TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hoffman:  The Futility Of The Law School Crisis Debate

Dave Hoffman (Temple), Naive Realism & the Law School Debate:

Two recent articles in the Times have stirred yet more unproductive talk about the future of legal education (and by extension, the legal industry). This discussion ends up resembling high school debate: banal points, repeated at increasing volumes, similar in structure and form.

Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC), of Above the Law, has a pungent post up in which he laments this pathology. He first describes a twitter discussion he (and I and others) participated in, which ended in a place I’m pretty sure no one woke up feeling good about. ...

I think he’s onto something. Mystal, in his own way, is trying to figure out why why, in 2016, discussions between otherwise sane people about law school turn into flame wars. He says:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

More On The Possible Suspension Of The ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on Friday's post, Department Of Education Panel Recommends Suspension Of ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools Due To Its 'Lack Of Attention To Student Achievement':

ABA Journal, ABA Threatened With 1-year Suspension of Law School Accreditation Powers:

A Department of Education panel on Wednesday recommended that the ABA’s accreditation power for new law schools be suspended for one year, on the basis that the organization failed to implement its student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, while also not meeting its audit process and analysis responsibilities regarding students’ debt levels. ...

“The ABA has been under pressure for quite a number of years about both outcomes for graduates and accurate reporting by law schools, and during the last few years there’s been pressure about the increasing number of students who are admitted with increasingly low test scores,” says Deborah Merritt, an Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law professor who writes at Law School Cafe. Still, she and other academics were surprised about the announcement, which Paul Caron, a Pepperdine University School of Law professor who edits TaxProfBlog, described as “stunning news.”

Bloomberg Law, Is the ABA on Verge of Losing Law School Accreditation?:

The American Bar Association may be on the brink of a serious rebuke. ... In a little-noticed decision, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity on Wednesday recommended the Department of Education suspend for one year the ABA’s ability to accredit new law schools. ...

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Resolving The South Texas/Houston Brand Dispute: Exxon Law School?

HHE2Following up on my prior posts on South Texas College of Law's rebranding itself Houston College of Law, and the University of Houston Law Center's threatened lawsuit to protect its brand due to the "significant confusion this creates in the marketplace": 

Houston Business Journal, University of Houston Threatens Legal Action Over Law School Rebrand:

The University of Houston is not happy with South Texas College of Law's decision to rebrand itself to the Houston College of Law, a move announced June 22.

UH said in a statement that it will take legal action if necessary to defend the brand of its law school, the similarly named University of Houston Law Center.

Houston Chronicle, South Texas College of Law Not Backing Down From Name Change:

In a statement, leaders of the newly named Houston College of Law said they would not back down.

"The board of directors and administrators of Houston College of Law came to the name change decision after thoughtful and lengthy research and input from key constituencies, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, and donors," the statement said. "We made the decision to change the name of the 93-year-old law school based on overwhelming support to tie our institution with its birthplace in downtown Houston. We believe that we are on firm legal ground with this name change, and that we are acting in the best interest of the law school and its students."

Houston Chronicle editorial, What's In a Name?:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Hit Men Thwarted In Previous Attempt To Kill FSU Law Prof

Temperature Rises In Debate Over NY Times Coverage Of The Law School Crisis

ThermometerPaul Campos (Colorado), Steve Diamond, Academic Fraud (An Apparently Infinite Series):

I don’t want to fill up the cyberpages of LGM with sordid academic squabbles, but I also don’t want to let Steve Diamond quote me in a fraudulent way without making a record of it. Posted as a comment on Taxprof:

Stephen Diamond is a very dishonest man. Diamond does not link to my LGM post he quotes. This is not merely a matter of netiquette, because he quotes me in a way that intentionally hides the fact that my major criticism of him has nothing to do with his quibble regarding the minor point I made in the part of the post he does quote. He is intentionally misquoting me, and in such an egregious way that his behavior is a form of academic fraud.

Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), Dropping the F-Bomb in Academia: Who Is Kidding Who?:

Professor Campos admits that he made the same mistake I described in my earlier post. And yet, despite this, Professor Campos contends that my blog post is an example of “academic fraud.” So he admits I found a serious error in the way he presented data but I am the fraud? I don’t know whether or not Professor Campos made the mistake intentionally or not – I take him at his word that it was an oversight. But it was his mistake and he is the one who has staked his entire career (as far as I can tell he no longer produces legal scholarship) on his argument that his own chosen profession is a scam. But that certainly gives him no basis to question my original post much less my professional ethics when he admits it to be accurate. ...

Professor Campos is well aware of the damage that he is attempting to impose on my career and reputation by dropping the academic F-bomb and I believe he owes me a public retraction and apology for his careless and irresponsible behavior.

On the other hand, Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) has a detailed, point-by-point 11,000 word post on Why The New York Times Should Correct Remaining Factual Errors in Its Law School Coverage. He concludes:

Sometimes when journalists are in a rush or are over-confident, they decide the story they want to tell and then search for sources that will support that story while overlooking contradictory evidence.  Sometimes they hear what they want to hear instead of what people are actually saying.  Sometimes they judge sources by whether they support the story rather than by whether they are rigorous and reliable.  Sometimes they don’t even realize that’s what they are doing until someone points it out after the fact. 

We could continue to explore whether these common problems have affected your story from Friday.

But I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me, and my goal in life is not to embarrass you or the New York Times or accuse you of wrongdoing.  I’m doing this because The New York Times is an important newspaper, you are an important journalist, and the public deserves more accurate information.

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June 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (44)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Department Of Education Panel Recommends Suspension Of ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools Due To Its 'Lack Of Attention To Student Achievement'

ABA Logo (2016)In stunning news, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) voted on Wednesday to recommend that the U.S. Department of Education suspend for one year the ABA's power to accredit new law schools due to the ABA's "lack of attention to student achievement":

[T]he panel on Wednesday rebuked the American Bar Association, in part for its lack of attention to student achievement.

The ABA accredits law schools, some of them freestanding institutions. NACIQI, after three contentious votes, recommended that the department suspend the association's ability to accredit new members for a year. The panel said the ABA had failed to implement its student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, while also falling short on its audit process and analysis of graduates' debt levels.

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June 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Designing A Transactional Law Clinic For Life-Long Learning

ClinicPatience A. Crowder (Denver), Designing a Transactional Law Clinic for Life-Long Learning, 19 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 413 (2015):

This article makes an important contribution to existing clinical scholarship generally, and, more specifically, to scholarship about transactional lawyering and transactional law clinics. It is one of the first articles to detail transactional clinic design and is particularly important as the number of transactional clinics continues to increase and more articles about transactional clinical scholarship are published. This article serves as a blueprint for the start or redesign of a transactional clinic.

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June 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Debate Continues Over The NY Times Coverage Of The Law School Crisis

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Bales:  75% Of Law School Deans Support Arizona's Use Of GRE As Substitute For LSAT, Not Its Use Of 'Misleading Employment Stats'

List Of BigLaw Firms That Have Raised First Year Associate Salaries To $180,000

180,000Here (82 law firms and counting).

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

NY Times:  Law Schools Go Online In Wake Of 'Marked Declines In Enrollment, Revenue And Jobs'

DisruptingNew York Times:  Law Schools Are Going Online to Reach New Students, by Elizabeth Olson:

Law schools, in the face of marked declines in enrollment, revenue and jobs for graduates, are beginning to adopt innovative new ways of delivering legal education.

Some law schools are moving away from relying solely on classic settings and instead are blending classroom learning with online instruction, said Michael B. Horn, a founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, a research institution in San Mateo, Calif., that explores disruptive innovation in education.

“Legal education is confronting the most imminent threat in higher education,” Mr. Horn said. “Law schools are increasingly out of step with shifts in the legal services market.”

Law schools that “are able to pioneer online, competency-based programs that focus outside of the traditional J.D. will have a leg up in the struggle to survive,” said Mr. Horn, an author of the newly released report, Disrupting Law School: How Disruptive Innovation Will Revolutionize the Legal World.

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

University Of Houston Dean Threatens To Sue South Texas Over Name Change To Houston College Of Law

STHIn yesterday post on South Texas College of Law's announcing that it was changing its name to Houston College of Law, I noted that this would likely cause confusion the University of Houston Law Center.  University of Houston Dean has come out swinging:

We learned yesterday that South Texas College of Law has stated it is changing its name to Houston College of Law.  

The University of Houston issued the following statement regarding this development: 

"It has come to the University of Houston’s attention that South Texas College of Law has announced that it is changing its name to Houston College of Law.  The University of Houston Law Center has an established history of nearly 70 years in the City of Houston. The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand and our standing in the communities we serve."

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Debate Over The Law School Crisis Shifts From The New York Times To Facebook And Twitter

Faecook TwitterThe debate over the New York Times' recent coverage of the law school crisis (links below) has moved onto Facebook and Twitter, with lively exchanges between New York Times reporter Noam Scheiber and Law Profs Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), David Herzig (Valparaiso), Dave Hoffman (Temple), and Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) and Above the Law's David Lat and Elie Mystal.

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Power Shift On College Campuses: Students Are 'Customers,' Entitled To 'Satisfaction'

OberlinNew York Times: In College Turmoil, Signs of a Changed Relationship With Students, by Frank Bruni:

Given all that has happened on so many campuses over the last few years, it’s hard to pick the one that has been roiled the most by struggles over political correctness. But Oberlin College would certainly be in the running.

A widely discussed series of events there included the demand for a so-called trigger warning to students who might be upset reading “Antigone”; complaints about the ethnic integrity of the sushi in a campus dining hall; and a petition, signed by some 1,300 students, calling for a semester in which the lowest possible grade was a C, so that anyone skipping classes or skimping on studies to engage in social activism wouldn’t pay too steep an academic price.

In the view of more than a few observers, these students were taking liberalism to illiberal extremes. But their actions were arguably proof of something else as well.

Students at Oberlin and their counterparts elsewhere might not behave in such an emboldened fashion if they did not feel so largely in charge. Their readiness to press for rules and rituals to their liking suggests the extent to which they have come to act as customers — the ones who set the terms, the ones who are always right — and the degree to which they are treated that way.

Twinned with colleges’ innovations to attract and serve a new generation of students is a changed relationship between the schools and the schooled. It’s one of the most striking transformations in higher education over the last quarter-century. ...

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

South Texas College Of Law Rebrands Itself Houston College Of Law

STHSouth Texas College of Law (unranked) has changed its name (FAQ) to Houston College of Law, likely causing confusion with the University of Houston Law Center (ranked #50).

Building on a 93-year tradition of success in legal education in downtown Houston, South Texas College of Law administrators and board of directors today announced that the Law School is changing its name to Houston College of Law.

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Law School Is A Solid Investment, Even Outside The Top Tier

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on my recent posts:

New York Times Deal Book: Law School a Solid Investment, Despite Pay Discrepancies, by Steven Davidoff Solomon (UC-Berkeley):

[T]his is a world of haves and have-nots. Top law graduates are doing better than ever, while other law students have a steeper path to climb to earn that type of money. ...

The top graduates earn a median salary that will now start at $180,000, but that represented only about 17 percent of the reported salaries in 2014, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement. ... For the lucky few who get jobs at these big firms, law school is a good investment. ... But let’s be clear. Only the lucky 17 percent of graduates earn salaries this high. To be in this group, you needed to go to a top 10 school or graduate in the higher ranks of the top quartile of law schools.

Things are harder for every other law graduate. Law firm starting salaries are bimodal — meaning that while 17 percent of graduates earned a median salary of $160,000 in 2014, about half had a median starting salary of $40,000 to $65,000. It is the fate of these graduates that drives the criticism of law school as a “scam.” They dream of big jobs but are often the lawyers who become solo practitioners, district attorneys, public defenders and other lower-paying jobs outside the big firms. ...

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Cost Of Law Review Articles:  $30,000 $1,000,000

One MillionFollowing up on Sunday's post, More On The $30,000 Cost Of Law Review Articles:  I previously blogged Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock), On the Leiter Side: Developing a Universal Assessment Tool for Measuring Scholarly Output by Law Professors and Ranking Law Schools, 45 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 87 (2011):

With varying results, many scholars and commentators have focused their attention on judging the quality of law professors, as measured by their scholarly output. First, this Article explains the methods respectively developed by Brian Leiter and Roger Williams University School of Law for top-tier and second-tier law schools, and it considers other works of scholarship that measure academic publication. Then, this Article explicates a protocol (the “Protocol”) for measuring all of the scholarly output of any law school faculty member. Building on the Leiter and Roger Williams methods, the expanded Protocol accounts for a wider breadth of faculty publications and includes weighting factors based on law-journal rankings. Finally, this Article concludes by applying the Protocol to its Author and his colleagues. In sum, the Protocol that this Article develops and applies will provide a significantly more objective set of data with which to evaluate the scholarly performance of legal academics.

This chart must have generated some awkward conversations in the Arkansas faculty lounge:

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Merritt:  The Downsides Of The $180,000 Starting Salaries For First Year BigLaw Associates

180,000Deborah J. Merritt (Ohio State), $180,000:

BigLaw firms gave 2016 graduates a sweet gift earlier this month: new associates at many of those firms will earn $180,000 (rather than $160,000) when they start work in the fall. That’s the first salary increase in BigLaw since 2007.

What should we make of this increase? It shows, certainly, that many BigLaw firms continue to prosper. But we already knew that from the firms’ reports of profits per partner. We also knew that associates are the most productive workers at those firms. This raise reflects rather belated recognition of that fact.

One could argue, in fact, that BigLaw partners are still undervaluing their associates. As Bruce MacEwen notes, the increase doesn’t match inflation since the last increase in BigLaw salaries. $180,000 in 2016 has less buying power than $160,000 did in 2007.

But those kids are going to be alright. I want to focus here on a shadow side of the BigLaw salary increase, one that the press and blogs haven’t discussed. BigLaw firms are paying more money–but to many fewer associates. This trend, which concentrates higher salaries in a smaller number of workers, has important implications for the legal job market. ...

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: In Defense Of Charlie Adelson

Charles AdelsonDavid Lat (Above the Law), The Murder Of Dan Markel: In Defense Of Charlie Adelson:

On Friday, a grand jury in Leon County indicted Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera on first-degree murder charges. The two men stand accused of killing Florida State University law professor Dan Markel as part of an alleged murder-for-hire plot. Both men maintain their innocence (and Rivera initially claimed he had never been to northern Florida, although he reportedly changed his story after being shown photographic evidence to the contrary).

Law enforcement authorities allege that the plot to murder Markel arose out of the “desperate desire” of his ex-wife Wendi Adelson’s family to relocate her and her two children to South Florida. More specifically, the police assert a connection between Wendi’s brother, Charles Adelson, and a woman named Katherine Magbanua, the mother of two children with Sigfredo Garcia — one of the two alleged hit men.

As a result of these allegations by law enforcement, Charlie Adelson has come under suspicion in some quarters. But he has his defenders, as reported by the Daily Mail late last week. ...

The police aren’t saying much about the Adelsons right now. When asked about the status of the Adelson family in the wake of Friday’s indictments, State Attorney Willie Meggs said, “They were not indicted. Today.”

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

University Of Arizona Is 'Preying On Low-Information Prospective Law Students'

Above the Law, Arizona Law School Preying On Low-Information Prospective Law Students:

Take a look at this ad that Arizona placed in the Prelaw Advisors National Conference Program held last week:


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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Democrats Outnumber Republicans 12:1 On UNC Faculty, 15 Departments Have Zero Republicans

UNCThe College Fix, At UNC Chapel Hill, 16 Departments Have Zero Registered Republican Professors, Analysis Finds:

Professors registered as Democrats outnumber those registered as Republicans by a ratio of roughly 12 to one at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – and in 15 departments zero registered Republican professors can be found – according to educators’ registered party affiliations.

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Monday, June 20, 2016

UGPA And College Reputation Are Better Than LSAT In Predicting Law School Success

LSAT (2015)Jeffrey S. Kinsler (Belmont), The LSAT Myth, 20 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 393:

Predicting which students will perform well in law school may seem like an impossible task, but law schools endeavor to do so everyday, and the primary tool they use to make such predictions is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized, 101-question multiple-choice examination. This article explores whether the LSAT warrants such prominence. Using statistical and anecdotal evidence, this article analyzes recent graduates of Marquette University Law School (MULS) to ascertain whether: (1) the LSAT is a valid predictor of three-year performance in law school; (2) the LSAT is a better predictor of law school performance than the UGPA or the reputation of the applicant's undergraduate institution; (3) an applicant's undergraduate major is useful in predicting law school performance; and (4) an applicant's age at the time of entry into law school is a valid predictor of law school performance.

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June 20, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

University Of Wyoming Declares Financial 'Crisis', Hopes To Avoid Financial 'Exigency' And Termination Of Tenured Faculty

Wyoming 2Chronicle of Higher Education, U. of Wyoming’s President Declares Financial Crisis:

The University of Wyoming’s president has declared a financial crisis and plans to reduce or cut academic programs and review the institution’s structure, according to a letter on Thursday from the president, Laurie Nichols, to the campus.

According to Wyoming’s financial-exigency policy, if the university is in a dire financial situation, it should follow guidelines to navigate the financial constraints fairly.

Ms. Nichols stressed in her letter the difference between financial exigency and the current financial crisis. Financial exigency, the worst of all scenarios, means the university may terminate tenured faculty members. ...

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June 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 19, 2016

More On The $30,000 Cost Of Law Review Articles

$30,000Following up on my previous posts on Jeff Harrison's estimate that the annual cost of each of the 8,000 law review articles produced by the nation's law professors is $240 million—$30,000 per article:

Jeff Harrison (Florida), Every Decision is Made: P.S. on Peeps:

Law professors are terrified of cost/benefit analysis when it comes to scholarship. I am too unless I am doing it. Actually, they want no part of cost benefit analysis, no matter how broadly defined, whether it comes to scholarship, LLM programs, certificates, or courses.

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June 19, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

ABA Grants Full Accreditation To 200th Law School: Belmont

Belmont LogoThe ABA has granted full accreditation to Belmont Law School in Nashville, Tennessee.  Belmont is the 200th fully accredited school that offers the first degree in law (The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School also is fully accredited. It offers an officer's resident graduate course, a specialized program beyond the first degree in law). There are four provisionally accredited law schools (Concordia, Indiana Tech, Lincoln Memorial-Duncan, UMass-Dartmouth).

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June 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reactions To Yesterday's NY Times Article On The Human Cost Of The Law School Crisis

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on yesterday's post, NY Times: As Law Grads Seethe With 'Atavistic Rage' At Their Financial Plight, Many Law Schools Confront Stark Choice: Continue To Admit Marginal Students, Or Shut Down:

Paul Campos (Colorado), End Game:

Over the last few years, all but a handful of the most elite law schools have had to engage in some combination of reducing class size, cutting admission standards, and cutting effective tuition (sticker minus discounts). Valpo has done all three. The school cut admissions standards drastically three years ago, with its median LSAT dropping from the school’s historical 150 range to an astonishing 143. The last two entering classes have compiled 50th/25th LSAT percentiles of 145/142 and 145/141. These scores all but guarantee that the school will be unable to come anywhere close to meeting the new ABA requirement that 75% of a school’s graduates who take the bar pass it within two years of graduation. ...

I emphasized to Scheiber that Valpo’s historical journey from a modest but respectable regional law school that didn’t cost much to attend to an institution with something resembling Harvard Law School’s financial structure (minus HLS’s two billion dollar endowment of course) is a completely standard one in the context of American legal education. ...

Here’s the average tuition at private ABA law schools over time: (All figures have been adjusted to constant 2016 dollars):

1956: $4,178
1974: $11,232
1985: $16,803
1995: $26,480
2005: $35,550
2015: $45,123

Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), New York Times Takes Another Shot at Law Schools and Puts Up an Air Ball:

Apparently Scheiber was not interested in an accurate picture of the costs and benefits of law school. Instead of, for example, examining the standardized data on employment and income exhaustively collected every year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics he consulted with scambloggers who have a variety of vested interests in attacking law schools even when they have been the beneficiary of those same institutions.

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June 18, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Grand Jury Indicts Two Hit Men In Dan Markel's Murder, State Attorney Expects More Indictments; Girlfriend Of Ex-Brother-in-Law Denies Ex-Wife's Family's Involvement

MarkelTallahassee Democrat, Grand Jury Indicts Two in Markel Killing:

After two days of hearing evidence, Leon County grand jurors indicted both Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera on first-degree murder charges in the death of Dan Markel.

Garcia, 33, is in the Leon County Jail and 34-year-old Rivera is housed in a federal prison in Orlando.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said he would move to keep the grand jury as more arrests in the case are expected.

Daily Mail, Girlfriend Defends the Ex-Brother-in-Law of FSU Professor Shot Dead in his Driveway Who Cops Say Is Connected to Execution-Style ‘Murder-for-Hire’:

The wealthy Ft Lauderdale family police suspect of having a motive related to the execution-style killing of a highly respected Florida State University law professor had nothing to do with the murder, according to the live-in girlfriend of a family member.

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June 18, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

NY Times:  As Law Grads Seethe With 'Atavistic Rage' At Their Financial Plight, Many Law Schools Confront Stark Choice: Continue To Admit Marginal Students, Or Shut Down

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book: An Expensive Law Degree, and No Place to Use It, by Noam Scheiber:

By most measures, John Acosta is a law school success story. He graduated from Valparaiso University Law School — a well-established regional school here in northwestern Indiana — in the top third of his class this past December, a semester ahead of schedule. He passed the bar exam on his first try in February. Mr. Acosta, 39, is also a scrupulous networker who persuaded a former longtime prosecutor to join him in starting a defense and family law firm. ...

Yet in financial terms, there is almost no way for Mr. Acosta to climb out of the crater he dug for himself in law school, when he borrowed over $200,000. The government will eventually forgive the loan — in 25 years — if he’s unable to repay it, as is likely on his small-town lawyer’s salary. But the Internal Revenue Service will treat the forgiven amount as income, leaving him what could easily be a $70,000 tax bill on the eve of retirement, and possibly much higher.

Mr. Acosta is just one of tens of thousands of recent law school graduates caught up in a broad transformation of the legal profession. While demand for other white-collar jobs has rebounded since the recession, law firms and corporations are finding that they can make do with far fewer full-time lawyers than before.

Nationally, the proportion of recent graduates who find work as a lawyer is down 10 percentage points since its peak of the last decade, according to the most recent data. And though the upper end of the profession finally shows some signs of recovering, the middle and lower ranks remain depressed, especially in slower-growth regions like the Rust Belt.

As of this April, fewer than 70 percent of Valparaiso law school graduates from the previous spring were employed and fewer than half were in jobs that required a law license. Only three out of 131 graduates worked in large firms, which tend to pay more generous salaries.

“People are not being helped by going to these schools,” Kyle McEntee, executive director of the advocacy group Law School Transparency, said of Valparaiso and other low-tier law schools. “The debt is really high, bar passage rates are horrendous, employment is horrendous.”

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June 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (32)

ABA Associate Deans Conference On Adapting To A Changing Landscape

ABAThe 2016 ABA Associate Deans Conference on Adapting to a Changing Landscape continues today at the University of St. Thomas School of Law:

There is little about legal education that is not in transition right now. Associate Deans are all adjusting to similar challenges and opportunities across the nation. How do law schools respond to the new accreditation requirements and innovate in curricular design with decreasing resources? How do law schools educate a changing student population that is also facing increasing student debt loads and a legal job market that looks very different from when you graduated? How are you managing the shifting demands on your academic programs, student services, and faculty research? 

Today's morning plenary session is Managing People, Managing Resources, Managing Teams:

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June 17, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Best Thing A Young Lawyer Can Do Is Learn Technology

Above the Law:  The Best Thing A Young Lawyer Can Do Is Learn Technology, by Joe Bennion (Estey & Bomberger, San Diego):

Dear Lawyers Who Just Passed the Bar or Are Studying for the Next Bar Exam:

Soon, you’ll find that your advanced knowledge of the elements of the tort of battery and your ability to write as fast as you can without checking any legal authority is not going to do you very much good in the real world.

There are going to be some things you are going to want to do right off the bat. Get a mentor. Join some trade organizations. Learn about office politics. Learn that the best thing you can do in the office is be nice to your secretary. If you want to do things a little bit above your paygrade, learn technology.

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June 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Taylor:  The GRE Is No Law School Diversity Tool

GREAaron N. Taylor (Saint Louis; Director, Law School Survey of Student Engagement), The GRE Is No Diversity Tool:

In February, the University of Arizona College of Law announced that applicants for admission could submit Graduate Record Exam scores, in lieu of scores from the Law School Admission Test. The announcement made waves because for decades LSAT scores have been a requirement for law-school candidates.

The ABA, the primary accreditor of law schools, requires law schools to use a “valid and reliable admission test” to aid in selecting students. However, no particular test is stipulated. Arizona argues that the GRE is as good a predictor for law school success as the LSAT, which may be true.

But what is interesting, and perhaps disingenuous, is the school’s claim that accepting GRE scores will promote student-body diversity “in all its forms.” This is because if the GRE is misused in the same manner as the LSAT, the admissions process will remain inequitable, at the expense of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity.

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June 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wu:  Is Legal Education Bouncing Back?

The Huffington Post:  Is Legal Education Bouncing Back?, by Frank Wu (Former Dean, UC-Hastings):

BounceI have been asked whether I believe the announcements from major law firms that they would increase starting salaries to $180,000 will cause legal education to bounce back. ... My reply, as you might guess, is an emphatic “no.” [Reforming Law Schools: A Manifesto, 46 U. Tol. L. Rev. 417 (2015)]

Bounce back means, I infer, the hope that legal education will return to the pre-recession levels of interest, with record numbers of applicants vying for seats at accredited law schools. Since then, there has been an unprecedented drop, amidst claims that legal education — even higher education more generally — is worthless or some sort of elaborate sham.

The problems have been publicized well enough if hyberbolically. But they are problems plural rather than singular. There is the lack of jobs, specifically those desirable to young people whose expectations have been set by the instant gratification of the internet era; the extraordinary cost of tuition, which typically is debt financed; and concerns over the utility of the skill set that is offered. Fixes for one problem or two problems exacerbate the third problem. For example, the two-year J.D., touted as a panacea (though some schools attempted to charge the same as for the full three-year version), might reduce cost but perforce reduce the training which is received.

A rush of young people into law schools is good for the law schools, to be sure. Whether it is good for the young people is another matter.

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June 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Corporate Clients Push Back Against $180k Starting Salary For First Year BigLaw Associates

$180,000Following up on last week's post, BigLaw First Year Associate Salaries Jump To $180,000 (From $160,000):  Wall Street Journal, Corporate Clients Push Back After Law Firms Hike Starting Salaries:

After Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP said last week it would boost starting pay for its junior-most lawyers to $180,000, law firms across the country stumbled over themselves to announce salary increases for their own associates.

But now companies are pushing back.

Bank of America Corp.’s top lawyer recently sent an email to a group of law firms calling the increases in associate lawyer pay unjustified, making it clear the bank wouldn’t help firms absorb the cost. ...

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June 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

McEntee:  Brooklyn Publishes 'Misleading,' 'Egregious' 92.5% Law Grad Employment Statistic

Brooklyn 2Kyle McEntee (Law School Transparency), Caveat Venditor: Throwback To The Days Of Junk Employment Statistics:

Welcome to the second installment of Caveat Venditor, a series that assesses claims made by law schools to separate truth from fiction. This week we look at Brooklyn Law School’s employment rate of 92.5% posted on its “By The Numbers” infographic. ...

After the continued bad news about the job market for law school graduates, 92.5% looks fantastic to students looking at Brooklyn Law School. It’s therefore worth examining further. ...

The employment rate on the infographic has an asterisk on it. Follow the asterisk to the bottom of the page and there’s a link. At that link, Brooklyn refers to an “adjusted employment rate” and explains the rate in minimal detail. Even with the explanation, however, the figure is misleading.

Indeed, it’s a return to the way things were before the law school transparency movement. Law schools and the ABA maintained a tapestry of fictional statistics that deceived the public. Schools advertised employment rates north of 90 percent without disclosing that its parts were… not what consumers thought. Much of the deception was unintentional because law school administrators were afflicted by the same cultural conditioning that afflicted applicants who saw these statistics and confirmed their perceptions of law school.

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June 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

T&E Is Resurgent In BigLaw:  '50% Psychiatrist, 50% Tax Geek'

T&E 2American Lawyer, The Lawyers Behind the 0.1 Percent:

High-end trusts and estates lawyers ... have some of the most fascinating practices in Big Law, with client lists packed with entertainment stars, business moguls, Internet entrepreneurs and reclusive billionaires. While drafting wills, setting up trusts for wayward children, crafting prenuptial agreements for third wives and structuring complex vehicles to reduce taxes, they're privy to the intimate personal and financial details of the lives of the creative and the ultrawealthy. ...

Putting aside the glamour factor, the practice has taken on increasing relevance, with top T&E lawyers on the front lines of one of the most pressing political issues of our time: the shocking wealth disparity in the country. Their typical client sits in the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households, defined as those with more than $20 million in assets. These individuals own 22 percent of the nation's total wealth—roughly the same amount held by the bottom 90 percent, according to Federal Reserve data. These are the lawyers who help ensure that the 0.1 Percent stay comfortably at the top.

With the increasing concentration of riches, some firms are refocusing on these clients. "I know a lot of big firms want to start estate planning practices," says Julie Miraglia Kwon, a T&E partner in McDermott, Will & Emery's Menlo Park office. Noting the number of calls she's received lately from recruiters, she remarks, "Maybe they see headlines about all the wealth."

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June 15, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Legal Tech Firm UnitedLex Establishes Residency Program At Seventh Law School (Boston University)

UnitedLex LogoLegal technology services provider UnitedLex has established a legal residency program with Boston University, joining pre-existing programs with Emory, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, and Vanderbilt law schools:

The The two-year program will train recent Boston University School of Law graduates in cutting-edge legal technologies, project management, and delivery processes to provide high-quality, efficient legal services to corporate legal departments and top law firms. Those selected for the residency program each year will receive rigorous classroom instruction provided by senior attorneys, serve in a supervisory capacity for client engagements, and work directly with clients to deliver legal services in key emerging legal areas including: litigation management, e-discovery, cyber security, contract management, patent licensing, IP management, and immigration law. Residents will earn salaries and benefits equivalent to judicial clerkships.

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June 15, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Jobs, Salaries Dwindle For Ph.D.s

Wall Street Journal, Job-Seeking Ph.D. Holders Look to Life Outside School:

[A] conversation [is] taking place across dozens of research universities that is aimed at preparing doctoral candidates entering the job market for a jarring reality: Their Ph.D. doesn’t deliver the bang for the buck it once did.

The percentage of new doctorate recipients without jobs or plans for further study climbed to 39% in 2014 from 31% in 2009, according to a National Science Foundation survey released in April. Median salaries for midcareer Ph.D.s working full time fell 6% between 2010 and 2013.


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June 15, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

More On Law Firm (And Law School) Tech 'Disruptors'


Following up on yesterday's post, Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Legal Practice (And Legal Education):  Keith Lee has a great series of posts from the 2016 Stanford CodeX Future Law Conference on these "legal disruptors": 

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June 15, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Grad Who Flunked Bar Sues Over Loss Of Big-Law Job

WycheNational Law Journal:  Harvard Grad Who Flunked Bar Sues Over Loss of Big-Law Job, by Karen Sloan:

A 2013 Harvard graduate who twice failed the bar exam has sued the New York State Board of Law Examiners, claiming its refusal to provide testing accommodations derailed her career at Ropes & Gray.

Tamara Wyche, who alleges she suffers from anxiety and cognitive impairment, asserts that the board’s decision not to grant all of her requested accommodations the first two times she took the exam led to her termination from the Boston-based law firm. She passed the exam on the third try in 2015 with additional accommodations but hasn’t been able to find work at a large firm, according to the complaint, filed June 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. ...

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June 15, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (45)

ABA Proposes Changes To Law School Accreditation Standards

ABA Section on Legal EdABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools Matters for Notice and Comment (June 14, 2016):

At its meeting held on June 3-4, 2016, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved for Notice and Comment the following proposed revisions to the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools:

  • Standard 204
  • Standard 303
  • Use of the term “Full-Time Faculty” in the Standards

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June 15, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The ABA Is Auditing Law School Placement Data For The First Time

ABAAuditNational Law Journal: ABA to Audit Law Schools' Job Stats for Accuracy,  by Karen Sloan:

For the first time, the American Bar Association is randomly auditing graduate employment data reported by law schools to ensure its accuracy.

The closer scrutiny of the jobs numbers has been in the works since 2012 but the employment data for the class of 2015, which the ABA made public in May, is the first to be analyzed under the ABA’s new audit procedure.

Students who feel duped by overly rosy employment projections have questioned the veracity of the school-released employment data since at least 2011. The new audit is “intended to promote confidence among the ABA, law schools, law school applicants, and other interested parties that law graduate employment information is complete, accurate, and not misleading,” according to a 2014 ABA memo.

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June 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Legal Practice (And Legal Education)


Following up on my previous post, BakerHostetler Hires Robot Lawyer 'Ross', Ushers In Legal Jobs Apocalypse:

Deborah J. Merritt (Ohio State), Artificially Intelligent Legal Research:

At least three law firms have now adopted ROSS, an artificial legal intelligence system based on IBM’s pathbreaking Watson technology. The firms include two legal giants, Latham & Watkins and BakerHostetler, along with the Wisconsin firm vonBriesen. Commitments by these firms seem likely to spur interest among their competitors. Watch for ROSS and other forms of legal AI to spread over the next few years.

What is ROSS, what does it do, and what does it mean for lawyers and legal educators? Here are a few preliminary thoughts.

College Fix, Still in Law School? Artificial Intelligence Begins to Take Over Legal Work:

For those thinking of law school, keep in mind that technology may revolutionize the profession before you earn that J.D.

In the research-driven, labor-intensive legal profession, the age-old question of man vs. machine is being answered as some law firms have begun to use an “artificially intelligent attorney” to research and hash out legal issues – a trend that legal minds predict will displace some human lawyers.

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June 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Bilionis:  Professional Formation And The Political Economy Of The American Law School

Louis D. Bilionis (Former Dean, Cincinnati), Professional Formation and the Political Economy of the American Law School, 83 Tenn. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

This article proposes that a comprehensive model for doing professional formation in law school is now in sight. The model can work for formation – which is to say that it has the right vision of the fundamentals and the appropriate program features and pedagogies to effectively support students in the development of their professional identities. The model also can work for the political economy of the typical American law school – which is to say that its strategy and approach to roles and resources makes it congenial to postulates about power, resources, work, and governance that shape relations inside the law school.

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June 14, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Cancel Classes On Election Day (Nov. 8)

VoteBloomberg Law, Law Schools Cancel Classes for Election Day:

Some law schools want to make sure voters turn out for this year’s presidential election cycle.

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law just became the latest school to announce that classes are cancelled on Nov. 8, when American voters will have to decide between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

The announcement came after two campus groups — American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the conservative Federalist Society — pushed law school administrators to make the decision.

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June 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Disappearing Humanities Faculty Jobs

Inside Higher Ed, The Disappearing Humanities Jobs:

The arrival of annual reports on the job market in various humanities fields this year left many graduate students depressed about their prospects and professors worried about the futures of their disciplines. English and foreign language openings were down 3 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. History jobs fell 8 percent.

On Sunday, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences released several new collections of data that show that these declines, part of a continuing pattern, are far more dramatic when viewed over a longer time frame. The academy also released new data showing that the proportion of all faculty members who are in the humanities -- crucial not only to their own fields but to general education at many colleges and universities -- has been flat amid substantial gains for the health professions.

For all humanities disciplines, listings for positions are at least 31 percent below the levels reported in the 2007-08 academic year, the last year before the economic downturn hit in 2008. Many of these fields were relatively stable or even increasing in the years leading up to 2008, so the most recent data from the academy show significant long-term losses.


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June 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)