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Monday, March 31, 2014

Henderson Reviews The Lawyer Bubble and Tomorrow's Lawyers

BCWilliam D. Henderson (Indiana), Letting Go of Old Ideas, 112 Mich. L. Rev. ___ (2014) (reviewing Steven Harper, The Lawyer Bubble  (Basic Books 2013) and Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers (Oxford University Press 2013)):

Two recently published books apply a rigorous analytical lens to the same topic — the state of the legal profession — and come to dramatically different conclusions. Yet, what is more remarkable is the fact that the authors’ analyses neither overlap nor conflict with one another. One is backward-looking and filled with regret at the legacy we have squandered (Steven Harper’s The Lawyer Bubble); the other is forward-looking and bound to inspire a mix of fear and hope among its readers (Richard Susskind’s Tomorrow’s Lawyers).

Similarly, there’s been a lot of public handwringing in recent years over the state of the legal industry, with some arguing that we are in crisis and others countering that the real problem is overzealous critics. Those looking for a common narrative to unify and lead law practitioners and students must grapple with these two important books. In this review, I suggest that arriving at such an understanding requires each of us to do something uncomfortable and unnatural — let go of old ideas.

Bill blogs about his review on The Legal Whiteboard.

March 31, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Depressing Law Student Loan News

U.S. News & World Report, Which Law School Graduates Have the Most Debt?:

The states of the 25 law schools with the highest average debt of 2013 graduates with debt:  California (10), Florida (4), New York (4), Washington, D.C. (3), Illinois (2), South Carolina (1), Vermont (1):

Rank

Law School (US News Rank)

Ave. Debt 2013 Grads With Debt

2013 Grads With Debt

1

Thomas Jefferson (Tier 2)

$180,665

92%

2

New York Law School (140)

$164,739

84%

3

American (72)

$158,636

88%

4

Cal-Western (Tier 2)

$157,748

90%

5

Northwestern (12)

$155,777

78%

6

Whittier (Tier 2)

$154,267

92%

7

Chicago (4)

$153,753

85%

8

Florida Coastal (Tier 2)

$150,360

91%

9

St. Thomas (FL) (Tier 2)

$150,166

91%

10

Miami (61)

$148,513

79%

11

NYU (6)

$147,685

80%

12

USC (20)

$147,395

80%

13

San Francisco (Tier 2)

$146,919

89%

14

Charleston (Tier 2)

$146,765

89%

15

Pepperdine (54)

$145,893

80%

16

Georgetown (13)

$145,631

81%

17

Catholic (107)

$144,801

86%

18

Golden Gate (Tier 2)

$144,269

96%

19

McGeorge (146)

$142,784

91%

20

Fordham (36)

$142,435

72%

21

Loyola-L.A. (87)

$141,765

82%

22

Columbia (4)

$141,566

75%

23

UC-Berkeley (9)

$141,358

82%

24

Vermont (129)

$139,000

87%

25

Stetson (93)

$136,738

87%

New America Education Policy Program, The Graduate Student Debt Review:

Debt

Wall Street Journal, Grad Students Driving the Growing Debt Burden:

WSJ
 Huffington Post, Student Loan Crisis Is Making Inequality Worse: Experts:

Every month that Gregory Zbylut pays $1,300 toward his law school loans is another month of not qualifying for a decent mortgage.

Every payment toward their student loans is $900 Dr. Nida Degesys and her husband aren't putting in their retirement savings account.

They believe they'll eventually climb from debt and begin using their earnings to build assets rather than fill holes. But, like the roughly 37 million others in the U.S. saddled with $1 trillion in student debt, they may never catch up with wealthy peers who began life after college free from the burden.

The disparity, experts say, is contributing to the widening of the gap between rich and everyone else in the country. ...

Zbylut, an accountant-turned-attorney in Glendale, Calif. He's been chipping away at nearly $160,000 in student debt since graduating in 2005 from law school at Loyola University in Chicago. Now 48, the tax attorney estimates he could have $150,000 to $200,000 in a 401(k) had the money he's paid toward loans gone there.

"I'm sitting here in traffic. I've got a Mercedes behind me and an Audi in front of me and I'm thinking, 'What did they do that I didn't do?'" Zbylut said by cellphone from his Chevrolet. He's been turned down twice for the type of mortgage he needs to buy a home big enough for himself, the fiancee he would have married already if not for his debts and her 10-year-old son.

"I have more education and more degrees than my father, as does she than her parents, and yet our parents are better off than we are. What's wrong with this picture?" he said.

Matt Leichter, New America Foundation Discovers Law School Debt Disaster:

The point of the policy brief is to show that graduate and professional students are borrowing more than a few years ago and that their borrowing accounts for a large portion of total federal student loans (40 percent of the evil $1 trillion+ figure). Therefore, we should separate trends in college borrowing from post-college borrowing. As evidence, the NAF sampled a dataset of people who finished several types of graduate and professional programs in 2004, 2008, and 2012 and displayed their median, 75th percentile, and 90th percentile debt levels.

The tables the NAF provides are interesting for what they are, and along with data provided elsewhere they do show that typical grad students’ debt levels are growing more than undergrads’. However, the tables don’t really answer the questions the NAF is asking. If 40 percent of all student loans are owed by graduates and professionals, we’d want to know the distribution of that 40 percent aggregate by course of study. (How much of it went to med school students? Is it really as bad as those law school scambloggers say? Etc.) That way, we’d know if the growth seen in the tables is systemic as the NAF asserts or isolated to a handful of degree fields.

Update:  Above the Law, The Law Schools With The Most Heavily Indebted Graduates, by Staci Zaretsky:

As we’ve noted previously, going to a low-ranked law school is like “playing Russian Roulette with your financial future.” As you can see, the differences between having high debt from a T14 law school and high debt from a second-tier law school are quite stark in terms of employment outlooks. The odds aren’t on your side when you’ve got more than $180K in student debt and a less than 30 percent chance of securing employment as a lawyer. But once again, if you’re willing to bite that bullet, then by all means, please do.

March 31, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How Law Schools Goose Their U.S. News Ranking by Hiring Their Graduates

U.S. News 2015The Economist, NPR, and The Faculty Lounge report on how law schools can goose their U.S. News ranking through school-funded jobs.  Placement counts 18% in the current U.S. News methodology, and school-funded jobs are included.  William & Mary rose in the rankings this year from 33 to 24, due in large part to hiring 20.1% of the graduating class -- the second largest percentage among the 194 law schools ranked by U.S. News.  As a result, William & Mary's employed at 9 months figure (which accounts for 14% of the 18% placement weight) rose 17.2 percentage points this year, from 68.1% to 85.3%.  George Washington hired the largest percentage of their graduating class (22.6%), which helped increased their employed at 9 months rate to 91.0%; and Virginia hired the fourth largest percentage (15.1%), which helped increase their employed at 9 months rate to 97.3%.  The chart shows the impact of the school funded jobs in the two most significant placement categories:

  • Full time, long term, bar passage required
  • Full time, long term, bar passage required and J.D. advantage

Employment

Virginia

G. Washington

William & Mary

FT LT Bar Required

Include School Funded  

 

94.9% (2)

 

81.0% (14)

 

73.5% (22)

FT LT Bar Required

Exclude School Funded

 

79.7% (11)

 

60.3% (76)

 

56.4% (94)

FT LT Bar Req’d + JD Advantage

Include School Funded

 

97.3% (1)

 

91.0% (9)

 

85.3% (18)

FT LT Bar Req’d + JD Advantage

Exclude School Funded

 

82.1% (17)

 

74.8% (49)

 

65.2% (99)

March 30, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Legal Education's Moment of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change

MomentsChris Ertel (Deloitte Consulting) & Lisa Kay Solomon (Innovation Studio), Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change (Simon & Schuster, 2014), reviewed by Adrian Wooldridge (Management Editor, The Economist) in the Wall Street Journal, The Best 'Strategy Meetings' Unleash Fresh Thinking and Offer Maverick Views; The Worst Are Dull, Unstructured Time-Sucks:

Anybody who has anything to do with the corporate world will be only too familiar with "strategy meetings" in which senior managers try to lift their heads above the parapets and gaze over the competitive landscape. The organizers try do everything they can to shake people out of their "default settings." They hold the meetings off-site. They tell everyone to forget about corporate hierarchies and routine agendas. They bring in outside experts to talk about industry trends. They experiment with corporate games.

And the result of all this effort? More often than not a huge waste of time. Few management techniques have produced more toe-curling embarrassment than what the authors of "Moments of Impact" call "strategic conversations." Brain-storming sessions produce airy-fairy nonsense. Attempts to abandon hierarchy generate status hierarchy. The outside experts are nothing more than cliché-mongers. As for the corporate games, the less said the better.

And yet the need for wide-ranging discussions of strategy has never been greater. Many companies confront radical challenges that cannot be dealt with by business as usual....

Mr. Ertel and Ms. Solomon make several points that ought to be obvious but are clearly not, given the number of strategic conversations that go wrong. The first is that you need to define the purpose of your meeting. Are you trying to get a broad overview of industry trends? Or are you trying to make specific decisions? The second is that unstructured meetings are as dangerous as over-structured ones. Companies that are used to having tight agendas often throw agendas out of the window when they hold off-site meetings. But unstructured "brainstorming" sessions seldom produce any light.

"Moments of Impact" is at its best on the importance of promoting different perspectives. Businesses need to look at the world through as many disciplinary lenses as possible if they are to cope with the fast-changing threats that confront them. But day-to-day corporate life is all about fences and silos. Strategic conversations give companies a chance to examine their business models from the outside—and, as the authors put it, to "imagine operating within several different yet plausible environments."

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

March 29, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Northwestern Athletes May Face Big Tax Hit From Unionization Victory

NUESPN, Players Could Get Big Tax Bill:

Northwestern football players won the right to unionize on Wednesday, but the potential tax implications alone could immediately kill the idea.

Much of what was argued in the National Labor Relations Board testimony is in direct opposition to why scholarships aren't being taxed today.

"It appears like the case brought forward by the players focused on things other than the potential tax implications," said Garrett Higgins, a partner at O'Connor Davies in the firm's Exempt Organization Tax and Advisory Services group. "The fact that the players were not considered employees in the past is essentially the reason why their scholarship or parts of it weren't taxed before. The IRS may be able to make the argument that the scholarship is really payment for services, and therefore compensation, and is now taxable to the athlete." ...

If Northwestern players did form a union and they were taxed, it's not clear exactly what they would be paying tax on. If, for example, their entire scholarship was deemed taxable, the athletes would be paying at least $15,000 in federal tax alone on the $61,000-a-year scholarship. One athletic director in a major conference, who requested anonymity, speculated that the value the players received from the training table, travel and even coaching could be taxed.

Continue reading

March 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tax LL.M. Program Rankings by Tax Hiring Authorities

Tax TalentFollowing up on my post on the new 2015 U.S. News Tax Rankings: TaxTalent asked U.S. corporate tax hiring authorities to rank the following programs:

  • Undergraduate Accounting
  • MS Tax
  • MAcc
  • MAcc Tax
  • MBA Tax
  • JD Tax
  • LL.M. Tax

For the LL.M. Tax Survey, respondents were asked to select up to five schools (out of 31) with LL.M. Tax programs that they hold in highest regard when hiring candidates.  Respondent Profile: 144 currently employed heads of corporate in-house tax departments.

2014 LLM

For the J.D. Tax Survey, respondents were asked to select up to five schools (out of 20) with JD Tax programs that they hold in highest regard when hiring candidates.  It is a bizarre list of 20 law schools, as it omits 14 of the 15 schools ranked in tax by U.S. News (Georgetown is the only school ranked by both U.S. News and Tax Talent.) 

March 28, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Faculty Rankings | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

U.S. News Rankings: 2015 v. 2014 Changes in All 11 Categories for All 194 Law Schools

U.S. News 2015Brian Huddleston (Senior Reference Librarian, Loyola (New Orleans)) has compiled this wonderful 29-page color-coded chart showing the changes in this year's U.S. News Law School Rankings from last year's rankings in all eleven of the published U.S. News rankings categories for each of the 194 law schools:

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

Top 3

(Note that Brian uses 2014 to refer to the rankings released in March 2014, and 2013 to refer to the rankings released in March 2013. In usual rankings parlance, these are referred to as the 2015 rankings and the 2014 rankings.)

March 27, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Suffolk Offers Three Year J.D./Tax LL.M. Degrees

Sufolk Law SchoolSuffolk University Law School is launching a new Tax LL.M. Program in May 2015 that will permit Suffolk students to earn J.D. and Tax LL.M. degrees in three years:

The heart of the program is an intensive 12-credit, 10-week summer program that allow Suffolk Law students to obtain a tax LLM and a JD in the same three-year period (day students) or four-year period (evening students) required for obtaining only a law degree. At graduation, successful students would receive both a JD and LLM degree.

In addition to the summer session, tax LLM students must take an additional eight credits of required courses and six credits of electives.

The tax LLM program also will be available for students who have already completed law school at Suffolk or elsewhere. These students will generally need to take tax courses in addition to the intensive summer to have the same total tax law education as Suffolk students simultaneously obtaining a JD and tax LLM.

The National Jurist quotes Associate Dean Anthony Polito, Faculty Director of the Tax LL.M. Program:  "Compared to the J.D. program, the only additional classes would be those in the summer session, so law students could graduate with J.D. and LL.M. degrees for about half the cost of attending a separate LL.M. program."

Suffolk joins other law schools like Boston UniversityLoyola-L.A. Northwestern, and Washington University that offer three-year J.D./Tax LL.M. programs. Other law schools (like Georgetown, NYU, and San Diego) offer seven-semester J.D./Tax LL.M. programs.

March 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Releases Online Guide to Law Schools, Stops Publishing LSAC-ABA Guide

ABA

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has released the new online Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools:

The online Official Guide succeeds the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools publication and provides the ABA data charts previously posted on the Law School Admission Council website.

Standard 509 (Required Disclosures) of the ABA Standards and Rules for Approval of Law Schools sets out the consumer information that each ABA-approved law school must publish. Included in the required disclosures are admissions data; tuition and fees, living costs, and financial aid; conditional scholarships; enrollment data, including academic, transfer, and other attrition; numbers of full-time and part-time faculty, professional librarians, and administrators; class sizes for first-year and upper-class courses, and number of seminar, clinical, and co-curricular offerings; employment outcomes; and bar passage data.

On the new Official Guide page, data charts can be generated for each ABA-approved law school through the Standard 509 Information Reports and Employment Summary Reports drop-down menus. Links to all of the ABA-approved law schools allows users to access the ABA Required Disclosures posted by schools as required by Standard 509.

The Official Guide page also includes links to other ABA information previously included in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide:

  • Legal Education Statistics
  • Bar Admissions
  • Post-JD and Non-JD Programs
  • Pre-Law Information
  • Pro Bono Legal Services
  • Student Loan Repayment
  • The ABA Accreditation Process

March 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

George Mason Law Prof Tyler Cowen Pepper Sprayed in Class by Intruder

CowenABA Journal, Law Prof Is Pepper Sprayed During Lecture by Man Who Demands a Citizen’s Arrest:

A George Mason University law professor [and blogger] was pepper sprayed during class by a man who jumped onto the professor’s desk and demanded a citizen’s arrest.

WJLA identifies the professor as Tyler Cowen. He was teaching a unit on vigilantism, so some students may have thought the attack was staged, the broadcast station says. Arlnow.com and CBSDC also have reports on the incident. ...

Cowen and the suspect did not know each other,police said. Medics briefly treated the professor and the students for breathing issues. Cowen declined to be taken to the hospital, WJLA says.

(Hat Tip: Jeff Baker.)

March 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Releases Notice & Comment on Proposed Changes to Law School Accreditation Standards

ABA Logo 2The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has released this 56-page notice and comment on:

  • Interpretation 305-3 (Study Outside the Classroom)
  • Interpretation 503-3 (Admission Test)
  • Standard 505 (Granting of J.D. Degree Credit for Prior Law Study)
  • Chapter 8 (Council Authority, Variances, and Amendments)
  • Definitions Rules of Procedure 

Among the changes, the ABA would allow law schools (1) to waive the LSAT for up to 10% of the entering class (and thus goose their U.S. News ranking); and (2) to give academic credit for paid externships.  See Dan Filler (Drexel), ABA Seeks Comments On New LSAT, Externship Accreditation Rules.  Comments are due by Friday, April 18, 2014.  A hearing on the proposed changes will be held in St. Louis on Friday, April 25, 2014.

March 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Deans Push ABA to Force Law Schools to Disclose LSAT, GPA Data of Transfer Students

U.S. News 2015Washington Post:  Law School Deans Push ABA About Transfers, by Catherine Ho:

A growing group of law school deans are pressing the American Bar Association’s accrediting agency to require law schools to make public the LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages of transfer students.

At issue is what many legal educators say is an effort by some schools to keep the data hidden in order to inflate their credentials for rankings purposes.

Because U.S. News and World Report’s law school rankings look at the median LSAT scores of first-year students, but not the LSAT scores of transfer students — which are typically lower — critics contend the practice allows the schools to game the system.

The ABA’s accrediting council has yet to officially vote on the proposal, but at a March 14 meeting, members indicated they did not think the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA of transfer students is “relevant consumer information” that needs to be disclosed, said Barry Currier, managing director of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. ...

Law schools have long disclosed how many transfer students they admit every year, per an ABA accreditation standard. But they do not have to disclose much detail about those students, even though they are required to collect the information.

At the meeting, the council did accept a recommendation that schools should start disclosing the first-year law school grade-point average of their transfer students, which schools the transfer students came from and how many came from each school. ...

In the Washington area, the law schools with the most transfer students in 2013 were Georgetown (122 transfer students in, seven transfers out); George Washington (93 transfers in, 22 transfers out); and American (68 transfers in, 89 transfers out). Other area schools saw less transfer activity: George Mason (12 transfers in; 11 transfers out); Catholic (eight transfers in, 23 transfers out); Howard (five transfers in, four transfers out); and the University of the District of Columbia (five transfers in, 12 transfers out). ...

Continue reading

March 26, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Prof Lateral Moves

Laterals

Despite a decline in the number of lateral moves this year, there is a healthy number of lateral tax moves beginning in Fall 2014 (although less than last year):

I will update this list as part of my annual April compilation of tax moves.

March 26, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deans Respond to TaxProf Blog Posts on Faculty Layoffs

Appalachian LogoAppalachian Law School to Lay Off 63% Of Its Faculty? (Mar. 23, 2014):

  • Jackie Pruitt (Appalachian):  I want to take this opportunity to provide corrected numbers on the changes happening at the Appalachian School of Law that you recently discussed on your blog. I believe that your calculations relied on three numbers that are difficult to predict at this time: the number of total students at the school and in our incoming Fall 2014 class; the student faculty ratio; and the number of faculty members needed to provide a quality legal education to a smaller community of students.

DenverDenver to Slash Ten Junior Faculty Positions Through Voluntary Buyouts (Mar. 25, 2014):

  • Martin Katz (Denver):  Not sure if it is worth correcting on TaxProfBlog, but there is an inaccuracy in the report by Above the Law. I am not sure where Above the Law gets the idea that “junior faculty members are expected to self-select out of their own jobs – for cash.” The voluntary buy-out package will not be available to junior faculty members.
  • Dan Rodriguez (Northwestern; President, AALS): 

    That law schools are looking to manage their costs by taking close looks at their faculty labor force seems entirely sensible.  It is hardly the harbinger of disaster; and, like the press releases that are attached to these proposals, these are important messages to the wider community of students and alumni that the law schools are looking at constructive ways of preserving strong academic programs and high quality in their student bodies.

    These should be welcome developments.  Folks like our friends at Above the Law, who are habitually cranky about law school decisionmaking and the motivations of academic leaders, should say:  “Hurray.  It’s about time law schools take a hard look at costs.”  But, instead, the headline of the day is essentially “Law Schools are Crashing Around Us.  Witness the Scramble to ‘Kick Out’ Faculty Members.”  Think I am exaggerating?  Here’s a link to a post by the sober Pepperdine Law professor and influential blogger, Paul Caron.

    Take a breath, doomsayers.  Have some perspective.  This is evidence of adaptation, not desperation.  And you are not helping the general situation, IMHO!

See also Brian Leiter (Chicago), Dean Rodriguez (Northwestern) on Hysteria About Law Schools

Update #1:  Above the Law has updated its post:  The law school explained to TaxProf Blog that the voluntary buyouts will not be available to junior (i.e., tenure-track) faculty members.

Update #2:  Brian Leiter (Chicago), What Is REALLY Going on at Denver (Contrary to ATL's Fabrications)

 

March 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Denver to Slash Ten Junior Faculty Positions Through Voluntary Buyouts

DenverAbove the Law reports today that the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law (#68 in U.S. News) is "planning to slash 10 tenure-track positions due to additional class size cuts. The kicker is that junior faculty members are expected to self-select out of their own jobs — for cash, of course."  Above the Law quotes Denver Dean Martin Katz:

[W]e will be offering voluntary buy-outs to certain tenure-line faculty as a way to reduce the size of our faculty, and thus our expense base. Our plan calls for us to maintain our current 10:1 student-faculty ratio, which is important to the quality of the legal education we provide, particularly in our Experiential Advantage Curriculum.

UpdateDeans Respond to TaxProf Blog Posts on Faculty Layoffs

March 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, March 24, 2014

The State of Legal Education: Are Law Profs Really to Blame?

The Legal Watchdog:  The State of Legal Education: Are Law Profs Really to Blame?, by Michael D. Cicchini:

I enjoy a good professor-bashing blog post as much as the next guy—especially when the targeted profs have said, done, or written silly things.  But today, many people like to blame law profs for the abysmal state of legal education—especially graduates’ staggering debt loads and inability to perform even basic legal tasks.  This blame comes in many forms, but a common criticism is that profs earn way too much money for publishing useless law review articles and, to compound the problem, their schools spend even more money shipping them to pricey, tuition-funded conferences to present their articles to other profs.  This, in turn, drives up the price of legal education and, worse yet, marginalizes (or displaces) real training in legal practice and legal theory.  As it turns out, however, the current state of affairs in legal academia is exactly what students have (unwittingly) asked for.

U.S. News 2015First, students are obsessed with the US News rankings of law schools. ...

Second, the single biggest factor in the US News rankings on which students rely is law professor rankings of the law schools. ...

Third, schools want students, and students have tunnel vision for the US News rankings, so how do you think State University Law School (or Small Private University Law School) will try to get its ranking up?  That’s right: the most bang for the buck is to spend money impressing law profs at other schools. ...

Fourth, how does the Dean of State U. go about impressing profs at other schools?  ... The way to win these profs over (thereby improving survey responses and thereby increasing US News rank) is to hire profs just like them—that is, profs who have the same academic backgrounds and who want to publish articles that “are of great interest to the academic[s] that wrote [them], but [aren't] of much help to the bar”—and then let them impress the hell out of each other. ...

[B]y relying on the US News rankings, students have gotten exactly what they’ve (unwittingly) asked for.

March 24, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

NY Times: Two Monitors Are Not Better Than One

New York Times:  Discovering Two Screens Aren’t Better Than One, by Farhad Manjoo:

2 MonitorsFor years, techies have argued that getting an extra monitor or two for your desktop computer is an especially effective way to increase personal productivity. The logic seemed airtight: Two (or more) computer monitors means more room on your virtual desktop, which means more room to do your work. And more room to work would seem to mean faster work. ...

But what if we’ve all been duped? What if more monitors and bigger monitors actually detract from, rather than improve, how you work? What if, rather than more space to get stuff done, what you get from a larger display or two displays is more freedom from work — more room for Twitter, email, chatting and all the other digitized diversions that conspire to get you fired?

In a switch that amounts to heresy among some techies, I’ve become a two-screen skeptic. Two months ago, about five years after becoming an ardent proselytizer for the Church of the Second Display, I turned off the extra screen on my desktop computer. At first, the smaller workspace felt punishingly cramped. But after a few days of adjusting to the new setup, an unusual serenity invaded my normally harried workday. With a single screen that couldn’t accommodate too many simultaneous stimuli, a screen just large enough for a single word processor or browser window, I found something increasingly elusive in our multiscreen world: focus.

Continue reading

March 24, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (38)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Leiter: Will Most Law Schools Return to a 4 Course/12 Hour Load for Faculty?

Brian Leiter (Chicago), More Signs of the Times:  "Twenty years ago, 12 hours was the norm at most law schools, except for the very top ones. Over the last twenty years, 10 hours/3 courses became increasingly common. For a school of this caliber [a strong regional school] to make the move back to 12 suggests that other schools are or will follow suit."

March 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My 5,000th Tweet

I'm not sure what it means, but I just sent out my 5,000th Tweet.

Twitter 5000

March 22, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ex-Staffer Loses Discrimination Lawsuit Against UC-Hastings

UC-Hastings Logo 3National Law Journal:  Ex-Employee Loses Bias Claims Against Hastings College, by Karen Sloan:

A federal judge has dismissed a discrimination lawsuit brought against the University of California Hastings College of the Law by a staffer who was laid off in 2012 as the school slimmed down to adjust to declining applications.  [Viteri-Butler v. University of California, Hastings College of the Law, No, 12-2651 (Mar. 13, 2014)]

Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled on March 13 that plaintiff Sara Viteri-Butler hadn’t offered sufficient evidence that the law school laid her off because of her age, race, pending eye surgery or pension eligibility.

Hamilton granted Hastings’ motion for summary judgment on each of Viteri-Butler’s claims following a hearing on Jan. 22, ruling that Viteri-Butler hadn’t shown that her position was later filled by a younger worker.

“We definitely are going to appeal,” said Spencer Smith, one of the attorneys at San Francisco-based firm Smith Patten who represents Viteri-Butler. “The ruling is completely wrong. They used the reduction in force to get rid of older people.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

March 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Appalachian Law School to Lay Off 63% Of Its Faculty?

Appalachian LogoPress reports indicate that Appalachian Law School is downsizing to 40 students in the entering class, down from 70 students this year and 100 students in prior years.  At its March 11 meeting, the board of trustees approved "across the board cuts to all administrative units, with the exception of admissions.  They also agreed to a substantial reduction in the law library’s budget  and to decrease the number of full-time faculty and reduce faculty salaries."  Dean Lucy McGough reports that three faculty members have left "by mutual agreement," and that other faculty will be laid off to maintain a 15:1 faculty-student ratio.  With 22 current faculty members, a 15:1 ratio translates to 8 faculty members, a 63% reduction.

Appalachian will need to amend its ABA/LSAC description of its faculty:  "ASL's expanding faculty offer over 300 years of combined private and governmental practice experience in addition to their depth of teaching experience."

UpdateDeans Respond to TaxProf Blog Posts on Faculty Layoffs

March 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Faculty Hiring and Socioeconomic Bias

Michael J. Higdon (Tennessee), A Place in the Academy: Law Faculty Hiring and Socioeconomic Bias:

In the movie Moneyball — based on the Nationally bestselling book of the same name — Jonah Hill’s character, Peter Brand remarks, “People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws.” Although his character was referring to baseball players, the same could be said of those who attempt to secure jobs as law professors. In fact, many law students are later surprised to learn that their ability to secure a job as a law professor has much less to do with what they have might have done during their legal careers, and more to do with simply the law school from which they graduated. As noted in the recent book Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide: “Like it or not, the data says that the most important aspect [of being a successful applicant] is having received a J.D. from an Ivy League or Ivy League equivalent law school.”

I have written this article to, first, voice my criticism of this narrow approach to faculty hiring and, second (and more importantly), to provide what I hope will be a more compelling justification for faculty appointment committees to ease up on the emphasis they place on academic pedigree. Namely, to the extent a law school values having a socioeconomically diverse faculty, hiring exclusively from elite law schools makes achieving that goal more unlikely. After all, numerous studies have revealed that those students who attend the elite law schools are overwhelming representative of the top level of the socioeconomic spectrum.

Continue reading

March 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March Madness Law School Bracket

March MadnessHere is the March Madness Law School Bracket, with outcomes determined by the 2015 U.S. News Law School Rankings (with academic peer reputation used as a tiebreaker).  The Final Four are Havard (#2 in U.S. News), Stanford (#3), Michigan (#10), and Wisconsin (#31), with Harvard beating Michigan in the championship game.

NCAA

March 20, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Professor Blogs Network Launches Four New Blogs, Seeks New Bloggers

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is thrilled to announce the launch of four new blogs:

  • Comparative Law Prof Blog, edited by Shawn Marie Boyne (Indiana), Monica Eppinger (Saint Louis), Lissa Griffin (Pace) & Shitong Qiao (NYU)
  • Human Rights At Home Blog, edited by Martha F. Davis (Northeastern) & Margaret Drew (Northeastern)
  • Law and Economics Prof Blog, edited by Gerrit De Geest (Washington U.), Ben Depoorter (UC-Hastings), Brian Galle (Boston College), David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State), Murat C. Mungan (Florida State), Eric Rasmusen (Indiana) & Manuel A. Utset, Jr. (Florida State)
  • Legislation Law Prof Blog, edited by Kevin Barry (Quinnipiac), Emily Benfer (Loyola-Chicago), Sara K. Rankin (Seattle) & Joel Rogers (Wisconsin)

With the support of our sponsor Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, the Network is seeking to expand in two ways.

First, I am actively recruiting law professors to launch blogs in other areas of the law school curriculum not currently covered by the Network, including Administrative Law, Bankruptcy, Intellectual Property, National Security, Native American Law, Race and the Law, and Trial Advocacy.

Second, I am actively recruiting law professors to affiliate their existing blogs with the Network, as have Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings, and Doug Berman's Sentencing Law and Policy.

The Network offers law professors the premier blogging platform and the opportunity to share in growing sponsorship and advertising revenues. For more information about these opportunities, see here.

March 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Tenured Pepperdine Law Faculty

TenureCongratulations to Trey Childress and Greg McNeal, who have been granted tenure by the Pepperdine University Board of Regents.  Trey and Greg are spectacular young scholars, teachers, colleagues, and men of faith. Their recent articles include:

Trey Childress:

Greg McNeal:

March 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eight Senior SUNY-Buffalo Law Profs Accept Buyout

Dinner in Malibu

I had the pleasure of dining last night with author Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance (movie)) and law prof and blogger Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit), as well Glenn's InstaWife and the InstaDaughter.  Glenn has helped me (and countless others) get a toehold in the blogosphere by graciously linking to some of my posts -- the resulting InstaLanches have played a huge role in building an audience for TaxProf Blog.

Photo

March 19, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eduardo Peñalver Named Dean of Cornell Law School

PenalverEduardo M. Peñalver, John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, has been named Dean of Cornell Law School, effective July 1:

Peñalver, who received his B.A. from Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1994 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1999, joined the Cornell faculty in 2006 and the Chicago faculty in 2013. He taught at Fordham Law School from 2003 to 2006 and has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale law schools.

Upon completing law school, he clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Between college and law school, Peñalver studied philosophy and theology as a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford.

Praised by colleagues as an important, passionate, and brilliant scholar, Peñalver has had his work on property law published in scholarly law journals at Yale University, the University of Michigan, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is considered to be a leading voice in the “progressive property” movement. His research explores how property law creates or reinforces communal bonds and how property rights mediate the relationship between individuals and communities.

Peñalver and his wife, Sital Kalantry ’94, met as undergraduates at Cornell. She will be returning to the law school as a clinical professor; currently Kalantry is a clinical professor at the University of Chicago Law School and founder and director of its International Human Rights Clinic. Together they have two children.

(Hat Tip: Victoria Schwartz.)

March 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

More on the ABA's Decisions on Changing the Law School Accreditation Standards

March Madness, Classroom Edition: Dayton Beats Michigan in Academic Basketball Championship

March MadnessInside Higher Ed, The 2014 Academic Performance Tournament:

[I]n this ninth iteration of Inside Higher Ed's annual academic tournament, the bragging rights go to the fans whose team dominates in the classroom, not on the court. ...

To determine the winners, we look to the Academic Progress Rate, the NCAA's multiyear measure of a team's classroom performance (in this case, from to 2008-12). When two teams tie, as they inevitably do, we turn to the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. In the event of a GSR tie, our final determinant is the Federal Graduation Rate, a slightly different formula that the government uses to track graduation rates.

Dayton is the national champion in the Academic Performance Tournament, with American, Memphis, and Michigan also in the Final Four.  Harvard loses to Michigan State and Stanford loses to New Mexico in the Round of 32, and Duke loses to Michigan in the Sweet 16.

NCAA

March 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Nancy Staudt Named Dean at Washington University

StaudtTax Prof Nancy Staudt, Vice Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs and Edward G. Lewis Chair in Law and Public Policy at USC, has been named dean of the Washington University School of Law, effective May 15:

“Nancy Staudt is a great addition to the academic leadership team at Washington University, and our School of Law will be able to enhance its quality, impact and stature under her leadership. I am thrilled she has accepted our invitation to join us as dean of law,” [Chancellor Mark] Wrighton said. ...

Staudt is excited about returning to the Washington University law school, where she served as professor from 2000-06. “This is a wonderful moment in time to rejoin Washington University – one of the most thriving and exciting academic communities in the country today,” Staudt said. ...

Nancy Staudt’s partner, Lee Epstein, PhD, Provost Professor of Law and Public Policy at USC, also will rejoin WUSTL as a university professor. “Dr. Epstein’s scholarly work and teaching at Washington University will add significantly to our academic strength, and we are delighted that she is returning to Washington University to continue her distinguished career with us,” Wrighton added.

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

March 18, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson: A Counterpoint to 'The Most Robust Legal Market that Ever Existed in This Country'

The Legal Whiteboard:  A Counterpoint to "The Most Robust Legal Market that Ever Existed in This Country", by William Henderson (Indiana-Bloomington):

There is a line in Professor Reich-Graefe's recent essay, Keep Calm and Carry On, 27 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 55 (2014), that is attracting a lot of interest among lawyers, law students, and legal academics: 

[R]ecent law school graduates and current and future law students are standing at the threshold of the most robust legal market that ever existed in this country—a legal market which will grow, exist for, and coincide with, their entire professional career.

This hopeful prediction is based on various trendlines, such as impending lawyer retirements, a massive intergenerational transfer of wealth that will take place over the coming decades, continued population growth, and the growing complexity of law and legal regulation.

Although I am bullish on future growth and dynamism in the legal industry, and I don't dispute the accuracy or relevant of any of the trendlines cited by Reich-Graefe, I think his primary prescriptive advice -- in essence, our problems will be cured with the passage of time -- is naive and potentially dangerous to those who follow it.

The primary defect in Reich-Graefe's analysis is that it is a one-sided argument that stacks up all impending positive trendlines without taking into account the substantial evidence that the artisan model of lawyering -- one-to-one consultative legal services that are tailored to the needs of individual clients -- is breaking down as a viable service delivery model.  ...

When I write about the changes occurring the legal marketplace, I worry whether the substance and methodology of U.S. legal education provides an excellent education for a legal world that is gradually fading away, and very little preparation for the highly disciplinary legal world that is coming into being. 

Legal educators are fiduciaries to our students and institutions. It is our job to worry about them and for them and act accordingly.  Surely, the minimum acceptable response to the facts at hand is unease and a willingness to engage in deliberation and planning.  Although I agree we need to stay calm, I disagree that we need to carry on.  The great law schools of the 21st century will be those that adapt and change to keep pace with the legal needs of the citizenry and broader society.  And that task has barely begun.

Update:  ABA Journal, Rosy Times Ahead for Law Grads? Another Law Prof Weighs In

March 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Solove: The Fundamental Problem with the U.S. News School Rankings

U.S. News 2015Daniel Solove (George Washington), The Fundamental Problem with the US News School Rankings:

Last week, all the law schools in America were holding their collective breaths for the latest pronouncement by US News about how their school ranked. For law schools, as well as other graduate schools as well as universities, the US News rankings play an enormously influential role. The rankings affect the number and quality of applicants. Employers use the rankings too, and the rankings thus affect job opportunities. The careers of law school deans can rise and fall on the rankings too. Key decisions about legal education are made based on the potential affect on ranking, as are admissions decisions and financial aid decisions.

In the law school world, grumbling about the US News rankings never ceases. The rankings use a formula that takes into account a host of factors that are often not very relevant, that can easily be misreported, skewed, or gamed, and that ultimately say little of value about the quality or reputation of a school. Each year, I read fervent outcries to US News to improve their formula. These cries are deftly answered with a response that is typically a variant of the following: "We'll look into this. We are always looking to improve our ranking formula." Not much changes, though. The formula is tweaked a little bit, but the changes are never dramatic.

Continue reading

March 18, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Shane: The True Spirit of Law School Reform

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The True Spirit of Law-School Reform, by Peter M. Shane (Ohio State):

Although a storm of criticism surrounds contemporary legal education, a key group in developing accreditation standards recently responded with welcome caution. The Standards Review Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted on February 7 to recommend only three relatively modest changes to ABA standards. The committee took no action on what is likely the most contentious issue the section faces—whether to accredit law schools that do not have a tenure system for faculty. ...

The immediate crisis facing law schools is a drop-off in applications. Applications fell last year to a 30-year low. A weak job market, high tuition, and a tsunami of bad publicity are likely causes. At the same time, many Americans lack affordable access to legal services. Getting rid of tenure, however, would not solve these problems—nor would allowing law schools to create a supposedly more practical curriculum taught by larger numbers of lower-salaried faculty members who are not expected to do research. ...

There are four clear problems, however, linking this bleak forecast for the legal profession with recommendations to abolish tenure or facilitate law schools’ move to lower-cost “practice-ready training.”

Continue reading

March 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 17, 2014

NLJ: California Law Schools Fall in U.S. News Rankings, Seek Change in Methodology

U.S. News 2015Following up on my previous posts (here and here):  National Law Journal:  California Grumbling at U.S. News: Lagging on the Law School Rankings, They Seek a Fix, by Karen Sloan:

Only three of California's 19 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association improved on the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings this year, and the long view looks even worse.

Alarmed at California's consistent tumbling in the rankings, one dean has rallied his colleagues to lobby U.S. News to adjust its law school graduate employment rates so they more accurately reflect the economic realities in each state.

That methodology change would better reflect why states with low employment rates have more trouble finding jobs for their law school graduates, said Tom Campbell, dean of the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law, which dropped 14 spots this year to No. 140 and has declined 36 spots during the past three years. With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate, California ties with Michigan for fourth highest in the ­country."It's very stark, when you look at the effect over three years," Campbell said. "California is still coming out of the recession, which has nothing to do with the quality of a law school. Knowing this, an adjustment or standardization would be similar to how U.S. News treats bar passage. That's what gave me the idea."

Not a single California school has seen a cumulative increase in ranking during the past three years — notwithstanding that Stanford Law School; the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law; and Pepperdine University School of Law each maintained their rankings.

School

Name

2012

Rank

2013

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

1 Year

Change

3 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

2

3

-1

0

UC- Berkeley

9

7

9

9

0

0

UCLA

16

15

17

16

+1

0

USC

18

18

18

20

-2

-2

UC-Davis

23

29

38

36

+2

-13

UC-Hastings

42

44

48

54

-6

-12

Pepperdine

54

49

61

54

+7

0

Loyola-L.A.

54

51

68

87

-19

-33

San Diego

67

65

68

79

-11

-12

Santa  Clara

84

96

96

107

-11

-23

Chapman

104

110

126

140

-14

-36

McGeorge

100

101

124

146

-22

-46

San Francisco

100

106

144

Tier 2

-2 +

-46+

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

129

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25+

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Continue reading

March 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Rankings by Starting Salaries of Grads

Forbes:  The Law Schools Whose Grads Earn The Biggest Paychecks in 2014, by Susan Adams:

Given the high price of law school and the uncertain job market for lawyers, we thought it would be interesting to investigate, as we have in the past, which law diplomas bring in the biggest paychecks. We turned to salary listing website Payscale, which combed through the profiles of its 40 million unique users who report compensation information about their jobs. Payscale looked at starting salaries of graduates from 97 popular law schools and found 29,800 of them in their database who had reported salary information.  We’re reporting the top 25 here. ...

A note on Payscale’s statistics: The figures are for the first quarter of 2014 and the starting salaries are for grads who finished law school within the last five years. Their median age is 30. Payscale takes the five-year view because some new grads get short-term, high-paying internships just after they graduate, but they don’t sustain that pay over time. Others take judicial clerkships that pay poorly. The wider-year range offers a greater sample size and makes the numbers more reliable. As for mid-career salaries, Payscale looks at law school grads with 10 or more years of work experience, and a median of 15. That sample size is 11,900 and the median age for the group is 46.

1. Columbia Law School
Starting pay: $146,900
Mid-career pay: $176,200

2. Harvard Law School
Starting pay: $125,400
Mid-career pay: $201,400

3. Northwestern University School of Law
Starting pay: $110,800
Mid-career pay: $210,000

4. University of Chicago Law School
Starting pay: $105,100
Mid-caeer pay: $177,500

5. Stanford Law School
Starting pay: $104,000
Mid-career pay: $217,300

6. Yale Law School
Starting pay: $101,800
Mid-career pay: $165,000

7. University of Virginia School of Law
Starting pay: $97,400
Mid-career pay: $153,900

8. University of Michigan Law School
Starting pay: $95,500
Mid-career pay: $198,700

9. Cornell University Law School
Starting pay: $93,500
Mid-career pay: $180,000

10. Duke University School of Law
Starting pay: $87,700
Mid-career pay: $206,900

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

March 17, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA Votes to Maintain Faculty Tenure, Add Requirement of 6 (Not 15) Experiential Credits as Accreditation Requirements, and Send Paid Externship Proposal for Notice and Comment

ABA Logo 2Best Practices for Legal Education, Council on Legal Education Maintains Tenure and 405, Adds Requirement of Six Experiential Credits and Calls for Notice and Comment on Paid Externships:

The ABA Council of the Section on Legal Education met in San Francisco on March 14th and 15th and voted on the final recommendations of the Standards Review Committee’s (SRC’s) comprehensive review of the standards begun in 2008. ...

On the controversial SRC recommendations on faculty tenure, security of position and academic freedom, the Council voted down both alternatives to the current standards, thus retaining the current system of tenure and security of position pursuant to ABA Standard 405. ...

On the competing proposals to require experiential learning for all students, the Council voted to require six credits, rejecting an alternative proposal for 15 credits. ...

As to proposals concerning student pro bono hours, the Council adopted 50 hours as an “aspirational” goal, thus rejecting an hourly requirement such as that imposed by the New York Court of Appeals for admission to the bar in New York. With respect to inclusion of LGBT law students and law students with disabilities, the Council rejected proposals for affirmative inclusion, relying on general non-discrimination language.

Finally, the Council voted to send out for Notice and Comment a proposal to permit students to receive academic credit for paid externships. The Council is expected to vote on this proposal at its June meeting.

Update:  

March 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Florida Dean Search Fails

Florida Logo (GIF)Gainesville Sun:  Machen Ends Law School Dean Search, Recommends Interim Instead:

The search for a new dean for the University of Florida Levin College of Law has failed.

UF President Bernie Machen said in a letter to law faculty and staff Friday afternoon that he has decided to end the search for outgoing Dean Robert Jerry’s successor for this academic year.

“The final slate forwarded to the Provost and to me included accomplished candidates, but we did not find one ideally suited to lead the College through a decade that will be simultaneously challenging for the profession and replete with opportunities for growth and advancement,” Machen said.

After paying $90,000 for an executive search company out of Southern California to conduct a nationwide search for suitable candidates, the search committee narrowed a list of 24 recommended candidates to four finalists.

Those four were Alex Acosta, dean of the Florida International University College of Law; David Brennen, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law; David Huebner, former ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa; and Sam Donaldson, a law professor at Georgia State University and former associate dean at the University of Washington School of Law. ...

The committee debated whether to send all four candidates forward, considering that the law faculty had overwhelmingly rejected Acosta, the law dean at FIU.

Even after being told that not sending all four names forward could result in a failed search, the committee voted 9-2 to reject Acosta and send the other three names to Machen and Provost Joe Glover for consideration. Brennen and Huebner had received high scores from faculty, while many felt Donaldson lacked gravitas.

In the meantime, Machen is recommending that George Dawson, a former associate law dean who served on the search committee, serve as interim dean until a new search can be conducted next year.

(Hat Tip:  Brian Leiter.)  Prior coverage:

Update:  Jeffrey Harrison (Florida) has more here:

At best, a shameful process. At worst a sham. If you think a 49th ranking was unsatisfactory, fasten your seat belt and put on a helmet.

March 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shrinking Law Schools Face Financial Devastation

Fiscal TimesThe Fiscal Times:  Shrinking Law Schools Face Financial Devastation, by Jonathan Beer:

The depressing state of the legal job market has caused applications to law schools to decline precipitously, resulting in a shortage of attorneys providing services to low-income clients and a glut of attorneys elsewhere. The situation will improve in the coming years as classes at law schools shrink class sizes to their lowest levels in decades, but the pain for lawyers is far from over. ...

The existing glut of lawyers will take time to dissipate, though. “Because far fewer students are enrolling — from 52,000 in 2010 down to 40,000 in 2013, and even lower for 2014 — the oversupply will lessen when they graduate in a few years,” writes Brian Tamanaha, a professor at the Washington University of St. Louis School of Law and the author of Failing Law Schools, in an email.

The pain for law schools could last longer. “The decline in applicants will devastate the financial position of many law schools, and it remains to be seen how they will manage,” Tamanaha wrote. “The number of entering students in 2014 will go down to a level not seen in three decades, when there were 50 fewer law schools.”

As a result, law schools such as [Dayton, Hamline, Vermont, and Widener] have laid off faculty while other law professors have been offered early retirement packages. The survival of some schools is in jeopardy, according to published reports.

Continue reading

March 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Oliveri: Why Law School Is Worth It


National JuristNational Jurist op-ed:  Why a Legal Education Is Worth It, by Rigel Oliveri (Associate Dean, Missouri):

Lawyers have always gotten a bad rap. The old saying about everyone hating lawyers until you need one is very true. And lately legal education has come under heavy fire as well. Law schools are criticized for teaching too much theory and not enough practice, for being too expensive, for churning out too many graduates into an already-saturated legal market. The lucky few who do get jobs at big firms are stressed out, bored, and disillusioned with their work – at least, according to the critics.

It’s not that these critiques don’t have some truth. Law schools do need to focus more on practice skills and experiential learning. The employment market for lawyers has gotten tougher, especially for people seeking the plum jobs at big law firms. Student loans, for lack of a more elegant term, suck.

But, and here is where I finally get to my point: The law is fascinating. It is incredibly important in people’s lives. And a legal education is an amazing opportunity to get the tools to understand, and most importantly, work within this system. ...

[I]t breaks my heart to hear about young people who are interested in law deciding not to bother applying to law school. Our society is shaped in innumerable ways by law. We need another generation of the best and brightest to learn the craft, to continue helping people with their legal needs, to make sure our government works the way that it should.

March 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jones: The U.S. News Law School Academic Reputation Scores, 1998-2014

U.S. News 2015Robert L. Jones (Northern Illinois), Downward Trend Continues for Academic Reputation Scores: Addendum to 2013 Longitudinal Study:

This brief essay summarizes the results of the most recent 2014 U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”) law school rankings in the context of the longitudinal study I published last year regarding the academic reputation scores that constitute 25% of the U.S. News methodology.  [A Longitudinal Analysis of the U.S. News Law School Academic Reputation Scores between 1998 and 2013, 40 Fla. St. L. Rev. 721 (2013)]

Consistent with the prevailing downward trend in academic reputation scores observed in the 2013 study, the academic reputation scores for law schools continued to decline in 2014. Fifty-eight out of the 172 law schools in the data set (34%) saw their academic reputation scores decline in 2014. In contrast, only fourteen law schools in the data set (8%) enjoyed an improvement to their academic reputation scores in 2014.4 In the aggregate, law schools suffered a decline of 4.6 points (an average of .026 per law school) in 2014.

1

2

3

Here are the seven law schools that increased their academic peer reputation by at least 0.3 from 1998 to 2014:

School

2014 Peer Score

1998 Peer Score

Change

Alabama

3.1

2.5

0.6

Michigan State

2.3

1.8

0.5

Pepperdine

2.6

2.2

0.4

Florida State

2.9

2.6

0.3

Georgia State

2.5

2.2

0.3

Seattle

2.3

2.0

0.3

Gonzaga

2.2

1.9

0.3


Jones explains that Pepperdine's rise in academic reputation coincided with Ken's Starr's appointment as Dean in 2004 and Pepperdine's #1 ranking in the U.S. News Dispute Resolution Speciality Rankings for 13 of the 17 years in the 1998-2014 period, including the past ten years.

Pepperdine Starr

March 14, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA to Tackle Tenure Requirement in Accreditation Standards at Today's Meeting

ABA Logo 2National Law Journal:  ABA to Tackle Tenure at Council Metting, by Karen Sloan:

The always-controversial matter of law faculty tenure will be back in the spotlight on Friday and Saturday, when the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar is scheduled to consider the issue and several other hot-button topics at a meeting in San Diego.

The ABA is in the final stages of a six-year comprehensive review of its law school accreditation standards, and the council is under pressure to reach decisions on a number of touchy matters—not the least of which is whether to get rid of the standard that is understood to mean that law schools must maintain a tenure system for professors in order to be accredited. ...

The council is aiming to have all of its proposed changes in place in order for the ABA’s House of Delegates to consider them at its annual meeting in August. ...  The council will meet one more time before then, in June.

In addition to tenure, the meeting agenda includes discussions on:

Maintaining the minimum bar passage standard. After years of back-and-forth between different proposals, the committee tasked with going through all the standards is recommending no significant changes to the current rule, which requires 75 percent of a law school’s test takers to pass the exam within five years of graduation.

  • Dropping the ban against students receiving both pay and academic credit for legal externships. The committee was divided on the issue, but has recommended doing away with the restriction in order to open up more externship opportunities.
  • Increasing the number of experiential course credits law students must complete. The current requirement stands at just one credit, but the committee has recommended increasing that to six credits. Meanwhile, a vocal group of clinical professors have asked the council to adopt a different proposal that would require 15 credit hours of clinics, externships, and simulation courses.
  • Keeping the requirement that law schools must use the Law School Admission Test in admissions. The committee had earlier discussed ditching the LSAT mandate, but later backed off that plan.
  • Doing away with the requirement that law schools maintain at least one full-time equivalent faculty member for every 30 students, on the grounds that calculating the actual size of a faculty is overly complicated.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage of the ABA's reconsideration of tenure as an accreditation requirement:

March 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chapman Dean: U.S. News Rankings Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools

U.S. News 2015Following up on yesterday's post, Deans Say Rankings Penalize California Law Schools for Bad Economy; U.S. News Rejects Call for State-Adjusted Employment Data:  Tom Campbell (Dean, Chapman) has asked me to post his letter to the editor of The Recorder, U.S. News Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools, on TaxProf Blog:

Your article Deans Say U.S. News Rankings Penalize Schools in the Golden State reported the unanimous position of the California law school deans, who agree that California’s poor employment prospects are a drag on the rankings at all 21 accredited California law schools – even though they are no fault of the California law schools or their students. Put simply, if a law school in Iowa, where unemployment is 4.2%, places 85% of its students, and a law school in California, where unemployment is 8.3%, places 84% of its students, U.S. News ranks the Iowa school ahead of the California school. That is nonsense, if the purpose is to rank the quality of the two law schools. Nevertheless, U.S. News’ Bob Morse responded:

The schools that are underperforming or falling in the ranking, [it's] not because of the state of California's employment woes… but because their students are not in demand, or they're unable to obtain real legal jobs." Mr. Morse pointed to the list for proof, stating: "The top ten schools in California have seen little change in their rankings over the last few years, showing that their graduates are still in demand and they're still getting real legal jobs, despite the California employment status.

Mr. Morse’s statement is false: according to U.S. News’ own data.

Let’s look at the top 10 ranked law schools in California, U.S. News Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools, over the last three years:

#4 USC, dropped 2 positions in the national rankings;
#5 UC Davis dropped 13 positions in the national rankings;
#6 UC Hastings dropped 12 positions in the national rankings;
#8 Loyola dropped 33 positions in the national rankings;
#9 UC San Diego dropped 12 positions in the national rankings; and
#10 Santa Clara dropped 23 positions in the national rankings.

The other four top-ten California schools [#1 Stanford, #2 UC-Berkeley, #3 UCLA, #7 Pepperdine] stayed the same in the national rankings.

The “California effect” on our rankings has nothing to do with the quality of education our schools provide. So we proposed to U.S. News to normalize the employment data on law schools the same way they do for differing state bar passage percentages. If a law school’s graduates pass their state bar at a 70% level, that means something different about the law school’s quality if the overall state bar passage is 80%, or if it is 60%. So, U.S. News normalizes for the bar passage rate of the state. They should do the same for employment. Otherwise, law students in entire states like California will be penalized in the rankings not because a lack of quality of their training, but instead due to economic factors beyond their control.

Below I share the full chart showing the significant U.S. News rankings downtrend in California. May I kindly ask that you share this chart and my comments here with your readers?

School

Name

2012

Rank

2013

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

1 Year

Change

3 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

2

3

-1

0

UC- Berkeley

9

7

9

9

0

0

UCLA

16

15

17

16

+1

0

USC

18

18

18

20

-2

-2

UC-Davis

23

29

38

36

+2

-13

UC-Hastings

42

44

48

54

-6

-12

Pepperdine

54

49

61

54

+7

0

Loyola-L.A.

54

51

68

87

-19

-33

San Diego

67

65

68

79

-11

-12

Santa  Clara

84

96

96

107

-11

-23

Chapman

104

110

126

140

-14

-36

McGeorge

100

101

124

146

-22

-46

San Francisco

100

106

144

Tier 2

-2 +

-46+

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

129

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25+

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

March 14, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Women Should Embrace B's to Make More Later

Washington Post:  Women Should Embrace the B’s in College to Make More Later, by Catherine Rampell:

Claudia Goldin/Harvard University - This chart shows the percentage of male and female students who received a given grade in introductory economics course who then later majored in economics. Data refer to an anonymous research institution, from a study by Harvard Professor Claudia Goldin.

A message to the nation’s women: Stop trying to be straight-A students.

No, not because you might intimidate easily emasculated future husbands. Because, by focusing so much on grades, you might be limiting your earning and learning potential.

The college majors that tend to lead to the most profitable professions are also the stingiest about awarding A’s. Science departments grade, on a four-point scale, an average of 0.4 points lower than humanities departments, according to a 2010 analysis of national grading data by Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy. And two new research studies suggest that women might be abandoning these lucrative disciplines precisely because they’re terrified of getting B’s.

Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard, has been examining why so few women major in her field . The majority of new college grads are female, yet women receive only 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees in economics each year.

Goldin looked at how grades awarded in an introductory economics class affected the chance that a student would ultimately major in the subject. She found that the likelihood a woman would major in economics dropped steadily as her grade fell: Women who received a B in Econ 101, for example, were about half as likely as women who received A’s to stick with the discipline. The same discouragement gradient didn’t exist for men. Of Econ 101 students, men who received A’s were about equally as likely as men who received B’s to concentrate in the dismal science.

Another research project, led by Peter Arcidiacono at Duke University, is finding similar trends in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. ...

Women, admirably, want to excel — and usually do, academically. We earn, on average, higher grades than men in almost every subject. (Partly, presumably, because women seem to disproportionately take classes we know we’ll do well in.) But if women want to compete with the big boys, in the disciplines and professions where men continue to dominate, we need to overcome our B-phobia. Rinse yourselves of the intoxicating waters of Lake Wobegon, ladies, and embrace meaningful mediocrity.

(Hat Tip: Greg Mankiw.)

March 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

More on the 2015 U.S. News Law School Rankings

U.S. News 2015Fortune, And the U.S. News Law School Ranking Fallout Begins...:

Deans of the country's law schools are either kicking back and breathing a sigh of relief, or quivering in their boots, amid the release of the much-feared U.S. News & World Report on national law school rankings. ...

Critics routinely denounce the rankings as misleading and incomplete, but almost anyone connected in any way with the legal profession obsesses over the results.

For the institutions that moved down the yardstick, second-guessing came fast and furious. Washington & Lee Law School, for example, sank 17 notches, to No. 43, showing how the overhaul in job placement numbers are affecting the rankings. ...

Dean Nora Demleitner attributes the school's drop to "the poor employment and bar passage numbers from 2012, the year that figures into this year's rankings." The Lexington, Va.-based school, she says, has begun to give "stronger bar support and changes in our approach to the employment market," which already has shown improvements for the class of 2013.

At the same time, enrollment at Washington & Lee was down 40%, which also could have been affected by its overhaul of the third year to focus on "practice ready" skills, which has been all the rage as law school administrators try to push back against evaporating enrollment and jobs. Demleitner says she does not believe the ranking "reflects on our third-year curriculum reform," noting that it is likely to "take five to 10 years for the benefits of the program to become apparent."

American University's law school plunged 16 slots, from No. 56 last year -- likely a sign that its nine-month-out employment placement of 53.6% does not pass U.S. News & World Report muster. That compared to an 83% employment figure, for the same period, from Louisiana State University law school, in Baton Rouge.

"There's no question that employment is a major driver for the rankings," said Mike Spivey, a law school consultant. ...

Despite reorienting the rankings to include more real-world concerns, Kyle McEntee, founder of Law School Transparency, writes on Law.com that "despite the importance of job outcomes, they account for only 18% of the rank and credit schools for jobs few attend law school to pursue." 

McEntee also takes the rankings to task for making national comparisons when "only a handful of schools have a truly national reach in job placement. The rest have a regional, in-state, or even just local reach." So comparing two schools in broadly different geographical locations is "virtually meaningless. Graduates from these schools do not compete with one another," he writes.

"It turns out," he says, "that 161 schools place at least half of their employed class of 2012 graduates in one state. The top state destination for each school accounts for 67.3% of employed graduates. "A much smaller 7.7% of employed graduates go to a school's second-most popular destination, with just 4.4% of employed graduates working in the third-most popular destination. Only 20.6% of employed graduates (16.9% of the entire class) end up in a state other than the top three," he says.

However, "rankings are not inherently bad," he concludes, adding that "credibility may be lost when methodologies are unsound, through irrational weighting or meaningless metrics, or when the scope is too broad."

Spivey agrees, but he notes that "my phone has been ringing off the hook [with] people concerned about whether they should go to a school which dropped one place, or [if] they [can] transfer to another school if their current school lost out.

"The rankings do dramatically impact behavior."

Infographic: 2015 Best Law Schools:

2015 Best Law Schools infographic

March 14, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Deans Say Rankings Penalize California Law Schools for Bad Economy; U.S. News Rejects Call for State-Adjusted Employment Data

U.S. News 2015The Recorder:   Deans Say U.S. News Rankings Penalize Schools in the Golden State:

In the wake of declining rankings in the all-important U.S. News & World Report, one California law school dean says the problem is not underperforming schools, but an underperforming state economy.

Tom Campbell, whose Chapman University School of Law has fallen from No. 104 in 2011 to No. 140 in the list released Monday, says the state's poor employment prospects are a drag on the rankings at all 21 accredited California law schools. The rankings take into account the percentage of a school's recent graduates that have found legal jobs—an awfully low number at some schools.

So Campbell emailed his fellow deans to rally them to demand the state's employment picture be factored into the U.S. News methodology. His proposition triggered a "flurry of emails" in support, said Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law.

"The slow recovery of California's economy, compared with the rest of the nation, has had a deleterious effect on all of us, once again; and it's particularly cruel to our students, who are punished twice: once by the difficulty of getting a job, and a second time by falling US News rankings of their law school," Campbell said in his email, which was forwarded to The Recorder on Tuesday. ...

The overall rankings at eight California law schools—USC, UC-Davis, UC-Hastings, Loyola, University of San Diego, Santa Clara, Pacific McGeorge and University of San Francisco —have fallen, in some cases plunged, in recent years. The rankings at four other programs—Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA and Pepperdine—have remained relatively stable. (The remaining eight schools remain unranked.)

I had seen this trend last year, and now its overwhelmingly clear," Campbell said Wednesday. "[The data suggests] not a single California school has improved its performance. That's a false statement."

Inspired by U.S. News' method for adjusting for bar passage rates, which takes into account the average rate in particular states, Campbell proposes that schools designate the state where the largest number of their graduates land jobs. "The percentage of each law school's graduates with jobs would then be normalized by the state's unemployment rate compared with the national unemployment rate," he wrote.

In essence, he wants the U.S. News formula tweaked so that schools whose students are looking for work in California won't pay a price for the state's relatively poor employment prospects. Campbell said he proposed this method to U.S. News last year, to no avail, but plans to resubmit it with another year of evidence substantiating what he calls the "California effect" on the rankings. He also said he'll have unanimous support from California's law school deans. ...

But Bob Morse, U.S. News director of data research, isn't buying it. "The schools that are underperforming or falling in the ranking, [it's] not because of the state of California's employment woes," he told The Recorder Wednesday, "but because their students are not in demand, or they're unable to obtain real legal jobs," defined by the magazine as full-time positions requiring a J.D. "That's broadly independent of the state of California's economy."

For proof, he pointed to the list: "The top ten schools in California have seen little change in their rankings over the last few years, showing that their graduates are still in demand and they're still getting real legal jobs, despite the California employment status."

School

Name

2012

Rank

2013

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

1 Year

Change

3 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

2

3

-1

0

UC- Berkeley

9

7

9

9

0

0

UCLA

16

15

17

16

+1

0

USC

18

18

18

20

-2

-2

UC-Davis

23

29

38

36

+2

-13

UC-Hastings

42

44

48

54

-6

-12

Pepperdine

54

49

61

54

+7

0

Loyola-L.A.

54

51

68

87

-19

-33

San Diego

67

65

68

79

-11

-12

Santa  Clara

84

96

96

107

-11

-23

Chapman

104

110

126

140

-14

-36

McGeorge

100

101

124

146

-22

-46

San Francisco

100

106

144

Tier 2

-2 +

-46+

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

129

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25+

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

March 13, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Five Questions That May Cause Your Tenure-Track Offer to be Rescinded (If You're a Woman)

Inside Higher Ed, Negotiated Out of a Job:

The worst they can say is no. That's the advice a new Ph.D. receives about negotiating with a department that has extended a job offer. Sure, you might not get everything you want, but there's no harm in trying. This may be your best shot at getting good pay or working conditions and, after all, they have offered you the job and won't take that away.

Or maybe not, according to recent post on Philosophy Smoker. The blog, popular among philosophy graduate students and junior faculty, recounts a job offer negotiation gone wrong at a small liberal arts college.

The candidate, identified in the blog as “W,” sent the following email to search committee members at Nazareth College, in Rochester, N.Y., after receiving a tenure-track job offer in philosophy:

As you know, I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of coming to Nazareth. Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier[:]

  1. An increase of my starting salary to $65,000, which is more in line with what assistant professors in philosophy have been getting in the last few years. 
  2. An official semester of maternity leave.
  3. A pre-tenure sabbatical at some point during the bottom half of my tenure clock.
  4. No more than three new class preps per year for the first three years.
  5. A start date of academic year 2015 so I can complete my postdoc.

She ended the email by saying I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others. Let me know what you think.

In a reply, the search committee said it had reviewed the requests, as had the dean and vice president of academic affairs.

“It was determined that on the whole these provisions indicate an interest in teaching at a research university and not at a college, like ours, that is both teaching and student centered,” the email continues. “Thus, the institution has decided to withdraw its offer of employment to you.”

The search committee ended by thanking the candidate for her “interest" and wishing her “the best in finding a suitable position.”

Jezebel, Female Professor Loses Job Offer When She Tries to Negotiate:

Horror stories like this are why it's so hard for women to ask for raises. It's why women don't negotiate salaries for their first job while their male coworkers do, and it's why over a career, women's earnings suffer massively. We're behind the 8-ball from the start, and it's in part because we're afraid something like this might happen to us.

March 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)