TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Foremost Legal Mind On Sexual Harassment Didn’t Get Tenure For More Than A Decade

Quartz, The Foremost Legal Mind on Sexual Harassment Didn’t Get Tenure For More Than a Decade:

Catharine MacKinnon’s work led to the creation of the field of anti-sexual harassment law. A book she wrote in her twenties argued that sexual harassment in the workplace constitutes sexual discrimination—a claim the US Supreme Court later agreed with. And yet, the brilliant lawyer and scholar had trouble securing academic tenure.

In an interview with The New York Times columnist Philip Galanes, which she did with Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor and anti-sexual harassment advocate, MacKinnon talks about her tenure process.

Galanes asks if the “wandering in the desert” as a visiting professor for more than a decade “killed her.” ...

MacKinnon answers:

It did not kill me. I am right here. I just kept doing what I did. But let’s get realistic: What people do is trim their sails in terms of content. They don’t tell the truth about what’s really happening to women, for example, so they get the job. It never occurred to me to do that. And even though I didn’t get the jobs, there continued to be major fights about appointing me for two decades.

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March 20, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Penn Law School Mob Scores A Victory

Following up on last week's post, After 'Disparaging' Comments About Black Students, Amy Wax Barred From Teaching 1L Course At Penn:  Wall Street Journal op-ed:  The Penn Law School Mob Scores a Victory, by Heather McDonald (Manhattan Institute):

The campus mob at the University of Pennsylvania Law School has scored a hit. Prof. Amy Wax will no longer be allowed to teach required first-year courses, the school’s dean announced last week. Now the leader of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania wants Ms. Wax’s scalp. According to a weekend newspaper report, if she isn’t fired within a week, “he plans to make things on the West Philadelphia campus very uncomfortable.”

Ms. Wax’s sin this time was to discuss publicly the negative consequences of affirmative action. Her punishment underscores again the dangers of speaking uncomfortable truths in a university setting. ...

The latest outrage arises from a web video Ms. Wax recorded in September with Glenn Loury, an economist at Brown University. Forty or so minutes in, the discussion turned to racial preferences. Mr. Loury noted that, on average, students admitted via preferences “are less academically qualified—by definition!” Ms. Wax brought up the “mismatch” effect: the idea that the so-called beneficiaries of preferences have difficulty competing with peers who were admitted without them. “Take Penn Law School, or some top 10 law school,” Ms. Wax said. “Here’s a very inconvenient fact, Glenn. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely, rarely in the top half. I can think of one or two students who’ve scored in the top half in my required first-year course.”

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March 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

How Students Fare In The Labor Market After Graduate And Professional School

AccessLex Institute, After Graduate and Professional School: How Students Fare in the Labor Market:

Although on average, advanced degrees are valuable in the labor market, students pursuing a graduate or professional degree face considerable uncertainty. Research doctoral and professional degree recipients have lower unemployment rates and higher average earnings than those with master’s degrees, and there is wide variation in outcomes, even among students who complete the same type of degree. As noted in the first brief in this series, Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds?, about a quarter of students who enroll in graduate and professional degree programs leave school without earning a degree. Among those who complete their studies, outcomes vary based on type of degree, field of study and occupation, as well as race, ethnicity and gender.

This brief explores employment and earnings outcomes among advanced degree recipients. Examining these outcomes across degree, occupational and demographic categories paints a nuanced picture of the payoffs of graduate and professional education. This information is critical for prospective students and others seeking to assess the value of these degree programs.

Figure 3A

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March 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Students Who Handwrite Their Notes Outperform Laptop Users

Colleen P. Murphy (Roger Williams), CJ Ryan (Vanderbilt) & Yajni Warnapala (Roger Williams), Note-Taking Mode and Academic Performance in Two Law School Courses:

The use of laptops in law school classrooms has become fairly commonplace, especially in the last decade. Yet, studies in other higher education settings have found an association between note-taking mode and academic performance; specifically, using a laptop to take notes in the classroom is associated with negative academic performance outcomes.

This study endeavors to assess the relationship between note-taking mode and academic performance in the law school setting. We compare the academic performance of handwriters to laptop users in two required, doctrinal courses as well as the effect of a randomly assigned treatment, exposing roughly half of the students in our analysis to a memorandum explaining the possible pitfalls of using a laptop to take class notes. We find that handwriting class notes has a strong positive association with academic performance in these two law school courses, supporting findings of the benefits of handwriting class notes in other academic settings.

Table 4B

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March 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 18, 2018

George Washington Discontinues Use Of GRE In Admissions Because It Has Not Done A School-Specific Validation Study

GREAt least 17 accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT (Arizona, Brooklyn, BYU, Cardozo, Columbia, Florida State, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Hawaii, John Marshall, Northwestern, Pace, St. John's, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, and Washington University), and two law schools allow the GRE in limited circumstances (Chicago (admissions committee may grant LSAT waiver), UCLA (students enrolled in, or applying to, another UCLA graduate program).  George Washington may be the first of these schools to change its mind and no longer accept the GRE:

Above the Law, LSAT Notches Unexpected Victory In Ongoing Slugfest With GRE:

Members of the administration at this law school have changed their minds about accepting the GRE for this application season. ...

We reached out to GW Law to find out what was being done to accommodate the students who relied on their December announcement and a spokesperson had this to say:

In terms of notifying students, we told everyone that applied in an email. We did announce it to all GRE applicants when we decided to discontinue the first week of January, less than four weeks after we started accepting (including the winter break). ...

[W]hy exactly did the school do an about face?

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March 18, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

How Much Time Does It Take to Write a Law Review Article? 250-500 Hours

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), How Much Time Does It Take to Write a Law Review Article?:

How long does it take to write a law review article? This question sometimes arises as law faculties balance the competing expectations of teaching, service, and scholarship. ...

In an attempt to develop some back-of-the-envelope estimates on the amount of time to write a law review article, I ran the following poll on Twitter. The poll received 246 votes and the results appear to reflect a fairly surprising degree of consensus. 


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March 17, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Spotlight On The AALS Tax Section

AALS (2019)AALS News, Spotlight on Sections: Taxation:

The AALS Section on Taxation promotes the communication of ideas, interests, and activities among members and makes recommendations on matters of interest in the teaching and improvement of the law relating to taxation. AALS News caught up with Larry Zelenak (now Immediate Past Chair) and Shu-Yi Oei (Chair) onsite at the 2018 Annual Meeting in San Diego.

How do your section members interact and collaborate outside of the AALS Annual Meeting?

LZ: The National Tax Association’s annual conference has become almost like a second annual meeting for us in terms of having a place to meet other tax law professors. Most of us are not economists, but there’s a lot you can learn as a consumer of tax and economic research without having to be one yourself. Historically, there has been a tendency for tax law professors to be doubly siloed: within law schools but also within tax. Maybe that’s why we’re such a tight group among ourselves. We haven’t traditionally talked a lot to accountants or economists. We are becoming much less siloed in both respects.

Other than that: a lot of email. We mostly use the tax prof listserv rather than our AALS Section listserv, because it was already running before the AALS one existed.

SO: The listserv and the tax prof blog are generally how tax law professors get together outside of the meeting. There’s also the Law and Society Conference, which has a number of tax panels.

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March 17, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Pepperdine’s Place In The 2019 U.S. News Rankings

As most of you know, on Tuesday morning U.S. News released to law schools an embargoed confidential electronic version of the 2019 edition of its annual rankings to be published online on Tuesday, March 20.  At Pepperdine, we immediately analyzed the data U.S. News used in calculating our ranking.  To our horror, we learned that we had made an inadvertent data entry error in reporting our median LSAT for the class that began in Fall, 2017.

We immediately contacted U.S. News Tuesday morning to inform them of the error and requested that they update the rankings with the correct median LSAT.  On Tuesday afternoon, anonymous source(s) leaked the embargoed rankings which were posted on several blogs, showing Pepperdine’s ranking as 59 (up from 72 last year).

Unfortunately, U.S. News has denied our request and instead issued a revised embargoed electronic version of the rankings that replaced the original.  In the new version, Pepperdine is removed from the rankings.  Instead, Pepperdine is listed as “unranked due to a data reporting error by the school.” 

We contacted three law school rankings experts — Bill Henderson (Indiana), Andy Morriss (Texas A&M), and Mike Spivey (Spivey Consulting) — who all confirmed our analysis that Pepperdine would have ranked 62nd or 64th had U.S. News recomputed the rankings with our correct LSAT median.

It is, of course, deeply disappointing to be unranked for a year. But the reality is that we made great progress in the rankings this year, and should continue our ascent next year. 

For a fuller description of the rankings snafu, see here.


March 16, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

What to Teach Law Students About Artificial Intelligence and Law?

Harry Surden (Colorado), What to Teach Law Students About Artificial Intelligence and Law?, 112 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online ___ (2018):

It is helpful to provide law students with a basic understanding of the current state of artificial intelligence (AI) and its likely near-term impact on law. With this knowledge, students can orient their careers to avoid those legal positions that are most vulnerable to automation and focus instead on activities for which their legal training and cognitive abilities provide the most value for clients.

March 16, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Law Schools Dive Into Virtual Reality Experiences For Their Students

VRABA Journal, Law Schools Dive Into Virtual Reality Experiences For Their Students:

Law schools are ramping up efforts to provide more experiential learning opportunities through virtual reality experiences that will allow both students and practicing attorneys to practice their lawyering skills anytime, anywhere. 

“I was walking past the courtroom one day and saw students just waiting to use it … I also have spoken to attorneys in big firms who don’t have places to practice,” said Jennifer Wondracek, director of legal educational technology at University of North Texas Dallas College of Law. “My thought was, well, why not create a virtual courtroom?”

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March 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: I’d Be An ‘A’ Student If I Could Just Read My Notes

No LaptopWall Street Journal, I’d Be an ‘A’ Student if I Could Just Read My Notes:

Professors are banning laptops in class, driving college students to revert to handwriting—and to complain about it; ‘a hand cramp in government’

Adam Shlomi says he is a good student at Georgetown University. But the sophomore is failing in one unexpected area: note-taking.

Back in his Florida high school, he brought a Chromebook to class, taking “beautiful, color-coded notes.” So he was shocked to learn many professors at the elite Jesuit university in Washington, D.C., don’t allow laptops in their lecture halls.

With nearly illegible handwriting—a scrawl of overlapping letters with interchangeable t’s and f’s, g’s and y’s—Mr. Shlomi, 20 years old, begs notes from friends, reads textbooks and reviews subjects on YouTube when it’s time to take a test.

As professors take a stand against computers in their classrooms, students who grew up more familiar with keyboards than cursive are struggling to adjust. They are recording classes on cellphones, turning to friends with better penmanship and petitioning schools for a softer line. ...

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March 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton to Conclude Presidency In 2019

BentonPepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton to Conclude Presidency in 2019:

Pepperdine University president and chief executive officer Andrew K. Benton has announced his intent to conclude his presidency at the end of the 2018–2019 academic year. In a prepared statement to the University community, Benton said he and his wife have decided it is a good time for a change and that he has asked the Board of Regents to begin the process for selecting a new president.

“This is a significant change that, while difficult, we believe comes at just the right time - for Pepperdine, for our students, and for us,” said Benton. “As president, I have always tried to make the hardest institutional decisions from a position of strength, and because of the talent and passion of our people throughout the last several decades, I can confidently say that Pepperdine has never been stronger academically, spiritually, and financially.”

As he anticipates his final year of service as president, Benton plans to stay focused on the strategic priorities he believes will add value to the student experience and Pepperdine’s reputation among elite universities. These initiatives include the completion of the new Seaside Residence Hall and School of Law renovation, plans for a revitalized Washington, DC program and facility, and securing funds for a new student recreation and events center.

“Our aspirations for Andy’s success have been realized beyond our dreams, and he has become one of our nation’s truly great university presidents,” said board chair Ed Biggers, speaking on behalf of the Board of Regents. “Serving with Andy has been among the greatest privileges of my life, and the entire board is deeply grateful for his strength, integrity, and grace. Throughout all of his roles and responsibilities, he has led with determination, intelligence, and tenacity, tempered with his compassion and a deep and abiding faith. His genuine love for students has been, perhaps, the hallmark of his career, and we congratulate him on his distinguished service.”

Benton has committed to serving as president until his successor is found and will continue to serve the University as President Emeritus following the conclusion of his presidency. At the end of his presidential tenure, Benton will be the longest serving president in Pepperdine’s 80-year history.

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March 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

March Madness Law School Bracket

Here is the March Madness Law School Bracket, with outcomes determined by the 2018 U.S. News Law School Rankings (using academic peer reputation and student quality as tiebreakers). The Final Four are Pennsylvania (7), Michigan (8), Virginia (8), and UCLA (15), with Penn beating Virginia in the championship game.


March 14, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

After 'Disparaging' Comments About Black Students, Amy Wax Barred From Teaching 1L Course At Penn

Penn (2017)Folowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Daily Pennsylvanian, After 'Disparaging' Comments on Black Students, Amy Wax Barred From Teaching First-Year Course:

For the first time since Penn Law professor Amy Wax made headlines last year for controversial comments on race and free speech, the University that employs her has responded with action.

Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger announced on Mar. 13 that Amy Wax would no longer be allowed to teach a mandatory first-year course. This comes days after students and alumni responded with outrage to a video of Wax saying she's never seen a black Penn Law student graduate in the top quarter of their class. Earlier this week, an online petition was launched calling on Ruger to take action against Wax for her comments.

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March 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Law And Economics Critique Of The Law Review System

Timothy T. Lau (Federal Judicial Center), A Law and Economics Critique of the Law Review System, 55 Duq. L. Rev. 369 (2017):

The law review system prizes placement of articles in highlyranked journals, and the optimum method to ensure the best placement, which many scholars have intuited, is a saturation submission strategy of submitting articles to as many journals as possible. However, there has neither been an explanation as to what incentivizes this submission strategy nor any analysis as to what happens to scholars who cannot afford this strategy. This article uses a law and economics approach to study the incentive structures of the law review system, and identifies two features of the system that encourage saturation submission and punishes the poorly-resourced: (a) journals have no availability to accept all articles of equal quality; and (b) there is an insufficient match between acceptance and journal ranking.

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March 13, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGeorge Law School To Reduce Faculty By 25% Through Voluntary Buyouts

McGeorgeSacramento Bee, McGeorge School of Law to Reduce Full-Time Faculty By About 25%:

Dean Michael Schwartz said the move is part of the Sacramento law school’s strategic plan for the next five years and faculty members who volunteer for buyouts will have several options related to timing. ...

McGeorge anticipates 10 or 11 professors will take buyouts, which will free up money to reinvest in student recruitment. After the buyouts, about 28 full-time professors will remain. …

He also declined to disclose specific terms of the buyout packages, but said the packages will be the same for professors across the board.

According to Law School Transparency, McGeorge's 1L enrollment has fallen 56% from 2010 (from 346 to 152), and its LSAT median has fallen from 158 to 151. 

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March 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 12, 2018

WSJ: The Truth About The SAT And ACT

Wall Street Journal, The Truth About the SAT and ACT:

Myths abound about standardized tests, but the research is clear: They provide an invaluable measure of how students are likely to perform in college and beyond.

This Saturday, hundreds of thousands of U.S. high-school students will sit down to take the SAT, anxious about their performance and how it will affect their college prospects. And in a few weeks, their older peers, who took the test last year, will start hearing back from the colleges they applied to. Admitted, rejected, waitlisted? It often hinges, in no small measure, on those few hours spent taking the SAT or the ACT, the other widely used standardized test.

Standardized tests are only part of the mix, of course, as schools make their admissions decisions. They also rely on grades, letters of recommendation, personal statements and interviews. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves: The SAT and ACT matter. They help overwhelmed admissions officers divide enormous numbers of applicants into pools for further assessment. High scores don’t guarantee admission anywhere, and low scores don’t rule it out, but schools take the tests seriously.

And they should, because the standardized tests tell us a lot about an applicant’s likely academic performance and eventual career success. Saying as much has become controversial in recent years, as standardized tests of every sort have come under attack. But our own research and that of others in the field show conclusively that a few hours of assessment do yield useful information for admissions decisions.

Unfortunately, a lot of myths have developed around these tests—myths that stand in the way of a thoughtful discussion of their role and importance.

Myth: Tests Only Predict First-Year Grades
Longitudinal research demonstrates that standardized tests predict not just grades all the way through college but also the level of courses a student is likely to take. Our research shows that higher test scores are clearly related to choosing more difficult majors and to taking advanced coursework in all fields. ...

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March 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Vic Fleischer Leaves San Diego For UC-Irvine

Fleischer (2018)Leading Tax Scholar and Teacher Victor Fleischer Joins UCI Law Faculty:

Fleischer will join tax faculty Omri Marian and Josh Blank at UCI Law

UCI Law is pleased to announce the appointment of renowned tax expert Victor Fleischer to its faculty as professor of law. Fleischer joins UCI Law from University of San Diego School of Law, where he currently is a professor of tax law and director of tax programs.

"We are delighted to have Vic join our preeminent faculty and further enhance our robust tax program," said UCI Law Dean L. Song Richardson.

"UCI has an amazing, diverse, talented, and energetic faculty," said Fleischer. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me and I’m delighted to join the team.”

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March 12, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Common Law Of Tax

Tax Court (2017)When I go abroad and introduce U.S. law and legal systems to lawyers from civil law countries, they are generally surprised that U.S. judges have so much power. They rightly perceive that the “common law” is really a license of power to judges, a power that is only broadly constrained by other government actors. This power allocation to the judicial branch is, however, an essential part of the U.S. political system, a system designed to resist a corrosive and corrupting concentration of power into any one person or small group of people. Our system carves up power both horizontally—think legislative v. executive v. judicial—and vertically—think state v. federal.

Our law schools inculcate the common law tradition into our students starting in the first year. In fact, despite nods to leg/reg courses, the first year curriculum is still mostly about the common law.  And the Socratic method is, in large measure, a method that works to establish common law thinking methods in our students, notably in how it forces students to pay attention to facts. Facts matter in the common law. We teach them to matter to students. And some of those students eventually become Tax Court judges.

We tax lawyers tend to forget the great common law tradition that undergirds the U.S. legal system. After all, we work from that Bodacious Compendium of rules in the Internal Revenue Code and associated regulations. But even in such a textually bounded area of law as tax, the common law persists. For example, the tax question about “who” must pay tax on an item of income is largely common law, even when it intertwines with various tax statutes, notably the grantor trust rules in §671 et seq. When I teach assignment of income, I tell my students to leave their statutory supplements at home.  We're in common law country. 

The importance of common law to tax is the lesson I draw from the Tax Court’s opinion last week in the consolidated cases of Celia Mazzei v. Commissioner and Angelo L, and Mary E. Mazzei v. Commissioner, 150 T.C. No. 7 (March 5, 2018). The taxpayers in these cases played around with various entity structures to try and avoid the contribution limits to their Roth IRAs. The IRS caught them out. The Tax Court sustained the IRS NOD and the Judges wrote three opinions totaling 104 pages. The majority, in an opinion by Judge Thornton (joined by 11 others) uses common law rules developed in the assignment of income area to sustain the IRS’s Notice of Deficiency. Judges Paris and Pugh, who joined the majority, also pen a concurring opinion that emphasizes the common law question (and are joined by three of the others who also joined the majority). Judge Holmes (joined by three others) dissents, believing that the relevant tax statutes trump the common law.

The clash of opinions are good reading, not only for their very satisfying lesson about the role of common law in our system of taxation but also because they really do clash: Judge Holmes basically accuses the majority of channeling the Emperor Caligula and Judge Thornton labels some of Judge Holmes’s claims “bizarre.”

Details below the fold.

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March 12, 2018 in Bryan Camp, Legal Education, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

U.S. News Strips Ranking From Three Graduate Schools For Submitting False Data

2018 U.S. News GradI previously have blogged reports of over a dozen schools inflating their rankings by submitting erroneous data to U.S. News (BucknellClaremont McKennaCollege of CharlestonCreightonEmoryGeorge WashingtonIllinoisMissouri-Kansas City, TempleTulaneUniversity of Mary Hardin-BaylorVillanovaYork College of Pennsylvania).   U.S. News recently announced that it was removing the rankings of three graduate schools for submitting false data:

The University of Florida's College of Nursing originally reported its fiscal year 2016 NIH educational and practical initiative grants and expenditures at $1,684,495. The school informed U.S. News the corrected value for its fiscal year 2016 NIH grants was $0. ...

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March 12, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What They Don't Teach You In Law School: How To Get A Job

Gropper 2Adam Gropper (Legislation Counsel, Joint Committee on Taxation; Founder, Legal; Former Tax Partner, Baker & Hostetler), What They Don't Teach You in Law School: How to Get a Job (2018):

It arms you with a fresh perspective from students who landed great legal jobs. These personal, enlightening stories and the insight they reveal form the foundation of a straightforward six-step process to create multiple job opportunities.

You'll quickly learn how to:

  • Create an entrepreneurial approach to your career planning.
  • Be seen by potential employers as integral to achieving their objectives.
  • Build your brand to get the job you want with the employer you want.

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March 11, 2018 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Pain Of Loving Old Dogs

SandyFollowing up on my previous post, Goodbye Sandy:  New York Times op-ed:  The Pain of Loving Old Dogs, by Margaret Renkl:

Clark is ... deaf, and he suffers from crippling arthritis. So far we have been able to manage his pain with medication, but at his checkup last year, when he turned 13, the vet had some sobering news. “With big dogs, there’s often a huge difference between 12 and 13,” he said. “One day Clark won’t be able to get up, and when that happens it’ll be time to let him go.”

The very idea is unthinkable. Clark has been our family protector, making political canvassers and religious zealots think twice about knocking on our door. He was the dog of our sons’ childhood, the pillow they sprawled on during Saturday-morning cartoons, the security blanket they returned to after an impossible test or a classroom bully or, later, a broken heart. At 14, this big dog has now surpassed his life expectancy. ...

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March 11, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Court Holds LSAC In Contempt, Extends Consent Degree For Two Years

LSAC (2018)National Law Journal, LSAT-Maker Held In Contempt Over Disability Accommodations:

The Law School Admission Council violated court-ordered rules meant to help disabled test takers gain accommodations on the Law School Admission Test, ruled a federal judge who held the organization in civil contempt.

Judge Joseph Spero in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California did not hold back, in a ruling handed down Monday, about what he saw as the council’s efforts to circumvent procedures agreed to under a 2014 consent decree the test administrator reached with the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

“[The council] deprived certain candidates of their automatic right to accommodations previously granted on comparable tests by improperly imposing substantive conditions on the candidate’s ability to accept those accommodations, and denied those candidates and others the right to the procedural safeguards established by the Panel for requests not based on such past accommodations,” Spero wrote in a 53-page opinion.

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March 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

BC Dean Rougeau: A New Strategy For Law School Budgets

Vincent D. Rougeau (Dean, Boston College), Amid Rising Applications, A New Strategy for Law School Budgets:

A lot has changed in American legal education in the last ten years, particularly when it comes to budgets. Major declines in enrollments have meant substantial—and often painful—budget adjustments, and in the worst cases, schools have been forced to close. At law schools that are a part of universities, a declining applicant pool has often redefined the financial relationship between the law school and the university administration. ...

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March 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Law Prof Is Reprimanded For Emailing Colleague Link To Inside Higher Education Article With The Word 'Penis' In it

IHEInside Higher Ed, Email Crime and Punishment:

Sheldon Pollack ..., professor of law and political science at the University of Delaware, has been formally reprimanded by Matthew Kinservik, vice provost for faculty affairs, for sending the wrong colleague a link to an Inside Higher Ed article with the word “penis” in it.

Pollack, a longtime Delaware professor and former president of the Faculty Senate, says he also narrowly escaped mandated counseling recommended by the university’s human resources office.

“This is an outrageous violation of academic freedom and free speech,” Pollack wrote in a draft appeal of the reprimand he prepared for the Faculty Senate’s Faculty Welfare & Privileges Committee and shared with Inside Higher Ed. “This administrative action is arbitrary and capricious. The ‘unprofessional’ action that Dr. Kinservik deems to be a violation of university policy and professional ethics is protected speech.”

Here’s what happened. In May, Inside Higher Ed published a news story about an Alan Sokal-style hoax article that somehow made its way through the peer-review process and was published by Cogent Social Sciences. The bogus paper, called the “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” argued that the “conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity.” You get the picture.

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March 9, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NLJ: Law School Rankings By Graduates In BigLaw Jobs

Go To
National Law Journal, The 2018 Go-To Law Schools:

New associate hiring held strong in 2017, with the country’s largest 100 law firms bringing on 4,199 recent law graduates. Among the 50 schools most popular with those firms, 29 percent of last year’s graduates landed associate jobs, up slightly from the previous year. We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools according to the percentage of their 2017 juris doctor graduates who took associate jobs at the largest 100 firms. 

  1. Columbia
  2. Chicago
  3. NYU
  4. Virginia
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Northwestern
  7. Duke
  8. Harvard
  9. Cornell
  10. UC-Berkeley
  11. Stanford
  12. Georgetown
  13. Vanderbilt
  14. Michigan
  15. UCLA
  16. USC
  17. Texas
  18. Yale
  19. Boston University
  20. Fordham

Columbia Law School Tops The List
Columbia Law School has landed at the No. 1 spot on our Go-To List for half a decade. In 2017, the Manhattan school sent nearly 68 percent of graduates into Big Law associate jobs.

The Top 50 Go-To Law Schools
These schools sent the highest percentage of 2017 graduates to associate jobs at the largest 100 firms.

Associates to Partner
These schools saw the most alumni promoted to partner in 2017.

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March 9, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Accused Hit Man In Dan Markel's Murder Pleads Not Guilty To New Charges

Garcia 2Tallahassee Democrat, Accused Markel Shooter Pleads Not Guilty to New Charges:

Accused murder suspect Sigfredo Garcia pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder in connection with the killing of Dan Markel.

Garcia is one of three people charged in the July 2014 murder of the Florida State University law professor.

Garcia, 35, and his girlfriend Katherine Magbanua, 33, both await trial on murder charges in the Leon County jail. Last month, prosecutors leveled additional charges against them.

Garcia appeared in court for his arraignment Tuesday.

Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said the new charges, filed a year or more after the duo’s arrest, were meant to reflect their entire role in what investigators say was a murder-for-hire.

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March 9, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Can A University Fire Tenured Faculty For Revealing Confidential Tenure Deliberations?

Inside Higher Ed, Is Gossip Grounds for Termination?:

Discussions about tenure votes are considered private on most campuses, but some say Dixie State is trumping up breach of confidentiality claims against two professors to get rid of them for political reasons.

While institutions are beginning to take more action on faculty misconduct, tenured faculty terminations remain rare and typically follow reports of serious misconduct. So the mysterious firings of two longtime, tenured professors of music at Dixie State University in Utah last week are attracting attention — including a petition to bring them back.

“Both are widely loved and known in their community and were fired for minor policy violations,” reads the petition, organized by a group called Full Disclosure DSU. “We believe that termination should be saved for the most severe actions, and their punishment does not fit their ‘crimes.’”

Even in scare quotes, “crimes” is probably too strong a word for the main claims against Glenn Webb, chair of music, and Ken Peterson, director of vocal activities: not liking a colleague and then discussing the vote on that colleague's tenure bid.

Peterson, who did not respond to a request for comment, posted on Facebook his notice of dismissal, dated Friday. It accuses him of “professional incompetence, serious misconduct or unethical behavior" and "serious violation” of university rules and regulations.

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March 8, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

A New Approach To Decanal Leadership: Faculty Dunk Tanks

Muller McDonald

As part of yesterday's wonderful Give2Pepp celebration, I (perhaps too) gleefully participated in the faculty dunk tank part of the program.

Muller 1

My faculty colleagues soon embraced this leadership initiative:


I drew the line, however, at sumo wrestling:

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March 8, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Protestors Disrupt Speech By Christina Hoff Sommers At Lewis & Clark Law School

New York Times op-ed:  We’re All Fascists Now, by Bari Weiss:

Christina Hoff Sommers is a self-identified feminist and registered Democrat with a Ph.D. in philosophy and a wicked sense of humor. She is also a woman who says bad things. Things like: Men and women are equal, but there are differences between them. Or: The gender gap in STEM fields isn’t simply the result of sexism. Or: Contrary to received wisdom, the American school system actually favors girls, not boys.

When such a person steps foot on a college campus these days, you know what’s coming. So it was on Monday at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., where Ms. Sommers had been invited by the Federalist Society to give a talk about feminism.

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March 8, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Race, Cognitive Biases, And The Power Of Law Student Teaching Evaluations

Gregory S. Parks (Wake Forest), Race, Cognitive Biases, and the Power of Law Student Teaching Evaluations, 51  U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1039 (2018):

Decades of research shows that students' professor evaluations are influenced by factors well-beyond how knowledgeable the professor was or how effectively they taught. Among those factors is race. While some students' evaluative judgments of professors of color may be motivated by express racial animus, it is doubtful that such is the dominant narrative. Rather, what likely takes place are systematic deviations from rational judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations are illogically drawn. In short, students' cognitive biases skew how they evaluate professors of color. In this Article, I explore how cognitive biases among law students influence how they perceive and evaluate law faculty of color.

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March 7, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Uneasy History Of Experiential Education in U.S. Law Schools

Peter A. Joy (Washington University), The Uneasy History of Experiential Education in U.S. Law Schools, 122 Dickinson L. Rev. ___ (2018):

This article explores the history of legal education, particularly the rise of experiential learning and its importance. In the early years of legal education in the United States, law schools devalued the development of practical skills in students, and many legal educators viewed practical experience in prospective faculty as a “taint.” This article begins with a brief history of these early years and how legal education subsequently evolved with greater involvement of the American Bar Association (ABA). With involvement of the ABA came a call for greater uniformity in legal education and guidelines to help law schools establish criteria for admissions and curricula. This article also discusses the influence of the ABA Standards, particularly Standard 302, in legal education. In the latter half of the 20th century, it became clear that a legal education without any professional development or practical training was deficient. A new ABA task force dedicated to “narrowing the gap” between practitioners and professors published the MacCrate Report, detailing the skills and values law students should develop before entering the profession. Lastly, although the ABA Standards have done a great deal in fixing these deficiencies, there is a great deal that law schools must do on their own.

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March 7, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Give2Pepp 2018


Today is Pepperdine University's second annual giving day in which the global Pepperdine community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and friends—unite to support our University. Give2Pepp’s primary goal is to strengthen the student experience through donations to academic programs and student life opportunities. 

Gifts of any size are welcome.  They can be directed to Pepperdine universityundergraduate college, four graduate schools (Business, Education and Pyschology, Law, and Public Policy), or athletics.  If you have enjoyed this blog through the years, I would very much appreciate it if you would make a gift (however small) to the law school.


I am proud that my associate deans and director of development have joined me in a challenge to our students:  for each student who gives $5 or more, we will contribute an additional $20.  I personally have given $2,500.  Gifts can be directed to five areas at the law school:

I and the deans of several of Pepperdine's other schools are engaged in a friendly competition over which school will receive the highest participation of alumni and student donors based on each school's alumni population and current enrollment. We have agreed to contribute to the winning school's Dean's Excellence Fund, and the winning dean will enjoy not only bragging rights but also a trophy to proudly display at his or her school until next year's challenge.  The deans have been talking smack to each other about the challenge, and with your help I will not have to eat my words to the other deans:

To paraphrase Larry Bird's comment before he won the NBA's three-point shooting contest: which one of you deans is going to finish second?

March 7, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

What The New York Times' TurboTax Defense And A 'Liberal Law Professor' Say About The Trump Tax Cuts

Turbo TaxWall Street Journal op-ed:  The TurboTax Defense, by James Freeman:

A New York Times correction blames the popular software, but a liberal academic still isn’t satisfied.

The search continues for Americans who will not benefit from the Trump tax cuts on individual and corporate income. The New York Times has corrected a story this column described last week that originally forecast a much larger tax bill for a hypothetical New York couple. Now the paper acknowledges that the tax bill for such a couple would actually be lower and is blaming a popular software product for the error. But a liberal law professor says the Times still doesn’t have the story quite right.

That also goes for much of the media, which has devoted enormous coverage to the possibility of higher taxes on some Americans, even though the overwhelming majority are receiving tax cuts. And of course all Americans will benefit if the new tax law works as intended and encourages increased investment, faster growth and rising wages.

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March 7, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

ABA Defends Denial Of Cooley Law School's Request To Open New Location

Thomas Cooley Logo (2017)ABA Journal, Denial of Cooley Law's Request to Open New Location Is Reasonable, ABA Motion Argues:

Given that Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School already admits students who don’t appear capable of finishing law school and being admitted to practice law, it was reasonable to deny the school’s request to open a new location that would likely bring in even more students, the American Bar Association argued in a March 2 federal court filing.

“Because Cooley is already improperly admitting students who do not ‘appear capable’ of completing law school and being admitted to the bar, nothing required defendants to approve Cooley expanding to admit yet more students,” the March 2 filing states.

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March 7, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Terry Smith, Distinguished Research Professor Facing Termination For Bullying Other Faculty Of Color, Sues DePaul For Discrimination

SmithABA Journal, DePaul Law Prof Who Defended Colleague in N-Word Controversy Sues School For Alleged Bias:

An African-American professor at DePaul University's College of Law is back in the news after coming to the defense of a white colleague over his controversial use of the N-word in class.

Terry Smith had backed Donald Hermannthe subject of student complaints for using the racial slur in a criminal law hypothetical about a white supremacist.

Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times that Hermann’s use of the N-word “was not gratuitous,” and that Hermann was perhaps the most progressive of his white colleagues.

Smith’s regard for Hermann does not extend to the law school and its dean. In a civil rights lawsuit filed last Wednesday in Chicago federal court, Smith claims the school retaliated against him because of his advocacy for racial diversity at the school. Among the defendants is law dean Jennifer Rosato Perea, Law360 reports in an article noted by Above the Law.

“For the better part of a decade,” the suit said, “Professor Smith has complained about an environment at the law school that is hostile to him. This has caused faculty to retaliate by freezing him out of the law school’s power structure.”

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March 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professors Are Paid Less, Work As Hard As Lawyers Do

Inside Higher Ed, ‘Poorly Paid’ Professors:

Professors earn about 15 percent less than others with advanced degrees, finds a study circulated Tuesday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study, Why Are Professors 'Poorly Paid'?, uses data from the Current Population Survey to compare the salaries and other characteristics of those with Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D. or M.D. degrees. Those who reported their profession as "postsecondary teacher" were compared to everyone else. The study was conducted by Daniel S. Hamermesh, an economist at Barnard College.

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March 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Hollywood At Pepperdine: ABC's 'For The People' Goes To Law School


I had a blast attending a screening at Pepperdine of the pilot episode of the new ABC show, For the People. The show's creator (Paul William Davies) and three of the stars came to Pepperdine for the event (Susannah Flood, Wesam Keesh, and Regé-Jean Page).  Victoria Schwartz moderated the discussion, which included Chris Goodman and me.

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March 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Rob Anderson And Rick Cupp Receive Pepperdine Faculty Scholarship Award

ACCongratulations to the recipients of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship, announced at our 45th Annual Pepperdine Law School Dinner on  Saturday night:

The Dean makes the selection after considering the recommendation made by the Award Selection Committee, which consists of (1) the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, and (2) two to four faculty members, selected by the Dean, who have strong national scholarly reputations. The Committee’s recommendation is based primarily upon the originality of the scholarly work and the importance of its contribution to the academic literature. This year's co-winners are:

Prior winners:

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March 5, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professors As Plaintiffs

Robert M. Jarvis (Nova), Law Professors as Plaintiffs, 81 Alb. L. Rev. 145 (2018):

To date, it appears no one has systematically examined lawsuits brought by law professors.[Fn.10] Yet doing so provides a different way to look at the academy and obtain a sense of what it means to work and have a career as a law professor. What is particularly striking is how often the same three issues are at the root of these lawsuits: dissatisfaction with, and professional jealousy of, faculty colleagues; disagreements with, and distrust of, administrators; and a feeling that others are receiving better, and undeserved, treatment.
[Fn.10: Individual reporting of such lawsuits, on the other hand, occurs regularly on such web sites as Above the Law, Jonathan Turley, TaxProf Blog, The Faculty Lounge, and The Volokh Conspiracy.]

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March 5, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 4, 2018

45th Annual Pepperdine Law School Dinner: Our Place In The World


I was honored to speak last night at the 45th Annual Pepperdine School of Law Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.  The theme of the dinner was Our Place in the World, which is particularly appropriate this year in light of the $8 million gift we received in September to support our global justice program (the largest single endowment gift in the law school's history).

In my remarks, I of course wove Hamilton clips into the tapestry of Pepperdine Law School's story:

  • Non-stop, to highlight Alexander Hamilton's scholarly work writing 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers to showcase our upcoming symposium on Federalism: Past Present, and Future as an example of the extraordinary scholarly work produced by our faculty.
  • My Shot, to show that Pepperdine is a "young, scrappy, and hungry" law school that has made enormous strides since our founding in 1970.
  • The Room Where It Happens, to describe the core of the Pepperdine student experience as what happens in the classroom, especially in the 1L year, as attested by our #6 ranking in best law professor-teachers by the Princeton Review from a nationwide survey of 20,000 law students (behind Virginia, Duke, Boston University, Stanford, and Chicago, and above Washington & Lee, Notre Dame, and Boston College).
  • I could not find an appropriate lyric in Hamilton, so I used photos and maps to illustrate how our 2Ls and 3Ls take what they are learning in the classroom and apply that knowledge in the real world helping real clients, as attested by our #5 ranking in practical training by the National Jurist (behind Northeastern, St. Thomas, Yale, and Arizona, and above UC-Irvine) and our #1 ranking (for 12 of the past 13 years) in alternative dispute resolution by U.S. News & World Report (above Ohio State, Harvard, and Missouri).
  • Right Hand Man, to share some very personal feelings about becoming dean ("Can I be real a second? Let my guard down and tell the people how I feel a second?").

I concluded by using Alexander Hamilton's words in The World Was Wide Enough and George Washington's words in Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story to reflect on U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell ('90), who died on October 8 at the age of 52:

What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control:
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?

Here were my closing reflections on those verses:

Part of Judge O’Connell’s legacy, and the legacies of students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends here tonight, are intertwined with the story of Pepperdine Law School.

The country and the world have never needed Pepperdine-trained lawyers, counselors, and peacemakers more.

We need your help to bring the very best students to our law school, provide them with a transformative legal education, and send them out into a hurting country and world to do their part to bring about peace, justice, and reconciliation.

So what is our place in the world?

My answer is everywhere.

The world will be a better place when we have more Pepperdine-trained lawyers in every corner of the globe.


There was great karma last night, as Lin-Manuel Miranda was staying at the same hotel before his appearance at tonight's Oscars.  A member of the law school staff saw Lin in the lobby and invited him to stop by the dinner and meet Pepperdine's Hamilton-obsessed dean.  I took up the cause on social media:

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March 4, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Urged By Law School Deans, Federal Judges Revamp Clerk Hiring

National Law Journal, Urged by Law School Deans, Federal Judges Revamp Clerk Hiring:

Supported by a plea from more than 100 law school deans, an ad hoc group of federal appeals judges has reinstated a plan for recruiting future law clerks after their second year in law school, rather than basing the hires on first-year performance.

The new hiring plan, promulgated on Feb. 28, mirrors a policy that dated back to 2003 but collapsed in 2013 when fiercely competitive individual judges ignored the rules and pursued top first-year students for clerkships, some of whom went on to Supreme Court clerk positions. Former Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski famously flouted the earlier rules, once joking that he started recruiting clerks “at birth.”

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March 4, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts