TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Muller: Bar Exam Scores Rebound To Highest Point Since 2013

MBEDerek Muller (Pepperdine), Bar Exam Scores Rebound to Highest Point Since 2013:

After last year's slight year-over-year improvement in bar exam scores, bar exam scores are up again. The scaled mean of the Multistate Bar Exam rose 1.4 points to 141.7, the highest since 2013, which was 144.3, shortly before a hasty collapse in scores. ...

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September 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 18, 2017

July 2017 Florida Bar Exam Results: Florida International Is #1 For 4th Year In A Row

Florida Bar 2The July 2017 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. The overall pass rate for first-time takers is 71.3%, up 3.1 percentage points from last year. For the fourth year in a row, Florida International is #1. Here are the results for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (87.8%)

Florida Int'l

5 (100)

2 (84.2%)


3 (77)

3 (83.9%)

Florida State

2 (48)

4 (77.0%)


1 (41)

5 (76.8%)


4 (96)

6 (70.2%)


Tier 2

7 (63.6%)

St. Thomas

Tier 2

8 (58.9%)


Tier 2

9 (51.3%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

9 (51.3%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

11 (47.7%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

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September 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

McIntyre & Simkovic: Are Law Degrees As Valuable To Minorities?

Frank McIntyre (Rutgers) & Michael Simkovic (USC), Are Law Degrees as Valuable to Minorities?, 52 Int'l Rev. L. & Econ. ___ (2017):

We estimate the increase in earnings from a law degree relative to a bachelor’s degree for graduates of different race/ethnic groups. Law earnings premiums are higher for whites than for minorities (excluding individuals raised outside the U.S.). The median annual law earnings premium is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics.


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September 18, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Becoming 'The Nation's Premier Christian Law School'

Pepperdine EquippedMy friend Rick Garnett (Notre Dame) noted on his Mirror of Justice Blog (a member of my Law Professor Blogs Network) that "our good friends at Pepperdine have started to market themselves as 'The Nation's Premier Christian Law School'" and linked to my blog post marking my 100th day as dean.  Rick also wrote:

I certainly agree that Pepperdine is an excellent institution that does a very good job of engaging and meaningfully embracing its Christian character.  I hope, though, that they have not fallen into the old error — and, knowing so many at Pepperdine, I have to believe they have not — of excluding Catholics (and, more specifically, certain outstanding Catholic law schools) from their definition and understanding of "Christian"!  Remember, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (on law)!

I responded to Rick privately that neither of these claims are true.  After an exchange of emails, we agreed that it would be helpful for me to publicly set the record straight so no one is left with the impression that Notre Dame and Pepperdine are anything other than, as Rick put it, "fellow laborers in the vineyard."

On the first point, in the post Rick linked to, I wrote that "our shared goal [at Pepperdine] is to become the nation's premier Christian law school by combining academic and research excellence with a deep-rooted commitment to our Christian mission that welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds."  In my only other blog post on the subject — marking my first day as dean —   I wrote that "I am especially proud to have the support of our faculty, staff, students, and university administration in the ambitious plan I outlined as a dean candidate for Pepperdine to become the nation's premier Christian law school."  Indeed, in all of the speeches I make as dean (including yesterday in San Francisco), I always say that its is Pepperdine's goal (or aspiration) to be the nation's premier Christian law school, not that we currently claim that mantle.

Rick kindly updated his post to say: 

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September 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Larson & Ruse: On Faith And Science

Larson 2Edward J. Larson (Pepperdine)  & Michael Ruse (Florida State), On Faith and Science (Yale Univ. Press 2017):

Throughout history, scientific discovery has clashed with religious dogma, creating conflict, controversy, and sometimes violent dispute. In this enlightening and accessible volume, distinguished historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Edward Larson and Michael Ruse, philosopher of science and Gifford Lecturer, offer their distinctive viewpoints on the sometimes contentious relationship between science and religion. The authors explore how scientists, philosophers, and theologians through time and today approach vitally important topics, including cosmology, geology, evolution, genetics, neurobiology, gender, and the environment. Broaching their subjects from both historical and philosophical perspectives, Larson and Ruse avoid rancor and polemic as they address many of the core issues currently under debate by the adherents of science and the advocates of faith, shedding light on the richly diverse field of ideas at the crossroads where science meets spiritual belief.

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September 17, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Texas A&M Names Jack Manhire Assistant Dean And Chief of Staff Of The I-School, And Assistant Vice President For Entrepreneurship And Economic Development

Manhire (2017)Jack Manhire, former Director of Program Development and Senior Lecturer in Law at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, is taking on new roles in College Station as Assistant Dean and Chief of Staff for Texas A&M’s new School of Innovation (“I-School”) and Assistant Vice President of Operations for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

Manhire’s positons prior to entering academe include National Chair of the Executive Education Program for the Treasury Executive Institute, Chief of Legal Analysis for the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, Director of Technical Analysis & Guidance for the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, and Attorney-Advisor to the IRS National Taxpayer Advocate. Before entering full-time government service, he practiced law privately for over a decade and was Division Chief, Tax Law for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary National Office.

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September 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Emory Law Profs: Law Deans May Go To Jail For Submitting False Data To U.S. News

Morgan Cloud (Emory) & George Shepherd (Emory) have posted Law Deans In Jail, 77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012), on SSRN:

A most unlikely collection of suspects — law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees — may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News' ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents' crimes.

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September 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Net Tuition Trends By LSAT Category, 2010-2014: Net Tuition Rose In Highest (165+) And Lowest (<145) Bands, Fell In Middle (145-164) Bands

I have a new article entitled Net Tuition Trends by LSAT Category from 2010 to 2014 with Thoughts on Variable Return on Investment that is forthcoming in the Autumn issue of the Journal of Legal Education. I am very grateful for the research grant I received from Access Group (now AccessLex Institute) to support this project.  Here is the abstract:

The “macro” discussion of legal education highlights that law school is expensive. This general point fails to highlight the extent to which differences exist at a “micro” level due both to geography and LSAT profile. First, some regions of the country are more expensive than others. Second, where one is on the LSAT distribution profile influences the average net tuition because of scholarship patterns associated with institutional efforts to preserve or improve ranking. As a result, law school is not equally expensive across the entire LSAT distribution.

This article begins in Section I by briefly summarizing the geographic differences in tuition, which are not insignificant. Then, in Section II, this article briefly describes a dynamic net tuition model I developed for calculating net tuition trends by LSAT category and describes the results of that dynamic net tuition model. The results demonstrate that the variability of average net tuition by LSAT category increased significantly between 2010 and 2014 after accounting for inflation, with two LSAT categories seeing increases of 9.1% and 11.9% and four seeing decreases ranging from 2.8% to 13%. Section III looks at various outcome measures—specifically, bar passage rates, “bad news” employment outcomes, and imputed average first-year income—and demonstrates that, on average, the short-term return on investment varies significantly depending upon where someone is in the LSAT distribution. Section IV concludes with some thoughts on what this might mean for prospective law students and for law schools.

The dynamic net tuition model I developed is explained in detail in the Appendix to the article.  I have included below two of the figures from the article that summarize the data generated from my dynamic net tuition model.  

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September 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

State Bar Releases California Bar Exam Cut Score Study

California Bar ExamThe California State Bar has released Report to the Supreme Court of the State of California: Final Report on the 2017 California Bar Exam Standard Setting Study:

The report, which identifies options for a statistically reliable CBX cut score, includes findings from the Standard Setting Study, the second of four studies that the State Bar has undertaken to comprehensively explore the issues outlined by the Court

According to the psychometric literature, the purpose of any licensure examination like the CBX is to distinguish minimally competent candidates from those that could do harm to the public; the purpose is not to evaluate mastery of content, ensure employability, or evaluate training programs. Licensure exams are also not intended to be predictive of career success or possible future misconduct. With this doctrinal understanding of the purpose of a licensing exam, the attached report provides the Court with an analysis of the continued validity of the current CBX cut score of 1440, as well as the potential impact of the implementation of two alternate lower cut scores, 1414 and 1390.

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September 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Move Over California, Japan Has A 26% Bar Passage Rate

From Rob Anderson (Pepperdine):  Nikkei Asian Review, Fewer Prospective Lawyers Clearing the Bar in Japan:

A lower number of candidates passed the Japanese bar examination this year, new statistics show, with the tally barely topping the government's annual target of 1,500. Passers declined by 40 from 2016 to 1,543, according to Ministry of Justice figures out Tuesday.

Test takers numbered 5,967 this year, down 932. But the pass rate rose 2.91 percentage points to 25.86%.

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September 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: More On The Feds' Criminal Investigation Of Charlotte Law School

Charlotte Logo (2016)New York Times, Federal Inquiry of Charlotte Law School Is Disclosed by Suit:

Barbara Bernier arrived at Charlotte School of Law four years ago to teach constitutional and other law courses.

But what she found at the for-profit law school was different from her prior teaching experiences, so she quit her tenured post in August 2016. A few months earlier, she had filed a federal claim that the school and its owner, the InfiLaw Corporation, defrauded taxpayers of $285 million over a five-year period.

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September 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Diamond: Does The California State Bar Have A Race Problem?

California State Bar (2014)Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), Does the California State Bar Have a Race Problem?:

A recent meeting of the State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) suggests to me that the California Bar may have a problem with race. That is, its leaders do not understand or are not willing to accept that they are putting up a barrier to minorities who wish to practice law. The evidence of this potential problem is found in the tape of the hearing which you can view here as well as a report prepared by the Bar Association’s staff on the bar exam. ...

[W]hile we do not know why the cut score is so much higher than needed to meet the primary mandate of the CBE (protection of the public), we do know that by setting it at 144 the Bar has put up a wall over which minority law school graduates have difficulty climbing with the inevitable outcome: a disparate impact on those hopeful new law school graduates. ...

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September 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

California Accredited Law Schools Support Reducing Bar Exam Cut Score

California Bar ExamTaxProf Blog op-ed:  The California Supreme Court Should Lower The Bar Exam Cut Score, by Mitch Winick (President & Dean, Monterey College of Law):

The California Accredited Law Schools filed the attached letter brief with the California Supreme Court in support of an adjustment of the minimum passing score on the California Bar Exam from 1440 to 1390. 

The CALS joined with the following sources and resources that now identify or support 1390 as a valid interim or final cut score: the State Bar Standard Setting Study, the State Bar Board of Trustees, the State Bar Office of Research & Institutional Accountability, the Assembly Judiciary Committee staff and Committee Chair Mark Stone, the Law School Council, and 56 California law school deans (19 ABA, 13 CALS, and 14 Registered). Further, it is also important to note at the outset that a score of 1390 falls within the national norm (1330 to 1390) of the largest ten jurisdictions (other than California).

These findings support the CALS position that adjusting the cut score to 1390 can significantly moderate the disparate impact of the current disproportionately high minimum passing score of 1440.

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September 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sixth Circuit Rejects Law Prof's Claim That 'Satanic' $666 Merit Pay Raise Was Retaliation For His Union Activities

Cleveland StateFollowing up on my previous posts (links below): Lifter v. Cleveland State University, Nos. 16-4084/4086 (6th Cir. Sept.12, 2017):

This is a First Amendment retaliation case. Married plaintiffs Sheldon Gelman and Jean Lifter were employees of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. When, after the 2008 financial crisis, the law school faced mounting pressure to trim class sizes and reduce enrollment, Gelman, a tenured professor, spearheaded a successful union-organizing campaign among the law faculty. The following spring, Gelman and several other pro-union faculty received a low and allegedly symbolic $666 merit raise. Just over a year later, Lifter’s employment was terminated. Both filed claims against the university and law-school dean Craig Boise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Gelman’s raise, his being deprived of committee appointments, and Lifter’s termination constituted retaliation for Gelman’s protected First Amendment conduct. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiffs appeal the district court’s decision, and the defendants have filed a cross-appeal. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court as to Gelman, dismiss Lifter’s claim for lack of standing, and dismiss the defendants’ cross-appeal as moot. ...

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September 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

University Of North Carolina Law School's Civil Rights Center Closes Following Board Of Governors Vote

North Carolina LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Legal Times, Civil Rights Center at UNC Law School Shut Down:

University leaders on Friday voted to strip the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law of its ability to litigate cases.

The move caps a months-long fight between the predominately Republican board of governors for the University of North Carolina and supporters of the center, who say the board’s push was motivated by politics.

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September 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Politico: The U.S. News Rankings Fuel Inequality

U.S. News Logo (2018)Politico, How U.S. News College Rankings Promote Economic Inequality on Campus:

America’s universities are getting two report cards this year. The first, from the Equality of Opportunity Project, brought the shocking revelation that many top universities, including Princeton and Yale, admit more students from the top 1 percent of earners than the bottom 60 percent combined. The second, from U.S. News and World Report, is due on Tuesday — with Princeton and Yale among the contenders for the top spot in the annual rankings.

The two are related: A POLITICO review shows that the criteria used in the U.S. News rankings — a measure so closely followed in the academic world that some colleges have built them into strategic plans — create incentives for schools to favor wealthier students over less wealthy applicants.

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September 12, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida's 12 Law Schools Are Closed Through Wednesday

IrmaLegal Times, Florida's 12 Law Schools Closed Until Wednesday, At Least:

Florida's 12 law schools remained closed Monday as the remnants of Hurricane Irma churned northward out of the Sunshine State.

It was unlikely that any of those schools would reopen before Wednesday, and several have already announced class cancellations for the remainder of the week.

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September 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering September 11th At Pepperdine


Pepperdine to Honor 9/11 Victims with Waves of Flags Display:

From September 9 through September 25, Pepperdine’s Alumni Park will have on display the 10th annual Waves of Flags installation to commemorate the lives lost in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Each year Waves of Flags features 2,977 full-size flags—2,887 American flags for each American life lost and 90 international flags representing the home countries of individuals from abroad who died in the 9/11 attacks.

The installation became a Pepperdine tradition in 2008 when the school’s College Republicans group organized to bring the tribute to the campus. ...

In addition to the Waves of Flags installation, Pepperdine is the permanent home of the Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., Heroes Garden, a public space for visitors to reflect and honor all those who live heroic lives, including namesake and Pepperdine alumnus Thomas Burnett (MBA ’95), a passenger on United Flight 93 who lost his life in the 9/11 attacks.

Heores Garden

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September 11, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Schools Begin Classes In Fancy New, Upgraded Digs, Law Schools Begin Classes in Fancy New, Upgraded Digs:

A new school year means a new look for several law schools.

Students at the University of South Carolina School of Law returned this fall to a brand new, $80 million building. The school is holding a dedication on Sept. 14 featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Meanwhile, the University of Akron School of Law on Friday held a ribbon cutting Friday for its freshly renovated law campus, which cost $21 million and took two years to complete.

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September 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Penn Law Students Try To Ban Amy Wax From Teaching Civil Procedure Due To Her Breakdown Of The Bourgeois Culture Op-Ed

WaxFollowing up on my previous posts:

National Lawyers Guild, Penn Law Chapter, Penn NLG Statement on Professor Amy Wax:

While we do not challenge Professor Wax’s right to express her views, we question whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course. The Penn Law administration has long been aware that her bigoted views inevitably seep into her words and actions in the classroom and in private conversations with students. We call on the administration to consider more deeply the toll that this takes on students, particularly students of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, and to consider whether it is in the best interests of the school and its students for Professor Wax to continue to teach a required first-year class. Exposure to a diversity of viewpoints is an essential and valuable part of any educational experience, but no student should have to be exposed to bigotry or abuse in the classroom.

Since Professor Wax is, as usual, scheduled to teach Civil Procedure this fall, and we know that is unlikely to change, we offer ourselves as a resource for first-year students in Professor Wax’s class. 1Ls in Professor Wax’s class: whether you need someone just to listen, to help you figure out how to get through the semester, or to advocate on your behalf, Penn NLG has your back.

In 2015, Professor Wax received the University of Pennsylvania's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (only three other Penn law professors have received the award in the past twenty years). 

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September 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (41)

Law Grad's GivnGo App Allows You To Round Up Your Purchases For Charity

GivnGo LogoOne of my former tax students, Arian Behboodi (J.D & M.B.A. 2017, Pepperdine), has created a very cool app, GivnGo.  The app allows a user to register a credit or debit card and the app rounds up your purchases to the next dollar and distributes the change to the charity or charities of your choice.  For example, if you spend $15.75, then the next dollar up is $16.00, so GivnGo distributes 25 cents to your charity. The app is available on iTunes.

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September 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Tax Section Releases 17th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge Problem

ABAThe ABA Tax Section has released the J.D. Problem (rules; entry form) and LL.M. Problem (rules; entry form) for the 17th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge:

An alternative to traditional moot court competitions, the Law Student Tax Challenge asks two-person teams of students to solve a cutting-edge and complex business problem that might arise in everyday tax practice. Teams are initially evaluated on two criteria: a memorandum to a senior partner and a letter to a client explaining the result. Based on the written work product, six teams from the J.D. Division and four teams from the LL .M. Division receive a free trip (including airfare and accommodations for two nights) to the Section of Taxation 2018 Midyear Meeting, February 8-10, 2018 in San Diego, CA, where each team will defend its submission before a panel of judges consisting of the country’s top tax practitioners and government officials, including tax court judges. The competition is a great way for law students to showcase their knowledge in a real-world setting and gain valuable exposure to the tax law community. On average, more than 50 teams compete in the J.D. Division and more than 30 teams compete in the LL .M. Division.


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September 9, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Return On Investment: The Core Challenge For Legal Education As 100 Law Schools Fail Department Of Education's Debt-To-Earnings Standard

Martin Pritikin (Dean, Concord), Return on Investment: The Core Challenge for Legal Education and the Legal Profession:

The legal community is facing a myriad of serious challenges ― historically low law school enrollments and bar passage rates, exploding tuition costs and associated student debt and a stagnant job market ― that, if not addressed, will put it in peril. ...

The big problem is return on educational investment, as those who would most logically serve the middle market can ill afford to do so. Annual tuition is about $50,000 at top-tier private law schools, where many graduates land $180,000 starting salaries. But the tuition is roughly the same at so-called “fourth-tier” law schools, where those lucky enough to secure employment typically make between $60,000 and $80,000. There’s a name for this economic model: it’s called broken.

Consider this: of the 205 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, 199 are exempt from Department of Education requirements to report graduates’ debt-to-earnings ratios. Why? Because they operate as not-for-profits. As reported by the ABA Journal on January 11, 2017, of the six for-profit schools that recently reported their data for the first time, two failed outright and three others were found to be in the “zone,” that is, at risk of failing. Yet, based on available data, if the not-for-profits were subject to the same debt-to-earnings test, it appears at least half of them ― 100 schools ― would have failed as well. ...

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September 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Should Law Schools Shift Scholarship Money From Merit (LSAT & UGPA Medians) To Need?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State) & Andrew Merritt, Agreements to Improve Student Aid: An Antitrust Perspective, 67 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2017):

Law schools tie much of their scholarship money to LSAT scores and undergraduate grades. By awarding substantial discounts to students with above-median indicators, schools attempt to climb the U.S. News ranking ladder. This practice, as many educators recognize, reduces access to legal education for low-income and minority students. As a result, many schools would like to shift at least some of their scholarship funds to need-based awards. Schools, however, struggle to make that change unilaterally; they worry about losing ground in the rankings race.

Could law schools act collectively to reform their scholarship practices? Could the ABA reshape those practices by adopting an accreditation standard that limits the award of “merit” based aid?

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September 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

My First 100 Days

100 DaysToday marks my 100th day as Dean of Pepperdine Law School.   Since my first day, I have loved working towards our shared goal to become the nation's premier Christian law school by combining academic and research excellence with a deep-rooted commitment to our Christian mission that welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds.  When I sought the deanship, I laid out my three priorities in achieving that goal.

My top priority is to increase our students' return on their investment in a Pepperdine legal education in today's changed legal landscape.  As readers of this blog know, since 2010 law schools have suffered a 38% decline in applicants (and a 45% decline in applicants in the highest LSAT band Pepperdine seeks to attract), which has led to declining credentials in incoming classes and to declining bar passage and job placement results for graduates.  Most law schools have responded by reducing the size of their incoming classes.  This fall, with the full support of the university, Pepperdine reduced the size of our entering class by over 20% and increased our median LSAT (160) and UGPA (3.62).

We are right-sizing the law school in a financially sustainable way by paring our budget while investing in areas of excellence, ramping up our fundraising efforts, and expanding our non-J.D. enrollment in areas of our historic strength.  We are leveraging our #1 ranked (for 12 of the past 13 years) Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution by expanding our Masters and LL.M. degree programs. Last month, we launched a new LL.M. degree program in Entertainment, Media, and Sports Law to capitalize on the opportunities for our students in the Los Angeles market, the university's partnership with AEG, and our great faculty in those areas.  In addition, we are leveraging our faculty's nationally recognized strength in teaching through our new online master of legal studies program, which we launched in August with enrollment 67% higher than our projections.

We also have hit the ground running on my other priorities to:

  • Pursue ambitious and accountable excellence in everything we do
  • Build a community in which all students, faculty, and staff are loved, nurtured, and challenged to grow professionally, personally, and spiritually

Over the summer, my wife and I hosted 20 dinners with faculty and students, and will over the 2017-18 academic year host dinners for the entire first year class.  I met with staff departments to discuss the critically important ways they contribute to the school.  My Dean of Faculty, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and I met with each member of the faculty to discuss how we can support them to help achieve our shared ambitious goals for the school.


I am proudest of simply working on a daily basis over these first 100 days with an amazing collection of faculty, students, administrators, and staff.  Mine has been an unusual journey to the deanship, and my biggest surprise is how much I enjoy the new aspects of my life in alumni relations, advancement, and university administration. In fact, I can honestly say that I have loved every minute of the job, except one:

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September 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Allison Christians Named Associate Dean For Research And Promoted To Full Professor At McGill

Christians (2018)The McGill Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that Allison Christians has been promoted to the rank of Full Professor, effective September 1.

Professor Christians, who was recently renewed as H. Heward Stikeman Chair of Tax Law, coincidentally began her term as Associate Dean (Research) at the Faculty on the very same date for a three-year mandate.

Her research and teaching focus on national and international tax law and policy issues, with emphasis on the relationship between taxation and economic development and on the role of government and non-government institutions and actors in the creation of tax policy norms.

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September 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Steinbuch: Questionable Arguments About The LSAT's Role In Admissions And Bar Passage

Following up on my previous posts:

Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock), Questionable Arguments About Serious Statistics:

I write to continue the interesting discussion with Aaron Taylor regarding the proper role of the LSAT in law school admissions. ...

Unfortunately, Taylor confuses some simple statistical truths, both in general and regarding LSAT scores and bar passage, specifically: First, correlations can be explained through any of the following: causation, reverse causation, or "third" variables. Second, nobody actually thinks that LSAT scores cause bar outcomes or vice versa. After all, how can a score on one exam cause a score on another? And, third, LSAT scores demonstrably help predict bar success due to at least one underlying common causal factor of both, i.e., likely some measure of skill. Empirical analysis is complex, and clichés and truisms do nothing to simplify it....

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September 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How Top U.S. Law Firms Get Away With Paying Women Less

Bloomberg Businessweek, How Top U.S. Law Firms Get Away With Paying Women Less:

In January 2014, the law firm Chadbourne & Parke hired Kerrie Campbell to work in its Washington office. After 27 years in the business, she’d finally reached the pinnacle of private law practice: partnership at a top-tier firm—a century-old stalwart of the elite New York bar. In a press release, Chadbourne said, “We are thrilled to welcome her.”

After two years, the thrill was gone. Chadbourne’s managing partner, Andrew Giaccia, and Abbe Lowell, its head of litigation, appeared together at Campbell’s office. Her time at the firm had been rocky. Still, she says she was shocked by what they had to say. The firm’s five-member, all-male management committee had decided that she didn’t “fit” at Chadbourne. She wasn’t being fired, exactly, but she ought to find a new job, they told her. To “incentivize” a swift departure, her compensation would be cut about 60 percent, to $9,000 a month, less than that of a first-year associate right out of law school. Giaccia and Lowell suggested that, to preserve her reputation, she leave quietly.

It felt like “someone smacking a baseball bat into your gut,” Campbell, 55, says. The firm denies her version of events.

Campbell—a “pit bull,” according to her son Tyler—did not leave quietly. She filed a sex-discrimination suit in August 2016 alleging that Chadbourne treated her like a second-class citizen, paid her much less than male partners, and—when she objected—showed her the door. Indignant, Chadbourne denied wrongdoing and lashed out. It said in court papers that Campbell lacked basic competence, alienated colleagues, and drank too much at firm social events—all accusations she denies.

For a profession dedicated to lofty concepts such as “equal protection” and “due process,” the practice of law has allowed unequal treatment of women to fester for decades. A 2016 survey of the 350 largest U.S. law firms found female partners on average received $659,000 in annual pay. Male partners, meanwhile, averaged $949,000, or 44 percent more.

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September 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Bar Trustees Vote 6-5 To Give Supreme Court Three Bar Exam Cut Score Options: Keep It 144, Lower To 141.4 Or 139

California Bar ExamThe Recorder, State Bar Leaves Reducing Exam Score for Supreme Court to Resolve: Bar Leaders Offer Justices a Range of Lower Scores, or Keeping It At 144:

California state bar trustees on Wednesday punted the fate of the bar exam pass score to the California Supreme Court, offering the justices a range of choices on the controversial issue, from leaving the score at 144 to lowering it to 139.

The trustees’ 6-5 vote endorsing the range reflected the contentious nature surrounding the pass score, or cut score. California law school deans, which have seen their students’ pass rates plummet in recent years, have pleaded with the bar and the Supreme Court reduce the cut score—now the second highest in the nation behind Delaware — to as low as 135. The Committee of Bar Examiners, however, endorsed maintaining the 144 score while additional studies are completed.

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September 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Law School Unveils Memorial Honoring Slaves Who Enabled Its Founding

HLSHarvard Law Today, Harvard Law School Unveils Memorial Honoring Enslaved People Who Enabled Its Founding:

On September 5, at the opening of its Bicentennial observance, Harvard Law School unveiled a memorial to the enslaved people whose labor helped make possible the founding of the school.

The plaque, affixed to a large stone memorial placed at the Crossroads in the center of the Law School’s plaza, reads:

In honor of the enslaved whose labor
created wealth that made possible
the founding of Harvard Law School

May we pursue the highest ideals
of law and justice in their memory

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September 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Law Schools With The Best Employment Rates

Following up on last week's post, The 49 Law Schools With The Most Improved Employment Rates: The National Jurist, Most Improved Employment Rates:

The National Jurist took into consideration all forms of post-graduation employment. The employment rates were weighted, giving the most heft to full-time jobs that require bar passage. Other jobs, such as J.D.-advantage jobs and positions in other professions, received less weight.


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September 6, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

What Law Students Say About Experiential Learning

David I. C. Thomson (Denver) & Stephen Daniels (American Bar Foundation), If You Build it, They Will Come: What Students Say About Experiential Learning:

In the Fall of 2013, soon after the reduction in applications that many law schools experienced in 2011-13, the University of Denver’s law school lead the way nationally in making a significant additional investment in experiential learning. Starting that fall, it provided the option for all incoming students to spend one entire year of law school in experiential learning courses and programs. While this commitment was being rolled out, the authors prepared a study of the impact of the program on enrollment and the educational experience of students. A three-year study — each year surveying 1Ls — also included follow up surveys of 2Ls and 3L/4Ls, with additional “look back” questions for the 3L/4L surveys. What we learned was that applicants chose Denver Law on several traditional factors (such as cost and location) but also strongly indicated that the experiential learning component was an important part of their decision. In the 3L/4L surveys, students reflected back on their law school education, and still ranked experiential learning as very important to them, while noting the importance of other practical concerns, such as employment outcomes for graduates.


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September 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 100 Most Influential People In Tax And Accounting

100 CoverI am honored to be included on the list of Accounting Today's 100 Most Influential People in Tax and Accounting for the twelfth consecutive year:

Not only is Caron’s blog one of the most important in tax — it hit an alltime high of 1.5 million page views a month in 2016 — its prominence also helped elevate him to his new position as dean of his law school; proof, if any was needed, that thought leadership really does pay off.

I am honored to be on the Top 100 list with such high-powered people in the tax and accounting worlds, including:

  • Karen Abramson (CEO, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting)
  • Joe Baron (Managing Director, Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting)
  • Wayne Berson (CEO, BDO)
  • Kevin Brady (Chair, U.S. House Ways & Means Committee)
  • James Doty (Chair, PCAOB)
  • Lynne Doughtie (Chair & CEO, KPMG)
  • Kimberly Ellison-Taylor (Incoming Chair, AICPA)
  • Cathy Engelbert (CEO, Deloitte)
  • George Farrah (Executive Director, Tax & Accounting, Bloomberg BNA)
  • J. Russell George (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)

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September 6, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How You Can Help Houston Law Students, Staff, And Faculty In The Wake Of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane HarveyI reached out to the deans at the three Houston law schools (University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law Houston, and Thurgood Marshall Law School) to see how the law school community can best support their students, staff, and faculty in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Deans Baynes and Guter responded with links to websites set up by their schools for this purpose:

Here are the full responses I received:

From Len Baynes (Dean, University of Houston Law Center):

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September 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Personal Tribute To Judge Posner And The Life Of The Mind

PosnerBack in September 2004, when I was still the general counsel of a corporation, I had begun to dip my toes into legal academia some twenty-five years after graduating from law school.  I eventually told some of that story in How Not to "Retire and Teach" (and its sequel six years later).  I didn't include it in the essays, but I have occasionally told friends this heretofore unpublished story involving Judge Posner.

The great change between 1979 and 2004 was, of course, the rise of interdisciplinarity in legal scholarship. It didn't take me long to figure out that law-and-economics and Judge Posner's contribution were the models par excellence of the shift in emphasis from doctrine to theory.  My first re-introductions to the theoretical perspective came from books like The Problematic of Moral and Legal Theory and The Problems of Jurisprudence.  I didn't necessarily agree with them; my experience was too many other factors intervened to make microeconomics meaningful in the extension from transactions to subjective decision making.  Indeed, from the beginning, I was more interested in what was going on in the head of the utilitarian "rational frog" (Judge Posner's wonderful coinage in Economic Analysis of Law) whose decision-making could be plotted on a curve.  Clearly, I thought moral theory was less problematic.

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September 4, 2017 in Legal Education, Miscellaneous, News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Death Of Lesley McAllister

McAllisterLesley McAllister, an environmental law professor at San Diego (2005-13) and UC-Davis (2013-), died on August 30 at the age of 47 after a four year battle against cancer.  She leaves behind her husband Andrew and two young children, Erin and Nathan.  A Celebration of Lesley's Life is being held today at 4:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis.  In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions in Lesley's honor may be made to Camp Kesem, a camp that helps children whose parents have cancer.

I got to know Leslie during my many summers at USD, and we often were neighbors in a suite of faculty offices.  I prevailed on her to take over our network's Environmental Law Prof Blog, which she did with her customary élan.

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September 3, 2017 in Legal Education, Obituaries | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine's New LL.M. In Entertainment, Media, And Sports Law

AEGA nice write up of Pepperdine's new LL.M. program in Entertainment, Media, and Sports Law in Lawyer & Statesman, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law: Becoming an Expert:

The practice areas of entertainment, media and sports law are multidisciplinary, global and challenging. Lawyers that establish expertise in these fields work with entertainers, athletes, production companies and other businesses that support these international industries.

Practicing attorneys who want to gain specialized legal knowledge of the entertainment, media or sports industries should consider an LL.M. program designed to develop a higher level of expertise. ...

Starting fall of 2017, Pepperdine Law offers an LL.M. in Entertainment, Media and Sports Law. The program is designed to provide practicing attorneys with a holistic understanding of the sports industry.

“The program will give students access to the industry, hone skills specific to sports law, and provide unique networking opportunities, said Victoria Schwartz, co-director of the LL.M. and Certificate Programs in Entertainment, Media and Sports Law at Pepperdine Law.

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September 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Golden Gate Seeks To Hire A Faculty Director Of Its Tax & Estate Planning LL.M. Programs

Golden Gate Logo (2018)Golden Gate University School of Law is seeking to hire a Director of its LL.M. in Taxation and LL.M. in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law programs:

This position is a full time, tenure or tenure-track position. Our LLM in Taxation has provided 40 years of instruction and has 1,600 plus alumni and is consistently ranked as the best LLM in Taxation in California. We are also proud of our newest LLM in Estate Planning which started in 2015 and is the first LLM in Estate Planning west of the Mississippi River. We welcome the opportunity to work with a director to help shape these programs to best meet the needs of lawyers seeking to enhance their learning and training in these specialty areas. 

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September 2, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

California Bar Law School Council Recommends Lowering Cut Score to 135-139; Bar Examiners Recommend Keeping It At 144

A California Bar survey revealed that 80% of attorneys surveyed (34,295) and 2% of applicants (4,188) support leaving the cut score at 144:

On Wednesday, the California Bar's Law School Council recommended lowering the cut score to 135- 139.

On Thursday, the Committee of Bar Examiners voted 13-1 to recommend leaving the cut score at 144.

The California Bar's Board of Trustees will meet on September 6 and 7 to make its recommendation to the California Supreme Court.

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September 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Subscribing To TaxProf Blog

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September 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sorry, Charlotte. You Don’t Need A Law School.

Charlotte Logo (2016)Charlotte Observer, Sorry, Charlotte. You Don’t Need a Law School, Officials Say.:

Charlotte appears set to regain its crown as the largest U.S. city without a law school, given the closing of Charlotte School of Law and a quiet announcement by UNC Charlotte this month that it does not intend to fill the void. “We do not envision creating another law school in the state,” Chancellor Phil Dubois told the school’s faculty last week during UNCC’s annual fall convocation.

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September 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)