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Monday, March 30, 2015

Barnhizer: Jobs, Law Schools and the ‘Body Count’ Mentality

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Jobs, Law Schools and the ‘Body Count’ Mentality:

[I]n far too many instances analyses of what is or is going to happen in relation to “law jobs” and law schools in the US are similar to the “body count” data that characterized America’s reporting on the Vietnam War. ... I don’t care about the almost daily litany of specific short-term numbers or “body counts” about what is going on in the legal profession, in law school applications and enrollments and in the quality of graduates and bar exam takers. Even if accurate—they are only a small part of the system’s dynamics. ... Rather than focusing on the inner workings of hapless law schools and surprisingly unsophisticated legal academics and administrators, it is wiser to identify the external conditions and forces that are going to dictate the system’s outcomes and “rules of operation” over the next five, ten and fifteen years.

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March 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Widener Splits Into Two Law Schools, Names New Deans

WidenerWidener University on Friday announced that the ABA has approved its application to split its School of Law, which has campuses in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, into separate law schools that will operate independently of each other, but remain part of the university:

Each school also announced new deans:

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March 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 29, 2015

North Carolina Dean Finalists

North Carolina LogoUniversity of North Carolina, Law School Dean Candidates Announced:

March 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

L.A. Times: Pepperdine's Surf Chapel

SurfCool front page story in the L.A. Times:  At Pepperdine's Surf Chapel, Prayers Come in Waves:

On such a gray, nippy morning, most self-respecting college students would pull the covers over their heads and languish for a couple of extra hours in the sack.

But Asa Miller drove 30 miles from Simi Valley to greet the dawn at Zuma Beach.

After spending six years in the Navy, Miller sometimes feels at sea as a 24-year-old freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu. That's why he heads to Surf Chapel, a weekly convocation on the sand, to help him get his bearings — by combining a little bit of God and a little bit of wave action.

"Surf Chapel is a chance to refocus the soul and mind," Miller said. "Being by the beach in the morning gives me perspective, reminding me of my place." ...

Surf Chapel is spearheaded by Rob Shearer, an assistant professor who teaches undergraduate students the decidedly secular topics of business statistics and quantitative decision-making.

Each Wednesday morning, he carries his surfboard and his New American Standard Bible and wades into the sacred realm of the outdoors, where he expounds the merits of religious belief and community building. ...

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March 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Johnston: No, The Estate Tax Isn’t Destroying Family Farms

Al Jazeera, No, The Estate Tax Isn’t Destroying Family Farms, by David Cay Johnston:

Congress is voting this week on whether to repeal the estate tax. The step would be a huge boon to billionaires and others whose fortunes would forever escape taxation, creating an even larger dynastic class of inheritors who owe their riches to their skill at picking their parents.

But that’s not what was heard at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing last week. Instead the theme was how the tax was eviscerating American farmers.

This plan has no chance of becoming law while President Barack Obama is in office, but it has some Democrats running scared instead of standing on their principles. Some of them are talking about exempting farmers from the estate tax.

On the basis of the hearing, it’s hard to imagine why any people would want to farm or run their own business — that is, if you assume the hearing was grounded in reality.

The fact is that any claim that the estate tax is killing family farms is a lie.

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March 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Brooklyn Law School Dean Calls For Audit of MBE

NCBENational Law Journal op-ed:  Too Much Power Rests with the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Nicholas W. Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

Trying to improve the broken bar-exam system for licensing lawyers has been for too long like tilting at windmills while singing “The Impossible Dream.”

There is a disconnection between what the bar exam tests and what the American Bar Association and law schools require students to learn. Graduates must enroll in costly cram courses, forgo gainful employment for almost three months and incur collectively hundreds of millions of dollars in costs and lost income to survive the semiannual culling of the herd. Nor does the bar exam, which relies heavily on questions developed and scored by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, measure what one needs to know to be an effective lawyer.

Last July’s historic nationwide drop in the bar passage rate brought into sharp focus the urgent need to overhaul a system that ill serves the public, the profession and certainly the graduates of our law schools. Over the past several months, fellow deans across the country have asked for a complete, credible and accurate explanation of the July 2014 results. We still are waiting.

