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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Last Estate & Gift Tax Class of the Year

Today was my last Estate & Gift Tax class of the semester, which we celebrated over lunch at our on-campus home.  Kudos to the chef, whose 10-bean soup was again a big hit.

E&G Tax

December 4, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Henderson: NY Times Article Quoting AALS President Rodriguez May Spur Needed Change in Legal Education

The Legal Whiteboard:  The Market for Law School Applicants -- A Milestone to Remember, by Bill Henderson (Indiana)

Yesterday's Dealbook column in the New York Times featured Northwestern Law Dean Dan Rodriguez (who also serves as President of the AALS) speaking candidly about the meltdown dynamics that have taken hold. ... "It's insane," said Rodriguez, "We’re in hand-to-hand combat with other schools." The trendlines are indeed terrible.  Year-over-year, LSAT test-taker volume is down another 8.7%.  See Organ, LWB, Nov 11, 2014.  So we can expect the situation to get worse, at least in the near term.

I applaud Dan Rodriguez for this leadership instincts.  He is being transparent and honest.  Several years ago the leadership of the AALS went to great lengths to avoid engagement with the media. Dan has gone the opposite direction, inviting the press into our living room and kitchen.  

Want to know what leadership and judgment look like?  It looks like Dan's interview with Elizabeth Olson.  Dan's words did not solve anyone's problem, but his honesty and candor made it more likely that we help ourselves.  Because it's Northwestern, and Dan is president of the AALS (something the story did not mention but most of us know), and this was reported by Elizabeth Olson in the New York Times, the substance and tenor of discussions within law school faculties is bound to shift, at least slightly and in the direction favoring change. ...

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December 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Anderson: Law School Rankings by Graduates Who Are Directors/Officers of Public Companies


Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), JDs in the Boardroom (2014 Edition):

This is the second annual report on JDs in senior business positions in U.S. publicly traded companies. In the inaugural version published last year, I compiled a ranking of the top-25 law schools by the number of JDs serving in director and executive officer positions in publicly traded companies.

The Top 14 law schools in Rob's measure are the same as the U.S. News Top 14, led by Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Columbia.  The biggest outliers are the inclusion of West Virginia (19 in JDs in the Boardroom, 101 in U.S. News), Penn State (20, 76), Utah (23, 47), and UC-Hastings (21, 44).

December 4, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Rankings Churn

Christopher Zorn (Lawyer Metrics), Law School Rankings Churn:

USNWRI assembled data on the top 50 law schools and their rankings from U.S. News, beginning in 1994 (the first year in which U.S. News ranked 50 schools) and continuing through 2014, and began with a question: Over those 21 years, how many schools have been represented among the “Top N,” where N ∈ {1,2,3,…50}. So for example, there has been one “Top 1″ school (Yale) during that entire 21-year period; there have been three “Top 2″ schools (schools that have been ranked either #1 or #2 at any point): Yale, Harvard, and Stanford; there have been four “Top 3″ schools (the three listed above, plus the University of Chicago), and so forth. ...

[There is]  a pattern longtime observers of the U.S. News rankings are probably familiar with: Little year-to-year variation at the very top of the rankings; somewhat more variability within the Top 14 / Top 17, but little or no movement into or out of those groups; and substantial annual variability in the 20-50 range, especially among schools ranked 20-35. ...

If we plot each “Top 50″ school’s annual ranking over time, we get the “spaghetti plot” [right]. With a few exceptions (like Yale at the top) it is impossible to track any particular school’s changes over time. What the plot does show, however, is the degree of variability in the rankings, both at different levels and across time. For example, one can clearly see the variation in the schools ranked 8-14, and the high variability in the 20-40 range. There was also significantly more of the latter early in the rankings (especially 1994-1996) than we observe more recently.

December 4, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

California Law School Grads Bear Staggering Debt Loads

California LawyerCalifornia Lawyer, A Mortgaged Career:

Typical California law graduates' debt has jumped 35 percent since 2008, so even today's top earners are strapped. A public-service repayment plan offers hope for some.

Among 2013 law graduates in California, 87 percent borrowed money to help fund their education - an average of $135,000, all backed by the federal government. The thousands of students applying this winter to attend California's 21 ABA-accredited law schools are likely to borrow even more. And most will be expected to pay as much as $350,000 apiece over the two decades after they graduate.

[The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which caps payments at 10 percent of "discretionary" income and forgives the loan balance after ten years] is the best-case scenario, and it is available to only about one-fourth of new lawyers. Just 27.6 percent of the 2013 law school grads nationwide who were employed by last February worked in positions that might qualify them for eventual loan forgiveness - as judicial clerks or military lawyers or in other public-service or nonprofit roles, according to the National Association for Law Placement, or NALP. The rest are not eligible -- and many lawyers prefer corporate or community practice.  ...

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December 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Aging of the American Law Professoriate

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Aging of the American Law Professoriate:

RetireA recent (rather tasteless) article argued: “Professors approaching 70 … have an ethical obligation to step back and think seriously about quitting. If they do remain on the job, they should at least openly acknowledge they’re doing it mostly for themselves.” In The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students, the insensitive author added: “the number of professors 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2011.” The author’s most intellectually savage comments were that: “faculty who delay retirement harm students, who in most cases would benefit from being taught by someone younger than 70, even younger than 65.” All I can say is “OMG!” how can these doddering demented cretins be so irresponsible as to do that to these innocent and needy young people?

Deans and law faculties are facing a situation where they can’t “reload”. The “aging” of the law school and general university tenure track professoriates has created a situation in which some have voiced concerns about what they see as a systemic blockage. The claim is that the refusal of senior faculty to retire is preventing academic institutions from hiring new and younger faculty, thus presumably inhibiting the fully oxygenated “intellectual blood flow” essential for the highest levels of performance by the collective “brain” of the academic institution. As I suggest in this brief analysis the claim that a main problem is the number of senior professors on university and law school faculties and that those older faculty members are somehow harming students is a disingenuous posturing masking other agendas.

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December 3, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Call for Tax Papers: Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum

JuniorYale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum:

Yale, Stanford, and Harvard Law Schools announce the 16th session of the Yale/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum to be held at Harvard Law School on June 16-17, 2015 and seek submissions for its meeting.

The Forum’s objective is to encourage the work of scholars recently appointed to a tenure-track position by providing experience in the pursuit of scholarship and the nature of the scholarly exchange. Meetings are held each spring, rotating at Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. Twelve to twenty scholars (with one to seven years in teaching) will be chosen on a blind basis from among those submitting papers to present. One or more senior scholars, not necessarily from Yale, Stanford, or Harvard, will comment on each paper. The audience will include the participating junior faculty, faculty from the host institutions, and invited guests. The goal is discourse on both the merits of particular papers and on appropriate methodologies for doing work in that genre. We hope that comment and discussion will communicate what counts as good work among successful senior scholars and will also challenge and improve the standards that now obtain. The Forum also hopes to increase the sense of community among American legal scholars generally, particularly among new and veteran professors.

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December 3, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Holland & Hart Partner Named Director of Denver Graduate Tax Program

WilsonPress Release:

University of Denver Sturm College of Law Dean Martin Katz announced today that John Wilson has been appointed as the new director of the University’s Graduate Tax Program (GTP), effective December 8.

