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Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

November 28, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What Tax Profs Are Thankful For

Thanksgiving
  • Jordan Barry (San Diego):  "I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my brilliant and beautiful wife Emily, my loving family, and my wonderful friends. I’m also thankful for my job—and for tenure, which I received this past year. "
  • Paul Caron (Pepperdine):  "I am thankful for my beautiful wife, daughter, son, and dog, and that three of them are gainfully employed."
  • Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama):  "This year I am grateful for the colleagues I have had in the past few years and my new colleagues at the present."
  • Bridget Crawford (Pace):  "Democracy, the right to peaceful protest, and university presses."
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU):  "In August 2011 my wife Linda learned that she had aggressive uterine cancer and that if she proved to be in the wrong tail of the bell curve, she would pass within 12 months. So we consider ourselves very blessed that we were able to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June 2014 and that Linda is well enough to have traveled to Europe twice with me in 2014 and now to be preparing for a full-bore, big family Thanksgiving dinner. We live on the bubble between quarterly MRIs but are grateful for each additional day."
  • Victoria Haneman (Concordia):  "I am thankful for so many things in 2014: publication of Making Tax Law with co-author Dan Berman, a new position at a school with incredibly engaged students and a great selection of farm-to-table restaurants, and a baby girl on the way."
  • David Hasen (Colorado):  "I give thanks that a holy God (Isaiah 6:3-5) provides a way of salvation for us in His Son (Romans 10:9)."
  • Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State):  "I am so grateful for my wonderful colleagues and my happy little family!"
  • Sagit Leviner (Ono):  "I am thankful for my little pumpkin."
  • Francine Lipman (UNLV):  "Thankful to be at UNLV, where we embrace diversity and understand that education is the key, door, path, and answer."
  • Ed Lyons (Oklahoma City):  "I am thankful because the more I focus my mind on the goods and the good people that surround me, the more they seem to multiply: 'For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away' (Matthew 25:29)."
  • Jim Maule (Villanova):  [See here.]
  • John Plecnik (Cleveland State):  "I am thankful for the chance to serve my students at Cleveland State as their professor, and my neighbors in Willoughby Hills as their Councilman."
  • Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson):  "I am thankful for the students who appreciate the work that I do."

November 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Law School Deans Question Sharp Drop in Bar Exam Scores

Following up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, Law School Deans Question Sharp Drop in Bar Exam Scores:

Law schools are turning up the heat on the nation’s leading bar exam group over what they say is an inexplicable drop in student scores on the most recent test.

Dozens of law school deans across the country attached their names to a letter sent to the National Conference of Bar Examiners on Tuesday demanding a “thorough investigation of the administration and scoring” of the July 2014 bar exam. ...

The NCBE, the Wisconsin-based non-profit that prepares widely used standardized portions of the bar exam, says the results of the July test are troubling, but says the tests aren’t to blame. The group says students this year just didn’t do as well as previous years’ cohorts.

Law schools — many of which are straining to keep up enrollment in a time of sagging demand for law degrees — have bristled at the response.

The letter signed by roughly 80 deans hailing mostly from middle-ranked and public institutions, wants the NCBE to back up its claim with another review and disclosure of its methodology. ...

“We take this very seriously,” the longtime president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Erica Moeser, told Law Blog on Wednesday. “It calls for an institutional response, which, of course, I’ll supply.” Ms. Moeser said her group has checked and rechecked its data and has found nothing awry on its end. ...

Deans from University of Connecticut, Case Western, Wake Forest, University of California-Hastings, and University of Washington were among those who added their names. [Although Deans of 40% of American law schools signed the letter, only 14% of the Deans at Top 50 law schools did so (BYU, Colorado, Fordham, Texas, and Utah, in addition to Washington and Wake Forest) -- none of the T14, and only one of the Top 20].

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November 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Law Professor Blogs Network in ABA Blawg 100 and ABA Blawg Hall of Fame

ABA Blog 100Kudos to our Law Professor Blogs Network bloggers named to the 2014 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):  "Every weekday, law professors—primarily the University of South Carolina's Colin Miller—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. He also notes differences between the federal rules of evidence and the rules of various states. Occasionally, he will comment on whether he thinks courts have reached the right outcomes in these evidence cases or note fishy behavior by prosecutors."
  • Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, edited by Gerry W. Beyer (Texas Tech):  "Death and taxes are certainties for which we may plan. But quite a few of life's uncertainties can be faced with equanimity as well, if we just make some prudent preparations, Texas Tech law professor Gerry W. Beyer tells us. His blog provides useful advice on doing so, along with book and article summaries and thoughtful news analysis. Entries are concise and accessible, even to those who are unversed in estate law topics."

Hall of Fame 2Two Law Professor Blog Network blogs are in the ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame:

In 2012, we established the Blawg 100 Hall of Fame for those blogs which had consistently been outstanding throughout multiple Blawg 100 lists. The inaugural list contained 10 inductees; this year, we added 10 more, bringing the total to 30.

  • Legal Profession Blog, by Alan Childress (Tulane), Michael Frisch (Georgetown), and Jeff Lipshaw (Suffolk):  "The posts here often have us wondering, 'What were they thinking?' If a lawyer strays from ethical boundaries, the professors who blog here are quick to pick up on the trail of any discipline with to-the-point, snark-free dispatches."
  • TaxProf Blog, edited by Paul Caron (Pepperdine): "Paul Caron, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, covers tax reform in the news and scholarship related to U.S. tax law, and he notes celebrity tax disasters. But we like TaxProf at least as much for Caron’s exhaustive coverage of news and debates covering legal education. He became the sole owner of the Law Professor Blogs Network and a makeover of that group of blogs soon followed."

November 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are You a Jerk at Work?

Columbia Press Release,  Are You Seen as a Jerk at Work? A New Study Reveals That Many People Are Oblivious to How They Come Across to Counterparts and Colleagues:

The JerkWhen Jill Abramson was ousted from her position as the executive editor of The New York Times, it was reported that she was, among other things, too “pushy.” But did Abramson—who has also been described by the media as “polarizing” and “brusque”—know during the course of her tenure that others viewed her as being overly assertive? A new study from the Columbia Business School suggests that there’s a great chance she didn’t.

“Finding the middle ground between being pushy and being a pushover is a basic challenge in social life and the workplace. We’ve now found that the challenge is compounded by the fact that people often don’t know how others see their assertiveness,” said Daniel Ames, professor of management at Columbia Business School and co-author of the new study. “In the language of Goldilocks, many people are serving up porridge that others see as too hot or too cold, but they mistakenly think the temperature comes across as just right—that their assertiveness is seen as appropriate. To our surprise, we also found that many people whose porridge was actually seen as just right mistakenly thought their porridge came off as too hot. That is, they were asserting themselves appropriately in the eyes of others, but they incorrectly thought they were pushing too hard.”

