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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Law School Dean’s Art Teaches Life Lessons For His Students

The Star, Law School Dean’s Art Pieces Translate Into Advice for the Audience:


A drove of horses, koi swimming in a pond, a ship basking in a warm orange glow — these are some of the works on display at Harmahinder Singh’s first solo art exhibition titled UNwritten Law Bespoke Art at the CODA Gallery in Taylor’s University.

At first impression, the piece with the horses can be interpreted as strength in teamwork but the explanation beside it describes something different.

The five internal forces of mankind — lust, anger, greed, worldly attachment and pride — must be held in check. Lose your head and chaos will follow. Either way, it represents positivity and thus, serves as a meaningful conversation piece.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

LSAC: 2.6% Decline In Law School Applicants

Wall Street Journal, Law School Applicant Pool Still Shrinking:

The dramatic drop in law school applicants — a 40% decline between 2005 and 2014 — has many wondering when demand for a law degree will finally rebound.

Not this year, at least. The latest numbers released by the Law School Admission Council indicate that the downward spiral is still…spiraling.

As of April 17, 47,172 people have applied to go to an accredited U.S. law school this fall, according to LSAC, which administers the LSAT entrance exam. That’s a 2.6% fall-off compared to a year ago. Applications are down 4.7% from 2014.

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April 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Symposium: Teaching the Academically Underprepared Law Student

TUSSymposium, Teaching The Academically Underprepared Law Student,  53 Duq. L. Rev. 1-278 (2015):

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April 24, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Defeated North Carolina Law Student Body Presidential Candidate Challenges Election, Objects To Dean's Email Opposing His '25 By 2025' Platform

2016 U.S. News RankingsDaily Tar Heel, Student Contests Law School Election:

The loser of the Student Bar Association presidential election is challenging the results in the Student Supreme Court.

Former presidential candidate Billy Piontek claims the elections committee failed to hold a fair, unbiased election.

On April 14, Piontek filed the complaint about the tactics of the winning write-in candidates. Piontek also objected to an email Jack Boger, dean of the law school, sent to the student body that Piontek said disparaged his platform. ...

The night before the election, Boger emailed the classes of 2016 and 2017 to advise against supporting the “25 by 2025” plan that Piontek and other candidates pushed for. [North Carolina is currently ranked 34th by U.S. News.] The platform centered on elevating the law school’s U.S. News and World Report ranking into the top 25 schools by 2025.

In his email, Boger said the plan contradicted the school’s values and motto, “to be rather than to seem.”

Update:  From a North Carolina faculty member:

I just wanted to add a clarification re: your post on the UNC SBA election: 

In particular, the Daily Tar Heel story didn’t make clear what prompted Dean Boger to write his email.  Piontek had not just distributed the platform to all students, but he did so while stating that he and his slate were developing the plan with the faculty and administration.  The Dean initially resisted responding broadly, even though neither he nor anyone else in the administration had ever heard of the plan, much less was working on it.  However, after numerous emails and phone calls from faculty and students distressed that he may have embarked on a significant change in focus without any faculty input or discussion, he decided that he had to make clear that the administration had nothing to do with the plan.

April 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Should Professor With Lowest Student Evaluations Be Fired Each Year?

Survivor 2Chronicle of Higher Education, Iowa Legislator Wants to Give Students the Chance to Fire Underwhelming Faculty:

A bill circulating in the Iowa State Senate offers a novel (and cutthroat) way to hold professors accountable: putting their fates into students’ hands, Survivor-style. Every year the professor most disliked by students would be voted off the campus.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Mark Chelgren, a Republican, would require the state’s public universities to rate professors’ performance based solely on students’ evaluations of their teaching effectiveness. Professors whose evaluation scores didn’t reach a minimum threshold would be automatically fired by the university.

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April 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bloomberg: Five Charts That Show You Should Apply to Law School This Year

Bloomberg, Five Charts That Show You Should Apply to Law School This Year:

Becoming a lawyer has never been a more obvious decision. ... It is still a perfect time to apply to law school, and here are five charts that prove it.

  1. Law schools need bodies.
  2. The Law School Admission Test is less competitive than it used to be.
  3. A good applicant has an excellent shot at getting in.
  4. When I say good applicant, I'm probably talking about you.
  5. The law job market is better than it looks.

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April 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Movie Night With Judge Kozinski Offers Behind The Curtain View Of 9th Circuit

Movie NightLos Angeles Times, After Court Adjourns, 9th Circuit Judge's Movie Nights Are a Hit:

It's movie night at the courthouse.

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, his identification and security tags hanging from his neck, greets dozens of people who have shown up early for a guided tour of the court's headquarters, an ornate columned building on the edge of San Francisco's seamy Tenderloin. ...

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April 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Auerbach, Gamage Named to California Tax Reform Advisory Panel

SealCalifornia State Controller's Office, Council of Economic Advisors:

Within her first four months of taking office, State Controller Betty Yee created a Council of Economic Advisors to examine the many ideas for comprehensive tax reform in California.

Controller Yee and other elected officials have called for a tax system that is less vulnerable during economic downturns and is more sustainable, providing greater certainty from year to year. While numerous reform ideas have merit, Controller Yee believes that changes to the tax system must be examined as a whole with focus on fairness to taxpayers and practicality. A comprehensive reform should avoid locking in even more money for specific groups and instead provide a dependable source of revenue that avoids major disruptions to government services.

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

Measuring Teaching Excellence: Shifting From Delivery Of Course Content To Impacting Student Lives

CTEInside Higher Ed, What Is Teaching Excellence?:

College and university faculty are expected to be excellent teachers. In public, college leaders emphasize to potential students and their parents that at their institution, teaching matters above all else. Colleges seem to unabashedly promote that the teaching done by their faculty is markedly better than at peer institutions -- or that the opportunities for close working relationships between students and faculty are unique to their campus. ...

There is no shortage of lip service from various academic ranks on the value of teaching excellence. ... But what exactly is teaching excellence? Institutional commitments, workshops, conferences and journals, all sharing the intent of improving teaching and content delivery, do not necessarily translate to a universal agreement on exactly what it is we are improving.

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April 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Closing The Books On My 25th Year Of Law Teaching

I taught my last Federal Income Tax and Tax Policy classes of the semester today, closing the books on my 25th (and best) year of law teaching. Thanks to the students who have put up with me through the years, including my hokey closing advice on the secret of life:

April 22, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

WaPo: Why Law Schools Are Losing Relevance — And How They’re Trying To Win It Back

Washington Post, Why Law Schools Are Losing Relevance — And How They’re Trying to Win It Back:

Law schools across the country are facing their lowest enrollment numbers in years, causing some to slash their budgets and revamp their programs in an effort to attract students worried about finding a job in a diminished legal industry.

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

20 Law Professors Elected To American Law Institute

ALI Logo (2015)Twenty law professors have been elected to membership in the American Law Institute:

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

Seto: The Problem of Law School Tuition

Seto (2014)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  The Problem of Law School Tuition, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

In a recent op-ed in the New York Law Journal, Dean Jeremy Paul of Northeastern writes about the future of legal education. Although he makes many good points, he avoids the single hardest question facing law schools going forward: what to do about tuition? Most schools have dealt with this temporarily by holding net tuition constant. (Net tuition is nominal tuition less scholarships.) But in the long run, the parade of horribles at the bottom of each law school's class will get worse if nominal tuition rises faster than the rate of average lawyer compensation, because the bottom of each class will absorb the brunt of any such disproportionate increase.

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April 22, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Practicing Law With Your Apple Watch

Apple WatchABA Journal, Smartwatches and Other Wearables Can Enhance the Practice of Law, Attorneys Say:

Smartwatches and other forms of wearable technology aren’t just for fitness enthusiasts or techies that can’t bear to be away from the Net.

In a Friday afternoon session at ABA Techshow, attorneys Rick Georges and Robert Sisson talked about how wearable technology has enhanced their ability to practice law on their own terms. Showing off their large collection of smartwatches, virtual reality devices and other gadgets, Georges and Sisson talked about their favorite devices while providing examples of how they used them in their practice. ...

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

Law School Puffery and Smoke Blowing

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), 'Puffing' and 'Blowing Smoke':

The “back and forth” over what is happening and will happen in America’s legal profession and US law schools is frustrating. I see many of the assertions being made by deans and law professors as wishful thinking about what they hope or feel will occur in order to keep up a “brave front” in the face of a catastrophe they cannot prevent. The fact is that if deans and other significant figures in the world of legal education admitted the truth of what was occurring the result would be an acceleration of the downward slide. There is virtually no chance that an honest analysis will be forthcoming from “official” sources. Nor is there much chance that the process has run its course.

Rather than an honest assessment of what is happening and what pretty much is guaranteed to take place over the next five to fifteen years in law schools and “law jobs”, we see claims that the legal profession will rebound and jobs for law graduates return. Almost daily, momentary micro-shifts in the situation are projected pro or con without connection to the macro-dynamics that are playing the primary role in the contracting future of the legal profession and law schools. It feels that we are either running around like little chickens proclaiming “the sky is falling” or like big chickens who are comfortably ensconced in our nests and dedicated to the proposition that “we have seen everything before and it will all be OK soon so stop being so alarmist”.  Either way we are mostly just “clucking” around.

