepts they didn’t teach in law school - addressing issues and business challenges that are faced by solo or small practice attorneys. It combines a traditional M.B.A. curriculum with webinars and assignments directly related to the operation of a law practice. Enrollment is limited to the first thirty qualified attorney applicants.

Benefits of the Program include:

Continue reading

December 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Big Data Track Student Performance; Are Faculty Next?

New York Times op-ed:  Blowing Off Class? We Know, by Goldie Blumenstyk:

Big DataThe stuff some colleges know right now about their students, thanks to data-mining of their digital footprints, boggles the mind. It may even seem a bit creepy.

Has their attendance slipped? Have they stopped logging in to read course packets or file assignments? Did they just drop the very class they needed for their major?

Tools developed in-house and by a slew of companies now give administrators digital dashboards that can code students red or green to highlight who may be in academic trouble. Handsome “heat maps” — some powered by apps that update four times a day — can alert professors to students who may be cramming rather than keeping up. As part of a broader effort to measure the “campus engagement” of its students, Ball State University in Indiana goes so far as to monitor whether students are swiping in with their ID cards to campus-sponsored parties at the student center on Saturday nights.

The university has taken to heart studies that say that students who are more engaged with college life are also more likely to graduate. When a student’s card-swipe patterns suggest she’s stopped showing up for clubs or socials, a retention specialist will follow up with a call or an email to see how she’s doing. ...

Big Brother-esque? Perhaps. But these “big data” developments have the potential to cut the cost of higher education for students and their families, as well as for taxpayers. Deployed properly, the tools could help millions of low-income students navigate the academic and financial hurdles that often derail first-generation college students. A new University Innovation Alliance of 11 large public universities is seeking to do just that. The alliance, announced in September and backed by a half-dozen major foundations, will use data analytics in its first set of projects, which are aimed at improving graduation rates for needy students. ...

Continue reading

December 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

L.A. Times: Fewer Law School Grads Pass California Bar Exam

Los Angeles Times, Fewer Law School Graduates Pass Bar Exam in California:

Pass RateFor the first time in nearly a decade, most law school graduates who took the summer California bar exam failed, adding to the pressure on law schools already dealing with plummeting enrollments, complaints about student debt and declining job prospects.

The 48.6% pass rate in California is a drop of nearly 7 percentage points from the previous year; nearly 8,500 people took the test in July. The last time the passage rate dipped below half was in 2005.

Many other states showed similar declines this year. It's unclear why the recent passage rates are so low, but they fell by at least 5 percentage points in 20 states.

The decrease in the number of law school graduates who pass the bar could make it more difficult for schools to attract applicants. As a result, administrators might have to offer further incentives to prospective attorneys, experts say.

Some schools have reduced tuition and increased scholarships, and some have cut staff. Still others are offering dual degrees in an effort to help graduates find jobs.

"Law school deans are in a particularly difficult situation these days," said Derek Muller, a professor at Pepperdine University who writes on the business of law. ...

Continue reading

December 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Ted-Style Videos on Law Teaching

LegalEdLegalEd has posted over thirty 10-minute Ted-style videos on law teaching:

  • Jamie Abrams (Louisville), The Socratic Method, Revisited
  • Renee Allen (Florida A&M), Metacognition and the Value of Reflection in Learning
  • Christine Bartholomew (SUNY-Buffalo), Finding Time
  • Sydney Beckman (Lincoln), Using Technology for Engagement and Assessment
  • John Bickers (N. Kentucky), How Non-Bar Tested Electives Can Teach Lawyering
  • Shawn Marie Boyne (Indiana), Teaching Through Simulations
  • Andrea Curcio (Georgia State), Assessing Ourselves as Law Professors
  • Aaron Dewald (Utah), Improving Presentations With Learning Sciences (Parts 1 & 2)

Continue reading

December 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Law School Is Still Worth The Investment

Forbes:  "Let's NOT Kill All The Lawyers": Why Law School Is Still Worth The Investment, by Daniel R. Porterfield (President, Franklin & Marshall College):

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” shouts Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II.

Since the 2008 recession, that’s what some think the American economy has conspired to do.

Last year, the United States had 1.3 million licensed lawyers—nearly 20 percent more than a decade ago. Sadly, many of these new lawyers aren’t working, as the unemployment rate for law school graduates in 2013 was 11 percent—higher than the overall unemployment rate at the time. Given these statistics, some commentators are cheering the fact that law school applications have plummeted 36 percent since 2010.

But let’s hope that what many have deemed a “crisis” for legal education doesn’t drive smart, principled students away from law. That would be a tremendous loss for our country. Our society doesn’t work without well-educated legal leaders dedicated to preserving America’s commitments to the Constitution and fair legal frameworks for dispute resolution. ...

Continue reading

December 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fall 2015 Law School Applicants Are Down 8.5%

LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

As of 11/28/14, there are 70,009 fall 2015 applications submitted by 11,415 applicants. Applicants are down 8.5% and applications are down 9.5% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 23% of the preliminary final applicant count.

