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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Organ Projects 2.6% Decline in Fall 2015 1L Enrollment, With 12.4% Decline in 165+ LSATs, 4.1% Increase in <150 LSATs

The Legal Whiteboard:  Projections for Law School Enrollment for Fall 2015, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

This blog posting is designed to do three things.  First, following up on recent discussions regarding trends in applicants by Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge and Derek Muller at Excess of Democracy, I provide a detailed analysis to project the likely total applicant pool we can expect at the end of the cycle based on trends from March through the end of the cycle in 2013 and 2014 [54,000, down 3.1% from 2014].  Second, using the likely total pool of applicants, I estimate the number of admitted students and matriculants, but also question whether the estimates might be too high given the decline in quality of the applicant pool in this cycle [36,975, down 2.6% from 2014].  Third, building on the second point, I suggest that law schools in the lower half of the top tier are likely to see unusual enrollment/profile pressure that may then have a ripple effect down through the rankings.

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tacha: Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?

Deanell Reece Tacha (Dean, Pepperdine), Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 729 (2014):

You are the people who must be the spokespersons for the enduring and essential need for well-trained lawyers who can guide the nation and the world through the challenging and exciting issues and disputes that lie ahead. The lawyers’ ability to focus on germane issues, negotiate reasoned practical resolutions, and settle and litigate disputes, will be in high demand in this complex society. The debate about the value of legal education goes to the core of our understanding of what it is to prepare legal professionals for a world we cannot see with any particularity. That is what lawyers do. What we must foresee clearly, is that the legacy of freedom and of people governed by the rule of law is our highest calling and the source of our professional responsibility. The modes of delivering legal services, and even the understanding of what is a legal service, will change. What will not change is the need for lawyers who are problem solvers, client servers, articulators of the American ideal of self-government, models of the rule of law, and servants of the common good. We will always need lawyer-patriots.

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 13, 2015

HeinOnline Law Faculty Scholarly Influence Rankings

HeinMy colleague Rob Anderson blogs the new HeinOnline faculty scholarship rankings called ScholarCheck, which counts how often your articles have been:

  • Cited in cases
  • Cited in law review articles
  • Accessed on HeinOnline over the past 12 months

Rob notes that measuring the number of times each author's papers have been accessed on HeinoOnline "reduce[s] the 'lag time' between the time a scholar is active and the time that citations accumulate."

Your ScholarCheck ranking is the average of your ranking in each of these three categories.  HeinOnline has released the Top 250 Authors; individual faculty rankings outside the Top 250 are available here.

Two tax professors are in the Top 250:

Kaplow, Louis:

Cited by Cases 23 (Rank 1703)
Cited By Articles 3285 (Rank 80)
Accessed (Past 12 Months) 1219 (Rank 191)
Scholar Check Rank 213

Asimow, Michael:

Cited by Cases 45 (Rank 649)
Cited By Articles 747 (Rank 1002)
Accessed (Past 12 Months) 860 (Rank 421)
Scholar Check Rank 233

Here are the Top 50 law faculty authors:

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April 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kerr: New (And Free) Legal Research Tool From Google

Google Scholar (2015)Orin Kerr (George Washington), New (and Free) Legal Research Tool:

If you use the Google Chrome browser, and you do legal research online, you should add the new Google Scholar Button to your browser. It’s really easy to do. Just click here and add the button. At that point you can use the button to research academic articles using Google Scholar’s database.


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April 13, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Saturday, April 11, 2015

75% of Harvard Law Students Do Not Matriculate Right Out Of College

Harvard Crimson, Law School Admissions ‘Actively Preferences’ Work Experience:

In the last five years, work experience has played an increasing role in Harvard Law School admissions.


In 2009, 40 percent of Harvard Law School’s entering class, according to data provided the school’s Admissions Office, arrived directly from their senior year of college, maybe even still sporting the odd T-shirt from last year’s big rivalry football game.

It was the continuation of a years-long trend: From 2005 to 2009, between 39 and 45 percent of each incoming class were just recently undergraduates, with the remainder having spent at least one year working or studying elsewhere. But the next year, in 2010, the young students matriculating straight from undergrad only constituted 28 percent of the entering Law School class. More than two-thirds had post-graduate experience.

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April 11, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Merritt: Law School Statistics

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Law School Statistics:

Earlier this week, I noted that even smart academics are misled by the manner in which law schools traditionally reported employment statistics. Steven Solomon, a very smart professor at Berkeley’s law school, was misled by the “nesting” of statistics on NALP’s employment report for another law school.

Now Michael Simkovic, another smart law professor, has proved the point again. Simkovic rather indignantly complains that Kyle McEntee “suggests incorrectly that The New York Times reported Georgetown’s median private sector salary without providing information on what percentage of the class or of those employed were working in the private sector.” But it is Simkovic who is incorrect–and, once again, it seems to be because he was misled by the manner in which law schools report some of their employment and salary data. ...

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April 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

NY Times: Past Drug Charges Derail a Law Student’s Education

New York Times, Past Drug Charges Derail a Law Student’s Education:

David Powers came out of a drug rehabilitation program about 15 years ago hungry to swing his life in a significantly different direction. And that he did.

He went back to college and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. He was hired at a major accounting firm, worked in senior positions at three hedge funds, and was accepted to the law school at St. John’s University.

Mr. Powers still calls the day of his arrest, when he was pulled off a destructive path, the “best day of my life.”

Halfway through his coursework, while trying to get ahead on his application to the bar, he acknowledged to St. John’s how far he had come. Not only had he been convicted of drug possession, a fact he disclosed on his application, but he had also originally been charged with selling drugs, a fact he had not. St. John’s then rescinded his acceptance — kicked him out — saying that if it had known his complete history, it would never have admitted him in the first place.

Mr. Powers sued the school, taking the case all the way to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Last week, the court handed down the final word in a 5-to-1 decision: Mr. Powers would not return to St. John’s.

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April 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Muller: Number Of Law School Applicants Has Bottomed Out, But Quality Of Applicants Continues To Plummet

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), The Wrong Sort of Law School Applicants, Visualized:

There's good news and bad news for law schools. The good news is that total law school applicants appear to be reaching the bottom. After projections last year that the worst may be yet to come, it appears that the Class of 2018 will have only slightly fewer applicants than the Class of 2017. Current projections are about a 2.8-point drop in applicants, and that gap may narrow if recent trends of late applicants continue. ...


But the bad news is [] the quality of the applicants. In short, the wrong sort of applicants are applying. ... 

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law Students

Dan Kahan (Yale), David Hoffman (Temple), Danieli Evans (Yale), Neal Devins (William & Mary), Eugene Lucci (Judge. Ohio Court of Common Pleas) & Katherine Cheng (Yale), 'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment, 163 U. Pa. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

This paper reports the results of a study on whether political predispositions influence judicial decisionmaking. The study was designed to overcome the two principal limitations on existing empirical studies that purport to find such an influence: the use of nonexperimental methods to assess the decisions of actual judges; and the failure to use actual judges in ideologically-biased-reasoning experiments. The study involved a sample of sitting judges (n = 253), who, like members of a general public sample (n = 800), were culturally polarized on climate change, marijuana legalization and other contested issues. When the study subjects were assigned to analyze statutory interpretation problems, however, only the responses of the general-public subjects and not those of the judges varied in patterns that reflected the subjects’ cultural values. The responses of a sample of lawyers (n = 217) were also uninfluenced by their cultural values; the responses of a sample of law students (n = 284), in contrast, displayed a level of cultural bias only modestly less pronounced than that observed in the general-public sample. Among the competing hypotheses tested in the study, the results most supported the position that professional judgment imparted by legal training and experience confers resistance to identity-protective cognition — a dynamic associated with politically biased information processing generally — but only for decisions that involve legal reasoning. The scholarly and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Wall Street Journal Law Bog, Study: Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law School Students:

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Rules San Diego's Law Prof's Blog Post Was Not Defamatory

MartinNational Law Journal, Law Prof’s Blog Post Was Not Defamatory, Court Rules:

A San Diego law professor did not defame the plaintiff in a disability-benefits lawsuit when he blogged about her case in 2012, a California appellate court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the state Fourth District Court of Appeal on April 2 affirmed dismissal of Melanie Welch’s suit against Shaun Martin [right], a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, dean Stephen Ferruolo and the university itself.

Martin maintains a blog about decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and California appellate courts.

The court found that the information in Martin’s Jan. 31, 2012, post about the court’s decision in Welch’s lawsuit against the California State Teachers’ Retirement System was pulled directly from the ruling or clearly identifiable as his opinion.

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lat, Diamond Debate The Law School Crisis

Washington Post op-ed:  Law School Is Way Too Expensive. And Only The Federal Government Can Fix That., by David Lat:

There’s no shortage of lawyers in this country. Only 57 percent of 2013 law school graduates obtained full-time legal jobs nine months after graduation. Yet the federal government subsidizes the production of even more lawyers by lending the cost of attendance to basically anyone who decides to enroll in law school, without regard for the quality of the school or the job prospects of its graduates. A student going to Harvard Law School, where 86.9 percent of 2013 grads had full-time legal jobs, has the same access to federal funds as a student going to Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where just 22.9 percent of 2013 grads work as lawyers.

This policy is hurting students. Federally subsidized loans have enabled law school tuition to spiral out of control. As noted by Professor Paul Campos, “[i]n real, inflation-adjusted terms, tuition at private American law schools has doubled over the past 20 years, tripled over the past 30, and quadrupled over the past 40,” and resident tuition at public law schools has climbed even faster. So long as the federal loans keep coming, tuition is unlikely to stop rising. In the words of Professor Brian Tamanaha author of  Failing Law Schools, “Federal loans are an irresistible (and life-sustaining) drug for revenue addicted law schools … law schools have been ramping up tuition and enrollment without restraint thanks to an obliging federal loan program.”

If the government were to stop lending for law school or even just impose per-student or per-school caps on loan amounts (perhaps combined with making it easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy), law schools would have to dramatically lower tuition, in order to attract students. There would be no other way for most students to finance their education. (And many law schools are already struggling to fill their seats.) Private lenders might step into the breach – but carefully, because banks have a stronger interest than the government in actually getting repaid. Private lenders would focus on borrowers going to law schools with strong job placement records. And if banks are unwilling to lend to all law students, that’s further proof that the market produces too many lawyers.

Stephen F. Diamond (Santa Clara), Washington Post Feeds the Anti-Law School Myth Making Again:

Above the Law’s David Lat was let into the pages of the Washington Post today in an attempt to feed the beast of myth making about law school. This is becoming a bit of a habit at the Post which recently allowed one of its own columnists to mislead the public about law schools as I explained here. Perhaps it’s the influence of their new owner, Jeff Bezos, known to lean libertarian.

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through April 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)


Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


William Byrnes (T. Jefferson)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


James Hines (Michigan)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



David Walker (BU)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)


Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dr. Joe Bankman: Stanford Tax Prof Uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Law Student Stress

BankmanStanford Report, Stanford Law Professor Creates New Way to Help Students Deal With the Stress Of It All:

Six years ago, Joe Bankman, a professor at Stanford Law School, wanted to broaden his legal scholarship.  So in his spare time, he went back to school to train as a clinical psychologist.

"I never intended to quit my day job," he said.  "But my scholarship and policy work were venturing into behavioral psychology and the law, and I wanted to understand more about human behavior."

Bankman decided to enroll in the Palo Alto University/Stanford School of Medicine joint PsyD (doctor of psychology) program, for which he is currently completing an internship in his fifth and final year.   

But while Bankman went into the program with scholarship and policy projects in mind, he came out of it with another goal as well.

"I have all these brilliant students whom I can help by giving them some useful knowledge and improving their analytical skills.  But, as I came to realize over the years, if they crash and burn it will not be because they lack these necessary skills.  It will be because they lack emotional resilience to cope with the stresses and challenges of a demanding professional career.  Like millions of others, they need help with anxiety and, for some, depression," he said.

So Bankman launched a pilot project on emotional health among law students.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

MIT Law School: Legal Education in the 21st Century

Daniel Martin Katz (Michigan State), The MIT School of Law? A Perspective on Legal Education in the 21st Century, 2014 Ill. L. Rev. 1431  (slides here):

MITDespite some of the blustery rhetoric attendant to the ongoing market transition, lawyers and the market for legal services are not going away. Lawyers serve integral roles in a wide variety of social and political systems. Their work supports the proper functioning of markets and helps individuals and organizations vindicate their respective rights. At the same time, the processes associated with completing their work — as well as the contours of their respective expertise and judgment — are already changing. These changes are being driven by a number of economic and technological trends, many of which Larry Ribstein identified in a series of important articles published in the years before his untimely death.

This Essay is offered as part of a symposium honoring the work of the late Larry Ribstein. This Essay is a thought exercise about a hypothetical MIT School of Law — an institution with the type of curriculum that might help prepare students to have the appropriate level of substantive legal expertise and other useful skills that will allow them to deliver value to their clients as well as develop and administer the rules governing markets, politics, and society as we move further into the 21st Century. It is a blueprint based upon the best available information, and like any other plan of action would need to be modified to take stock of shifting realities over time. It is not a solution for all of legal education. Instead, it is a targeted description of an institution and its substantive content that could compete very favorably in the existing and future market. It is a depiction of an institution whose students would arguably be in high demand. It is a high-level sketch of an institution that would be substantively relevant, appropriately practical, theoretically rigorous and world class.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tax Teachers of the Year


The AALS has released the names of Teachers of the Year (2013-14) at their respective law schools. The Tax Prof Teachers of the Year are Joshua Blank (NYU), Jeffrey Maine (Maine), and Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane).

April 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Simkovic: The Choice Of Whether Or Not To Go To Law School -- Compared To What?

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Compared to What?:

The choice of whether or not to go to law school is always a choice between law school and the next best alternative.  College graduates do not vanish from the face of the earth if they choose not to go to law school.  They still must find work, continue their education, or find some other source of financial support. 

The question everyone who decides not to go to law school, and every critic of law schools, must answer is—what else out there is better?* 

To enable prospective students to compare law school to the next best alternative, we need standardized measurements that apply to both law school and alternatives to law school. ...

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The NY Times and Deceptive Law School Statistics

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on last week's post, NY Times: Law Schools and Legal Industry Show Signs of Life, Despite Forecasts of Doom:  Kyle McEntee (Executive Director, Law School Transparency), Deceptive Statistics 101, Courtesy Of A Law Professor And The New York Times:

The New York Times published an irresponsible column yesterday by Steven Solomon, a law professor at Berkeley. Solomon starts off on the right foot: he acknowledges that the recent drop in law school applications “is partly a problem of the schools’ own making” because schools previously “fudged the numbers on graduates’ employment.”

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shepard: The Crisis In American Legal Education

Randall T. Shepard (Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court; Chair, ABA Task Force on The Future of Legal Education), 'Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?': The Crisis In American Legal Education--A Challenge For The Whole Profession, 40 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 679 (2014):

The broad outlines of the current distress in legal education are visible, even in the public press: rising tuition, growing student debt, poor job prospects, and falling enrollment. It is a perfect storm, if you will, in a profession that is not accustomed to such storms.

To begin to understand it, one really must consider the multiple elements of the profession facing genuine crises. I will describe how this present set of challenges reflects on various parts of the profession, before I say why I think they are happening and where it is we might want to look for answers. I will start, because they deserve it, by describing what confronts new graduates from law schools.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

South Dakota Seeks to Hire Tax Clinic Director

South Dakota 2The University of South Dakota School of Law seeks to hire a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Director:

The position is non-tenure track and paid out of a federal grant beginning July 2015. Continued employment is contingent on availability of grant funding.

The Director will lead the only LITC in South Dakota. Responsibilities will include representing low-income taxpayers before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court, teaching and supervising clinical law students in the representation of clients, engaging in outreach to South Dakota communities, developing and coordinating a panel of pro bono attorneys, managing the LITC's docket, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of an IRS-funded LITC.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saving Appalachian Law School, But Hurting The Town

Appalachian LogoInside Higher Ed, Saving the Law School, Hurting the Town:

Appalachian School of Law, in the coalfields town of Grundy, Va., is struggling as much as any law school amid a plunge in applicants.

Last year, the stand-alone law school had an entering class of 48 students, down from 146 students in 2011. There has also been an exodus of professors and, as of now, there are at most eight professors on staff -- some say fewer -- to teach next fall.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Vermont Law School Contributes $30.5 Million in Direct Expenditures, 376 Jobs to State Economy

VermontVermont Law School, faced with a 25% enrollment decline since 2011 (from 566 to 424) and  a decline in the credentials of its entering 1L class since 2011 (median LSAT from 154 to 152, 25th percentile LSAT from 151 to 146), has issued a press release, Study: Vermont Law School Contributes $30.5 Million in Direct Expenditures, 376 jobs to Vermont Economy (April 1, 2015):

Vermont Law School contributed $30.5 million in direct expenditures to the Vermont economy and generated 376 jobs in 2014, reports a study detailing the economic impact of the institution released today by VLS [Economic Impact of the Vermont Law School on the Vermont State Economy].

Prepared by Nicolas O. Rockler of Belmont, Mass.-based Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC, the in-depth study covers direct expenditures and secondary impact estimates based on a model created by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) of Amherst, Mass. The REMI model incorporates current economic data with a theoretical framework from which to develop secondary impact estimates.

"This economic impact study reinforces what we've long known about Vermont Law School's role in the Vermont economy," said VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly. "We provided detailed accounting data to best inform the study. We are a small school, but our impact on the Vermont economy is great—far greater than what typically would be expected from an institution of our size, according to the report."

Economic Impact of the Vermont Law School on the Vermont State Economy:

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School

HybridCNBC, Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School:

Law schools will never be the same thanks to a Minnesota law school which went up against the American Bar Association and won.

The William Mitchell College of Law applied to the ABA for permission to design a hybrid online program to students. In an unprecedented move, the ABA approved it.

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Academic Analytics for Law Schools

Academic AnalyticsCarissa Byrne Hessick (Utah), Contemplating Academic Analytics for Law Schools:

There is a recent trend in higher education to standardize assessment of faculty’s academic achievement across disciplines.  For example, a company called Academic Analytics markets itself as providing university administrators “with objective data that administrators can use . . . as a method for benchmarking in comparison to other institutions.”  As its website explains, it measures productivity and excellence by quantifying:

  1. the publication of scholarly work as books and journal articles
  2. citations to published journal articles
  3. research funding by federal agencies
  4. honorific awards bestowed upon faculty members

Because it is seeking to assess academics generally, the metrics that Academic Analytics uses are not necessarily well suited to assessing law faculty. ... Looking at the academic analytic metrics, I’m contemplating how it is that one might attempt to construct an instrument that would assess law faculty productivity and excellence. ... I’ll share some preliminary thoughts about what those metrics might look like in a future post.

For my perspective, see:

See also Patrick Arthur Woods, Stop Counting (Or At Least Count Better):

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April 6, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Law School Social Network

Twitter (2014)Following up on my previous post, Law Prof Twitter Rankings:  Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), The Law School Network & Legal Network Analysis:

I thought I’d start things off with another interactive network and a discussion of networks more generally. The network below (click-through the image for an interactive version) is an alternate projection of the law prof twitter network. I’ve taken the law prof follower relations and changed the unit of analysis to the school that each prof teaches at. This shows us an electronic social network of law schools. Schools that are strongly linked in this network have a lot of profs following one another on twitter. The larger a school’s node, the more influential it is (as gauged by twitter followers) in the law prof social media world.

Twitter Network

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dan Markel's Father Speaks To The Media For The First Time About His Son's Murder

MarkelDaily Mail, EXCLUSIVE: 'I Have My Own Theory About Who Killed My Son.' Father of Harvard-Educated Professor Shot in the Head in His Own Garage by Mystery Gunman Finally Speaks Out:

The father of a top law professor who was shot dead at his home has spoken for the first time at his family's 'frustration' that his son's killer has yet to be caught.

It is almost eight months since Dan Markel was gunned down in an execution style killing as he sat in his car in the garage of his home in Florida.

The 41-year-old father of two young sons, who worked at Florida State University, was shot in the head.

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April 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Two William Mitchell Law Profs Sue Over Abrogation of Tenure in Merger With Hamline Law School

MitchellFollowing up on my previous post, William Mitchell and Hamline Law Schools to Merge Amidst Enrollment Declines:  Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Merging Law Schools Causes Tenure Fight at William Mitchell:

Two professors at William Mitchell College of Law have accused the school of proposing unacceptable changes to its tenure policy in order to cut faculty in a planned merger with another law school.

MoyRadsanProfessors Carl Moy and John Radsan filed their complaint Friday in Ramsey County District Court. The complaint asks the court to rule that the school’s attempt to amend its tenure code is a breach of contract. ...

“Defendant’s proposed amendment would alter the tenure code so that it would deny otherwise-tenured faculty ‘tenure’…,” the suit said. “Defendant would be able to terminate a tenured faculty member without adequate cause …”

The professors’ complaint alleges that Mitchell couldn’t find enough faculty to voluntarily retire or take part-time positions in order to cut the school’s staffing in time for the merger, so officials proposed amending its tenure code to facilitate the dismissal of more instructors.

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April 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Economist: America's Flagging Higher Education System

Economist Logo (2015)The Economist, More and More Money Is Being Spent on Higher Education. Too Little Is Known About Whether It Is Worth It:

America’s early and lasting enthusiasm for higher education has given it the biggest and best-funded system in the world. Hardly surprising, then, that other countries are emulating its model as they send ever more of their school-leavers to get a university education. But, as our special report argues, just as America’s system is spreading, there are growing concerns about whether it is really worth the vast sums spent on it.


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April 4, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, April 3, 2015

L.A. Magazine Profile: Eugene Volokh

VolokhLos Angeles Magazine, Right Side of the Law: Eugene Volokh’s Global Influence:

The wunderkind-turned-law professor is that L.A. anomaly: an influential conservative blogger 

Even though he’s 47, Volokh still exudes a smartest-kid-in-the-classroom vibe. He first came to local prominence when the Los Angeles Times profiled him in 1980 in a feature story that ran under the headline “ ‘Gifted’ 12-Year-Old Math Genius Is UCLA’s Youngest Undergrad.” Now, after two decades as a law professor at his alma mater, he’s emerged as one of the nation’s leading constitutional scholars. He’s also become a leading conservative and libertarian legal theorist, establishing himself as one of the few Angelenos to play a prominent role in hard-right political circles. Volokh writes prolifically—law review articles, op-ed essays, legal textbooks—but it’s his Web presence that has earned him the most recognition. Founded in 2002, The Volokh Conspiracy is among the oldest and most widely read legal blogs in the country. The site’s mainstream reach expanded dramatically after the left-leaning Washington Post started carrying it on its Web site last year, and its impact extends far beyond its 22,500 unique visitors per weekday. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is said to be a regular reader. ...

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April 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rutgers Board Approves Merger of Camden, Newark Law Schools, Pending ABA Approval

Rutgers Law SchoolsFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Press Release, Rutgers Board of Governors Approves Merger of Two Law Schools with Distinct Locations Pending ABA Approval:

The Rutgers Board of Governors today approved the merger of the two Rutgers law schools into one unified law school with two distinct locations in Camden and Newark, contingent upon  approval by the American Bar Association. ...  ...

Rutgers Law School will employ a robust faculty of 100 scholars. ... With more than 1,000 students drawn from across the country, Rutgers Law School also will be among the nation’s largest law schools, yet it will boast a student-faculty ratio on par with other leading public law schools.

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

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weil Gotshal's April Fools' Memo Promising Better Work/Life Balance For Associates By Banning Late Night and Vacation Email Backfires

WeilWeil, Gotshal & Manges sent this firm-wide memo announcing an Important New Email Policy on April 1, promising a better embrace work/life balance for associates:

Reports that both France and Germany have either considered or adopted workplace rules that ban emails to employees after their work hours have caused us to examine our own workplace and the impact that being “always on” has on our employees and their families. All studies we have seen point to reduced productivity. The issues are exacerbated in an international firm like Weil where offices span many different time zones. In Europe, there has been discussion of shutting down email for all from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. We have decided not to go that far, but effective May 1, 2015, the following rules will be in effect, implemented by software in each office:

(1) Email will not be transmitted between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. This will be implemented in the local time zone for each Weil office. This will be the default email setting, subject to opt-outs as described below.

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April 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Ethics

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), What “Employment” and “Unemployment” Mean:

Recently, two criticisms have been leveled against law schools.  The first is an economic critique—law school is not worth it financially compared to a terminal bachelor’s degree.  This critique is incorrect for the overwhelming majority of law school graduates.

The second is a moral critique—that law schools behaved unethically or even committed fraud (see here, here, and here) by presenting their employment statistics in a misleading way.  (While at least one of the 200+ American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools misreported LSAT scores and GPAs of incoming students, and a former career services employee at another alleges specific misreporting of unemployment data at that law school, I am focusing here not on the outliers, but on the critique against all law schools generally).

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), The Ethics of Academia:

What obligations, if any, do academic institutions owe potential students? When soliciting these “customers,” how candid should schools be in discussing graduation rates, scholarship conditions, or the employment outcomes of recent graduates? Do the obligations differ for a professional school that will teach students about the ethics of communicating with their own future customers? ...

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

Grant Funded Legal Research

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Grant Funded Research:

Paul Campos of the University of Colorado is once again confused by my research with Frank McIntyre.  This time, the source of Professor Campos’s confusion is not present value calculations, but rather grant funding.

The Economic Value of a Law Degree was not funded through grants.  No disclosure of grant funding appears in that article because there was no funding to disclose.

Two follow up studies, Timing Law School and an upcoming study about differences in the law earnings premium by college major, race and gender, are funded through grants from Access Group, Inc., a non-profit that provides financial education to students and schools and aims to promote broad access to education, and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), which is an important provider of data and research about law schools (see here and here). ...

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April 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Feds Place Ave Maria Law School on Financial Watch List

Ave Maria LogoIn the wake of a 45% decline in enrollment at Ave Maria Law School, the Department of Education has placed the school on its Heightened Cash Monitoring list of 560 schools (and the only law school) whose federal aid is restricted because of concerns about their finances or compliance with federal requirements.  From Bar Exam Stats:

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

Motro: Scholarship Against Desire

Shari Motro (Richmond), Scholarship Against Desire, 27 Yale J.L. & Human. 115 (2015):

How do ego-driven fears and ambitions influence intellectual life in our law schools? How do law review placements, promotion applications, and faculty workshops skew the questions we law professors ask and the conclusions we reach? In my own case, they led me to frame my last project before tenure — which at its heart is about intimate relationships — through a tax policy analysis. Instead of writing about “sex against desire” I wrote about “preglimony.”  [Preglimony, 63 Stan. L. Rev. 647 (2011).]  I stand behind the result, but the exercise also left me feeling incomplete. This article reflects on the price of strategically motivated scholarship and articulates a vision for what a more authentic ethos may bring to students, to the profession, and to the world we help shape.

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April 2, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Texas A&M Law School Dean's Ten Reasons To Be Cheerful About The Future Of Legal Education

Andrew Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M), Reasons to be Cheerful: The Future of Legal Education:

This is a time of turmoil in legal education, and, to a large extent, in higher education generally.  Enrollment in U.S. law schools has dropped to 1974 levels, yet there are more than fifty additional law schools now. Enrollments have fallen even at highly regarded schools, as illustrated by the announcement from Washington & Lee that it was cutting its entering class size to 100 (which translates into a roughly 25% cut from prior norms), increasing the payout from its endowment to 7.5% (i.e. drawing down principal – unless the university has some truly amazing investment managers who are getting extraordinary returns; a more usual endowment payout is around 4%) to boost revenue, and shrinking its faculty and staff.  Poor employment numbers and rising student debt has caused criticism of law schools for running “scams” to spread on line, while  Brian Tamanaha’s Failing Law Schools sparked discussion about where law schools were headed. These are all stresses on legal education.

It is not easy to be in such a market, but stresses on markets usually force competition to sharpen and I think there is reason to believe that the stresses legal education and the rest of higher education are under will produce an improvement in quality in the long run. That may be small comfort to some in the short run but the opportunities for improved legal education are significant.

My reasons for being cheerful rest on trends we are experiencing as competition has its way even in markets dominated by non-profit service producers. The three big improvements I think we will see will be:

  • Lower tuition and related costs;
  • More attention to the quality of education students receive; and
  • More diversity in methods of legal education.

In short, legal education will be cheaper, get better, and offer more variety in the types of education offered. To see why, let’s look at ten of the trends that will push legal education in that direction. ...

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April 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ohio State's New Logo: Everything Is for Sale!

Ohio StateChronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Welcome to Ohio State, Where It Is All For Sale, by Steven Conn (Department of History, Ohio State):

I'm excited to announce that my university has changed its motto. Out with the old and in with: “Omnia Venduntur!

Our old motto, “Disciplina In Civitatem,” or “Education for Citizenship,” just sounded so, you know, land-granty, so civic-minded. It certainly doesn’t capture our new ethos of entrepreneurial dynamism and financial chicanery. ...

So instead: “Everything Is for Sale!” (Actually, the trustees originally wanted to carve “Every Asset a Monetizable Asset” into stone, but it turns out “monetizable” doesn’t have a Latin translation.)

We’ve been moving in this direction for some time. We were among the first to become a “Coke campus,” which means that in ex-change for some cash, we’ve agreed that Coke and Coke products are the only soft drinks permitted on campus. ...

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April 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Robson: Enhancing Reciprocal Synergies Between Teaching and Scholarship

Ruthann Robson (CUNY), Enhancing Reciprocal Synergies between Teaching and Scholarship, 64 J. Legal Educ. 480 (2015):

This essay confronts the canard that one can be a good law teacher or a good legal scholar, but not both. It contends that many legal academics are good teachers and scholars, even as increasing demands can make institutional and individual balancing acts difficult. This essay first considers the empirical studies about the relationship between teaching and scholarship in legal academia. It then turns toward the experiential, with the simple overarching suggestion that individual legal academics can enhance the synergies between our scholarly and pedagogical endeavors by paying attention to them. The essay highlights four categories — the doctrinal, the theoretical, the methodological, and the professional — and discusses ways to strengthen their mutually reinforcing aspects. The essay ends by offering three techniques to assist legal scholars and teachers in paying attention regardless of the category and thus enhance the reciprocal synergies between scholarship and teaching.

April 1, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times Debate: How to Improve the College Admissions Process

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate, How to Improve the College Admissions Process:

The Times columnist Frank Bruni’s new book, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be,” appeals to teenagers and their parents to relax, because the college decision won’t matter as much as they think it will. But as those thin and thick envelopes arrive in mailboxes across the country, don’t colleges and universities share some of the responsibility for the absurd competition?

What can selective colleges and universities do to improve the admissions process?

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April 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times: Law Schools and Legal Industry Show Signs of Life, Despite Forecasts of Doom

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Law Schools and Industry Show Signs of Life, Despite Forecasts of Doom, by Steven Davidoff Solomon (UC-Berkeley):

Law school enrollment has plummeted to the lowest level in decades. If a bottom has been reached, is now a good time to go to law school?

Some say no — not now and possibly never. The legal market, they argue, has fundamentally changed, meaning that many of the legal jobs of years past are gone forever.

Several new studies, however, point to signs of vigorous life in the legal job market, at least toward the higher end.

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April 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Does Professor Who Is Denied Tenure Have The Right To See Student Evaluations Of Her And Her Colleagues?

PomonaChronicle of Higher Education, Court Battle Over Tenure Denial Centers on Privacy of Student Evaluations:

Should the confidentiality shrouding students’ evaluations of college instructors always be protected, even if it might conceal violations of the law? A California state court was expected to take up that question last week in response to Pomona College’s refusal to grant access to such records to a former professor suing the college for discrimination.

Lawyers for Alma Martinez, to whom the private college denied tenure and who was dismissed as an assistant professor of theater in 2013, are seeking copies of students’ evaluations not only of Ms. Martinez but also of faculty members who, unlike her, received tenure at Pomona in recent years.

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April 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Growth in Lawyer Employment

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), The Absence of Evidence for Structural Change: Growth in Lawyer Employment and Earnings:

There have been a lot of doom-and-gloom reports about layoffs and collapsing job opportunities for lawyers.  As we’ve noted before, the relevant question for valuing legal education is the boost to earnings from the law degree across occupations, not the more specific question of what is happening to lawyers, or even more specifically, big law firms. 

But for the sake of argument, focusing more narrowly on the under-inclusive category of lawyers only, what does the data actually show about lawyer employment?  ... Lawyer employment is growing.  This is true both in absolute numbers, and also relative to overall employment.  In other words, lawyers are becoming a larger share of the U.S. workforce. 

Simkovic 1

The practice of law is also becoming more lucrative, at least over the long term.

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March 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Andrew Sullivan: Blogging Nearly Killed Me

SullivanCNN, Andrew Sullivan: Blogging Nearly Killed Me:

For years, Andrew Sullivan blogged at a prolific rate. ... "The truth is, I had to stop primarily because it was killing me," Sullivan said Sunday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. "I used to joke that if blogging does kill someone, I would be the first to find out."

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March 31, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Barnhizer: Jobs, Law Schools and the ‘Body Count’ Mentality

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Jobs, Law Schools and the ‘Body Count’ Mentality:

[I]n far too many instances analyses of what is or is going to happen in relation to “law jobs” and law schools in the US are similar to the “body count” data that characterized America’s reporting on the Vietnam War. ... I don’t care about the almost daily litany of specific short-term numbers or “body counts” about what is going on in the legal profession, in law school applications and enrollments and in the quality of graduates and bar exam takers. Even if accurate—they are only a small part of the system’s dynamics. ... Rather than focusing on the inner workings of hapless law schools and surprisingly unsophisticated legal academics and administrators, it is wiser to identify the external conditions and forces that are going to dictate the system’s outcomes and “rules of operation” over the next five, ten and fifteen years.

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March 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Widener Splits Into Two Law Schools, Names New Deans

WidenerWidener University on Friday announced that the ABA has approved its application to split its School of Law, which has campuses in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, into separate law schools that will operate independently of each other, but remain part of the university:

Each school also announced new deans:

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March 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)