The reality is that “things” will be OK—just not for many of the faculty members and staff of a majority of US law schools whose jobs are at risk or for heavily indebted law students and graduates without jobs of the kind they spent huge sums trying to obtain through their legal education. “Things” will be quite OK for the country because we don’t need more lawyers of the kind we have seen for the past half-century in the volume law schools have been producing. “Things” will be OK because this is a period of re-imagining what it means to educate someone to provide legal services and one in which the long-term monopolistic control over entry into the legal profession by law schools, the ABA and state supreme courts is finally being recognized as the self-interested and expensive restraint of trade that it is. ...

Several Dismal “Truths”

There are many things that could and have been said about what is going on in law schools and the legal profession. But there are some “truths” being ignored far too easily. I suggest they include the following.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

California Law School Job Placement Rankings

RankingsDerek Muller (Pepperdine), Visualizing Legal Employment Outcomes in California in 2014:

I thought I'd recreate last year's data on California law school employment outcomes, with a couple of tweaks due to external changes.

A few things jump out from the data. First, there were fewer graduates: there were about 400 fewer graduates from California schools, from 5185 for the Class of 2013 to 4731 for the Class of 2014.

Second, total job placement remained flat. Between 2800-2900 California graduates obtained unfunded positions in the last three years. This year shows that 2849 obtained these unfunded, full-weight positions, good for 60.2% of California graduates--a percentage better than previous years, no doubt, because of the smaller graduating classes.

Third, school-funded positions continue to rise. There were 145 school-funded positions from California schools .Two schools significantly increased school-funded positions: USC went from 12 to 33 (15% of the graduating class), and UC-Irvine went from 0 to 13 (14% of the graduating class). Davis added 9, and Stanford and Loyola each added 5 more school-funded positions, among other more modest changes. (Keep in mind that the Class of 2012 had just 24 such school-funded positions among California schools.)

Below is a graph of the unfunded and funded full-time, long-term, bar passage-required and J.D.-advantage positions.

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April 21, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Do You Want A Work/Life Balance? Don't Be A Lawyer ('Unless You Want To Live In A Van Down By The River')

Work Life 2ABA Journal, Concerned About Lifestyle and Balance? You Probably Won't Amount to Much in the Law, Recruiter Says:

Legal recruiter Harrison Barnes has a message for lawyers who want to avoid living in a van down by the river.

If you want to be a legal professional with the responsibility of handling people’s problems, “You sure as hell better be committed to what you are doing,” writes Barnes, managing director of the Los Angeles office for BCG Attorney Search. And that means being willing to work late and on weekends.

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April 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Barry Law School Seeks To Hire An Entry Level Tax Prof

Barry LogoBarry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida is seeking to hire entry level tenure track faculty in Tax, Legal Research and Writing, Business Law, Commercial Law, and Property. Other doctrinal areas are also being considered. To apply for a position, email a cover letter, CV, and list of references to Faculty Appointments Committee Chair Seema Mohapatra.

April 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Rankings And Law Firm Partners

Above the Law, What Your Law School Ranking Says About Your Prospects For Making Partner:

Every year bright-eyed graduates walk from their respective campuses wondering what the future will hold for them. Will I end up at a Biglaw firm? Will I make partner? Where will I live? In many cases, these questions are already answered by looking at statistical trends and correlations. ...

There is a -.54 correlation between law school ranking and “chance of making partner,” meaning the lower (towards 1) your school is ranked, the better “chance” there is of you making partner. 

Here are the stats for the Top 20 Law Schools:

Top 20 LL 4-10

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

New York Law Journal Special Report: Law Schools

NYLJNew York Law Journal Special Report: Law Schools:

Jeremy Paul (Dean, Northeastern), Changing the 'How' But Not the 'Why':

Law school applications are declining more slowly and entry level hiring has begun to recover. First-year law school enrollments have shrunk from more than 52,000 in 2010 to a far more sustainable 38,000 in 2014. Recent studies by Profs. Frank McIntyre and Michael Simkovic continue to vindicate the long-run earning power of the J.D. degree. Perhaps you can hear law school deans breathing sighs of relief. Alas, it is way too soon for that.

Law schools that view nascent positive trends as license to return to business as usual will be missing the far more profound changes in the legal profession that demand new approaches to legal education. The most significant change is the extent to which knowledge of the law is cheaper and easier to obtain for everyone with access to a computer. Future lawyers can expect to earn less for merely informing clients about the law. How lawyers will add value in this changed environment is the question of the day. How lawyers should be trained to do so should be a top priority for every legal educator in the United States.

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April 21, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

14th Annual Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop

Wash.U. LogoThe 14th Annual Workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein (Washington University) and Andrew D. Martin (Michigan), will run from June 15-17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

82% Of Lawyers Say Demanding Work Schedules Are Damaging Their Health

82%ABA Journal, Demanding Work Schedules Are Damaging Their Health, Say 82% of Surveyed Lawyers:

The demands of work at leading law firms in the United States and United Kingdom are quantified in a new survey that found 22 percent of senior lawyers and partners work every weekend, and more than 10 percent work an average of 70 or more hours a week.

Brutal work schedules are taking a toll, according to the survey by Legal Week (sub. req.). Eighty-two percent of the surveyed lawyers believe long hours at work are damaging their health. The results are from a survey of 267 partners and senior lawyers at leading U.K. and U.S. law firms.

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April 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NALP's 'Muddled, False and Damaging' Reporting on Law Student Job Placement

NALP New LogoFollowing up on Friday's post, Welcome To Your First Year As A Lawyer. Your Salary Is $160,000.:  Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Overpromising:

Earlier this week, I wrote about the progress that law schools have made in reporting helpful employment statistics. The National Association for Law Placement (NALP), unfortunately, has not made that type of progress. On Wednesday, NALP issued a press release that will confuse most readers; mislead many; and ultimately hurt law schools, prospective students, and the profession. It’s the muddled, the false, and the damaging. ...

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April 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Death of Chuck Davenport

DavenportNeil H. Buchanan (George Washington),  Charles Davenport, Rest In Peace:

Chuck Davenport died last week.  I admired him greatly.  Chuck was the senior tax law professor at Rutgers-Newark when I was on the entry-level market for legal academics.  When I visited Newark for my job talk, Chuck came to the small dinner the night that I arrived, and I immediately knew that I had met a kindred spirit.  It was clear that we were politically similar (for example, he positively compared my thinking with that of John Kenneth Galbraith -- a generous compliment that would turn anyone's head!), but that was not what really mattered.  Chuck was just so easy to like.

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April 20, 2015 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tamanaha, Estreicher Respond to Morriss' Ten Reasons To Be Cheerful About The Future of Legal Education

Brian Tamanaha (Washington University) and Samuel Estreicher (NYU) respond to Texas A&M Dean Andy Morriss' Ten Reasons To Be Cheerful About The Future Of Legal Education

Brian Tamanaha (Washington University), Reasons to Be Gloomy About Legal Education:

I agree with much in Dean Andrew Morriss’ Liberty Forum Essay. And I endorse his hope that, in the future, legal academia will have greater differentiation. Yet my take on legal education’s prospects is much gloomier. Dean Morriss writes mostly about what should occur going forward, whereas I am watching what is happening right now. What I see gives me little reason for cheer.

The greatest force for reform in legal education is the stunning decline in law-school applicants, falling to lows not seen in decades. The good news, as Morriss says, is that law schools compete for students through heavy discounting, in the form of higher scholarships deeper into the class. A dozen or so law schools have announced rollbacks in tuition. These price reductions should bring debt levels down for many future graduates, as long as pricing competition continues.

The other good news is that the decline in enrollment promises to reduce the oversupply of law graduates that has flooded the market in the past decade. The percentage of graduates who land full-time jobs as lawyers—about 55 percent nationwide for the last three graduating classes—should rise significantly in coming years.

That is the silver lining. Now let us look at the dark clouds.

  • Tuition at many law schools continues to rise.
  • Debt levels for many law graduates remain extraordinarily high.
  • Many are admitting students who should not be in law school.
  • Bar pass rates will continue to decline in coming years.

These are very serious problems, particularly the collapse in admissions standards. That is why I do not share Dean Morriss’ cheerful take on the future of legal education. He is aware of these issues, of course, and his more positive view is premised on looking beyond when the current crisis shakes out. Even if we stretch the time period out a full decade, however, I don’t see the future he projects.

At least three formidable obstacles stand in the way: legal educators, the American Bar Association’s accreditation standards, and parent universities.

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April 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed

UndisclosedKudos to Colin Miller, editor of our EvidenceProf Blog, for following up on his wildly successful series of posts on the Serial Podcast about the prosecution of Adnan Syed with Undisclosed, a series of podcasts on the case (blogged here and here):

The Undisclosed Podcast is a listening experience that reframes, enhances or otherwise shifts everything you've come to know about the State of Maryland's case against Adnan Syed, especially as you've come to know it through listening to Serial. In order to do that, we intend to revisit the case from the beginning, looking at all the available evidence. Not only will we look at the evidence that was presented in Serial, but we will also provide new evidence that we've uncovered in our investigation. We have combed through police and court records that the Serial team did not possess during the podcast, and done much, much more to get to the truth. Accordingly, we aspire to present the best possible version of the events as we believe those events to be. We will also present theories that we believe the evidence best construes. Perhaps most importantly, we will provide you with all of our evidence as part of that process.

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April 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Law Schools Are Like the Chillow

ChillowForbes, 3 Ways Law Schools Are Like the Chillow, by Ryan Craig:

Like everyone, I’ve bought many lousy products in my life. Products that disappoint, break or never work to begin with. But one that stands out is the Chillow, the “revolutionary cooling pad” that “transforms your pillow into a Chillow.” ...

Another product that’s not working very well is the law degree. Graduates of private law schools carry an average debt load of $125k. Yet 45% of law school graduates are unable to find jobs that require JD degrees; every year there are twice as many new JD recipients as open positions.

Prospective consumers have taken note. Successive years of double-digit declines have cut the number of law school applicants nearly in half: from 100,000 in 2004 to just over 55,000 last year. The good news, according to the Law School Admission Council: “the rate of decline is slowing” (which tends to happen when the base gets lower).

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April 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Bar Exam Is Unfair And Undemocratic

NewsweekNewsweek:  The Bar Exam Is Unfair and Undemocratic, by Allen Mendenhall:

The bar exam was designed and continues to operate as a mechanism for excluding the lower classes from participation in the legal services market. Elizabeth Olson of The New York Times reports that the bar exam as a professional standard “is facing a new round of scrutiny—not just from the test takers but from law school deans and some state legal establishments.”

This is a welcome development.

The dean of the University of San Diego School of Law, Stephen C. Ferruolo, complained to the Times that the bar exam “is an unpredictable and unacceptable impediment for accessibility to the legal profession.” He is right: The bar exam is a barrier to entry, a form of occupational licensure that restricts access to a particular vocation and reduces market competition. ...

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April 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Ugly Truth About What's Going Wrong In American Law Schools

UglyBloomberg, The Ugly Truth About What's Going Wrong in American Law Schools: With Test Scores and Bar-Passage Rates Falling, Academics Grope for Answers:

Are law students getting dumber, foreshadowing a future dip in the talents available to legal clients nationwide? Or are aspiring attorneys getting a bad rap?

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), the nonprofit that creates the multiple-choice portion of the test used by many states, goes with the diminished-intellect theory. "The group that sat [for bar exams] in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013," NCBE President Erica Moeser said in a blunt memo to law deans last October.

"That's just baloney," Brooklyn Law School's Dean Nick Allard tells me. An innovative leader scrambling to keep his venerable institution afloat in a shrinking legal job market, Allard alleges darkly that unnamed pooh-bahs are fixing the system to exclude his scrappy students. "It's a jaw-dropping story," he says. "The NCBE is a powerful testing organization with a web of financial interests that has an outsize role in determining the future careers of law school graduates." Tens of thousands of law school graduates, he adds, "are ripped off by the bar exam scam twice a year."

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April 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Burk: Much Heat, Some Light In Resurgent Law School Eschatology Debate

Bernie Burk (North Carolina), Much Heat, Some Light in Resurgent Law-School Eschatology Debate:

There has been a flareup in the debate over the purpose and value of law school.  The new discussion has been prompted by a series of posts by Michael Simkovic on Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports in which he summarizes and elaborates on his work with Frank McIntyre in two recent articles, The Economic Value of a Law Degree and Timing Law School. (You can get Mike’s complete set of posts—there are, by my count, 14—on Leiter’s blog by starting here (posted March 19) and scrolling up.  Paul Caron has collected links to commentary on the commentary from both sides of the debate here, not all of which are subject to the objection I register below.) ...

[A]nyone with any intellectual honesty must appreciate the importance of Mike Simkovic’s recent contributions to the ongoing public discussion on the purpose and value of legal education.  His work ...  is by my lights the first serious, empirically grounded, methodologically thoughtful showing that things—at least some things for at least some people—may not be quite as bad as some of us have feared.

Predictably, extremists on both sides of this longstanding debate have popped up to demonize or deify Prof. Simkovic and his work, vilifying or vaunting his motives and methods in sweeping and categorical terms.  I have only one request of all of you—please stop.  Stop the toxic name-calling.  Stop erecting effigies of your adversaries’ graves so you can dance on them.  The subject is much too important to be obscured in petty rivalries.  You’re not enlightening anyone, and it’s way too early to claim a victory lap, let alone drag your enemy in circles at the back of your chariot for the next nine days.  (I, at least, perceive Mike as having managed to hold himself mostly above the fray thus far, with only an occasional descent into the snippy or snide when goaded a bit too much.  But that happens to all of us now and then—not least, I regret to say, your not altogether gentle scribe.  I hope we’ll both try harder from here on out.)

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April 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Smartest People Are Opting Out of Law School

Following up on Tuesday's post, Organ Projects 2.6% Decline in Fall 2015 1L Enrollment, With 12.4% Decline in 165+ LSATs, 4.1% Increase in < 150 LSATs:  Bloomberg, The Smartest People Are Opting Out of Law School:

American law schools have a brain drain problem. Fewer people with high Law School Admission Test scores are applying to and enrolling in law school, and less-qualified students are filling their slots, new research shows.

As schools grapple with a persistent slump in young Americans’ interest in legal education, the programs seem to be compensating for their sudden unpopularity by taking in people who wouldn’t have made the cut five years ago. As of March 2015, about half as many students with scores of 165 and above on the LSAT have applied to law school as did in 2010, according to a new analysis of the latest numbers from the Law School Admission Council, which administers the test. LSAT scores range from 120 to 180. Applications from students with lower scores are falling, too, but not nearly as sharply, as the second chart below shows.

Bloomberg 1

The disenchantment with law school on the part of the people most likely to get in shows up in the classroom head count, too: Around 5,400 people with the highest scores will enroll in law school this year, down from 9,400 in 2010, according to Jerome Organ, the University of St. Thomas School of Law professor who parsed the numbers. 

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Catholic University Turns To Buyouts, Layoffs In Wake Of $10 Million Law School Revenue Shortfall

Catholic Logo (2015)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Washington Post, Catholic University Turns to Buyouts and Layoffs to Cut Spending:

Catholic University, a school with direct ties to the Vatican, is trimming staff through layoffs and buyouts because of financial pressures. It is the third private university in the nation’s capital to disclose layoffs in recent weeks.

Thirty-seven positions were cut from a full-time staff of about 1,300, a Catholic spokesman confirmed Thursday. About two-thirds of those affected took voluntary buyouts, and the rest were laid off.

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Law Review Symposium Today On International Arbitration And The Courts

Brochure 2I am sitting in on a wonderful Pepperdine Law Review symposium on International Arbitration and the Courts, organized by my friends and colleagues Trey Childress and Jack Coe. There is an all-star cast of speakers, including George Bermann (Columbia), Andrea Bjorklund (McGill), Christopher Drahoal (Kansas), Alan Rau (Texas), Jan Schaefer (King & Spalding, Frankfurt), Maxi Scherer (Queen Mary University of London), Abby Cohen Smutny (White & Case, Washington, D.C.), and Jarrod Wong (McGeorge). You can view the live stream here.

April 17, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Welcome To Your First Year As A Lawyer. Your Salary Is $160,000.

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book, Welcome to Your First Year as a Lawyer. Your Salary Is $160,000.:

Salaries for lawyers starting out at firms have remained flat, with an annual pay of $160,000 continuing to be the top of the market, according to a new survey from the National Association for Law Placement. [First-Year Associate Salaries at Large Law Firms Have Become Less Homogenous, Though $160,000 Continues to Define the Top of the Market].

Some 39 percent of the largest firms — those with 700 lawyers or more — reported paying that amount in the association’s 2015 law associates’ salary survey. This was up from last year, when only 27 percent of the big firms reported paying their new legal hires at the uppermost level. But the percentage was still below 2009, when nearly two-thirds of the first-year salaries were at the top point of $160,000. [Click on chart to enlarge.]


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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

David Han And Greg McNeal Receive Pepperdine Faculty Scholarship Award

Congratulations to my friends and colleagues David Han and Greg McNeal, recipients of Pepperdine Law School's 2015 Dean's Award For Excellence in Scholarship for their outstanding 2014 publications:

HanDavid Han:

Courts generally craft speech-tort jurisprudence as a binary proposition. Any time state tort law and the First Amendment come into potential conflict, courts typically hold either that the First Amendment comes into play and the defendant is completely exempt from traditional tort liability, or that it does not come into play and the plaintiff is entitled to the full complement of tort remedies. In other words, courts generally adopt an unspoken assumption that in speech-tort cases, liability and full tort remedies necessarily go hand-in-hand.

This rigid approach, however, significantly limits courts’ ability to craft a nuanced balance between First Amendment and tort interests. In individual cases, it forces them to choose only one set of interests to be vindicated to the complete exclusion of the other, and on a jurisprudential level, it gives courts only the bluntest of instruments to tailor speech-tort doctrine to widely varying facts. Furthermore, the current approach exacerbates the distributional problem inherent to speech-tort cases: any time the First Amendment intervenes to completely invalidate a subset of common law tort liability, plaintiffs left without liability or remedy are effectively forced to subsidize the costs of free speech, the benefits of which are shared broadly by the public at large.

In this Article, I argue that courts should incorporate a greater degree of remedial flexibility into speech-tort doctrine. Rather than simply adhere to an all-or-nothing approach, courts should consider intermediate approaches in which the First Amendment applies not to vitiate a finding of tort liability but merely to limit or eliminate the damages to which plaintiffs are entitled. These approaches allow courts to shape the complex balance of speech and tort interests with a scalpel rather than a chain saw, both on a case-by-case basis and on the broader level of doctrinal design.

In recent years, this remedy-based approach to speech-tort jurisprudence has rarely been discussed by courts and commentators, while the shadow cast by the First Amendment over tort law has expanded well beyond the defamation context. This calcification of a rigid, binary approach to speech tort cases represents a significant lost opportunity for courts to design more sensible and equitable doctrines. By providing a detailed account of the benefits underlying the use of flexible remedies, evaluating potential critiques to such an approach, and laying out concrete examples of what a remedy-based regime might look like in practice, this Article seeks to rekindle judicial, legislative, and academic interest in adopting such approaches within speech-tort doctrine.

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Loyola-L.A. Law School Shrinks Enrollment By 20%, Taps $20 Million From University Endowment For Student Scholarships

Loyola-L.A. Logo (2013)Los Angeles Loyolan, LMU Approves Special Payout for Loyola Law:

Law school enrollment has seen a dramatic decline in the last five years. Since hitting its peak of 52,488 in 2010, enrollment at U.S. law schools has steadily fallen, plummeting to 37,924 this year, according to the ABA. Law schools around the country have adopted various strategies in order to deal with this 27.7 percent decrease.

Loyola Law School (LLS) has seized this opportunity to restructure and intentionally get smaller. LMU has also approved an approximately $20 million special payout from the University’s endowment towards student scholarships at the law school. ...

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April 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Moody's: Rich Colleges and Universities Are Getting a Lot Richer

Moody'sWashington Post, Rich Colleges and Universities Are Getting a Lot Richer, Study Finds:

The 10 richest universities in America hold nearly a third of the total wealth, in cash and investments, amassed by about 500 public and private institutions. The 40 richest hold almost two-thirds of the total wealth.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

'Culture of Cheating' Prevalent at Stanford, Other Elite Colleges

LogoLos Angeles Times, Colleges Grapple With Cheating in the Digital Age:

Stanford University's honor code dates to 1921, written by students to help guide them through the minefield of plagiarism, forbidden collaboration, copying and other chicaneries that have tempted undergraduates since they first arrived on college campuses.

Exams aren't proctored, and students are expected to police themselves and speak up when they see others committing violations.

But there appears to have been a massive breakdown during the recent winter quarter, culminating in "an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty" reported to officials, according to a letter to faculty from Provost John Etchemendy.

"Among a smattering of concerns from a number of winter courses, one faculty member reported allegations that may involve as many as 20% of the students in one large, introductory course," Etchemendy said in the March 24 letter. ...

Although the Stanford allegations may have surprised some, for many others they cemented the belief that a culture of cheating pervades higher education. Harvard, Dartmouth, the Air Force Academy and other prominent institutions have recently grappled with allegations of large-scale cheating.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

North Carolina Law Review Festschrift In Honor Of Bill Turnier

TurnierJohn Charles Borger (Dean, North Carolina), An Issue in Tribute to a Splendid Career William J. Turnier: UNC Law Colleague, 1973–2014, 93 N.C. L. Rev. 643 (2015):

It is not every senior faculty member whose fondest wish upon retirement is less a dinner hosted in his honor or a public celebration in the Rotunda of Van Hecke-Wettach, but rather an issue of the North Carolina Law Review devoted to tax scholarship. Yet it seems completely fitting that William J. Turnier, a member of the University of North Carolina law faculty for the past forty-one years, has acquiesced in the tribute that appears in these pages, a series of tax articles his scholarly colleagues have assembled in this issue of the Review to mark his departure from full-time academic life. ...

There is always some sadness in watching the departure from our halls of learning of someone who has built such a rich career and commanded such gratitude from more than two generations of students. Yet Bill Turnier’s impact on Carolina Law will remain, and by suggesting this special issue, designed in tribute to his chosen field, Bill has afforded us one last gift that will endure as long as readers strive to read, research, and understand law and its potential for ordering the commonweal.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Georgetown Launches 'Low Bono' Law Firm With DLA Piper, Arent Fox

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Dozen University of Texas Law Profs Are Victims of Tax Identity Theft

Texas LawAustin American-Statesman, UT Law School Faculty Members Fall Victim to ID Theft, Tax Scam:

University of Texas officials are investigating whether a data breach may have led to the identity theft of at least a dozen Law School faculty members who appear to be victims of a tax scam.

The identity theft was discovered when faculty members attempted to file their federal tax returns only to have the Internal Revenue Service reject the submissions, stating that their returns had already been filed, Law School spokesman Christopher Roberts said Tuesday.

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April 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call for Book Reviews: Michigan Law Review

Michigan The Michigan Law Review has asked me to post its solicitation of book reviews for its 2016 Survey of Books Related to the Law:

The Michigan Law Review publishes an Annual Survey of Books. These book reviews are not included in any other issue of the Law Review. Typically, the Survey includes only reviews of books published in the past year. The Volume 114 Book Review issue will be published in spring 2016.

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April 15, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Temperature Rises In Law School Crisis Debate

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (31)

Organ Projects 2.6% Decline in Fall 2015 1L Enrollment, With 12.4% Decline in 165+ LSATs, 4.1% Increase in <150 LSATs

The Legal Whiteboard:  Projections for Law School Enrollment for Fall 2015, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

This blog posting is designed to do three things.  First, following up on recent discussions regarding trends in applicants by Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge and Derek Muller at Excess of Democracy, I provide a detailed analysis to project the likely total applicant pool we can expect at the end of the cycle based on trends from March through the end of the cycle in 2013 and 2014 [54,000, down 3.1% from 2014].  Second, using the likely total pool of applicants, I estimate the number of admitted students and matriculants, but also question whether the estimates might be too high given the decline in quality of the applicant pool in this cycle [36,975, down 2.6% from 2014].  Third, building on the second point, I suggest that law schools in the lower half of the top tier are likely to see unusual enrollment/profile pressure that may then have a ripple effect down through the rankings.

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tacha: Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?

Deanell Reece Tacha (Dean, Pepperdine), Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 729 (2014):

You are the people who must be the spokespersons for the enduring and essential need for well-trained lawyers who can guide the nation and the world through the challenging and exciting issues and disputes that lie ahead. The lawyers’ ability to focus on germane issues, negotiate reasoned practical resolutions, and settle and litigate disputes, will be in high demand in this complex society. The debate about the value of legal education goes to the core of our understanding of what it is to prepare legal professionals for a world we cannot see with any particularity. That is what lawyers do. What we must foresee clearly, is that the legacy of freedom and of people governed by the rule of law is our highest calling and the source of our professional responsibility. The modes of delivering legal services, and even the understanding of what is a legal service, will change. What will not change is the need for lawyers who are problem solvers, client servers, articulators of the American ideal of self-government, models of the rule of law, and servants of the common good. We will always need lawyer-patriots.

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April 14, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 13, 2015

HeinOnline Law Faculty Scholarly Influence Rankings

HeinMy colleague Rob Anderson blogs the new HeinOnline faculty scholarship rankings called ScholarCheck, which counts how often your articles have been:

  • Cited in cases
  • Cited in law review articles
  • Accessed on HeinOnline over the past 12 months

Rob notes that measuring the number of times each author's papers have been accessed on HeinoOnline "reduce[s] the 'lag time' between the time a scholar is active and the time that citations accumulate."

Your ScholarCheck ranking is the average of your ranking in each of these three categories.  HeinOnline has released the Top 250 Authors; individual faculty rankings outside the Top 250 are available here.

Two tax professors are in the Top 250:

Kaplow, Louis:

Cited by Cases 23 (Rank 1703)
Cited By Articles 3285 (Rank 80)
Accessed (Past 12 Months) 1219 (Rank 191)
Scholar Check Rank 213

Asimow, Michael:

Cited by Cases 45 (Rank 649)
Cited By Articles 747 (Rank 1002)
Accessed (Past 12 Months) 860 (Rank 421)
Scholar Check Rank 233

Here are the Top 50 law faculty authors:

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April 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kerr: New (And Free) Legal Research Tool From Google

Google Scholar (2015)Orin Kerr (George Washington), New (and Free) Legal Research Tool:

If you use the Google Chrome browser, and you do legal research online, you should add the new Google Scholar Button to your browser. It’s really easy to do. Just click here and add the button. At that point you can use the button to research academic articles using Google Scholar’s database.


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April 13, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)