Matt Leichter, Fewer Than 50,000 Applicants Predicted for 2015:


December 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Last Pepperdine Bible Study of the Year

With my friend and colleague Jim Gash away this semester teaching in Pepperdine's London Program, my wife and I have had the honor of hosting the law school's Wednesday night Bible Study.  We hosted the 14th and final session last Wednesday, and I had the privilege of wrapping up our study of Micah 6:8: "[W]hat does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."


I closed with some advice from noted theologian Louis C.K.:

The only time you look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough.
You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them.

December 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Most Conservative (Virginia) And Most Liberal (Berkeley) Elite Law Schools

FiveThirtyEight:  The Most Conservative And Most Liberal Elite Law Schools, by Oliver Roeder:

ClerksUsing two data sets — a long list of current and former clerks and a measure of justice ideology — we can paint a picture of the widely varying political ideologies of top law schools. ... This table of the top 11 clerk-producing schools shows that clerkships are highly concentrated in a few elite law schools. There are 204 ABA-approved law schools in the United States. The top six schools account for more than two-thirds of all Supreme Court clerkships. (The table also includes the number of justices who attended the given law school.) ...

Harvard and Yale are the runaway leaders — they account for more than 42 percent of all clerkships. The University of Chicago is an interesting outlier. Its law school has produced well over 100 clerks but never a justice.

The second source of data comes from political scientists Andrew Martin at the University of Michigan and Kevin Quinn at the University of California, Berkeley. Their Martin-Quinn scores quantify justices’ ideologies on a left-right political spectrum, based on their judicial opinions. ... The scores as estimated range from about -6 (William O. Douglas) to +4 (William Rehnquist). They can also account for justices’ ideologies varying over time, which they certainly do.

I matched up these two data sets by justice and by year. So now we know the ideology of every clerk’s justice in every year back to 1937 — the first year for which the Martin-Quinn scores are calculated. We can now calculate that Columbia grads tend to clerk for justices of this ideological type, and Stanford grads for that type, and so on. And while we’re not measuring clerk ideology directly, there is strong evidence that, for better or worse, justices prefer clerks with ideologies similar to their own. Clarence Thomas has said: “I won’t hire clerks who have profound disagreements with me. It’s like trying to train a pig. It wastes your time, and it aggravates the pig.”

These are the estimated distributions of justice ideology for clerks from elite law schools, by school. Dotted lines mark the distributions’ medians.


Continue reading

December 6, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Over/Under on the Number of Law Schools Closing by 2018: One

Slate:  Why I Just Bet a Professor Money That at Least One Law School Will Close, by Jordan Weissmann:

Over UnderIn a more fair universe, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego would be dead and buried by now. One of the more wretched citizens of legal academy, the small, private institution is known for its miserable employment results and embarrassing bar-passage rates, as well as for having the most highly indebted students of any law school in the country (the average graduate with debt finishes $180,665 in the hole, according to U.S. News & World Report). When the job market for young lawyers collapsed during the recession, it was the first law school to face a class action suit claiming it had used misleading job stats to trick students into attending.

This year, it briefly looked as if Thomas Jefferson might get its just deserts. Enrollment had tumbled, as law school applications evaporated in general. Meanwhile, the school was heavily in debt, due to the $127 million it borrowed to construct a nice new building, and interest payments were devouring its falling revenue. In June, it defaulted on its bonds. The end appeared nigh.

And yet, it wasn’t. As Steven Davidoff Solomon, a University of California–Berkeley law professor, wrote in the New York Times last month, Thomas Jefferson worked out a “sweetheart deal” with its creditors, which cut the school's debt, took its building, and leased it back to the institution for a reasonable price so it could stay in operation. Why would they do such a thing? They “had no choice,” Solomon writes. Picking Thomas Jefferson apart in bankruptcy court would have been useless, because it only had one significant asset: That building, which creditors would have had to either convert into offices with an expensive renovation or lease to another law school (which, of course, would be hard to do). Better to simply keep Thomas Jefferson as a tenant.

Solomon’s lesson from this? “A troubled law school is like Dracula: hard to kill. Creditors will not do so because even keeping a struggling school alive means there is some possibility of repayment.”

This is why Solomon says I’m wrong that a few law schools are bound to close in the coming years, due to the enormous enrollment drops of the past few years. Other than their real estate, stand-alone law schools like Thomas Jefferson (which aren’t affiliated with any larger university) are worthless to creditors, so they won’t force them through bankruptcy. Bigger universities have no incentive to close their law schools, even if they’re losing a bit of money, because that would just leave empty facilities sitting around gathering dust on campus.

So he and I now have a $2 wager. Solomon says no ABA-accredited law schools will close or merge by the end of 2018. I say at least one will. I know, high stakes. But at least we're both on record. ...

Continue reading

December 6, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)