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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Suffolk Freezes Faculty and Staff Salaries in Wake of Declining Law School Enrollment

Boston Globe:  Suffolk University Freezing Salaries for Year; University Cites Drop in Revenue, Enrollment:

Sufolk Law SchoolSuffolk University, facing a $11 million drop in budgeted revenue and a dip in enrollment, will freeze employee salaries for the next fiscal year. ...

“We continue to build for the future; therefore this budget was created with an emphasis on investing in our students while containing costs to minimize tuition increases,” university president James McCarthy wrote in a message to employees last week. ... The budget sought to address a “challenging enrollment environment,” McCarthy wrote. Administrators expect a smaller-than-anticipated law school class, a slight decline in the ranks of new undergraduates, and flat graduate enrollment. ... Nationally, law school enrollment has also suffered in recent years, with the number of first-year students dropping 24 percent since the fall of 2010, according to the ABA.

First year enrollment fell 15% in 2013 (457) compared to 2012 (535).

June 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Northwestern Dean Rodriguez: Never Let a Good Crisis go to Waste

FortuneFortune:  Northwestern Law Dean: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste, by Maya Itah:

Dean Daniel Rodriguez discusses the opportunities in the highly challenging times for law schools today.

Between its accelerated JD program and its insistence on interviewing every single one of its applicants, Northwestern University School of Law is known for doing things differently. Nevertheless, Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez wants to make it absolutely clear that innovating isn’t a matter of survival for the school, which, at No. 12 in the U.S. News ranking, has long been a member of the hallowed Top 14.

“We don’t have to do anything differently,” he asserts. “We’re greatly, greatly blessed by having an extraordinarily strong reputation, and have had that reputation for a century-and-a-half and counting, so I just want to quibble with the description of having to do things differently.” Point taken. ...

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June 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rodriguez: Anxiety and Ambition in the Law School Trenches

Dan Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern), Anxiety and Ambition in the Trenches:

A benefit of my temporary role as AALS president is the opportunity to meet with faculty and administrators at their law schools, mainly in order to listen to their concerns and advice and hopefully draw upon this wisdom to improve the service of the organization in this time of disruptive change.

The atmosphere of these visits reveals a high level of concern (of course) with the impact of the changing admissions structure and what it portends for law school benefits generally and faculty well-being particularly.  Yet, what is remarkably encouraging, when taking these high-anxiety conversations as a whole, is this:

First, faculty members truly get that the core dilemma is how best to provide a high-quality education to the group of students, even as they come in often at smaller numbers, and, moreover, how to inculcate in them the value of a manifestly comprehensive, creative set of skills -- theoretical and experiential -- in a fluid marketplace, the future contours of which none of us can predict exactly. That the infrastructure of student learning is at the heart of what we do as faculty members comes up in these discussions reliably and eloquently.  And, further, that the key threat from the war on law schools is that directed at the students who are investing, and the young alumni who have invested, in legal education is very much on the minds of our member school faculties.

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June 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Back in San Diego

Usd_photoI have made the considerably shorter trek from Malibu to San Diego for my eleventh summer teaching Tax I at the University of San Diego School of Law, my sixth as the Herzog Summer Visiting Professor in Taxation.  San Diego is truly America's Finest City, with spectacular weather, natural beauty, and a dizzying array of things to do. But what is even more enjoyable is renewing acquaintances with the many friends we have made over the years here (not to mention partaking in the world's best pizza and hamburgers).

June 10, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

ABA: Law Schools Can Admit 10% of Students Without LSAT, Must Do Annual Audit of Placement Data, Can't Give Academic Credit for Paid Externships

ABA Journal, Legal Ed Section’s Council Wraps Standards Review, Keeps Ban on Academic Credit For Paid Externships:

ABA Logo 2The governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has wrapped up its comprehensive review of the law school accreditation standards.

The council, which met Friday in Cleveland, approved five of the six remaining proposed changes in the standards, including one that would permit schools to admit up to 10 percent of their entering class with students who haven’t taken the LSAT and one that would limit the number of transfer credits a school can grant for prior law study not taken as a JD-degree student at an ABA-approved school.

It also approved new rules of procedure, a new set of definitions, a new protocol for auditing reported law school employment outcomes beginning with the graduating class of 2015, and the deletion of a chapter of standards whose provisions have been moved elsewhere in the standards.

In fact, the only proposed change in the standards the council didn’t approve was one that would have eliminated the current prohibition against granting academic credit to a student for participating in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation. ...

All of the proposed changes in the standards—along with a host of others approved by the council in March—will be reviewed by the ABA House of Delegates at the association’s 2014 annual meeting in Boston in August.

Update:  National Law Journal, ABA Council Says No to Paid Law Student Externships

June 10, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Rodriguez: More on the Technology-Fueled Decline of Lawyers (and Law Schools)

Following up on last week's post, John McGinnis: The Five Ways Computers are Revolutionizing Legal Practice (and Legal Education):  Dan Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern), Decline of Lawyers? Law Schools Quo Vadis?:

My Northwestern colleague, John McGinnis, has written a fascinating essay in City Journal on "Machines v. Lawyers."  An essential claim in the article is that the decline of traditional lawyers will impact the business model of law schools -- and, indeed, will put largely out of business those schools who aspire to become junior-varsity Yales, that is, who don't prepare their students for a marketplace in which machine learning and big data pushes traditional legal services to the curb and, with it, thousands of newly-minted lawyers.

Bracketing the enormously complex predictions about the restructuring of the legal market in the shadow of Moore's Law and the rise of computational power, let's focus on the connection between these developments and the modern law school. ...

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June 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wake Forest Dean Blake Morant Named Dean at George Washington

BlakePress Release:

The George Washington University announced the selection of Blake D. Morant as the next dean of the GW Law School and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law. He will assume the deanship on Sept. 1 after having served seven years as dean of the Wake Forest University School of Law.

“Blake Morant is not only a seasoned dean but also a national leader in legal education,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “He brings to this important position a proven record of accomplishments, and his extensive leadership experience will make him an extremely valuable addition to our law school and the entire university.” ...

Following many years of deep involvement at the committee level, Mr. Morant was elected to serve as president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools for 2014 and president in 2015.

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)


June 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Doonesbury: Laptops in the Classroom

DoonesburyHere.  (Hat Tip: Francine Lipman, Jeffrey Kahn.)

June 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Graduation Day

Jayne Caron, B.A. English, Phi Beta Kappa, Dartmouth College:

Grad 2

For more on my journey with my daughter, see:

Update:  Dartmouth Commencement Address by Shonda Rhimes '91

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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

UC-Irvine Granted Full ABA Accreditation

UC-Irvine (2014)UC-Irvine Granted Full ABA Accreditation:

The University of California, Irvine School of Law has been granted full accreditation by the American Bar Association, effective immediately. “From the outset, our goal has been to build a top law school that emphasizes preparing students for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession,” said Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “I am very proud that the decision by the ABA is at the earliest possible time under the ABA rules.”

Brian Leiter (Chicago):  "Not a surprise, of course, given all that's been accomplished in a remarkably short time, but this also means that UC Irvine will be subjected to U.S. ranking next year. The lawyer/judge reputation survey results are very hard to predict; it will be interesting to see how the academic reputation survey comes out (UCI ought to get a top 20 score there, but we'll see if that happens)."

June 7, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

June 6, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Inadvertently Reveals Grades, Class Ranks of All Judicial Clerkship Applicants

Virginia LogoVirginia yesterday inadvertently emailed to 160 student in a judicial clerkship email discussion group a spreadsheet containing confidential information about 155 clerkship applicants, including GPAs and class ranks (Virginia does not otherwise reveal the class rank of its students).  The data show rampant grade inflation at Virginia:

Top 5%:    3.792
Top 10%:  3.717
Top 20%:  3.620
Top 25%:  3.595
Top 50%:  3.405

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

UCLA Is Inhospitable to Women Faculty

UCLA LogoWall Street Journal, Gender Bias Alleged at UCLA's Anderson Business School:

One of the nation's top-ranked business schools is "inhospitable to women faculty," according to an internal academic review.

Faculty of the Anderson Graduate School of Management at University of California, Los Angeles, received a confidential copy of the review, conducted by a group of university professors and outside business-school deans, in April. The next day, the institution's first female dean, Judy Olian, met with the heads of several other elite business schools at the White House, where the group discussed business schools' roles in making workplaces friendlier to women and working families.

Back on campus, many professors noted the irony. Among the findings of the report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal: Anderson is inconsistent in how it hires and promotes women as compared with men; has created "gender ghettos" in certain academic areas; and shows a "lack of confidence" in female faculty.

Dr. Olian said her administration is taking the findings seriously, and that the climate for women has been a priority since she became dean eight years ago. "This is going to require a lot more than numbers and policies. It's really soul-searching," Dr. Olian said. "I have to ask myself, what here might have had unintended consequences? And what subtle things should we, can we, must we be doing to improve the climate?"

Dr. Olian has notched many accomplishments during her tenure at Anderson: She raised $190 million for the school, successfully wrested administrative control away from the state education system and, in the past four years, oversaw a 60% jump in full-time M.B.A. applications.

But other than the dean herself, no women hold any of the school's 24 endowed chairs, prestigious positions used to attract and retain top talent.

WSJWomen made up 20% of tenure-track faculty at Anderson and 14.3% of those with tenure in the 2012-2013 academic year, including Dr. Olian, according to school figures.

By comparison, an analysis of 16 peer institutions—including the business schools at the University of Virginia, Stanford University and University of Michigan—found that, on average, about 30% of tenure-track and 19.5% of tenured faculty were women in the 2012-2013 year. ...

Interviews with professors and administrators at a number of top programs suggest that the problems are particularly acute at Anderson. The internal report states that women have high rates of job satisfaction when beginning careers at the school, but face a "lack of respect" regarding their work and "unevenly applied" standards on decisions about pay and promotions.

Twice in the past three years, the university's governing academic body took the relatively rare step of overruling Dr. Olian, who had recommended against the promotion of one woman and against giving tenure to another, according to four Anderson professors.

In one case, the university found that policies allowing faculty to take parental leave without falling behind on the tenure track had been incorrectly applied to the candidate. In that same period, they said, a male candidate for promotion passed through the Anderson review, but didn't get clearance from the university.

Daily Bruin, Report Reveals Gender Inequity in UCLA Anderson Faculty:


Wall Street Journal, A Look at Gender Diversity at B-Schools:

School Total Accounting Finance Management Marketing
Arizona State 24%
(37 of 154)
(5 of 21)
(5 of 17)
(5 of 23)
(9 of 20)
MIT 19.6%
(22 of 111)
(3 of 10)
(3 of 21)
(4 of 15)
(3 of 10)
Northwestern 21.9%
(30 of 137)
(3 or 13)
(5 of 25)
(12 of 41)
(7 of 25)
Stanford 19.5%
(23 of 118)
(5 of 14)
(2 of 21)
(6 of 25)
(3 of 15)
UCLA 17.9%
(15 of 84)
(2 of 9)
(1 of 18)
(6 of 13)
(2 of 13)
Chicago 14.8%
(19 of 128)
(4 of 17)
(2 of 25)
(2 of 4)
(2 of 10)
Minnesota 31%
(32 of 102)
(6 of 13)
(1 of 17)
(7 of 12)
(8 of 17)

June 6, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lempert Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingRichard O. Lempert (Michigan), Book Review, 43 Contemp. Sociology 269 (2014) (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

This review of Brian Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools argues that the book has considerable strengths and is a must read for anyone interested in contemporary legal education, but also has serious shortcomings and suggests reforms of questionable desirability. The burden of the review's argument is (1) Tamanaha's analysis is insufficiently sociological. Confounding cost-related problems facing law schools and peculiar to them with problems confronting higher education generally and hence unlikely to be correctable by law schools acting on their own. (2) It similarly ignores the degree to which changes in the law and the legal profession have placed new and costly demands on legal education. (3) Tamanaha's suggestion that legal education be reduced to 2 years to cut costs puts the cost horse before the educational cart and has little to commend it.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

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June 5, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

Scientific AmericanScientific American, A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop:

Students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material.

“More is better.”  From the number of gigs in a cellular data plan to the horsepower in a pickup truck, this mantra is ubiquitous in American culture.  When it comes to college students, the belief that more is better may underlie their widely-held view that laptops in the classroom enhance their academic performance.  Laptops do in fact allow students to do more, like engage in online activities and demonstrations, collaborate more easily on papers and projects, access information from the internet, and take more notes.  Indeed, because students can type significantly faster than they can write, those who use laptops in the classroom tend to take more notes than those who write out their notes by hand.  Moreover, when students take notes using laptops they tend to take notes verbatim, writing down every last word uttered by their professor.

Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date.  Only it isn’t.  New research by Pam Mueller [Princeton] and Daniel Oppenheimer [UCLA] demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more [The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking].  Across three experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer had students take notes in a classroom setting and then tested students on their memory for factual detail, their conceptual understanding of the material, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information.  Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand.  As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes.  In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops. ...

Technology offers innovative tools that are shaping educational experiences for students, often in positive and dynamic ways.  The research by Mueller and Oppenheimer serves as a reminder, however, that even when technology allows us to do more in less time, it does not always foster learning.  Learning involves more than the receipt and the regurgitation of information.  If we want students to synthesize material, draw inferences, see new connections, evaluate evidence, and apply concepts in novel situations, we need to encourage the deep, effortful cognitive processes that underlie these abilities.  When it comes to taking notes, students need fewer gigs, more brain power.

Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

Fig 1

(Hat Tip:  Glenn Reynolds.)

June 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

InfiLaw Suspends Bid to Buy Charleston Law School

Charleston LogoFollowing up on this morning's post, NY Times on InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition of Charleston Law School:  InfiLaw has temporarily suspended its application to buy Charleston Law School.

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Provides $2.2 Million Lifeline to Minnesota Law School to Help Close $3 Million Budget Deficit Caused by 18% Enrollment Decline

Minnesota Daily, Facing Low Enrollment, Law School Gets a $2.2 Million Boost:

Minnesota LogoA lower number of new students creates financial problems for the school, Wippman said.

As its enrollment continues to drop, the University of Minnesota’s Law School is set to receive more money to fight financial woes. President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget for next year includes a $2.2 million allocation to help the Law School cover a loss in tuition revenue, an issue plaguing law schools nationwide.

The University’s Law School has had relatively consistent enrollment over the past few years, but Dean David Wippman said the applications to the school and the number of first-year students are sharply declining. In fall 2014, he said, about 180 students will enroll, compared to about 220 first-year students in 2013. ...

If the Law School received no aid from the University and didn’t make changes to its operations, he said, it would face a deficit of about $3 million next year.

To cover the gap, the administration is taking steps like lowering raises for employees, not renewing contracts with adjunct faculty members and moving publications to the web, Wippman said. The school has also admitted more transfer students than normal, Wippman said, and will launch a new one-year master’s program in patent law to attract new students. ...

Wippman said Law School leaders are working to alleviate the need for additional University financial support, but he hopes to get continued monetary help if it’s needed. Last year, the University gave the Law School $950,000 for scholarships, and tuition rose by 5 percent or more for full-time resident students for the 2013-14 school year.

2013-14 tuition was $40,058 (resident), $47,330 (nonresident).

(Hat Tip: Dan Filler.)

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

McGeorge Symposium: The State and Future of Legal Education

McGeorgeSymposium, The State and Future of Legal Education, 45 McGeorge L. Rev. 1-160 (2013):

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times on InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition of Charleston Law School

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Potential Sale of Law School Raises Debate Over Who Should Profit, by Steven M. Davidoff (Ohio State):

The notion of legal education is colliding with the profit motive in Charleston, S.C., where “for profit” and “private equity” are being tossed around as dirty words in the fight against the acquisition of a regional law school.

The battle centers on the proposed acquisition of the Charleston Law School by the InfiLaw System, which runs three for-profit law schools and is owned by the private equity firm Sterling Partners. Opponents are skeptical of InfiLaw’s for-profit business model. The irony is that the law school’s current owners have taken out more than $25 million in profits over the last few years without protest. It all may just boil down to snobbery and who should be allowed to attend law school.

InfiLaw will not be Harvard, but for those who go in with open eyes, it may be a path to being a lawyer. The point is really to make sure that students know the costs and benefits before they matriculate so they can make a sound judgment about whether to attend. In other words, if InfiLaw or Charleston cannot provide an education that helps students obtain jobs, then presumably students will know and not attend. That is really what legal education these days is about at the regional law schools — perhaps they should just acknowledge that they can’t be Harvard and provide students the training they need.

The full commission is meeting on the InfiLaw petition on Thursday. Instead of arguing about who will profit from them, Charleston’s students may instead want to ask who will give South Carolina’s residents the best opportunity to succeed as lawyers at an acceptable price. It’s probably something that would work well for all law schools these days.

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)

Update #1:  Dan Filler (Drexel) reports that the South Carolina Attorney General's office has issued an advisory opinion stating that the Commission of Higher Education lacks the authority to deny the proposed acquisition for reasons outside of the statutory criteria.

Update #2:  Steven J. Harper (Northwestern) criticizes Davidoff's article in The Battle for Charleston:  "Why should anyone profit at all when non-dischargeable student loans are the source of those profits?"

Update #3:

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA

CheatingTim Groseclose (UCLA, Department of Political Science), Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA (2014):

Because of California's Proposition 209, public universities such as UCLA cannot use race as a factor in admissions. However, as this book shows, UCLA gives significant preferences to African Americans, while it discriminates against Asians. The author, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA, documents what he witnessed as a member of UCLA's faculty oversight committee for admissions.

He also describes findings from a UCLA internal report as well as statistics from a large data set that he has posted online. All show that UCLA is breaking the law. The discrimination is not simply a byproduct of class-based preferences. For instance, for one aspect of the admissions process, a rich African American's chance of admission is almost double that of a poor Asian, even when the two applicants have identical grades, SAT scores, and other factors.

June 4, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Kidder & Lempert: The Law School Mismatch Myth

William C. Kidder (UC-Riverside) & Richard Lempert (Michigan), The Mismatch Myth in American Higher Education: A Synthesis of Empirical Evidence at the Law School and Undergraduate Levels:

This paper presents a comprehensive examination of the empirical literature testing the academic mismatch hypothesis as it applies to affirmative action and students of color in U.S. higher education. The primary focus of this paper is the mismatch research addressing American legal education (Part II). This includes a detailed assessment of the empirical basis of claims made by Richard Sander and, more recently, by Doug Williams, showing flaws in their work, including questionable claims and methodological choices. In particular, this paper calls into question all research using the LSAC Bar Passage Study data that treats schools in tiers 2 and 3 in that study as separate and hierarchically ordered, arguing that this treatment is statistically unjustified and due to idiosyncrasies in the data and factors that in fact distinguish these tiers serves to enhance the odds of finding a mismatch effect while lowering the likelihood of finding reverse mismatch effects. The paper also reviews research on mismatch at the undergraduate level (Part III), specifically examining the outcomes of graduation rates and earnings and again finding that the mismatch hypothesis lacks empirical support and is, if anything, empirically less plausible than claims made for a reverse mismatch effect. In examining both legal and undergraduate education, this paper both critiques work that purports to find evidence of mismatch and references numerous studies that find no evidence of mismatch effects or evidence of reverse mismatch effects, including studies that use state of the art methods to control for selection bias. Overall the social science evidence points clearly in one direction: affirmative action as practiced today is not plagued by mismatch effects; indeed the evidence indicates that underrepresented minority students tend to do better over the life course if they attend the most selective school that will admit them.

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Barnhizer: Rat Time in Law Schools and the Legal Profession

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Of Rat Time and Terminators:

RatsAbout twenty years ago Canadian scientists used a community of rats living in a glass cage to determine the effects of population growth within a finite system. As long as the rat population remained relatively low and resources were sufficient, the rats behaved well. But rats breed rapidly. As the population inside the closed system grew but the total food available stayed relatively constant, the per capita resources shrank. The rats exhibited increasingly aggressive behavior, including savagery and cannibalism. Eventually the population fell to a level that once again allowed the rat version of civility to emerge. When rat time hits and the population of a finite system begins to exceed the resources needed for basic sustenance, it is silly to expect rats -- or lawyers -- to behave civilly. When the rat population reaches extremely high levels, mother rats had better lock their doors and hide the little rats.

A version of rat time is being created within the legal profession as law schools pump 40,000 graduates a year into a saturated system. Understanding our present condition as a period of rat time can help us diagnose the problems of the legal profession, identify the future responsibilities of law schools and the profession, and create more effective solutions than the bandaids that have been proposed or applied thus far. This is particularly important because lawyers and law schools have lost their way. They are afraid to address their most troubling problems and to take the principled actions necessary for meaningful reform.

June 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

McGinnis: The Five Ways Computers are Revolutionizing Legal Practice (and Legal Education)

City Journal:  Machines v. Lawyers: As Information Technology Advances, the Legal Profession Faces a Great Disruption, by John McGinnis (Northwestern):

Big DataLaw schools are in crisis, facing their most substantial decline in enrollment in decades, if not in the history of legal education. Applications have fallen over 40 percent since 2004. The legal workplace is troubled, too. Benjamin Barton, of the University of Tennessee College of Law, has shown that attorneys in “small law,” such as solo practitioners, have been hurting for a decade. Attorney job growth has been flat; partner incomes at large firms have recently recovered from the economic downturn, but the going rate for associates, even at the best firms, has stagnated since 2007.

Some observers, not implausibly, blame the recession for these developments. But the plight of legal education and of the attorney workplace is also a harbinger of a looming transformation in the legal profession. Law is, in effect, an information technology—a code that regulates social life. And as the machinery of information technology grows exponentially in power, the legal profession faces a great disruption not unlike that already experienced by journalism, which has seen employment drop by about a third and the market value of newspapers devastated. The effects on law will take longer to play themselves out, but they will likely be even greater because of the central role that lawyers play in public life.

The growing role of machine intelligence will create new competition in the legal profession and reduce the incomes of many lawyers. The job category that the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “other legal services”—which includes the use of technology to help perform legal tasks—has already been surging, over 7 percent per year from 1999 to 2010. As a consequence, the law-school crisis will deepen, forcing some schools to close and others to reduce tuitions. While lawyers and law professors may mourn the loss of more lucrative professional opportunities, consumers of modest means will enjoy access to previously cost-prohibitive services. ...

Five key areas of law now face encroachment by this machine intelligence. Some invasions are imminent, and others more distant but no less likely. ...

  1. E-discovery
  2. Computerization of Legal Search
  3. Automation of Legal Forms
  4. Automation of Briefs and Memos
  5. Legal Analytics

Discovering information, finding precedents, drafting documents and briefs, and predicting the outcomes of lawsuits—these tasks encompass the bulk of legal practice. The rise of machine intelligence will therefore disrupt and transform the legal profession.

A relatively small number of very talented lawyers will benefit from the coming changes. These superstars will prosper by using the new technology to extend their reach and influence. ...

But the large number of journeyman lawyers -- such as those who do routine wills, vet house closings, write standard contracts, or review documents on a contractual basis -- face a bleak future. They will have far less to contribute to legal analysis, and they will face relentless evaluation from clients using new data-driven metrics. ...

Continue reading

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

Look Up and Alone Together

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

I took a step back and opened my eyes
I looked around and realized
this media we call social is anything but
when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut. ...

All this technology we have, it’s just an illusion
community, companionship, a sense of inclusion.
Yet when you step away from this device of delusion
you awaken to see a world of confusion.

Sherry Turkle (MIT), Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2012):

Alone TogetherThirty years ago we asked what we would use computers for. Now the question is what don’t we use them for. Now, through technology, we create, navigate, and perform our emotional lives.

We shape our buildings, Winston Churchill argued, then they shape us. The same is true of our digital technologies. Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we face a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we conduct “risk free” affairs on Second Life and confuse the scattershot postings on a Facebook wall with authentic communication. And now, we are promised “sociable robots” that will marry companionship with convenience.

Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void,but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.

Alone Together is the result of MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle’s nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation, of risks taken unknowingly. But it is also a story of hope, for even in the places where digital saturation is greatest,there are people—especially the young—who are asking the hard questions about costs, about checks and balances, about returning to what is most sustaining about direct human connection. At the threshold of what Turkle calls “the robotic moment,” our devices prompt us to recall that we have human purposes and, perhaps, to rediscover what they are.

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

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

Law School Rankings by Social Life of Students, The 2014 Top Law Schools For Social Life:

Graduate Programs is pleased to announce the Top 25 Law Schools for Social Life. With votes from more than 60,000 students, Graduate Programs ranked the most social law schools in the nation:

  1. Florida (9.65 stars)
  2. Colorado (9.49 stars)
  3. Texas (9.46 stars)
  4. Georgia (9.33 stars)
  5. Alabama (9.24 stars)
  6. Washington (St. Louis) (9.23 stars)
  7. Virginia (9.19 stars)
  8. Northwestern (9.17 stars)
  9. Miami (9.15 stars)
  10. San Francisco (9.14 stars)

California has five law schools in the Top 25 (San Francisco (#10), Stanford (#13), UC-Berkeley (#18), USC (#20), UCLA (#23), the most by far of any state (Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas each has two law schools in the Top 25).


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June 2, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Did State Taxes Drive Ken Whisenhunt to Coach Tennessee Titans Rather Than Detroit Lions?

Detroit Free Press,  Antonio Gates Thought Ken Whisenhunt Would Coach Detroit Lions ... But Income Tax Might've Tipped Scale:

TMSan Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was as surprised as anyone when he found out that his offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, decided not to pursue the Detroit Lions’ head coaching job. And Gates has a pretty good idea why Whisenhunt took the Tennessee Titans’ job instead.

“I just knew he was coming here,” Gates, a Detroit Central product, said Thursday, while in town to watch his cousin, boxer Tony Harrison, fight tonight at Cobo Center. “But he took the job in Tennessee, which was a shocker to me. I think the state income tax had an impact on that. That’s my personal opinion.”

Tennessee doesn’t have a state income tax. Michigan does. The difference would be a sizable savings on a coach’s multimillion-dollar deal. In fact, Gates even texted Whisenhunt after he took the Titans job and said that he couldn’t fault his financial decision. 

I told him, ‘You went out there, and they have no state tax. You got a bigger house. You saved more money,’” Gates said. “I said, ‘That’s a smart decision.’

(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)

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

NY Times: To Get an A in Philanthropy Class, Give Away $50,000

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times DealBook:   To Get an A in Philanthropy Class, Give Away $50,000, by William Alden:

Vinay Sridharan must make it through microeconomic theory and the writings of Proust before the end of his senior year at Northwestern in June. But in one course, the final project is far less abstract: give away $50,000.

It is also far more difficult than it may seem.

This course in philanthropy, endowed with a grant from a Texas hedge fund manager, requires students to find and investigate nonprofit organizations and, if they stand up to scrutiny, give them a portion of the five-figure cash pot.

“I didn’t realize they had real money to give,” said Margaret Haywood, the director of work force development at the Inspiration Corporation, a Chicago charity that received $25,000 from the Northwestern students last year.

The workshop — and others like it that have sprung up in the last few years at a dozen universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and Yale — offers a real-world experience of philanthropy that is rare in the cloistered halls of academia, and which otherwise is reserved for institutions and the affluent. Many students have embraced the challenge, viewing the courses as preparation for work in the nonprofit sector or even as training to one day become wealthy philanthropists themselves.

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

Professor of the Year: 'If You Don’t Give Me Any of Your Shitty Papers, You Get an A'

Critical Theory:  Professor of the Year, “If You Don’t Give Me Any of Your Shitty Papers, You Get an A”:

Cover 3Slavoj Zizek fans and haters can finally agree on something: he probably doesn’t like any of you.

Zizek has always been vocal about his general disdain for students and humanity writ large. He once admitted in 2008 that seeing stupid people happy makes him depressed, before describing teaching as the worst job he has ever had. “I hate students,” he said, “they are (as all people) mostly stupid and boring."

In a recent interview at this year’s Zizek Conference at the University of Cincinnati, Zizek talked about his personal life before delving into his thoughts on teaching.

“I hate giving classes,” Zizek said, citing office hours and grading papers as his two biggest peeves.

“I did teach a class here [at the University of Cincinnati] and all of the grading was pure bluff,” he continues. “I even told students at the New School for example … if you don’t give me any of your shitty papers, you get an A. If you give me a paper I may read it and not like it and you can get a lower grade.” He received no papers that semester.

But it’s office hours that are the main reason he does not want to teach.

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

June 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

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June 2, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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June 2, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Legal Education, Religious and Secular: The Trinity Western University Controversy and Beyond

Carissima Mathen (University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law) & Michael Plaxton (University of Saskatchewan, College of Law), Legal Education, Religious and Secular: TWU and Beyond:

TrinityThere has been a vigorous argument in Canada over whether a private Christian educational institution, Trinity Western University (TWU), should be able to open an accredited law school. TWU has come under scrutiny for requiring faculty, students and staff to sign a Community Covenant [FAQ] promising not to engage in a set of biblically prohibited activities, including sexual contact outside of heterosexual marriage. Arguing that the Covenant is discriminatory, many oppose the law school. Their objections have precipitated debates in both academic and regulatory settings.

This paper does not engage with the various constitutional and human rights issues at stake in the TWU controversy. Instead, it engages in a broader discussion of Canadian legal education – its existing conventions, animating aims, and relationship to the legal profession. Though we have deep concerns about the TWU Covenant, and its effect on gay and lesbian students, we also have concerns about the way in which some of the objections to TWU’s law school have been framed. In criticizing TWU, secular law schools and academics should be wary of setting out standards that, in their own institutions, they do not purport to observe.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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

The Other Harvard Law School Graduation Speech

Following up on Thursday's post, Mindy Kaling’s Harvard Law School Graduation Speech:   Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, also gave a wonderful speech:

[T]hat is where your focus should be always — being the guy who does his job. Whether you are an associate, a law clerk, an assistant DA, a public defender, or anything else.

Nothing else matters but doing your job and doing it well. Every day. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s tedious. Even when it’s dull. Even when the work seems small and beneath your brand-name schooling and God-given talent. It means being the guy who does his job, even when no one is looking and no one will know the good ideas came from you.

If you do that, not only the next job, but your career, will take care of itself. 

(Speech begins at 11:20. Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My New Digs

I have spent the past week moving into my new faculty office at Pepperdine, complete with spiffy ocean view (and patio):


May 31, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

May 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charleston Law School Founder Opposes InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition, Offers to Donate His 1/3 Interest to Create Nonprofit Law School

Charleston LogoFollowing up on my prior posts (links below):  from our Law Deans on Legal Education Blog, Charleston Law Founder Ed Westbrook Counters Infilaw, by I. Richard Gershon (Dean, Mississippi):

Charleston School of Law Founder Ed Westbrook has written an extensive response to questions raised concerning Infilaw's continued push to acquire the law school. Westbrook has been a supporter of moving the law school to nonprofit status since its inception.

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

May 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Harvard 3L's Website: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

BBC News, Spurious Correlations: Margarine Linked to Divorce?:

One of the golden rules of statistics is that correlation does not equal causation. Just because the movements of two variables track each other closely over time doesn't mean that one causes the other.

To make this important, but somewhat dry, point more accessible, [Tyler] Vigen, a criminology student at Harvard Law School, wrote a computer programme to mine datasets for statistical correlations. He posts the funniest ones to Spurious Correlations.



May 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rising College Costs, Politics, and Tax Reform

Wall Street Journal, Efforts to Curb College Costs Face Resistance:

WSJObama administration initiatives intended to help restrain soaring college costs are facing resistance from schools and from a bipartisan bloc of lawmakers looking to protect institutions in their districts.

Groups representing colleges and universities this week formally opposed the administration's plan to more tightly oversee programs that officials say leave students in steep debt but with weak job prospects. The new rules cover for-profit schools along with career-training programs—those that lead to certificates, but not degrees, in a given field, such as mechanics or cosmetology—at public schools and nonprofits. A bipartisan group in Congress is seeking ways to kill the plan, which the administration wants to have in place by November.

At the same time, the administration is planning to delay the rollout of its signature higher-education initiative: a college-rating system that would score institutions based on their affordability and quality. Education Department officials, hoping to have that proposal in place by late 2015, said they need more time to draft the rules after criticism from school officials unnerved by the prospect of federal officials' making value judgments on a school's worth.

Center for American Progress, Harnessing the Tax Code to Promote College Affordability: Options for Reform:

ChartThe United States tax code is full of provisions designed to encourage or reward specific behaviors, such as owning a home or saving for retirement. Tax benefits for higher education are no exception: Contributions to some college savings accounts grow tax-free, college tuition is often tax deductible, and some student-loan borrowers are able to deduct the interest paid on their student loans just as they would the interest paid on their mortgage.

These higher education tax provisions have implications for access, affordability, and equity. Higher-income families benefit from tax-free savings toward future college costs through Section 529 college savings plans. The tax code, however, rewards middle-class families for savings less, because tax benefits are much smaller for those in lower tax brackets, and these families largely do not participate.

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May 29, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Fordham Symposium: The Legal Profession's Monopoly on the Practice of Law

Fordham LogoSymposium, The Legal Profession's Monopoly on the Practice of Law, 82 Fordham L. Rev. 2563-3090 (2014):

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

Mindy Kaling’s Harvard Law School Graduation Speech

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Law School Opens in San Diego

San Diego
San Diego Daily Transcript, Opportunity Law School Opens in San Diego:

San Diego Law School, the new branch campus of San Francisco Law School, is open and accepting applications for Fall 2014. San Francisco Law School, the oldest evening law school in the Western United States, is a California Accredited Law School, and is WASC Accredited as a school of Alliant International University. San Diego Law School is the first new branch campus approved by the State Bar of California in ... 87 years.

The San Diego Law School program is taught by experienced and practicing legal professionals and integrates core law instruction with practical skills and innovative Bar Exam skills training. "Our students come to law school because they care about their community, and return to practice there after graduation," said Jane Gamp, Dean of San Francisco Law School. With tuition substantially more affordable than its ABA counterparts and the availability of financial aid for qualified students, San Diego Law School will match a need in the legal community. ...

California is unique in offering a "fresh start" to those who were not as successful in their first year of law school as they would like. The small classes and personal attention given at schools like San Francisco Law School, and now San Diego Law School, are well suited to assist these second start students. San Diego Law School will be housed in the iconic Walter Library on the Alliant campus at Scripps Ranch located at 10455 Pomerado Road, San Diego, CA 92131. Alliant International University is private non-profit university.

Tuition is $24,750 (assuming a 30-credit load).

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

REFinBlog Joins the Law Professor Blogs Network

LPBN LogoI am delighted to announce that REFinBlog, edited by Brad Borden (Brooklyn) and David Reiss (Brooklyn), has joined the Law Professor Blogs Network.  

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

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

Second, I am actively recruiting law professors to affiliate their existing blogs with the Network, like Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings, REFinBlog, The Right Coast, and Sentencing Law and Policy

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

May 28, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arizona Law School Cuts Nonresident Tuition by 30% (on Top of 2013's 8% Cut); Takes Aim at Arizona State, California Law Schools

Arizona Daily Star, UA Law School to Undercut Peers With Deep Tuition Discounts:

Arizona LogoThe University of Arizona’s law school is turning up the heat on its competitors as demand for traditional law degrees continues to dwindle.

In a second round of tuition-slashing set to take effect this fall, the UA plans to undercut the nonresident tuition rates of more than a dozen peer law schools nationwide by offering steep discounts to students from other states. ...

Nonresidents who paid more than $42,000 last school year to study law at the UA will soon pay $29,000 a year, a drop of more than 30 percent. The rate for an in-state law student will stay about the same, around $24,400.

The change leaves the UA’s law school with the cheapest nonresident tuition rate of its 15 peer schools around the country. Each charges $10,000-$30,000 a year more.

The UA’s new rate also is about 30 percent cheaper than what its sister institution, Arizona State University in Tempe, charges nonresident law students. ASU will charge about $41,700 this fall, nearly $13,000 more than the UA. ...

It’s the second year in a row the UA has cut law tuition for nonresidents. Rates this school year were reduced by 8 percent for nonresidents and also by 11 percent for residents.

The UA’s law school was the first in the nation to cut prices, and some are starting to follow suit. The University of Iowa, for example, recently cited the UA’s cuts in a bid to trim its nonresident rates.

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Nonresident Tuition Lowered:

At $29,000 annually Arizona Law is among the lowest cost of the nation's top-tier law schools. This tuition is lower than many other state resident tuitions. [Dean Marc] Miller added that he had noted marked interest among prospective law students in California, and expected a higher number of applications in this admissions cycle.

Arizona Board of Regents, Program Fee Request:

Rationale for request
The drastic nationwide downturn in law school applications and renewed focus on affordability gives us an opportunity to attract additional highly qualified non-resident students by lowering our non-resident cost to more closely reflect what non-resident students pay. Non-resident full costs at $29,000 will place us below – and for the most part substantially below – undiscounted resident (and non-resident) tuition at all of our Western ABOR peer schools. We will continue to provide substantial need and merit-based aid, including a 14% set-aside from differential tuition, albeit less to non-residents and more to residents. Revenue generated from additional students will benefit all students. Overall, we believe that the tuition reduction will improve accessibility and allow our students to graduate with less debt in line with historic public values.

Arizona Chart

Wall Street Journal, University of Arizona Law School Woos Bargain Hunters With Tuition Drop:

University of Arizona is among several law schools that have sought to lure price-sensitive students amid a national decline in applicants. Penn State Law, Brooklyn Law School, University of Iowa College of Law and University of La Verne College of Law have all slashed their prices in the last year. [But see Public Law School Tuition Cuts Are Less Than Meet the Eye.]

Above the Law, Law School Announces 30 Percent Tuition Cut:

Another school has surveyed the landscape of legal education over the next several years and recognized that, to paraphrase Jimmy McMillan, the tuition was too damn high. Reduce the sticker shock and get a leg up on peer institutions.

May 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The (Non)Finality of Supreme Court Opinions

New York Times:  Final Word on U.S. Law Isn’t: Supreme Court Keeps Editing, by Adam Liptak:

The Supreme Court has been quietly revising its decisions years after they were issued, altering the law of the land without public notice. The revisions include “truly substantive changes in factual statements and legal reasoning,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard and the author of a new study examining the phenomenon. [The (Non)Finality of Supreme Court Opinions, 128 Harv. L. Rev. ___ (2014):

Hiding in plain sight at the top of a Supreme Court opinion when first issued is a formal notice that “this opinion is subject to formal revision.” Readers have long assumed that any such revisions are both rarely made and entirely nonsubstantive in nature. Neither is true. Apart from the anticipated routine proofreading corrections of typographical errors, misspellings, and incidental grammatical mistakes, which are many, the Justices routinely correct mistakes in majority and separate opinions relating to the arguments of the parties, record below, historical facts, relevant statutes and regulations, opinions of their colleagues, and Court precedent. The Justices also, even more significantly, sometimes change their initial reasoning in support of their legal conclusions. To all these ends, they sometimes add, delete, and substitute words, phrases, and sentences. Unaware of the existence and degree of such changes, the public routinely refers to versions of opinions of the Court and of Justices that, while superseded, are nonetheless perpetuated through lower court opinions, websites, and even leading academic casebooks.

This article is the first to explore the Court’s practice of revising its opinions after initial publication, which one Justice privately referred to as “a strange and reverse basis” and a Court official described as “completely at odds with general publishing practices.” The article examines the depth and breadth of the practice since the Court’s first opinions through present days. It describes both the institutional reasons for the practice, which one Justice privately speculated extended to each Justice’s natural inclination to “rush to judgment” and “to get ‘on the scoreboard’” as soon as “all the votes are in” and possibly “to guard against any last minute shifting of a vote.” The article also describes how the Court’s related procedures for revision have shifted over time to become increasingly less transparent and potentially lacking in the degree of procedural fairness and rigor appropriate for opinions of the Court and of the Justices. The article recommends that the Court amend its current practices to provide at the very least for after-the-fact disclosure of changes made both to increase transparency and to provide, indirectly, some check against unnecessary substantive changes. The article further recommends that the Court consider the possibility of providing prior notice as well in certain circumstances.]

[M]ost changes are neither prompt nor publicized, and the court’s secretive editing process has led judges and law professors astray, causing them to rely on passages that were later scrubbed from the official record. The widening public access to online versions of the court’s decisions, some of which do not reflect the final wording, has made the longstanding problem more pronounced.

May 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Colleges Rattled as Obama Seeks Rating System

New York Times, Colleges Rattled as Obama Seeks Rating System:

The college presidents were appalled. Not only had President Obama called for a government rating system for their schools, but now one of his top education officials was actually suggesting it would be as easy as evaluating a kitchen appliance.

“It’s like rating a blender,” Jamienne Studley, a deputy under secretary at the Education Department, said to the college presidents after a meeting in the department’s Washington headquarters in November, according to several who were present. “This is not so hard to get your mind around.”

The rating system is in fact a radical new effort by the federal government to hold America’s 7,000 colleges and universities accountable by injecting the executive branch into the business of helping prospective students weigh collegiate pros and cons. For years that task has been dominated by private companies like Barron’s and U.S. News & World Report.

Mr. Obama and his aides say colleges and universities that receive a total of $150 billion each year in federal loans and grants must prove they are worth it. The problem is acute, they insist: At too many schools, tuition is going up, graduation rates are going down, and students are leaving with enormous debt and little hope of high-paying jobs.

The idea that the government would try to rate the schools has rattled the entire higher education system, from elite private institutions to large state universities to community colleges. ...

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

LGBT Activists File FOIA Request for Virginia Law Prof Douglas Laycock's Email

Charlottesville Daily Progress, LGBT Activists Take UVa Professor to Task For His Stance on Cases (more here and here):

LaycockUniversity of Virginia legal scholar Douglas Laycock is facing criticism from gay rights groups for his support of religious freedom laws that activists say could lead to discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Activists also are upset at his support for Hobby Lobby in an ongoing Supreme Court case involving contraception coverage.

Laycock, who is married to UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan, is the subject of a Freedom of Information Act records request by two UVa student activists — Gregory Lewis and Stephanie Montenegro. In an open letter to the professor, Lewis and Montenegro said that while they respect Laycock’s right to academic freedom, they believe his writings supporting controversial religious freedom laws are holding back progressive causes such as access to contraceptives and gay marriage. ...

“As leaders on the UVa campus, we strongly believe in engaging in dialogue, and, equally as important, for professors to truly understand the implications of their work,” the letter continues.

Commentators across the ideological spectrum have condemned the actions of the UVa law students:

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), The Purge Arrives at the University of Virginia: PC Thugs versus Douglas Laycock:

The continuing effort by left-liberals to silence any dissent from their politically correct mandates is now taking on a famed legal scholar:   [The UVa student] said they’re not trying to smear Laycock, and they’re not trying to undermine academic freedom. They just want a dialogue, he said.

Bullshit. You don't start a dialogue with FOIA requests. This is a blatant effort at deterring public participation by anyone who does not hew 100% to the most radical version of the gay rights movement.

“I think it would be really constructive for him to hear how his work is being used to hurt the LGBTQ community,” said [the student]. “I don’t think he has any ill intent. I think he’s very thoughtful and moderate, and willing to hear both sides. But I think that everyone really has a lot to learn.”

My God. The pomposity and arrogance of these children (of the corn?) is just amazing. It's time to start fighting back. There have to be consequences for people like [them] or the day will come when they and their ilk will have successfully silenced the rest of us.

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Dear UVA Students: In Prying Into Prof. Laycock's E-mails You Are Attacking His Academic Freedom:

Douglas Laycock (Virginia) is, I would agree, on the wrong side of a number of recent religious liberty issues in both his advocacy and in his scholarship, but students requesting his e-mails are engaged in harassment and intimidation that infringe upon his academic freedom.  Cut it out, kids!  No good will come of this kind of mischief.

Walter Olson (Cato Institute), Critics Hit U.Va. Prof. Douglas Laycock With FOIA:

No one could doubt that Laycock’s views on religious accommodation are part of a set of intellectually derived convictions that run through decades of his work. (In addition to opposing such forms of church-state entanglement as officially sponsored prayer, he supports the right of gays to marry.) It’s simply a matter of trying to arm-twist a tenured, well-recognized scholar who takes a position that the Forces of Unanimity consider wrong. ...

It might also be time for legislators to clarify state open-records laws to determine under what circumstances they can be used to go after academics, and consider altering them, where appropriate, to provide for financial or other sanctions when they are misused.

May 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (22)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ten Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training

Commencement address by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven (Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command), University of Texas (May 17, 2014) (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

Transcript below the fold:

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May 26, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (14)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Charleston Law School Founders Withdrew $25 Million in Profits, Leaving School in Precarious Financial Condition

Charleston LogoFollowing up on my prior posts (links below):  Charleston Post and Courier, Charleston School of Law Founders Withdrew $25 Million in Profits Leaving School on Shaky Financial Ground:

Five respected judges and lawyers started the Charleston School of Law a decade ago with the lofty goal of training attorneys committed to public service.

But beginning in 2010, the well-connected founders and owners with deep South Carolina roots began draining money from the school, withdrawing $25 million in profits by 2013 that they split among themselves.

The owners had a great deal of support from the Charleston community to launch the school, including a below-market-rate land deal from the city aimed at helping it remain on the peninsula and earn accreditation from the ABA.

Their taking out the profits instead of re-investing in the school has left it in such financial shambles its future remains uncertain.

Kevin Hall, a Columbia lawyer who represents InfiLaw System, a company trying to purchase the school, revealed the surprising financial information about founders Robert Carr, George Kosko, Ralph McCullough, Alex Sanders and Ed Westbrook at a public hearing last week. "The Charleston School of Law, ladies and gentlemen, is in a financial tailspin," Hall said.

Carr, Kosko and Westbrook, the three remaining owners, confirmed Hall's description of the school's financial situation, and they all agreed that it got that way because owners for years had been pulling profits from the institution.

Charleston's tuition is $37,874 per year.  89% of Charleston's Class of 2013 took out student loans, in an average amount of $146,766 (the 14th highest amount among all law schools).  53.3% of Charleston's Class of 2013 secured full-time, long-term, bar passage required jobs (compared to the 57.0% national average).

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:


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