For the second year in a row, the percentage of people who successfully took the summer California bar exam fell to a historic low, with less than 47% passing, according to state statistics. Last year, only 48.6% of those who took the exam made the grade, the first time the passage rate dipped below half in nearly a decade.
Three months ago, as the summer before my last year of law school was winding down, I received a call from the administration asking me to speak on behalf of the student body at a gala commemorating the launch of the Campaign for the Third Century. They encouraged me to accept the engagement, explaining that I would have a powerful platform to tell a compelling story. I agreed. Just a few weeks ago, after months of preparation, I delivered my testimonial in front of 600 Harvard Law School alumni. ...
After telling my story, I praised the law school and specific faculty members for their continual support over the past three years. To my surprise, the alumni took to their feet with tears in their eyes, standing up to applaud in what felt like a thunderous demonstration of support not just for me, but also for the marginalized groups I represent.
The night ended with Dean Martha Minow making the ask: $305 million.
To the extent that my story motivated our alumni to open their wallets, I now ask that they close them and stop donating.
Paul Caron (Pepperdine): "I am thankful for my beautiful wife, daughter, son, and dog, and that three of them are gainfully employed."
Jeffrey Cooper (Quinnipiac): "I'm thankful for my family of 5-- Benjamin, Ethan, Colleen, and my wife, Alexandra. Colleen turns 1 on Saturday and she is quite pleased to be making her TaxProf Thanksgiving debut."
Bridget Crawford (Pace): "I am thankful for health, my creative Fed Tax students, and Cambridge University Press."
Cliff Fleming (BYU): "I'm grateful for the blessing of my wife and best friend being able to push back against her cancer for another year so that we were able to celebrate our 51st anniversary. That's enough."
Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State): "I am thankful for my dad."
This fall, Lawyer Metrics was given the opportunity to analyze survey data supplied to us from by The Indiana Lawyer, the paper of record for the Indiana legal profession. The sample included 516 respondents drawn from the paper's readership. My colleague at Lawyer Metrics, Evan Parker, sliced and diced the data in a way the gave us some useful insights into the hours/satisfaction question, at least for a broad swath of lawyers in one midwestern state. ...
The most satisfied lawyers, at least in Indiana, appear to be those working longer hours. The simplest explanation is that they love their work. Lawyers working fewer hours appear to acknowledge the better work-life balance and the organizational flexibility that makes it possible. But shorter hours are not associated with higher scores on the other dimensions of satisfaction. Apparently, at least some lawyers prefer an all-you-can-work buffet style workplace. ...
Despite the vital role they play in the success of their law schools, academic law librarians are often denied attendance to and participation in law faculty meetings on certain matters of law school governance. This article argues that including qualified librarians in faculty meeting discussions and decision making will benefit law schools, faculty, and students alike.
Bar exam passage rates sank in several big states, indicating a drop in the qualifications of students amid fewer law school applications.
Pass rates in California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania all came in lower for the July 2015 exam.
“As demand for law schools has dropped over the last few years, law schools, as a result, have been admitting and graduating less-qualified students,” said Derek Muller, an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, who has studied and blogged about the issue.
Blogs named to the 2015 ABA Blawg 100 ("the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal"):
EvidenceProf Blog, edited by Colin Miller (South Carolina). ABA: "Every weekday, law professors post on the very latest rulings regarding the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases and what sorts of lines of questioning should be permitted at criminal trials. They also note differences between the federal rules of evidence and the rules of various states. Occasionally, they will comment on whether they think courts have reached the right outcomes in these evidence cases or note fishy behavior by prosecutors."
Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, edited by Brian Leiter (Chicago). ABA: "This blog highlights academic job openings and covers salaries of professors, salaries of recent law school graduates, recent law review articles and other law school news. It can also be counted on to come up with its own rankings of law schools and law reviews."
Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, edited by Gerry W. Beyer (Texas Tech). ABA: "A loyal audience devours this blog seven days a week—and some readers have reported that trusted Texas Tech law professor Gerry W. Beyer will respond to them when they reach out. Beyer stays on top of new regulations in Texas ad nationwide as well as news and insights from both mainstream media and scholarly journals that affect those with estate planning and elder law practices."
Viswanathan is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor and will co-teach UC Hastings' Business Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises, scheduled to start next semester. His research focuses on tax policy, economic development, and the regulation of tax-exempt organizations.
Prior to his arrival at UC Hastings, Viswanathan was a clinical teaching fellow and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he co-taught the Community and Economic Development clinic, and worked as a tax associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP's New York City office.
He received his LLM and J.D. from New York University School of Law, and undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ...