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March 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tributes to Leon Gabinet

GabinetTax Prof Leon Gabinet retired last Spring at age 87 after 46 years on the Case Western Law School faculty:

Born in Poland, Gabinet moved with his family to Chicago as a boy. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he received his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Chicago, where he was an editor of the law review. His law school classmates included Robert Bork (who became a leading scholar of antitrust law but, we hear, used Gabinet's outline to get through their law school Antitrust course) and Marvin Chirelstein (another prominent tax professor). Between college and law school, Gabinet spent two years in medical school. Along the way he also found time to play Junior A hockey, where his defense partner was future Hall of Famer Harry Howell. Although he returned to school to complete his education, Gabinet continued to play recreational hockey for many years (including games with and against some of his students). ...

Although Gabinet will be retiring, he intends to continue teaching one course annually. In fact, at the age of 87, he has decided to take up a new one, Insurance Law, which we have not been able to offer since Professor Wilbur Leatherberry ADL '65, LAW '68 retired two years ago

Tribute to Professor Leon Gabinet, 65 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 1-23 (2014):

March 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gender Disparities in Law School Participation Remain

Harvard Law Record, Gender Disparities in Law School Participation Remain:

Gender disparities in law school performance remain pervasive at even the most elite schools. Studies evaluating grades from the past two decades at both Stanford (2001-2012) and Yale (1995-96, 1997) Law Schools found that women receive lower grades and, at Yale, a lower percentage of clerkships. Research suggests that grades and participation may be correlated. Yale law students in 2011 collected classroom data from 21 classes of different sizes, which included how often men and women answered cold-calls, volunteered comments, and interrupted other students.  When adjusted for attendance, only 42.8% of “participation events” came from women.

Harvard is no better. HLS alum Adam Neufeld evaluated student performance from 1997-2003.  He found that men received higher grades in 1L classes and were more likely to graduate with latin honors.  Moreover, in a study monitoring 32 1L courses for 190 total class meetings in Spring 2003,  Neufeld found that men were 50% more likely to volunteer at least once during class and 142% more likely to volunteer three or more times.  Although women comprised 45% of students, they only made 39% of all comments.

Has the gender gap narrowed over the past decade? To investigate this question, the WLA monitored the number of comments made by men and women throughout 1L sections.

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March 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

California Law School Job Placement Rankings

Sac BeeSacramento Bee, How California Law School Job Placement Rates Compare:

Though the economy is improving, job placement rates for California law schools dipped in the latest figures.

Look through the slideshow to see California's 21 American Bar Association-approved law schools, ranked by the percentage of 2013 graduates holding full-time, long-term jobs that require a juris doctor degree.

The median rate was 43 percent, down about a point from 2012.

1 Stanford 87.6%
2 UC-Berkeley 86.7%
3 UCLA 75.9%
4 UC-Davis 70.4%
5 USC 65.0%
6 UC-Irvine 64.3%
7 San Diego 53.1%
8 Pepperdine 53.1%
9 Loyola-L.A. 50.6%
10 Santa Clara 44.1%
11 UC-Hastings 42.9%
12 Southwestern 40.0%
13 Chapman 38.2%
14 Western State 37.4%
15 McGeorge 36.8%
16 San Francisco 36.0%
17 Cal-Western 35.2%
18 La Verne 34.9%
19 T. Jefferson 29.0%
20 Whittier 26.7%
21 Golden Gate 22.8%

March 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. News Rankings: 2016 v. 2015 Changes in All Reported Categories for All Law Schools

2016 U.S. News RankingsBrian Huddleston (Senior Reference Librarian, Loyola (New Orleans)) has compiled this wonderful 29-page color-coded chart showing the changes in this year's U.S. News Law School Rankings from last year's rankings in all seventeen of the published U.S. News rankings categories for each of the 198 law schools:

  • Green:  school improved in category in this year's rankings
  • Red:  school declined in category in this year's rankings
  • Yellow:  school's performance in category in this year rankings is same as last year

(Click on chart to enlarge.)

Top 3

Here are Pepperdine's numbers (click on chart to enlarge):

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March 25, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through March 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)


Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


DIck Harvey (Villanova)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


William Byrnes (T. Jefferson)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


James Hines (Michigan)



David Walker (BU)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)


Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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March 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conference on Billy Joel and the Law

Billy Joel_Page_1Touro hosted a two-day conference on Billy Joel and the Law this week:

This conference follows in the path of previous conferences exploring connections between the work of a singer-songwriter and the American legal system. In 2005, Widener Law School hosted The Lawyer as Poet Advocate: Bruce Springsteen and the American Lawyer, and in 2011, Fordham Law School hosted Bob Dylan and the Law, co-sponsored by Touro Law Center. Building on the success of these events, we will consider ways in which Billy Joel’s work relates to American law, society, and culture. Sessions will offer a wide range of perspectives, including those of judges, lawyers, law professors, and music scholars. We look forward to a meaningful and entertaining event that will foster thought provoking conversations about the relevance of Billy Joel’s work to our understanding of the American legal system.

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March 25, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Faherty Student Tax Writing Competition -- $3,000 First Prize

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Before I Go: A Stanford Neurosurgeon’s Parting Wisdom About Life and Time

KalanithiStanford Medicine News Center, Paul Kalanithi, Writer and Neurosurgeon, Dies at 37:

Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, who wrote eloquently and movingly about facing mortality after being diagnosed with lung cancer, died of the disease March 9. He was 37.

Kalanithi, who had recently completed his neurosurgery residency at the Stanford University School of Medicine and become a first-time father, was an instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery and fellow at the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

Washington Post:  Before I Go: A Stanford Neurosurgeon’s Parting Wisdom About Life and Time, by Paul Kalanithi:

I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.

Yet one thing cannot be robbed of her futurity: my daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past.

That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

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March 24, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Best Law Schools For Practical Training

NJ CoverBest Schools For Practical Training, Nat'l Jurist, p. 28, Mar. 2015:

The ABA now releases ample data on how many students participate in clinics, externiships and simulation courses. The National Jurist used this data to measure which law schools are delivering when it comes to practical training.

As we did last year, we looked at the percentage of full-time students in clinics, externships, and simulation courses. This year, we also looked at student participation in interscholastic skills competitions, such as moot court tournaments.

We again placed the most weight on clinical experience, at 30 percent. ... Externships -- at 25 percent -- were given second highest weight. ... Simulations accounted for 20 percent. ... School competitions were given a weight of 5 percent. We then asked schools to provide additional information about their additional offerings that are not reflected in these numbers, and this accounted for the final 20 percent. For example, schools requiring pro bono work were awarded points for those efforts.

Overall, law schools delivered more experiential opportunities per full-time student than in the prior year. Clinics grew from .22 clinic position per student to .23, a modest change, but significant for one year. Simulation courses grew from .92 per student to .95 per student. ...

[M]ore schools are earning top grades, as 86 schools received a B or higher.

Top 20

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March 24, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Law Review Submission Season: Hitler Gets Rejected by the Stanford Law Review

March 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 23, 2015

California Bar Task Force Issues Draft Report & Recommendations

Ca Bar CoverThe California State Bar Association’s Civil Justice Strategies Task Force has published for public comment (by May 11, 2015) a draft report and recommendations:

“Now Group” Draft Recommendations

1.  Funding:  recommend that the State Bar boost promotion of the Justice Gap Fund in order to increase donations to the fund by lawyers and law firms.

2. Incubators/Modest Means:  recommend that the State Bar track the trajectory of incubator participants; and recommend that the State Bar help create a framework (e.g., mentors, toolkits, forms, etc.) to assist modest means practitioners.

3. Unbundling:  recommend that the State Bar do more to promote and incentivize limited scope representation.

4. Improved Coordination:  recommend greater coordination between the State Bar and Judicial Council, including in efforts to link the various stakeholders involved in providing affordable legal services.

5. Civil Gideon:  recommend that the State Bar support efforts to secure universal representation starting with the following four areas:  Land Lord / Tenant, Family, Domestic Violence, Immigration; and recommend that State Bar help to market what’s working in the pilot projects, publicly support them, and help to scale them.

“New Group” Draft Recommendations

1. Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT): The State Bar should study the design of a pilot program, in one subject matter area, and, with input from the Supreme Court, address how the governance, oversight, and “licensing” would be handled.  It is important to allow the time for the Court to have input at the early stages, rather than after design is complete.

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March 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fogg Receives 2015 Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award

FoggABA Tax Section Press Release (Mar. 20, 2015):

The American Bar Association Section of Taxation presented its annual Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award to Professor T. Keith Fogg, Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villianova University School of Law, during the Section’s Plenary luncheon on January 31, 2015.

We are truly grateful for Keith’s ongoing commitment to serve low-income taxpayers,” Armando Gomez, Section Chair said. “As Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villanova Law School, Keith has trained and mentored a new generation of volunteers. His work as editor of Effectively Representing Your Client Before the IRS and his contributions to Procedurally Taxing, a blog he co-founded, have served as valuable resources for pro bono tax practitioners nationwide.”

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March 23, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Seeks Comments on Eight Proposed Changes to Law School Accreditation Standards

ABA Logo 2On Friday, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar released this memorandum on ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools Matters for Notice and Comment:

At its meeting held on March 13-14, 2015, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved for Notice and Comment the following proposed revisions to the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools:

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March 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goldburn Maynard Accepts Tenure-Track Tax Position at Louisville, Wins Emerging Scholar Award

MaynardGoldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Visiting Assistant Professor, Florida State), has accepted a tenure track tax position at Louisville.  He received the Emerging Scholar Award of Volume 92 of the Denver University Law Review for his article, Addressing Wealth Disparities: Reimagining Wealth Taxation as a Tool for Building Wealth, 92 Denv. U. L. Rev. ___ (2014):

In the past three decades, research has indicated that the building of assets can have a sustainable impact on well-being. Yet to the extent that the tax system has incorporated this insight, it has been done in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion, disproportionately benefiting those with wealth and further reinforcing wealth inequality. This paper argues that while reducing wealth concentrations is important, there should be an increased emphasis on how our tax system can build wealth or, put differently, level up. While the problem of wealth disparities may be too large for any one part of the federal policy toolkit to solve, I argue that the tax system can and should play a vital role.

March 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Profs Receive Their 2015-16 Teaching Schedules

It's that time of year again:  law profs are getting their 2015-016 teaching schedules:


(Hat Tip: Sergio Pareja.)

March 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Feldman: Who Needs Law Schools? All of Us.

Bloomberg View:  Why We Need Law Schools, by Noah Feldman (Harvard):

[L]aw school is absolutely essential -- not for lawyers with clients, but for our society as a whole. The reason has everything to do with what makes law distinct as a social phenomenon.

Law is the set of master rules that govern every other aspect of our society and our state. Law functions as a monopoly over all other forms of decision-making. When you make a life decision without a lawyer, it’s because the law allows you to do it. Unlike art or accounting or investment banking or even medicine, law affects and governs literally every aspect of human existence -- whether you like it or not.

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March 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Behavioral Economics and Law School Failure: Tie Faculty Salaries to Student Bar Exam Performance

Mimesis Law, Inefficient Markets Are Inefficient: What Behavioral Econ Says About Why Some Law Schools Fail:

Low enrollment today frightens many law schools more than low bar passage rates three years from now.   The reward of funding the current budget is a small reward compared to better bar passage and keeping the law school out of trouble with the ABA.  But schools get that smaller reward right away.  The reward of maintaining standards and ensuring the school’s future is greater overall, but schools won’t get that reward for several years, when the class of students admitted under the policy reaches the bar exam.

It’s not that professors don’t care about students passing the bar.  It’s just that they care about cuts to next year’s budget more. ...

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March 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lindgren: The Most Under-Represented Groups in Law Teaching: Whites, Christians, Republicans, Males

James Lindgren (Northwestern), Measuring Diversity: Law Faculties in 1997 and 2013:

This article is the first careful look at the demographic makeup of law faculties compared to the larger pools of lawyers and the general public. It examines which racial, gender, religious, and political groups were the most under- and overrepresented in 1997 and in 2013 compared to persons of similar ages in larger pools, including the U.S. full-time working population and the U.S. lawyer population.

The data show that in 1997 women and minorities were underrepresented compared to some populations, but Republicans and Christians were usually more underrepresented. For example, by the late 1990s, the proportion of the U.S. population that was neither Republican nor Christian was only 9%, but the majority of law professors (51%) was drawn from that small minority. Further, though women were strongly underrepresented compared to the full-time working population, all of that underrepresentation was among Republican women, who were—and are—almost missing from law teaching.

Table 18

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March 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (12)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times on Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners: Proximity Rivals Prestige in Partnership Prospects

Following up on last Friday's post, Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners:  New York Times, Law School Proximity Matters for Partner Prospects, Study Finds:

Elite law schools are not always a glide path to becoming a partner at a big law firm. A new study of partners’ academic pedigrees shows that a large number of graduates who reach the top rung at a law firm do not necessarily come from the top-ranked law schools.

The study of 33,000 lawyers at the largest 115 law firms in the country found that the dozen highest ranked law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Northwestern, had a high correlation between their status and the number of alumni who made partner.

But some of the other 100 schools examined showed greater differences between their ranking and their alumni partner numbers, said Edward S. Adams, a University of Minnesota law professor who co-authored the study. ...

The study “highlights the power of geographical proximity,” Professor Adams said, and “it generally validates that the law school attended matters for ‘big law’ partnership prospects.”

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amidst 70% Enrollment Decline, Appalachian Law School Sheds 60% Of Its Faculty And Seeks Affiliation With Another College To Survive

Appalachian LogoWCYB, The Appalachian School of Law Looks Ahead:

Fewer and fewer people are attending law school. That nationwide shift means schools are competing for students as they try to balance their budgets. In 2004, there were 100,600 people nationwide who applied to law school. In 2013, there were just 59,400.

This is especially evident at small  'fourth tier' schools. In fact, many have had to align themselves with larger institutions just to survive. 

We were contacted about the status of the Appalachian School of Law by people concerned about its future.  News 5 WCYB's Samantha Kozsey visited the school and spoke to one of its board of trustees, as well as alumni, faculty and former faculty as well as legal consultants about the future of law schools specifically ASL. Just about everyone we spoke to said, this is a tough time especially for the few remaining 'free-standing' private law schools. ...

At the height of enrollment, there were approximately 150 students in a graduating class at ASL. ... [There were 145 1Ls in Fall 2011.] Compare that to the incoming class for 2014 which was approximately 45. ... Some estimate that number will drop even more for this coming Fall.

Even the faculty numbers have dropped from 14 full-time professors in the Spring of 2014 [17 in Fall 2012] to eight in the fall to seven this semester, that's down 50%.

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times: Bar Exam Comes Under Fire

Bar Exam FailNew York Times, Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire:

For decades, law school graduates have endured a stressful rite of passage, spending the first 10 weeks after classes end taking cram courses in the arcane details of the law before sitting down for the grueling, dayslong bar exam. Those who do not pass cannot practice law, at least in nearly all the states and the District of Columbia that consider the exam the professional standard.

But that standard, so long unquestioned, is facing a new round of scrutiny — not just from the test takers but from law school deans and some state legal establishments. Some states, including Arizona, Iowa and New Hampshire, are exploring or have adopted other options, questioning the wisdom of relying on a single written test as the gateway to legal practice.

The debate over the exam is not new, but it broke out in the open after the results of last summer’s exam were released in the fall, showing that the 51,005 test takers had the poorest results in nearly a decade.

Many law school deans, bristling from criticism that they are replenishing their ranks with less academically qualified students as the number of law school applicants has fallen sharply, began to openly question the mechanics of the bar exam.

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

LegalED: Igniting Law Teaching -- A TEDx-Style Conference on the Future of Legal Education

March 20LegalED hosts its second conference today on Igniting Law Teaching: A TEDx Style Conference on the Future of Legal Education (webcast) at American:

The conference will feature talks by 30 law school academics and practitioners from the US, Canada and England in a TEDx-styled conference to share ideas on teaching methodologies.  LegalED’s Teaching Pedagogy video collection includes many of the talks from last year’s conference, which have been viewed collectively more than 5000 times. ...

The Igniting Law Teaching conference is unlike other gatherings of law professors.  Here, talks will be styled as TEDx Talks, with each speaker on stage alone, giving a well scripted and performed 8 minute talk about an aspect of law school pedagogy.

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March 20, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Declining Applications Cause Law Schools to Deploy 'Strange' Survival Tactics

Bloomberg,  Law School Applications Set to Hit 15-Year Low:

Law school is falling out of favor with Americans, new data show. The decline has spurred programs to use strange survival tactics.

Law schools keep getting less attractive to young professionals, with schools receiving 6.7 percent fewer applications this year than they did in 2014, according to numbers released by the Law School Admission Council on Wednesday, March 19. The number of individuals applying has also fallen, by 4.7 percent. If the pace continues as it did last year, the number of people who applied to law school for the Fall 2015 semester will hit its lowest level in 15 years.


[W]aning interest in law school has become an increasingly urgent threat to the business model underlying legal education in the U.S. As legal jobs have dried up, fewer people are applying to and enrolling in law schools, spurring panic across the industry. To cope with the new reality, schools have arrived at innovative tactics to help fill their classrooms. 

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WSJ: Law School Fire Sale: Pace Offers to Match In-State Public Tuition

Pace SaleWall Street Journal Law Blog, Law School Fire Sale: Pace Offers to Match In-State Public Tuition:

“Crazy Eddie” would be proud.

Pace University Law School in New York isn’t the first law school to slash its prices to lure more students. But a new tuition program the private school is set to announce takes the discounting trend to a whole new level.

Starting next academic year, qualifying students who enroll at Pace can earn a law degree at the tuition rate of their home-state public law school.

The program isn’t offered to any applicant. A Pace spokesman told Law Blog that eligibility would be mostly based on applicant GPA and LSAT scores with a loose cut-off around the median scores of Pace’s own students. ... The Pace spokesman said the matching rate covers all three years and is available to only future students. [Pace’s spokesman later emailed Law Blog to clarify that the matching rate isn’t renewed automatically but is “contingent upon the student remaining in the top 50% of the class.”]

Located in White Plains outside of New York City, the school is best known for its environmental law program and placed 138th in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of top U.S. law schools. ... Pace’s applications numbers have taken a particularly hard hit. Between 2011 and 2014, applications to Pace fell by almost 50% from 2,735 to 1,436. Its first-year enrollment shrank by about 18% in that period.

Press Release, Pace Law School Launches First-in-the-Nation Tuition Matching Program:

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March 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGinnis: The California Bar’s Self-Serving Proposal to Require 50 Hours of Pro Bono Work by New Lawyers

California State Bar (2014)Following up on Sunday's post, California to Require 50 Hours of Pro Bono Work For Law Students to be Admitted to Bar:  John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), The California Bar’s Self-Serving Proposals:

Last week California followed New York in proposing a requirement of 50 hours of pro bono work for prospective lawyers.  Unlike New York’s existing rule, which requires lawyers to serve their time before admittance to the bar, the California proposal permits them to meet the requirement shortly afterwards as well.  California’s proposal also requires 15 “units” of “experiential learning,” within such activities as clinics or externships, that can be satisfied either during law school or separately in a private externship. This proposal is an unfortunate one–both protectionist and ideologically one-sided.

First, assuming that units translate to credits, the requirement of 15 credits of experiential learning —a significant proportion of law school coursework—will make some students’ legal education less valuable and likely make it more expensive for everyone.  Some students would benefit more from the additional course work crowded out by experiential learning. For instance, those interested in corporate and commercial law may get more from exhausting the business law curriculum than from taking available experiential learning in areas not directly relevant to their careers. Students are adults and can make such decisions for themselves. ...

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March 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NLJ: Small LSAT Spike Doesn’t Mean Law School Slump Is Over

National Law Journal, Small LSAT Spike Doesn’t Mean Law School Slump Is Over:

More people took the Law School Admission Test in February than during the same month last year—4.4 percent more, to be exact. That represented the single largest increase in test takers since December 2009 and followed a nearly 1 percent boost in the number of December test takers.

But people who track admission trends warned not to read too much into those numbers. Traditionally, fewer candidates sit for the test during February, and the increase represents just 859 additional test takers nationally. Moreover, the total number of test takers during the 2014-15 cycle was down by nearly 4,000—3.6 percent—according to the Law School Admission Council, which administers the test. The total number of test takers has declined in each of the past five years.

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March 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charleston Law School Offers Buyouts to Faculty

Charleston LogoCharleston Post and Courier, Charleston School of Law Offers Buyouts to Faculty Members:

Charleston School of Law has offered buyouts to some of its faculty members, adding another act in the drama that has been going on since owners announced a possible sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System in July 2013.

Law school dean Andy Abrams sent an email to some faculty members on Monday telling them that the school’s three-member board decided to offer a voluntary exit program for tenured, tenure-track and other tenure-equivalent faculty members. “The essence of the program is that the school will buy out the faculty member’s contract for consideration.”

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March 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 U.S News Law School Rankings: Average Student Debt

Following up on my posts (links below) on the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings:  U.S. News, Which Law School Graduates Have the Most Debt?:

School (Rank)Ave. Debt of 2014 Grads% Grads With Debt
Thomas Jefferson (Tier 2) $172,445 91%
New York Law School (127) $166,622 83%
Northwestern (12) $163,065 80%
Florida Coastal (Tier 2) $162,785 93%
American (71) $159,316 83%
Vermont (122) $156,713 84%
Touro (Tier 2) $154,855 85%
San Francisco (138) $154,321 88%
Columbia (4) $154,076 76%
Whittier (Tier 2) $151,602 91%

Thirteen law schools did not supply U.S. News with debt data on their graduates: 

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March 18, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: New ABA Rules on Reporting School-Funded Jobs Could Drop Some Law Schools' U.S. News Ranking

Following up on yesterday's post:  Wall Street Journal, Law Schools Face New Rules on Reporting Graduates’ Success; Move Could Lower Their Standings in U.S. News Rankings:

U.S. law schools face renewed scrutiny over claims about their ability to find work for their graduates, a crucial selling point amid one of the legal industry’s worst-ever job markets.


Some of the schools have been creating temporary jobs for grads by paying nonprofits and others to employ them, a move that in some cases has boosted the schools’ standings in the much-followed U.S. News & World Report rankings.

A new rule adopted last week by the accrediting arm of the American Bar Association will tighten such claims, giving law schools less credit for jobs that they subsidize. ...

Critics say such jobs unjustifiably burnish the results reported by law school deans, who are under pressure to make their schools stand out as the financial value of a law degree increasingly has been questioned. ...

Under the new ABA rule, effective next year, all 204 schools accredited by the group will have to leave out jobs they subsidize when reporting how many graduates found long-term, full-time employment that requires a law license.

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March 18, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Leff Presents A New Method for Funding Law School Education Today at William & Mary

LeffBenjamin M. Leff (American) presents The Income-Based Repayment Swap: A New Method for Funding Law School Education (with Heather Hughes (American)) at William & Mary today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

The high cost of legal education and corresponding student debt levels is a subject of robust debate. Yet too few critics of degree cost show creativity in thinking about the optimal mechanism for funding a legal education. The traditional model for financing a legal education is that students borrow with (mostly) fixed-rate loans repayable soon after graduation. The federal government supplements loans with income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs to protect students who have borrowed more than they can afford to pay back. The reach of these programs has expanded dramatically in recent years, with the programs covering 1.3 million graduates owing around $72 billion as of the first quarter of 2014, with every indication that those figures will grow dramatically unless the programs are modified. A significant segment of those who depend on income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs will be law students, because those are among the students with the highest levels of qualifying debt.

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March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA Requires Separate Reporting of Law School-Funded Jobs, But Continues to Allow Reporting Them as Long-Term, Full-Time, Bar Passage-Required Jobs

ABA Logo 2Following up on last week's post, ABA May Prohibit Reporting Law School-Funded Jobs as Full-Time, Long-Term Bar Passage-Required Jobs:  ABA Journal, Legal Ed Section's Council Approves Change in Reporting of School-funded Jobs:

The governing Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved a proposal to change the way law schools classify school-funded jobs in their reporting of graduate employment outcomes.

The change, recommended by the Section’s Data Policy and Collection Committee, will create a new employment status category for graduates in school-funded jobs on the employment summary form that schools are required to complete for each year’s graduating class.

Under the change, the number of graduates reported in other employment status categories–such as “employed-bar passage required” and “employed-JD advantage”–will be reduced by the corresponding number of graduates in school-funded positions reported elsewhere.


But the council, which met Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, rejected the second part of the committee’s proposal, which was to re-classify most school-funded jobs–now counted as long-term, full-time jobs–as short-term positions.

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March 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Music Soothes the Savage Tax Beast

Music 2John Prebble (Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law), Music in Lectures and Examinations to Promote Right Brain Activity:

Since 1998, most of John Prebble’s classes in Laws 211 Contract and Laws 365 Elements of Taxation have been accompanied by background music from the Baroque era, approximately 1600 to 1750. The same music was played in 2012 and 2013 as background to classes in Taxn 301, Advanced Domestic Taxation, a course in the Victoria University Business School.

Broadly speaking, most music from the Baroque period is suitable to listen to while studying or in class. People are not entirely certain why this should be, but one plausible explanation is that Baroque music generally has a very regular tempo and, apart from fast movements, about one beat per second. That is said to be approximately the rate of alpha waves in the human brain. There are thought to be two possible benefits.

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March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

March Madness Law School Bracket

March MadnessHere is the March Madness Law School Bracket, with outcomes determined by the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings (using academic peer reputation as a tiebreaker). The Final Four are Harvard (2 in U.S. News), Virginia (8), Duke (8), and Texas (15), with Harvard beating Virginia in the championship game.   The closest match ups are:

  • First Four:  BYU (34) over Mississippi (94)
  • First Round:  SUNY-Buffalo (87) over West Virginia (94)
  • Second Round:  Texas (15) over Notre Dame (22), Villanova 87) over LSU (94), Ohio State (34) over Arizona (42)
  • Sweet 16:  OSU (34, 3.2 peer) over BYU (34, 2.9 peer), UCLA (16) over Iowa (22)
  • Elite 8:  Duke (8) over UCLA (16)
  • Final Four:  Virginia (8, 4.3 peer) over Duke (8, 4.2 peer)
  • Championship:  Harvard (2) over Virginia (8) 


March 17, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Symposium: Legal Education Looking Forward

SHSymposium, Legal Education Looking Forward, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 967-1129 (2014) (blogged here):

March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Brown: Law School Without Borders

Following up on her op-ed in last Monday's Washington Post, Law Schools Are in a Death SpiralDorothy Brown (Vice Provost and Professor of Law, Emory), Law School Without Borders, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1050 (2014):

LawyersNow that the music has stopped, instead of law schools having more people than seats, we have more seats than people. Accordingly, law schools are shrinking class size to stave off any negative impact on their U.S. News rankings. But shrinking class size means shrinking revenue, so either some part of the budget must be cut, or universities will have to subsidize the deficit in perpetuity—a very unlikely occurrence.

The largest expenditure in most law school budgets is faculty salaries and benefits, so that should be the natural focus of budgetcutting.  But it will not be. While law firms can fire partners, law schools cannot fire tenured law professors easily while remaining open. ...

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Final Day for Proposals: Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

Today is the final day to respond to the Call for Proposals issued by the Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”):

Mid-CareerAMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently-tenured professors of tax law for scholarly discussion. Our inaugural meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 4 & 5, 2015, on the campus of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. We anticipate that official proceedings will wrap up by noon on June 5. Thanks to the generous support of Law, Finance and Governance @ Ohio State and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, AMT is able to provide attendees with conference meals and refreshments. AMT can commit to ensuring that these meals will not be “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.” Attendees will be expected to cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

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March 16, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo: Who Says You Need a Law Degree to Practice Law: Limited License Legal Technicians

LLLTWashington Post op-ed:  Who Says You Need a Law Degree to Practice Law?, by Robert Ambrogi:

Michelle Cummings never went to law school. Her formal college education ended in 1998, with a paralegal studies degree from Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. But this summer, Cummings could start taking on legal clients who need help filing for divorce or child custody. Like a fully licensed attorney, she’ll be able to open an office and set her own fees.

Cummings is part of Washington state’s ambitious experiment to revolutionize access to legal services, particularly among the poor. ... Washington state’s answer is a new class of legal professionals called “limited license legal technicians.” They are the nurse practitioners of the legal world. Rather than earning a pricey law degree, candidates take about a year of classes at a community college, then a licensing exam. Once they do, they can help clients prepare court documents and perform legal research, just as lawyers do. “It will save time and heartache,” says Paula Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar Association. “It’s groundbreaking.”

California, Oregon, Colorado and New Mexico say they may follow Washington’s lead. The program, if it spreads, could transform how middle- and lower-class Americans use the law. ...

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Deborah Jones Merritt: What Happened to the Law School Class of 2010?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession:

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

Table 4A

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Harvard Professor Sues Over Tenure Denial

HarvardBoston Globe, Harvard Professor Challenges School’s Denial of Tenure:

Harvard anthropology professor Kimberly Theidon has a dossier of letters from the university attesting to her “outstanding achievement,” including when she was awarded one of a small number of endowed chairs for untenured professors and when she received an unusually large salary increase.

Theidon says she was told her department had voted unanimously to grant her tenure, and e-mails from colleagues described “stellar” reviews of her work from scholars in her field.

But none of that mattered in the end. Harvard turned down Theidon for tenure last spring, and she must depart the university at the end of the month.

To Theidon, the rejection was evidence of both gender discrimination and retaliation for her support of students victimized by sexual assault and sexual harassment, just as the university was facing a burgeoning student movement alleging the college was mishandling sexual assault cases.

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup