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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tax Court: How to Deduct Expenses That Others Paid

Tax Court Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Strange but True: Deduct Expenses That Others Paid:

In a 2010 decision that is worth reviewing this tax season, the U.S. Tax Court concluded that a daughter could deduct medical expenses and real-estate taxes on her Form 1040 even though they were covered by gifts from her mother. The gifts were in the form of direct payments by the mother to the medical service providers and local government entities.

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

Princeton/UCLA Study: It Is Time to Ban Laptops in Law School Classrooms

Steven M. Eisenstat (Suffolk), A Game Changer: Assessing the Impact of the Princeton/UCLA Laptop Study on the Debate of Whether to Ban Law Student Use of Laptops During Class, 90 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. ___ (2015):

No LaptopIn this Article I discuss the impact on legal education of a recent study conducted at Princeton University and UCLA, which compared the levels of comprehension and retention of class lectures by those students who handwrote their class notes with those students who typed their notes onto their laptops. The study involved three separate experiments. In each test, the subjects using laptops had no access to the Internet, and were only permitted to use their laptops for taking class notes. Thus all possible laptop distractions were eliminated. In all three experiments, those students who handwrote their notes outperformed their counterparts who typed their notes on assessments administered between 30 minutes and one week after the lectures.

This study thus raises another chapter in the continuing debate regarding whether students should be permitted to use their laptops in class. Prior to the Princeton/UCLA study, the debate primarily centered around the distractive effects which laptops had on both laptop users who were engaged in activities unrelated to what was being discussed in class, and on their classmates who were sitting nearby and were distracted by the visuals and sounds emanating from the laptops. Such distractions included surfing the Internet, playing video games, and emailing others in the class.

This study reveals that even if these distractions are removed, students who use their laptops for note taking tend to simply type, verbatim, the words of their professor, without trying to understand the meaning of what their professor is actually saying. As a result, their comprehension and retention suffers.

In light of this study, I suggest in this Article that as legal educators, we need to reevaluate the prevalent policy of allowing students complete access to their laptops throughout every class. I explain why I believe attempts to monitor how students are using their laptops in class, such as professors walking up and down the class aisles to observe what their students are viewing on their computer screens, are ill advised and ineffective. I then suggest that student use of laptops should be permitted in class only if the professor is using them for a specific educational purpose for which the laptop is uniquely designed to serve. Otherwise, the use of laptops should be banned.

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February 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Faculty Status and Law School Effectiveness

Deborah A. Maranville (University of Washington), Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers-Camden) & Kristen Konrad Tiscione (Georgetown), Faculty Status and Institutional Effectiveness:

Legal education has expanded to incorporate practice-oriented topics and courses over the past several decades, and student academic support services have multiplied in response to changing student populations. As a consequence of these changes, law schools are overdue to address the issue of the status of the individuals they hire to fill the multiple and ever expanding needs and interests of students. Faculty status is a key dimension of enhancing the effectiveness of faculty and it matters for three primary reasons: to provide the protections of academic freedom, promote scholarship, and ensure full citizenship for all teachers. This section of the forthcoming book Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (Lexis 2015) provides an overview of the issues involved in debates over faculty status.

February 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Yackee: Law School Rankings, Not Skills Training, Drives J.D. Employment Outcomes

Jason W. Yackee (Wisconsin), Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?:

This short paper provides an empirical examination of the link between law school experiential (or "skills") learning opportunities and JD employment outcomes. The current "law school crisis" poses a number of serious challenges to the legal academy, and how law schools should respond is hotly debated. One common suggestion is that law schools should reform their curriculum to emphasize the development of practical skills through experiential learning, rather than emphasize what is described as the impractical, theory- and doctrine-heavy book learning of the traditional law school curriculum. Employers are said to be more likely to hire those with substantial skills training. This paper provides a simple empirical examination of that basic hypothesis. To summarize the paper's key finding: there is no statistical relationship between law school opportunities for skills training and JD employment outcomes. In contrast, employment outcomes do seem to be strongly related to law school prestige. 

Graph 4

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February 4, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

The Law School Transfer Market: 'The Contentious Underbelly of Legal Education'

TransferFollowing up on my previous posts:

Inside Higher Ed, Poaching Law Students:

Law schools across the country are fighting for transfer students in a testy cat and mouse game that involves some questionable practices.

In cities with multiple law schools -- like Jacksonville, Phoenix and Washington -- the transfer market has lately exposed the contentious underbelly of legal education. The transfer market has become particularly active in recent years as overall law school enrollment has fallen dramatically.

Critics say law schools farther up the rankings chain are enrolling students whose Law School Admission Test scores made them undesirable to enroll as first-year students. Law schools generally do not give transfer students the sort of competitive scholarship discounts they dangle in front of first-year students, making transfers a potentially lucrative source of revenue.

Schools that lose dozens of students each year to other law schools accuse their competitors of poaching to boost enrollment and get around college rankings.

Schools that pick up those same students say the schools’ students are obviously not satisfied, or else so many would not head for the exit.

Some transfer students even say they have to cut through a variety of questionable practices designed to make it harder for them to leave one school for another. ...

The Washington, Phoenix and Jacksonville area transfer markets are particularly hot, and deans on the losing end of the stick are beginning to get hot under the collar.

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February 4, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Crespi: Will the Income-Based Repayment Program Enable Law Schools to Continue to Provide 'Harvard-Style' Legal Education?

IBRGregory Scott Crespi (SMU), Will the Income-Based Repayment Program Enable Law Schools to Continue to Provide 'Harvard-Style' Legal Education?, 67 SMU L. Rev. 51 (2014):

Legal education provided in the prevailing “Harvard-style” now costs students on average between $160,000 and $250,000 for their three years of study, the precise amount depending on the law school attended, the alternative employment opportunities foregone, and the amount of scholarship assistance provided. However, the median starting salary for full-time, entry-level legal positions has declined in recent years to only $60,000/year, and upwards of 45% of recent law graduates are now unable to obtain full-time legal employment, and this dismal employment situation is unlikely to significantly improve over the next few years. While the attractive job opportunities still available to graduates of the elite law schools justify the large majority of those graduates incurring the high costs of legal education, even under unsubsidized federal student loan terms, the far more limited job prospects facing the majority of graduates of non-elite law schools do not justify their incurring those costs on those terms. However, the existence of the Income-Based Repayment (“IBR”) program as implemented by the Obama Administration’s new Pay As You Earn (“PAYE”) rules may significantly change this situation for those latter students.

In this article I conduct several different detailed analyses of the IBR program under the liberalized PAYE rules, and of the related and even more generous Public Service Loan Forgiveness (“PSLF”) program. My conclusion is that the IBR loan repayment and debt forgiveness provisions are sufficiently attractive so that Harvard-style legal education is now again a financially viable proposition for many law students, not only for those students attending the 10 most elite law schools but also for many students attending non-elite law schools, specifically those students who will graduate in the upper half of their class or better at the 40 or so upper- or mid-tier non-elite law schools, and also for those students who will graduate in the upper quarter of their class or better from one of the more than 150 lower-tier law schools. For most other law students, however, who in the current employment market have only a slim chance of obtaining a full-time entry-level legal position paying even $60,000/year, and who have virtually no chance of obtaining a qualifying public service legal position under the PSLF program, attending law school is no longer economically justified even with the IBR and PSLF loan repayment options.

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February 4, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lawyers, Law Professors Tilt to the Left; Judges Tilt to the Right

New York Times:  Why Judges Tilt to the Right, by Adam Liptak:

Lawyers on average are much more liberal than the general population, a new study has found. [Adam Bonica (Stanford) & Maya Sen (Harvard), The Politics of Selecting the Bench from the Bar: The Legal Profession and Partisan Incentives to Politicize the Judiciary] But judges are more conservative than the average lawyer, to say nothing of the graduates of top law schools.


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

Does Your Law School Smell? Custom Scents and Law School Branding

AirWall Street Journal, Airlines Try Signature Fragrances, but Not Everyone Is On Board:

Beyoncé’s latest perfume is called Rise, “the scent of empowerment.” Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams and Jennifer Aniston have signature scents, too. So does Delta Air Lines.

Delta’s offering is Calm, an eau d’aeroport that it sprays in airplane cabins and infuses in the hot towels it gives out in premium classes. It has been spreading Calm for about two years, joining a handful of other carriers vying for olfactory distinction by developing their own individualized odors. The fragrant fliers include United Continental, Turkish Airlines and Air Canada’s low-cost rouge operation. Spain’s Iberia is close to launching its own aroma, and Alaska Airlines is working on one. 

The companies don’t plan to bottle their scents for retail, but they do see a commercial value in them. United marketing manager Mark Krolick says its new fragrance, provisionally called “Landing,” in concert with improvements like new lighting and redesigned gates, “will create a more relaxing environment. A good experience engenders brand preference, which probably will result in more booking,” he says. Airlines also say they aim for subtlety, so passengers who are sensitive to scents won’t recoil. ...

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

University Of Missouri-Kansas City Joins Rankings Hall Of Shame; Dean Ordered Staff To Raise Ranking "By All Means Necessary"

UMKCInside Higher Education, Fibbing for Rankings:

The University of Missouri at Kansas City gave the Princeton Review false information designed to inflate the rankings of its business school, which was under pressure from its major donor to keep the ratings up, according to an outside audit released Friday.

The audit -- by PricewaterhouseCoopers -- described the process by which business school officials came up with creative reasons to provide data that many at the school believed to be false, and that the audit found to be false. ...

UMKC issued a news release Friday that reads: "Independent review upholds No. 1 research ranking."

But the audit also confirmed many of the findings of an August article in The Kansas City Star that found "a pattern of exaggerations and misstatements" by the business school. At the time, the university disputed the Star's report, but Missouri governor Jay Nixon requested an investigation, and that request led to the report issued Friday. ...

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February 3, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

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February 3, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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February 3, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Applying to Top Law Schools Disserved Many in 2014

American Lawyer LogoThe American Lawyer:  Applying to Top Law Schools Disserved Many in 2014, by Matt Leichter:

[A]lthough the number of full-time applications predictably declined again at most law schools (7.6 percent), they conspicuously rose at many law schools at the top of U.S. News and World Report's annual rankings. Specifically, of the schools that were ranked in the top 20 on average in the last two years, 14 received more applications than in 2013.

In other words, potential applicants seem to have heard a message telling them that top law schools were safe while the same couldn't be said of the less prestigious ones. The extent of the application bounce these 14 schools received is arguably quite substantial: nearly 8 percent among all of them taken together over last year.

U.S. NEWS RANK   (13-14)



















































































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

Diamond: The Continuing Disconnect Between Law School Critics and Market Reality

Stephen F. Diamond (Santa Clara), The Continuing Disconnect Between Law School Critics and Market Reality:

S&MI just happened to notice that the law school critics continue to distort the findings of the Simkovic and McIntyre paper on the economic value of earning a JD. This paper sends a chill down the spines of the critics because it lays waste to their argument with straightforward data. This requires them to engage not just in mental gymnastics that lead to the kinds of absurd confusions about valuation found here and here but now to outright falsehoods posted to one of the most important law school blogs in the country.

One egregious example is found in the comments section at Paul Caron’s blog, TaxProf. There one finds another anonymous (and ubiquitous blog) commenter named “Unemployed Northeastern” (UNE) who thinks that he has a better grasp on the economics of legal education than that provided by the exhaustive research of S&M. ...

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February 2, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (28)

Former SMU Law School Dean Arrested on Prostitution Charge

AttanasioDallas Morning News, Former SMU Law Dean Arrested on Prostitution Charge:

The former dean of the Southern Methodist Law school was arrested early Sunday on a prostitution charge, jail records show.

John Attanasio, 60, was booked into the Collin County jail Sunday. He was released later that day after posting $500 bond on the Class B misdemeanor. ...

Sgt. Lonny Haschel, a Texas DPS spokesman, said the arrest was part of an ongoing investigation. No further information was released.

Attanasio served as dean of the SMU Law School from 1988 until 2013, when officials declined to renew his contract with the university. The announcement produced significant backlash at the time from faculty, financial supporters, and the school’s executive committee.

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Super Bowl and Law School

Super BowlWall Street Journal, Calling the Super Bowl Like Cris Collinsworth:

In the two weeks before the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks are combing through endless amounts of tape. They are memorizing until they have instant recall to make split-second decisions and they are highlighting the mismatches between the two teams. Cris Collinsworth is doing the same thing. 

The NBC analyst will be calling his third Super Bowl Sunday, along with Al Michaels, who will be calling his ninth. But it isn’t getting any easier. It’s Collinsworth’s job to explain football to the 110 million or so watching Sunday. ...

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Betrayal of Socrates in Legal Education

SocraticDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Betrayal of Socrates:

My argument here is that there is a stark disjunction between the Socratic ideal and the reality found in the First Year of law school at nearly all institutions. The underlying assumption is simple—the initial foundational phase of an activity is the most important. It provides the basis for all that follows. As such, the most intense and sophisticated methods should be applied at the foundational level so that the more “advanced” learning rests on a deep intellectual base. ...

[I]n the midst of all the talk about producing “practice ready” law graduates I argue that the single most important “core”, “foundational” or “meta” skill we teach in law school is the heightened ability to think with analytical precision and integrative strategic skill aimed at problem solving and avoidance along with innovative opportunity creation. I would even go so far as to conclude that law teachers of several generations ago who stated that the goal was to teach law students to “think like lawyers” were absolutely correct in concept even if they (and we) didn’t know exactly what the concept meant, how to do it properly or what “substances” ought to make up the material on which the processes of thought were exercised to produce the desired results. ...

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

Nine California Law Schools Bucked National Trend, Increased 1L Enrollment in 2014

National JuristNational Jurist, Enrollment Up at 9 California Law Schools:

Law school enrollment dropped by 7.2 percent this year, but 33 law schools bucked the trend and increased enrollment. Nine of those law schools hail from California — more than any other state.

“We aren’t in an arctic vortex,” joked Edward Tom, Dean of Admissions at University of California, Berkeley School of Law when asked why California schools fared better this year.  “Honestly, I have no idea.”

While the nine schools saw improvement this year, they are still down 13 percent from 2010. ... While nine California law schools were up, nine were also down. Total enrollment in the state was down 5.1 percent this year, and is more than 18 percent off from 2010. ...

California law schools that increased enrollment this year:

  1. Chapman 21.37%
  2. UC-Berkeley 4.2%
  3. La Verne 3.47%
  4. UC-Davis 2.81%
  5. UCLA 1.74%
  6. California Western 0.91%
  7. USC 0.66%
  8. Stanford 0.52%
  9. Pepperdine 0.5%

Of these nine schools, one increased the median LSAT of their larger entering class (Stanford +1, to 172); six maintained their median LSAT (UC-Berkeley & UCLA, 167; USC, 166; UC-Davis, 162; Pepperdine, 160; La Verne, 147); and two decreased their median LSAT (Chapman -2, to 156; California Western -1, to 150).

Nationally, six law schools increased enrollment by 5% or more:

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January 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Stephen Carter: My Son Was Stopped by Police For Being Black at Yale

Yale University LogoNew Haven Register op-ed:  Another Son Stopped for Being Black at Yale, by Stephen Carter (Yale):

The columnist Charles M. Blow of the New York Times has sparked debate this week by his disclosure that his son, a student at Yale College, was stopped at gunpoint by a Yale police officer who said he resembled a robbery suspect.

I’d like to take a moment to add my small coda of personal outrage, as the father of an African-American son ... who was also harassed by the Yale police while a student at Yale College. What happened to our son wasn’t as serious as what happened to Blow’s — no gun was pointed his way — but the echoes are painful nevertheless. ...

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January 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

College Endowment Rankings

Chronicle of Higher Education, College Endowments See Another Year of Growth:

The improving economy contributed to a second strong year in a row for colleges’ endowment returns, according to an annual study released on Thursday. Colleges’ endowments returned an average of 15.5 percent in the 2014 fiscal year, up from 11.7 percent in 2013.

The ranking of 851 colleges is here.  The Top 25 (figures in thousands):

Top 25

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January 29, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Occupy the Syllabus

UC-Berkeley (University)The Daily Californian op-ed, Occupy the Syllabus:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

We have major concerns about social theory courses in which white men are the only authors assigned. These courses pretend that a minuscule fraction of humanity — economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States) — are the only people to produce valid knowledge about the world. This is absurd. The white male syllabus excludes all knowledge produced outside this standardized canon, silencing the perspectives of the other 99 percent of humanity. ...

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January 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hill: The Associate Dean for Research in the Age of the Internet

B. Jessie Hill (Case Western), The Associate Dean for Research in the Age of the Internet, 31 Touro L. Rev. ___ (2015):

In this brief essay, written for a Touro Law Review symposium issue on the role of the associate dean for research and scholarship, I reflect on how the increasing centrality of the Internet to research and scholarship affects the way the Associate Dean for Research might do her job, and I describe some of the measures that seem to be effective in light of this new state of affairs.

January 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Female, Minority Professors Are Paid Less Than White Male Professors at UC-Berkeley

UCBUC-Berkeley Press Release, Campus Poised to Act on Salary Gaps for Women, Minority Faculty:

The gaps aren’t large, nor are the causes clear. But the campus is already planning to act on new findings that average salaries for women and minority-group faculty at UC Berkeley lag behind those for white men in similar fields, and with comparable professional experience.

A just-released study shows that average salaries for underrepresented minority faculty members trail those of their white male counterparts by 1 to 1.8 percent. Gaps between women and white males were slightly larger, with a range between 1.8 and 4.3 percent.

The report calls for further research to investigate reasons for the differences — which it notes could result from a mix of factors — and lays out measures to make salaries more equitable for all Berkeley ladder faculty.

A key recommendation is to create a new “targeted decoupling initiative” to provide salary increases for faculty beyond what ordinary advancement in rank and step allows. The findings of the study would provide important data to help build the new salary program.

Report of the UC Berkeley Faculty Salary Equity Study (Jan. 2015):

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January 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Charitable Donations to Colleges Reached All-Time High in 2014 ($38 Billion)

Top 10Wall Street Journal, Harvard, Stanford Lead Record Year for College Gifts; $37.5 Billion Is 10.8% Jump; Top 10 Schools Bring in 18% of Donations:

Colleges and universities received a record $37.5 billion in donations last year, led by massive gifts to Harvard University, Stanford University and other already-wealthy schools.

The new high, a 10.8% jump from the prior year, was due in part to stock-market increases that boosted capital gifts, as well as a jump in donations of art, according to an annual survey being released Wednesday by the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education. ...

The top 10 recipients brought in nearly 18% of all gifts last year, up from 15% a decade earlier, according to Ann E. Kaplan, who directs the survey.

Inside Higher Ed, Deep-Pocket Donors:

Top Fund-Raisers in 2014

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January 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

How Student Debt Harms the Economy

Student LoansWall Street Journal op-ed:  How Student Debt Harms the Economy, by Mitch Daniels (President, Purdue University):

To the growing catalog of damage caused by the decades-long run-up in the cost of higher education, we may have to add another casualty. On top of the harm high tuition and other charges are inflicting on young people, and the way their struggles are holding back today’s economy, we must add the worry that tomorrow’s economy will suffer, too.

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January 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

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







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina) 



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UCBerkeley)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


DIck Harvey (Villanova)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


James Hines (Michigan)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



David Walker (Boston Univ.)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Dan Shaviro (NYUt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)



Ed McCaffery (USC)


Steve Willis (Florida)


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

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January 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cutbacks Are Looming for Law School Income-Based Repayment Programs

IBRFollowing up on this morning's post, NY Times: Has IBR Solved the Student Loan Crisis?:

New York Times, A Quiet Revolution in Helping Lift the Burden of Student Debt:

The change in college financing has a potentially serious drawback when it comes to college pricing. Income-based repayment programs in Australia and Britain work in part because national governments keep tuition low. Public universities are, to different degrees, legally obligated to hold down tuition prices in exchange for financial support from state governments. But that system has been eroded by state budget cuts, driving tuition and borrowing up, and there are no price restraints attached to the federal IBR system.

This is less a problem for undergraduate programs, for which traditional students are allowed to borrow only up to $31,000 in total. Graduate students, by contrast, can borrow up to the full “cost of attendance” — tuition, fees, room and board. For medical and law schools, this can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, all potentially forgivable under IBR. This creates a strong incentive for graduate and professional schools to raise prices and pass federal taxpayers the bill.

To counter such practices, the Obama administration has proposed moving the forgiveness threshold for students with large graduate debts to 25 years from 20, and capping public service loan forgiveness at $57,000.

Above the Law, A Final Warning To Those Who Enter The Law School Black Hole:

Don’t expect income-based repayment plans to stay in its current form.

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January 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Encouraging Engaged Scholarship: Perspectives from an Associate Dean for Research

Sonia Katyal (Fordham), Encouraging Engaged Scholarship: Perspectives from an Associate Dean for Research, 31 Touro L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Today, there is little question that faculty scholarship is intimately related to the reputation of a law school, and also relatedly, to the law school rankings game. Central to this reality are some emergent administrative positions — the position of Associate Dean for Research, for example — which carry important possibilities for a law school, both internally and externally, in terms of promoting attention to scholarship. Yet this position, which has only recently emerged in law schools over the last twenty years, is also one that is largely fluid and often determined by the relative institutional capabilities of the rest of the University administration, in addition to the larger landscape of legal education. Because there is no precise one size fits all model for an Associate Dean, the fluidity of the position enables us to consider a range of variables that impact scholarly visibility, both internally within a law school community, and externally within the larger scholarly world. How can we, as Associate Deans, strive to support the productivity of faculty members in these shifting times? How can Associate Deans navigate complex social relations on faculties, where issues of gender, race, class, and other variables often abound? How can we draw attention to scholarly endeavors at a time when law schools are undergoing a massive transformation for the future? How can we ensure that legal scholarship remains relevant and important? How can we value the many types of scholarly contributions that our faculty can make, without imposing a narrow view of what counts as “serious” scholarship?

Answering these questions is not an easy task. Just as there are many different types of research and scholarship, there are many different roles for an Associate Dean for Research. As Associate Dean for Research at Fordham, and one of the small number of minority women who have held this position in law school academia, I have been struck by how many of these issues can be indirectly tied to traditional, institutional questions about building a law school community. Here, questions about identity, seniority, productivity, and interdisciplinary scholarship emerge, often without clear answers. Indeed, also, identity politics — not just demographic identities, but institutional identities — affect so many of the range of questions that surround productivity and the way in which research is valued and embraced in a law school community. Mainstream law review publications, clearly, are an essential part of every law faculty in the country, and should be valued and encouraged, but an administration, should also have a greater sense of the importance of other types of engaged scholarship. Here, I draw on the history and trajectory of American Indian legal scholarship as an illustrative example.

For my perspective, see The Associate Dean for Faculty Research Position: Encouraging and Promoting Scholarship, 33 U. Tol. L. Rev. 233 (2001) (Leadership in Legal Education Symposium) (with Joseph P. Tomain):

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January 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Has IBR Solved the Student Loan Crisis?

Student LoansNew York Times, A Quiet Revolution in Helping Lift the Burden of Student Debt:

Has the student loan crisis already been solved?

This might seem an absurd question. Student loan debt is at a record high of $1.1 trillion, and the average undergraduate who borrows to attend school graduates nearly $30,000 in debt. Almost 20 percent of student borrowers are in default.

Yet a couple of little-noticed legislative tweaks to a small, obscure loan repayment program — revisions made under two very different presidents — appear to have created the conditions for far-reaching changes in how a college education is bought and paid for. The result may make it much easier for students to get out from under their debts.

The first changes happened in September 2007, when Congress passed a major overhaul of the federal college financial aid system. ... Under an income-based repayment, if you make little money, you repay little money. If you make nothing, you owe nothing, and your loan doesn’t go into default. The loan forgiveness provision protects borrowers from too much interest accumulating over time.

In 2010, Barack Obama was president, and he, too, pushed a financial aid overhaul through Congress. This time, the government-subsidized private sector loan program was entirely shut down. ...

We appear to be in the middle of a rapid transition in how student loans are repaid, one that is moving the federal government into the same role that state governments played for much of the 20th century: the foundational provider of broad, unqualified subsidies for higher learning. ...

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January 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

15th Annual Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop

Wash.U. LogoThe 15th Annual Workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein (Washington University) and Andrew D. Martin (Michigan), will run from June 15-17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.

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January 27, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Amazon Offers Self-Publishing For Faculty Books

KindleLast Thursday, Amazon launched KDP EDU for academics to self-publish books through the Kindle Direct Publishing program:

Amazon’s new Kindle Textbook Creator Beta helps you convert PDFs of your textbooks, course notes, study guides and other educational content that includes complex visual information like charts, graphs and equations into Kindle books. Books created through Kindle Textbook Creator take advantage of features that enhance a student’s learning experience such as dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting and flashcards. Plus, preview your book across all supported devices.

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January 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. News College Efficiency Rankings

U.S. News General Logo (2015)U.S. News & World Report, Data Show Which Top-Ranked Colleges Operate Most Efficiently:

Ohio's Miami University—Oxford took top honors as the most efficient school among National Universities and Michigan's Hope College was most efficient among National Liberal Arts Colleges in an exclusive U.S. News analysis that compared spending and educational quality.

For this analysis, U.S. News looked at the public and private colleges that scored the highest on overall undergraduate academic educational quality, as measured by their position in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings, but that spent relatively less on their educational programs to achieve that quality.

U.S. News measures financial resources by taking into account how much a school spends per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. The financial resources indicator has a 10 percent weight in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

The lists below are based on operating efficiency, which U.S. News has defined as a school's 2013 fiscal year financial resources per student divided by its overall score – the basis U.S. News uses to determine its overall numerical rank – in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings.

This calculation reveals how much each school is spending to achieve one point in its overall score and thus its position in the rankings. The premise of the analysis is that the less a school spent relative to its position in the overall rankings, the more efficient it was in its ability to produce a top-quality education.

SchoolU.S. News RankOverall ScoreFinancial Resources RankSpending Per Student For Each Point in Overall Score
Miami Univ. (OH) 76 50 205 $383.66
Florida State 95 47 214 $392.77
Alabama 88 48 198 $423.02
SUNY-Binghamton 88 48 185 $437.23
William & Mary 33 67 110 $441.82
BYU 62 56 156 $457.29
Indiana 76 50 156 $469.00
Clemson 62 56 138 $486.02
Missouri 99 46 171 $499.61
Clark 76 50 145 $502.24

January 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Prof Twitter Rankings

Twitter (2014)Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), The Law Prof Twitter Network:

Following recent discussions about the importance of blogging/tweeting to contemporary academia (see: LSE via TaxProf), and Bridget Crawford’s Law Prof Twitter Census (version 3.0) over at TheFacultyLounge, I thought I’d do some number crunching and network building.

I wrote a short script to read all of the law prof twitter handles included in the census and query the twitter API to get the follower lists and statistics for each user. This allowed me to both rank law prof twitterers (because we all know how much people like to rank things) and project them onto an interactive network so we can see how they relate to one another. ...

The law prof network (consisting of following relationships amongst law profs in the census) has 535 nodes and 16354 edges (directed density = 0.057). The entire network (including all of the followers of all of the law profs) is much larger. In total there are 741,385 unique twitter users who follow law profs.

The table below lists the top twenty profs by number of followers:

Handle Name School Followers
lessig Lawrence Lessig Harvard 324,336
SportsLawGuy Gabe Feldman Tulane 33,728
zittrain Jonathan Zittrain Harvard 30,787
McCannSportsLaw Michael McCann New Hampshire 29,771
ZephyrTeachout Zephyr Teachout Fordham 25,328
CassSunstein Cass Sunstein Harvard 21,333
gregorymcneal Greg McNeal Pepperdine 17,440
scrawford Susan Crawford Cardozo 15,641
superwuster Tim Wu Columbia 11,804
JonathanTurley Jonathan Turley George Washington 11,715
bethnoveck Beth Simone Noveck NYLS 10,422
patentlyo Dennis Crouch Missouri 9,889
PrivacyLaw Michael Scott Southwestern 9,024
garylfrancione Gary Francione Rutgers-Newark 8,844
adamwinkler Adam Winkler UCLA 8,706

Limiting our rankings to those professors who have the most followers amongst other law professors on twitter, changes the results quite a bit:

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January 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spring 2015 Law Review Article Submission Guide

Nancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Spring 2015 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-52) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 53-59) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes:

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January 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 25, 2015

CBS News: Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?

CBS NewsCBS News, Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?:

Good news for aspiring lawyers: It's getting easier to get into law school, and the legal job market is showing some signs of improvement. The bad news: Many experts worry that unqualified entrants will have little chance to pass the bar exam and will be saddled with unaffordable levels of debt.

According to an analysis by Jerome Organ, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, 33 percent of law school entrants had median LSAT scores of 160 or higher in 2013, compared with 40.8 percent in 2010 (the LSAT is scored on a scale between 120 and 180). Conversely, first-year students with scores of 149 or lower rose from 14.2 percent to 22.5 percent.

"Not all law schools are lowering admission standards," wrote Wendy Margolis of the Law School Admissions Council in an email. "If some of them are, you would need to ask them about their individual reasons. ...

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January 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bainbridge: Solve the Law School Crisis by Unleashing the Free Market

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Want to Solve the Law School Scam? Expose Law Schools to a Market for Control:

If you think of law schools as companies selling a product, our customer base has skrunk dramatically and continues to shrink:

In a market system, the result would be business failures and a lot of mergers. Sadly, higher education is effectively insulated by the government from market forces, so we're not seeing the kind of consolidation process that is necessary.

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January 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It Is Time to End Tenure at Age 70

Retire AlreadyDan Subotnik (Touro), Untenuring Tenure:

A specter haunting the academy today is of an intellectually wizened white male professoriate refusing to step aside for au courant, energetic, ambitious, and of course diverse younger faculty. Part of a larger concern with tenure itself, the fear in question is that tenured old-timers, of which I am one, are holding fast to financial and administrative perks, limiting institutional control and stifling institutional development in the process.

Sometimes the fear is expressed openly.  Intractable seniors, according to a recent, widely debated Chronicle Review post (The Forever Professors) often “crush the young” through their “selfish[ness].” A law school colleague argues that, having enjoyed our share of university bounty, responsible seniors should facilitate succession by quickly and gracefully exiting the stage.  Such a development might be contrasted with what is actually happening today:  seniors in effect extorting rich buyouts to retire.

More of the time, of course, the critique is not explicit. Yet who among us seniors has not felt the sting of “what are you still doing here, gramps” looks from junior law faculty and deans? ...

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January 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Houston Hosts Moot Court National Championship This Weekend

Friday, January 23, 2015

80% of Provosts Favor Civility as Factor in Faculty Hiring and Tenure Decisions

Inside Higher Ed, 2015 Survey of Chief Academic Officers:

CivilityA majority of provosts are concerned about declining faculty civility in American higher education. And a large majority of provosts believe that civility is a legitimate criterion in hiring and evaluating faculty members. Generally, the provosts are confident that faculty members show civility in their treatment of students, but have mixed views on whether professors show civility in dealings with colleagues and doubt how much civility is shown to administrators.

These results are clear from Inside Higher Ed's 2015 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers. And after a year of intense debate over civility, the survey shows that provosts are not aligned with faculty leaders on the issue. ...

How Provosts View Civility on Their Campuses

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January 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Living Amidst Wildlife in Malibu

LionMy wife and I were watching our DVR'd Saturday Night Live Wednesday night in bed when we received an email warning us that a mountain lion had been spotted on campus a few hundred yards from our home. Pepperdine helpfully included an Emergency Preparedness Guide with specific safety guidelines for encountering a mountain lion: 

Should you encounter a mountain lion, take the following actions:

  • If you see a mountain lion, maintain eye contact and back away slowly. Do not run; the lion’s instinct will be to chase you. Appear as large, loud, and powerful as possible and yell and throw stones. ...
  • If attacked, fight back. Under no circumstances should you fall to the ground or roll into a fetal position. Hit as hard as possible, especially around the animal’s head. If you are attacked from behind, try to reposition yourself to meet the cat face to face.

SNL guest host Kevin Hart apparently lives near us (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

January 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Responsible Way Out of the Law School Crisis

Law School (2015)Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas), Pedagogically Sound Cuts, Tighter (Not Looser) Accreditation Standards, and a Well-oiled Doomsday Machine: The Responsible Way Out of the Crisis in Legal Education, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 353 (2014):

With runaway tuition, sky-high graduate debt and unemployment, plummeting law school applications, and the tectonic shift in the nature and delivery of legal services further clouding the picture, we must do more than bitterly bemoan the plight of law students and loosely cast aspersions over how we got here. We must decide, very quickly, exactly what in legal education should be salvaged, what should be reengineered, and what should be tossed overboard. The trouble is, with little agreement on what legal education is supposed to do, how it should do it, or who it is supposed to serve, most of the solutions posed to date are shots in the dark, often liberally laced with acrimony, that will do more harm than good. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky got it right when he said that the measures recently proposed by the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education to address the crisis in legal education are “definitely not a blueprint for useful reform.”

With an eye to the role of legal education as a training ground, a public and private good, and a unit of the academy, this Article prescribes a clear set of pedagogically sound measures to root out the actual causes of the crisis and significantly reduce law school tuition, graduate debt, and graduate unemployment, while preserving the considerable, but underappreciated, good in legal education. The man who sounded the general alarm with his book Failing Law Schools lays much of the blame at the feet of the professoriate, which, he says, is overpaid, underworked, and resistant to change. According to Professor Brian Tamanaha, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, and numerous others, the principal culprits are tenure, high salaries, the shunning of adjuncts, emphasis on scholarship, and the ABA accreditation standards that prop it all up, drive up tuition, and block competition and change. Deregulate legal education, they advise, and allow the marketplace to develop leaner alternatives to the one-size-fits-all model. Specific suggestions include replacing the third year of law school with apprenticeships or lopping it off altogether to eliminate a year of esoteric filler, and replace tenured faculty with adjuncts fresh from practice.

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January 22, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Sugar Daddies' and Student Loan Debt

The Atlantic, Where the Sugar Babies Are:

In recent years the rising cost of student debt has given birth to an odd phenomenon: a population of ostensibly generous older men who appear poised to solve the higher-education crisis, one student at a time. Once a relatively underground subculture, this benevolent group of men is coming to the rescue across the country, essentially volunteering to subsidize the students’ tuition costs. But that description could be, shall I say, sugarcoating it.

Yes, these men are ponying up their money—plus more—for financially struggling students. However, it’s not free money, and it’s not all students. In other words, these benefactors typically expect some compensation from their beneficiaries—students who generally tend to be women willing to accept the help from the men in exchange for providing some tender loving care. And, at least, flaunting their good looks.

"Sugar daddies"—the official moniker granted to these wealthy men—and the microcosm they occupy aren’t anything new, but they’ve become more mainstream in recent years. That they’ve emerged as a noteworthy group during America's student-debt crisis is indicative of their growing prevalence—as well as that of "sugar babies," the ones entrenched in that crisis. And the subculture—"daddies" and "babies" alike—appears to be expanding rapidly. 2014 saw a huge spike in sugar babies nationwide, especially in the southern states, according to new data from SeekingArrangement, a site where "babies" and "daddies" sign up and connect. The trend itself, let alone writing about it, might seem frivolous or demeaning. But the data could clarify what's going wrong with the system and where those problems lie. ...

U.S. Colleges With the Highest Number of "Sugar Babies"

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January 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Why Don't Law Profs Write More Books?

Eugene Mazo (Wake Forest), The Little Legal Academy and the Big Idea Book:

Why does law insist on remaining an article field? In law schools, many professors never aspire to write books. Perhaps worse, many don’t have a book idea in them. In my view, our lack of emphasis on books—and especially on "big idea" books—is detrimental. When legal scholars get together, their conversations seldom concern big idea books. There are too many articles, opinions, and statutes to discern. Law review articles are the coin of the realm, and, as a result, we face a dearth of big idea books—by which I mean books that try to capture or espouse a grand theory or strategy of life. Without big idea books, we are left with far fewer big ideas.

In other fields, big idea books proliferate. ... I’m not claiming that we don’t have best-selling authors in the legal academy. We do. And I’m not claiming that we don’t have books. That would be silly. Obviously, we have plenty of both. I’m not even claiming that we don’t have big idea books. Rather, what I’m arguing is that we don’t have enough of them. And that we don’t place enough emphasis on them, either. A law professor friend told me recently that he had no time for such books. They took too long to write, did not fit his research needs, and were not available (wait for it ... wait for it) on Hein-on-Line.

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January 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Only 38% of Law Students Are Paying Full Tuition

Matt Leichter, Law School Gives Away Free Money to Non-Students (More 509 Errata):

[T]he 2013-14 academic year saw another precipitous drop in the percentage of full-time law students paying full tuition.

Percent Full-Time Law Students Paying Full Tuition

January 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Are You Paying Too Much for Law School?

Following up on my previous post,  The Variable Affordability of Law School: How Geography and LSAT Profile Impact Tuition Costs:  Bloomberg, Are You Paying Too Much for Law School?:

Law schools are increasingly relying on less-qualified applicants to fill their classes, but according to a new analysis, those people are getting the worst deal on their education.

The data, presented this month at the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting in Washington, suggest that people who did poorly on the Law School Admission Test didn’t just pay more than everyone else, they also got less for their money. Low-performing students tended to go to lower-ranked schools, “where the bar passage risk is higher and the employment outcomes are less inspiring,” says University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Jerome Organ, who conducted the study. In other words, the students shelling out the most are often in the most danger of leaving law school with the bleakest prospects.


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January 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Serial Blogging

SerialKudos to Colin Miller, editor of our EvidenceProf Blog for his series of posts beginning November 21, 2014 on the Serial Podcast, which deals with the 1999 prosecution of 17 year-old Adnan Syed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, on January 13, 1999.  In Colin's words:

The purpose of these posts was to create a legal companion to the podcast so that listeners interested in the legal issues raised by the podcast would have some answers. This post collects and categorizes each of those posts.

Colin's posts have produced the most interest of any series of posts in the history of the Law Professor Blogs Network:  925,000 page views, compared with 65,000 page views for EvidenceProf Blog for the corresponding period last year.

January 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Diversity Rankings

PreLaw CoverMost Diverse Law Schools, PreLaw (Winter 2015):

To determine the most diverse law schools, we broke down each school into six categories -- percentage of minority faculty; percentage of black students; percentage of Asian and Hawaiian students; percentage of Hispanic students; percentage of American Indian students; and percentage of Caucasian students.

We assigned each school a score from one to 10 for all categories, except for American Indians.  We assigned each school a score from one to five for that category, given the much smaller number of students.

A school that matched the U.S. national average for any race received a seven (or 3.5 for American Indian), and a school that was 30 percent or greater than the national average received a 10 (or 5 for American Indian). We then weighted the student categories as 75 percent of the final diversity score and faculty at 25 percent.

preLaw ranked the Top 70 law schools for diversity. 28 law schools received an A+ grade, led by:

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January 21, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)