From 2011 to 2014, GU's School of Law has seen its application pool deplete by 36 percent. Enrollment has dropped by 28 percent in that same time.
As a result, the administration has offered buy-outs to all of its tenured professors. So far, four of the 17 faculty members have taken the offer. Law school dean Jane Korn does not anticipate the need to cut any more positions.
"Nationally, since 2011, applications to law schools have dropped around 40 percent," Korn says. "Every dean had to make a decision to lower standards or take a budget hit, and we decided to take the budget hit."
Black tape, stuck systematically across the portraits of black law professors, spurred on Thursday a police investigation into vandalism and a pronouncement from the dean of Harvard Law School that the school has a “serious problem” with racism.
Instead of dignifying with inflated philosophical bloviation the grim nastiness of the anonymous vandal(s) who pasted strips of black tape on the portraits of African-American professors, Harvard Law students responded with wit and human warmth: They put along the frames of those same portraits hundreds of colored Post-it notes bearing messages of affection and gratitude.
These young men and women teach us all a valuable lesson.
The man helping to write a book on the state Freedom of Information Act says the dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school is not complying with the open-records law in a lawsuit filed against the university Tuesday.
Law professor Robert Steinbuch sued both the university and Michael Schwartz, dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law, in a Pulaski County court, stating Schwartz failed to turn over public records that Steinbuch is seeking to research student admissions.
The records are a spreadsheet showing individual test scores, college grade-point average, law school grade-point average, race, gender and age for all students who graduated from the law school and took the bar exam over a seven-year period.
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.
Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.
But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness. ...
California is one of the rare jurisdictions that also discloses its statewide mean scaled MBE score. The NCBE discloses the nationwide mean scaled MBE score, which has dropped fairly significantly over the last couple of years. But California has consistently outperformed the nationwide cohort, sometimes rather dramatically. ...
How much weight does a prestigious law degree hold when it comes to climbing the ranks at a large law firm? ...
Over the past several months, a number of law firms have announced new classes of partners for the upcoming year, and we thought it would be a fruitful exercise to take a look at who these lawyers are and where they come from. ... Big Law Business reviewed the legal education of 299 lawyers who were elected partners at AmLaw 100 and 200 firms, effective between Oct. 1 and Jan. 2016.
Here are the Top 31 law schools:
1. Harvard: 21 new partners 2. NYU: 15 3. Michigan: 10 4. Georgetown, Northwestern: 9 6. Virginia: 8 7. Chicago, Columbia, UC-Berkeley: 7 10. Boston College: 6 11. Boston University, Fordham, George Washington, Illinois, UCLA, Vanderbilt: 5 17. American, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Case Western, Penn, Stanford, St. Louis, Texas, USC, Yale: 4 27. Chicago-Kent, Georgia, Notre Dame, San Diego, Tennessee: 3
Women and Black/African-Americans show declines in representation at major U.S. law firms, according to the latest law firm demographic findings from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). NALP's recent analyses of the 2015-2016 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP — shows that although women and minorities continue to make small gains in their representation among law firm partners in 2015, the overall percentage of women associates has decreased over the majority of the last five years, and the percentage of African-American associates has declined each year since 2009.
Mark Tetzlaff has close to $300,000 in law school debt and is seeking the U.S. Supreme Court’s help in getting it discharged in bankruptcy (Tetzlaff v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp., petition for cert. filed, 84 U.S.L.W. 3222 (U.S. Oct. 15, 2015) (No. 15-485)).
Courts including the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Eighth circuits are split on what constitutes “undue hardship” that makes a debtor eligible for such a discharge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is also considering this issue.
Tetzlaff has fallen on hard times, James M. Wilton of Ropes & Gray LLP, Boston, who represents Tetzlaff, told Bloomberg BNA. He has massive debt and is “10 years from retirement age,” Wilton said.
The issue of law school debt has been getting more attention recently. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have “sharply criticized U.S. law schools” for burdening students with crushing debt and non-marketable degrees, according to Bloomberg Business.
Embracing the inseparability of legal doctrine and legal practice sheds much light on the lawyer’s craft, on useful law school curriculum reform, and on what the bar might reasonably expect from law schools. Through this unified lens, the Symposium will look beyond Langdell’s “Socratic” method focused on redacted appellate cases and will explore a richer theoretical understanding of legal education and scholarship and the lawyer’s craft. To paraphrase Kant, the Symposium will explore how doctrine without practice is empty, how practice without doctrine is blind, and how, as a correlate of this separate emptiness and blindness, the humanities play a critical role in law and legal education and scholarship.
