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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shit Academics Say: A Social Media Experiment

TwitterChronicle of Higher Education:  @AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social-Media Experiment, by Nathan Hall (McGill):

I am not an intellectual, leading expert, or public scholar. I am a rank-and-file academic with the job of balancing respectable research with acceptable teaching evaluations and sitting on enough committees to not be asked to sit on more committees. And in my spare time, I run what is arguably one of the most influential academic accounts on social media: Shit Academics Say (Facebook).

Since starting the account in September of 2013, it has grown to over 122,000 followers, gaining 250 to 300 new followers daily and ranking in the top 0.1 percent across social media influence metrics such as Klout, Kred, and Followerwonk. To unpack this a bit, tweets sent from my phone while recalibrating dopamine levels on the treadmill, or waiting outside my 3-year-old’s ballet class, are showing up in about 10 million Twitter streams and generating 200,000 to 300,000 profile visits a month, effectively making @AcademicsSay a bigger "social authority" on Twitter than nearly all colleges and academic publications. Not weird at all. ...

Twitter 2

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July 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg: Is It Time To Start Shutting Down Law Schools?

Going Out of BusinessBloomberg, Is It Time to Start Shutting Down Law Schools?:

This month, the American Bar Association provisionally accredited a new law school at Concordia University. More than 200 law schools are accredited in the U.S. An analysis of data from the ABA itself raises the question whether that list should be getting any longer. 

Law schools exist for a lot of reasons, but a pretty important one is to prepare people to be lawyers. By that standard, a large handful of institutions seem to be failing. Last year, 10 law schools were unable to place more than 30 percent of their graduating class in permanent jobs that required passing the bar, according to ABA data. Those job numbers don't include positions that schools fund for their graduates or people who say they are starting their own practice.

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July 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rethinking Measures Of Quality And Value In The U.S. News Law School Rankings

2016 U.S. News RankingsChristopher J. Ryan (Vanderbilt), Crunching the Numbers: Rethinking Measures of Quality and Value in National Law School Rankings:

Rankings have become an important, if not essential, element of the law school environment since U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”) first began publishing law school rankings in 1987. Since the rankings’ first publication, a new fixation on standings took hold of pre-law school consumers, as well as legal academe, coinciding with a historic rise in law school applicants, students, and graduates.However, in the wake of the Great Recession, since 2013, the law school luster has dulled, due in part to increased concern over increasing tuition and student debt, concurrent with diminishing prospects of employment upon graduation. As these disturbing trends illustrate, both the legal profession and legal education are at a crossroads. Still — and perhaps because of legal education has historically been slow to evolve — the U.S. News rankings are an important, if not essential, element of the new law school environment. While several alternative rankings have begun to gain traction in recent years, for better or for worse, the U.S. News ranking has become the “gold standard of the ranking business,” as well as a proxy for determining a law school’s quality and value.

Good ranking systems help consumers of information determine quality and value; however, many have attacked the U.S. News methodology — whose quality assessment, a survey of scholars and lawyers for their ranking of an institution’s reputation, accounts for 40%, whose measures of selectivity comprising 25%, and whose measures of student and faculty diversity account for 0% of a law school’s total score — and its standard of law school rankings as both a product and a source of stagnation in legal education (Arewa, et al., 2013 [Enduring Hierarchies in Legal Education, 89 Ind. L.J. 941]; Morris & Henderson, 2008 [Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings, 83 Ind. L.J. 791]; Black & Caron, 2006 [Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83]). New measures assessing institutional quality and value, as well as diversity, can and should be developed to address the relevancy of legal education in the 21st Century.

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July 2, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers

ThreeMichael D. Cicchini, Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, 34 Miss. C. L. Rev. 1 (2015):

Legal education reform is currently a hot topic. The most promising ideas involve elevating skills-based training from its current sideshow status (where it is taught by adjunct and clinical instructors) to a meaningful and integral part of the mainstream curriculum. This type of skills-based reform, however, not only faces some practical roadblocks, but also it glosses over legal education’s deeper, more fundamental problem: the failure to adequately train students in the underlying substantive and procedural law. To address this more immediate issue, this Essay recommends three basic rules for reform.

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July 2, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Palfrey: BiblioTech — Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever In The Age Of Google

PalfreyJohn Palfrey (Head of School, Phillips Academy; former Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law & Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School), BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google (May 2015):

Libraries today are more important than ever. More than just book repositories, libraries can become bulwarks against some of the most crucial challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information.

In BiblioTech, educator and technology expert John Palfrey argues that anyone seeking to participate in the 21st century needs to understand how to find and use the vast stores of information available online. And libraries, which play a crucial role in making these skills and information available, are at risk. In order to survive our rapidly modernizing world and dwindling government funding, libraries must make the transition to a digital future as soon as possible—by digitizing print material and ensuring that born-digital material is publicly available online.

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July 1, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are Academic Law Libraries Doomed?

Law LibraryYesJames Milles (SUNY-Buffalo), Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries are Doomed, 106 Law Libr. J. 507 (2014):

The dual crises facing legal education - the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large - have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.

NoKenneth J. Hirsh (Cincinnati), Like Mark Twain: The Death of Academic Law Libraries Is an Exaggeration, 106 Law Libr. J. 521 (2014):

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July 1, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Nobel Laureate: Replace Student Evaluations With Best Practices

BestChronicle of Higher Education, Amid Criticism of Student Evaluations, Nobel Laureate Offers Alternative:

The list of complaints about how colleges conduct course evaluations is long and seems to keep getting longer. A survey released last week of thousands of professors by the American Association of University Professors found that student evaluations are losing much of the value they once had. Earlier research already showed that student evaluations failed to adequately describe teaching quality, and often reflected judgments about an instructor’s appearance. But if not student evaluations, what should colleges use to judge the effectiveness of teaching?

Carl E. Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, says he may have found an answer. In a paper published recently in Change magazine, Mr. Wieman suggests another form of evaluation: judging professors based on an inventory of their teaching practices. The ultimate measure of teaching quality, he argues, is the extent to which professors use practices associated with better student outcomes.

"It may seem surprising to evaluate the quality of teaching by looking only at the practices used by an instructor," Mr. Wieman wrote in the paper. But he said research over the past few decades had established a correlation between the teaching methods used and the amount of student learning.

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July 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

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July 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Call For Estate Planning Papers: ACTEC Law Journal

ACTECCall For Papers:  ACTEC Law Journal:

Estate Planning In the 21st Century:  Seismic Shifts and Predictions for the Future

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel announces a Call For Papers on the following topics:

Estate planning has radically changed in the last several decades.   Statutes such as the Uniform Probate Code and the Uniform Parentage Act altered the presumptive definitions of such terms as "children" and "descendants" to include a much broader range of beneficiaries, including adoptees, out-of-wedlock children, and in some cases foster children and stepchildren.  Some children may now inherit from more than two parents.  Very recent changes have broadened those allowed to marry and thus inherit in intestacy from each other.  The assets dealt with by estate planners have transformed dramatically, with the rise in the acceptance of non-probate forms of title, digital assets, etc.  Perpetual trusts, once allowed only for charities, now exist for families, with attendant issues such as decanting, virtual representation, and non-judicial trust modification.  Advance health care directives have become a common tool in the estate planner's box, and in a few states estate planners may deal with clients opting for physician aid in dying.  Papers will address ways in which estate planning has transformed in the last 20, 30 or 40 years, and how it may continue to change over a comparable time in the future. 

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June 30, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reynolds Reviews Barton's The Decline And Rebirth Of The Legal Profession

GlassFollowing up on my previous post:  Glenn Reynolds reviews the new book by Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee), Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford University Press, June 15, 2015), in USA Today, Are Happier Lawyers, Cheaper Legal Fees on the Horizon?:

Barton notes that high-end law firms are being squeezed by much-greater client sensitivity to costs, and by technology that lets one junior attorney do the work of ten when reviewing documents. (Increased efficiency isn't a plus when you bill by the hour.) Likewise, lawyers at the bottom end are being squeezed by online legal form services like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. Still, he sees some upsides for lawyers and clients alike.

For lawyers, he sees incomes falling to the more-modest levels that prevailed before the 1980-2000 legal boom. Lower incomes are bad, of course, but it's also true that prior to the boom, lawyers were happier with their work. Crushing workloads, dog-eat-dog firm politics and fickle clients made the boom time much more stressful. The move to billing arrangements that focus on results, not hours worked, saves clients money, but it also changes the way lawyers work, probably for the better.

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June 30, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jury Rejects Unsuccessful Conservative Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Suit Against University of Iowa Law School

WagnerFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Iowa Press-Citizen, Jury Rejects Conservative's Bias Suit Against UI Dean:

The former dean of the University of Iowa law school didn't commit illegal political discrimination when she passed over a conservative lawyer for teaching jobs, a jury ruled Monday.

After a six-day trial, a federal jury in Davenport rejected Teresa Manning's assertion that then-Dean Carolyn Jones rejected her for the faculty because of Manning's political beliefs and associations. ...

A UI law graduate, Manning had moved back to Iowa from Washington to work as associate director of the law school's writing center when she was one of three finalists for two job openings in 2007. She had previously taught writing at George Mason University law school. But after she gave a talk to faculty members as part of the hiring process, the faculty recommended that Jones hire another finalist who was a self-described liberal and not fill the second opening.

Jones went along with those recommendations even though an associate dean had warned her in an email that he worried professors were blocking Manning "because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it)."

Several professors disputed that, testifying that Manning essentially disqualified herself during the interview. They said that Manning responded to a question by saying that she wouldn't teach analysis — a key part of the job — and would focus on writing. Manning argued that claim was bogus and fabricated to justify discrimination.

Manning claimed that the opposition to her appointment was driven by Professor Randall Bezanson, who helped draft the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973 while he was a clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. At the time, the 50-member faculty included 46 registered Democrats. Since then, the faculty has become at least slightly more politically diverse. ...

Her book, tentatively titled, "Academic Injustices: One woman's fight against bias in higher education and the law," is scheduled for release in January, Encounter Books president Roger Kimball said. He said her story was "worth telling" regardless of how the trial came out.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bezos, Jobs & Musk: Must Visionary Leaders Be Cruel To Their Employees?

LogosNew York Times, The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders:

As I was reading Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, I was alternately awed and disheartened, almost exactly the same ambivalence I felt after reading Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs and Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

The three leaders are arguably the most extraordinary business visionaries of our times. Each of them has introduced unique products that changed – or in Mr. Musk’s case, have huge potential to change – the way we live.

I was awed by the innovative, courageous, persistent and creative ways all three built their businesses. I also love their products. I own a Mac Pro and an iPhone, and I have been a loyal customer of Apple for 20 years. I buy many books and other products on Amazon, lured by a blend of low prices, ease of purchase and reliably quick delivery. The Tesla X is hands down the best car I have ever driven, and it’s all electric, rechargeable in your garage.

Plainly, I have bought in to what these guys are selling.

What disheartens me is how little care and appreciation any of them give (or in Mr. Jobs’s case, gave) to hard-working and loyal employees, and how unnecessarily cruel and demeaning they could be to the people who helped make their dreams come true. ...

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

2015 Brophy Law School Rankings: Median LSAT, Full-Time J.D.-Required Jobs, And Law Review Citations

Alfred L. Brophy (North Carolina), Ranking Law Schools, 2015: Student Aptitude, Employment, and Law Review Citations (more here):

This essay builds on a paper released last year that ranked law schools on three variables: the median LSAT of entering students of the most recent class, the most recently available employment outcome for each school’s graduates, and citations to each school’s main law reviews over the past eight years. This paper updates that study with LSAT median data for the class entering in fall 2014, employment data for the class graduating in 2014 ten months after graduation, and the most recent law review citation data for 2007 through 2014. It studies 195 ABA approved law schools.

In addition to using more recent data, this study changes the method of combining those data. Where the last paper used simple ranks for each variable and averaged them, this study has a more granular approach to the data. It converts each school’s median LSAT score and the percentage of students employed in full-time, permanent, JD-required jobs ten months after graduation (excluding school-funded positions and solo practitioners) to standard scores. In addition, given the dramatic differences in number of law review citations among schools, it employs a common log transformation of law review citations and then converts the transformed scores to standard scores. The paper combines the first two scores to provide a two-variable ranking, and then combines all three variables to provide a three-variable ranking. The paper reports average scores for the three-variable ranking, thus permitting examination of how close schools are to each other. It also ranks the 195 ABA-approved law schools in the United States (excluding the three schools in Puerto Rico) that U.S. News included in its rankings released in March 2015. And it compares the new, two- and three- variable rankings to the U.S. News provided ranks in March 2015. It identifies the schools that improve and decline the most with the new rankings.

Here are the Top 25:

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June 29, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA: The Most LGBT-Friendly Law Schools

WhiteABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, LGBT-Friendly Law Schools:

Most law schools are LGBT-friendly. Some law schools, however, are going an extra step further to be more inclusive of LGBT students. These law schools have established associations and forums designed to enhance educational opportunities for  LGBT students:

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

University of Cincinnati President Turns Down $200,000 Bonus, Gives Money To Charities, Slain Police Officer's Family

OnoHuffington Post, College President Turns Down $200,000 Bonus, Gives Money To Charities:

University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono has rejected his annual bonus, asking for the money to instead be donated to charities and scholarships, WCPO reported. Ono has also turned down a raise in his base salary.

"This may sound crazy, but it's hard for us when someone turns down a raise," University Board President Tom Humes told the news outlet. "But we've learned that the way to satisfy President Ono is to give him the ability to help others.”

Since becoming president in 2012, Ono has not accepted his yearly bonus. This year, the $200,000 bonus will be divided among 14 organizations and scholarships, according to WCPO, including the university’s LGBTQ center, a local STEM high school, and GEN-1 House, a program for first-generation college students.

The president will also give $10,000 from the bonus money to the family of Sonny Kim, a police officer killed in a shootout last Friday, Cincinnati.com reported. Ono has also offered full tuition to UC to the three sons of fallen officer. While, according to the news site, the Ohio Revised Code requires state universities to pay up to four years of tuition to the children of police officers who die in duty, the university will further cover full room and board should they attend, Ono wrote on Twitter.

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tax Prof Baby Shower

My wife was delighted to host a baby shower yesterday for our dear friend and Pepperdine tax colleague Khrista Johnson:

Shower

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June 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Winn: Law Students Can Disrupt The Market For High-Priced Textbooks By 'Naming And Shaming' Faculty Who Refuse To Use Free Open Access Books

NameJane K. Winn (University of Washington), Can Law Students Disrupt the Market for High-Priced Textbooks?, 10 Wash. J. L. Tech. & Arts ___ (2015):

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance legal education through technological innovation and collaboration. With its eLangdell Press project, CALI publishes American law school textbooks in open access, royalty-free form, offering faculty authors compensation equivalent to what most law school textbook authors would earn in royalties from a traditional full-price publisher. I am writing a new sales textbook and “agreements supplement” based on contemporary business practice that I will publish in open access form with CALI’s eLangdell Press. Relatively few other American legal academics publish in open access form, however, suggesting that the market for textbooks may be “locked-in” to a principal-agent conflict between students and faculty members. If American law students organized a website showing the textbook costs of all law faculty members at all law schools, they might be able to use a “naming and shaming” strategy to overcome faculty “lock-in” to high-priced textbooks and increase the adoption of open access textbooks.

Geier 4Deborah H. Geier (Cleveland State) has published a free eLangdell textbook, U.S. Federal Income Taxation of Individuals (CALI 2015):

As one, lone law professor, I have little direct ability to reduce tuition costs for my students. When writing this textbook, however, I decided to decline expressions of interest from the legacy legal publishers in favor of making this textbook available as a free download over the internet (in ePub format for iPads, Mobi format for Kindles, and pdf format for laptops), with an at-cost, print-on-demand alternative for those who like a hard copy. Fortunately, eLangdell (a division of CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) has been an ideal partner in this regard.

In addition to eliminating (or lowering) student cost, this mode of publication will permit me to quickly and fully update the book each December, incorporating expiring provisions, inflation adjustments for the coming calendar year, new Treasury Regulations, etc., in time for use in the spring semester, an approach that avoids cumbersome new editions or annual supplements. This publication method also makes the textbook suitable for use as a free study aid for students whose professors adopt another textbook, as this textbook walks the student through the law with many more fact patterns and examples than do many other textbooks. While this practice adds length, I believe that it also makes the book more helpful to students in confronting what can be daunting material. Finally, having the textbook easily accessible to foreign students enrolled in a course examining the U.S. Federal income taxation of individuals is important to me, and having the textbook available as a free internet download succeeds well in that regard.

A Teacher’s Manual is available for professors who adopt the book (or parts of it) for use in their course.

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June 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Second Best Legal Job: Law Professor

2Lawyer & Statesman, The 10 Best Legal Jobs:

Salary and prestige only go so far when it comes to making lawyers happy. We look at the jobs that combine good compensation with work that is meaningful and less stressful. ...

1. Judge or magistrate. ...
2. Law professor. While not everyone is cut out for academic life, it is without questions a comfortable job. Law professors have significant autonomy, low workloads and minimal time demands. (Workloads can be more significant for professors who publish on a regular basis, but deadlines do not compare with private practice deadlines.

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June 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Cardozo Program Lets Firms Hire Law Grads For $38k/Year

Cardozo (2015)Above the Law, This Is How One Law School Is Trying To Game Its Job Statistics:

While the ABA first began requiring law schools to separate out their employment data by specific job type and duration several years ago, U.S. News & World Report, the magazine that ranks law schools, only recently started assigning different weights to different subsets of attorney employment placements. In the most recent rankings, for example, U.S. News assigned greater weight to employment placements not funded by law schools that were full-time, long-term (lasting at least a year), and for which bar passage was required or a J.D. was considered an advantage.

Keeping those facts in mind, one law school is attempting to get traction for its latest graduate employment program — a program that will fulfill all of the U.S. News requirements for a greater employment-placement weight come rankings time. ...

Cardozo Law ...  is rolling out a brand-new jobs program for its unemployed 2015 graduates, and it’s targeting small to mid-size firms in the process. Here’s the school’s email pitch from a career services officer, with a subject line that reads “$38k — Hire a Junior Attorney”:

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June 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Northwestern JD/MBA Racks Up $350k In Student Loan Debt

Northwestern

Fortune, How This MBA Racked Up an Incredible $350,000 in Student Debt:

For Kellogg MBA Cacky Calderon, far more is at stake than money when it comes to paying off her staggering student debt. And staggering it is: Calderon earned an MBA and a law degree simultaneously from Northwestern University. Both the Kellogg School of Management and law school are among the most highly selective schools in the nation.

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

WSJ: Too Busy For A Vacation This Summer? Try A 'Workcation'

WorkWall Street Journal, This Summer, How About a Workcation?:

Rare is the modern professional who can fully disconnect from the office during time off, so a small but growing number of workers are instead petitioning the boss to combine work and vacation: time away from the office that includes a few days working from an exotic locale.

Workers often pay for lodging and travel, but may take conference calls or write project updates from a resort or rental home, spending off-hours sightseeing or being with family, without having the time counted against their vacation days.

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

I Am An Adjunct Law Professor Who Teaches Five Classes. I Earn Less Than A Pet-Sitter

Hall 2The Guardian:  I Am an Adjunct Professor Who Teaches Five Classes. I Earn Less Than a Pet-Sitter, by Lee Hall (Adjunct Professor, Widener)

Like most university teachers today, I am a low-paid contract worker. Now and then, a friend will ask: “Have you tried dog-walking on the side?” I have. Pet care, I can reveal, takes massive attention, energy and driving time. I’m friends with a full-time, professionally employed pet-sitter who’s done it for years, never topping $26,000 annually and never receiving health or other benefits.

The reason I field such questions is that, as an adjunct professor, whether teaching undergraduate or law-school courses, I make much less than a pet-sitter earns. This year I’m teaching five classes (15 credit hours, roughly comparable to the teaching loads of some tenure-track law or business school instructors). At $3,000 per course, I’ll pull in $15,000 for the year. I work year-round, 20 to 30 hours weekly – teaching, developing courses and drafting syllabi, offering academic advice, recommendation letters and course extensions for students who need them. As I write, in late June, my students are wrapping up their final week of the first summer term, and the second summer term will begin next week.

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June 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Darryll Jones Named Interim Dean Of Florida A&M Law School

Darryll-JonesPress Release, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Names Associate Dean Darryll K. Jones as Interim Dean of College of Law:

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Provost Marcella David today announced that associate dean for Academic Affairs Darryll K. Jones, J.D., LL.M., has been appointed to serve as the interim dean of the FAMU College of Law in Orlando, Fla. He replaces former Dean LeRoy Pernell, J.D., who stepped down, effective June 30, 2015, to return to the faculty.

Jones joined the College of Law in July 2009 as associate dean for Research and Faculty Development.  In that role, he helped successfully guide the College through its first post-accreditation review. Prior to becoming a full-time tax law scholar, he served as general counsel at Columbia College Chicago and associate general counsel at the University of Florida. From 1993 to 2006, he taught at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he earned tenure and also served as associate dean for Academic Affairs from 2003 until 2006. From 2006 to 2009, Jones was professor of law at Stetson University College of Law.  He also served for five years in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp.

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

Concordia Law School Launches Media Campaign To Attract Students

ConcordiaIdaho Statesman, Concordia Law School Launches Media Campaign to Attract Students, Inform Community:

Boise’s Concordia University School of Law is raising its profile just weeks after the American Bar Association gave it provisional approval, which means graduates are eligible to take the bar exam.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Disgruntled Charlotte Law School Grad Spreads Tale Of Debt Woes Via Hundreds Of Windshield Flyers

Above the Law reports that a Charlotte Law School grad placed this flyer on hundreds of cars in a residential neighborhood in Charlotte:

Charlotte

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June 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Michael Lewis: A 'Moneyball' Approach To Harvard Admissions

MoneyballNew York Times Sunday Review:  Harvard Admissions Needs ‘Moneyball for Life’, by Michael Lewis:

To: Harvard Management Company

From: Harvard Admissions

It’s been several painful weeks since Steve Schwarzman revealed that we denied him admission to the Harvard Class of 1969. As we now all know, the private equity billionaire (net worth: $13 billion and climbing) appeared on the Bloomberg channel and said that the dean of admissions at Harvard wrote to him a few years ago and said, “I guess we got that one wrong.” He also announced his $150 million gift to Yale, to erect a monument to our idiocy.

We in admissions have finished your requested review of the circumstances that led to our catastrophic error. We conclude a) we must improve our attempts at self-abasement and b) Harvard’s admissions process must be overhauled. It has proved imperfectly designed to identify and smile upon those children most likely to become extremely rich.

Projecting the future dollar value of a 17-year-old high school student is not a simple matter. We now all agree that the problem cannot be left to unaided human judgment. We in admissions have followed the Harvard Management Company’s suggestion, read the book about statistics that you kindly sent over, and created an algorithm. Tested retroactively on a generation of college graduates, it has proved far more efficient in identifying “high yield targets” than any other known college selection process.

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June 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

J.D. Advantage Jobs Paint Rosy Picture For Law School Graduates

JDHuffington Post op-ed:  The Hidden Truth About Law School Employment Stats, by Tamesha Keel (Assistant Dean for Career Services, Penn State-Dickinson):

The perception of law graduates is that they are standing solemn holding a law degree, resumes, and a heavy burden of loan debt they can't pay off. However, this isn't the case for all graduates. Many are becoming savvier and using their versatile J.D. beyond the traditional practice of law.

With an increase of nontraditional legal careers and the industry shift to utilize more outside resources, there has been a surge in what employers deems as "J.D. advantage" positions. And while the largest percentage of jobs secured are those where bar passage is required, this growth has helped to ease the swell of unemployed graduates. ...

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

Second Trial Begins In Unsuccessful Conservative Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Suit Against University of Iowa Law School

WagnerFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Dubuque News, 2nd Trial Begins in Conservative's Bias Case Against U. Iowa:

After years of arguing that liberal Iowa law professors illegally derailed her career, a conservative lawyer will get a second chance to prove her claim to a jury.

Selection of jurors began Monday in federal court in Davenport in a lawsuit filed by anti-abortion activist Teresa Manning, who contends that the University of Iowa College of Law refused to hire her for teaching jobs because of her beliefs and associations.

Jurors will decide whether Manning, who recently changed her last name from Wagner, faced discrimination and if so, how much she deserves in damages. Opening statements are expected Tuesday.

The long-running lawsuit has been closely watched in higher education. Manning has reached a deal with a publisher to write a book about her experience, and has said the retrial provides a "historic moment" for social conservatives to expose what they claim is political discrimination against them in higher education.

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

Sokol: Teaching Compliance

Compliance 2D. Daniel Sokol (Florida), Teaching Compliance, 84 U. Cin. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Compliance is a growing field of practice across multiple areas of law. Increasingly companies put compliance risk among the most important corporate governance issues facing them. Moreover, as “JD plus” jobs proliferate, the demand for hiring both at the entry level and for former students currently in practice who are experienced in the compliance field will continue to grow. The growth in compliance jobs comes at a time in shifting demand for legal jobs for law school graduates. Traditional law firm entry level jobs at large law firms, which were the staple of on campus recruiting before 2007, have not returned to pre-2007 levels even with the end of the recession. Technological changes, greater in-house hiring, and better creation of efficiencies have reduced demand for large law firms, which were the traditional training ground for in-depth legal skills and soft skills.

Law schools have responded to the demand shift in entry level hiring with a supply side response - classes in compliance. In some cases, law schools have set up compliance certificates or degrees in areas such as health care and business law. There is now even a casebook devoted to compliance. Yet, with all of these efforts at creating opportunities for careers in compliance, many programs and classes in compliance are nothing other than dressed up versions of classes in white collar crime or regulation or lectures on latest case developments that one might find in a continuing legal education program. These courses do not focus on the substantive areas needs practice with the highest demand for compliance (in-house legal and JD plus jobs) and do not teach the analytical skills necessary to succeed in such jobs. Nor do they focus on the special context within which compliance operates – ideally independent of the “business” but always a part of it. Essentially, law schools have misdiagnosed the demand side - it is not merely the particular type of class (compliance) but also the substance of such classes with the type of quality offering necessary to maximize student short term (entry level hiring) and long term (preparation for ever-shifting analytically complex practice challenges).

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

After Provisional Accreditation Denial, Indiana Tech Law School To Reapply Despite Strong Headwinds

Indiana Tech (2014)Following up on last week's post, Indiana Tech Law School Denied Provisional ABA Accreditation:  Indiana Lawyer, Indiana Tech to Reapply for Accreditation:

The official ruling from the ABA may not have been unexpected, but it still landed a blow to Indiana Tech Law School. Just four days after meeting with law school officials and hearing their presentation about their approach to legal education, the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar denied granting provisional accreditation to the Fort Wayne school.

Although the denial can be appealed, the Fort Wayne school is bypassing that option and focusing instead on the reapplication process. Dean Charles Cercone said with the support of the local bar and the university, he is very confident the law school will be accredited. ...

Legal education experts say Indiana Tech is going to have to work hard on multiple fronts to overcome this setback. The denial of provisional accreditation is not a death blow, but the school will have to enrich its course offerings, maintain good financial health and show that its graduates can pass the bar exam. All of that hinges on the law school being able to keep the students currently enrolled and recruit more to attend. ...

Indiana Tech Law School’s curriculum is likely not a problem since the ABA in general is pushing for schools to teach more practical skills to its students, said Paul Caron, professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and writer of the popular TaxProf Blog, which covers a range of legal topics including education. Still, adding to the course offerings and improving academic support cost money, which puts the young institution in a tough place.

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

Monday, June 22, 2015

The 'Second Wave' Of The Law School Crisis

Second WaveDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Law Schools, Law Jobs and the “Second Wave” of Applicant Decline:

There is widespread speculation about how low enrollments in US law schools will drop. A recent report indicated another 5% decline in applications and another indicated 2.5% causing commentators to voice hope that the bottom had been reached. Along with the gross numbers there is an added and very troubling issue of the quality of the applicant pool and admissions as data suggest that many of the most intellectually talented applicant types are now shunning law school and pursuing other career tracks. In any event, the problem with analyses focusing primarily on gross applicant and enrollment numbers is that what has been happening to this point is only the crude “first wave” in the transformation of legal education, the legal profession and how law-related services are delivered. ...

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

Harrison: The State Of Florida Only Needs One Law School

Florida 2Gainesville Sun op-ed:  The State of Florida Only Needs One Law School, by Jeffrey L. Harrison (Florida):

The state of Florida operates four law schools. Last year, the schools sent out a total of 2,577 letters of acceptance to applicants and 701, or about 31 percent, accepted the invitation. ...

Florida’s publicly supported law schools operate expensive programs to compete against each other for the very same students. Does it sound like football? Sure, but football is a product that generates revenue, especially when the state’s schools compete against each other. ...

What we have is different departments of the state that do the same thing, competing with each other on the dime of people who get nothing back. If you were a business, would you open a store across the street from the other store you own in order to lure your own customers away? Let’s hope not.

It’s time for the irrational way that Florida delivers legal education to change. There can be four campuses but one set of admissions guidelines, one acceptance letter per applicant, one admissions office, one PR department and one diploma that does not distinguish among campuses.

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June 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

How To Cut Law School Tuition By 35%: Cap Overhead Tax At 15%, Cut Faculty Salaries By 20%, Eliminate Sabbaticals And Summer Stipends, Increase Teaching Loads to 3/3

Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas), Responsible Solutions: Reply to Tamanaha and Campos, 2 Tex. A&M L. Rev. 215 (2014):

The following five measures will help curb the forces that drive up law school tuition annually, substantially reduce tuition, and limit the number of newly minted attorneys cast into a contracting legal job market. At the same time, the measures will help preserve the considerable private, pedagogical good in the present model as well as the public good of competent legal representation and the independent critique of law and the legal system. ...

The first measure would tighten, rather than loosen, the ABA accreditation standards to prevent university administrations, through an inflated “overhead” formula, from subsidizing university shortfalls or other poor performing programs. Presently, ABA Standard 202 governing law school resources requires only that a university give an accounting of the law school revenues it diverts to other programs; take all you want, just tell us what you took. Standard 202 should be supplanted by language clearly limiting the central university's take to actual overhead expenses, and requiring an independent accounting to ensure accuracy. Doing so would lower tuition and disincentivize universities with law schools from raising tuition as high as possible each year, and those without law schools from opening new ones up as revenue centers.

The second measure would tighten the ABA Standards to require start-up law schools to show, prior to a grant of provisional accreditation, that their graduates will serve an underserved population and will not exacerbate lawyer unemployment. ...

The third is to cut the salaries of full-time faculty and deans by twenty percent and do away with sabbaticals and research stipends. ...

The fourth measure is to increase teaching loads by one course per semester-- meaning the vast majority of law professors will teach three courses per semester, rather than the two that represents the current course load at most law schools. ...

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

30% Of Law School Deans (And 40% Of New Deans) Are Women

NLJNational Law Journal, Rise in Number of Women Deans at U.S. Law Schools:

Since 1989, women who run law schools have dined together during an annual American Bar Association workshop for leaders in legal education. Tradition dictates that each attendee talk about her greatest success and failure during the year. They share support and ideas.

When Katherine Broderick assumed the deanship of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 1998, the 14 female law deans could fit at a relatively small table. Today, 59 women run American Bar Association-accredited law schools, comprising 30 percent of all law deans. That's up from under 21 percent in 2008, according to a survey of law faculty by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Bittersweet Father's Day

IMG_1386

My father died nearly eight years ago, and I find myself thinking of him more and more with each passing year.   My eulogy at his funeral did not fully capture the towering presence he was in my life, and he remains so in death.  Al Sturgeon (Pepperdine) captures my thoughts this Father's Day, including this wonderful song from Chet Atkins:

 

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June 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Forgiveness In Charleston (And Beyond)

Incredible stories of forgiveness arising out of the horrific Charleston church shooting

It brought to mind my previous post on the powerful song by Matthew West (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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June 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Task Force On The Financing Of Legal Education Issues Final Report

ABA Logo 2The ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education yesterday released its final 62-page report with three recommendations:

  1. Help students take full advantage of the current federal loan programs by mandating enhanced financial counseling and "plain English" disclosures of loan repayment programs;
  2. Serve transparency, accountability, and better planning by mandating that the ABA collect detailed data for each law school on expenditures, revenue, and financial aid (including discounting information and proportions of need vs. merit-based aid) and make all of the data publicly available; and
  3. Develop new ways of balancing responsible curricula and pedagogies, cost-effectiveness, and alternative revenue streams by strongly encouraging and supporting experimentation and innovation among law schools.

The ABA House of Delegates will vote on the adoption of the task force's recommendations at its Aug. 3-4 meeting in Chicago.

National Law Journal, ABA Task Force: Bring Law School Costs Down:

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

Law School Financial Aid Rankings

Business Insider, The 25 US Law Schools That Offer the Best Financial Aid:

The online graduate school guide GraduatePrograms.com polled over 10,000 former and current law school students to find out which US schools offer the best financial aid packages and the smoothest application processes.

They rated their schools on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the strongest. The scores were then averaged and ranked to determine the top law schools for financial aid.

BI

Pepperdine is #21, with a 7.40 financial aid score.

Methodology:

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June 20, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

WSJ: 'Mindfulness' Movement Sweeps Through Law Schools, Legal Practice — 'I Love Me'

MindfulnessFront page article in the Wall Street Journal:  Lawyers Go Zen, With Few Objections:

Soft winds of change are rustling through the legal profession. ... It has swept through University of Miami School of Law, whose students this year completed a homework project by deliberately losing an argument.

And this spring it breezed past a verdant bluff above the Hudson River, where dozens of law professors, litigators and judges spent three days meditating and pacing trails under a blanket of silence and the tutelage of a Buddhist priest.

It wasn’t too long ago when attorneys were caricatured as Rambo types who scorched civility and professionalism to win at all costs.

But that was before the “mindfulness” movement.

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June 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Should Law Students Get A Lower Student Loan Interest Rate?

Student LoansBloomberg, Is the Government Charging Some People Too Much for Student Loans?:

For young people with good jobs, repaying student loans has probably never been easier. In the past four years a growing number of companies have begun offering to refinance people’s federal loans, which generally means buying the debt and then collecting payments from borrowers at a much lower interest rate than the government was charging.

The companies—which include startups and traditional banks alike—say this is an attractive business opportunity because certain graduates are bound to pay back their loans on time. Buying their debt now and collecting small, but virtually guaranteed, payments over time can be a profitable enterprise.

For the people whom these companies target—often graduate school alums—the deal has few drawbacks. Those who refinance public loans through a private company like Social Finance or CommonBond pay less interest over the long haul. They also give up the right to enter into government repayment plans, but it’s unlikely these particular folks would need to rely on such programs, which are aimed at struggling grads.

Sounds like a win-win scenario for all players, except for two: the U.S. government and, by extension, the taxpayer. As Bloomberg reported last week, the boom in student debt refinancing for a few could be bad for the masses. Taking the least risky borrowers—the ones with good jobs and high incomes—out of the pool of those who are repaying student loans makes that pool more risky overall.

Imagine a doomsday scenario (which is unlikely to occur, but still interesting) where private lenders manage to pluck every solvent borrower out of the group of students and graduates indebted to the government. That would leave the rest of us, who finance the loan program and perhaps count on college loans for ourselves or our children, dependent on a set of (theoretically) unreliable people to replenish the government’s coffers. Not fun.

So should the government get in on the refinancing game? Some say yes. The U.S. Department of Education, says Michael Simkovic, a law professor at Seton Hall University, is overcharging certain borrowers, given how unlikely they are to stop paying the debt back. He says it would make more sense to give lower interest rates to people who major in lucrative fields, or those who go to graduate school for certain professional degrees.

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June 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Crespi: The 'Tax Bomb' Facing Lawyers Who Enroll In Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plans Is Even Bigger

IBRFollowing on last week's post, The 'Tax Bomb' Facing Lawyers Who Enroll In Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plans:  Greg Crespi (SMU) reports that he has

substantially revised and greatly improved my IBR “tax bomb” draft paper that I sent to you on June 7, in response to a lot of very helpful feedback from other scholars and practitioners, and I have replaced my prior SSRN posting with this new draft (attached) .  This new draft has a much more accurate assessment of the actually quite limited significance of the DOE’s new REPAYE Plan (more limited than I had previously realized), and now includes significantly larger and probably much more accurate projections of the size of the problem.  I now project that by 2038 approximately 20,000+ lawyers will be impacted each year by this IBR or PAYE debt forgiveness tax liability (see p. 80-81), with an annual aggregate tax bill imposed upon these lawyers of approximately $800 million to $900 million (see p. 82-83).  According to SSRN many of your readers have downloaded my draft, and you may want to give them a heads-up as to this new and improved  draft with its more dramatic predictions as to the 2032 and later tax implications for high-debt law school graduates of the IBR program.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

NY Times: Put Lawyers Where They’re Needed

Liberated LawyeringNew York Times op-ed:  Put Lawyers Where They’re Needed, by Theresa Amato: (author, Liberated Lawyering: How Lawyers Can Change the World (forthcoming 2016)):

Millions of Americans lack crucial legal services. Yet enormous numbers of lawyers are unemployed. Why can’t the supply of lawyers match the demand? ...

To create the entire sector of sustainable, affordable legal service providers that the legal profession needs will take much more entrepreneurship. There’s no shortage of lawyers to bridge the justice gap. For the last four years, less than 60 percent of law-school graduates have found full-time jobs requiring a bar qualification.

The problem is twofold. First, school fees have consistently outpaced inflation over the last 30 years, and on average, 86 percent of law students graduate with six-figure debt. Without help, the drag of this debt makes it near-impossible for willing graduates to take lower-paying legal services jobs.

Second, even for those graduates who are able to serve those who lack affordable legal representation, the jobs are few and much fought-for — despite the often less than chic locales. Recent graduates rarely have the training or resources to create jobs for themselves. ...

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June 18, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Two Computer Monitors Just Don't Cut It Anymore

Monitor 2PC World, How to Create an Insane Multiple Monitor Setup With Three, Four, or More Displays:

Studies have shown that dual monitors can increase productivity [sometimes], but the jury’s still out on whether adding even more monitors means even more productivity. That aside, having multiple monitors (and I’m talking three, four, five, or even six) is just…awesome, and something you totally need in your life.

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