TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, July 11, 2016

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Teaching Law In An Age Of Violence

ViolenceFollowing up on yesterday's post, Law Professor Pens 6-Page Response To Students Who Criticized His 'Black Lives Matter' Shirt:  Jeff Baker (Pepperdine), Teaching Law in an Age of Violence:

In America, our founding principle is that all men are created equal, expressed within a legal document declaring independence from a sovereign who did not extend a voice to his subjects. Our pledge of allegiance binds us to a promise of liberty and justice for all. These are American ideals but so often are not American realities. America is and always has been a violent nation, and race and racism are deep in our spiritual, social, cultural, political and legal vernacular. In no season of our national history have we been at true peace, especially in matters of race and racism. 

In fits and starts, we lurch in anguish and hope toward harmony and reconciliation. Inevitably, when we take a step toward inclusion and justice, the forces of exclusion lash out in death throes. The South didn’t secede until after the country elected an abolitionist. The Klan didn’t form until after emancipation. Bull Connor didn’t unleash the dogs until people started demonstrating for justice and dignity. In our present age, we witness the persistent violence of exclusion as voices rise to demand inclusion of the bodies, minds, and souls of people so tired of waiting in oppression. 

This is also deeply American. “No taxation without representation!” was the rebels’ call for inclusion in the process of lawmaking and governance, and the demonstrators followed it up with war. When the sovereign refused to give his subjects a voice in making the laws that governed them, they rose up to toss off the sovereign. Then, tragically, the new republic founded for government of, by and for the people, systemically excluded vast members of the governed.

Those excluded people have taken patient centuries to call America to account for its aspirations, to illuminate the hypocrisy of exclusion in a republic founded for inclusion. Steeped in blood and struggle, they have brought America around to itself, little by little, kicking and screaming, mourning and grieving, insisting on inclusion, demanding dignity.

In lament and anguish, punch drunk, America stumbles toward its better angels, shaking off its ghosts, battling its demons, as we realize that inclusion is our only hope to keep the republic our ancestors won and handed down to us. Generous inclusion is national life. Reactionary exclusion is national suicide. ...        

As law teachers, we have the privilege to observe and the obligation to train. We observe the law in its promise, success and failings, and we train lawyers to represent the people and their government, to make and improve the law, to sit in judgment with the law.

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July 10, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Winners Of The 2016 Tax Analysts Student Writing Competition

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)2016 Tax Analysts Student Writing Competition:

Tax Notes:

  • S. Bruce Hiran (Houston)
  • Katrina Vitale (Villanova)
  • Luke Wagner (San Diego)

State Tax Notes:

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July 10, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Time Has Come For Law Reviews (Led By Harvard, Yale & Stanford) To Only Publish Online

HYSSarah Reis (University of Washington), Deconstructing the Durham Statement: The Persistence of Print Prestige During the Age of Open Access:

In the seven years following the promulgation of the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, law journals have largely responded to the call to make articles available in open, electronic formats, but not to the call to stop print publication and publish only in electronic format. Nearly all of the flagship law reviews at ABA-accredited institutions still insist on publishing in print, despite the massive decline in print subscribers and economic and environmental waste. The availability of a law journal in print format remains a superficial indicator of prestige and quality to law professors, student editors, and law school administrations. A shift from print publication to electronic-only publication is not as simple as having a law journal merely cancel its print runs, but rather requires several fundamental changes to the publication process. Many law journals must also greatly improve their websites before electronic-only publication can truly replace print publication.

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July 9, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Professor Pens 6-Page Response To Students Who Criticized Her 'Black Lives Matter' Shirt

BLMFollowing up on my previous posts (links below) on the controversy at American Law School over posting 'All Lives Matter' on a law prof's office door:  U.S. Uncut, Students Complain About Professor’s Black Lives Matter Shirt. The Professor’s Response Is Priceless:

A law professor received a written complaint from “Concerned Students” about his Black Lives Matter shirt, and he responded by brilliantly turning the letter into a teachable moment, taking apart their arguments and the assumptions behind them, literally and figuratively schooling the authors of the complaint with wit, clarity, and moral authority.

The full text of both the student’s complaint and the law professor’s response can be found here.

The students wrote, “The ‘Black Lives Matter’ statement is racist and anti-law enforcement and has been known to incite violence in this country. As someone who is paid to teach the law, you should be ashamed of yourself,” among other arguments against the professor’s choice of wardrobe.