Researchers find that tax credits for higher education have little or no effect on college attendance; the credits are essentially transfer payments - and not primarily to the needy.
In 2014, the federal government spent about $23 billion on three programs offering tax credits to households paying for higher education. In The Returns to the Federal Tax Credits for Higher Education (NBER Working Paper No. 20833), George B. Bulman [UC-Santa Cruz] and Caroline M. Hoxby [Stanford] find that the credits have little or no effect on college-going in the U.S. The credits do not affect whether students enroll at all, whether they attend four-year colleges, how expensive their colleges are, or the scholarships and grants they receive. The authors conclude that the tax credits are primarily "a transfer from some individuals to others." ...
Students ... want universities to protect them from any unpleasant thought or idea that may upset them. They of course can lash out against others from their “safe spaces,” but everyone else must back-peddle or face the consequences.
This approach is ruinous to the intellectual and moral development of students, and leaves them ill-prepared for life’s challenges. If only on educational grounds, it is critical to rise up and challenge these students by insisting that the exchange of views, often hostile and disagreeable, is essential for the cultural and intellectual health of a university. ...
As an alumnus of Yale, I want its president to resist with all of the words at his command the groundless charges brought against it by righteous students and commentators. But Salovey unfortunately lacks the courage to tell the critics that their indictment of the university is deeply flawed [Salovey statement]. By assuming a position of weakness, Yale is inviting its harshest critics, both inside and outside the school, to tee off against faculty and students with whom they disagree. The only way to get responsible discourse is to stand up for what you hold dear in the face of reckless charges. There is a desperate need for reconciliation at Yale, but the institution can only begin to heal if its critics face the same relentless scrutiny that they heap on the university.
I often informally ask my students, at Harvard Law School, what their most important ideals are and how they hope to fulfill them in their lives and careers. In the past several years, I’ve been touched to hear a significant plurality of students name a priority that I didn’t hear much when I began teaching, nearly a decade ago: their close relationships with their parents. As a forty-two-year-old parent myself, I’m gratified by the idea that my own children might feel, as young adults, that our bond was so sustaining as to be central to their visions of their lives. But I’m struck that this theme was not on my agenda when I was a student, twenty years ago, and I don’t recall it being important to my peers, either.
It has become an accepted truism in academia that there are two fundamental intellectual styles: the fox and the hedgehog. The ancient Greek poet Archilochus observed that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Following Sir Isaiah Berlin’s famous interpretation of the line, we have come to believe that intellectual pursuits (and careers) are characterized by either a singular, coherent, abiding focus or a collection of approaches and ideas that are seemingly unconnected, eclectic, and even disorganized. ...
While hedgehogs and foxes sometimes cast aspersions toward one another of being either myopic or unfocused, they usually are content to ignore one another and go about their pursuits (or pursuit, in the case of the pure hedgehog) without worrying about the failings of the other. At times, however, some can recognize the value of both styles: the fox can bring in novel insights from flitting around the disciplines, while the hedgehog uses those outsights to bear down on the fundamental problem monopolizing its gaze.
Law schools, like most academic divisions, have a natural tendency to operate more like hedgehogs than foxes, and this tendency is reinforced by an administrative structure that sets the law school in a somewhat peripheral functional location at a university.
The New York Times chose to highlight Southern Illinois University when it reported on our investigation late last month. I objected to the focus on SIU because it had relatively affordable tuition, above-average job rates, and a very high bar passage rate in 2013. With many more egregious examples to choose from, I didn’t think SIU merited special attention. Still, July 2015 bar exam outcomes drive home why SIU found its way into our report in the first place, and why high bar pass rates from even a couple of years ago can be very deceiving to prospective students. It also demonstrates that even respectable state schools are not immune to the pressures that have driven so many law schools to admit far too many at-risk students.
Between 2010 and 2014, as with many law schools, the school’s admissions profile changed drastically. The school earned an “extreme risk” label for its 2014 entering class based on a bottom quartile LSAT score of 144 (22.9 percentile). The chart below plots SIU’s LSAT numbers for each of the last five entering classes for which we have data. The 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile LSAT scores are plotted on top of the national LSAT distribution curve. From this you can see that the school’s 75th percentile in 2014 was its 25th percentile in 2010.
As fewer people enroll in law school, institutions across the country have been forced to adapt to a legal marketplace hurt by fewer jobs, outsourcing and the impact of the Internet.
Seton Hall and Rutgers University law schools, like many of those elsewhere, have reduced the number of students they admit, offered larger scholarships or grants, and readjusted their programs so students are better-prepared for the competitive and evolving job market. ...
At Seton Hall, the average class size of incoming students has steadily shrunk in recent years. In 2010, the Seton Hall law program peaked with an incoming class of 360 students. The next year, the school enrolled only 271. By 2013, the acceleration of class size reduction, which was averaging about 70 students less each year, had slowed. The school's most recent incoming class totaled 152 students, 17 students fewer than in 2014.
This Article discusses the statistics behind the gendered segregation of law school faculties, in which women occupy a disproportionate number of legal writing and other low-status positions, while men continue to hold a disproportionate number of tenured faculty positions. The Article explores the rationales for and against converting legal writing faculty to tenure-track, and shares one law school’s experience of doing so. The Article then suggests lessons and approaches that other schools may wish to take in converting their own legal writing faculty to tenure-track positions.
U.S. law firms are locked in a fierce battle over market share. It is a new and unfamiliar dynamic that is causing you and other law firm leaders to worry whether your firm will be among the survivors. Thus you are looking for the best possible strategy and the requisite leadership skills to communicate that vision to your partnership.
I am going to tell you about the greatest market share story in modern business history. Remarkably, the primary operating principles were revealed in advance of the miraculous feat. Then I'll discuss those principles in the context of the U.S. law firm looking to take market share.
The most impressive market share story in modern times—and one that gives realistic hope to all underdogs—is what happened at Apple Computer after Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997. The key elements of Jobs' strategy are contained in a grainy 71-minute video filmed at a trade show at the moment when most industry insiders were getting ready to write Apple off.
I encourage all law firm leaders to watch this video, because it's a time capsule of the mindset and mental discipline needed to conquer formidable odds.
(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)
Almost two years ago, the Yale Law Journal commissioned a study of the Journal in an effort to address our diversity challenges and identify ways we can better foster an inclusive community.
The project arose out of conversations between YLJ Volume 123 and Yale Law School’s Alliance for Diversity, Yale Law Women, and other student groups about the law school’s challenges concerning gender, race, and class. Against the backdrop of these broader structures and patterns, YLJ recognized that it needed to proactively confront its own diversity challenges.
Given the complexity of these issues, the Journal realized that it would benefit from outside expertise and an independent review. As a result, the Journal partnered with Professor Susan Sturm and Professor Ian Ayres to identify our diversity challenges and learn ways to better foster an inclusive community. ...
In Times Higher Education’s recent feature on the vagaries of peer review (“On the receiving end”, 6 August), one of the essayists describes being subjected to the scrutiny of one’s colleagues as “the worst form of review, except for all those other forms that have been tried”. Lest any reader doubt this claim, let me explain what awfulness results when an entire field forgoes this traditional form of gatekeeping.
Submissions for almost all American general law reviews and for more than half of the specialised ones are reviewed by law students, selected by more senior law students based on their first-year academic performance. Unfortunately, however intelligent and ambitious they are, students just don’t have the expertise to judge the quality of submissions. As a result, an article’s fate is determined by the application of several superficial criteria.
Because of the discrepancy in Creighton University's ranking, U.S. News has moved the school to the "Unranked" category in the 2015 Best Online Graduate Business Programs rankings on usnews.com. Schools in the Unranked category do not receive numerical rankings from U.S. News. ...
Creighton University advised U.S. News that it submitted an incorrect three-year graduation rate for its 2010-2011 entering class. The school told U.S. News that its correct three-year graduation rate for that class was 43 percent; it originally reported the incorrect rate of 91 percent. This is a 48 percentage-point difference.
How do you drive sustainably high performance in an era of relentlessly rising demand? ...
The typical solution – put in more hours – won’t work anymore. The vast majority of salaried employees are already doing that, and many of them are paying a price that they are finding less and less acceptable. They are exhausted and often overwhelmed, and they deeply want to invest time in their families and the rest of their lives.
But what if people could simply be more efficient and productive during the time they are at work? What if there’s a win-win solution for employers and employees? ...
We feel better and perform better when four core energy needs are met: sufficient rest, including the opportunity for intermittent renewal during the work day; feeling valued and appreciated; having the freedom to focus in an absorbed way on the highest priorities; and feeling connected to a mission or a cause greater than ourselves.
Just as the academic year geared up this fall, both The Washington Post and The New York Times ran editorials sharply attacking the generous federal lending programs that law students depend on. ...
The Post's Charles Lane appropriately characterized the Grad PLUS Loan Program, which provides essentially unrestricted lending to graduate and professional students, as a "de facto bailout" for law schools. The schools capture the increased lending to law students and then perversely pass it back to them as higher tuition charges. Consequently, efforts to make legal education cheaper backfire, turning the federal loan program on its head. Eventually the government will write down the loans for what it intended to be a deficit reduction program.
The Times' editorial board struck with even more venom, calling the six for-profit law schools "scams" and accusing non-profit and public schools of similar behavior. The culprits: warped incentives and unchecked Grad PLUS loans. The Times' solutions were to either extend to all law schools the gainful employment rule—which limits student loans based on graduate employment rates—or to cap the funding to graduate students. At the same time, the paper argued for diverting the money flowing to law schools to legal aid for the poor.
The drumbeat of editorials criticizing law schools and the ABA is not new, but the response from lawmakers, especially to Times' article, may signal a future shift in how the government lends to law students. Notably, senators from both parties are raising concerns. ...
I previously blogged how U.S. News & World Report sent defective ballots to voters in the law school specialty rankings (Clinical, Environmental Law, Health Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, Legal Writing, Tax, and Trial Advocacy) by instructing them to "[i]dentify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest-quality alternative dispute resolution courses or programs." As I predicted, U.S. News has sent a new letter to voters, apologizing for the snafu and enclosing new, corrected ballots:
Men’s voices tend to dominate economic debate, although perhaps this is shaped by how we talk about the contributions of female economists. This is easiest to see in how we discuss the work of economist power couples.
Remembering the journalistic cliché that one is an example, two is a coincidence and three is a trend, I figured it worth exploring how female economists are treated.
In the January column, Swain asked, "What would it take to make us admit we were wrong about Islam? What horrendous attack would finally convince us that Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children unless it is monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration?"
Many students and others said that the column stereotyped all Muslims in a way that was profoundly biased, but the university defended Swain's right to free speech.
Online education is now in the mainstream. Schools use online teaching methods as early as elementary school and thousands of students across the country pursue their entire high school studies online. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered online. At Indiana University, where I teach, there are nearly fifty undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees offered entirely online. An increasing percentage of law students have taken at least one, and some have taken several, online courses before matriculating into the JD program.
How can international disputes be resolved in the courtroom rather than on the battlefield? All Rise brings this complex question into sharp and personalized focus through the journeys of seven passionate students of law from India, Israel, Jamaica, Palestine, Russia, Singapore, and Uganda to compete in the world championships in Washington, DC, of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (the “Jessup”), the world’s largest simulated court competition. The “court” is the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”), the judicial arm of the United Nations. Against this backdrop, this moving film lays bare the struggles, triumphs and transformations they experience alone and together.
Prerequisite: The Economics Institute is carefully designed for those who possess little or no previous formal economics education. It covers basic price theory, with emphasis on the allocative effects of alternative property rights regimes, transaction cost economics, and the application of basic economic theory to a variety of legal issues. As such, there is no prerequisite for this Institute.
Our investigation into law school admissions practices and trends has sent shock waves through the legal profession. Some law school deans remain in denial, but more (at least privately) want a minority of law schools to stop damaging legal education’s reputation. With no united front among law schools, influential members of Congress waiting to pounce, and the ABA primed to act, it seems the bets some schools made on regulatory inaction were misplaced.
One reason these bets may prove lethal is that law schools charge higher prices to those who are more likely to struggle.
This is one particularly egregious artifact of the U.S. News rankings methodology, which affects how law schools allocate scholarship money. Scholarships are predominately provided in exchange for relatively higher LSAT scores and, to a lesser extent, GPAs. While these resources decisions have always been questionable, they become even more ethically dubious as price discrimination shifts even more dramatically towards discounting tuition for those most likely to complete school, pass the bar, and obtain a legal job.
In this Article I discuss the impact on legal education of a recent study conducted at Princeton University and UCLA, which compared the levels of comprehension and retention of class lectures by those students who handwrote their class notes with those students who typed their notes onto their laptops. The study involved three separate experiments. In each test, the subjects using laptops had no access to the Internet, and were only permitted to use their laptops for taking class notes. Thus all possible laptop distractions were eliminated. In all three experiments, those students who handwrote their notes outperformed their counterparts who typed their notes on assessments administered between 30 minutes and one week after the lectures.
This study thus raises another chapter in the continuing debate regarding whether students should be permitted to use their laptops in class. Prior to the Princeton/UCLA study, the debate primarily centered around the distractive effects which laptops had on both laptop users who were engaged in activities unrelated to what was being discussed in class, and on their classmates who were sitting nearby and were distracted by the visuals and sounds emanating from the laptops. Such distractions included surfing the Internet, playing video games, and emailing others in the class.