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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thoughts on Law Prof Work-Life Imbalance From Those Left Behind

Patricia Sun, the widow of Law Prof Andy Taslitz (American) who died of cancer on February 9 at age 57, wrote a gripping Facebook post on Thoughts on Work-Life ImBalance From Those Left Behind (excerpted here with a photo of Andy and Patricia, with Patricia's permission):

Patricia SunI'll post this on Andy's FB page because I'm not sure anyone reads mine anymore, and while this can apply to anyone, it's really addressed to law professors.

In the past 4 months I have kept seeing accolades to Andy's amazing productivity - the 100+ articles, the zillions of case books, etc., and I have always told people that yes, he led a normal life, yes, he got plenty of sleep and yes, he even took plenty of naps. 

But that's not really true. His life was not normal, at least not to me, and it certainly wasn't balanced. Yes, I know he genuinely loved his work and yes, I know he had a brilliant and unusual mind, and yes, I know he was cut down in his prime when he still had so much more to give. But all of that came with a price. Not the teaching or the mentoring, but all that scholarship. ...

So what was the price in the end? In the entire time we were married we only took a two-week vacation once, and just about every vacation we did take was wrapped around one of his conferences or presentations. The furthest he went on each of his two sabbaticals was his front bedroom, because he spent every single day on his manuscripts. He turned down trips to China, to South Africa, to Japan, and most impressively to me, he twice turned down a chance to be an observer at Guantanamo. Of course he always had different reasons -- S. Africa wasn't safe, the timing of the China trip was bad, etc., but I knew the real reason was he didn't want to take time away from work. ...

So in the end how do I feel about his productivity? Yes, he enjoyed it, but he also killed himself trying not to disappoint people or to break deadlines. 

And as I sit here with the dogs on July 4th, I think was it really that important to add one more book review to his CV or to do one more tenure letter as a favor for someone he never met? I'm glad his peers all loved him for the reliable genius that he was, and I don't know how he feels wherever he is now, but I am very, very bitter. 

Yes, he was a great academic mentor and collaborator, but the price for all that frenzied output was me, and there's a part of me that will never forgive him for it, because he died right after he promised to slow down and enjoy life itself more.

So think about it, members of the "academy." All that talk about US News rankings and SSRN citations. Do you REALLY think stuff like that is life and death to your loved ones? I think most of them would sacrifice one more line on your resume for one more day of quality time with you. I know I would. But it's a bargain I can't make any more.

Food for thought, especially for someone who last spent an entire 24-hour period not working exactly nine years ago to the day.

Update:  ABA Journal, Was Law Prof’s ‘Frenzied Output’ Worth It? His Widow Says Work Devotion Came at a Price

July 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Case Western and Former Dean Settle Retaliation Claim by Law Prof Over Reporting of Alleged Sexual Harassment of Students and Staff

SettlementFollowing up on my prior posts (links below):  the parties have reached a settlement in the lawsuit by Case Western Law Prof Raymond Ku alleging retaliation for reporting alleged sexual harassment of students and staff by former dean Lawrence Mitchell.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

July 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson: Supercharging Lawyer Development Through Feedback

William D. Henderson (Indiana), Supercharging Lawyer Development Through Feedback:

FeedbackI am a law professor. My job is to educate future lawyers. Experience has shown me that the best way to accelerate the development of legal skills is to provide more and better feedback to my students.

But feedback is expensive. It takes time to deliver intensive feedback. Moreover, feedback can be difficult emotional labor, as it is unpleasant to deliver bad news. Further, defensiveness is a relatively common reaction, so one has to be prepared to marshal facts and examples to show that the feedback is objective, fair, and accurate.

To compound matters, there are few if any institutional rewards for giving developmentally rich feedback,1 partially because it is difficult to measure the quality of feedback and its impact on lawyer development, and partially because scholarship remains the primary coin of the realm among university educators.

For all of these reasons, the majority of law school coursework involves very little feedback beyond a letter grade derived from a single end-of-the-term exam. Because high-quality feedback can accelerate lawyer professional development and is likely a winning strategy for any law school or law firm seeking to take market share, we are likely to see more of it in the years to come.

Drawing upon my experience as an educator who works closely with law firms and studies the legal profession, I am willing to wager on two predictions that others might find fanciful or utopian.

Continue reading

July 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Tuition Data (1996-2014)

TuiitonMatt Leichter, Law School Cost Data (1996-):

Here you will find analysis of the available information on law school costs, including tuition information from every juris-doctor-conferring law school going back to the 1996-1997 academic year. Also included are the percentages of full-time students paying full tuition by law school, the percentages of full-time students at private law schools receiving the median grant offered by their law school (or more), and the amount full-time students at private law schools pay if they receive the median grant—referred to as “median discounted tuition.” Tuition discounting at most public law schools and one private law school is not easy to measure because they charge their students different amounts. Also, many of the calculations carefully exclude the three ABA-accredited law schools in Puerto Rico because they behave very differently from stateside law schools. Many of the figures are inflation adjusted to 2013 dollars. ...

The sources used in this page are the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s statistics page and archived editions of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to the ABA Law Schools, which going forward will only appear electronically as the Standard 509 Reports. Some of the data come from paper copies of the Official Guide I purchased, so they can’t be easily verified. ...

Click on the hyperlink to read information on the following topics:

Table 1

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hastings Dean Fights Dive in U.S. News Law School Rankings

UC-Hastings Logo 3The Recorder:  UC-Hastings Dean Fights Rankings Dive:

Frank Wu is ready. He's got visual aids, the assistance of a research analyst, and a laptop that's booted and flipped open. His sleeves are rolled up and he's set to talk rankings. It's a presentation the dean of UC-Hastings College of the Law has given before.

Wu is trying to pull Hastings out of a yearslong dive in the rankings. The school was ranked 19th by U.S. News and World Report in 1992, and 42nd when Wu arrived in 2010. This year, after it slipped to 54 from 48, Wu wrote to reassure students and alumni that despite getting clobbered by the bleak hiring climate, UC-Hastings remains among the top law schools in the nation. ...

Like most deans, Wu has plenty of gripes about the rankings, but says he can't afford to ignore them. "Prospective students care. Our faculty care, staff care, alumni care, I care. Our board cares. If I stood up and said, 'I don't care about U.S. News. I'm going to pay no attention to U.S. News,' if I used obscenity and other inappropriate language, I would be removed of my responsibilities," he said. "So, U.S. News is a looming presence, and to rail against it is futile." ...

[T]he school's tumble in the rankings has created an opening for critics. Wu's a talker more than a listener and his in-your-face style is not always welcome. ...

The dean is also taking heat from graduates unhappy with the school's downward trajectory in the U.S. News rankings. "There isn't a day that goes by when I don't go out and have some alum berate me," Wu said. ...

In 2012, UC-Hastings reduced its incoming class by nearly 100 students. To cover the loss of tuition revenue, Wu cut the equivalent of 23 full-time staff positions. The school also raised in-state tuition nearly 30 percent between 2010 and 2012. Since then, it has remained roughly unchanged at approximately $48,000, and Wu is pushing hard to raise revenue through fundraising, bringing in about $6 million in the 2012 fiscal year.

"Some credit is due for keeping tuition flat," said Kyle McEntee, executive director of the nonprofit Law School Transparency. However, McEntee notes that holding "really high" tuition stable isn't exactly a win for students. California law schools such as UC-Irvine, Pepperdine University, Santa Clara University and the University of San Diego have done a better job of controlling tuition, he said.

[T]he biggest drag on Hastings' rank is student employment rates. U.S. News weighs the percent of grads employed in full-time, permanent jobs for which a law degree is a requirement or an advantage. Only 47 percent of last year's Hastings grads could claim that distinction.

Wu has joined with other California law school deans in demanding U.S. News change its methodology, which they say penalizes schools in states with high overall unemployment.

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. ...

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

July 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

10,000 Hours of Practice Does Not Guarantee Greatness

Business Insider:  New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule, by Drake Baer:

OutliersThe 10,000 Hour Rule — closely associated with pop psych writer Malcolm Gladwell — may not be much of a rule at all. 

The principle holds that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. When psychologists talk about deliberate practice, they mean practicing in a way that pushes your skill set as much as possible.

In Outliers, Gladwell contends that early access to getting 10,000 hours of practice allowed the Beatles to become the greatest band in history (thanks to playing all-night shows in Hamburg) and Bill Gates to become one of the richest dudes around (thanks to using a computer since his teen years). 

But a new Princeton study [Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis] tears that theory down. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice, the researchers found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains. What's really surprising is how much it depends on the domain: 

  • In games, practice made for a 26% difference
  • In music, it was a 21% difference
  • In sports, an 18% difference
  • In education, a 4% difference
  • In professions, just a 1% difference

Click MomentThe best explanation of the domain dependency is probably found in Frans Johansson's book The Click Moment.

In it, Johansson argues that deliberate practice is only a predictor of success in fields that have super stable structures. For example, in tennis, chess, and classical music, the rules never change, so you can study up to become the best. 

But in less stable fields, like entrepreneurship and rock and roll, rules can go out the window:

  • Richard Branson started in the record business but quickly branched out into fields well beyond music: Virgin Group has 400 companies and is launching people into space.
  • Then there's a band like the Sex Pistols, who took the world by storm even though Sid Vicious could barely play his bass.

So mastery is more than a matter of practice.

July 7, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Boston Law Schools Shrink Enrollments, Faculties

The Boston Globe:  Waning Ranks at Law Schools:

BostonYears after the end of the recession, enrollment at the nation’s law schools continues to plummet, a wrenching shift that has forced many schools to cut expenses and raised concerns about the long-term financial prospects of some. ... With a difficult job market making students increasingly hesitant to take on massive student loan debt, nearly all law schools in Massachusetts — one of the top areas in the nation for legal education — have seen enrollment suffer.

The persistent decline has forced many law schools to take drastic measures. Suffolk University, where first-year enrollment fell 15 percent last year, recently offered buyouts to all faculty with tenure or with renewable long-term contracts, and Western New England University in Springfield has pared back its faculty among a number of cost-cutting measures. ...

At New England Law School in Boston, first-year enrollment has dropped 40 percent since fall 2010, while Western New England saw a 28 percent decline. In response, New England Law School last year froze wages, offered buyouts to some faculty members, and reduced its administrative staff. The dean, John O’Brien, took a voluntary pay cut of 25 percent.

Globe 1

Globe 2

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July 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Death of Louie Zamperini

UnbrokenNew York Times, Louis Zamperini, Olympian and ‘Unbroken’ War Survivor, Dies at 97:

Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who as an airman during World War II crashed into the Pacific, was listed as dead and then spent 47 days adrift in a life raft before being captured by the Japanese and enduring a harsh imprisonment, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 97.

Mr. Zamperini’s remarkable story of survival during the war gained new attention in 2010 with the publication of a vivid biography by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It rose to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

The story is to be retold in a film adaptation of the book directed by Angelina Jolie and scheduled to be released in December. Jack O’Connell plays Mr. Zamperini. ...

Past efforts to make Mr. Zamperini’s story into a movie failed. In the 1950s, Tony Curtis wanted to play the role. In the late ’90s, Nicolas Cage expressed interest. Despite Mr. Zamperini’s two autobiographies, Ms. Hillenbrand thought more could be done with the story. In an email she wrote:

“Louie’s story was well told, but as an autobiography it was limited to Louie’s point of view. No one had approached Louie’s story as a biography, incorporating numerous points of view. “I began interviewing Louie’s fellow airmen, POWs, Japanese camp officials and home front friends and family, and went through their diaries, memoirs and letters. What I found was a fascinating untold story.”

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

July 5, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Thursday, July 3, 2014

6th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Thomas Cooley Law School's Defamation Complaint Over Statements About Its Placement and Loan Default Rates

Thomas Cooley Logo (2013)Following up on this week's posts:

Thomas M. Cooley Law School v. Kurzon Strauss, No. 13-2317 (6th Cir. July 2, 2014):

Plaintiff Thomas M. Cooley Law School claims that defendants Kurzon Strauss, LLP, David Anziska, and Jesse Strauss published defamatory statements regarding plaintiff’s institution, causing $17 million in damages. ...

On June 8, 2011, under a heading titled “Investigating the Thomas Cooley School of Law,” Anziska posted the following statement on the website “JD Underground,” hosted at http://www.qfora.com/jdu:

My firm is currently conducting a broad, wide-ranging investigation of a number of law schools for blatantly manipulating their post-graduate employment data and salary information. These schools are preying on the blithe ignorance of naive, clueless 22-year-olds who have absolutely no idea what a terrible investment obtaining a JD degree is. Perhaps one of the worst offenders is the Thomas Cooley School of Law, which grossly inflates its post-graduate employment data and salary information. More ominously, there are reports that there [sic] students are defaulting on loans at an astounding 41 percent, and that the school is currently being investigated by the DOE for failing to adequately disclose its students’ true default rates. Unfortunately, the ABA has proven to be absolutely toothless in regulating these schools and stamping out these dubious practices, and most likely schools like Thomas Cooley will continue to defraud unwitting students unless held civilly accountable. If you have any relevant information or know of anyone who has attended Thomas Cooley feel free to contact me at anziska@kurzonstrauss.com. Obviously, all correspondences will be kept strictly confidential. ...

In granting defendants’ motions for summary judgment, the district court held that plaintiff was a limited purpose public figure and that the record would not allow a reasonable jury to conclude that defendants published the challenged statements with actual malice. We agree and affirm.

National Law Journal, Cooley Law Suffers Setbacks Financially and in Court:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday affirmed a trial judge’s dismissal of a defamation lawsuit brought by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School against three plaintiffs lawyers who sued the school for alleged fraud in 2011. ...

“Cooley should have known better than to bring this meritless, vindictive, vexatious, farce of a lawsuit,” attorneys David Anziska and Jesse Strauss, who were defendants in Cooley’s suit, said of the Sixth Circuit ruling. “It was a waste of Cooley’s diminishing tuition revenue. Cooley's money could have been better spent helping its graduates find jobs.”

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thomas Cooley Law School Won’t Enroll New 1Ls at Ann Arbor Campus, Plans Faculty Layoffs

Thomas Cooley Logo (2013)ABA Journal, Cooley Law School Won’t Enroll New 1Ls at Ann Arbor Campus, Plans Faculty Layoffs:

According to an internal announcement obtained by Above the Law, Cooley “will hold off enrolling incoming first-term students at the Ann Arbor campus for fall 2014.” The Ann Arbor location is one of four Cooley campuses in Michigan; a fifth campus is in Tampa, Florida.

Thomas M. Cooley Law School Statement (July 1, 2014):

As with most law schools across the country, Cooley Law School’s enrollment and revenue have continued to decline while health care and legacy costs continue to rise. Despite ongoing cost control efforts, the school can no longer avoid the financial imbalance between the revenue and expenses it faces. As a result, the Cooley board of directors and administration are instituting a financial management plan to reduce expenses significantly and right size the organization.

The plan will help the school remain at the forefront of innovative approaches to legal education and continue to deliver the broad, high-quality access to legal instruction students have come to expect from Cooley. It demonstrates the school’s commitment to maintaining its high level of academic excellence and support for current and future students.

The plan includes:

      1. Faculty and staff reductions
      2. A system wide review of each program for capacity and quality
      3. A review of all campuses and facilities to reduce and rebalance costs
      4. A review of all purchases, travel and other expenses

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July 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Improve Your Productivity and Your Life by Getting Rid of Internet Service at Home

Wall Street Journal, Say No to the Distraction-Industrial Complex:

No InternetOf all the potentially embarrassing things I confess to friends and acquaintances, perhaps the one most guaranteed to get a reaction is this: I don't have broadband Internet at home. And here's something I've never said aloud: I don't think you should, either, because it is ruining your productivity, if not your life. ...

Barring emergency, work is confined to work hours. This forces me to be more efficient at the office even as it allows me to be more emotionally present when I'm not there. It also has led me to notice that the times I am most productive while working are when I have no Internet connection at all—on planes, buses and trains.

Continue reading

July 2, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: The Self-Promotion Backlash

New York Times:  The Self-Promotion Backlash, by Anna North:

InvisiblesFrom “building your personal brand” to “stepping up your social media presence,” we’re constantly inundated with advice about how to promote ourselves. But some are saying that the pressure to self-promote could, ultimately, be hurting us.

In his recent book Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, David Zweig profiles a group of people whose jobs are behind the scenes in some way (a guitar technician and a United Nations interpreter, for instance), and who derive satisfaction not from public recognition, but from the internal sense of a job well done. These “Invisibles,” as he calls them, are often extremely fulfilled in their careers, and they may have something to teach those of us who feel we have to constantly promote ourselves to succeed. He writes:

“We’ve been taught that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, that to not just get ahead, but to matter, to exist even, we must make ourselves seen and heard. But what if this is a vast myth?” ...

The Invisibles offer “an alternate path to success” — they got where they were not by courting attention, but by working quietly and extremely carefully toward something bigger than themselves. “The work they do is always in service of a larger endeavor,” he explained. And they show that at least for some people, “when you focus on excellence and good work, that actually does get recognized in the end.”

July 2, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Prof Puts on the Miles

PriusTen years ago, I blogged the spiffy new, exotic Prius with the "TaxProf" license plate driven by Jay Soled (Rutgers), which spawned my first TaxProf Blog meme, with several posts on other tax-centric license plates (here, here, herehere, and here).  Jay writes in that the Prius just crossed the 250,000-mile marker:

My 2004 Prius now has 250,000 miles.  Consider the following:  over the last ten years, assuming the average car achieved 25 mpg and my Prius achieved 50 mpg, then I was able to save 5,000 gallons of gas and significantly reduce my carbon footprint.  At the risk of sounding smug, this is undoubtedly a good thing for the world.

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July 2, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Judge Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Against Thomas Cooley Law School

Thomas Cooley Logo (2013)National Law Journal, Judge Tosses Defamation Suit Against Cooley Law:

A federal judge in New York has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against Thomas M. Cooley Law School by a plaintiffs attorney who helped spearhead a series of fraud class actions against law schools in 2011.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled on June 24 that her court lacked jurisdiction over the Michigan law school, despite plaintiff firm Kurzon LLP’s claims that Cooley advertises, raises money and recruits students in the Empire State.

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July 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.

New York Times:  Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.:

Americans have a split vision of education. Conventional wisdom has long held that our K-12 schools are mediocre or worse, while our colleges and universities are world class. While policy wonks hotly debate K-12 reform ideas like vouchers and the Common Core state standards, higher education is largely left to its own devices. Many families are worried about how to get into and pay for increasingly expensive colleges. But the stellar quality of those institutions is assumed.

Yet a recent multinational study of adult literacy and numeracy skills suggests that this view is wrong. America’s schools and colleges are actually far more alike than people believe — and not in a good way. The nation’s deep education problems, the data suggest, don’t magically disappear once students disappear behind ivy-covered walls. ...

America’s perceived international dominance of higher education, by contrast, rests largely on global rankings of top universities. According to a recent ranking by the London-based Times Higher Education, 18 of the world’s top 25 universities are American. Similarly, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, published annually by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, gives us 19 of 25.

But there is a problem with this way of thinking. When President Obama has said, “We have the best universities,” he has not meant: “Our universities are, on average, the best” — even though that’s what many people hear. He means, “Of the best universities, most are ours.” The distinction is important. ...

Math

Update:  New York Times, More on American Colleges’ Standing in the World

July 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Slate: Now Is a Great Time to Apply to Law School. Really.

Following up on last week's posts:

Slate:  Now Is a Great Time to Apply to Law School; We Aren’t Joking—Promise, by Jordan Weissmann:

After several wretched post-recession years, the job market for new law school graduates may be on the verge of a recovery. So I recently published a post titled Apply to Law School Now! We’re Serious.

A few writers, including the delightfully acidic folks of Above the Law, think I’m disastrously off base—that I have overestimated the strength of tomorrow’s legal labor market and misleadingly ignored the staggering cost of a law school education. So today, I want to explore in a little more depth the reasons why—despite the horrors of the past few years and the sky-high tuition rates that schools charge—now really is a good time to pick up an LSAT guide. ...

As the economy healed and horror stories about jobless and indebted young law grads proliferated, however, something crucial happened: Applications tumbled to their lowest level in at least 30 years. In the fall of 2013, just 39,700 students entered their first year of law school. Given the typical dropout rate, that means we should expect no more than 36,000 to graduate, down about 23 percent from last year’s overstuffed total.

At the same time, it seems the legal job market has begun to stabilize. Last year, 32,775 graduates found full-time jobs lasting at least a year, including positions like judicial clerkships, up slightly from 2012. For such an enormous class of students, that total was woefully insufficient. But here’s the key bit: If the market produces the same number of jobs in 2016, when around 36,000 students are set to graduate, job hunting is going to become a relative cinch. Theoretically, 91 percent of the class could land long-term, full-time work—on par, if not better, than some of the legal industry’s best years.

That’s my basic reason for optimism. Right now, law school looks like a stock that crashed too far after a panic, and is suddenly a bit undervalued. It’s a good time to buy. But of course, not everyone agrees. So let’s go through some of the objections.

Continue reading

June 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Roig: The Case For Retaining Law Faculty Tenure

Jorge R. Roig (Charleston), The First Thing We Do, 47 J. Marshall L. Rev. ___ (2014):

There is currently a concerted effort to dumb down America. In the midst of this, the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recently agreed to propose that tenure for law professors be eliminated as a requirement for accreditation of law schools. This article analyzes the arguments for and against tenure in legal academia, and concludes that the main proposed justifications for eliminating tenure are highly questionable, at best. A lawyer is more than a legal technocrat. Lawyers are policy makers and public defenders. They are prosecutors and activists. And the development of a critical and independent mind is no more important in any area of human action than in the law. There is a concerted effort to turn law schools into automaton production lines. Practice-ready, skills-oriented legal education (quite meritorious in itself) has become code for the manufacture of attorneys capable only of following their corporate clients’ instructions to the tee. The goal of this concerted effort is not a truly practice-ready and skilled attorney. The endgame is a mindless legal machine. That is not what a legal education is about. The survival of critical thought is at stake. This is not just about law professors. This is but one salvo in a much larger war against independent minds.

June 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 29, 2014

NY Times Debate: Is Contemporary Capitalism Compatible with Christian Values?

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate:  God and Mammon:

Jesus drove money changers out of the Temple, calling them “a den of thieves.” Of the profit-centric world view, Pope Francis warned, “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market,” to provide economic justice. Others call Christianity and capitalism inextricable.

Is contemporary capitalism compatible with Christian values?

June 29, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bill and Melinda Gates' Stanford Commencement Speech: The Power of Optimism and Empathy

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

Transcript here. (Hat Tip: Phil Bohl.)

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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Professors Read Mean Student Evaluations

Inside Higher Ed, Mean Tweets, Academic Style:

In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” a Canadian university’s student newspaper posted a video this week that features professors reading aloud unflattering reviews from the website Rate My Professors.

 

June 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

 Weekly Roundup

June 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Are Law Schools Heading Into a Bull Market?

Following up on yesterday's post, Slate: Things Are Looking Rosy for the Law School Class of 2018: Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Are Law Schools Heading Into a Bull Market?:

BullThe argument advanced by Mr. Weissmann [in Slate] is one that’s slowly gaining currency among legal education observers. University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo expressed similar optimism in an article for Forbes last fall. Law Blog, in an earlier post, peered into the crystal ball as well and, using slightly different assumptions, predicted that the number of graduates would fall to about 34,000 by 2017. [See also National Law Journal. Tax Prof Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.) first made this point in 2013.]

The Slate piece concludes on a cautious note, tacking on several “to be sures.” “Some lower-ranked schools will continue to deliver miserable job prospects for their students, just as they have for years,” the piece says.

Continue reading

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

More on the Nation's First Hybrid J.D.

MitchellFollowing up on my previous post, ABA Approves First Hybrid Online J.D.:  U.S. News & World Report, New Partially Online Law Degree May Open Door to Similar Programs:

Half of the learning in the program takes place online, with students visiting campus only nine times in four years.  ... The new J.D. at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., is the first of its type to be approved by the ABA – and may open the door to other law schools to pursue similar degrees, especially if the experiment pans out.

No fully online law schools are currently accredited by the ABA. The designation is significant because states typically allow students to sit for state bar exams only if they have degrees from ABA-accredited schools. California is an exception, allowing graduates of its online law schools to sit for the California bar exam. This has meant that graduates from online law schools are generally shut out of legal practice, except in California.

The ABA’s approval of the new half online, half on-site law program at William Mitchell, which begins in January, should smooth the path for its graduates to take bar exams in any state, says Barry Currier, ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education.

Jonathan H. Stein, an Oxford, Mississippi-based cardiologist who has enrolled in Mitchell’s program because he wants to advocate in court for universal health insurance, sees the Mitchell program as one that is bound to have a big impact on the nation’s law schools. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on everything within the legal education process,” he says. “Once somebody starts, then everybody else is fair game.”

Most law schools could already be offering more online learning under current standards – and haven’t chosen to do so, Currier says. The ABA currently allows accredited law schools to offer up to 12 credit hours via distance learning, though that could soon be expanding to 15 credits, he says. ...

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Robot Doctors, Online Lawyers and Automated Architects: The Future of the Professions?

The Guardian: Robot Doctors, Online Lawyers and Automated Architects: The Future of the Professions?

Advances in technology have long been recognised as a threat to manual labour. Now highly skilled, knowledge-based jobs that were once regarded as safe could be at risk. How will they adapt to the digital age?

Oxford academics Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne have predicted computerisation could make nearly half of jobs redundant within 10 to 20 years. Office work and service roles, they wrote, were particularly at risk. But almost nothing is impervious to automation. It has swept through shop floors and factories, transformed businesses big and small, and is beginning to revolutionise the professions.

Knowledge-based jobs were supposed to be safe career choices, the years of study it takes to become a lawyer, say, or an architect or accountant, in theory guaranteeing a lifetime of lucrative employment. That is no longer the case. Now even doctors face the looming threat of possible obsolescence. Expert radiologists are routinely outperformed by pattern-recognition software, diagnosticians by simple computer questionnaires. In 2012, Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla predicted that algorithms and machines would replace 80% of doctors within a generation.

In their much-debated book The Second Machine Age, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argued that we now face an intense period of creative destruction. "Technological progress," they warned, "is going to leave behind some people, perhaps even a lot of people, as it races ahead … there's never been a worse time to be a worker with only 'ordinary' skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate."

So where does that leave the professions, whose hard-won expertise is beginning to fall within the power of computers and artificial intelligence to emulate? The efficiency of computerisation seems likely to spell the end of the job security past generations sought in such careers. For many, what were once extraordinary skillsets will soon be rendered ordinary by the advance of the machines. What will it mean to be a professional then?

"We'll see what I call decomposition, the breaking down of professional work into its component parts," says leading legal futurist professor Richard Susskind. Susskind's forthcoming book Beyond the Professions, co-authored with his son Daniel Susskind, examines the transformations already underway across the sectors that once offered jobs for life. He predicts a process not unlike the division of labour that wiped out skilled artisans and craftsmen in the past: the dissolution of expertise into a dozen or more streamlined processes.

"Some of these parts will still require expert trusted advisers acting in traditional ways," he says. "But many other parts will be standardised or systematised or made available with online service." In a previous book Tomorrow's Lawyers, he predicts the creation of eight new legal roles at the intersection of software and law. Many of the job titles sound at home in IT companies: legal knowledge engineer, legal technologist, project manager, risk manager, process analyst.

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June 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Slate: Things Are Looking Rosy for the Law School Class of 2018

Slate:  Apply to Law School Now! Things Are Looking Rosy for the Class of 2018, by Jordan Weissmann:

This might sound weird, but here goes: Now might be a pretty good time to think about law school. ...

Here is the key number to keep in mind: 36,000. That is roughly the number of new J.D.s we should expect to graduate in 2016. Getting to that figure is pretty straightforward: In the fall of 2013, 39,700 students enrolled in law school. Given that about 10 percent of each law school class generally drops out, we should expect no more than 36,000 to reach commencement. ...

In comparison, 46,776 law students graduated in 2013. So we’re talking about a potential 23 percent plunge.

With less competition it should be far easier for graduates to find decent work. Again, let’s assume the legal job market doesn’t grow at all in the next two years—that it simply stays flat. What might that look like?

We can break down last year’s class, using data from the American Bar Association. Among all graduates who reported their job status, 32,775 found full-time, long-term work, meaning the job lasted at least a year. ... Of those jobs, 26,337 required passing the bar, meaning they were typical legal jobs. An additional 4,714 were in fields that technically did not require law degrees, but where employers preferred to hire J.D.s anyway—think congressional staffers, labor organizers, or NGO workers. Finally, 1,724 were in jobs completely unrelated to law, which sounds bad, but the reality is that a certain number of graduates always do something unconnected to their degree.

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Let’s say those numbers hold. In that case, we can expect that about 91 percent of the class of 2016 will find long-term, full-time work, compared with about 72 percent last year. About 73 percent would be in full-time, long-term legal jobs, compared with 58 percent last year. Essentially, employment rates would look similar to those in 2007, when the mid-2000s legal hiring wave crested. That year, about 92 percent of graduates were employed, and 76.9 percent obtained legal jobs. (Both those figures included part-time and short-term positions).

(Hat Tip: Jordan Barry.)

Update:  Above the Law, The ATL Markup Of Slate’s ‘Apply To Law School Now!’ Article

June 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Contrarian Perspective on the Student Debt 'Crisis'

New York Times:  The Reality of Student Debt Is Different From the Clichés, by David Leonhardt:

The deeply indebted college graduate has become a stock character in the national conversation: the art history major with $50,000 in debt, the underemployed barista with $75,000, the struggling poet with $100,000.

The anecdotes have created the impression that such high levels of student debt are typical. But they’re not. They are outliers, and they’re warping our understanding of bigger economic problems.

In fact, the share of income that young adults are devoting to loan repayment has remained fairly steady over the last two decades, according to [Brookings Institution data]

Brookings Institution:  Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?, by Beth Akers & Matthew M. Chingos:

BrookingsCollege tuition and student debt levels have been increasing at a fast pace for at least two decades. These well-documented trends, coupled with an economy weakened by a major recession, have raised serious questions about whether the market for student debt is headed for a crisis, with many borrowers unable to repay their loans and taxpayers being forced to foot the bill.

In this report, Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos analyze more than two decades of data on the financial well-being of American households and find that in reality, the impact of student loans may not be as dire as many commentators fear. 

The authors draw on data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) administered by the Federal Reserve Board to track how the education debt levels and incomes of young households evolved between 1989 and 2010. Their analysis produces three particularly noteworthy and new findings:

  1. Roughly one-quarter of the increase in student debt since 1989 can be directly attributed to Americans obtaining more education, especially graduate degrees.  The average debt levels of borrowers with a graduate degree more than quadrupled, from just under $10,000 to more than $40,000.  By comparison, the debt loads of those with only a bachelor’s degree increased by a smaller margin, from $6,000 to $16,000.
  2. Increases in the average lifetime incomes of college-educated Americans have more than kept pace with increases in debt loads.  Between 1992 and 2010, the average household with student debt saw an increase of about $7,400 in annual income and $18,000 in total debt.  In other words, the increase in earnings received over the course of 2.4 years would pay for the increase in debt incurred.
  3. The monthly payment burden faced by student loan borrowers has stayed about the same or even lessened over the past two decades.  The median borrower has consistently spent three to four percent of their monthly income on student loan payments since 1992, and the mean payment-to-income ratio has fallen significantly, from 15 to 7 percent.  The average repayment term for student loans increased over this period, allowing borrowers to shoulder increased debt loads without larger monthly payments.

Figure. Monthly Student Loan Payment-to-Income Ratios, 1992-2010

Ratio of Loan Payments to Income

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June 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Former Law Student Brings Federal Lawsuit Over D Grade in Contracts

Brooklyn Law School Dean: 15% Tuition Cut Benefits Everyone, Not Just Students

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Lowering Law-School Tuition Benefits Everyone, Not Just the Students, by Nicholas W. Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

Brooklyn LogoBrooklyn Law School will cut tuition by 15 percent beginning in the 2015-16 academic year, a decision that has received sustained national attention and helped prompt a much-needed public discussion about skyrocketing tuitions at law schools. ...

The fact is that the financial model of law schools is broken. Unless the schools do what they can to make legal education more affordable, they will price themselves out of business, contribute to the high cost of legal services that most people need, and widen the gap in access to justice. ...

We are hardly the only law school that can offer impressive reasons for students to attend our institution, so why would we—or any law school—throw money at propping up artificial rankings when we could be giving back to our students? As we continue to prudently manage our overall costs, strengthen our balance sheet, and benefit from the generosity of our alumni, we are going to invest even more in our students. Law schools feel pressure to cut back, do less, and charge more. We’re taking a different approach: doing more and charging less.

Matt Leichter, Lowering Law School Tuition Mainly Benefits Students, Taxpayers

June 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NY Times Debate: Are College Presidents Overpaid?

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate:  Are College Presidents Overpaid?:

Despite continued talk in academia of austerity – resulting in program cuts, loss of tenure-track jobs and increasing reliance on part-time adjuncts – the salaries of university presidents have reached record levels. Recently, at the University of Alberta, 56 Canadian academics applied for the $400,000-a-year job of the departing president in groups of four to highlight the pay disparity.

Are university presidents overpaid, or does the compensation appropriately reflect their wide range of management, recruitment and fund-raising duties?

  • Dorothy A. Brown (Emory University), Salary Gaps Affect Even Those on Top:  "In one study of private universities, white presidents outearn their black peers by about $37,000 on average, and male presidents outearn their female peers by over $100,000."
  • Kathleen Cawsey (Dalhousie University), End the Era of the C.E.O. College President:  "The increasing costs of highly paid college presidents and administrators come on the backs of adjuncts professors and students."
  • Raymond D. Cotton (Mintz Levin, Washington, D.C.), Colleges Must Compete to Attract the Best Leadership:  "By and large, college presidents are not overpaid in relationship to their responsibilities and the compensation market place."
  • Cary Nelson (University of Illinois), A Lesson in Disparity:  "If students learn that adjunct faculty are earning less than the minimum wage while the university president earns a million dollars, that practical lesson may trump the other values the institution promotes."

June 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Male/Female Faculty Salary Differentials

Huffington Post, Male Faculty Are Making A Lot More Than Female Faculty At Some Of The Best Colleges:

Several of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country pay male faculty on average about $40,000 more than their female colleagues, according to a new analysis by data website FindTheBest.

Four Ivy League institutions -- the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Princeton and Harvard -- were among the 10 schools with 50 or more faculty members that had the greatest wage gap between men and women. Duke, the University of Chicago and Northwestern ranked in the top 10 as well.

The biggest wage gap among those larger schools was found at Rockefeller University, which paid male faculty nearly $48,000 more than female faculty. New York Law School came in second with a $44,000 male-female salary difference.

Above the Law, This Law School Pays Male Faculty $44K More Than Female Profs:

New York Law School pays its male professors on average $246,312, while its female professors take home on average $186,480.

June 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Law Profs React to Steve Bainbridge: 'Law Teaching Is Walking Off a Cliff and Nobody Seems to Give a Damn'

These law profs react to yesterday's post, Bainbridge: 'The Profession I Love--Law Teaching--Is Walking Off a Cliff and Nobody Seems to Give a Damn'

  • Steve Bainbridge (UCLA)
  • Andy Grewal (Iowa)
  • Jeff Harrison (Florida)
  • Doug Kahn (Michigan)
  • Michael Livingston (Rutgers)
  • Henry Manne (George Mason)
  • Jim Maule (Villanova)
  • Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)
  • Tom Smith (San Diego)
  • Daniel Sokol (Florida)

Continue reading

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

WSJ: Odds Improve for New Law Grads

Following up on Friday's post, NALP: Law Grads Continue to Struggle to Find Jobs:  Wall Street Journal, Big Law Firms Resume Hiring; Odds Improve for New Graduates, Though Levels Remain Soft, by Jennifer Smith:

Entry-level hiring at major law firms is ramping back up from the recession-era doldrums. But students with their hearts set on a job at a big firm still face plenty of competition. The class of 2013 was the largest crop yet, releasing 46,776 graduates into a job market already awash with unemployed lawyers.

The chances of landing a job at a large law firm have improved from the hiring nadir a few years back, when sputtering demand for legal services triggered layoffs and cutbacks. Of class-of-2013 law graduates working in private practice about nine months after graduation, 20.6% landed a job at a firm with more than 500 lawyers, according to the National Association for Law Placement. Such positions accounted for 16.2% of law-firm jobs held by 2011 graduates. But the total number of such jobs taken by the class of 2013 remains far lower than for the class of 2009: 3,980 positions compared with 5,156.

The employment outlook for new lawyers is expected to brighten some over the next few years, as plunging law-school enrollments will ease the glut of new graduates—"the pig working its way through the snake," in the words of one law-firm manager. Of 2013 graduates, 64.4% had jobs for which bar passage was required, according to the NALP, and 51.1% of employed graduates were working in private practice.

For now, the hiring picture at major firms varies widely. This fall, the group of first-year associates joining New York's elite Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP will be about the same size as the starting class from 2009. "I would say we're back," said William Fogg, managing partner of the firm's corporate department.

Roughly 20 big law firms, including WilmerHale, have boosted the size of their first-year class since 2009, according to Chambers Associate, a legal publication aimed at law students. "The trend indicates recovery, but we are very unlikely to see hiring at prerecession levels any day soon," said Antony Cooke, the guide's editor. Indeed, other firms have ratcheted back their starting and summer classes as much as 50% over the same time period.

WSJ

June 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bainbridge: 'The Profession I love--Law Teaching--Is Walking Off a Cliff and Nobody Seems to Give a Damn'

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), How Not to Win Friends and Influence People at a Law Professor Conference:

Announce that empirical legal scholarship is the dumbest idea in the legal academy in the last 20 years. And that most law & PhD. folks are only in law for the law school paychecks. As I just did. Yikes. ...

The shift towards "Law and [fill in the blank with a PhD field]" has been a problem for a long time and a major factor in the separation of the legal academy from the profession and the bench. In today's environment, that trend is unsustainable. We are, after all, in the business of training LAWYERS who will spend their time practicing law not running regressions. ...

I see the profession I love--law teaching--walking off a cliff and nobody seems to give a damn. And, yes, that makes me angry.

Usha Rodrigues (Georgia), The "Law and" Question:

I'm not singing Steve's tune, but I will hum a few bars. ...

In the comments to his post Steve laments that "the legal academy is not producing scholarship that is relevant to the bench and bar or that our graduates (especially at the T14 schools) are coming out of school better versed in theory than professional skills."  This is a problem.  Even than for the general law prof, for  "Law and"s I  think that practice is vital.

To put it bluntly, Harvard/Yale/Chicago/Columbia/Stanford can hire whoever they want, because they're in the business of pedigreeing elite students.  They can hire professors who haven't practiced law and who  write about theoretical topics.  It doesn't effect their students' job prospects.   All the other law schools have lemming-like followed their lead, accepting without question that the way up the USN&WR rankings is to look as much like possible as the T5.  That worked fine during boom times, but in this legal market, it  seems a lot like walking off a cliff.

June 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Using Altmetrics to Measure the Impact of Faculty Scholarship

AltmetricsI am heading back to San Diego after three great days at the 24th Annual Conference for Law School Computing at Harvard Law School.  In my talk on Friday, I argued that "blogs and social media can play a meaningful role in developing a faculty member's scholarly 'brand' and that current primitive methods for ranking faculty scholarship -- reputation, publications, citations, and downloads -- need to be augmented by more sophisticated faculty performance analytics in the coming 'big data' revolution."  In a presentation yesterday,  Katie Brown (Charlotte) explored some of those alternative metrics in Are The Scientists on to Something With Altmetrics? New Tools for Assessing and Tracking Scholarly Impact:

As scientific authors and researchers vie for tenure and funding they are including altmetrics to their CV's and tenure packets. Why the inclusion? They feel these alternative metrics disclose the full impact their work has with their colleagues, students and the public. Altmetrics, a term first coined in a tweet, involves "the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing and informing scholarship". Often, altmetrics are providing tangible evidence of what is read, discussed, saved and recommended, as well as cited, in a particular area. They are also diverse in product, platform and audience. Products include articles, datasets, software, blogs, videos, and more. Some platforms are institutional repositories and online communities where the audience is going to be beyond the academy and include practitioners, clinicians and the general public. Scientists in growing number are providing this data to demonstrate their value in the profession and I believe these metrics will allow law librarians to do the same thing. Many law librarians are already online participating in scholarly conversations through blogs, SSRN, comments and Tweets. Why not track it so you can show others the valuable digital footprint you left behind? Additionally, altmetrics instruction may also be a valuable service that we can provide to our primary users.

Katie's PowerPoint slides are available here, and the video of her talk will be posted here by the end of the month.  In the meantime, check out these presentations on altmetrics (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

 

June 22, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Burk: Are English PhDs (and JDs) 'Underused' Rather Than 'Overproduced'?

The Faculty Lounge:  Self-Delusion Spreads from Professional to Graduate Education; Consternation Curiously Absent, by Bernard A. Burk (North Carolina):

I want to be clear at the outset:  I love literature.  I was an English major, and I’ve never regretted it for a moment.  I seriously considered pursuing a Ph.D. in English.  I could not have a deeper faith in the liberal arts as a path to the betterment of all mankind.

So imagine my dismay at some recent reportage in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Graduate programs in languages and literature are suffering troubles all too familiar to the readers of these pages:  In these straitened times, the tenure-track academic appointments for which a doctoral degree is the traditional and necessary preparation are available for only about 60% of the recipients of doctorates in language or literature (a number chillingly reminiscent of the 56%-57% of the last two law-school graduating classes who managed to find a full-time, long-term job requiring a law license within 9-10 months of graduation, though when you exclude school-funded and self-employed positions as well as a few other confounders and irrelevancies, that number is closer to 53%).  The Modern Language Association (a trade group for college and graduate educators and scholars in language and literature analogous to AALS) recently released a report conceding “[w]e are faced with an unsustainable reality.”

The solution?  Simple—dismiss the “reality” as “wrong”:

"The discourse of Ph.D. overproduction is wrong," said Russell A. Berman, who led the task force that wrote the report and is a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University. "What we need instead is a broadened understanding of career paths.” 

As the Chronicle explains, the MLA believes that language and literature departments should urge upon students considering graduate degrees

what else they could do with a language or literature Ph.D.  Career options off the tenure track . . . include teaching at community colleges and high schools, working at cultural institutions such as heritage museums and libraries, and putting skills to use in the private sector.  "The subject matter may, in fact, be far from literature," Mr. Berman said, "but the rich professional formation acquired during the course of doctoral study can be put to good use.”

The Chronicle also reports that the MLA “is taking a stance similar to the American Historical Association, whose executive director has said that history Ph.D.’s are not being overproduced but underused.”

If you’re feeling a certain frisson of déjà vu, you don’t need a doctorate in French to understand why.  The MLA appears to be arguing that you should pursue a doctorate in language or literature (median time to completion nine years, by the way) because it will make you a better high school teacher.  If you think this is silly, you’re right.  If you think this is silly, but still believe that people unsure of their desire to practice law or do something clearly and directly law-related should attend law school because (as comp lit Prof. Berman put it to the Chronicle) “the rich professional formation acquired during the course of [law] study” is (as I lampooned it in a past post) “ideal preparation for any line of work, a thoughtful life, the vicissitudes of holy matrimony, Monty Python’s Argument Clinic, or the searching examination that can be expected from St. Peter when the matriculant finally reaches the pearly gates,” you are engaging in the kind of wishful thinking that would earn your contempt if you observed it in a colleague or a student. ...

The fact that a doctorate in English, or a law degree, will provide its holders with thoughts or perspectives on unrelated work uncommon for others without their benefit does not mean that someone would rationally pursue either (or both, given that they’re apparently both ideal preparation for everything) in order to secure work unrelated to the discipline studied. ...

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June 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Caron Presents Law Professor Blogs Network 2.0: One Year Later Today at Harvard

I am presenting The Law Professor Blogs Network 2.0: One Year Later at Harvard Law School today as part of the 24th Annual Conference for Law School Computing:

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is the nation's only network of legal blogs edited primarily by law professors. The network owns and operates over fifty legal blogs, edited by leading scholars and teachers who are committed to providing the web destination for law professors, practitioners, government and nonprofit lawyers, legal information professionals, and students in their respective fields. Since the launch of TaxProf Blog on April 15, 2004, the network’s influence has continued to grow. At last year's CALI Conference, I unveiled a major re-design of the network, intended to provide the premier legal blogging platform to our editors. The re-design was intended to (1) optimize each blog for viewing across a variety of platforms (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smart phone); (2) better integrate social media; (3) provide more robust analytics with richer and more accurate readership data; and (4) strengthen our partnership with Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers and provide additional avenues for monetization. This presentation will explore the progress that the network has made toward these goals over the past year and explain planned future innovations.  In addition, I will argue that blogs and social media can play a meaningful role in developing a faculty member's scholarly "brand" and that current primitive methods for ranking faculty scholarship -- reputation, publications, citations, and downloads -- need to be augmented by more sophisticated faculty performance analytics in the coming "big data" revolution. 

Update:  Enjoying a post-presentation dinner in Harvard Square with Jim Smith (Georgia), Jennifer Martin (St. Thomas), Jeff Lipshaw (Suffolk), and Mark Heffner (Roger Williams):

Photo

June 20, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

Alfred L. Brophy (North Carolina), Ranking Law Schools with Lsats, Employment Outcomes, and Law Review Citations:

This paper returns to the perennially favorite topic of ranking law schools. Where U.S. News & World Report includes a wide variety of factors – some of which are criticized as irrelevant to what prospective students care about (or should care about) -- this paper looks to three variables. They are median LSAT score of entering students, which seeks to capture the quality of the student body; the percentage of the graduating students who are employed at 9 months following graduation at full-time, JD required jobs; and the number of citations to each school’s main law review. This paper rank orders each of those variables, then averages those ranks to obtain a new ranking; then it compares those new rankings to the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Brophy

Alfred L. Brophy (North Carolina):  Ranking Law Schools Based on LSAT, Employment Outcome, and Citations

June 20, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

ABA Approves Separation of Penn State-Dickinson Into Two Separate Law Schools

Penn State Logo (2013)The ABA yesterday approved the separation of Penn State-Dickinson into two independent law schools.

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

NALP: Law Grads Continue to Struggle to Find Jobs

NALP New LogoNALP, For Second Year in a Row New Grads Find More Jobs, Starting Salaries Rise — But Overall Unemployment Rate Rises with Historically Large Graduating Class

Despite two years of growth in the number of jobs obtained by law school graduates, the overall employment rate for new law school graduates fell for the sixth year in a row, to 84.5%. Even though the total number of jobs obtainedby this class was somewhat higher than the number of jobs obtained by the previous class, and the number of employment opportunities funded by law schools increased, the Class of 2013 was also bigger, resulting in the employment rate for the Class of 2013 falling, but by just 0.2 percentage points from the 84.7% rate for the Class of 2012.

NALP 1

NALP 2

June 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

George & Yoon: The Labor Market for New Law Professors

Tracey E. George (Vanderbilt) & Albert Yoon (Toronto), The Labor Market for New Law Professors, 11 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 1 (2014) (more here):

Law school professors control the production of lawyers and influence the evolution of law. Understanding who is hired as a tenure-track law professor is of clear importance to debates about the state of legal education in the United States. But while opinions abound on the law school hiring process, little is empirically known about what explains success in the market for law professors. Using a unique and extensive data set of survey responses from candidates in the 2007-2008 legal academic labor market, we examine the factors that influence which candidates are interviewed and ultimately hired by law schools. We find that law schools appear open to non-traditional candidates in the early phases of the hiring process but when it comes to the ultimate decision — hiring — they focus on candidates who look like current law professors.

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June 19, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Off to the CALI Conference at Harvard

CALI 2I am spending the next three days at the 24th Annual Conference for Law School Computing at Harvard Law School. The theme of this year's conference is "The Next Wave":

CALI has been around for over 30 years. In that time, it has pioneered technology in legal education and in applications that improve access to justice and has worked with the innovators and early adopters in those fields. And now, excitingly, the next wave is here. Technology isn’t just something for hard core Teknoids. It’s become accessible and accepted in the law school and legal environments.

We know that you need to be looking out for the next wave. Much like waves constantly coming into shore, waves of change are constantly hitting legal education. How you approach them matters. To some people they may feel like tsunamis that are going to destroy everything and their inclination is to run and hide from them. Some people are going to hold fast and then be gradually eroded away and altered by the constant wave action. And some people are going to want to swim out to meet the waves and ride in on them on a surf board.

I will be attending many of the wonderful sessions, as well as a meeting of the CALI Board of Directors (on which I serve as President).  CALI is doing important work on a variety of projects for faculty, including A2J Author, Classcaster, eLangdell, Free Law Reporter, InstaPoll, Lawdibles, Legal Education Commons, LibTour, MediaNotes, and Webinars and Online Courses, in addition to their bread and butter CALI lessons for students (Jim Maule has produced over 250 tax lessons, which I highly recommend).  In many ways, this is my favorite conference of the year, as it is the only gathering of law school faculty, librarians, and IT folks.  I am looking forward to reconnecting and breaking bread with friends in all three spheres.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Six Underreported Aspects of the Revised ABA Law School Accreditation Standards

Following up on Sunday's post, ABA Releases Revised Law School Accreditation Standards, Protocol for Reporting Placement Data:  Matt Leichter, Top 6 Underreported Changes to the ABA Accreditation Standards:

ABA Logo 2Just about all of the coverage has been on two topics: (a) the council’s decision to disallow course credit for paid externships, and (b) the rule allowing up to 10 percent of a law school’s entering class to forgo the LSAT under certain circumstances. I have nothing to add about the paid externship rule, but the LSAT requirement will be number one on the list. So…

  1. The 10 percent LSAT rule is not open ended
  2. Death to the full-time faculty calculation
  3. Goodbye dusty reporters in the library
  4. Hello office-sharing for professors
  5. No more [university] taxation without documentation
  6. Dishonor before death

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

2nd National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law

National Law Journal, Legal Educators Plot the Future of Real-World Learning:

AllianceExperiential learning is all the rage in law school, but legal educators are struggling to figure out how best to integrate such real-world training into their curricula and develop closer ties with the profession to advance the trend.

The Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law brought together 150 legal educators from 75 law schools last week to discuss what’s taking place right now and how best to expand the movement [agenda; handouts]. They gathered at Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, N.C., for three days to plot a course, and heard from educators in other professions about how they have advanced real-world learning.

“This is not just about clinical legal education,” Elon dean Luke Bierman said in his opening remarks. “This is not just about externships. It’s not just about simulations in classrooms. It’s about how to move all these things in a particular way, and how to think about how it fits into the enterprise of legal education and the goals we have for our students.”

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