With more than 150 students, the GTP is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, and ranked among the top 20 best tax programs in the country according to U.S. News and World Report (2014). It is one of only a handful of graduate tax programs which brings together accountants and lawyers to study side-by-side, allowing students from each discipline to learn the skills and expertise of the other. ...

Wilson is a partner in the Denver office of Holland & Hart LLP, where he advises clients on complex corporate and individual tax matters, mergers and acquisitions, international business transactions, and IRS audits and appeals. He will remain a partner with the firm. Wilson received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University.

December 3, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Quitting a Dean's Job in the Age of Mike Brown

DunbarJezebel:  Who Really Burns: Quitting a Dean's Job in the Age of Mike Brown, by Eve Dunbar (Former Associate Dean of Faculty, Vassar):

Just a few days before Michael Brown was murdered for jaywalking in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, I stepped down from being one of the youngest Associate Deans of Faculty at an "elite" liberal arts college in the U.S. I left my position because the kind of institutional leader I have to be is one critical of white supremacy and her own complicity within it. As a black woman and a scholar of black literature, history and culture, I grow less convinced, however, that this position is compatible with many American institutions—small and large, corporate, non-profit, or governmental.

My stint in college administration began shortly after my tenure, when I was approached to take on the role of Associate Dean of the Faculty at my institution. I took the position in part because I was interested in the sort of professional mobility administrative experience might offer. I was also interested in finding a way out of the sort of indignities that I had been suffering at the hands of many of my colleagues for years. ...

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December 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Slate: A Bunch of Law Schools Are About to Go Bust. Hooray.

Slate:  A Bunch of Law Schools Are About to Go Bust. Hooray., by Jordan Weissman:

In the world of law schools, every day is sort of like Black Friday.

OK, slight exaggeration. But with applications in free fall, schools are locked in a brutal competition to attract students who might theoretically one day be qualified to sit for a bar exam. And that, the New York Times reports today, has meant slashing tuition and dolling out discounts. At Northwestern University School of Law, one of the top ranked institutions in the country, “74 percent of first-year students this academic year received financial aid, compared with only 30 percent in 2009,” the paper notes. The University of Iowa, University of Arizona, and Penn State University have cut their prices. J.D.s are on sale! ...

It seems fairly obvious that some law schools are going to have to close in the not too distant future. Between the fall of 2010 and fall of 2013, enrollments dropped 24 percent. This year’s crop of new students should be even smaller. And while schools are doing everything in their power to pare back expenses and prop up their head counts, it seems like someone is going to fall victim to a collapsing demand. “I don’t get how the math adds up for the number of schools and the number of students,” Northwestern Dean Daniel Rodriguez, told the Times. That’s because it probably won’t. ...

If about 10 percent of law schools closed, that would mean about 20 casualties. Could that possibly come to pass? I don't know, but I wouldn't entirely rule it out.

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December 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Iowa Law School Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Block 8th Circuit Order of New Trial in Unsuccessful Republican Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Suit

Wagner 2Following up on my previous posts (links below) about Teresa Wagner's federal lawsuit claiming she was denied a faculty position because of her conservative views:  the Des Moines Register reports that the University of Iowa College of Law has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the Eighth Circuit's July 15, 2014 order of a new trial.  Wagner v. Jones, No. 13- 1650 (8th Cir. July 15, 2014):

Lawyers for the school's current and former deans petitioned justices last week to overturn an appeals court ruling that granted Wagner a new trial. The court should reinstate a 2012 verdict that found the school's former dean didn't discriminate against Wagner based on her beliefs, the Iowa Attorney General's Office argued in the petition. The state agency is defending school officials in the case. ...

Wagner, a part-time employee of the law school's writing center, claims that liberal professors blocked her 2007 candidacy for jobs teaching legal writing because she is a Republican who previously worked for anti-abortion groups. She's seeking to be placed into a job with back pay and damages.

Professors testified that they were aware of Wagner's politics but passed her over because she performed poorly during an interview.

The lawsuit went to trial two years ago, but has since been tangled up over a judge's mistake.

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December 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Will Faculty Soon Be Cleaning Law School Bathrooms?

New York Times:  When the Forces of Media Disruption Hit Home, by David Carr:

Janitor 2I read on Friday that the price of taxi medallions in New York City had fallen about 17 percent, a drop created by competition from ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The impact is remarkable because neither company possesses big capital assets, or a huge number of employees. Instead, they put a new user interface over cars and drivers already on the road. In the same way, Airbnb has remade the rental markets, not by buying properties, but simply by surfacing available units on the web to people in need.

In both cases, inefficiency was reduced by using software and smarts to create a new market of underused assets — and consumers have benefited. ...

I work in an industry that has also been profoundly disrupted. The shift of news and information to the Internet meant that the heavy investment in trucks and presses that once served as a barrier to entry disappeared. Insurgents flooded in with new approaches that eliminated much of the inefficiency and created whole new streams of content. Again, great for consumers, not so great for the traditional news industry, because those inefficiencies were also profits by another name.

Right now, The New York Times is in the middle of a round of buyouts in an effort to cut 100 positions, to stretch existing revenue over a smaller cost base. ... Buying out those folks — layoffs will follow if the goal of 100 jobs is not met — also allows the organization to invest in new technologies and the people who build them. ...

[I]t’s always good to remember that things could be worse, far worse, in a business as challenged as journalism. ... At The Orange County Register, which has struggled through layoffs and misguided expansions, the delivery of the newspaper was interrupted after the company failed to pay The Los Angeles Times for the service. ... Reporters are also among those now being asked to, um, deliver the newspaper.

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December 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

2014 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition Results

TannenwaldHere are the results in the 2014 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition, sponsored by The Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and the American College of Tax Counsel:

  • First Prize (tie) ($4,500):  Alex Levy (NYU), Believing in Life After Loving: IRS Regulation of Tax Preparers (Faculty Sponsor:  David Kamin)
  • First Prize (tie) ($4,500):  Mark C. Westenberger (Washington University), Tax-Exempt Hospitals and the Community Benefit Standard: A Flawed Standard and a Way Forward (Faculty Sponsor:  Cheryl Block)
  • Honorable Mention:  Nika Antonikova (San Diego), Real Taxes in Virtual Economies: What Does the IRS Say (Faculty Sponsor:  Brian Galle)
  • Honorable Mention:  Michael Daly (Georgetown University), Bound and Gagged: Making the Case for Congress Delegating Tax Policy to the Experts (Faculty Sponsor:  Tom Field)

December 2, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 1, 2014

NY Times: Law Schools Engage in 'Hand-to-Hand Combat' Over Declining Applicant Pool

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times DealBook:  Law School Becomes Buyers’ Market as Competition for Best Students Increases, by Elizabeth Olson:

Summer was waning and students were already packing for the fall semester, but Prof. Daniel B. Rodriguez, dean of the Northwestern University School of Law, was still fielding phone calls from incoming students seeking to bargain down the tuition at the elite school.

“It’s insane,” Professor Rodriguez said. “We’re in hand-to-hand combat with other schools.”

In the new topsy-turvy law school world, students are increasingly in control as nearly all of the 204 accredited law schools battle for the students with the best academic credentials. Gone are the days when legal educators bestowed admittance and college graduates gratefully accepted, certain that they were on the path to a highly paid, respectable career.

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December 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Gender Disparity in Law Review Citation Rates: Women Outperform Men

Christopher Anthony Cotropia (Richmond) & Lee Petherbridge (Loyola-L.A.), Gender Disparity in Law Review Citation Rates:

Gender disparity in scholarly influence – measured in terms of differential citation to academic work – has been widely documented. The weight of the evidence is that, in many fields of academic inquiry, papers authored by women receive fewer citations than papers authored by men. To investigate whether a similar gender disparity in scholarly influence exists in legal studies we analyze the impact of gender on citation to articles published in top 100 law reviews between 1990 and 2010. We find evidence of gender disparity in citation rates, but in surprising contrast to observations made in other disciplines, we observe that articles authored by women receive significantly more citations than articles authored by men.

Table 3

December 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Research Productivity of New PhDs in Economics: The Surprisingly High Non-success of the Successful

John P. Conley (Vanderbilt) & Ali Sina Önder (Bayreuth), The Research Productivity of New PhDs in Economics: The Surprisingly High Non-success of the Successful:

We study the research productivity of new graduates from North American PhD programs in economics from 1986 to 2000. We find that research productivity drops off very quickly with class rank at all departments, and that the rank of the graduate departments themselves provides a surprisingly poor prediction of future research success. For example, at the top ten departments as a group, the median graduate has fewer than 0.03 American Economic Review (AER)-equivalent publications at year six after graduation, an untenurable record almost anywhere. We also find that PhD graduates of equal percentile rank from certain lower-ranked departments have stronger publication records than their counterparts at higher-ranked departments. In our data, for example, Carnegie Mellon's graduates at the 85th percentile of year-six research productivity outperform 85th percentile graduates of the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Berkeley. These results suggest that even the top departments are not doing a very good job of training the great majority of their students to be successful research economists. Hiring committees may find these results helpful when trying to balance class rank and place of graduate in evaluating job candidates, and current graduate students may wish to re-evaluate their academic strategies in light of these findings.

Table 2

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November 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Miami: The Cradle of TV Judges

Miami LogoMiami New Times Blog, University of Miami Is Tops in Churning Out TV Judges:

Just three years ago, mega-attorney Roy Black wrote in a candid blog post: "The UM Law School is in a death spiral; we have plummeted in the law school rankings, falling to 77th, while UF is 47 and FSU is 50. This is more than a little embarrassing."

[FIU is hot on our tail and at a cheaper price. So the question is, what do we do about it? In my opinion, it is time to question long-held beliefs about legal education. It maybe uncomfortable, but the winds of change are upon us. We either bend and survive or break and die.

My solution is to radically reform the curriculum. I suggest we become the MIT of litigation. After the first year of required courses, we create a program designed to intensely train trial lawyers. Not with the usual clinical courses, or useless apprenticeships, but with rigorous courses, taught by experienced professionals, using mock trials and moot courts, to teach students how to litigate. This will make the UM law degree more valuable in the marketplace. When a law firm needs young litigators, we will be the first place they look.]

[No other law school does this; it is time for a new brand at UM. We should advertise as the school to learn trials. The vision should be a school go-to for the finest litigation education and experience.]

Yes, the University of Miami law school is not held in the highest of regards.

But there is no denying that UM does something really, really well compared to all other programs: turning out graduates who go on to become TV judges. Seriously, the University of Miami has more alumni who have gone on to host their own daytime courtroom show than any other school. ... [C]onsidering that the Wikipedia category for television judges has only 23 entries, we figured that about 17 percent of prominent TV judges have a UM law degree. That's still a lot. Here's the rundown on the proud syndicate of UM's TV judges.

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November 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Burk: The Evolving Market for New Lawyers in the 21st Century

Bernard A. Burk (North Carolina), What's New About the New Normal: The Evolving Market for New Lawyers in the 21st Century, 41 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 541 (2014):

Everyone agrees that job prospects for many new law graduates have been poor for the last several years; there is rather less consensus on whether, when, how or why that may change. This article analyzes historical and current trends in the job market for new lawyers in an effort to predict how that market may evolve.

The article derives quantitative measurements of the proportion of law graduates over the last thirty years who have obtained initial employment for which law school serves as rational substantive preparation (“Law Jobs”). In comparing entry-level hiring patterns since 2008 with those in earlier periods, a significant development emerges: While other sectors of the market for new lawyers have changed only modestly during the Great Recession, one sector — the larger private law firms colloquially known as “BigLaw” — has contracted six times as much as all the others. Though BigLaw hiring has historically accounted for only 10%-20% of each graduating class, it is responsible for over half the entry-level Law Jobs lost since 2008.

While some observers predict a return to business as usual as the economy recovers, this article is skeptical of that account. The article identifies significant structural changes in the way that the services traditionally provided by BigLaw are being produced, staffed and priced that diminish BigLaw’s need for junior lawyers both immediately and in the longer term. These observations suggest that entry-level BigLaw hiring, and thus the market for new lawyers overall, will remain depressed below pre-recession levels well after demand for the services BigLaw has traditionally provided recovers. At the same time, new lawyers’ job prospects may nevertheless improve as the contraction in the legal academy now underway reduces the number of new graduates competing for work.


November 29, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

November 28, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What Tax Profs Are Thankful For

  • Jordan Barry (San Diego):  "I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my brilliant and beautiful wife Emily, my loving family, and my wonderful friends. I’m also thankful for my job—and for tenure, which I received this past year. "
  • Paul Caron (Pepperdine):  "I am thankful for my beautiful wife, daughter, son, and dog, and that three of them are gainfully employed."
  • Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama):  "This year I am grateful for the colleagues I have had in the past few years and my new colleagues at the present."
  • Bridget Crawford (Pace):  "Democracy, the right to peaceful protest, and university presses."
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU):  "In August 2011 my wife Linda learned that she had aggressive uterine cancer and that if she proved to be in the wrong tail of the bell curve, she would pass within 12 months. So we consider ourselves very blessed that we were able to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June 2014 and that Linda is well enough to have traveled to Europe twice with me in 2014 and now to be preparing for a full-bore, big family Thanksgiving dinner. We live on the bubble between quarterly MRIs but are grateful for each additional day."
  • Victoria Haneman (Concordia):  "I am thankful for so many things in 2014: publication of Making Tax Law with co-author Dan Berman, a new position at a school with incredibly engaged students and a great selection of farm-to-table restaurants, and a baby girl on the way."
  • David Hasen (Colorado):  "I give thanks that a holy God (Isaiah 6:3-5) provides a way of salvation for us in His Son (Romans 10:9)."
  • Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State):  "I am so grateful for my wonderful colleagues and my happy little family!"
  • Sagit Leviner (Ono):  "I am thankful for my little pumpkin."
  • Francine Lipman (UNLV):  "Thankful to be at UNLV, where we embrace diversity and understand that education is the key, door, path, and answer."
  • Ed Lyons (Oklahoma City):  "I am thankful because the more I focus my mind on the goods and the good people that surround me, the more they seem to multiply: 'For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away' (Matthew 25:29)."
  • Jim Maule (Villanova):  [See here.]
  • John Plecnik (Cleveland State):  "I am thankful for the chance to serve my students at Cleveland State as their professor, and my neighbors in Willoughby Hills as their Councilman."
  • Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson):  "I am thankful for the students who appreciate the work that I do."

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

WSJ: Law School Deans Question Sharp Drop in Bar Exam Scores

Following up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, Law School Deans Question Sharp Drop in Bar Exam Scores:

Law schools are turning up the heat on the nation’s leading bar exam group over what they say is an inexplicable drop in student scores on the most recent test.

Dozens of law school deans across the country attached their names to a letter sent to the National Conference of Bar Examiners on Tuesday demanding a “thorough investigation of the administration and scoring” of the July 2014 bar exam. ...

The NCBE, the Wisconsin-based non-profit that prepares widely used standardized portions of the bar exam, says the results of the July test are troubling, but says the tests aren’t to blame. The group says students this year just didn’t do as well as previous years’ cohorts.

Law schools — many of which are straining to keep up enrollment in a time of sagging demand for law degrees — have bristled at the response.

The letter signed by roughly 80 deans hailing mostly from middle-ranked and public institutions, wants the NCBE to back up its claim with another review and disclosure of its methodology. ...

“We take this very seriously,” the longtime president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Erica Moeser, told Law Blog on Wednesday. “It calls for an institutional response, which, of course, I’ll supply.” Ms. Moeser said her group has checked and rechecked its data and has found nothing awry on its end. ...

Deans from University of Connecticut, Case Western, Wake Forest, University of California-Hastings, and University of Washington were among those who added their names. [Although Deans of 40% of American law schools signed the letter, only 14% of the Deans at Top 50 law schools did so (BYU, Colorado, Fordham, Texas, and Utah, in addition to Washington and Wake Forest) -- none of the T14, and only one of the Top 20].

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November 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Law Professor Blogs Network in ABA Blawg 100 and ABA Blawg Hall of Fame

ABA Blog 100Kudos to our Law Professor Blogs Network bloggers named to the 2014 ABA Blawg 100 -- "the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal":

  • EvidenceProf Blog, edited by Colin Miller (South Carolina):  "Every weekday, law professors—primarily the University of South Carolina's Colin Miller—post on the very latest rulings regarding the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases and what sorts of lines of questioning should be permitted at criminal trials. He also notes differences between the federal rules of evidence and the rules of various states. Occasionally, he will comment on whether he thinks courts have reached the right outcomes in these evidence cases or note fishy behavior by prosecutors."
  • Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, edited by Gerry W. Beyer (Texas Tech):  "Death and taxes are certainties for which we may plan. But quite a few of life's uncertainties can be faced with equanimity as well, if we just make some prudent preparations, Texas Tech law professor Gerry W. Beyer tells us. His blog provides useful advice on doing so, along with book and article summaries and thoughtful news analysis. Entries are concise and accessible, even to those who are unversed in estate law topics."

Hall of Fame 2Two Law Professor Blog Network blogs are in the ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame:

In 2012, we established the Blawg 100 Hall of Fame for those blogs which had consistently been outstanding throughout multiple Blawg 100 lists. The inaugural list contained 10 inductees; this year, we added 10 more, bringing the total to 30.

  • Legal Profession Blog, by Alan Childress (Tulane), Michael Frisch (Georgetown), and Jeff Lipshaw (Suffolk):  "The posts here often have us wondering, 'What were they thinking?' If a lawyer strays from ethical boundaries, the professors who blog here are quick to pick up on the trail of any discipline with to-the-point, snark-free dispatches."
  • TaxProf Blog, edited by Paul Caron (Pepperdine): "Paul Caron, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, covers tax reform in the news and scholarship related to U.S. tax law, and he notes celebrity tax disasters. But we like TaxProf at least as much for Caron’s exhaustive coverage of news and debates covering legal education. He became the sole owner of the Law Professor Blogs Network and a makeover of that group of blogs soon followed."

November 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are You a Jerk at Work?

Columbia Press Release,  Are You Seen as a Jerk at Work? A New Study Reveals That Many People Are Oblivious to How They Come Across to Counterparts and Colleagues:

The JerkWhen Jill Abramson was ousted from her position as the executive editor of The New York Times, it was reported that she was, among other things, too “pushy.” But did Abramson—who has also been described by the media as “polarizing” and “brusque”—know during the course of her tenure that others viewed her as being overly assertive? A new study from the Columbia Business School suggests that there’s a great chance she didn’t.

“Finding the middle ground between being pushy and being a pushover is a basic challenge in social life and the workplace. We’ve now found that the challenge is compounded by the fact that people often don’t know how others see their assertiveness,” said Daniel Ames, professor of management at Columbia Business School and co-author of the new study. “In the language of Goldilocks, many people are serving up porridge that others see as too hot or too cold, but they mistakenly think the temperature comes across as just right—that their assertiveness is seen as appropriate. To our surprise, we also found that many people whose porridge was actually seen as just right mistakenly thought their porridge came off as too hot. That is, they were asserting themselves appropriately in the eyes of others, but they incorrectly thought they were pushing too hard.”

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November 26, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ranking of School Does Not Affect Quality of Teaching

Chronicle of Higher Education, Colleges’ Prestige Doesn’t Guarantee a Top-Flight Learning Experience:

NSSE Logo[T]his year’s National Survey of Student Engagement [Nessie], which was released on Thursday, ... took a stab at identifying educational quality on the institutional level, an attribute that is as important to higher education as it is hard to define. The survey collected data from 355,000 freshmen and seniors at 622 institutions in the spring.

Nessie researchers, who are based at Indiana University at Bloomington, created two indicators for quality. One, student-faculty interaction, asked students how often they talked with faculty members about career plans, course topics, or other ideas outside class, among other questions. The other measure, effective teaching practices, distilled student perceptions of how often their instructors clearly explained course goals and requirements, taught in an organized way, used examples to illustrate difficult points, or provided feedback.

The results were surprising, especially when they were grouped based on how selective a college is. ... [R]esearchers analyzed the measures of interaction and teaching according to selectivity, as defined by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

The average student, the researchers found, experienced widely different degrees of educational quality in different colleges within the same category of prestige. And, in all but a few cases, the categories of selectivity had no meaningful relationship to the indicators of teaching and interaction. ...

"Conventional wisdom says that the more selective an institution is, the better it is going to be," Alexander C. McCormick, director of Nessie, said in an interview. "That’s not systematically true with these two measures." ...


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November 25, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Crowd-Sourced Interview of Judge Richard Posner

PosnerRonald K.L. Collins (University of Washington), The Maverick – A Biographical Sketch of Judge Richard Posner: Part I:

Below is the first installment in a multi-part series of posts on Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner. The first two installments consist of an unconventional biographical profile of the Judge. These posts will be followed by a series of posts consisting of the Judge’s candid and often unexpected responses to numerous questions I posed to him along with those of 24 noted legal figures. In the process, Judge Posner bursts into the breach with frankness about his views on privacy, the exclusionary rule, NYT v. Sullivan, intellectual property rights, law and economics, constitutional interpretation, legal education and scholarship, and the politicization of the judiciary. With Posnerian resolve, he also speaks of his own life, his onetime thoughts on being a Supreme Court Justice, his cherished feline, and even his favorite rock stars. Given all that, we selected “Posner on Posner” as the title for this series.

November 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Services Sector Shrank 2.9% in 2013

Matt Leichter, Commerce Dept.: Legal Services Sector Contracts (Again) in 2013:

Earlier this month the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) updated its GDP by industry data. The chief finding for law-watchers is that in 2013 the legal services industry shrank by 2.9 percent. Ouch. The legal services industry includes all private law firms, and it employs about half of all lawyers. Meanwhile GDP grew by 2.2 percent, meaning that once again, the shriveling legal sector is being outdone by the rest of the economy.

Percent Change Real Value Added by Industry

November 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

2014 Moot Court Rankings

Moot Court2014 Moot Court Rankings:

1.  Florida Coastal
2.  Georgetown
3.  UC-Hastings
4.  South Texas
4.  Texas Tech
6.  Georgia
7.  Chicago-Kent
8.  Seton Hall
9.  Miami
10. Loyola-Chicago
12. Stetson
13. Houston
14. Mississippi
15. Faulkner
16. Emory
17. George Washington
18. Wisconsin
18. Regent
20. San Diego
20. Georgia State
22. Hawaii
23. St. John's
23. William Mitchell
25. Pepperdine

November 25, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Krawiec: Selling The Starred Footnote

Kimberly D. Krawiec (Duke), Selling The Starred Footnote:

I’m late to the game in blogging about this, but I just found out about it on Friday at a conference on the Ethical Limits of Markets hosted by the Institute For The Study of Markets and Ethics at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (about which I’ll have more to say later). Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski are selling acknowledgements in the preface of their book Markets without Limits, which will be published by Routledge Press, most likely in late 2015 or early 2016.

The book answers the question “Are there some things which you permissibly may possess, use, and give away, but which are wrong to buy and sell?” in the negative, in contrast to the numerous books already written on the topic which take the contrary position. Brennan and Jaworski are selling three tiers of acknowledgements: Silvermint Tier, Platinum Tier, and Gold Tier (The Silvermint Tier is so named because philosophy and women’s studies professor Daniel Silvermint is paying to have the highest tier named after him.)

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Young Lawyers Seek to Shake Up Legal Profession With Mobile Apps

Boston Globe, Young Lawyers Seek to Shake Up Legal Profession With Mobile Apps:

AppsWilliam Palin is a 32-year-old lawyer who passed the bar exam in 2013. But it didn’t take him long to wonder why, when the rest of the world is increasingly conducting business on cellphones and tablets, the legal profession is so tied to paper, desktop computers, and e-mailed Microsoft Word documents.

So as a child of the digital age, he decided to act, joining a growing group of young, tech-savvy lawyers dedicated to developing technology to deliver legal services more efficiently.

Palin taught himself how to write code for mobile applications. He built two apps to speed up how lawyers work with each other and their clients. And in December he’s launching a Boston-Cambridge branch of a nationwide group called Legal Hackers, young lawyers focused on creating and adopting technological tools. ...

While many attorneys see mobile technology as a way to better serve existing clients and recruit new ones, the partners at major law firms play a big role in how aggressively the law business will adapt. And those established practitioners may be leery of adopting some new technologies for fear that will lead to breaches of confidentiality.

Legal Hackers hopes to bridge that generational divide — and the group seems to be making progress. In August, at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting, one panel was titled “Cracking the Code: Everything You Wanted to Know About Coding, Open Data & More But Were Afraid to Ask.” ...

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stop Bullying Old Professors

BullyingFollowing up on Tuesday's post, The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students:  Slate, Quit Picking on Old Professors: Bullying Boomers Into Retirement Won’t Help the Sad State of Higher Education in This Country, by Rebecca Schuman:

This week, academia is in a frenzy—well, an erudite tizzy—over an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education by recently retired art professor Laurie Fendrich. In the piece, Fendrich, who’s 66, lauds her own decision to leave her position at Hofstra—and characterizes her aging colleagues as doddering dinosaurs who are clogging up the academic pipeline.

As in other professions, baby boomers “hanging on” past retirement age is a hot-button issue in higher education—and it’s easy to see why. In the university, the over-65s are the final generation for whom teaching college has provided a stable, (somewhat) respected, remunerative middle-class existence. They’ve had benefits and job security for longer than most of their younger colleagues have been alive. And they didn’t have to work nearly as hard to get all that—back in the ’60s and ’70s, when most of them began their careers, requirements for hiring and tenure were a fraction of what they are now. ...

Here’s where [Fendrich's] (or, at 66, almost dead) wrong. Students may benefit more from a sagacious senior than they do from many a thirsty, young tenure-track careerist. After all, the Old, with his tenure firmly in hand and few concerns about his future, actually has time for his students; that 33-year-old is on the terminal brink of nervous collapse under the weight of too much research expectation. Perpetually on the market for a more prestigious job, she’s been counseled over and over again not to “waste” too much time on teaching. ...

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

'These [Law] Jobs are Going Boys and They Ain’t Coming Back'

SpringsteenDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), “These Jobs are Going Boys and They Ain’t Coming Back” [Bruce Springsteen, My Hometown]:

Lawyers and law schools reflect the needs of society and the power and structure of our economic system. At this point lawyers and law schools need to adapt the ways in which they “do business” or become uncompetitive. Lawyers and law schools are faced with economic and technological “tsunamis” in the nature of Joseph Schumpeter’s concept of “creative destruction” or Nikolai Kondratiev’s periodic “waves” of fundamental change. These transformational “events” generate non-linear shifts in form, process and needs that fundamentally alter how the system works. These dynamic forces are now destroying some traditionally organized institutions while empowering others and forcing the invention of new institutions and altered forms of traditional ones.

Projections of the future employment opportunities of lawyers tend to be both linear and crude, relying primarily on taking “what is” or what “has been” and assuming that some variation of that model will be what occurs in the future after what has been described as the “lawyer surplus” has been absorbed. Such assumptions and projections provide a degree of comfort to those whose livelihoods and careers depend on the stability of existing institutions and patterns of organization. Unfortunately, in the situation we now inhabit the assumptions are false and the projections inaccurate. The most recent “tweaking” of lawyer employment projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that raised its own estimates from around 23,000 to 40,000 will make many people feel better for a few moments but the fact is that it is almost certainly wrong.

Matt Leichter recently offered an analysis on whether the employment situation was getting better or worse. Unfortunately the answer Leichter offered was summed up in his report that the situation was becoming considerably worse rather than improving. In linking to Leichter’s report Paul Caron noted that the surplus was worsening and that there would be three new lawyers chasing each available job by 2022.

The fact is that the worlds of lawyers and law schools are “spinning on their axes” and undergoing transformations that are penetrating the very core of the activity. Dramatic effects are already being felt but even more striking changes are in store. One individual employed by a company seeking to understand (and capitalize) on the shifting context of law practice began his assessment with an observation of the current state of the legal profession. He described it as one in which: “The current state of the legal services industry is one of fear, denial, distrust and unmet expectations. Lawyers are asking if they ever thought law practice would reveal such fault lines in purpose, mission and economic opportunity. … Massive job losses, significant declines in legal service revenues and increased hostility toward the business model on which legal services are based are mere warning signs of a tsunami of change rapidly approaching the shore. What remains beyond debate is that the business of law has lost its luster and the legal industry landscape is littered with unmet expectations on the part of clients and lawyers alike.” Pretty dismal. ...

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November 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Muller: The NCBE's Role in Declining MBE Scores and Bar Pass Rates

Following up on my previous posts (here, here, here, and here):  California released its July 2014 bar exam results on Friday:  a 48.6% overall pass rate (down 7.2 percentage points from 2013) and 61.0% first-time takers pass rate (down 6.7 percentage points from 2013).  (For more, see Vikram Amar (UC-Davis) and Dan Filler (Drexel)).  Derek Muller (Pepperdine) notes that California is the 20th state (out of 34 states that have released their results thus far) with at least a 5 percentage point bar passage rate decline:


Derek argues that neither the decline in student quality or the exam soft computer malfunction can explain these declining MBE scores and bar passage rates.

November 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maryann Jones, Hired as Charleston Law School President Under Renewable 3-Month Contract, Resigns After 8 Days on the Job

ICCharleston Post and Courier, New Charleston School of Law President Steps Down:

Maryann Jones has stepped down as the Charleston School of Law's president after only eight days on the job.

The law school has been embroiled in a controversy for more than a year over the possible sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System, which owns three other law schools.

Two of the school's three owners, George Kosko and Robert Carr, are in favor of the sale. But Ed Westbrook, the third owner, is pushing to form a nonprofit corporation to run the 10-year-old school, which also is for-profit.

But the owners voted unanimously Nov. 13 to hire Jones as president.

In an email sent late Thursday to Kosko, Carr and Abrams, Jones said she decided not to take the reins of the private, downtown law school, and would not sign a contract. "The level of vitriol, with all sides making me a lightning rod for an unfortunate situation that was not of my making, makes this truly a situation that I am unwilling at this stage of my life to undertake." Jones stated in the email.

Westbrook earlier Thursday had sent Jones a letter expressing his disappointment in her speaking to faculty and students in support of a sale to InfiLaw. To get his vote, Jones had agreed to be objective, and to learn more about alternatives for the school, Westbrook stated.

He also stated that he was disappointed that Jones hadn't yet met with him and his attorney Dawes Cooke to discuss the school's future. Westbrook's letter also revealed that Jones was being offered only a three-month contract.

FITS News, CSOL President Steps Down Due To Bullying By Director

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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November 22, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

UC-Irvine Cuts Class by 29% in Bid for Top 20 Inaugural U.S. News Ranking

UC-Irvine (2015)UC-Irvine Law School will be ranked by U.S. News for the first time this March, and Dean Chemerinsky has unabashedly stated that the school's goal is to "be a top 20 law school, by every measure, from the moment we open our doors and from our first rankings."  To help achieve that goal, the school cut its Fall 2014 entering class by 29.4% to 89 students (from 126 in 2013), to keep its median LSAT at 164 (and increase its median GPA by 0.01 to 3.53).  This year's class is 55.5% below Dean Chemerinsky's goal of classes of 200 students.

Update:  Above the Law, Law School Slashes Students To Game U.S. News Rankings

November 21, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sander: The Mismatch Critique of Law School Affirmative Action and Its Opponents

MismatchRichard Sander (UCLA), Mismatch and the Empirical Scholars Brief, 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 555 (2014):

In April 2013, the Valparaiso University Law Review held a symposium on diversity in legal education, commemorating the contributions of Justice Randall Shepard and featuring a number of distinguished speakers. I was invited to participate in a panel on Fisher v. University of Texas, a then-pending Supreme Court case that seemed likely to revise the rules under which universities can consider race in higher education admissions. The conference organizers generously allowed me to participate by videoconference, as did my co-panelist Professor Eboni Nelson. They and I agreed that my talk should explore some of the empirical issues that might frame how the Supreme Court viewed Fisher.

I approached the event with some concern. I had been the bête noire of many diversity advocates ever since 2005, when the Stanford Law Review published my long analysis and critique of law school affirmative action programs. I had advanced, and since steadfastly defended, something called “the mismatch hypothesis,” which postulated that very large preferences--racial or of any other kind--may undermine student learning, because professors tend to teach to the middle of their class, and students far below the middle will have trouble keeping up and advancing as concepts build day by day. Critiques of my essay had been many, but I had answered them, and an increasingly broad array of other scholars had published articles that found other strong evidence of mismatch in a wide variety of academic contexts. Certainly, the evidence for mismatch was mixed--at least in some contexts--and social scientists who found evidence of mismatch never argued--to my knowledge--that the existence of mismatch should preclude affirmative action policies. But just as certainly, universities tended to completely ignore the mismatch problem, and this was quite disturbing. The Supreme Court's decision to review the Fifth Circuit's holding in Fisher--and to thus reconsider the constitutionality of university racial preferences--increased the level of interest and anxiety about mismatch research.

Lawyer and journalist Stuart Taylor, Jr., had joined forces with me to write a broadly accessible book on the effects of racial preferences, called Mismatch, which appeared in October 2012. That, along with two briefs that Stuart and I wrote as amici curiae to the Court on Fisher, helped to elevate the mismatch hypothesis to a prominent place in the public discussion of Fisher. The New York Times, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR's All Things Considered all ran prominent articles on mismatch, generally treating it as, at the very least, an idea to be reckoned with seriously. The general tone was well-captured by The New York Times' David Brooks, who wrote: “[A]ffirmative action programs ... perpetrated some noteworthy wrongs .... The evidence on this is hotly disputed, but Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. make a compelling case ....”

Yet at law school events during the 2012-2013 academic year, when I was invited to speak about any aspect of Fisher, a strangely repetitive pattern emerged. Regardless of whether the topic at hand was mismatch, or some entirely different part of the affirmative action issue, panel members who disliked my mismatch research would start to recite from a document known as the Empirical Scholars Brief. This document, they would suggest, was the definitive refutation of Richard Sander, the other “mismatch” researchers, and all that we were taken to represent. Often they would distribute copies of the Empirical Scholars Brief to the audience, like revivalists passing out the Gospel of St. James. But--and this was the oddest part--these panelists were never interested in engaging or debating any of the claims that were actually in the Empirical Scholars Brief (which I will sometimes, as shorthand, refer to as the “ESB”). One panelist, at an AALS panel in a large ballroom, disclaimed any intention of getting into the details. “I'm not a trained quantitative empiricist,” she said, “instead I'm compelled to rely on critiques by other empiricists.” Pretty much exactly the same thing happened at the Valparaiso symposium. Professor Nelson began our panel with a very thoughtful discussion of the “deference” issue--that is, when and to what degree the Supreme Court should defer to the educational judgment of universities in evaluating their diversity programs. Professor Sumi Cho followed with some rather discursive remarks on the importance of diversity. I then spoke about some of my empirical findings on university behavior--a sort of empirical comment on some of the same issues Professor Nelson had raised. When we finished, and the question and answer portion began, Professor Cho distributed a copy of the ESB to the audience, with the standard comment that the audience could better evaluate my comments if they knew what other social scientists thought of my work. With my time up, and on my remote monitor, I was not in a very good position to respond to and engage the ESB claims. I encouraged anyone in the audience to ask me to discuss any specific claim they could identify, but there were no takers. It felt to me like a completely non-substantive, ad hominem, and unfair attack.

It therefore seems appropriate to take the opportunity afforded by the written version of the symposium to provide the sort of thoughtful engagement that I would have liked to provide the live symposium audience. What follows is an assessment--though it may sound more like an expose--of the “Empirical Scholars Brief.” The thrust of my analysis is that the ESB is not just substantively wrong, but it is also a deeply dishonest document that relies on outright falsehoods and misleading claims to support an argument, which should be embarrassing to its signatories, and is entitled to no substantive weight in discussions of mismatch and affirmative action.

Richard Sander (UCLA), The Stylized Critique of Mismatch, 92 Tex. L. Rev. 1637 (2014):

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November 20, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Drexel 3L With Asperger's Syndrome Sues Philadelphia Law Firms For Relying on U.S. News Rankings in Hiring Decisions

U.S. News (2015)Dave Hoffman (Temple) blogs lawsuits by William Hanrahan, a Drexel 3L with Asperger's Syndrome ranked #4 in his class, claiming that three big Philadelphia law firms (Blank Rome, Dechert, Pepper Hamilton) discriminate against disabled job applicants by unduly relying on the U.S. News ranking of the applicant's law school:

I’m not an expert in this area of the law, but I thought the complaint provided an interesting set of facts for discussion. My uninformed view is that the chain of causation (disability –> lower LSAT –> lower-ranked school –> fewer job offers) isn’t incredible, but that it’s hard to imagine a judge forcing firms to discount rankings (which, after all, aren’t entirely or even mostly based on student credentials) when making hiring decisions.


November 20, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Did So Many People Flunk the Bar Exam This Year?

Following up on my earlier posts (here, here, and here):  Bloomberg, Why Did So Many People Flunk the Bar Exam This Year?:

The most recent bar exam test results are in, and they are ugly. In several states, people who took the bar in July were more likely to fail than those who took it last year, and scores on one portion of the test dropped to their lowest point in 10 years.

Are America’s law graduates really getting dumber? The people who put together the bar exam seem to think so.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners, a nonprofit that prepares one of the state-specific multiple-choice sections in which scores dropped dramatically, sent a curt message to law school deans in October. “The results are correct,” wrote Erica Moeser, the group’s president, in an Oct. 23 memo. “The group that sat in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013,”

It’s technically true that this year’s crop of grads was “less able” than before, if you use their pre-law-school test scores as a proxy for their smarts. The median LSAT score among students at American law schools has declined every year from 2010 to 2013, according to an analysis by Jerry Organ, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas. ...

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November 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Seto: New BLS Data Project More Lawyer Jobs Than Law Grads in 2016

Seto (2014)Following up on yesterday's post, Government's Data Collection Change Will 'Solve' the Law School Crisis:  TaxProf Blog op-ed:  The Proposed New BLS Lawyer Replacement Projections, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

Commentators who believe that the end of the world is near for legal education often point to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates of replacement needs in the legal profession and compare those estimates to the number of projected law school graduates.

On May 16, 2014, the BLS issued a notice proposing a new method for measuring what it calls “occupational separations” – that is, workers leaving a particular occupation who need to be replaced. The BLS explains that the current method indirectly measures leavers by measuring employment change by age group, relying on an assumption that workers enter at a young age, work in their field until they are old, and then retire, creating opportunities for the next generation of young workers. In this framework, occupation is fixed throughout a worker’s career. The BLS notes: “However true this may have been in the past, it does not apply to many workers today.”

The new method, by contrast, directly measures workers who leave an occupation, "taking advantage of the longitudinal aspects of the CPS monthly survey and supplements."

BLS states that it believes that the current method fails to capture a large number of separations that result in openings for new entrants and that the new method is a more accurate measure. Specifically, the current method undercounts openings because it only accurately measures workers who follow a traditional career path—entering an occupation at a young age, working in the same occupation for many years, then retiring—which is not the case for many workers in most occupations.

It has tested the relative validity of the two methods against historical data from selected professions – among them, lawyers. As to projected lawyer replacement rates, the notice states:

External data is available on historical new entrants for lawyers. Not all law school graduates become lawyers, but the American Bar Association (ABA) conducts a census of employment outcomes for all law school graduates in order to count the number who find employment in positions that require bar passage (effectively, lawyers). Since ABA began collecting this data in 2011, the number of graduates finding employment in such positions has averaged 29,000 per year. Because some graduates who don’t immediately find such positions may become lawyers later in their career (for example, many graduates become law clerks, a position that does not require bar passage, for a few years before becoming lawyers), this number should be less than the total number of new entrants into the occupation.

Under the current method, BLS projects an average of 19,650 job openings per year, while the new method projects 41,460 openings per year. Again, no direct comparison between the ABA number and the BLS numbers is possible due to conceptual differences, but the results under the current method are significantly below the actual number of new graduates finding work in the occupation. (emphasis supplied) The new method projects a higher number of openings, which allows for additional entrants not immediately after completion of a law degree.

Based on 2012 and 2013 matriculation rates and historical drop-out rates, we should expect 40,082 ABA-accredited law school graduates in 2015 and 35,954 in 2016. If the new BLS projections are accurate, we should see demand and supply in relative equilibrium in 2015 and a significant excess of demand over supply beginning in 2016. (These estimates only take into account JD-required jobs. Demand from JD-advantage employers is not included.)

Update:  ABA Journal, Are 2016 Law Grads in Luck? New Stats Say Lawyer Jobs Will Exceed Graduates That Year

November 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Cost of College Crosses $260,000 Threshold

Chronicle of Higher Education, New Data on Tuition and Fees for Thousands of Colleges:


November 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Government's Data Collection Change Will 'Solve' the Law School Crisis

BLS (2015)Matt Leichter, How the Transparency Movement Reinflated the Law School Bubble:

[T]he Bureau of Labor Statistics is changing its employment projections methodology, specifically its measure of how many workers will be replaced in occupations in its 10-year projection periods—as opposed to the number of positions that the economy will create. ...

The BLS’s employment projections have long been a go-to source for law school critics. The ~24,000 projected annual lawyer job growth rates they showed every two years contrasted excellently with the ~40,000 law graduates each year (and the even greater number of bar admits). No longer. ... It writes ...

Not all law school graduates become lawyers, but the ABA conducts a census of employment outcomes for all law school graduates in order to count the number who find employment in positions that require bar passage (effectively, lawyers). Since ABA began collecting this data in 2011, the number of graduates finding employment in such positions has averaged 29,000 per year. Because some graduates who don’t immediately find such positions may become lawyers later in their career (for example, many graduate become law clerks, a position that does not require bar passage, for a few years before becoming lawyers), this number should be less than the total number of new entrants into the occupation.

Under the current method, BLS projects an average of 19,650 job openings per year, while the new method projects 41,460 openings per year. Again, no direct comparison between the ABA number and the BLS numbers is possible due to conceptual differences, but the results under the current method are significantly below the actual number of new graduates finding work in the occupation. The new method projects a higher number of openings, which allows for additional entrants not immediately after completion of a law degree.

Okay, data on law graduate unemployment has actually been around for many years, e.g. the NALP and the Official Guide, crude though it was. I’ve written about the strong correlation between falling proportions of graduates finding bar-passage-required jobs and graduates taking JD-advantage jobs or not finding any work. This is evidence of a saturated lawyer market, even if it’s caused in part by slack aggregate demand.

Percent Employed by Status (NALP)

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

The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students

RetireChronicle of Higher Education:  The Forever Professors: Academics Who Don’t Retire Are Greedy, Selfish, and Bad For Students, by Laurie Fendrich (Hofstra):

The 1994 law ending mandatory retirement at age 70 for university professors substantially mitigated the problem of age discrimination within universities. But out of this law a vexing new problem has emerged—a graying—yea, whitening—professoriate. The law, which allows tenured faculty members to teach as long as they want—well past 70, or until they’re carried out of the classroom on a gurney—means professors are increasingly delaying retirement past age 70 or even choosing not to retire at all. ...

Professors approaching 70 who are still enamored with hanging out with students and colleagues, or even fretting about money, have an ethical obligation to step back and think seriously about quitting. If they do remain on the job, they should at least openly acknowledge they’re doing it mostly for themselves. ...

The average age for all tenured professors nationwide is now approaching 55 and creeping upward; the number of professors 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2011. In spite of those numbers, according to a Fidelity Investments study conducted about a year ago, three-quarters of professors between 49 and 67 say they will either delay retirement past age 65 or—gasp!—never retire at all. They ignore, or are oblivious to, the larger implications for their students, their departments, and their colleges. ...

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November 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Dershowitz Wins Acquittal in Spitzer's Prosecution of Biblical Abraham for Attempted Murder of Isaac

AbrahamNew York Times,  At Educational Event, a Modern Legal Interpretation of a Biblical Story:

The facts were undeniable: The defendant, one Abraham (no known surname), had teetered on the brink of stabbing his son Isaac to death, only to be stopped by divine intervention.

Luckily he had a lawyer with a thirst for tough cases, not to mention a jury pool consisting exclusively of people who proudly claim to be descended from the accused.

The setting, too, seemed at least mildly favorable: the soaring Fifth Avenue sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El, with twin menorahs on either side of the courtroom.

But who could begrudge him? When the defendant in question is the father of the Jewish people, it seems only right that the trial — even if it is only a mock trial done for educational purposes — should take place in one of the country’s most eminent Reform synagogues, with two of New York’s most prominent Jews sparring over his fate.

For the prosecution:  Eliot Spitzer, a former governor and attorney general of New York. For the defense:  Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School professor who was one of Mr. Spitzer’s former professors but is perhaps better known for defending O. J. Simpson and other notorious clients. ...

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Law School Tuition v. Bar Exam Success

Huffington Post, Comparing Law School Tuition With How Many Grads Pass The Bar On The First Try:

Paying more money in tuition for law school does not necessarily boost your chance of passing the bar on the first try, but it doesn't seem to hurt either, according to a chart by FindTheBest. [Click on bubbles to see results for individual law schools.]

November 17, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Projected Lawyer Surpluses Worsen: 3 New Lawyers for Every Law Job in 2022

The American Lawyer:  States' Projected Lawyer Surpluses Deteriorate for 2022, by Matt Leichter:

[G]overnment employment projections can provide more insight into the number of future lawyer positions that will be available for prospective law students. In fact, estimates on lawyer employment in 2022 by state are now available, making it possible to update the calculations for the law graduate and lawyer surpluses.

The “law graduate surplus” measures the ratio of ABA law school graduates in each state in 2013 to the estimated annual lawyer job growth rate for the 2012-22 projection period. The “lawyer surplus” makes the same calculation but subs out law school graduates with the number of bar admits in all states and under all circumstances (including those entering on motion).

The law graduate surplus is useful because it uses a discrete number of individuals, but it includes people who never become lawyers while excluding people who join the bar without going to an ABA law school (for instance, by attending a foreign law school). By contrast, the lawyer surplus directly measures people who obtain a law license, except it duplicates many who seek bar admission in multiple states—a phenomenon that is likely to increase in the future as more jurisdictions adopt the Uniform Bar Exam. However, the lawyer surplus does provide information on the large number of lawyers who motion into the District of Columbia bar without attending a local law school or taking its bar exam.

State governments provide estimates of lawyer employment in 2012 and 2022 along with the projected annual growth rate. The following table breaks them down by state (which includes the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and region as delineated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. ...

Here is a table of the law graduate and lawyer surpluses by state and region, ranked ... by the lawyer surplus for 2013 and compared against 2011.

States with the biggest lawyer surplus:
















North Dakota




















New Jersey




















New York










New Hampshire










District of Columbia







































States with the lowest lawyer surplus:





































































































Here are the totals for all fifty states:

US (State Data)









US (BLS Data)









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November 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Undergraduate Prestige Affects Earnings Premium From Elite Graduate Programs

Wall Street Journal, Graduates of Elite Colleges See a Payoff:

Sure, it’s nice to have a graduate degree from Yale, but a new study finds that attending an elite undergraduate institution counts for an awful lot when it comes to lifelong earnings. A researcher at the Vanderbilt University Law School found that people with advanced degrees from elite schools and undergraduate diplomas from less-selective institutions earn less than people who attended elite schools for both their graduate and undergraduate degrees. The results hold up across a broad swath of graduate programs, from law degrees to M.B.A.s. And those who attended less elite undergraduate institutions are unlikely to ever close the salary gap, according to the study.

Joni Hersch of Vanderbilt Law School said the survey results came as somewhat of a surprise, but suggests that it’s not really undergraduate education driving the pay disparity, but instead the social status of graduates of elite colleges. ...

Among those who attended top-tier graduate institutions, the pay gap between graduates of top-tier and lower-tier undergraduate schools was considerable.


Joni Hersch (Vanderbilt), Catching Up Is Hard to Do: Undergraduate Prestige, Elite Graduate Programs, and the Earnings Premium:

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November 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Federalist Society Panel: Is Higher Education Run for the Benefit of Students, Faculty or Administrators?

Federalist SocietyAt today's 2014 National Lawyers Convention: Millennials, Equity and the Rule of Law:

Showcase Panel III:  Higher Education: Run for the Benefit of Students or Faculty or Administrators?:

Success in today’s global economy virtually requires a college or post graduate degree, but colleges and law schools have raised tuition enormously. The government subsidizes students to take huge loans to pay for college and law schools, loans which inflict an increasing burden on students, including law students in a troubled economy. Do these loans pay as much for faculty research and administrators as for direct student education? Are faculties producing research that justifies these costs? Are students getting a good deal now? Could or will on line education provide students with similar education at a fraction of the cost? Is it time to ask some hard questions about higher education? Does education policy benefit average and below average students or does it merely benefit the top of the class? This panel will focus to a significant degree on law schools.

  • Paul F. Campos (Colorado)
  • Daniel Polsby (Dean, George Mason)
  • Richard Kent Vedder (Ohio University)
  • Thomas D. Morgan (George Washington) (moderator)

November 15, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)