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November 26, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ranking of School Does Not Affect Quality of Teaching

Chronicle of Higher Education, Colleges’ Prestige Doesn’t Guarantee a Top-Flight Learning Experience:

NSSE Logo[T]his year’s National Survey of Student Engagement [Nessie], which was released on Thursday, ... took a stab at identifying educational quality on the institutional level, an attribute that is as important to higher education as it is hard to define. The survey collected data from 355,000 freshmen and seniors at 622 institutions in the spring.

Nessie researchers, who are based at Indiana University at Bloomington, created two indicators for quality. One, student-faculty interaction, asked students how often they talked with faculty members about career plans, course topics, or other ideas outside class, among other questions. The other measure, effective teaching practices, distilled student perceptions of how often their instructors clearly explained course goals and requirements, taught in an organized way, used examples to illustrate difficult points, or provided feedback.

The results were surprising, especially when they were grouped based on how selective a college is. ... [R]esearchers analyzed the measures of interaction and teaching according to selectivity, as defined by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

The average student, the researchers found, experienced widely different degrees of educational quality in different colleges within the same category of prestige. And, in all but a few cases, the categories of selectivity had no meaningful relationship to the indicators of teaching and interaction. ...

"Conventional wisdom says that the more selective an institution is, the better it is going to be," Alexander C. McCormick, director of Nessie, said in an interview. "That’s not systematically true with these two measures." ...

NSSE

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November 25, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Crowd-Sourced Interview of Judge Richard Posner

PosnerRonald K.L. Collins (University of Washington), The Maverick – A Biographical Sketch of Judge Richard Posner: Part I:

Below is the first installment in a multi-part series of posts on Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner. The first two installments consist of an unconventional biographical profile of the Judge. These posts will be followed by a series of posts consisting of the Judge’s candid and often unexpected responses to numerous questions I posed to him along with those of 24 noted legal figures. In the process, Judge Posner bursts into the breach with frankness about his views on privacy, the exclusionary rule, NYT v. Sullivan, intellectual property rights, law and economics, constitutional interpretation, legal education and scholarship, and the politicization of the judiciary. With Posnerian resolve, he also speaks of his own life, his onetime thoughts on being a Supreme Court Justice, his cherished feline, and even his favorite rock stars. Given all that, we selected “Posner on Posner” as the title for this series.

November 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Services Sector Shrank 2.9% in 2013

Matt Leichter, Commerce Dept.: Legal Services Sector Contracts (Again) in 2013:

Earlier this month the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) updated its GDP by industry data. The chief finding for law-watchers is that in 2013 the legal services industry shrank by 2.9 percent. Ouch. The legal services industry includes all private law firms, and it employs about half of all lawyers. Meanwhile GDP grew by 2.2 percent, meaning that once again, the shriveling legal sector is being outdone by the rest of the economy.

Percent Change Real Value Added by Industry

November 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

2014 Moot Court Rankings

Moot Court2014 Moot Court Rankings:

1.  Florida Coastal
2.  Georgetown
3.  UC-Hastings
4.  South Texas
4.  Texas Tech
6.  Georgia
7.  Chicago-Kent
8.  Seton Hall
9.  Miami
10. Loyola-Chicago
11.Oklahoma
12. Stetson
13. Houston
14. Mississippi
15. Faulkner
16. Emory
17. George Washington
18. Wisconsin
18. Regent
20. San Diego
20. Georgia State
22. Hawaii
23. St. John's
23. William Mitchell
25. Pepperdine

November 25, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Krawiec: Selling The Starred Footnote

Kimberly D. Krawiec (Duke), Selling The Starred Footnote:

I’m late to the game in blogging about this, but I just found out about it on Friday at a conference on the Ethical Limits of Markets hosted by the Institute For The Study of Markets and Ethics at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (about which I’ll have more to say later). Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski are selling acknowledgements in the preface of their book Markets without Limits, which will be published by Routledge Press, most likely in late 2015 or early 2016.

The book answers the question “Are there some things which you permissibly may possess, use, and give away, but which are wrong to buy and sell?” in the negative, in contrast to the numerous books already written on the topic which take the contrary position. Brennan and Jaworski are selling three tiers of acknowledgements: Silvermint Tier, Platinum Tier, and Gold Tier (The Silvermint Tier is so named because philosophy and women’s studies professor Daniel Silvermint is paying to have the highest tier named after him.)

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Young Lawyers Seek to Shake Up Legal Profession With Mobile Apps

Boston Globe, Young Lawyers Seek to Shake Up Legal Profession With Mobile Apps:

AppsWilliam Palin is a 32-year-old lawyer who passed the bar exam in 2013. But it didn’t take him long to wonder why, when the rest of the world is increasingly conducting business on cellphones and tablets, the legal profession is so tied to paper, desktop computers, and e-mailed Microsoft Word documents.

So as a child of the digital age, he decided to act, joining a growing group of young, tech-savvy lawyers dedicated to developing technology to deliver legal services more efficiently.

Palin taught himself how to write code for mobile applications. He built two apps to speed up how lawyers work with each other and their clients. And in December he’s launching a Boston-Cambridge branch of a nationwide group called Legal Hackers, young lawyers focused on creating and adopting technological tools. ...

While many attorneys see mobile technology as a way to better serve existing clients and recruit new ones, the partners at major law firms play a big role in how aggressively the law business will adapt. And those established practitioners may be leery of adopting some new technologies for fear that will lead to breaches of confidentiality.

Legal Hackers hopes to bridge that generational divide — and the group seems to be making progress. In August, at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting, one panel was titled “Cracking the Code: Everything You Wanted to Know About Coding, Open Data & More But Were Afraid to Ask.” ...

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stop Bullying Old Professors

BullyingFollowing up on Tuesday's post, The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students:  Slate, Quit Picking on Old Professors: Bullying Boomers Into Retirement Won’t Help the Sad State of Higher Education in This Country, by Rebecca Schuman:

This week, academia is in a frenzy—well, an erudite tizzy—over an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education by recently retired art professor Laurie Fendrich. In the piece, Fendrich, who’s 66, lauds her own decision to leave her position at Hofstra—and characterizes her aging colleagues as doddering dinosaurs who are clogging up the academic pipeline.

As in other professions, baby boomers “hanging on” past retirement age is a hot-button issue in higher education—and it’s easy to see why. In the university, the over-65s are the final generation for whom teaching college has provided a stable, (somewhat) respected, remunerative middle-class existence. They’ve had benefits and job security for longer than most of their younger colleagues have been alive. And they didn’t have to work nearly as hard to get all that—back in the ’60s and ’70s, when most of them began their careers, requirements for hiring and tenure were a fraction of what they are now. ...

Here’s where [Fendrich's] (or, at 66, almost dead) wrong. Students may benefit more from a sagacious senior than they do from many a thirsty, young tenure-track careerist. After all, the Old, with his tenure firmly in hand and few concerns about his future, actually has time for his students; that 33-year-old is on the terminal brink of nervous collapse under the weight of too much research expectation. Perpetually on the market for a more prestigious job, she’s been counseled over and over again not to “waste” too much time on teaching. ...