[Y]ou have presented yourself on campus, on at least one occasion, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt. We believe this is an inappropriate and unnecessary statement that has no legitimate place within our institution of higher learning. The statement you represented and endorsed is also highly offensive and extremely inflammatory. We are here to learn the law. We do not spend three years of our lives and tens of thousands of dollars to be subjected to indoctrination or personal opinions of our professors.

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July 9, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (39)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Are Cravath BigLaw Wannabes Like Ford & GM Circa 1960?

Ford GMABA Legal Rebels:  Associate Salary Increases May Not be Good Business, by Patrick Lamb (Valorem Law Group, Chicago):

On June 6, Cravath Swaine & Moore announced it was raising base salaries for starting associates from $160,000 per year to $180,000 per year. Of course, firms never give a raise to just one class of associates. There is a “ripple effect” throughout all associate classes, and Cravath raised salaries of all of its associates between $20,000 and $35,000 per year. In the days following, one large firm after another matched the Cravath raise. By now, most of BigLaw has matched the raise.

I couldn’t be happier. Why? Because this is just another straw these firms are adding to the backs of their clients. For some clients, it will be the straw that breaks their back and causes them to break free of the bond that BigLaw has on them. ...  [T]he money to pay for these raises comes directly from the clients of the firms who retain Cravath and the many BigLaw firms that have followed Cravath, like sheep following a leader off the edge of a cliff. ...

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July 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Law Grad Employment Rose At 158 Law Schools Over Past Five Years

National JuristNational Jurist: Employment on the Rise, by Katie Thisdell:

Five law schools [Pace, BU, Hofstra, St. John's, Drexel] have improved their employment rates by an average of 5 percent or more during the past five years. ... Thirty-four law schools saw upward trends of 3 percent or more over this period. Of the 199 schools with more than three years worth of employment data analyzed, the vast majority had a positive trend line, even if just slight. Fifty-two schools saw less than a 1 percent increase over this time period.

Meanwhile, 41 schools saw an overall drop in their employment rates for the five-year period. Four had a downward trend greater than 4 percent, and three of those were in Texas — St. Mary’s University, South Texas College of Law and Texas Southern University.

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July 8, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Disgraced Former Case Western Law School Dean Changes Name To Ezra Wasserman Mitchell: A 'Jewish Kunte Kinte'

EzraCleveland Scene, Disgraced Former Case Western Law School Dean Writes About Changing His Name Without Mentioning All The Reasons He'd Disgraced His Former Name:

Lawrence Mitchell is now Ezra Wasserman Mitchell. That matters very little to most people but for some others it's certainly worth noting, because Lawrence Mitchell was the former law school dean at Case Western Reserve University. Former is the key word there. Mitchell departed after the school settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit that, among other things, included multiple allegations that he'd propositioned students for threesomes. He's dipped off the radar — moving away from Cleveland and recording himself reading creepy poetry — and now, Lawrence Mitchell is off the radar altogether.

In a post on his site Mitchell announces that he's changed his name to Ezra Wasserman Mitchell:

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July 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Was Temple Provost Fired Due To Success Of Automatic Merit Scholarships (1350 SAT, 3.60 GPA) In Raising Quality Of Freshman Class (But Blowing $22m Hole In Budget)?

TempleInside Higher Ed, Debating a Provost's Ouster:

Temple University has a new provost and a newly adjusted budget, but the Philadelphia research institution is still grappling with the sudden dismissal last week of its provost on the heels of a high-priced financial aid overrun.

Faculty members have continued to protest the June 28 dismissal of Provost Hai-Lung Dai, who was in the position for four years, a move revealed in what some saw as a terse and even disrespectful announcement from President Neil D. Theobald. But Theobald has forged ahead, announcing Tuesday the nomination of the university’s law school dean, JoAnne A. Epps, as its new provost.

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July 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Altmetrics To Measure The Impact Of Faculty Scholarship

AltmetricsFollowing up on my previous post, Using Altmetrics to Measure the Impact of Faculty Scholarship:  Kevin O’Keefe (CEO & Founder, LexBlog), Legal Scholarship Today Ought Include Blogging:

University of Arkansas property law professor, Steve Clowney, who teaches property law, has put together a list of the most “cited” property law professors in the country over the last five years. [See also Brian Leiter (Chicago), 10 Most-Cited Property Faculty, 2010-2014 (Inclusive).]

Although Clowney does not make clear the purpose of his list, it appears to being taken as recognition of the top scholars.

Law schools, including Notre Dame, are sending out press announcements of the prowess of the scholarship being conducted by their law professors on the list.

The list was arrived at by running searches across Westlaw for the number of times that a professor’s law journal articles had been cited in other law journals.

Is such a list an accurate assessment of a law professor’s influence and level of scholarship today?

What about their blogging? How often do they blog (evidence of their research)? How often do they cite other blogs (demonstrates their network)? How often are their blogs cited on other blogs and shared on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?

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July 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Stars Upon Thars:  Law Schools Use ABA Standard 405(c)'s Tenure-Like Security Of Position To Discriminate Against Female Legal Writing Faculty

SneetchesMelissa H. Weresh (Drake), Stars upon Thars: Evaluating the Discriminatory Impact of ABA Standard 405(c) Tenure-Like Security of Position, 34 Law & Ineq. 137 (2016):

This brief Article (the title is inspired by the Dr. Seuss story, The Sneetches) relates to the institutional discrimination against women within the legal academy. More specifically, this Article addresses the potential for exploitation of law faculty members who hold ABA Accreditation Standard 405(c) status and the likelihood that such exploitation will have a disparate, discriminatory impact on a predominantly female cohort of law faculty. ...

The security of position afforded to 405(c) contractual law faculty members, defined as "reasonably similar to tenure, is somewhat vague and largely untested. This ambiguity provides an opportunity for law schools undergoing financial strain to terminate contractual legal writing faculty members without providing adequate, tenure-like protections. Augmenting this problem is the fact that faculty members who hold 405(c) status represent an overwhelmingly female cohort of faculty, resulting in a discriminatory and disparate impact on female members of the academy.

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July 7, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

'There Has Never Been A More Exciting Time To Be A Tax Lawyer'

Lawyer & Statesman 2016 [Intro - Cover1]Guide to Specialty Graduate Law Programs: Taxation, in Lawyer & Statesman (2016):

The wide array of tax plan proposals by this year's presidential candidates [is] as dramatic as it's ever been. Not until November will we know who will move into the White House, and even then, it's unclear how and if our next president would be able to push major tax changes through Congress.

"There has never been a more exciting time to be a tax lawyer," said Paul Caron, professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law and the publisher and editor of TaxProf Blog. ...

Employment prospects will likely remain high, and the field is not subject to booms and busts.

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July 6, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

More On A Law Review Publishing Drama Over The LSAT And Discrimination

Law & InequalityFollowing up on my previous post, Subotnik: Plain Talk About Testing and Race: A Law Review Publishing Drama:  Harvey Gilmore (Monroe College), The SAT, LSAT, and Discrimination: Professor Gilmore Again Responds to Professor Subotnik, 34 Law & Ineq. 153 (2016):

On this very website, Touro Law Professor Dan Subotnik published a response to a piece that I wrote that will be published in a forthcoming edition of the University of Minnesota’s Journal of Law and Inequality. My piece continues the debate that Professor Subotnik and I have had for the past two years over whether standardized tests like the SAT and LSAT are reliable. I argue that they are not, and he argues that they are the best indicators for success in higher education…warts and all. In doing so, he makes some comments and generalizations that I found a little distasteful, and unjustifiably harsh, thus I replied accordingly.

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July 6, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Miami Seeks To Hire A Tenured Or Tenure-Track Tax Prof

Miami LogoThe University of Miami School of Law is seeking to hire a tenured or tenure-track tax professor:

The University of Miami School of Law is interested in all persons of high academic achievement and promise, including those who hold Ph.D. degrees. We will consider applications from candidates at any level and with any area of specialization within tax.

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July 5, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (2)

UC Berkeley’s Income Inequality Critic's Faculty Salary Puts Him In The Top 1%

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueCalifornia Policy Center, UC Berkeley’s ‘Income Inequality’ Critics Earn in Top 2%:

Scholars from the University of California at Berkeley have played a pivotal role in making income inequality a major political issue. But while they decry the inequities of the American capitalist system, Berkeley professors are near the top of a very lopsided income distribution prevailing at the nation’s leading public university. ...

Public employee compensation data allows us to measure income inequality on campus. The State Controller’s Public Pay database contains salaries for all UC employees, indicating which campus each employee is on. The Gini coefficient for the 35,000 UC Berkeley employees in the data set is 0.6600 – higher than that of Haiti. ...

According to 2014 data from Transparent California, Center Director Emmanuel Saez received total wages of $349,350.

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July 5, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, July 4, 2016

Pittsburgh Seeks To Hire An Entry-Level Or Junior Lateral Tax Prof

Pitt Logo (2015)The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track tax position beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year:

The successful candidate will become an integral part of Pitt Law’s tax program, which includes a Tax Law Concentration, a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, and the peer-reviewed Pittsburgh Tax Review. We anticipate hiring for this position at the rank of assistant or associate professor, depending on the candidate’s qualifications. We encourage applications from entry-level and junior lateral candidates for this position.

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July 4, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amidst 26% Enrollment Decline, West Virginia Law School Accelerates Faculty And Staff Downsizing With Buyouts

West Virginia LogoCharleston Gazette-Mail, WVU Invites Employees to Leave Through ‘Voluntary Separation’ Program:

Administrators at West Virginia University are using a new tactic to try to slow their spending: asking employees if they want to voluntarily leave their jobs.

The program, called the voluntary separation incentive plan, has already been used by one college with another one on the way.

“We had a four- to five-year plan for adjusting the size of the law school faculty and staff through voluntary retirements and departures,” said Gregory Bowman, dean of the College of Law. “With the budget challenges that occurred in West Virginia this year, and because there will be challenges for the next several years, I realized that it would be a good idea to accelerate that time period.”

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July 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Charlene Luke Succeeds Marty McMahon As Editor-In-Chief Of The Florida Tax Review

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Charlene D. Luke has been named Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Tax Review, succeeding Martin J. McMahon, Jr. Prof. McMahon and the other tax faculty at the University of Florida Levin College of Law will continue as members of the editorial board, and the Florida Tax Review will continue to draw on the talent of several graduate tax student editors. A board of advisors comprising tax faculty at other institutions provides additional support and guidance. The Florida Tax Review will begin reviewing new submissions on August 1, 2016.

July 3, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Charlie Adelson Denies 'Any Involvement'

Charles AdelsonTallahassee Democrat, Charles Adelson's Attorney Denies Markel Involvement:

The attorney for Dan Markel’s former brother-in-law, Charles Adelson, said his client was not involved in the FSU law professor’s broad daylight slaying. “Let me be clear,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael D. Weinstein. "Dr. Adelson is denying any participation in this death whatsoever.” ... Charles Adelson has not been questioned by investigators, Weinstein said.

FBI and Tallahassee Police investigators cite Markel’s contentious divorce with Wendi Adelson, Charles’ sister, and the family’s eagerness to move the couple’s two young children to South Florida as the motive for the crime.

Two men, Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, are facing first-degree murder charges in Markel’s July 2014 killing at his Betton Hills home. He was found with two gunshot wounds to the head still seated in his car inside the garage. Police say the men were “enlisted” to kill Markel.

“They don’t even know who killed Danny Markel,” Weinstein said. “They know two people went to Tallahassee and then radio silence. They want to make a connection to the family without any actual evidence.”

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July 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Chronicle:  Highly Ranked Law Schools Like Minnesota, Washington & Lee Cut Enrollments, Costs To Survive

MinnesotaChronicle of Higher Education:  Law Schools Cut Back to Counter Tough Financial Times, by Katherine Mangan:

For years they were considered the cash cows of academe, spinning off profits that could keep money-losing parts of the university afloat.

But most law schools today are struggling to break even, buffeted by plummeting applications, a shrinking job market, and the constant pressure to avoid slipping in national rankings. ... Because they rely so heavily on tuition and face a variety of other cost pressures, many and possibly most of those schools are operating at a deficit.

The growing number of universities that are subsidizing struggling law schools "are certainly not happy about the money running the other way," said Paul F. Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose biting critiques of law schools in blogs and books have made him a polarizing but influential figure in legal education. He estimates that at least 80 percent of law schools are losing money — a figure that an ABA spokesman said could not be confirmed.

"The attitude of a lot of the universities is, OK — we’re willing to carry you guys for a while, but you have to shed a lot of costs or come up with other sources of revenue because we’re not going to subsidize you forever," Mr. Campos said. ...

Among the highly ranked law schools now grappling with deficits, the University of Minnesota Law School [#22 in U.S. News] has received subsidies from the university that are expected to total $16 million by 2019, according to a report the law school presented to university regents in 2014, two years after the subsidies began. Faced with a 49-percent decline in applications from 2010 to 2015, the law school trimmed its enrollment by about a third of its 2010 level. ...

Another law school that is making tough financial decisions is Washington and Lee University's School of Law [#40 in U.S. News], which last year announced a transition plan that would allow it to shrink its first-year class, reduce faculty and staff positions through retirements and attrition, and tap into its portion of the university endowment. The goal was to balance its budget by 2018-19.

[Tax Prof] Brant J. Hellwig worked on the plan as a faculty member and took over as dean shortly after it was enacted last year.  ... "I feel like we addressed the difficult questions early and head-on, and made the adjustments we needed to," he said.

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July 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Law Prof Network Blogger's Work Helps Get New Trial For Serial's Adnan Syed

SerialKudos to Colin Miller (South Carolina), editor of our EvidenceProf Blog, whose blogging (and Undisclosed Podcast) on the Serial Podcast on the 1999 prosecution of 17 year-old Adnan Syed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, was cited by Maryland Judge Martin Welch in granting Syed a new trial on Thursday. See National Law Journal, Blogger's Obsession with "Serial" Case Leads to Retrial for Adnan Syed.

July 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 1, 2016

The NLJ 500: A Robust Portrait Of Big Law

NLJ 2National Law Journal, NLJ 500: A Robust Portrait of Big Law:

Welcome to the inaugural NLJ 500. This year, we introduce the biggest-ever expansion of our annual NLJ 350 report—launched in 1978 with a ranking of 200 firms—to provide a more robust portrait of Big Law in the U.S. The additional 150 midsized law firms on the list bear watching as some grow into the large firms of the future, whether organically or through mergers with larger entities.

For the largest 350 firms on our list, head count numbers of attorneys in 2015 dipped slightly from the previous year, to about 146,600 lawyers, from 147,500 in 2014. That deflation flipped the 0.6 percent growth that took place in 2014. The overall numbers skew lower this year, in part because to the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, is no longer on the NLJ list. We explain why, and the impact of its absence, inside.

We also explore the numbers within the numbers in two stories: a Women’s Scorecard look at disappointing but unsurprising news that women lawyers at 254 responding firms comprise a mere 21 percent of partners; and a profile of a Bay Area firm that’s experienced notable growth riding the venture capital deal wave. Finally, there’s a wealth of charts in print and interactives online. We hope you enjoy reading the new NLJ 500 and welcome your feedback.

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July 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

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July 1, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Really Matters In Getting Accepted To A Top Law School

Huffington Post, Getting Accepted To A Top Law School: What Really Matters:

As a current student at Stanford Law School, I find myself frequently talking to current prospective law students wanting to know what they should be doing now to get into a top law school. My immediate response is always the same: strengthen your GPA and crush the LSAT. ...

This chart indicates the GPA and LSAT ranges for admitted students at the top 14 law schools this past academic year.


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July 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

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July 1, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The End Of Summer (Tax)

As Pepperdine's summer session winds down, my wife and I hosted our third and final lunch today with my small but plucky tax class.  This summer has marked several firsts for me:  my first summer teaching at Pepperdine (after 11 summers teaching at San Diego); my first time teaching such a small (7 students) class; and my first time switching to a new casebook in 25 years of law teaching. 


June 30, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Appeals Court Affirms Denial Of Accreditation Of Canada's First Christian Law School

Trinity WesternToronto Star, Ontario Appeal Court Upholds Decision Not to Accredit Evangelical Law School:

Ontario’s top court delivered a strong affirmation of LGBTQ rights on Wednesday when it upheld a decision not to accredit an evangelical Christian law school [Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2016 ONCA 518 (June 29, 2016)].

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), which regulates lawyers in Ontario, was entitled in 2014 to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University’s proposed law school over its “community covenant,” which students must abide by and prohibits sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

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June 30, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Why Law Schools Need To Teach More Than Law To Thrive Survive

Legal RebelsABA Legal Rebels:  Why Law Schools Need to Teach More Than the Law to Thrive (or Survive), by Chad Asarch (Colorado) & Phil Weiser (Dean, Colorado):

The ongoing discussion on the future of legal education all too often misses the opportunities for innovation and re-invention.

In its most recent discussion of the topic, for example, the New York Times highlighted the impact of declining applications (down by around 40 percent from the peak six years ago), fewer jobs at larger law firms, and high tuition in an era of significant student debt. In the article, the Times asked when we will begin to see closings of law schools (in addition to the recent downsizing).

In another recent discussion of the topic, the New York Times profiled one common response to the challenges facing legal education [at the University of Minnesota Law School]: Cut back on the number of students, faculty, and staff. This approach, in other words, keeps the traditional model and mentality in place, but downsizes it. We believe that there is a far better approach than the retrenchment model focused on by the New York Times: Develop a more powerful value proposition (while holding the line on costs).

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June 30, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Amidst 57% Enrollment Decline At Valparaiso Law School, 10 Tenured Faculty Accept Buyouts And 3 Junior Faculty Will Be Terminated

Valpo LogoIndiana Lawyer, Valparaiso Law School Reduces Faculty, Class Size to Prepare for a Different Future:

Valparaiso Law School is hardly the first to feel the pain of falling student applications, but as the subject of a recent profile in the New York Times, its troubles may be the most well-known.

In February, the northwest Indiana institution announced it was going to reduce its faculty and class sizes in response to fewer lawyers finding jobs and fewer students wanting to get a J.D. Valparaiso offered buyouts to all tenured faculty members. ...

Speaking recently to Indiana Lawyer, Dean Andrea Lyon, who will soon begin her third year at Valparaiso’s helm, was focused on the future. She said the worst is over for the school and she wants to look forward rather than second-guess past decisions. She noted remaining faculty was willing to roll up their sleeves to do the work that needs to be done.

Still, she acknowledged the past school year was very stressful with the most difficult part coming from the decision to cut employees. Ten tenured faculty members accepted the buyout and the school has given termination contracts to three junior tenure-track professors who will leave after the 2016-2017 academic year. Also, seven staff members were laid off.

Reducing personnel along with cutting other expenditures everywhere possible, the law school is slashing its annual budget by $4 million, which is roughly a third. Teaching loads for the remaining faculty will increase by one to two additional courses per semester. Also, the size of the incoming class this fall will number about 75 students compared to 130 in 2015 and 174 in 2014. ...

Paul Caron, Pepperdine University School of Law professor and writer of the popular TaxProf Blog, is surprised Valparaiso is getting so much attention. He noted other schools were equally slow to respond to the changes in the market and many chose the same course of lowering admission standards to keep class sizes the same.

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Grand Jury To Reconvene Aug. 4 To Consider Additional Indictments

Markel 1WCTV, Grand Jury Will Reconvene in August to Review Markel Case Evidence:

A Leon County grand jury plans to reconvene later this summer to review evidence in the murder case of FSU law professor Dan Markel.

Prosecutors confirmed with WCTV that the grand jury will meet August 4.

Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera were indicted last week in Markel's 2014 murder.

Tallahassee Democrat, Second Markel Suspect in Leon County Jail:

More arrests are expected in the case as investigators say they have linked the family of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson to the murder-for-hire plot.

Chiefly evidence points toward Wendy Adelson’s mother and brother, Donna and Charles Adelson.

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Students May Use Department Of Education's New Fraud Defense To Loan Repayment Aimed At For-Profit Colleges To Discharge Law School Loans

BuzzFeed News, Law School Grads Could Be Next To Have Student Loans Cancelled:

Law graduates, many with more than $100,000 in debt, could soon seek to have their loans cancelled. And some may have a convincing case.

They made misleading claims about how many of their students were likely to find a job, obscuring the grim reality of how few get employment in their field. They buried their graduates in piles of debt they could not reasonably repay, and admitted unqualified students in pursuit of tuition revenue. They often failed to educate their students well enough to pass the tests required to land a job. And the watchdog that oversees them is facing sanctions from the Education Department.

This might sound very much like the scandal-ridden world of for-profit colleges. But since the recession, it has also become an accurate way to describe some American law schools.

And just as for-profit schools are leaving taxpayers on the hook for potentially billions of dollars of student loans that may need to be cancelled, some law schools are now also on shaky footing. In proposing an expanded and relatively generous student debt forgiveness rule last week, the Education Department may have opened itself up to an onslaught of claims by law graduates — a group of highly indebted and legally savvy students with a history of being misled by their schools.

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (30)

Federal Judge Allows Law Prof's Gender Discrimination And Retaliation Claims Against Law School And Dean In Tenure Denial To Go To Trial

HascallFollowing up on my previous posts:

The Legal Intelligencer, Law Professor’s Suit Against Duquesne, Gormley Can Proceed:

A Duquesne University law professor can proceed with her gender discrimination and retaliation claims against the university and incoming president Kenneth Gormley, a federal judge has ruled, at the same time tossing the rest of her claims, including one for religious discrimination for her teaching of Islamic law [Hascall v. Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, No. 14-1489 (W.D. PA June 28, 2016)].

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon of the Western District of Pennsylvania said there were sufficient factual disputes as to whether the university veered from typical practices in reviewing plaintiff Susan Hascall's bid for tenure, whether the school lobbied other professors to vote against Hascall being tenured and on what basis the university denied her tenure. ...

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

UC Berkeley Spends $1 Million To Refurbish Chancellor's Home; Assistant Claims She Was Fired For Refusing To Lie In IRS Reporting About Time Spent Doing Personal Chores

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueSan Francisco Chronicle, UC Berkeley Spends Big on Chancellor’s Campus Fixer-Upper:

Over the past three years, UC Berkeley has spent more than $1 million sprucing up the official home of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, school records show. ...

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June 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Will Artificial Intelligence Really Destroy Legal Jobs?

AIFollowing up on my previous posts:

Legal Tech News, The News of Attorneys' Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated (With Apologies to Mark Twain):

There has been a great deal of coverage about the possibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing the legal profession, stimulated in part by a recent conference at Vanderbilt Law School titled Watson, Esq.: Will Your Next Lawyer Be a Machine?

Some warn that the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney is imminent and that it is only a matter of time before technology gives rise to new ways of delivering professional services and ultimately replacing the traditional lawyer. Yet others think that the human element is critical to the practice of law and cannot be so easily replaced.

While AI has come a long way, replacing lawyers is not on the horizon. 

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June 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

California Law School To Close Unless A Buyer Is Found

California Southern 2ABA Journal, For-Profit Law School With $39K Total Tuition Bill Set to Close:

Tuition is about $39,000—total—at California Southern Law School, and if you’re interested, now is the time. Owners of the non-accredited Riverside institution say that after fall 2016, they won’t be taking new students.

Elwood Rich, a Riverside County Superior Court judge who opened the school in 1971, died last year. His sons Greg and Brian Rich, who serve as assistant to the dean and registrar, are ready to retire.

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June 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, June 27, 2016

University Of Houston Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against South Texas's Rebranding Itself Houston College Of Law

UHHCOLFollowing up on my prior posts (links below) on South Texas College of Law's rebranding itself Houston College of Law:   Press Release, University of Houston Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against South Texas College of Law:

The University of Houston System has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against South Texas College of Law (STCL).  The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Houston, alleges STCL’s announced name change to Houston College of Law and its adoption of UH’s red and white color scheme constitutes “intentional and willful infringement of UH’s intellectual property and unfair competition,” which results in “confusion in the marketplace and damage” to the university and its brand.

“This is about protecting our reputation and our business,” said Tilman Fertitta, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents.  “We’ve earned our standing as a nationally ranked law center, and we won’t allow someone else to change their name and colors and market themselves on our success.”

“The University of Houston Law Center’s brand is associated nationwide with top-notch faculty and lawyers,” said Tony Buzbee, principal of The Buzbee Law Firm, which is representing UH as lead counsel in addition to Sutton, McAughan, Deaver, PLLC.  “UH didn’t take shortcuts to achieve this recognition.  We believe the attempted renaming of South Texas College of Law is nothing more than an improper shortcut to take advantage of the success UH has achieved.”

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Posner:  Why Don't Law Professors Have Practical Experience These Days?

Slate (Supreme Court Breakfast Table Series): Why Don't Law School Professors Have Practical Experience These Days?, by Richard Posner (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit):

Entry 9: The Academy Is Out Of Its Depth:

[T]here's a growing gap between judges (including the Supreme Court justices) and the academy, which judges tend to think is increasingly distant from the actual practice of law, staffed as it increasingly is with refugees from other disciplines—the graduate students in classics, and history, and anthropology, and so on who upon discovering there were very few well-paying positions in such fields nowadays decided to go to law school and afterward had no time to practice law before getting a law-teaching job.

I think law schools should be hiring a higher percentage of lawyers with significant practical experience. I think, for example, of Benjamin Kaplan at Harvard Law School, who went into law-teaching after 14 years in practice. There used to be many like that; there are many fewer now, especially at the leading law schools.

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Do Law Firms (And Law Schools) Need A 'Rooney Rule' To Improve Gender Equality?

Stanford 3Bloomberg, An NFL Rooney Rule for Law Firms?:

Can law firms borrow ideas from professional sports leagues to improve gender equality?

Lawyers said at a conference on Friday that firms should adopt the equivalent of the National Football League’s Rooney rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and other senior positions.

“Our proposal is quite simple: Adopt a Rooney rule for law firms,” said Nina Markey, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson who presented the idea in a team of nine members including lawyers and a law student.

The pitch came at the Women in Law Hackathon at Stanford Law School, where lawyers pitched ideas to a panel of judges about how to improve gender parity at law firms.

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Oberlin Offers Buyouts To 100 Tenured Faculty To 'Preserve Their Dignity' Amidst Budget Reductions

OberlinCleveland Plain Dealer, Oberlin College Offers Buyouts to Faculty and Staff:

Oberlin College, in an effort to save several million dollars a year, has offered buyouts to 323 faculty and staff.

Buyout offers at colleges are rare but have become a way to encourage professors, whose positions are protected by tenure, to retire.

Oberlin offered the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan to employees, including 100 faculty, in April. The college expects about 85 individuals to accept the offer, spokesman Scott Wargo said in an email.

The program goes into effect for staff on Dec. 31 and for faculty on June 30, 2017. Wargo said he did not know how many faculty accepted the offer. ...

Employees had to be at least 52 and have at least 10 years of service. The age and service years had to total at least 75, Wargo wrote.

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hoffman:  The Futility Of The Law School Crisis Debate

Dave Hoffman (Temple), Naive Realism & the Law School Debate:

Two recent articles in the Times have stirred yet more unproductive talk about the future of legal education (and by extension, the legal industry). This discussion ends up resembling high school debate: banal points, repeated at increasing volumes, similar in structure and form.

Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC), of Above the Law, has a pungent post up in which he laments this pathology. He first describes a twitter discussion he (and I and others) participated in, which ended in a place I’m pretty sure no one woke up feeling good about. ...

I think he’s onto something. Mystal, in his own way, is trying to figure out why why, in 2016, discussions between otherwise sane people about law school turn into flame wars. He says:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

More On The Possible Suspension Of The ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on Friday's post, Department Of Education Panel Recommends Suspension Of ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools Due To Its 'Lack Of Attention To Student Achievement':

ABA Journal, ABA Threatened With 1-year Suspension of Law School Accreditation Powers:

A Department of Education panel on Wednesday recommended that the ABA’s accreditation power for new law schools be suspended for one year, on the basis that the organization failed to implement its student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, while also not meeting its audit process and analysis responsibilities regarding students’ debt levels. ...

“The ABA has been under pressure for quite a number of years about both outcomes for graduates and accurate reporting by law schools, and during the last few years there’s been pressure about the increasing number of students who are admitted with increasingly low test scores,” says Deborah Merritt, an Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law professor who writes at Law School Cafe. Still, she and other academics were surprised about the announcement, which Paul Caron, a Pepperdine University School of Law professor who edits TaxProfBlog, described as “stunning news.”

Bloomberg Law, Is the ABA on Verge of Losing Law School Accreditation?:

The American Bar Association may be on the brink of a serious rebuke. ... In a little-noticed decision, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity on Wednesday recommended the Department of Education suspend for one year the ABA’s ability to accredit new law schools. ...

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Resolving The South Texas/Houston Brand Dispute: Exxon Law School?

HHE2Following up on my prior posts on South Texas College of Law's rebranding itself Houston College of Law, and the University of Houston Law Center's threatened lawsuit to protect its brand due to the "significant confusion this creates in the marketplace": 

Houston Business Journal, University of Houston Threatens Legal Action Over Law School Rebrand:

The University of Houston is not happy with South Texas College of Law's decision to rebrand itself to the Houston College of Law, a move announced June 22.

UH said in a statement that it will take legal action if necessary to defend the brand of its law school, the similarly named University of Houston Law Center.

Houston Chronicle, South Texas College of Law Not Backing Down From Name Change:

In a statement, leaders of the newly named Houston College of Law said they would not back down.

"The board of directors and administrators of Houston College of Law came to the name change decision after thoughtful and lengthy research and input from key constituencies, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, and donors," the statement said. "We made the decision to change the name of the 93-year-old law school based on overwhelming support to tie our institution with its birthplace in downtown Houston. We believe that we are on firm legal ground with this name change, and that we are acting in the best interest of the law school and its students."

Houston Chronicle editorial, What's In a Name?:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Hit Men Thwarted In Previous Attempt To Kill FSU Law Prof