TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, November 27, 2015

More Bar Exam Carnage: California

CaliforniaFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):

Los Angeles Times, Pass Rate for Summer California Bar Exam Hits Historic Low: Under 47%:

For the second year in a row, the percentage of people who successfully took the summer California bar exam fell to a historic low, with less than 47% passing, according to state statistics. Last year, only 48.6% of those who took the exam made the grade, the first time the passage rate dipped below half in nearly a decade.

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November 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Different Perspectives On The Racial Unrest At Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School Logo (2014)Following up on my prior posts:

Boston Globe op-ed:  Harvard Law School Alumni, Stop Donating, by Bianca Tylek (Harvard Law School 3L):

Three months ago, as the summer before my last year of law school was winding down, I received a call from the administration asking me to speak on behalf of the student body at a gala commemorating the launch of the Campaign for the Third Century. They encouraged me to accept the engagement, explaining that I would have a powerful platform to tell a compelling story. I agreed. Just a few weeks ago, after months of preparation, I delivered my testimonial in front of 600 Harvard Law School alumni. ...

After telling my story, I praised the law school and specific faculty members for their continual support over the past three years. To my surprise, the alumni took to their feet with tears in their eyes, standing up to applaud in what felt like a thunderous demonstration of support not just for me, but also for the marginalized groups I represent.

The night ended with Dean Martha Minow making the ask: $305 million.

To the extent that my story motivated our alumni to open their wallets, I now ask that they close them and stop donating.

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November 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

WKRP in Cincinnati Thanksgiving Turkey Drop

November 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

What Tax Profs Are Thankful For

  • ThanksgivingPaul Caron (Pepperdine):  "I am thankful for my beautiful wife, daughter, son, and dog, and that three of them are gainfully employed."
  • Jeffrey Cooper (Quinnipiac):  "I'm thankful for my family of 5-- Benjamin, Ethan, Colleen, and my wife, Alexandra. Colleen turns 1 on Saturday and she is quite pleased to be making her TaxProf Thanksgiving debut."
  • Bridget Crawford (Pace):  "I am thankful for health, my creative Fed Tax students, and Cambridge University Press."
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU):  "I'm grateful for the blessing of my wife and best friend being able to push back against her cancer for another year so that we were able to celebrate our 51st anniversary. That's enough."
  • Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State):  "I am thankful for my dad."

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November 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Henderson: The Hardest Working Lawyers Are Also The Happiest

The Legal Whiteboard:  What Is The Impact of Longer Hours on Lawyer Satisfaction?, by William Henderson (Indiana):

This fall, Lawyer Metrics was given the opportunity to analyze survey data supplied to us from by The Indiana Lawyer, the paper of record for the Indiana legal profession.  The sample included 516 respondents drawn from the paper's readership.  My colleague at Lawyer Metrics, Evan Parker, sliced and diced the data in a way the gave us some useful insights into the hours/satisfaction question, at least for a broad swath of lawyers in one midwestern state. ...

The most satisfied lawyers, at least in Indiana, appear to be those working longer hours.  The simplest explanation is that they love their work.  Lawyers working fewer hours appear to acknowledge the better work-life balance and the organizational flexibility that makes it possible.  But shorter hours are not associated with higher scores on the other dimensions of satisfaction.  Apparently, at least some lawyers prefer an all-you-can-work buffet style workplace. ...

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November 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Law Librarians Attend And Participate In Faculty Meetings?

Faculty MeetingCharlotte D. Schneider (Reference Librarian, Rutgers), Inclusion and Participation: Law Librarians at Law Faculty Meetings, 107 Law Libr. J. 113 (2015):

Despite the vital role they play in the success of their law schools, academic law librarians are often denied attendance to and participation in law faculty meetings on certain matters of law school governance. This article argues that including qualified librarians in faculty meeting discussions and decision making will benefit law schools, faculty, and students alike.

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November 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bar Exam Carnage Spreads Across The Country

Following up on my recent posts (links below):  National Law Journal, Bar Exam Pass Rates Drop Across the Country:

Bar exam passage rates sank in several big states, indicating a drop in the qualifications of students amid fewer law school applications.

Pass rates in California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania all came in lower for the July 2015 exam.

“As demand for law schools has dropped over the last few years, law schools, as a result, have been admitting and graduating less-qualified students,” said Derek Muller, an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, who has studied and blogged about the issue.

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November 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three Blogs In Our Law Professor Blogs Network Chosen For ABA Blawg 100

Congratulations to our Law Professor Blogs Network bloggers recognized by the ABA Journal:Blawg 100

Blogs named to the 2015 ABA Blawg 100 ("the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal"):

  • EvidenceProf Blog, edited by Colin Miller (South Carolina).  ABA:  "Every weekday, law professors post on the very latest rulings regarding the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases and what sorts of lines of questioning should be permitted at criminal trials. They also note differences between the federal rules of evidence and the rules of various states. Occasionally, they will comment on whether they think courts have reached the right outcomes in these evidence cases or note fishy behavior by prosecutors."
  • Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, edited by Brian Leiter (Chicago).  ABA:  "This blog highlights academic job openings and covers salaries of professors, salaries of recent law school graduates, recent law review articles and other law school news. It can also be counted on to come up with its own rankings of law schools and law reviews."

Hall of Fame 2Blog named to the ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame:

  • Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, edited by Gerry W. Beyer (Texas Tech).  ABA:  "A loyal audience devours this blog seven days a week—and some readers have reported that trusted Texas Tech law professor Gerry W. Beyer will respond to them when they reach out. Beyer stays on top of new regulations in Texas ad nationwide as well as news and insights from both mainstream media and scholarly journals that affect those with estate planning and elder law practices."

Two other Law Professor Blogs Network blogs were inducted in the ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame in previous years:

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November 24, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Manoj Viswanathan Joins UC-Hastings Tax Faculty

ViswanathanPress Release:

Viswanathan is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor and will co-teach UC Hastings' Business Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises, scheduled to start next semester. His research focuses on tax policy, economic development, and the regulation of tax-exempt organizations.

Prior to his arrival at UC Hastings, Viswanathan was a clinical teaching fellow and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he co-taught the Community and Economic Development clinic, and worked as a tax associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP's New York City office.

He received his LLM and J.D. from New York University School of Law, and undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ...

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November 24, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Amidst 32% Enrollment Decline, Gonzaga Law School Offers Buyouts To All 17 Tenured Faculty (4 Accept)

Gonzaga LogoInlander, Why Gonzaga University School of Law Offered Buy-Outs to its Tenured Professors:

From 2011 to 2014, GU's School of Law has seen its application pool deplete by 36 percent. Enrollment has dropped by 28 percent in that same time.

As a result, the administration has offered buy-outs to all of its tenured professors. So far, four of the 17 faculty members have taken the offer. Law school dean Jane Korn does not anticipate the need to cut any more positions.

"Nationally, since 2011, applications to law schools have dropped around 40 percent," Korn says. "Every dean had to make a decision to lower standards or take a budget hit, and we decided to take the budget hit."

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November 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Harvard Law Students React To Vandalism On Portraits Of Black Law Profs

Harvard Crimson, Police Investigate Vandalism on Portraits of Black Law Professors, by Andrew M. Duehren :

Black tape, stuck systematically across the portraits of black law professors, spurred on Thursday a police investigation into vandalism and a pronouncement from the dean of Harvard Law School that the school has a “serious problem” with racism.

New York Times, A Lesson at Harvard Law, by Charles Fried (Harvard):

Instead of dignifying with inflated philosophical bloviation the grim nastiness of the anonymous vandal(s) who pasted strips of black tape on the portraits of African-American professors, Harvard Law students responded with wit and human warmth: They put along the frames of those same portraits hundreds of colored Post-it notes bearing messages of affection and gratitude.

These young men and women teach us all a valuable lesson.

Harvard Crimson, Supportive Sticky Notes After Law School Vandalism, by Jennifer Y. Yao:

Harvard 2

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November 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Prof Sues Dean, Law School For Access To Admissions Data

UALRArkansas Online, Law School Violates Open-Records Act, Suit Says:

The man helping to write a book on the state Freedom of Information Act says the dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school is not complying with the open-records law in a lawsuit filed against the university Tuesday.

Law professor Robert Steinbuch sued both the university and Michael Schwartz, dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law, in a Pulaski County court, stating Schwartz failed to turn over public records that Steinbuch is seeking to research student admissions.

The records are a spreadsheet showing individual test scores, college grade-point average, law school grade-point average, race, gender and age for all students who graduated from the law school and took the bar exam over a seven-year period.

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November 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Choose To Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.

GratefulNew York Times Sunday Review:  Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier, by Arthur C. Brooks (President, American Enterprise Institute):

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.

Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.

But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness. ...

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November 22, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

50% Of Law Grads Who Failed California Bar Would Have Passed In A Different State

CaliforniaDerek Muller (Pepperdine), California Bar Exam Takers Are Far More Able Than Others Nationwide But Fail at Much Higher Rates:

The California July 2015 bar results were recently released, reflecting a modest drop in scores, slightly less than other jurisdictions this year. The overall pass rate dropped from 48.6% in July 2014 to 46.6%. The first-time pass rate dropped from 61% to 60%. And among California ABA-accredited schools, the first time rate also dropped a point to 68%.

California is one of the rare jurisdictions that also discloses its statewide mean scaled MBE score. The NCBE discloses the nationwide mean scaled MBE score, which has dropped fairly significantly over the last couple of years. But California has consistently outperformed the nationwide cohort, sometimes rather dramatically. ...

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November 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Friday, November 20, 2015

Law School Rankings By New BigLaw Partners

Following up on my previous posts on law school rankings by the number of BigLaw Partners by Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.), Rob Anderson (Pepperdine), and Edward Adams (Minnesota) (NY Times coverage):  Bloomberg BNA, The Law Schools New Big Law Partners Attended:

How much weight does a prestigious law degree hold when it comes to climbing the ranks at a large law firm? ...

Over the past several months, a number of law firms have announced new classes of partners for the upcoming year, and we thought it would be a fruitful exercise to take a look at who these lawyers are and where they come from. ... Big Law Business reviewed the legal education of 299 lawyers who were elected partners at AmLaw 100 and 200 firms, effective between Oct. 1 and Jan. 2016.

Here are the Top 31 law schools:

1.     Harvard:  21 new partners
2.     NYU:  15
3.     Michigan:  10
4.     Georgetown, Northwestern:  9
6.     Virginia:  8
7.     Chicago, Columbia, UC-Berkeley:  7
10.   Boston College:  6
11.   Boston University, Fordham, George Washington, Illinois, UCLA, Vanderbilt:  5
17.   American, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Case Western, Penn, Stanford, St. Louis, Texas, USC, Yale:  4
27.   Chicago-Kent, Georgia, Notre Dame, San Diego, Tennessee:  3

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November 20, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Women, African-American Lawyers Make Little Progress At Big Law Firms

NALP New LogoNALP, Women, Black/African-American Associates Lose Ground at Major U.S. Law Firms:

Women and Black/African-Americans show declines in representation at major U.S. law firms, according to the latest law firm demographic findings from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). NALP's recent analyses of the 2015-2016 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP — shows that although women and minorities continue to make small gains in their representation among law firm partners in 2015, the overall percentage of women associates has decreased over the majority of the last five years, and the percentage of African-American associates has declined each year since 2009. 

New York Times:  Women and Blacks Make Little Progress at Big Law Firms, by Elizabeth Olson:

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November 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Florida Coastal Law Grad Seeks Supreme Court's Help To Discharge $260,000 Student Loan Debt In Bankruptcy

Florida CoastalFollowing up on my previous post, 7th Circuit: Florida Coastal Law Grad Cannot Discharge $260,000 Student Loan Debt In Bankruptcy: Patrick Gregory (Bloomberg BNA), Law School Debt, 'Hopelessness' and the Supreme Court:

Mark Tetzlaff has close to $300,000 in law school debt and is seeking the U.S. Supreme Court’s help in getting it discharged in bankruptcy (Tetzlaff v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp., petition for cert. filed, 84 U.S.L.W. 3222 (U.S. Oct. 15, 2015) (No. 15-485)).

Courts including the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Eighth circuits are split on what constitutes “undue hardship” that makes a debtor eligible for such a discharge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is also considering this issue.

Tetzlaff has fallen on hard times, James M. Wilton of Ropes & Gray LLP, Boston, who represents Tetzlaff, told Bloomberg BNA. He has massive debt and is “10 years from retirement age,” Wilton said.

The issue of law school debt has been getting more attention recently. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have “sharply criticized U.S. law schools” for burdening students with crushing debt and non-marketable degrees, according to Bloomberg Business.

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November 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wake Forest Symposium: Revisiting Langdell — Legal Education Reform And The Lawyer’s Craft

Wake 4Wake Forest Law Review Symposium, Revisiting Langdell: Legal Education Reform and the Lawyer’s Craft:

Embracing the inseparability of legal doctrine and legal practice sheds much light on the lawyer’s craft, on useful law school curriculum reform, and on what the bar might reasonably expect from law schools. Through this unified lens, the Symposium will look beyond Langdell’s “Socratic” method focused on redacted appellate cases and will explore a richer theoretical understanding of legal education and scholarship and the lawyer’s craft. To paraphrase Kant, the Symposium will explore how doctrine without practice is empty, how practice without doctrine is blind, and how, as a correlate of this separate emptiness and blindness, the humanities play a critical role in law and legal education and scholarship.

The Symposium will expand upon Harold Lloyd (Wake Forest), Exercising Common Sense, Exorcising Langdell: The Inseparability of Legal Theory, Practice and the Humanities, 49 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1213 (2014).

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November 20, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

$23 Billion In Annual Federal Tax Credits For Higher Education Have No Effect On College Attendance

NBER, Who Benefits From Federal Tax Credits For Higher Education?:

Researchers find that tax credits for higher education have little or no effect on college attendance; the credits are essentially transfer payments - and not primarily to the needy.

In 2014, the federal government spent about $23 billion on three programs offering tax credits to households paying for higher education. In The Returns to the Federal Tax Credits for Higher Education (NBER Working Paper No. 20833), George B. Bulman [UC-Santa Cruz] and Caroline M. Hoxby [Stanford] find that the credits have little or no effect on college-going in the U.S. The credits do not affect whether students enroll at all, whether they attend four-year colleges, how expensive their colleges are, or the scholarships and grants they receive. The authors conclude that the tax credits are primarily "a transfer from some individuals to others." ...

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November 19, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Law Prof Perspectives On The Student Protests

Richard A. Epstein (Chicago), Spineless Leadership at Yale (Hoover Institution):

Students ... want universities to protect them from any unpleasant thought or idea that may upset them. They of course can lash out against others from their “safe spaces,” but everyone else must back-peddle or face the consequences.

This approach is ruinous to the intellectual and moral development of students, and leaves them ill-prepared for life’s challenges. If only on educational grounds, it is critical to rise up and challenge these students by insisting that the exchange of views, often hostile and disagreeable, is essential for the cultural and intellectual health of a university. ...

As an alumnus of Yale, I want its president to resist with all of the words at his command the groundless charges brought against it by righteous students and commentators. But Salovey unfortunately lacks the courage to tell the critics that their indictment of the university is deeply flawed [Salovey statement]. By assuming a position of weakness, Yale is inviting its harshest critics, both inside and outside the school, to tee off against faculty and students with whom they disagree. The only way to get responsible discourse is to stand up for what you hold dear in the face of reckless charges. There is a desperate need for reconciliation at Yale, but the institution can only begin to heal if its critics face the same relentless scrutiny that they heap on the university.

Jeannie Suk (Harvard), A New Family Feeling On Campus (The New Yorker):

I often informally ask my students, at Harvard Law School, what their most important ideals are and how they hope to fulfill them in their lives and careers. In the past several years, I’ve been touched to hear a significant plurality of students name a priority that I didn’t hear much when I began teaching, nearly a decade ago: their close relationships with their parents. As a forty-two-year-old parent myself, I’m gratified by the idea that my own children might feel, as young adults, that our bond was so sustaining as to be central to their visions of their lives. But I’m struck that this theme was not on my agenda when I was a student, twenty years ago, and I don’t recall it being important to my peers, either.

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November 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Law Schools Need To Be More Fox, Less Hedgehog

HedgehogDaniel J. Myers (Provost, Marquette University), Of Foxes, Hedgehogs, and Marquette Law School:

It has become an accepted truism in academia that there are two fundamental intellectual styles: the fox and the hedgehog. The ancient Greek poet Archilochus observed that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Following Sir Isaiah Berlin’s famous interpretation of the line, we have come to believe that intellectual pursuits (and careers) are characterized by either a singular, coherent, abiding focus or a collection of approaches and ideas that are seemingly unconnected, eclectic, and even disorganized. ...

While hedgehogs and foxes sometimes cast aspersions toward one another of being either myopic or unfocused, they usually are content to ignore one another and go about their pursuits (or pursuit, in the case of the pure hedgehog) without worrying about the failings of the other. At times, however, some can recognize the value of both styles: the fox can bring in novel insights from flitting around the disciplines, while the hedgehog uses those outsights to bear down on the fundamental problem monopolizing its gaze.

Law schools, like most academic divisions, have a natural tendency to operate more like hedgehogs than foxes, and this tendency is reinforced by an administrative structure that sets the law school in a somewhat peripheral functional location at a university.

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

One Law School’s Change In Fortune: Southern Illinois

SIUKyle McEntee (Law School Transparency), One Law School’s Change In Fortune:

The New York Times chose to highlight Southern Illinois University when it reported on our investigation late last month. I objected to the focus on SIU because it had relatively affordable tuition, above-average job rates, and a very high bar passage rate in 2013. With many more egregious examples to choose from, I didn’t think SIU merited special attention. Still, July 2015 bar exam outcomes drive home why SIU found its way into our report in the first place, and why high bar pass rates from even a couple of years ago can be very deceiving to prospective students. It also demonstrates that even respectable state schools are not immune to the pressures that have driven so many law schools to admit far too many at-risk students.

SIU2Between 2010 and 2014, as with many law schools, the school’s admissions profile changed drastically. The school earned an “extreme risk” label for its 2014 entering class based on a bottom quartile LSAT score of 144 (22.9 percentile). The chart below plots SIU’s LSAT numbers for each of the last five entering classes for which we have data. The 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile LSAT scores are plotted on top of the national LSAT distribution curve. From this you can see that the school’s 75th percentile in 2014 was its 25th percentile in 2010.

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November 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Law Schools Are Admitting More At-Risk Students

National JuristNational Jurist, Law Schools Admitting More At-Risk Students, Study Says:

Law schools are accepting more at-risk students which will likely lead to lower bar passage rates in the near future, according to a study by Law School Transparency. 

“The bargain is clear: take larger, riskier classes now to survive and deal with the accreditation challenges, angry alumni, and bad press that follow later,” the report states.

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

After 58% Decline In Enrollment, Seton Hall Law School Adapts To New Market

Seton Hall, Law Schools Rebound From Years of Declining Enrollment:

As fewer people enroll in law school, institutions across the country have been forced to adapt to a legal marketplace hurt by fewer jobs, outsourcing and the impact of the Internet.

Seton Hall and Rutgers University law schools, like many of those elsewhere, have reduced the number of students they admit, offered larger scholarships or grants, and readjusted their programs so students are better-prepared for the competitive and evolving job market. ...

At Seton Hall, the average class size of incoming students has steadily shrunk in recent years. In 2010, the Seton Hall law program peaked with an incoming class of 360 students. The next year, the school enrolled only 271. By 2013, the acceleration of class size reduction, which was averaging about 70 students less each year, had slowed. The school's most recent incoming class totaled 152 students, 17 students fewer than in 2014.

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November 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Putting Legal Writing Faculty On The Tenure Track: One Law School's Experience

Catherine Martin Christopher (Texas Tech), Putting Legal Writing on the Tenure Track: One School's Experience, 31 Colum. J. Gender & L. 65 (2015):

This Article discusses the statistics behind the gendered segregation of law school faculties, in which women occupy a disproportionate number of legal writing and other low-status positions, while men continue to hold a disproportionate number of tenured faculty positions. The Article explores the rationales for and against converting legal writing faculty to tenure-track, and shares one law school’s experience of doing so. The Article then suggests lessons and approaches that other schools may wish to take in converting their own legal writing faculty to tenure-track positions.


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November 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (11)

Steve Jobs' Lessons For Law Firms (And Law Schools): Work Backwards From The Client (And Student)

JobsThe American Lawyer:  How to Take Market Share: Lessons for Law Firms, by William Henderson (Indiana):

U.S. law firms are locked in a fierce battle over market share. It is a new and unfamiliar dynamic that is causing you and other law firm leaders to worry whether your firm will be among the survivors. Thus you are looking for the best possible strategy and the requisite leadership skills to communicate that vision to your partnership.

I am going to tell you about the greatest market share story in modern business history. Remarkably, the primary operating principles were revealed in advance of the miraculous feat. Then I'll discuss those principles in the context of the U.S. law firm looking to take market share.

The most impressive market share story in modern times—and one that gives realistic hope to all underdogs—is what happened at Apple Computer after Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997. The key elements of Jobs' strategy are contained in a grainy 71-minute video filmed at a trade show at the moment when most industry insiders were getting ready to write Apple off.

I encourage all law firm leaders to watch this video, because it's a time capsule of the mindset and mental discipline needed to conquer formidable odds.

(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

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

Yale Law Journal Releases Diversity/Inclusiveness Reports

Yale 2Yale Law Journal, Release of the Yale Law Journal Full Participation Project:

Almost two years ago, the Yale Law Journal commissioned a study of the Journal in an effort to address our diversity challenges and identify ways we can better foster an inclusive community.

The project arose out of conversations between YLJ Volume 123 and Yale Law School’s Alliance for Diversity, Yale Law Women, and other student groups about the law school’s challenges concerning gender, race, and class. Against the backdrop of these broader structures and patterns, YLJ recognized that it needed to proactively confront its own diversity challenges.

Given the complexity of these issues, the Journal realized that it would benefit from outside expertise and an independent review. As a result, the Journal partnered with Professor Susan Sturm and Professor Ian Ayres to identify our diversity challenges and learn ways to better foster an inclusive community. ...

Today we release their reports: Full Participation in the Yale Law Journal by Professor Susan Sturm and Kinga Makovi, and Patterns in Yale Law Journal Admissions and Student Scholarship by Professor Ian Ayres and Anthony Cozart. These two reports work in tandem; we urge you to read them together. Professor Sturm’s qualitative picture provides important context for Professor Ayres’s quantitative findings, and vice versa.

 YLJ Reasons

Figure 1

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's Time To Replace Student-Edited Law Reviews With Peer-Reviewed Journals

Times Higher EducationTimes Higher Education op-ed:  U.S. Law Reviews’ Dirty Game: Review by Student, by Ken Levy (LSU):

In Times Higher Education’s recent feature on the vagaries of peer review (“On the receiving end”, 6 August), one of the essayists describes being subjected to the scrutiny of one’s colleagues as “the worst form of review, except for all those other forms that have been tried”. Lest any reader doubt this claim, let me explain what awfulness results when an entire field forgoes this traditional form of gatekeeping.

Submissions for almost all American general law reviews and for more than half of the specialised ones are reviewed by law students, selected by more senior law students based on their first-year academic performance. Unfortunately, however intelligent and ambitious they are, students just don’t have the expertise to judge the quality of submissions. As a result, an article’s fate is determined by the application of several superficial criteria.

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

Bar Exam Carnage Continues: 10 Of 15 New York Law Schools Suffer Bar Pass Rate Declines

NYFollowing up on my previous post, New York Bar Exam Pass Rate Hits Historic Low:  New York Law Journal, Most New York Law Schools See Decline in Bar Pass Rates:

Ten of New York's 15 law schools had their pass rates decline from last year on the July 2015 bar examination, according to figures that the law schools provided to the Law Journal.

Three institutions—Touro Law School [-15.0%, to 52.5%], New York Law School [-10.6%, to 60.4%] and Albany Law School [-9.8%, to 68.2%]—had a double-digit or near double-digit slide. ...

Cornell republished this chart from The New York Law Journal:


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November 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Creighton Joins Rankings Hall Of Shame; Graduation Rate Was 43%, Not 91%

CreightonU.S. News & World Report, Update to Creighton University's 2015 Best Online Programs Ranking:

Creighton University recently advised U.S. News that it misreported data that were used in the 2015 Best Online Programs rankings. The misreported data resulted in the school's numerical rank being higher than it otherwise might have been in the 2015 Best Online Graduate Business Programs rankings, which exclude MBA programs.

Because of the discrepancy in Creighton University's ranking, U.S. News has moved the school to the "Unranked" category in the 2015 Best Online Graduate Business Programs rankings on Schools in the Unranked category do not receive numerical rankings from U.S. News. ...

Creighton University advised U.S. News that it submitted an incorrect three-year graduation rate for its 2010-2011 entering class. The school told U.S. News that its correct three-year graduation rate for that class was 43 percent; it originally reported the incorrect rate of 91 percent. This is a 48 percentage-point difference.

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November 16, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Temptation Of Baylor: Can Faith And Football Coexist?

BaylorInside Higher Ed, The Temptation of Baylor:

Baylor University has one of the top football teams in the country. It's also the world's largest Baptist university. Can the two identities coexist without serious compromise?

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November 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

NY Times: The Four Secrets To Sustaining High Job Performance

TonyNew York Times, The Secret to Sustaining High Job Performance, by Tony Schwartz (Author, The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance):

How do you drive sustainably high performance in an era of relentlessly rising demand? ...

The typical solution – put in more hours – won’t work anymore. The vast majority of salaried employees are already doing that, and many of them are paying a price that they are finding less and less acceptable. They are exhausted and often overwhelmed, and they deeply want to invest time in their families and the rest of their lives.

But what if people could simply be more efficient and productive during the time they are at work? What if there’s a win-win solution for employers and employees? ...

We feel better and perform better when four core energy needs are met: sufficient rest, including the opportunity for intermittent renewal during the work day; feeling valued and appreciated; having the freedom to focus in an absorbed way on the highest priorities; and feeling connected to a mission or a cause greater than ourselves.

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November 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 13, 2015

American Lawyer: Congressional Showdown Over Law Student Loans Is Inevitable, With Law Schools The Likely Losers

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer:  Is Washington Finally Tired of Welfare for Law Schools?, by Matt Leichter:

Just as the academic year geared up this fall, both The Washington Post and The New York Times ran editorials sharply attacking the generous federal lending programs that law students depend on. ...

The Post's Charles Lane appropriately characterized the Grad PLUS Loan Program, which provides essentially unrestricted lending to graduate and professional students, as a "de facto bailout" for law schools. The schools capture the increased lending to law students and then perversely pass it back to them as higher tuition charges. Consequently, efforts to make legal education cheaper backfire, turning the federal loan program on its head. Eventually the government will write down the loans for what it intended to be a deficit reduction program.

The Times' editorial board struck with even more venom, calling the six for-profit law schools "scams" and accusing non-profit and public schools of similar behavior. The culprits: warped incentives and unchecked Grad PLUS loans. The Times' solutions were to either extend to all law schools the gainful employment rule—which limits student loans based on graduate employment rates—or to cap the funding to graduate students. At the same time, the paper argued for diverting the money flowing to law schools to legal aid for the poor.

The drumbeat of editorials criticizing law schools and the ABA is not new, but the response from lawmakers, especially to Times' article, may signal a future shift in how the government lends to law students. Notably, senators from both parties are raising concerns. ...

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November 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

U.S. News To Law School Rankings Voters: Oops

2016 U.S. News RankingsI previously blogged how U.S. News & World Report sent defective ballots to voters in the law school specialty rankings (Clinical, Environmental Law, Health Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, Legal Writing, Tax, and Trial Advocacy) by instructing them to "[i]dentify up to fifteen (15) schools that have the highest-quality alternative dispute resolution courses or programs."  As I predicted, U.S. News has sent a new letter to voters, apologizing for the snafu and enclosing new, corrected ballots:

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November 13, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Symposium: Methods Of Teaching And Forming Professional Identity

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NY Times: Why Do The Female Halves Of Academic Power Couples Get No Respect?

House of CardsNew York Times:  Even Famous Female Economists Get No Respect, by Justin Wolfers (Michigan):

Men’s voices tend to dominate economic debate, although perhaps this is shaped by how we talk about the contributions of female economists. This is easiest to see in how we discuss the work of economist power couples.

Remembering the journalistic cliché that one is an example, two is a coincidence and three is a trend, I figured it worth exploring how female economists are treated.

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November 12, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Protesters Demand Firing Of Tenured Vanderbilt Law Professor Over Publication Of Op-Ed

SwainInside Higher Ed, Protests Spread:

The sustained protests at the University of Missouri, which led to the ouster of a system president and campus chancellor, are inspiring minority students at many campuses. ...

At Vanderbilt, many minority students have in recent days renewed a push for the university to take action against Carol Swain (right), a tenured professor of political science and law, over a column she wrote in January after the terrorist attacks in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In the January column, Swain asked, "What would it take to make us admit we were wrong about Islam? What horrendous attack would finally convince us that Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children unless it is monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration?"

Many students and others said that the column stereotyped all Muslims in a way that was profoundly biased, but the university defended Swain's right to free speech.

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November 12, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Huffman: Online Learning Grows Up — And Heads To Law School

Max Huffman (Indiana-Indianapolis), Online Learning Grows Up -- And Heads to Law School, 49 Ind. L. Rev. 57 (2015):

Online education is now in the mainstream. Schools use online teaching methods as early as elementary school and thousands of students across the country pursue their entire high school studies online. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered online. At Indiana University, where I teach, there are nearly fifty undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees offered entirely online. An increasing percentage of law students have taken at least one, and some have taken several, online courses before matriculating into the JD program.

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November 12, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Moot Court: The Movie

All RiseAll Rise:  Journeys to a Just World:

How can international disputes be resolved in the courtroom rather than on the battlefield? All Rise brings this complex question into sharp and personalized focus through the journeys of seven passionate students of law from India, Israel, Jamaica, Palestine, Russia, Singapore, and Uganda to compete in the world championships in Washington, DC, of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (the “Jessup”), the world’s largest simulated court competition. The “court” is the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”), the judicial arm of the United Nations. Against this backdrop, this moving film lays bare the struggles, triumphs and transformations they experience alone and together.

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November 11, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor 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 November 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 (Michigan)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)



Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Chris Hoyt (UMKC)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Joe Bankman (Stanford)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)



David Walker (BU)


Ruth Mason (Virginia)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)


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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November 11, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1)

$1,000 Honorarium To Attend 32nd Annual Law Prof Summer Law & Econ Institute

GM32nd Economics Institute for Law Professors:

Event Date: Sunday, July 10 to Friday, July 22, 2016

Location: The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, VA

Prerequisite:  The Economics Institute is carefully designed for those who possess little or no previous formal economics education. It covers basic price theory, with emphasis on the allocative effects of alternative property rights regimes, transaction cost economics, and the application of basic economic theory to a variety of legal issues.  As such, there is no prerequisite for this Institute.

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November 11, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

McEntee: The Achilles' Heel Of Law Schools — Charging More To The Least Qualified Students

Kyle McEntee (Law School Transparency), Price Discrimination Will Ultimately Bite Law Schools:

2016 U.S. News RankingsOur investigation into law school admissions practices and trends has sent shock waves through the legal profession. Some law school deans remain in denial, but more (at least privately) want a minority of law schools to stop damaging legal education’s reputation. With no united front among law schools, influential members of Congress waiting to pounce, and the ABA primed to act, it seems the bets some schools made on regulatory inaction were misplaced.

One reason these bets may prove lethal is that law schools charge higher prices to those who are more likely to struggle.

This is one particularly egregious artifact of the U.S. News rankings methodology, which affects how law schools allocate scholarship money. Scholarships are predominately provided in exchange for relatively higher LSAT scores and, to a lesser extent, GPAs. While these resources decisions have always been questionable, they become even more ethically dubious as price discrimination shifts even more dramatically towards discounting tuition for those most likely to complete school, pass the bar, and obtain a legal job.

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November 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Princeton/UCLA Study: It Is Time To Ban Laptops In Law School Classrooms

Steven M. Eisenstat (Suffolk), A Game Changer: Assessing the Impact of the Princeton/UCLA Laptop Study on the Debate of Whether to Ban Law Student Use of Laptops During Class, 92 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 83 (2015):

No LaptopIn this Article I discuss the impact on legal education of a recent study conducted at Princeton University and UCLA, which compared the levels of comprehension and retention of class lectures by those students who handwrote their class notes with those students who typed their notes onto their laptops. The study involved three separate experiments. In each test, the subjects using laptops had no access to the Internet, and were only permitted to use their laptops for taking class notes. Thus all possible laptop distractions were eliminated. In all three experiments, those students who handwrote their notes outperformed their counterparts who typed their notes on assessments administered between 30 minutes and one week after the lectures.

This study thus raises another chapter in the continuing debate regarding whether students should be permitted to use their laptops in class. Prior to the Princeton/UCLA study, the debate primarily centered around the distractive effects which laptops had on both laptop users who were engaged in activities unrelated to what was being discussed in class, and on their classmates who were sitting nearby and were distracted by the visuals and sounds emanating from the laptops. Such distractions included surfing the Internet, playing video games, and emailing others in the class.

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November 10, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (9)