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

'These [Law] Jobs are Going Boys and They Ain’t Coming Back'

SpringsteenDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), “These Jobs are Going Boys and They Ain’t Coming Back” [Bruce Springsteen, My Hometown]:

Lawyers and law schools reflect the needs of society and the power and structure of our economic system. At this point lawyers and law schools need to adapt the ways in which they “do business” or become uncompetitive. Lawyers and law schools are faced with economic and technological “tsunamis” in the nature of Joseph Schumpeter’s concept of “creative destruction” or Nikolai Kondratiev’s periodic “waves” of fundamental change. These transformational “events” generate non-linear shifts in form, process and needs that fundamentally alter how the system works. These dynamic forces are now destroying some traditionally organized institutions while empowering others and forcing the invention of new institutions and altered forms of traditional ones.

Projections of the future employment opportunities of lawyers tend to be both linear and crude, relying primarily on taking “what is” or what “has been” and assuming that some variation of that model will be what occurs in the future after what has been described as the “lawyer surplus” has been absorbed. Such assumptions and projections provide a degree of comfort to those whose livelihoods and careers depend on the stability of existing institutions and patterns of organization. Unfortunately, in the situation we now inhabit the assumptions are false and the projections inaccurate. The most recent “tweaking” of lawyer employment projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that raised its own estimates from around 23,000 to 40,000 will make many people feel better for a few moments but the fact is that it is almost certainly wrong.

Matt Leichter recently offered an analysis on whether the employment situation was getting better or worse. Unfortunately the answer Leichter offered was summed up in his report that the situation was becoming considerably worse rather than improving. In linking to Leichter’s report Paul Caron noted that the surplus was worsening and that there would be three new lawyers chasing each available job by 2022.

The fact is that the worlds of lawyers and law schools are “spinning on their axes” and undergoing transformations that are penetrating the very core of the activity. Dramatic effects are already being felt but even more striking changes are in store. One individual employed by a company seeking to understand (and capitalize) on the shifting context of law practice began his assessment with an observation of the current state of the legal profession. He described it as one in which: “The current state of the legal services industry is one of fear, denial, distrust and unmet expectations. Lawyers are asking if they ever thought law practice would reveal such fault lines in purpose, mission and economic opportunity. … Massive job losses, significant declines in legal service revenues and increased hostility toward the business model on which legal services are based are mere warning signs of a tsunami of change rapidly approaching the shore. What remains beyond debate is that the business of law has lost its luster and the legal industry landscape is littered with unmet expectations on the part of clients and lawyers alike.” Pretty dismal. ...

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Muller: The NCBE's Role in Declining MBE Scores and Bar Pass Rates

Following up on my previous posts (here, here, here, and here):  California released its July 2014 bar exam results on Friday:  a 48.6% overall pass rate (down 7.2 percentage points from 2013) and 61.0% first-time takers pass rate (down 6.7 percentage points from 2013).  (For more, see Vikram Amar (UC-Davis) and Dan Filler (Drexel)).  Derek Muller (Pepperdine) notes that California is the 20th state (out of 34 states that have released their results thus far) with at least a 5 percentage point bar passage rate decline:

Muller

Derek argues that neither the decline in student quality or the exam soft computer malfunction can explain these declining MBE scores and bar passage rates.

November 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maryann Jones, Hired as Charleston Law School President Under Renewable 3-Month Contract, Resigns After 8 Days on the Job

ICCharleston Post and Courier, New Charleston School of Law President Steps Down:

Maryann Jones has stepped down as the Charleston School of Law's president after only eight days on the job.

The law school has been embroiled in a controversy for more than a year over the possible sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System, which owns three other law schools.

Two of the school's three owners, George Kosko and Robert Carr, are in favor of the sale. But Ed Westbrook, the third owner, is pushing to form a nonprofit corporation to run the 10-year-old school, which also is for-profit.

But the owners voted unanimously Nov. 13 to hire Jones as president.

In an email sent late Thursday to Kosko, Carr and Abrams, Jones said she decided not to take the reins of the private, downtown law school, and would not sign a contract. "The level of vitriol, with all sides making me a lightning rod for an unfortunate situation that was not of my making, makes this truly a situation that I am unwilling at this stage of my life to undertake." Jones stated in the email.

Westbrook earlier Thursday had sent Jones a letter expressing his disappointment in her speaking to faculty and students in support of a sale to InfiLaw. To get his vote, Jones had agreed to be objective, and to learn more about alternatives for the school, Westbrook stated.

He also stated that he was disappointed that Jones hadn't yet met with him and his attorney Dawes Cooke to discuss the school's future. Westbrook's letter also revealed that Jones was being offered only a three-month contract.

FITS News, CSOL President Steps Down Due To Bullying By Director

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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November 22, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (16)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

UC-Irvine Cuts Class by 29% in Bid for Top 20 Inaugural U.S. News Ranking

UC-Irvine (2015)UC-Irvine Law School will be ranked by U.S. News for the first time this March, and Dean Chemerinsky has unabashedly stated that the school's goal is to "be a top 20 law school, by every measure, from the moment we open our doors and from our first rankings."  To help achieve that goal, the school cut its Fall 2014 entering class by 29.4% to 89 students (from 126 in 2013), to keep its median LSAT at 164 (and increase its median GPA by 0.01 to 3.53).  This year's class is 55.5% below Dean Chemerinsky's goal of classes of 200 students.

Update:  Above the Law, Law School Slashes Students To Game U.S. News Rankings

November 21, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sander: The Mismatch Critique of Law School Affirmative Action and Its Opponents

MismatchRichard Sander (UCLA), Mismatch and the Empirical Scholars Brief, 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 555 (2014):

In April 2013, the Valparaiso University Law Review held a symposium on diversity in legal education, commemorating the contributions of Justice Randall Shepard and featuring a number of distinguished speakers. I was invited to participate in a panel on Fisher v. University of Texas, a then-pending Supreme Court case that seemed likely to revise the rules under which universities can consider race in higher education admissions. The conference organizers generously allowed me to participate by videoconference, as did my co-panelist Professor Eboni Nelson. They and I agreed that my talk should explore some of the empirical issues that might frame how the Supreme Court viewed Fisher.

I approached the event with some concern. I had been the bête noire of many diversity advocates ever since 2005, when the Stanford Law Review published my long analysis and critique of law school affirmative action programs. I had advanced, and since steadfastly defended, something called “the mismatch hypothesis,” which postulated that very large preferences--racial or of any other kind--may undermine student learning, because professors tend to teach to the middle of their class, and students far below the middle will have trouble keeping up and advancing as concepts build day by day. Critiques of my essay had been many, but I had answered them, and an increasingly broad array of other scholars had published articles that found other strong evidence of mismatch in a wide variety of academic contexts. Certainly, the evidence for mismatch was mixed--at least in some contexts--and social scientists who found evidence of mismatch never argued--to my knowledge--that the existence of mismatch should preclude affirmative action policies. But just as certainly, universities tended to completely ignore the mismatch problem, and this was quite disturbing. The Supreme Court's decision to review the Fifth Circuit's holding in Fisher--and to thus reconsider the constitutionality of university racial preferences--increased the level of interest and anxiety about mismatch research.

