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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Betrayal of Socrates in Legal Education

SocraticDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Betrayal of Socrates:

My argument here is that there is a stark disjunction between the Socratic ideal and the reality found in the First Year of law school at nearly all institutions. The underlying assumption is simple—the initial foundational phase of an activity is the most important. It provides the basis for all that follows. As such, the most intense and sophisticated methods should be applied at the foundational level so that the more “advanced” learning rests on a deep intellectual base. ...

[I]n the midst of all the talk about producing “practice ready” law graduates I argue that the single most important “core”, “foundational” or “meta” skill we teach in law school is the heightened ability to think with analytical precision and integrative strategic skill aimed at problem solving and avoidance along with innovative opportunity creation. I would even go so far as to conclude that law teachers of several generations ago who stated that the goal was to teach law students to “think like lawyers” were absolutely correct in concept even if they (and we) didn’t know exactly what the concept meant, how to do it properly or what “substances” ought to make up the material on which the processes of thought were exercised to produce the desired results. ...

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January 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nine California Law Schools Bucked National Trend, Increased 1L Enrollment in 2014

National JuristNational Jurist, Enrollment Up at 9 California Law Schools:

Law school enrollment dropped by 7.2 percent this year, but 33 law schools bucked the trend and increased enrollment. Nine of those law schools hail from California — more than any other state.

“We aren’t in an arctic vortex,” joked Edward Tom, Dean of Admissions at University of California, Berkeley School of Law when asked why California schools fared better this year.  “Honestly, I have no idea.”

While the nine schools saw improvement this year, they are still down 13 percent from 2010. ... While nine California law schools were up, nine were also down. Total enrollment in the state was down 5.1 percent this year, and is more than 18 percent off from 2010. ...

California law schools that increased enrollment this year:

  1. Chapman 21.37%
  2. UC-Berkeley 4.2%
  3. La Verne 3.47%
  4. UC-Davis 2.81%
  5. UCLA 1.74%
  6. California Western 0.91%
  7. USC 0.66%
  8. Stanford 0.52%
  9. Pepperdine 0.5%

Of these nine schools, one increased the median LSAT of their larger entering class (Stanford +1, to 172); six maintained their median LSAT (UC-Berkeley & UCLA, 167; USC, 166; UC-Davis, 162; Pepperdine, 160; La Verne, 147); and two decreased their median LSAT (Chapman -2, to 156; California Western -1, to 150).

Nationally, six law schools increased enrollment by 5% or more:

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January 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Stephen Carter: My Son Was Stopped by Police For Being Black at Yale

Yale University LogoNew Haven Register op-ed:  Another Son Stopped for Being Black at Yale, by Stephen Carter (Yale):

The columnist Charles M. Blow of the New York Times has sparked debate this week by his disclosure that his son, a student at Yale College, was stopped at gunpoint by a Yale police officer who said he resembled a robbery suspect.

I’d like to take a moment to add my small coda of personal outrage, as the father of an African-American son ... who was also harassed by the Yale police while a student at Yale College. What happened to our son wasn’t as serious as what happened to Blow’s — no gun was pointed his way — but the echoes are painful nevertheless. ...

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January 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

College Endowment Rankings

Chronicle of Higher Education, College Endowments See Another Year of Growth:

The improving economy contributed to a second strong year in a row for colleges’ endowment returns, according to an annual study released on Thursday. Colleges’ endowments returned an average of 15.5 percent in the 2014 fiscal year, up from 11.7 percent in 2013.

The ranking of 851 colleges is here.  The Top 25 (figures in thousands):

Top 25

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January 29, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Occupy the Syllabus

UC-Berkeley (University)The Daily Californian op-ed, Occupy the Syllabus:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

We have major concerns about social theory courses in which white men are the only authors assigned. These courses pretend that a minuscule fraction of humanity — economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States) — are the only people to produce valid knowledge about the world. This is absurd. The white male syllabus excludes all knowledge produced outside this standardized canon, silencing the perspectives of the other 99 percent of humanity. ...

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

Hill: The Associate Dean for Research in the Age of the Internet

B. Jessie Hill (Case Western), The Associate Dean for Research in the Age of the Internet, 31 Touro L. Rev. ___ (2015):

In this brief essay, written for a Touro Law Review symposium issue on the role of the associate dean for research and scholarship, I reflect on how the increasing centrality of the Internet to research and scholarship affects the way the Associate Dean for Research might do her job, and I describe some of the measures that seem to be effective in light of this new state of affairs.

January 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Female, Minority Professors Are Paid Less Than White Male Professors at UC-Berkeley

UCBUC-Berkeley Press Release, Campus Poised to Act on Salary Gaps for Women, Minority Faculty:

The gaps aren’t large, nor are the causes clear. But the campus is already planning to act on new findings that average salaries for women and minority-group faculty at UC Berkeley lag behind those for white men in similar fields, and with comparable professional experience.

A just-released study shows that average salaries for underrepresented minority faculty members trail those of their white male counterparts by 1 to 1.8 percent. Gaps between women and white males were slightly larger, with a range between 1.8 and 4.3 percent.

The report calls for further research to investigate reasons for the differences — which it notes could result from a mix of factors — and lays out measures to make salaries more equitable for all Berkeley ladder faculty.

A key recommendation is to create a new “targeted decoupling initiative” to provide salary increases for faculty beyond what ordinary advancement in rank and step allows. The findings of the study would provide important data to help build the new salary program.

Report of the UC Berkeley Faculty Salary Equity Study (Jan. 2015):

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January 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Charitable Donations to Colleges Reached All-Time High in 2014 ($38 Billion)

Top 10Wall Street Journal, Harvard, Stanford Lead Record Year for College Gifts; $37.5 Billion Is 10.8% Jump; Top 10 Schools Bring in 18% of Donations:

Colleges and universities received a record $37.5 billion in donations last year, led by massive gifts to Harvard University, Stanford University and other already-wealthy schools.

The new high, a 10.8% jump from the prior year, was due in part to stock-market increases that boosted capital gifts, as well as a jump in donations of art, according to an annual survey being released Wednesday by the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education. ...

The top 10 recipients brought in nearly 18% of all gifts last year, up from 15% a decade earlier, according to Ann E. Kaplan, who directs the survey.

Inside Higher Ed, Deep-Pocket Donors:

Top Fund-Raisers in 2014

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January 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

How Student Debt Harms the Economy

Student LoansWall Street Journal op-ed:  How Student Debt Harms the Economy, by Mitch Daniels (President, Purdue University):

To the growing catalog of damage caused by the decades-long run-up in the cost of higher education, we may have to add another casualty. On top of the harm high tuition and other charges are inflicting on young people, and the way their struggles are holding back today’s economy, we must add the worry that tomorrow’s economy will suffer, too.

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

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 January 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)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina) 



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (BU)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UCBerkeley)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


DIck Harvey (Villanova)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


James Hines (Michigan)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



David Walker (Boston Univ.)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Dan Shaviro (NYUt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)



Ed McCaffery (USC)


Steve Willis (Florida)


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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January 28, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cutbacks Are Looming for Law School Income-Based Repayment Programs

IBRFollowing up on this morning's post, NY Times: Has IBR Solved the Student Loan Crisis?:

New York Times, A Quiet Revolution in Helping Lift the Burden of Student Debt:

The change in college financing has a potentially serious drawback when it comes to college pricing. Income-based repayment programs in Australia and Britain work in part because national governments keep tuition low. Public universities are, to different degrees, legally obligated to hold down tuition prices in exchange for financial support from state governments. But that system has been eroded by state budget cuts, driving tuition and borrowing up, and there are no price restraints attached to the federal IBR system.

This is less a problem for undergraduate programs, for which traditional students are allowed to borrow only up to $31,000 in total. Graduate students, by contrast, can borrow up to the full “cost of attendance” — tuition, fees, room and board. For medical and law schools, this can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, all potentially forgivable under IBR. This creates a strong incentive for graduate and professional schools to raise prices and pass federal taxpayers the bill.

To counter such practices, the Obama administration has proposed moving the forgiveness threshold for students with large graduate debts to 25 years from 20, and capping public service loan forgiveness at $57,000.

Above the Law, A Final Warning To Those Who Enter The Law School Black Hole:

Don’t expect income-based repayment plans to stay in its current form.

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January 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Encouraging Engaged Scholarship: Perspectives from an Associate Dean for Research

Sonia Katyal (Fordham), Encouraging Engaged Scholarship: Perspectives from an Associate Dean for Research, 31 Touro L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Today, there is little question that faculty scholarship is intimately related to the reputation of a law school, and also relatedly, to the law school rankings game. Central to this reality are some emergent administrative positions — the position of Associate Dean for Research, for example — which carry important possibilities for a law school, both internally and externally, in terms of promoting attention to scholarship. Yet this position, which has only recently emerged in law schools over the last twenty years, is also one that is largely fluid and often determined by the relative institutional capabilities of the rest of the University administration, in addition to the larger landscape of legal education. Because there is no precise one size fits all model for an Associate Dean, the fluidity of the position enables us to consider a range of variables that impact scholarly visibility, both internally within a law school community, and externally within the larger scholarly world. How can we, as Associate Deans, strive to support the productivity of faculty members in these shifting times? How can Associate Deans navigate complex social relations on faculties, where issues of gender, race, class, and other variables often abound? How can we draw attention to scholarly endeavors at a time when law schools are undergoing a massive transformation for the future? How can we ensure that legal scholarship remains relevant and important? How can we value the many types of scholarly contributions that our faculty can make, without imposing a narrow view of what counts as “serious” scholarship?

Answering these questions is not an easy task. Just as there are many different types of research and scholarship, there are many different roles for an Associate Dean for Research. As Associate Dean for Research at Fordham, and one of the small number of minority women who have held this position in law school academia, I have been struck by how many of these issues can be indirectly tied to traditional, institutional questions about building a law school community. Here, questions about identity, seniority, productivity, and interdisciplinary scholarship emerge, often without clear answers. Indeed, also, identity politics — not just demographic identities, but institutional identities — affect so many of the range of questions that surround productivity and the way in which research is valued and embraced in a law school community. Mainstream law review publications, clearly, are an essential part of every law faculty in the country, and should be valued and encouraged, but an administration, should also have a greater sense of the importance of other types of engaged scholarship. Here, I draw on the history and trajectory of American Indian legal scholarship as an illustrative example.

For my perspective, see The Associate Dean for Faculty Research Position: Encouraging and Promoting Scholarship, 33 U. Tol. L. Rev. 233 (2001) (Leadership in Legal Education Symposium) (with Joseph P. Tomain):

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

NY Times: Has IBR Solved the Student Loan Crisis?

Student LoansNew York Times, A Quiet Revolution in Helping Lift the Burden of Student Debt:

Has the student loan crisis already been solved?

This might seem an absurd question. Student loan debt is at a record high of $1.1 trillion, and the average undergraduate who borrows to attend school graduates nearly $30,000 in debt. Almost 20 percent of student borrowers are in default.

Yet a couple of little-noticed legislative tweaks to a small, obscure loan repayment program — revisions made under two very different presidents — appear to have created the conditions for far-reaching changes in how a college education is bought and paid for. The result may make it much easier for students to get out from under their debts.

The first changes happened in September 2007, when Congress passed a major overhaul of the federal college financial aid system. ... Under an income-based repayment, if you make little money, you repay little money. If you make nothing, you owe nothing, and your loan doesn’t go into default. The loan forgiveness provision protects borrowers from too much interest accumulating over time.

In 2010, Barack Obama was president, and he, too, pushed a financial aid overhaul through Congress. This time, the government-subsidized private sector loan program was entirely shut down. ...

We appear to be in the middle of a rapid transition in how student loans are repaid, one that is moving the federal government into the same role that state governments played for much of the 20th century: the foundational provider of broad, unqualified subsidies for higher learning. ...

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January 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

15th Annual Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop

Wash.U. LogoThe 15th Annual Workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein (Washington University) and Andrew D. Martin (Michigan), will run from June 15-17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Amazon Offers Self-Publishing For Faculty Books

KindleLast Thursday, Amazon launched KDP EDU for academics to self-publish books through the Kindle Direct Publishing program:

Amazon’s new Kindle Textbook Creator Beta helps you convert PDFs of your textbooks, course notes, study guides and other educational content that includes complex visual information like charts, graphs and equations into Kindle books. Books created through Kindle Textbook Creator take advantage of features that enhance a student’s learning experience such as dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting and flashcards. Plus, preview your book across all supported devices.

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January 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. News College Efficiency Rankings

U.S. News General Logo (2015)U.S. News & World Report, Data Show Which Top-Ranked Colleges Operate Most Efficiently:

Ohio's Miami University—Oxford took top honors as the most efficient school among National Universities and Michigan's Hope College was most efficient among National Liberal Arts Colleges in an exclusive U.S. News analysis that compared spending and educational quality.

For this analysis, U.S. News looked at the public and private colleges that scored the highest on overall undergraduate academic educational quality, as measured by their position in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings, but that spent relatively less on their educational programs to achieve that quality.

U.S. News measures financial resources by taking into account how much a school spends per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. The financial resources indicator has a 10 percent weight in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

The lists below are based on operating efficiency, which U.S. News has defined as a school's 2013 fiscal year financial resources per student divided by its overall score – the basis U.S. News uses to determine its overall numerical rank – in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings.

This calculation reveals how much each school is spending to achieve one point in its overall score and thus its position in the rankings. The premise of the analysis is that the less a school spent relative to its position in the overall rankings, the more efficient it was in its ability to produce a top-quality education.

SchoolU.S. News RankOverall ScoreFinancial Resources RankSpending Per Student For Each Point in Overall Score
Miami Univ. (OH) 76 50 205 $383.66
Florida State 95 47 214 $392.77
Alabama 88 48 198 $423.02
SUNY-Binghamton 88 48 185 $437.23
William & Mary 33 67 110 $441.82
BYU 62 56 156 $457.29
Indiana 76 50 156 $469.00
Clemson 62 56 138 $486.02
Missouri 99 46 171 $499.61
Clark 76 50 145 $502.24

January 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Prof Twitter Rankings

Twitter (2014)Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), The Law Prof Twitter Network:

Following recent discussions about the importance of blogging/tweeting to contemporary academia (see: LSE via TaxProf), and Bridget Crawford’s Law Prof Twitter Census (version 3.0) over at TheFacultyLounge, I thought I’d do some number crunching and network building.

I wrote a short script to read all of the law prof twitter handles included in the census and query the twitter API to get the follower lists and statistics for each user. This allowed me to both rank law prof twitterers (because we all know how much people like to rank things) and project them onto an interactive network so we can see how they relate to one another. ...

The law prof network (consisting of following relationships amongst law profs in the census) has 535 nodes and 16354 edges (directed density = 0.057). The entire network (including all of the followers of all of the law profs) is much larger. In total there are 741,385 unique twitter users who follow law profs.

The table below lists the top twenty profs by number of followers:

Handle Name School Followers
lessig Lawrence Lessig Harvard 324,336
SportsLawGuy Gabe Feldman Tulane 33,728
zittrain Jonathan Zittrain Harvard 30,787
McCannSportsLaw Michael McCann New Hampshire 29,771
ZephyrTeachout Zephyr Teachout Fordham 25,328
CassSunstein Cass Sunstein Harvard 21,333
gregorymcneal Greg McNeal Pepperdine 17,440
scrawford Susan Crawford Cardozo 15,641
superwuster Tim Wu Columbia 11,804
JonathanTurley Jonathan Turley George Washington 11,715
bethnoveck Beth Simone Noveck NYLS 10,422
patentlyo Dennis Crouch Missouri 9,889
PrivacyLaw Michael Scott Southwestern 9,024
garylfrancione Gary Francione Rutgers-Newark 8,844
adamwinkler Adam Winkler UCLA 8,706

Limiting our rankings to those professors who have the most followers amongst other law professors on twitter, changes the results quite a bit:

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January 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spring 2015 Law Review Article Submission Guide

Nancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Spring 2015 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-52) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 53-59) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes:

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January 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 25, 2015

CBS News: Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?

CBS NewsCBS News, Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?:

Good news for aspiring lawyers: It's getting easier to get into law school, and the legal job market is showing some signs of improvement. The bad news: Many experts worry that unqualified entrants will have little chance to pass the bar exam and will be saddled with unaffordable levels of debt.

According to an analysis by Jerome Organ, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, 33 percent of law school entrants had median LSAT scores of 160 or higher in 2013, compared with 40.8 percent in 2010 (the LSAT is scored on a scale between 120 and 180). Conversely, first-year students with scores of 149 or lower rose from 14.2 percent to 22.5 percent.

"Not all law schools are lowering admission standards," wrote Wendy Margolis of the Law School Admissions Council in an email. "If some of them are, you would need to ask them about their individual reasons. ...

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January 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bainbridge: Solve the Law School Crisis by Unleashing the Free Market

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Want to Solve the Law School Scam? Expose Law Schools to a Market for Control:

If you think of law schools as companies selling a product, our customer base has skrunk dramatically and continues to shrink:

In a market system, the result would be business failures and a lot of mergers. Sadly, higher education is effectively insulated by the government from market forces, so we're not seeing the kind of consolidation process that is necessary.

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January 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It Is Time to End Tenure at Age 70

Retire AlreadyDan Subotnik (Touro), Untenuring Tenure:

A specter haunting the academy today is of an intellectually wizened white male professoriate refusing to step aside for au courant, energetic, ambitious, and of course diverse younger faculty. Part of a larger concern with tenure itself, the fear in question is that tenured old-timers, of which I am one, are holding fast to financial and administrative perks, limiting institutional control and stifling institutional development in the process.

Sometimes the fear is expressed openly.  Intractable seniors, according to a recent, widely debated Chronicle Review post (The Forever Professors) often “crush the young” through their “selfish[ness].” A law school colleague argues that, having enjoyed our share of university bounty, responsible seniors should facilitate succession by quickly and gracefully exiting the stage.  Such a development might be contrasted with what is actually happening today:  seniors in effect extorting rich buyouts to retire.

More of the time, of course, the critique is not explicit. Yet who among us seniors has not felt the sting of “what are you still doing here, gramps” looks from junior law faculty and deans? ...

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January 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Houston Hosts Moot Court National Championship This Weekend

Friday, January 23, 2015

80% of Provosts Favor Civility as Factor in Faculty Hiring and Tenure Decisions

Inside Higher Ed, 2015 Survey of Chief Academic Officers:

CivilityA majority of provosts are concerned about declining faculty civility in American higher education. And a large majority of provosts believe that civility is a legitimate criterion in hiring and evaluating faculty members. Generally, the provosts are confident that faculty members show civility in their treatment of students, but have mixed views on whether professors show civility in dealings with colleagues and doubt how much civility is shown to administrators.

These results are clear from Inside Higher Ed's 2015 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers. And after a year of intense debate over civility, the survey shows that provosts are not aligned with faculty leaders on the issue. ...

How Provosts View Civility on Their Campuses

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January 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Living Amidst Wildlife in Malibu

LionMy wife and I were watching our DVR'd Saturday Night Live Wednesday night in bed when we received an email warning us that a mountain lion had been spotted on campus a few hundred yards from our home. Pepperdine helpfully included an Emergency Preparedness Guide with specific safety guidelines for encountering a mountain lion: 

Should you encounter a mountain lion, take the following actions:

  • If you see a mountain lion, maintain eye contact and back away slowly. Do not run; the lion’s instinct will be to chase you. Appear as large, loud, and powerful as possible and yell and throw stones. ...
  • If attacked, fight back. Under no circumstances should you fall to the ground or roll into a fetal position. Hit as hard as possible, especially around the animal’s head. If you are attacked from behind, try to reposition yourself to meet the cat face to face.

SNL guest host Kevin Hart apparently lives near us (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

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

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Responsible Way Out of the Law School Crisis

Law School (2015)Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas), Pedagogically Sound Cuts, Tighter (Not Looser) Accreditation Standards, and a Well-oiled Doomsday Machine: The Responsible Way Out of the Crisis in Legal Education, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 353 (2014):

With runaway tuition, sky-high graduate debt and unemployment, plummeting law school applications, and the tectonic shift in the nature and delivery of legal services further clouding the picture, we must do more than bitterly bemoan the plight of law students and loosely cast aspersions over how we got here. We must decide, very quickly, exactly what in legal education should be salvaged, what should be reengineered, and what should be tossed overboard. The trouble is, with little agreement on what legal education is supposed to do, how it should do it, or who it is supposed to serve, most of the solutions posed to date are shots in the dark, often liberally laced with acrimony, that will do more harm than good. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky got it right when he said that the measures recently proposed by the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education to address the crisis in legal education are “definitely not a blueprint for useful reform.”

With an eye to the role of legal education as a training ground, a public and private good, and a unit of the academy, this Article prescribes a clear set of pedagogically sound measures to root out the actual causes of the crisis and significantly reduce law school tuition, graduate debt, and graduate unemployment, while preserving the considerable, but underappreciated, good in legal education. The man who sounded the general alarm with his book Failing Law Schools lays much of the blame at the feet of the professoriate, which, he says, is overpaid, underworked, and resistant to change. According to Professor Brian Tamanaha, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, and numerous others, the principal culprits are tenure, high salaries, the shunning of adjuncts, emphasis on scholarship, and the ABA accreditation standards that prop it all up, drive up tuition, and block competition and change. Deregulate legal education, they advise, and allow the marketplace to develop leaner alternatives to the one-size-fits-all model. Specific suggestions include replacing the third year of law school with apprenticeships or lopping it off altogether to eliminate a year of esoteric filler, and replace tenured faculty with adjuncts fresh from practice.

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January 22, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Sugar Daddies' and Student Loan Debt

The Atlantic, Where the Sugar Babies Are:

In recent years the rising cost of student debt has given birth to an odd phenomenon: a population of ostensibly generous older men who appear poised to solve the higher-education crisis, one student at a time. Once a relatively underground subculture, this benevolent group of men is coming to the rescue across the country, essentially volunteering to subsidize the students’ tuition costs. But that description could be, shall I say, sugarcoating it.

Yes, these men are ponying up their money—plus more—for financially struggling students. However, it’s not free money, and it’s not all students. In other words, these benefactors typically expect some compensation from their beneficiaries—students who generally tend to be women willing to accept the help from the men in exchange for providing some tender loving care. And, at least, flaunting their good looks.

"Sugar daddies"—the official moniker granted to these wealthy men—and the microcosm they occupy aren’t anything new, but they’ve become more mainstream in recent years. That they’ve emerged as a noteworthy group during America's student-debt crisis is indicative of their growing prevalence—as well as that of "sugar babies," the ones entrenched in that crisis. And the subculture—"daddies" and "babies" alike—appears to be expanding rapidly. 2014 saw a huge spike in sugar babies nationwide, especially in the southern states, according to new data from SeekingArrangement, a site where "babies" and "daddies" sign up and connect. The trend itself, let alone writing about it, might seem frivolous or demeaning. But the data could clarify what's going wrong with the system and where those problems lie. ...

U.S. Colleges With the Highest Number of "Sugar Babies"

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

Why Don't Law Profs Write More Books?

Eugene Mazo (Wake Forest), The Little Legal Academy and the Big Idea Book:

Why does law insist on remaining an article field? In law schools, many professors never aspire to write books. Perhaps worse, many don’t have a book idea in them. In my view, our lack of emphasis on books—and especially on "big idea" books—is detrimental. When legal scholars get together, their conversations seldom concern big idea books. There are too many articles, opinions, and statutes to discern. Law review articles are the coin of the realm, and, as a result, we face a dearth of big idea books—by which I mean books that try to capture or espouse a grand theory or strategy of life. Without big idea books, we are left with far fewer big ideas.

In other fields, big idea books proliferate. ... I’m not claiming that we don’t have best-selling authors in the legal academy. We do. And I’m not claiming that we don’t have books. That would be silly. Obviously, we have plenty of both. I’m not even claiming that we don’t have big idea books. Rather, what I’m arguing is that we don’t have enough of them. And that we don’t place enough emphasis on them, either. A law professor friend told me recently that he had no time for such books. They took too long to write, did not fit his research needs, and were not available (wait for it ... wait for it) on Hein-on-Line.

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

Only 38% of Law Students Are Paying Full Tuition

Matt Leichter, Law School Gives Away Free Money to Non-Students (More 509 Errata):

[T]he 2013-14 academic year saw another precipitous drop in the percentage of full-time law students paying full tuition.

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Are You Paying Too Much for Law School?

Following up on my previous post,  The Variable Affordability of Law School: How Geography and LSAT Profile Impact Tuition Costs:  Bloomberg, Are You Paying Too Much for Law School?:

Law schools are increasingly relying on less-qualified applicants to fill their classes, but according to a new analysis, those people are getting the worst deal on their education.

The data, presented this month at the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting in Washington, suggest that people who did poorly on the Law School Admission Test didn’t just pay more than everyone else, they also got less for their money. Low-performing students tended to go to lower-ranked schools, “where the bar passage risk is higher and the employment outcomes are less inspiring,” says University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Jerome Organ, who conducted the study. In other words, the students shelling out the most are often in the most danger of leaving law school with the bleakest prospects.


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January 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Serial Blogging

SerialKudos to Colin Miller, editor of our EvidenceProf Blog for his series of posts beginning November 21, 2014 on the Serial Podcast, which deals with the 1999 prosecution of 17 year-old Adnan Syed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, on January 13, 1999.  In Colin's words:

The purpose of these posts was to create a legal companion to the podcast so that listeners interested in the legal issues raised by the podcast would have some answers. This post collects and categorizes each of those posts.

Colin's posts have produced the most interest of any series of posts in the history of the Law Professor Blogs Network:  925,000 page views, compared with 65,000 page views for EvidenceProf Blog for the corresponding period last year.

January 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Diversity Rankings

PreLaw CoverMost Diverse Law Schools, PreLaw (Winter 2015):

To determine the most diverse law schools, we broke down each school into six categories -- percentage of minority faculty; percentage of black students; percentage of Asian and Hawaiian students; percentage of Hispanic students; percentage of American Indian students; and percentage of Caucasian students.

We assigned each school a score from one to 10 for all categories, except for American Indians.  We assigned each school a score from one to five for that category, given the much smaller number of students.

A school that matched the U.S. national average for any race received a seven (or 3.5 for American Indian), and a school that was 30 percent or greater than the national average received a 10 (or 5 for American Indian). We then weighted the student categories as 75 percent of the final diversity score and faculty at 25 percent.

preLaw ranked the Top 70 law schools for diversity. 28 law schools received an A+ grade, led by:

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January 21, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Law School Rankings by Alumni Members of Congress

National Law Journal, From Law School to Congress: These Campuses Excel at Producing Lawmakers:

Congress (2015)There is no shortage of lawyers on Capitol Hill — they comprise 45 percent of the 114th Congress [Of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 160 are occupied by lawyers. Of the 100 senators, 54 have law degrees.]. But unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, whose nine justices hail from just three elite law schools, a state school law degree won't hamper and may even smooth the way to the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate.

The sitting crop of lawyer-­lawmakers passed through 105 law campuses on their way to Washington. The 20 law schools that sent the most alumni to Congress include some of the country's most prominent. ... But there are plenty of surprises outside the top five.

The Top 13 feeder law schools for members of Congress are:

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January 20, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Comprehensive Bar Exam Preparation: The Secret Behind Chapman's Overperformance on the California Bar Exam

Mario William Mainero (Chapman), We Should Not Rely on Commercial Bar Reviews to Do Our Job: Why Labor-Intensive Comprehensive Bar Examination Preparation Can and Should Be a Part of the Law School Mission:

Chapman Logo (2014)Increasingly, law school bar passage rates are an important concern for faculty and administration, as well as students. The July 2014 bar exam saw a precipitous drop nationally in bar passage rates, including declines ranging from four to over twenty percentage points. At the same time, there have been declines in applications to law schools, declines in admissions statistics (LSAT and undergraduate GPA), and an empirically demonstrable decline in student preparedness for law school. The confluence of these events portends even greater declines in bar passage if law schools do not rethink how they prepare students for the bar exam. This Article examines developments in academic support and bar preparation programs with an eye toward suggesting models for effective in-house bar preparation programs. Specifically, this Article examines: (1) the evolution of academic support programs in law schools to include bar passage programs, with a brief description of the types of programs that traditionally have been available; (2) the particular difficulty posed by the California Bar Exam; (3) the existing types of supplemental programs, and concerns posed by programs that are limited to “bar tips” or even limited practice exams or substantive lectures, given the increased numbers of “at risk” students due to the increase in underpreparedness; (4) the supplemental program at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, including the intensity of effort required of both faculty and students in a comprehensive program applicable to all students; and finally, (5) the bar passage results at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since adoption of a comprehensive supplemental bar passage program, that have been significantly better than would be expected by some commentators, given its ranking and relative youth as a law school. This Article suggests that the traditional focus of academic support programs, including bar preparation programs, that focus largely on perceived “at risk” students, is insufficient in light of the increased numbers of underprepared students. In order to avoid further calamitous declines in bar passage rates, law schools will have to move from traditional academic support models to models that encourage the entire cohort of students to work together, cooperatively, and that apply extensive time and effort to ensure that all students receive the benefit of these programs.

California Bar Exam Results and U.S. News Rankings by School:

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

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Final Report Issued on $5.4 Million Forgivable Loan Program for University of Texas Law Profs

Texas LogoAustin American-Statesman, AG’s Office Wraps Up Investigation of Forgivable Loans at UT Law School:

Supplemental compensation from a foundation to University of Texas law professors lacked transparency and violated accountability standards and university rules, whether intentionally or as the product of negligence, according to a much-delayed report by the state attorney general’s office. ...

The report said there is no question that forgivable loans, second mortgages and housing allowances from the UT Law School Foundation helped place the school in a competitive position when it comes to recruiting and retaining faculty members.

“The failure to provide the UT System and Regents the full picture of compensation is subject to one of many narratives depending upon the source,” the report said. “Whether this failure was intentional or simply negligence, the Law School’s failure to follow University rules is also without question.”

The documents list forgivable loans to law faculty totaling $5.4 million:

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cost Cutting in an Age of Declining Law School Enrollment

Cutting CostsThe Faculty Lounge:  Cost Cutting in an Age of Declining Law School Enrollment, by David Frakt (Barry):

Five years into the great law school recession, most law schools have presumably found all the obvious ways to cut costs and explored feasible alternatives for increasing revenues. The low-hanging fruit having been picked, more and more law schools are going to be faced with some very difficult choices. In this post, I will explore some of those choices and offer some ways that law schools might cut costs so they will not have to lower standards any further. I invite those with other good ideas, either theoretical or based on experience at their schools, to share them in the comments.

  • Voluntary Retirements/Voluntary Pay Cuts 
  • Cuts to Faculty Research Support
  • Cut/Consolidate Administrative Positions
  • Reduce the Number of Course Offerings/Mandate More Courses
  • Law Library
  • International Programs
  • Overhead

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January 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who Are The Happiest Law Firm Associates? Tax Lawyers

Vault, Switch to Your Law Firm's Tax Group ASAP!:

Many factors contribute to overall satisfaction with a legal job—co-workers, commute time, the jerk level of the boss—but one of the most important factors may be the subject matter associates are required to stare at ALL DAY LONG and the type of work related to that subject matter. Switching practice groups may be the solution to unhappiness in the workplace—whether that is an available option is another question.

According to data collected from Vault’s 2014 Law Firm Associate Survey, a survey of nearly 17,000 associates from over 150 large and mid-sized law firms, out of the 20 practice areas surveyed, tax lawyers are the most satisfied with their jobs.

Associate Satisfaction

Tax law may be satisfying work because it is often described as solving a puzzle, allowing lawyers to find creative solutions to their clients’ problems. One Skadden associated noted, “We get to do incredibly interesting work in tax, and I think I am always learning new things.”

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January 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

San Diego Offers LSAT-Free Law School Admission To Its Undergraduates With 620 SAT And 3.5 GPA

USD 2014Press Release, USD School of Law Launches Direct Admissions Program for USD Undergraduate Students:

Today, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law announced the launch of the new Direct Admissions Program, which will allow USD undergraduate students to be admitted to USD School of Law without taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

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January 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lowering the Bar: Law Schools Are Increasingly Admitting Students Who Are Unlikely to Pass the Bar Exam

LowerInside Higher Ed, Lowering the Bar:

As the number of students going to law school drops dramatically, law schools are increasingly competing for students with lower undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

Thomas M. Cooley Law School – the largest law school in the country – is known for admitting students other law schools would not touch. The reputation is increasingly inaccurate. Last fall, seven law schools had entering classes with lower median LSAT scores than Cooley’s.

Professors who study legal education worry that schools are enrolling more and more students who have not proved they can graduate law school. Equally concerning is that law schools are admitting and then graduating students who might not be able to pass the bar exam.

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

More Debate Over the New BLS Lawyer Projections

BLS (2015)Following up on my previous post,  Steven J. Harper (Adjunct Professor, Northwestern), 2015: The Year That the Law School Crisis Ended (Or Not) -- Part II:

Part I of this series addressed the ABA rule change that will allow 2014 law graduates until March 15 — an extra month from prior years — to find jobs before their schools have to report those graduates’ employment results to the ABA (and U.S. News). That change will almost certainly produce higher overall employment rates. But relying on any alleged trend that results solely from an underlying change in the rules of the game — such as extending the reporting period from nine months to ten — would be a mistake.

This post considers a second rule change. It comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, and it’s a whopper.

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January 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Colleges Deploy Technology to Track Student Attendance to Raise Grades, Graduation Rates

Wall Street Journal, Cracking Down on Skipping Class:

Skipping class undetected for a game of ultimate Frisbee might become a thing of the past as more universities adopt mandatory-attendance policies and acquire high-tech trackers that snitch when students skip. ...

The latest entrant into the market of tracking student’s whereabouts: Class120, a $199-a-year notification service that tracks a student through the GPS in their smartphone and alerts their parents (or another third party) in real time if their child isn’t within a geofence mapped around the classroom where they are scheduled to be. ...

Attendance is the best known predictor of college grades, even more so than scores on standardized admissions tests, said Marcus Crede, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University who studies the subject. The correlation is particularly high in science, engineering and math. And grades, in turn, seem linked to graduation rates, he said.


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January 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Billy Joel and Guests Perform Piano Man

Billy Joel performs Piano Man with Kevin Spacey, Boyz II Men, Natalie Maines, Josh Groban, Gavin DeGraw, Tony Bennett, LeAnn Rimes and Michael Feinstein during the ceremony honoring him with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

The entire one hour PBS broadcast:

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January 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Winter Of Our Discontent: Legal Practice, Legal Education, and the Culture of Distrust

WinterAlfred S. Konefsky (SUNY-Buffalo) & Barry Sullivan (Loyola-Chicago), In This, the Winter of Our Discontent: Legal Practice, Legal Education, and the Culture of Distrust, 62 Buff. L. Rev. 659 (2014):

This essay seeks to situate the challenges facing legal education within the broader context of professional culture — a context that seems to us to have been neglected in the present debates. In a sense, the “market reformers” have been swept up, consciously or not, in a wider movement that elevates markets over other forms of social analysis and therefore asserts and takes for granted what is in fact deeply contested. More specifically, they have pushed to the side the public-serving dimension of the lawyer’s role because it allegedly conflicts with the psychology of classical economic liberalism. Our aim, then, is to restore the concept of the public domain to a discussion now dominated by mere considerations of costs and a belief in the inevitable triumph of a narrowed sense of professional culture. Before we can begin to reform the infrastructures of legal education, we need to identify the function of the legal profession in a democratic society and the role that a legal education might play in preparing men and women for service in a profession so conceived. In that sense, cost is not an independent variable, and any judgment about the cost-effectiveness of legal education necessarily depends on a decision concerning the purposes to be served by a legal education.

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January 15, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seto: The November Jobs Data: Good News for Law Grads (and Law Schools)

Seto (2014)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  The November 2014 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Data, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' JOLTS (“Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey”) report issued Jan. 13, job openings rose to their highest level in nearly 14 years at the end of November.

Although this is good news for the economy, it may be even better news for law grads. The publicly released data do not break the reported numbers down by occupation. They do, however, break them into market sectors, the one most relevant to law being “Professional and Business Services,” which reported the highest rate of job openings (job openings as a percentage of current employment plus job openings) of any market sector:

Chart 1

The BLS’s time series data suggest that an extended period of stagnation in the Professional and Business Services sector may now be breaking. Here are the sector’s job opening rates from January 2008 to November 2014:

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January 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

California Incubator Grants Put Young Lawyers to Work

National Law Journal, California Incubator Grants Put Young Lawyers to Work:

Legal leaders in California hope to narrow the justice gap by steering cash to “legal incubators”—programs that help graduates jump-start their careers while providing low-cost legal help to people who otherwise couldn’t afford to hire lawyers.

The California Commission on Access to Justice has announced $185,000 in grants to launch three legal incubators and to support an existing incubator in Orange County. ...

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January 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Fall 2015 Law School Applicants Are Down 8.5%


As of 1/09/15, there are 135,408 fall 2015 applications submitted by 19,904 applicants. Applicants are down 8.5% and applications are down 10.8% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 40% of the preliminary final applicant count.

January 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)