Lawyer and journalist Stuart Taylor, Jr., had joined forces with me to write a broadly accessible book on the effects of racial preferences, called Mismatch, which appeared in October 2012. That, along with two briefs that Stuart and I wrote as amici curiae to the Court on Fisher, helped to elevate the mismatch hypothesis to a prominent place in the public discussion of Fisher. The New York Times, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR's All Things Considered all ran prominent articles on mismatch, generally treating it as, at the very least, an idea to be reckoned with seriously. The general tone was well-captured by The New York Times' David Brooks, who wrote: “[A]ffirmative action programs ... perpetrated some noteworthy wrongs .... The evidence on this is hotly disputed, but Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. make a compelling case ....”

Yet at law school events during the 2012-2013 academic year, when I was invited to speak about any aspect of Fisher, a strangely repetitive pattern emerged. Regardless of whether the topic at hand was mismatch, or some entirely different part of the affirmative action issue, panel members who disliked my mismatch research would start to recite from a document known as the Empirical Scholars Brief. This document, they would suggest, was the definitive refutation of Richard Sander, the other “mismatch” researchers, and all that we were taken to represent. Often they would distribute copies of the Empirical Scholars Brief to the audience, like revivalists passing out the Gospel of St. James. But--and this was the oddest part--these panelists were never interested in engaging or debating any of the claims that were actually in the Empirical Scholars Brief (which I will sometimes, as shorthand, refer to as the “ESB”). One panelist, at an AALS panel in a large ballroom, disclaimed any intention of getting into the details. “I'm not a trained quantitative empiricist,” she said, “instead I'm compelled to rely on critiques by other empiricists.” Pretty much exactly the same thing happened at the Valparaiso symposium. Professor Nelson began our panel with a very thoughtful discussion of the “deference” issue--that is, when and to what degree the Supreme Court should defer to the educational judgment of universities in evaluating their diversity programs. Professor Sumi Cho followed with some rather discursive remarks on the importance of diversity. I then spoke about some of my empirical findings on university behavior--a sort of empirical comment on some of the same issues Professor Nelson had raised. When we finished, and the question and answer portion began, Professor Cho distributed a copy of the ESB to the audience, with the standard comment that the audience could better evaluate my comments if they knew what other social scientists thought of my work. With my time up, and on my remote monitor, I was not in a very good position to respond to and engage the ESB claims. I encouraged anyone in the audience to ask me to discuss any specific claim they could identify, but there were no takers. It felt to me like a completely non-substantive, ad hominem, and unfair attack.

It therefore seems appropriate to take the opportunity afforded by the written version of the symposium to provide the sort of thoughtful engagement that I would have liked to provide the live symposium audience. What follows is an assessment--though it may sound more like an expose--of the “Empirical Scholars Brief.” The thrust of my analysis is that the ESB is not just substantively wrong, but it is also a deeply dishonest document that relies on outright falsehoods and misleading claims to support an argument, which should be embarrassing to its signatories, and is entitled to no substantive weight in discussions of mismatch and affirmative action.

Richard Sander (UCLA), The Stylized Critique of Mismatch, 92 Tex. L. Rev. 1637 (2014):

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November 20, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Drexel 3L With Asperger's Syndrome Sues Philadelphia Law Firms For Relying on U.S. News Rankings in Hiring Decisions

U.S. News (2015)Dave Hoffman (Temple) blogs lawsuits by William Hanrahan, a Drexel 3L with Asperger's Syndrome ranked #4 in his class, claiming that three big Philadelphia law firms (Blank Rome, Dechert, Pepper Hamilton) discriminate against disabled job applicants by unduly relying on the U.S. News ranking of the applicant's law school:

I’m not an expert in this area of the law, but I thought the complaint provided an interesting set of facts for discussion. My uninformed view is that the chain of causation (disability –> lower LSAT –> lower-ranked school –> fewer job offers) isn’t incredible, but that it’s hard to imagine a judge forcing firms to discount rankings (which, after all, aren’t entirely or even mostly based on student credentials) when making hiring decisions.

Update:  

November 20, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Did So Many People Flunk the Bar Exam This Year?

Following up on my earlier posts (here, here, and here):  Bloomberg, Why Did So Many People Flunk the Bar Exam This Year?:

The most recent bar exam test results are in, and they are ugly. In several states, people who took the bar in July were more likely to fail than those who took it last year, and scores on one portion of the test dropped to their lowest point in 10 years.

Are America’s law graduates really getting dumber? The people who put together the bar exam seem to think so.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners, a nonprofit that prepares one of the state-specific multiple-choice sections in which scores dropped dramatically, sent a curt message to law school deans in October. “The results are correct,” wrote Erica Moeser, the group’s president, in an Oct. 23 memo. “The group that sat in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013,”

It’s technically true that this year’s crop of grads was “less able” than before, if you use their pre-law-school test scores as a proxy for their smarts. The median LSAT score among students at American law schools has declined every year from 2010 to 2013, according to an analysis by Jerry Organ, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas. ...

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November 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Seto: New BLS Data Project More Lawyer Jobs Than Law Grads in 2016

Seto (2014)Following up on yesterday's post, Government's Data Collection Change Will 'Solve' the Law School Crisis:  TaxProf Blog op-ed:  The Proposed New BLS Lawyer Replacement Projections, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

Commentators who believe that the end of the world is near for legal education often point to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates of replacement needs in the legal profession and compare those estimates to the number of projected law school graduates.

On May 16, 2014, the BLS issued a notice proposing a new method for measuring what it calls “occupational separations” – that is, workers leaving a particular occupation who need to be replaced. The BLS explains that the current method indirectly measures leavers by measuring employment change by age group, relying on an assumption that workers enter at a young age, work in their field until they are old, and then retire, creating opportunities for the next generation of young workers. In this framework, occupation is fixed throughout a worker’s career. The BLS notes: “However true this may have been in the past, it does not apply to many workers today.”

The new method, by contrast, directly measures workers who leave an occupation, "taking advantage of the longitudinal aspects of the CPS monthly survey and supplements."

BLS states that it believes that the current method fails to capture a large number of separations that result in openings for new entrants and that the new method is a more accurate measure. Specifically, the current method undercounts openings because it only accurately measures workers who follow a traditional career path—entering an occupation at a young age, working in the same occupation for many years, then retiring—which is not the case for many workers in most occupations.

It has tested the relative validity of the two methods against historical data from selected professions – among them, lawyers. As to projected lawyer replacement rates, the notice states:

External data is available on historical new entrants for lawyers. Not all law school graduates become lawyers, but the American Bar Association (ABA) conducts a census of employment outcomes for all law school graduates in order to count the number who find employment in positions that require bar passage (effectively, lawyers). Since ABA began collecting this data in 2011, the number of graduates finding employment in such positions has averaged 29,000 per year. Because some graduates who don’t immediately find such positions may become lawyers later in their career (for example, many graduates become law clerks, a position that does not require bar passage, for a few years before becoming lawyers), this number should be less than the total number of new entrants into the occupation.

Under the current method, BLS projects an average of 19,650 job openings per year, while the new method projects 41,460 openings per year. Again, no direct comparison between the ABA number and the BLS numbers is possible due to conceptual differences, but the results under the current method are significantly below the actual number of new graduates finding work in the occupation. (emphasis supplied) The new method projects a higher number of openings, which allows for additional entrants not immediately after completion of a law degree.

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.)

Update:  ABA Journal, Are 2016 Law Grads in Luck? New Stats Say Lawyer Jobs Will Exceed Graduates That Year

November 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Cost of College Crosses $260,000 Threshold

Chronicle of Higher Education, New Data on Tuition and Fees for Thousands of Colleges:

College

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Government's Data Collection Change Will 'Solve' the Law School Crisis

BLS (2015)Matt Leichter, How the Transparency Movement Reinflated the Law School Bubble:

[T]he Bureau of Labor Statistics is changing its employment projections methodology, specifically its measure of how many workers will be replaced in occupations in its 10-year projection periods—as opposed to the number of positions that the economy will create. ...

The BLS’s employment projections have long been a go-to source for law school critics. The ~24,000 projected annual lawyer job growth rates they showed every two years contrasted excellently with the ~40,000 law graduates each year (and the even greater number of bar admits). No longer. ... It writes ...

Not all law school graduates become lawyers, but the ABA conducts a census of employment outcomes for all law school graduates in order to count the number who find employment in positions that require bar passage (effectively, lawyers). Since ABA began collecting this data in 2011, the number of graduates finding employment in such positions has averaged 29,000 per year. Because some graduates who don’t immediately find such positions may become lawyers later in their career (for example, many graduate become law clerks, a position that does not require bar passage, for a few years before becoming lawyers), this number should be less than the total number of new entrants into the occupation.

Under the current method, BLS projects an average of 19,650 job openings per year, while the new method projects 41,460 openings per year. Again, no direct comparison between the ABA number and the BLS numbers is possible due to conceptual differences, but the results under the current method are significantly below the actual number of new graduates finding work in the occupation. The new method projects a higher number of openings, which allows for additional entrants not immediately after completion of a law degree.

Okay, data on law graduate unemployment has actually been around for many years, e.g. the NALP and the Official Guide, crude though it was. I’ve written about the strong correlation between falling proportions of graduates finding bar-passage-required jobs and graduates taking JD-advantage jobs or not finding any work. This is evidence of a saturated lawyer market, even if it’s caused in part by slack aggregate demand.

Percent Employed by Status (NALP)

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

The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students

RetireChronicle of Higher Education:  The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students, by Laurie Fendrich (Hofstra):

The 1994 law ending mandatory retirement at age 70 for university professors substantially mitigated the problem of age discrimination within universities. But out of this law a vexing new problem has emerged—a graying—yea, whitening—professoriate. The law, which allows tenured faculty members to teach as long as they want—well past 70, or until they’re carried out of the classroom on a gurney—means professors are increasingly delaying retirement past age 70 or even choosing not to retire at all. ...

Professors approaching 70 who are still enamored with hanging out with students and colleagues, or even fretting about money, have an ethical obligation to step back and think seriously about quitting. If they do remain on the job, they should at least openly acknowledge they’re doing it mostly for themselves. ...

The average age for all tenured professors nationwide is now approaching 55 and creeping upward; the number of professors 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2011. In spite of those numbers, according to a Fidelity Investments study conducted about a year ago, three-quarters of professors between 49 and 67 say they will either delay retirement past age 65 or—gasp!—never retire at all. They ignore, or are oblivious to, the larger implications for their students, their departments, and their colleges. ...

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November 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Dershowitz Wins Acquittal in Spitzer's Prosecution of Biblical Abraham for Attempted Murder of Isaac

AbrahamNew York Times,  At Educational Event, a Modern Legal Interpretation of a Biblical Story:

The facts were undeniable: The defendant, one Abraham (no known surname), had teetered on the brink of stabbing his son Isaac to death, only to be stopped by divine intervention.

Luckily he had a lawyer with a thirst for tough cases, not to mention a jury pool consisting exclusively of people who proudly claim to be descended from the accused.

The setting, too, seemed at least mildly favorable: the soaring Fifth Avenue sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El, with twin menorahs on either side of the courtroom.

But who could begrudge him? When the defendant in question is the father of the Jewish people, it seems only right that the trial — even if it is only a mock trial done for educational purposes — should take place in one of the country’s most eminent Reform synagogues, with two of New York’s most prominent Jews sparring over his fate.

For the prosecution:  Eliot Spitzer, a former governor and attorney general of New York. For the defense:  Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School professor who was one of Mr. Spitzer’s former professors but is perhaps better known for defending O. J. Simpson and other notorious clients. ...

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Law School Tuition v. Bar Exam Success

Huffington Post, Comparing Law School Tuition With How Many Grads Pass The Bar On The First Try:

Paying more money in tuition for law school does not necessarily boost your chance of passing the bar on the first try, but it doesn't seem to hurt either, according to a chart by FindTheBest. [Click on bubbles to see results for individual law schools.]

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Projected Lawyer Surpluses Worsen: 3 New Lawyers for Every Law Job in 2022

The American Lawyer:  States' Projected Lawyer Surpluses Deteriorate for 2022, by Matt Leichter:

[G]overnment employment projections can provide more insight into the number of future lawyer positions that will be available for prospective law students. In fact, estimates on lawyer employment in 2022 by state are now available, making it possible to update the calculations for the law graduate and lawyer surpluses.

The “law graduate surplus” measures the ratio of ABA law school graduates in each state in 2013 to the estimated annual lawyer job growth rate for the 2012-22 projection period. The “lawyer surplus” makes the same calculation but subs out law school graduates with the number of bar admits in all states and under all circumstances (including those entering on motion).

The law graduate surplus is useful because it uses a discrete number of individuals, but it includes people who never become lawyers while excluding people who join the bar without going to an ABA law school (for instance, by attending a foreign law school). By contrast, the lawyer surplus directly measures people who obtain a law license, except it duplicates many who seek bar admission in multiple states—a phenomenon that is likely to increase in the future as more jurisdictions adopt the Uniform Bar Exam. However, the lawyer surplus does provide information on the large number of lawyers who motion into the District of Columbia bar without attending a local law school or taking its bar exam.

State governments provide estimates of lawyer employment in 2012 and 2022 along with the projected annual growth rate. The following table breaks them down by state (which includes the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and region as delineated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. ...

Here is a table of the law graduate and lawyer surpluses by state and region, ranked ... by the lawyer surplus for 2013 and compared against 2011.

States with the biggest lawyer surplus:

#

STATE/BEA REGION

NO. ABA LAW SCHOOL GRADS

NO. BAR ADMITS

RATIO ABA GRADS TO ANNUAL LAWYER JOBS

RATIO BAR ADMITS TO ANNUAL LAWYER JOBS

2011

2013

2011

2013

2011

2013

2011

2013

1

North Dakota

81

75

195

267

2.03

1.88

4.88

6.68

2

Alaska

0

0

106

130

0.00

0.00

5.30

6.50

3

New Jersey

783

859

2,844

3,386

1.04

1.41

3.79

5.55

4

Wyoming

73

78

112

157

0.91

2.60

1.40

5.23

5

New York

4,703

5,007

9,855

10,251

2.92

2.55

6.12

5.23

6

New Hampshire

147

107

296

250

2.45

2.14

4.93

5.00

7

District of Columbia

2,116

2,181

3,164

3,120

1.48

3.16

2.21

4.52

8

Maryland

594

600

1,653

1,742

1.49

1.54

4.13

4.47

9

Massachusetts

2,288

2,391

2,416

2,411

3.27

4.27

3.45

4.31

10

Hawaii

101

108

208

206

1.68

2.16

3.47

4.12

States with the lowest lawyer surplus:

40

Texas

2,343

2,323

3,476

3,836

1.44

1.29

2.13

2.13

41

Arizona

490

640

689

906

1.09

1.49

1.53

2.11

42

Colorado

462

437

1,256

1,217

1.36

0.73

3.69

2.03

43

Georgia

896

1,085

1,288

1,377

1.30

1.60

1.87

2.03

44

Washington

657

654

1,148

1,353

1.43

0.98

2.50

2.02

45

Utah

285

292

606

499

1.36

1.17

2.89

2.00

46

Louisiana

797

936

744

533

2.95

3.47

2.76

1.97

47

Oklahoma

462

468

465

463

1.71

1.87

1.72

1.85

48

Delaware

252

279

122

148

4.20

3.49

2.03

1.85

49

Florida

2,998

3,190

3,646

3,476

1.53

1.65

1.86

1.80

Here are the totals for all fifty states:

US (State Data)

43,345

43,591

61,292

63,237

2.04

2.09

2.89

3.03

US (BLS Data)

43,817

46,101

62,113

64,960

2.07

2.35

2.93

3.31

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

Undergraduate Prestige Affects Earnings Premium From Elite Graduate Programs

Wall Street Journal, Graduates of Elite Colleges See a Payoff:

Sure, it’s nice to have a graduate degree from Yale, but a new study finds that attending an elite undergraduate institution counts for an awful lot when it comes to lifelong earnings. A researcher at the Vanderbilt University Law School found that people with advanced degrees from elite schools and undergraduate diplomas from less-selective institutions earn less than people who attended elite schools for both their graduate and undergraduate degrees. The results hold up across a broad swath of graduate programs, from law degrees to M.B.A.s. And those who attended less elite undergraduate institutions are unlikely to ever close the salary gap, according to the study.

Joni Hersch of Vanderbilt Law School said the survey results came as somewhat of a surprise, but suggests that it’s not really undergraduate education driving the pay disparity, but instead the social status of graduates of elite colleges. ...

Among those who attended top-tier graduate institutions, the pay gap between graduates of top-tier and lower-tier undergraduate schools was considerable.

Chart

Joni Hersch (Vanderbilt), Catching Up Is Hard to Do: Undergraduate Prestige, Elite Graduate Programs, and the Earnings Premium:

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Federalist Society Panel: Is Higher Education Run for the Benefit of Students, Faculty or Administrators?

Federalist SocietyAt today's 2014 National Lawyers Convention: Millennials, Equity and the Rule of Law:

Showcase Panel III:  Higher Education: Run for the Benefit of Students or Faculty or Administrators?:

Success in today’s global economy virtually requires a college or post graduate degree, but colleges and law schools have raised tuition enormously. The government subsidizes students to take huge loans to pay for college and law schools, loans which inflict an increasing burden on students, including law students in a troubled economy. Do these loans pay as much for faculty research and administrators as for direct student education? Are faculties producing research that justifies these costs? Are students getting a good deal now? Could or will on line education provide students with similar education at a fraction of the cost? Is it time to ask some hard questions about higher education? Does education policy benefit average and below average students or does it merely benefit the top of the class? This panel will focus to a significant degree on law schools.

  • Paul F. Campos (Colorado)
  • Daniel Polsby (Dean, George Mason)
  • Richard Kent Vedder (Ohio University)
  • Thomas D. Morgan (George Washington) (moderator)

November 15, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

WSJ: California State Bar in Turmoil After Shake-up Triggers Whistleblower Claim

California State Bar (2014)Wall Street Journal, California State Bar in Turmoil After Shake-up Triggers Whistleblower Claim:

The California State Bar was thrown into turmoil this week after its ousted executive director struck back with retaliation claims alleging that he was fired for complaining about ethical breaches inside the organization.

Joseph Dunn, a Democratic former California state senator, claims in a whistleblower lawsuit filed in California state court Thursday that the state bar fired him from his job last week after he accused the bar’s top disciplinary officer of lying about the organization’s handling of attorney misconduct complaints.

The bar’s leadership won’t say what was behind the shake-up, and Mr. Dunn says he wasn’t given an explanation when the bar notified him of his termination when was in San Francisco giving a speech on Nov. 7.

The bar put out a statement Thursday saying that it had terminated Mr. Dunn and that the bar’s president, Craig Holden, and a deputy executive director would be assuming Mr. Dunn’s duties on a temporary basis. It did not have an immediate comment on Friday.

The bar, an arm of the California Supreme Court, is the state’s legal gatekeeper, overseeing bar admissions and managing the state’s attorney discipline system for its 181,000 active members.

Mr. Dunn alleges that the bar’s chief trial counsel, Jayne Kim, who oversees investigations into complaints about attorneys, “unlawfully removed” backlog cases from official reports. “This was done to benefit Ms. Kim in her upcoming evaluation and to fraudulently inflate the productivity of her office,” the complaint says.

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November 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Arctic Blast Sweeps the Nation; Californians Break Out Their Winter Clothes

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Class Crits VII Conference Kicks Off Today at UC-Davis

Class CritsThe two-day Class Crits VII Conference on Poverty, Precarity, & Work: Struggle & Solidarity in an Era of Permanent(?) Crisis kicks off today at UC-Davis.  Tax Prof speakers include:

Debt & Taxes:

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November 14, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Innovation, Ingenuity and Leadership in American Law Schools

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Innovation, Ingenuity and Leadership: ‘De-Accrediting’ the ABA, Nationalizing Bar Admission and Redefining the Right to Practice Some Forms of Law:

In a system such as is represented by US law schools even its failures and inadequacies were insufficient stimuli to drive honest self-assessment. This was because until the recent dramatic plunge in applicants law schools were not in any way accountable for their failure to be self-aware in mission, teaching, scholarly activity or cost in ways that compelled faculty to seek to understand the true nature of what they were doing both individually and collectively. Over the past three to four decades many law schools became such self-contained institutions that they were increasingly disconnected from the needs of the legal profession and the judiciary. After all, the practice of law was sort of morally “dirty”, anti-intellectual and mundane.

Law schools are now trumpeting that they really are concerned with educating students to become effective lawyers. The schools are releasing press release after release announcing how they have (finally) seen the light and are innovatively committed to the mission of educating lawyers. The problem with the PR is that innovation doesn’t just happen. It requires a unique combination of special leadership working with a critical mass of people who want to innovate. Even that is not enough.   The “innovators” must possess the insights and skills needed to “invent new forms” and those “inventions” will often require that they and others change the nature and focus of what they have long been doing and adapt. The willingness to transform oneself in that way is not a common feature in American law schools. To innovate effectively the Body comprised of a law school dean and faculty need to understand the existing system sufficiently well that they know how to preserve its strengths while eliminating the barriers created by our human tendency to consider what we have always done as the only (or best) way to do things.

This is particularly difficult to achieve in the amorphous system of American legal education. The problems have several elements. One of the most critical is that no one in a law school has sufficient power to compel faculty to act cohesively. This is exacerbated by the fact that members of law faculties are master “word smiths” capable of manipulating and blurring the reality of any situation with elevated rhetoric. They are also traditionalists locked into the existing hierarchy and ways of doing things who are far closer to being entitled feudal lords with individual fiefdoms rather than employees.

Significant innovation becomes close to impossible when it is dependent on the decisions of an atomistic collection of “uber-individuals” empowered by lifetime employment guarantees that cannot be altered without great expense and for very significant cause. Virtually no one can actually tell an American law professor what to do and this creates very high barriers to innovation. Nonetheless there are several approaches that can trigger systemic innovation with significant impacts on legal education and the profession.

In my judgment there are three steps that are needed to “crack open” the current monopoly over legal education and the right to provide law-related services that are operating as barriers to innovation and to the best ways to provide legal services to those in need.

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November 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time: The Real Student Debt Problem No One is Talking About

Time (2014)Time:  The Real Student Debt Problem No One is Talking About, by Jon Marcus:

Graduate students make up just 14% of university enrollment, but account for nearly 40% of student debt

Much of the concern about ballooning student debt has focused on undergrads taking out steep loans to pay for the rising cost of college. Largely overlooked are a principal source of the problem: graduate students ... who are less likely to have support from parents or other sources, and who face almost no limits on how much they borrow.

Graduate students now collectively owe as much as 40 percent of the estimated $1.2 trillion in outstanding student debt, according to the New America Foundation, even though they make up only 14 percent of all university enrollment.

GradStudentDebt

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November 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The National Jurist's 25 Most Influential People in Legal Education

National JuristNational Jurist, 4 New Faces Join list of Most Influential People in Legal Education:

The National Jurist’s list of the Most influential People in Legal Education will include four new names when it is unveiled in its entirety in January, the publication announced.

Paul Caron, Professor at Pepperdine University, Eric Janus, Dean at William Mitchell School of Law, Michael Hunter Schwartz, Dean at University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Maureen A. O’Rourke, Dean at Boston University School of Law all made the list for the first time. Philip J. Weiser, Dean at University of Colorado Law School will return to the list after a one-year absence.

Janus made news late last year as the dean of the first school to get ABA approval for a distance-learning program for J.D. students. Michael Hunter Schwartz and Maureen A. O’Rourke have each spearheaded legal education reforms at their schools. ... Caron, who is new to the list, is an editor of a popular blog that covers legal education in addition to tax law issues.

The National Jurist seeks nominations from every law school and then narrows the list down to 50 nominees. Law school deans, the magazine’s editors and other influencers in legal education then vote.

Twenty honorees return to the list. They are listed below in alphabetical order:

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November 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Organ: MBE Is More to Blame Than Deteriorating Student Quality for Lower Bar Pass Rates

Following up on my earlier posts (here and here):  The Legal Whiteboard:  What Might Have Contributed to an Historic Year-Over-Year Decline In the MBE Mean Scaled Score?, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has taken the position that the historic drop in the MBE Mean Scaled Score of 2.8 points between the July 2013 administration of the bar exam (144.3) and the July 2014 administration of the bar exam (141.5) is solely attributable to a decline in the quality of those taking a bar exam this July. ... I am not persuaded. (Neither is Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard, who has responded by calling the letter “offensive” and by asking for a “thorough investigation of the administration and scoring of the July 2014 exam.” Nor is Derek Muller, who earlier today posted a blog suggesting that the LSAT profile of the class of 2014 did not portend the sharp drop in MBE scores.)  ...

If one looks at the LSAT distribution of the matriculants in 2011 (who became the graduating class of 2014) and compares it with the LSAT distribution of the matriculants in 2010 (who became the graduating class of 2013), the NCBE probably is correct in noting that the group that sat in July 2014 is slightly “less able” than the group that sat in July 2013.  But for the reasons set forth below, I think the NCBE is wrong to suggest that this alone accounts for the historic drop in the MBE Mean Scaled Score. Rather, a comparison of the LSAT profile of the Class of 2014 with the LSAT profile of the Class of 2013 would suggest that one could have anticipated a modest drop in the MBE Mean Scaled Score of perhaps .5 to 1.0.  The modest decrease in the LSAT profile of the Class of 2014 when compared with the Class of 2013, by itself, does not explain the historic drop of 2.8 reported in the MBE Mean Scaled Score between July 2013 and July 2014. ...

In his article, Unpacing the Bar: Cut Scores, Competence and Crucibles, Professor Gary Rosin of the South Texas College of Law developed a statistical model for predicting bar passage rates for different LSAT scores.  I used his bar passage prediction chart to assess the “relative strength” of each entering class from 2001 through 2013. 

LSAT RANGE

Prediction of Bar Exam Success Based on Lowest LSAT in Range

175-180

.98

170-174

.97

165-169

.95

160-164

.91

155-159

.85

150-154

.76

145-149

.65

140-144

.50

135-139

.36

130-134

.25

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

Closing The Law School Gender Gap: 'Gender Inequality In Grading Is Sensitive to Pedagogy'

Gender GapInside Higher Ed, Closing the Law School Gender Gap:

Reducing class size and shaking up grading systems could help close the gender gap in professional schools, suggests new research in the Journal of Legal Studies [A Natural Experiment in Law]. Authors Daniel Ho and [Vice Dean] Mark Kelman, both professors of law at Stanford University, say that common professional school pedagogies, such as the Socratic and adversarial methods, may put women at a disadvantage when class sizes are big. In their study, Ho and Kelman analyzed 15,689 grades assigned by 91 instructors to 1,897 students from 2001-12.  

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

Muller: Class of 2014 LSAT Scores Did Not Portend Sharp Drop in MBE Scores

2014 Businessweek Business School Rankings

BloombergBloomberg Businessweek, The Complete 2014 Business School Rankings (methodology: 45% employer reputation; 45% student reputation; 10% faculty research):

  1. Duke
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Chicago
  4. Stanford
  5. Columbia
  6. Yale
  7. Northwestern
  8. Harvard
  9. Michigan
  10. Carnegie Mellon
  11. UCLA
  12. North Carolina
  13. Cornell
  14. MIT
  15. Dartmouth
  16. Indiana
  17. Maryland
  18. Emory
  19. UC-Berkeley
  20. Virginia
  21. USC
  22. NYU
  23. Texas
  24. Georgetown
  25. Rice

Congratulations to  Pepperdine's Business School, ranked #63.

November 12, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Predict Your Law School Class Rank Online Calculator

Rob Anderson (Pepperdine) has unveiled a nifty Predict Your Law School Class Rank Online Calculator:

This is a law school class rank calculator that uses publicly available data to predict law school class rank based on LSAT and undergraduate GPA. The calculator itself is fairly accurate for LSATs and GPAs that are between the 25th and 75th percentiles for each school. Its accuracy decreases for very low or very high LSATs or GPAs for a particular school.

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

Buchanan: Legal Scholarship Makes the World a Better Place

WorldNeil H. Buchanan (George Washington), Legal Scholarship Makes the World a Better Place:

This article responds to claims that law professors are engaged in scholarly pursuits that fail to serve important social functions. I argue that legal scholarship “matters” in important ways, and in particular that the legal academy has improved its service to society by embracing interdisciplinary approaches to studying the law.

November 11, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

WSJ: MBE, Brooklyn Dean Debate Cause of Declining Bar Pass Rates: Students or the Test?

Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Decline in Bar Exam Scores Sparks War of Words:

A steep decline in bar exam scores on the most recent test has led to an outbreak of finger-pointing over who’s to blame for the downward swing.

In a sharply worded letter, the dean of Brooklyn Law School on Monday reproached the head of a national bar exam group for suggesting to law school leaders that their graduates who took the July exam were less prepared than students who sat for the test in previous years.

The dean’s letter came in response to an October memo by Erica Moeser, the president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, addressed to law school deans across the country in which she defended the integrity of the group’s exam and raised concerns about the ability of the would-be lawyers who took it. ...

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November 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Save the Date: Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition

MugelThe annual Albert R. Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition will be held February 19-21, 2015.

  • Registration Deadline:  December 30, 2014
  • Problem Released:  January 12, 2015
  • Briefs Due:  February 12, 2015

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

WSJ: Millennials Have More Debt, Less Jobs, Savings, and Net Worth

GenWall Street Journal, Younger Generation Faces a Savings Deficit:

Adults under age 35—the so-called millennial generation—currently have a savings rate of negative 2%, meaning they are burning through their assets or going into debt, according to Moody’s Analytics. That compares with a positive savings rate of about 3% for those age 35 to 44, 6% for those 45 to 54, and 13% for those 55 and older. 

The turnabout in savings tendencies shows how the personal finances of millennials have become increasingly precarious despite five years of economic growth and sustained job creation. A lack of savings increases the vulnerability of young workers in the postrecession economy, leaving many without a financial cushion for unexpected expenses, raising the difficulty of job transitions and leaving them further away from goals like eventual homeownership—let alone retirement. ...

The problems from a lack of savings promise to reverberate for years. Those who don’t save are unlikely to be wealthy in the future, meaning American angst over wealth inequality seems poised to persist if most millennials are unable to save or choose not to. ...

For some young households, the inability to save reflects the weak job market. ... Another big difference from earlier generations is the rise of student loans. In 1995, borrowers under 35 had median student debt of $6,100, according to Fed data. That has risen to $17,200.

WSJ 2

November 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seyfarth Partner Quits Law Firm ($925k Income) to Become High School Teacher ($53k Income)

American Lawyer LogoThe American Lawyer, Seyfarth Partner Quits Law Firm Life to Become High School Teacher:

For labor and employment partner Michael Viccora, it took the death of his parents to realize he wanted a chance at a second career. So after 25 years at Seyfarth Shaw, he decided it was time to wean himself from law firm life and pursue his first love: teaching high school social studies.

At 51, Viccora is now enrolled in a teacher certification and master’s degree program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. His last day of work in Seyfarth’s Washington, D.C., office was Sept. 30.

Viccora says the job change was a long time in coming, but not because he had grown dissatisfied with the practice of law, where he counseled and litigated on behalf of clients in health care, public relations, construction, government contracting and hospitality. Rather, he says he was inspired by some of his own public school teachers growing up in Bethel, Conn. He also did a short stint as a history teacher at a private preparatory school in upstate New York while preparing for his LSATs after graduating from Dartmouth College with a degree in government in 1985. 

“It was always a goal of mine to at some point return to teaching, but like lots of our goals and dreams, it was in the very far background," he says. Viccora started taking steps toward making that dream a reality after the death of his father in 2009, followed by the death of his mother a year later. “Those events underscored that if I wanted to make a move to do some of these other things in life, I had to get up and do them,” he reflects. “It prompted me to be more active in my goal to make the move.” ...

He and his wife also met with their financial planner and increased their savings in anticipation of a 90 percent income drop when he starts teaching in 2016. Viccora did not disclose his former income, but according to the latest Am Law 100 survey, average profits per partner at Seyfarth in 2013 was $925,000. A beginning high school public school teacher with a master’s degree in Fairfax County, on the other hand, is expected to earn about $53,000 in 2015, according to public records.

November 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times on Ken Starr

StarrInteresting New York Times article on Ken Starr, former Pepperdine Dean (2004-10) (and former D.C. Circuit Judge (1983-89), U.S. Solicitor General (1989-93), and Independent Counsel (1994-99)) and since 2010 President of Baylor University:

Many remember Mr. Starr from his days as independent counsel, when he delivered a report to Congress that chronicled President Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern. They would strain to recognize him in university life, where he is viewed as a goofy professor.

“We love him,” Gracie Millard, a freshman, said. “Around campus, people take selfies with him.”

Echoing several other undergraduates born in the mid-1990s, Ms. Millard added, “I didn’t know he was big in D.C.” ...

[C]ollege sports have given Mr. Starr’s public life a second act. He restored stability to Baylor, the country’s largest Baptist university, after becoming its fifth president in six years, including interims, and twice used his legal experience to help hold the Big 12 together amid the storms of realignment.

“He’s already an epic and transformational figure,” said Don Willett, a Texas Supreme Court justice and active Baylor alumnus. ...

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November 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup