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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

8th Circuit Orders New Trial in Unsuccessful Republican Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Suit Against Iowa Law School

Wagner 2Following up on my previous posts (links below) about Teresa Wagner's federal lawsuit claiming she was denied a faculty position because of her conservative views:  the Eighth Circuit today reversed and ordered a new trial.  Wagner v. Jones, No. 13- 1650 (8th Cir. July 15, 2014).

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

July 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Moody's: Negative Outlook for Higher Education Continues Even as Green Shoots of Stability Emerge

Moody'sMoody's Investor Services, Negative Outlook for US Higher Education Continues Even as Green Shoots of Stability Emerge:

We maintain a negative outlook for the US Higher Education sector due to limited revenue growth prospects over the next 12 to 18 months, while expense pressures will constrain the ability of many universities to adjust. We expect regional public universities to be most pressured over the next 12 to 18 months while globally prominent private universities with large endowments will perform well, even as they continue to focus on improved financial operations. Despite ongoing strains, emerging trends point to possible stabilization of credit conditions over the next year.

Moody's

July 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Says President's Use of University-Provided House Constitutes Taxable Income

Columbus Dispatch, IRS Sees Ohio University President’s House as Taxable:

AthensWhen Roderick J. McDavis became Ohio University’s president a decade ago, he moved into 29 Park Place, a 7,000-square-foot, 2 1/2-story home at the heart of OU’s campus in Athens.

The rent is free, and McDavis’ contract says he has to live in the house. Plus, it’s convenient for McDavis, administrators, faculty members and students to have him so close to the office.

So should he pay income taxes on the house as a benefit? Many Ohio universities say no. The Internal Revenue Service says yes.

An ongoing IRS audit of OU found that McDavis should pay taxes on his free residency at OU. The university’s board of trustees thought otherwise, voting last month to cover the “unexpected” cost: about $19,000 in federal, state and local taxes for this year. ...

Including his salary, bonuses and other pay, McDavis made nearly $600,000 during the 2013 fiscal year. ...

Meanwhile, several leaders of other Ohio universities with arrangements similar or identical to OU’s are still living tax-free, The Dispatch found. Ohio State University and at least five other universities own their presidents’ residences, and none asks its president to pay rent or taxes.

Continue reading

July 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Rodriguez: Law Schools and the Lost Generation

Dan Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern; President, AALS), Law Schools and the Lost Generation:

Elie Mystal has a post today on Above the Law that gets to the heart of a real problem, and one which potentially will only grow in significance and impact. Law grads, as he notes, feel increasingly disaffected from their law schools once they graduate, this disaffection being tied not principally (my characterization, not his) to the quality of the education provided, but to the employment outcomes and correlative debt burden suffered by students out in the marketplace with challenges and stress. In the law schools, we call this group (grads of the last seven years or so) “the lost generation.”

The basic problem which undergirds Elie’s righteous and thoughtful post is that law schools too often regard their unemployed or underemployed graduates, more than, say, a year out, as someone else’s problem. Even those law schools that work hard, and creatively, to increase employment opportunities for their current students and newly-minted graduates lack the clear incentives to continue that assistance — and in a tangible way — over the several beginning years of their graduates’ careers. No wonder why young alums perceive their law school as connecting with them only with their hands out for money. They are more right than wrong.

Let’s keep it real and say, again with credit to Elie’s main message in this post that law schools must be proactive and strategic in providing their graduates with assistance over at least the first few years following graduation.

Elie Mystal (Above the Law), Who Is To Blame For Declining LSAT Applications?:

If you look at the general trend of law school reforms, such as they are, they’re all designed to appeal to the next crop of law students. Law schools are doing nothing to to ameliorate the losses of their former recent students. ...

Law schools think that their recent graduates who got screwed aren’t their problem anymore. In fact, those guys are the biggest problem for law schools. It’s those people, more than anybody else, who are telling their friends and family to “stay away.” It’s those parents who are saying to other parents “my kid went to law school, and look what happened.” Law school deans, economists, and (some members of) the media act like the glut of unemployed and under-employed law graduates no longer affects the market going forward because they’re no longer competing for the choice entry-level jobs. But these people didn’t just die. They’re still out there, still struggling, and still telling their stories to anyone who will listen.

Law schools have created an army of people who tell other people not to go to law school. That is their legacy over the past half decade. Their damage to their own brands is severe.

July 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (23)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fall 2014 Law Review Article Submission Guide

Nancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Fall 2014 submission season covering 203 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-51) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

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

The second chart (pp. 52-58) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

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

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

Continue reading

July 14, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Germany Loses in Philosophers' World Cup

On the heels of its stirring victory in yesterday's Soccer World Cup, Germany suffered a last-second loss in the Philosophers' World Cup:

July 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

San Diego Tax Prof Dinner

Dinner 5

From left: Jordan Barry (San Diego, Francine Lipman (UNLV), Vic, Penelope and Miranda Fleischer (San Diego), Paul Caron (Pepperdine), and Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson).  Thanks to Francine for organizing the dinner and for surprising me with a cake celebrating TaxProf Blog's 10 Year Anniversary:

Dinner 2

July 14, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Number of LSAT Test Takers in June Falls to 14-Year Low

Wall Street Journal, Number of LSAT Test Takers in June Falls to 14-Year Low:

Back in February, a slight dip in LSAT test-takers led Law Blog to wonder if the law-school crisis had turned a corner? The latest LSAT numbers suggest law schools are still digging into a hole.

The number of law school admission tests administered in June was down 9.1% compared to a year earlier, according to figures released by the Law School Admission Council on Thursday.

The 21,802 people who sat for the test last month is the lowest June total in 14 years, suggesting that law schools may still be having difficulty convincing college graduates on the value of a J.D. degree. For schools, it’s a step backward after the glint of hope they got in February when the number of law school admission tests administered inched up 1.1% over the February 2013 total.

LSAC

Matt Leichter, LSAT Tea-Leaf Reading: June 2014 Edition:

Typically, June has the highest proportion of first-time LSATs (~70 percent between 2010 and 2012). This June low bodes ill for the number of applicants next fall. ...

Chart 1

July 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

How to Get Students to Come to a Make Up Tax Class in the Summer

USD

July 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Schools Peer Into The Abyss, But The ABA Blocks Serious Change

Forbes:  Law Schools Peer Into The Abyss But The American Bar Association Blocks Serious Change, by George Leef (Director of Research, John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy):

GatheringNot so long ago, law school was a growth industry, with new schools being created and enrollments going ever higher. No more. There has been a dramatic turn-around over the last ten years.

Enrollments of first-year students are back where they were 40 years ago. According to the Law School Admissions Council, in 2004, more than 100,000 students applied for law school, but in 2013, just 59,000 did. Some law schools have had to lay off faculty members and administrators. Four independent law schools have recently had their bonds downgraded to “junk” status by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, reflecting their questionable finances. ...

Law schools are not free to make many other changes that would do a lot more good, both for law students and for the clients they will eventually serve. That is because the accreditation standards imposed by the ABA require schools to operate in costly and inefficient ways.

Arguably the most vociferous critic of the ABA’s law school mandates is Larry Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law. In the short but impassioned book he wrote with Kurt Olson, The Gathering Peasants’ Revolt in American Legal Education, he made the case that law schools could train future lawyers at much lower cost if only the ABA would allow that.

Velvel and Olson write that the ABA’s policies are “designed to ensure continued and increasing economic and professional benefits for professors and deans.”

Continue reading

July 11, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

ABA Opens Nominations for the 8th Annual Blawg 100

Blawg 100The ABA Journal is soliciting nominees for its 8th Annual Blawg 100 -- "the 100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal." To nominate your favorite blawg, go here.

July 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

John ('The Duke') Wayne v. Duke University

Duke v DukeInteresting lawsuit between the heirs of John "The Duke" Wayne and Duke University over the rights to use the Duke name:

The case concerns the Wayne family's right to market Duke Bourbon:

Duke Bourbon

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

Law Prof Blog Traffic Rankings

Below are the updated quarterly traffic rankings by page views of the Top 50 blogs edited by law professors for the July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014 period, as well as the percentage change in traffic from the prior 12-month period.  As I previously announced, in response to several requests and in light of the continued degrading of Site Meter, I am now including the more accurate, stable Google Analytics data in these quarterly traffic rankings (marked with an asterisk).

Rank

Blog

Page Views

Change

1

InstaPundit*

147,883,140

n/a

2

Volokh Conspiracy*a

15,429,923

+42.7%

3

Legal Insurrection*

15,367,741

+6.2%

4

TaxProf Blog*

14,915,193

+347.9%

5

Althouse

14,248,540

-26.1%

6

Leiter Reports: Philosophy

5,721,050

-0.4%

7

Hugh Hewitt

3,455,156

-43.9%

8

Patently-O

3,223,956

-14.1%

9

PrawfsBlawg

2,231,847

+13.4%

10

The Incidental Economist*

1,854,619

+38.6%

11

Lawfare*

1,794,468

+33.5%

12

Faculty Lounge

1,407,739

+2.9%

13

Leiter's Law School Reports

1,364,938

+35.1%

14

Wills, Tr. & Est. Prof Blog

1,302,188

+119.2%

15

Sentencing Law & Policy

1,267,974

-2.0%

16

Gregory S. McNeal*a

1,147,520

n/a

17

Liberty Law Blog*

1,133,967

n/a

18

Harvard Law Corp Gov

1,051,456

-18.2%

19

Opinio Juris*

989,473

-6.9%

20

Concurring Opinions

943,259

-4.0%

21

College Insurrection*

883,371

+24.6%

22

Constitutional Law Prof Blog

737,649

+57.3%

23

Conglomerate

735,986

+89.1%

24

Antitrust & Comp. Policy Blog

709,997

+178.2%

25

ImmigrationProf Blog

709,952

+157.6%

26

Election Law Blog*

699,839

-25.2%

27

Legal Skills

611,962

+256.0%

28

Balkinization

609,672

-20.9%

29

Workplace Prof Blog

531,472

+110.0%

30

Legal Whiteboard

438,677

+168.9%

31

EvidenceProf Blog

406,067

+239.7%

32

ContractsProf Blog

386,565

+192.6%

33

Legal Profession Blog

377,364

+101.5%

34

Turtle Talk* (incomplete data)

375,475

-43.9%

35

Josh Blackman Blog*

366,243

+31.2%

36

White Collar Crime Prof Blog

346,038

+120.3%

37

Jack Bog's Blog

340,277

-89.8%

38

CrimProf Blog

303,227

+129.2%

39

Mirror of Justice

288,055

-32.9%

40

M&A Prof Blog

285,357

+128.1%

41

Nonprofit Law Prof Blog

277,974

+282.5%

42

Religion Clause

274,171

-13.7%

43

PropertyProf Blog

238,468

+118.4%

44

Legal Writing Prof Blog

235,252

+63.1%

45

Civil Procedure Prof Blog

231,820

+203.4%

46

Law School Academic Support

222,256

+210.7%

47

Legal Ethics Forum

215,372

+10.3%

48

Dorf on Law*

214,614

+22.2%

49

Adjunct Law Prof Blog

197,914

+129.2%

50

Legal History Blog

184,979

-40.6%

a Proprietary data based in part on Google Analytics.

  • The rankings include all blogs edited by law professors -- both law-related and non law-related.
  • The rankings include all blogs that have publicly available Site Meters or that have emailed me a screenshot of their Google Analytics data (or granted me read-only access to their data).
  • Please email me the names of any Law Prof Blogs with traffic for the July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014 period that would qualify for inclusion on the list (184,980 page views). If necessary, I will re-publish the list to include all qualifying blogs.
  • Several popular Law Prof Blogs do not have publicly available Site Meters and have not sent me Google Analytics data and thus are not included on the list:  e.g., California Appellate Report, Credit Slips, The Deal Professor, Feminist Law Professors, Legal Theory, Point of Law, ProfessorBainbridge.com.
  • These rankings cover only those blogs edited by law professors. Other law-related blogs edited by practitioners, librarians, non-law school academics, and journalists are not included on this list:  e.g., Above the Law, How Appealing, Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
  • Members of my Law Professor Blogs Network comprise 7 of the Top 25 blogs and 22 of the Top 50 blogs.

July 10, 2014 in Blog Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2015 AALS Annual Meeting: Legal Education at the Crossroads

AALSIn the parable of the Delta blues player, the musician considers carefully his choice: to make his pact with the Devil and preserve his guitar greatness or to take the other path. He considers this fateful decision at the crossroads. We are at the crossroads. Our law schools face critical choices: Are we going to continue on the path which, while suitable to the previous world in which we pursued glory and economic progress and our graduates took their rightful place in the generally remunerative legal economy, now has significant pitfalls and predicaments. Or are we going to take the path toward a more promising, albeit risky and uncertain, destination for our students, our faculty, our profession?

As faculty members and law school leaders, we are engaged deeply with questions concerning the efficacy of our current educational and economic model. Some prophesize the demise of this model and, with it, doom and gloom for (many? most? all?) or our member schools; others, for sure, remain ever optimistic. Moreover, we are engaged with complex questions of pedagogical strategy and educational performance. In our teaching, in our scholarship, and in our external engagement with the bench, bar, and business sector, we ask: Are we doing all we can and should to prepare our students for this dynamic new world? Ideally, these questions should be omnipresent parts of our strategies. But, realistically, they have garnered our focused attention in this era in which law schools are under pressure and, in a meaningful way, under siege.

Continue reading

July 10, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

I Don't Live in Cincinnati Anymore ... Marijuana Farmers Market Opens in LA

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NY Law Students to Take Bar Exam in February of Their 3L Year

New York Law Journal:  Courts, Law Schools Gear Up for Pro Bono Scholar Program:

NYNew York's 15 law schools and the state court system are laying the groundwork for a new Pro Bono Scholars program, where students can dedicate their final semester to pro bono work on behalf of low-income clients in exchange for early bar admission.

Starting next spring, about 150 students will spend 12 weeks working full-time for a law school clinic, legal services nonprofit, government agency or law firm. Placements will begin March 2, after participants take the February bar exam.

Though their work will be unpaid, students will receive at least 12 academic credits and participate in a weekly, on-campus seminar to complement what they're learning on the job. Licensed attorneys will supervise them.

Early bar admission is a top selling point for potential Pro Bono Scholars. Participants will be admitted by June 2015, up to a year before their classmates who take the July bar exam.

July 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Finding Meaning After Academe

Chronicle of Higher Education: Finding Meaning After Academe, by Elizabeth Segran:

BooksThe "do what you love" mantra pervades academe, engendering seemingly rational people to forsake lucrative careers for the study of Mediterranean archaeology or, in my case, classical Tamil love poetry.

During my years in graduate school, that philosophy toward work was rarely challenged. On the contrary, in subtle and overt ways, my colleagues and professors reinforced the belief that it is more noble to pursue a love of literature, history, or science than to pursue financial stability. It was a seductive fantasy, especially since, for a time, my work—the teaching, the research, and the digging through archives in far-flung corners of the world—made me very happy.:

The problem, however, is that for the vast majority of newly minted Ph.D.’s, it is now close to impossible to find financially viable academic work. Toward the end of my doctoral program, that grim economic reality eventually set in, forcing me to make difficult decisions about my future. I applied to hundreds of positions and went on dozens of interviews over the course of two years, only to find myself with no good options at the end of that grueling process. My choices came down to taking adjunct work or leaving the academy altogether. Reluctantly, I chose the latter: I filed my dissertation, started an internship at a public-relations agency, and put academe behind me. ...

When confronted with the instability and poverty that accompany adjunct employment, many Ph.D.’s are compelled to consider alternative careers, and a significant number will cross over into the nonacademic realm. According to recent studies from the American Historical Association and Modern Language Association, 24.2 percent of history Ph.D.’s and 21 percent of English and foreign-language Ph.D.’s have, over the last decade, pursued nonacademic careers. 

In my experience, the transition out of academe can be painful. Apart from the stresses of job hunting, one of the most challenging parts of the process for me was confronting the possibility that I might no longer be one of the lucky people able to do what I love. ...

It took me years—and several paradigm shifts—to arrive at the conclusion that it is possible for a former academic to have a meaningful career outside of academe. Here are a few things I wish I had known earlier in my journey. ...

Continue reading

July 9, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Cunningham: Truth, Candor, and Crisis at Yeshiva University

Yeshiva LogoFollowing up on my previous post, Yeshiva University's Bonds Downgraded to 'Junk': Lawrence Cunningham (George Washington), Truth, Candor, and Crisis at Yeshiva University:

Among universities in trouble, the darkest cloud hangs over Yeshiva University, a venerable Jewish institution founded in New York in 1886. The University acknowledges huge economic losses and failed investment policies and is taking extraordinary steps to balance its books, including ceding control over its one-time crown jewel, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which has close friends of its law school, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, very concerned.  Critics, moreover, see a death spiral and question the leadership’s candor.

Amid calls for the resignation or dismissal of Yeshiva’s president, Mr. Richard M. Joel, he says the University will no longer engage with the media on fiscal questions. The Wall Street Journal reports that the University has hired the crisis-management communications firm, Kekst & Co., but any benefits from that hiring are not yet obvious. ...

Continue reading

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thoughts on Law Prof Work-Life Imbalance From Those Left Behind

Patricia Sun, the widow of Law Prof Andy Taslitz (American) who died of cancer on February 9 at age 57, wrote a gripping Facebook post on Thoughts on Work-Life ImBalance From Those Left Behind (excerpted here with a photo of Andy and Patricia, with Patricia's permission):

Patricia SunI'll post this on Andy's FB page because I'm not sure anyone reads mine anymore, and while this can apply to anyone, it's really addressed to law professors.

In the past 4 months I have kept seeing accolades to Andy's amazing productivity - the 100+ articles, the zillions of case books, etc., and I have always told people that yes, he led a normal life, yes, he got plenty of sleep and yes, he even took plenty of naps. 

But that's not really true. His life was not normal, at least not to me, and it certainly wasn't balanced. Yes, I know he genuinely loved his work and yes, I know he had a brilliant and unusual mind, and yes, I know he was cut down in his prime when he still had so much more to give. But all of that came with a price. Not the teaching or the mentoring, but all that scholarship. ...

So what was the price in the end? In the entire time we were married we only took a two-week vacation once, and just about every vacation we did take was wrapped around one of his conferences or presentations. The furthest he went on each of his two sabbaticals was his front bedroom, because he spent every single day on his manuscripts. He turned down trips to China, to South Africa, to Japan, and most impressively to me, he twice turned down a chance to be an observer at Guantanamo. Of course he always had different reasons -- S. Africa wasn't safe, the timing of the China trip was bad, etc., but I knew the real reason was he didn't want to take time away from work. ...

So in the end how do I feel about his productivity? Yes, he enjoyed it, but he also killed himself trying not to disappoint people or to break deadlines. 

And as I sit here with the dogs on July 4th, I think was it really that important to add one more book review to his CV or to do one more tenure letter as a favor for someone he never met? I'm glad his peers all loved him for the reliable genius that he was, and I don't know how he feels wherever he is now, but I am very, very bitter. 

Yes, he was a great academic mentor and collaborator, but the price for all that frenzied output was me, and there's a part of me that will never forgive him for it, because he died right after he promised to slow down and enjoy life itself more.

So think about it, members of the "academy." All that talk about US News rankings and SSRN citations. Do you REALLY think stuff like that is life and death to your loved ones? I think most of them would sacrifice one more line on your resume for one more day of quality time with you. I know I would. But it's a bargain I can't make any more.

Food for thought, especially for someone who last spent an entire 24-hour period not working exactly nine years ago to the day.

Update:  ABA Journal, Was Law Prof’s ‘Frenzied Output’ Worth It? His Widow Says Work Devotion Came at a Price

July 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Case Western and Former Dean Settle Retaliation Claim by Law Prof Over Reporting of Alleged Sexual Harassment of Students and Staff

SettlementFollowing up on my prior posts (links below):  the parties have reached a settlement in the lawsuit by Case Western Law Prof Raymond Ku alleging retaliation for reporting alleged sexual harassment of students and staff by former dean Lawrence Mitchell.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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

Henderson: Supercharging Lawyer Development Through Feedback

William D. Henderson (Indiana), Supercharging Lawyer Development Through Feedback:

FeedbackI am a law professor. My job is to educate future lawyers. Experience has shown me that the best way to accelerate the development of legal skills is to provide more and better feedback to my students.

But feedback is expensive. It takes time to deliver intensive feedback. Moreover, feedback can be difficult emotional labor, as it is unpleasant to deliver bad news. Further, defensiveness is a relatively common reaction, so one has to be prepared to marshal facts and examples to show that the feedback is objective, fair, and accurate.

To compound matters, there are few if any institutional rewards for giving developmentally rich feedback,1 partially because it is difficult to measure the quality of feedback and its impact on lawyer development, and partially because scholarship remains the primary coin of the realm among university educators.

For all of these reasons, the majority of law school coursework involves very little feedback beyond a letter grade derived from a single end-of-the-term exam. Because high-quality feedback can accelerate lawyer professional development and is likely a winning strategy for any law school or law firm seeking to take market share, we are likely to see more of it in the years to come.

Drawing upon my experience as an educator who works closely with law firms and studies the legal profession, I am willing to wager on two predictions that others might find fanciful or utopian.

Continue reading

July 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Tuition Data (1996-2014)

TuiitonMatt Leichter, Law School Cost Data (1996-):

Here you will find analysis of the available information on law school costs, including tuition information from every juris-doctor-conferring law school going back to the 1996-1997 academic year. Also included are the percentages of full-time students paying full tuition by law school, the percentages of full-time students at private law schools receiving the median grant offered by their law school (or more), and the amount full-time students at private law schools pay if they receive the median grant—referred to as “median discounted tuition.” Tuition discounting at most public law schools and one private law school is not easy to measure because they charge their students different amounts. Also, many of the calculations carefully exclude the three ABA-accredited law schools in Puerto Rico because they behave very differently from stateside law schools. Many of the figures are inflation adjusted to 2013 dollars. ...

The sources used in this page are the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s statistics page and archived editions of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to the ABA Law Schools, which going forward will only appear electronically as the Standard 509 Reports. Some of the data come from paper copies of the Official Guide I purchased, so they can’t be easily verified. ...

Click on the hyperlink to read information on the following topics:

Table 1

July 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hastings Dean Fights Dive in U.S. News Law School Rankings

UC-Hastings Logo 3The Recorder:  UC-Hastings Dean Fights Rankings Dive:

Frank Wu is ready. He's got visual aids, the assistance of a research analyst, and a laptop that's booted and flipped open. His sleeves are rolled up and he's set to talk rankings. It's a presentation the dean of UC-Hastings College of the Law has given before.

Wu is trying to pull Hastings out of a yearslong dive in the rankings. The school was ranked 19th by U.S. News and World Report in 1992, and 42nd when Wu arrived in 2010. This year, after it slipped to 54 from 48, Wu wrote to reassure students and alumni that despite getting clobbered by the bleak hiring climate, UC-Hastings remains among the top law schools in the nation. ...

Like most deans, Wu has plenty of gripes about the rankings, but says he can't afford to ignore them. "Prospective students care. Our faculty care, staff care, alumni care, I care. Our board cares. If I stood up and said, 'I don't care about U.S. News. I'm going to pay no attention to U.S. News,' if I used obscenity and other inappropriate language, I would be removed of my responsibilities," he said. "So, U.S. News is a looming presence, and to rail against it is futile." ...

[T]he school's tumble in the rankings has created an opening for critics. Wu's a talker more than a listener and his in-your-face style is not always welcome. ...

The dean is also taking heat from graduates unhappy with the school's downward trajectory in the U.S. News rankings. "There isn't a day that goes by when I don't go out and have some alum berate me," Wu said. ...

In 2012, UC-Hastings reduced its incoming class by nearly 100 students. To cover the loss of tuition revenue, Wu cut the equivalent of 23 full-time staff positions. The school also raised in-state tuition nearly 30 percent between 2010 and 2012. Since then, it has remained roughly unchanged at approximately $48,000, and Wu is pushing hard to raise revenue through fundraising, bringing in about $6 million in the 2012 fiscal year.

"Some credit is due for keeping tuition flat," said Kyle McEntee, executive director of the nonprofit Law School Transparency. However, McEntee notes that holding "really high" tuition stable isn't exactly a win for students. California law schools such as UC-Irvine, Pepperdine University, Santa Clara University and the University of San Diego have done a better job of controlling tuition, he said.

[T]he biggest drag on Hastings' rank is student employment rates. U.S. News weighs the percent of grads employed in full-time, permanent jobs for which a law degree is a requirement or an advantage. Only 47 percent of last year's Hastings grads could claim that distinction.

Wu has joined with other California law school deans in demanding U.S. News change its methodology, which they say penalizes schools in states with high overall unemployment.

Chapman Dean: U.S. News Rankings Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools:

U.S. News 2015Following up on yesterday's post, Deans Say Rankings Penalize California Law Schools for Bad Economy; U.S. News Rejects Call for State-Adjusted Employment Data:  Tom Campbell (Dean, Chapman) has asked me to post his letter to the editor of The Recorder, U.S. News Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools, on TaxProf Blog:

Your article Deans Say U.S. News Rankings Penalize Schools in the Golden State reported the unanimous position of the California law school deans, who agree that California’s poor employment prospects are a drag on the rankings at all 21 accredited California law schools – even though they are no fault of the California law schools or their students. Put simply, if a law school in Iowa, where unemployment is 4.2%, places 85% of its students, and a law school in California, where unemployment is 8.3%, places 84% of its students, U.S. News ranks the Iowa school ahead of the California school. That is nonsense, if the purpose is to rank the quality of the two law schools. ...

Let’s look at the top 10 ranked law schools in California, U.S. News Methodology Penalizes Most California Law Schools, over the last three years:

#4 USC, dropped 2 positions in the national rankings;
#5 UC Davis dropped 13 positions in the national rankings;
#6 UC Hastings dropped 12 positions in the national rankings;
#8 Loyola dropped 33 positions in the national rankings;
#9 UC San Diego dropped 12 positions in the national rankings; and
#10 Santa Clara dropped 23 positions in the national rankings.

The other four top-ten California schools [#1 Stanford, #2 UC-Berkeley, #3 UCLA, #7 Pepperdine] stayed the same in the national rankings.

The “California effect” on our rankings has nothing to do with the quality of education our schools provide. So we proposed to U.S. News to normalize the employment data on law schools the same way they do for differing state bar passage percentages. If a law school’s graduates pass their state bar at a 70% level, that means something different about the law school’s quality if the overall state bar passage is 80%, or if it is 60%. So, U.S. News normalizes for the bar passage rate of the state. They should do the same for employment. Otherwise, law students in entire states like California will be penalized in the rankings not because a lack of quality of their training, but instead due to economic factors beyond their control.

Below I share the full chart showing the significant U.S. News rankings downtrend in California. May I kindly ask that you share this chart and my comments here with your readers?

School

Name

2012

Rank

2013

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

1 Year

Change

3 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

2

3

-1

0

UC- Berkeley

9

7

9

9

0

0

UCLA

16

15

17

16

+1

0

USC

18

18

18

20

-2

-2

UC-Davis

23

29

38

36

+2

-13

UC-Hastings

42

44

48

54

-6

-12

Pepperdine

54

49

61

54

+7

0

Loyola-L.A.

54

51

68

87

-19

-33

San Diego

67

65

68

79

-11

-12

Santa  Clara

84

96

96

107

-11

-23

Chapman

104

110

126

140

-14

-36

McGeorge

100

101

124

146

-22

-46

San Francisco

100

106

144

Tier 2

-2 +

-46+

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

129

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25+

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

July 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

10,000 Hours of Practice Does Not Guarantee Greatness

Business Insider:  New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule, by Drake Baer:

OutliersThe 10,000 Hour Rule — closely associated with pop psych writer Malcolm Gladwell — may not be much of a rule at all. 

The principle holds that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. When psychologists talk about deliberate practice, they mean practicing in a way that pushes your skill set as much as possible.

In Outliers, Gladwell contends that early access to getting 10,000 hours of practice allowed the Beatles to become the greatest band in history (thanks to playing all-night shows in Hamburg) and Bill Gates to become one of the richest dudes around (thanks to using a computer since his teen years). 

But a new Princeton study [Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis] tears that theory down. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice, the researchers found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains. What's really surprising is how much it depends on the domain: 

  • In games, practice made for a 26% difference
  • In music, it was a 21% difference
  • In sports, an 18% difference
  • In education, a 4% difference
  • In professions, just a 1% difference

Click MomentThe best explanation of the domain dependency is probably found in Frans Johansson's book The Click Moment.

In it, Johansson argues that deliberate practice is only a predictor of success in fields that have super stable structures. For example, in tennis, chess, and classical music, the rules never change, so you can study up to become the best. 

But in less stable fields, like entrepreneurship and rock and roll, rules can go out the window:

  • Richard Branson started in the record business but quickly branched out into fields well beyond music: Virgin Group has 400 companies and is launching people into space.
  • Then there's a band like the Sex Pistols, who took the world by storm even though Sid Vicious could barely play his bass.

So mastery is more than a matter of practice.

July 7, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Boston Law Schools Shrink Enrollments, Faculties

The Boston Globe:  Waning Ranks at Law Schools:

BostonYears after the end of the recession, enrollment at the nation’s law schools continues to plummet, a wrenching shift that has forced many schools to cut expenses and raised concerns about the long-term financial prospects of some. ... With a difficult job market making students increasingly hesitant to take on massive student loan debt, nearly all law schools in Massachusetts — one of the top areas in the nation for legal education — have seen enrollment suffer.

The persistent decline has forced many law schools to take drastic measures. Suffolk University, where first-year enrollment fell 15 percent last year, recently offered buyouts to all faculty with tenure or with renewable long-term contracts, and Western New England University in Springfield has pared back its faculty among a number of cost-cutting measures. ...

At New England Law School in Boston, first-year enrollment has dropped 40 percent since fall 2010, while Western New England saw a 28 percent decline. In response, New England Law School last year froze wages, offered buyouts to some faculty members, and reduced its administrative staff. The dean, John O’Brien, took a voluntary pay cut of 25 percent.

Globe 1

Globe 2

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July 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Death of Louie Zamperini

UnbrokenNew York Times, Louis Zamperini, Olympian and ‘Unbroken’ War Survivor, Dies at 97:

Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who as an airman during World War II crashed into the Pacific, was listed as dead and then spent 47 days adrift in a life raft before being captured by the Japanese and enduring a harsh imprisonment, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 97.

Mr. Zamperini’s remarkable story of survival during the war gained new attention in 2010 with the publication of a vivid biography by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It rose to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

The story is to be retold in a film adaptation of the book directed by Angelina Jolie and scheduled to be released in December. Jack O’Connell plays Mr. Zamperini. ...

Past efforts to make Mr. Zamperini’s story into a movie failed. In the 1950s, Tony Curtis wanted to play the role. In the late ’90s, Nicolas Cage expressed interest. Despite Mr. Zamperini’s two autobiographies, Ms. Hillenbrand thought more could be done with the story. In an email she wrote:

“Louie’s story was well told, but as an autobiography it was limited to Louie’s point of view. No one had approached Louie’s story as a biography, incorporating numerous points of view. “I began interviewing Louie’s fellow airmen, POWs, Japanese camp officials and home front friends and family, and went through their diaries, memoirs and letters. What I found was a fascinating untold story.”

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July 5, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Thursday, July 3, 2014

6th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Thomas Cooley Law School's Defamation Complaint Over Statements About Its Placement and Loan Default Rates

Thomas Cooley Logo (2013)Following up on this week's posts:

Thomas M. Cooley Law School v. Kurzon Strauss, No. 13-2317 (6th Cir. July 2, 2014):

Plaintiff Thomas M. Cooley Law School claims that defendants Kurzon Strauss, LLP, David Anziska, and Jesse Strauss published defamatory statements regarding plaintiff’s institution, causing $17 million in damages. ...

On June 8, 2011, under a heading titled “Investigating the Thomas Cooley School of Law,” Anziska posted the following statement on the website “JD Underground,” hosted at http://www.qfora.com/jdu:

My firm is currently conducting a broad, wide-ranging investigation of a number of law schools for blatantly manipulating their post-graduate employment data and salary information. These schools are preying on the blithe ignorance of naive, clueless 22-year-olds who have absolutely no idea what a terrible investment obtaining a JD degree is. Perhaps one of the worst offenders is the Thomas Cooley School of Law, which grossly inflates its post-graduate employment data and salary information. More ominously, there are reports that there [sic] students are defaulting on loans at an astounding 41 percent, and that the school is currently being investigated by the DOE for failing to adequately disclose its students’ true default rates. Unfortunately, the ABA has proven to be absolutely toothless in regulating these schools and stamping out these dubious practices, and most likely schools like Thomas Cooley will continue to defraud unwitting students unless held civilly accountable. If you have any relevant information or know of anyone who has attended Thomas Cooley feel free to contact me at anziska@kurzonstrauss.com. Obviously, all correspondences will be kept strictly confidential. ...

In granting defendants’ motions for summary judgment, the district court held that plaintiff was a limited purpose public figure and that the record would not allow a reasonable jury to conclude that defendants published the challenged statements with actual malice. We agree and affirm.

National Law Journal, Cooley Law Suffers Setbacks Financially and in Court:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday affirmed a trial judge’s dismissal of a defamation lawsuit brought by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School against three plaintiffs lawyers who sued the school for alleged fraud in 2011. ...

“Cooley should have known better than to bring this meritless, vindictive, vexatious, farce of a lawsuit,” attorneys David Anziska and Jesse Strauss, who were defendants in Cooley’s suit, said of the Sixth Circuit ruling. “It was a waste of Cooley’s diminishing tuition revenue. Cooley's money could have been better spent helping its graduates find jobs.”

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thomas Cooley Law School Won’t Enroll New 1Ls at Ann Arbor Campus, Plans Faculty Layoffs

Thomas Cooley Logo (2013)ABA Journal, Cooley Law School Won’t Enroll New 1Ls at Ann Arbor Campus, Plans Faculty Layoffs:

According to an internal announcement obtained by Above the Law, Cooley “will hold off enrolling incoming first-term students at the Ann Arbor campus for fall 2014.” The Ann Arbor location is one of four Cooley campuses in Michigan; a fifth campus is in Tampa, Florida.

Thomas M. Cooley Law School Statement (July 1, 2014):

As with most law schools across the country, Cooley Law School’s enrollment and revenue have continued to decline while health care and legacy costs continue to rise. Despite ongoing cost control efforts, the school can no longer avoid the financial imbalance between the revenue and expenses it faces. As a result, the Cooley board of directors and administration are instituting a financial management plan to reduce expenses significantly and right size the organization.

The plan will help the school remain at the forefront of innovative approaches to legal education and continue to deliver the broad, high-quality access to legal instruction students have come to expect from Cooley. It demonstrates the school’s commitment to maintaining its high level of academic excellence and support for current and future students.

The plan includes:

      1. Faculty and staff reductions
      2. A system wide review of each program for capacity and quality
      3. A review of all campuses and facilities to reduce and rebalance costs
      4. A review of all purchases, travel and other expenses

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

WSJ: Improve Your Productivity and Your Life by Getting Rid of Internet Service at Home

Wall Street Journal, Say No to the Distraction-Industrial Complex:

No InternetOf all the potentially embarrassing things I confess to friends and acquaintances, perhaps the one most guaranteed to get a reaction is this: I don't have broadband Internet at home. And here's something I've never said aloud: I don't think you should, either, because it is ruining your productivity, if not your life. ...

Barring emergency, work is confined to work hours. This forces me to be more efficient at the office even as it allows me to be more emotionally present when I'm not there. It also has led me to notice that the times I am most productive while working are when I have no Internet connection at all—on planes, buses and trains.

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

NY Times: The Self-Promotion Backlash

New York Times:  The Self-Promotion Backlash, by Anna North:

InvisiblesFrom “building your personal brand” to “stepping up your social media presence,” we’re constantly inundated with advice about how to promote ourselves. But some are saying that the pressure to self-promote could, ultimately, be hurting us.

In his recent book Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, David Zweig profiles a group of people whose jobs are behind the scenes in some way (a guitar technician and a United Nations interpreter, for instance), and who derive satisfaction not from public recognition, but from the internal sense of a job well done. These “Invisibles,” as he calls them, are often extremely fulfilled in their careers, and they may have something to teach those of us who feel we have to constantly promote ourselves to succeed. He writes:

“We’ve been taught that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, that to not just get ahead, but to matter, to exist even, we must make ourselves seen and heard. But what if this is a vast myth?” ...

The Invisibles offer “an alternate path to success” — they got where they were not by courting attention, but by working quietly and extremely carefully toward something bigger than themselves. “The work they do is always in service of a larger endeavor,” he explained. And they show that at least for some people, “when you focus on excellence and good work, that actually does get recognized in the end.”

July 2, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Prof Puts on the Miles

PriusTen years ago, I blogged the spiffy new, exotic Prius with the "TaxProf" license plate driven by Jay Soled (Rutgers), which spawned my first TaxProf Blog meme, with several posts on other tax-centric license plates (here, here, herehere, and here).  Jay writes in that the Prius just crossed the 250,000-mile marker:

My 2004 Prius now has 250,000 miles.  Consider the following:  over the last ten years, assuming the average car achieved 25 mpg and my Prius achieved 50 mpg, then I was able to save 5,000 gallons of gas and significantly reduce my carbon footprint.  At the risk of sounding smug, this is undoubtedly a good thing for the world.

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July 2, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Judge Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Against Thomas Cooley Law School

Thomas Cooley Logo (2013)National Law Journal, Judge Tosses Defamation Suit Against Cooley Law:

A federal judge in New York has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against Thomas M. Cooley Law School by a plaintiffs attorney who helped spearhead a series of fraud class actions against law schools in 2011.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled on June 24 that her court lacked jurisdiction over the Michigan law school, despite plaintiff firm Kurzon LLP’s claims that Cooley advertises, raises money and recruits students in the Empire State.

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July 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.

New York Times:  Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.:

Americans have a split vision of education. Conventional wisdom has long held that our K-12 schools are mediocre or worse, while our colleges and universities are world class. While policy wonks hotly debate K-12 reform ideas like vouchers and the Common Core state standards, higher education is largely left to its own devices. Many families are worried about how to get into and pay for increasingly expensive colleges. But the stellar quality of those institutions is assumed.

Yet a recent multinational study of adult literacy and numeracy skills suggests that this view is wrong. America’s schools and colleges are actually far more alike than people believe — and not in a good way. The nation’s deep education problems, the data suggest, don’t magically disappear once students disappear behind ivy-covered walls. ...

America’s perceived international dominance of higher education, by contrast, rests largely on global rankings of top universities. According to a recent ranking by the London-based Times Higher Education, 18 of the world’s top 25 universities are American. Similarly, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, published annually by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, gives us 19 of 25.

But there is a problem with this way of thinking. When President Obama has said, “We have the best universities,” he has not meant: “Our universities are, on average, the best” — even though that’s what many people hear. He means, “Of the best universities, most are ours.” The distinction is important. ...

Math

Update:  New York Times, More on American Colleges’ Standing in the World

July 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Slate: Now Is a Great Time to Apply to Law School. Really.

Following up on last week's posts:

Slate:  Now Is a Great Time to Apply to Law School; We Aren’t Joking—Promise, by Jordan Weissmann:

After several wretched post-recession years, the job market for new law school graduates may be on the verge of a recovery. So I recently published a post titled Apply to Law School Now! We’re Serious.

A few writers, including the delightfully acidic folks of Above the Law, think I’m disastrously off base—that I have overestimated the strength of tomorrow’s legal labor market and misleadingly ignored the staggering cost of a law school education. So today, I want to explore in a little more depth the reasons why—despite the horrors of the past few years and the sky-high tuition rates that schools charge—now really is a good time to pick up an LSAT guide. ...

As the economy healed and horror stories about jobless and indebted young law grads proliferated, however, something crucial happened: Applications tumbled to their lowest level in at least 30 years. In the fall of 2013, just 39,700 students entered their first year of law school. Given the typical dropout rate, that means we should expect no more than 36,000 to graduate, down about 23 percent from last year’s overstuffed total.

At the same time, it seems the legal job market has begun to stabilize. Last year, 32,775 graduates found full-time jobs lasting at least a year, including positions like judicial clerkships, up slightly from 2012. For such an enormous class of students, that total was woefully insufficient. But here’s the key bit: If the market produces the same number of jobs in 2016, when around 36,000 students are set to graduate, job hunting is going to become a relative cinch. Theoretically, 91 percent of the class could land long-term, full-time work—on par, if not better, than some of the legal industry’s best years.

That’s my basic reason for optimism. Right now, law school looks like a stock that crashed too far after a panic, and is suddenly a bit undervalued. It’s a good time to buy. But of course, not everyone agrees. So let’s go through some of the objections.

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June 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Roig: The Case For Retaining Law Faculty Tenure

Jorge R. Roig (Charleston), The First Thing We Do, 47 J. Marshall L. Rev. ___ (2014):

There is currently a concerted effort to dumb down America. In the midst of this, the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recently agreed to propose that tenure for law professors be eliminated as a requirement for accreditation of law schools. This article analyzes the arguments for and against tenure in legal academia, and concludes that the main proposed justifications for eliminating tenure are highly questionable, at best. A lawyer is more than a legal technocrat. Lawyers are policy makers and public defenders. They are prosecutors and activists. And the development of a critical and independent mind is no more important in any area of human action than in the law. There is a concerted effort to turn law schools into automaton production lines. Practice-ready, skills-oriented legal education (quite meritorious in itself) has become code for the manufacture of attorneys capable only of following their corporate clients’ instructions to the tee. The goal of this concerted effort is not a truly practice-ready and skilled attorney. The endgame is a mindless legal machine. That is not what a legal education is about. The survival of critical thought is at stake. This is not just about law professors. This is but one salvo in a much larger war against independent minds.

June 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 29, 2014

NY Times Debate: Is Contemporary Capitalism Compatible with Christian Values?

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate:  God and Mammon:

Jesus drove money changers out of the Temple, calling them “a den of thieves.” Of the profit-centric world view, Pope Francis warned, “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market,” to provide economic justice. Others call Christianity and capitalism inextricable.

Is contemporary capitalism compatible with Christian values?

June 29, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bill and Melinda Gates' Stanford Commencement Speech: The Power of Optimism and Empathy

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Transcript here. (Hat Tip: Phil Bohl.)

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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Professors Read Mean Student Evaluations

Inside Higher Ed, Mean Tweets, Academic Style:

In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” a Canadian university’s student newspaper posted a video this week that features professors reading aloud unflattering reviews from the website Rate My Professors.

 

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

 Weekly Roundup

June 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Are Law Schools Heading Into a Bull Market?

Following up on yesterday's post, Slate: Things Are Looking Rosy for the Law School Class of 2018: Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Are Law Schools Heading Into a Bull Market?:

BullThe argument advanced by Mr. Weissmann [in Slate] is one that’s slowly gaining currency among legal education observers. University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo expressed similar optimism in an article for Forbes last fall. Law Blog, in an earlier post, peered into the crystal ball as well and, using slightly different assumptions, predicted that the number of graduates would fall to about 34,000 by 2017. [See also National Law Journal. Tax Prof Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.) first made this point in 2013.]

The Slate piece concludes on a cautious note, tacking on several “to be sures.” “Some lower-ranked schools will continue to deliver miserable job prospects for their students, just as they have for years,” the piece says.

Continue reading

June 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

More on the Nation's First Hybrid J.D.

MitchellFollowing up on my previous post, ABA Approves First Hybrid Online J.D.:  U.S. News & World Report, New Partially Online Law Degree May Open Door to Similar Programs:

Half of the learning in the program takes place online, with students visiting campus only nine times in four years.  ... The new J.D. at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., is the first of its type to be approved by the ABA – and may open the door to other law schools to pursue similar degrees, especially if the experiment pans out.

No fully online law schools are currently accredited by the ABA. The designation is significant because states typically allow students to sit for state bar exams only if they have degrees from ABA-accredited schools. California is an exception, allowing graduates of its online law schools to sit for the California bar exam. This has meant that graduates from online law schools are generally shut out of legal practice, except in California.

The ABA’s approval of the new half online, half on-site law program at William Mitchell, which begins in January, should smooth the path for its graduates to take bar exams in any state, says Barry Currier, ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education.

Jonathan H. Stein, an Oxford, Mississippi-based cardiologist who has enrolled in Mitchell’s program because he wants to advocate in court for universal health insurance, sees the Mitchell program as one that is bound to have a big impact on the nation’s law schools. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on everything within the legal education process,” he says. “Once somebody starts, then everybody else is fair game.”

Most law schools could already be offering more online learning under current standards – and haven’t chosen to do so, Currier says. The ABA currently allows accredited law schools to offer up to 12 credit hours via distance learning, though that could soon be expanding to 15 credits, he says. ...

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June 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Robot Doctors, Online Lawyers and Automated Architects: The Future of the Professions?

The Guardian: Robot Doctors, Online Lawyers and Automated Architects: The Future of the Professions?

Advances in technology have long been recognised as a threat to manual labour. Now highly skilled, knowledge-based jobs that were once regarded as safe could be at risk. How will they adapt to the digital age?

Oxford academics Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne have predicted computerisation could make nearly half of jobs redundant within 10 to 20 years. Office work and service roles, they wrote, were particularly at risk. But almost nothing is impervious to automation. It has swept through shop floors and factories, transformed businesses big and small, and is beginning to revolutionise the professions.

Knowledge-based jobs were supposed to be safe career choices, the years of study it takes to become a lawyer, say, or an architect or accountant, in theory guaranteeing a lifetime of lucrative employment. That is no longer the case. Now even doctors face the looming threat of possible obsolescence. Expert radiologists are routinely outperformed by pattern-recognition software, diagnosticians by simple computer questionnaires. In 2012, Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla predicted that algorithms and machines would replace 80% of doctors within a generation.

In their much-debated book The Second Machine Age, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argued that we now face an intense period of creative destruction. "Technological progress," they warned, "is going to leave behind some people, perhaps even a lot of people, as it races ahead … there's never been a worse time to be a worker with only 'ordinary' skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate."

So where does that leave the professions, whose hard-won expertise is beginning to fall within the power of computers and artificial intelligence to emulate? The efficiency of computerisation seems likely to spell the end of the job security past generations sought in such careers. For many, what were once extraordinary skillsets will soon be rendered ordinary by the advance of the machines. What will it mean to be a professional then?

"We'll see what I call decomposition, the breaking down of professional work into its component parts," says leading legal futurist professor Richard Susskind. Susskind's forthcoming book Beyond the Professions, co-authored with his son Daniel Susskind, examines the transformations already underway across the sectors that once offered jobs for life. He predicts a process not unlike the division of labour that wiped out skilled artisans and craftsmen in the past: the dissolution of expertise into a dozen or more streamlined processes.

"Some of these parts will still require expert trusted advisers acting in traditional ways," he says. "But many other parts will be standardised or systematised or made available with online service." In a previous book Tomorrow's Lawyers, he predicts the creation of eight new legal roles at the intersection of software and law. Many of the job titles sound at home in IT companies: legal knowledge engineer, legal technologist, project manager, risk manager, process analyst.

Continue reading

June 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Slate: Things Are Looking Rosy for the Law School Class of 2018

Slate:  Apply to Law School Now! Things Are Looking Rosy for the Class of 2018, by Jordan Weissmann:

This might sound weird, but here goes: Now might be a pretty good time to think about law school. ...

Here is the key number to keep in mind: 36,000. That is roughly the number of new J.D.s we should expect to graduate in 2016. Getting to that figure is pretty straightforward: In the fall of 2013, 39,700 students enrolled in law school. Given that about 10 percent of each law school class generally drops out, we should expect no more than 36,000 to reach commencement. ...

In comparison, 46,776 law students graduated in 2013. So we’re talking about a potential 23 percent plunge.

With less competition it should be far easier for graduates to find decent work. Again, let’s assume the legal job market doesn’t grow at all in the next two years—that it simply stays flat. What might that look like?

We can break down last year’s class, using data from the American Bar Association. Among all graduates who reported their job status, 32,775 found full-time, long-term work, meaning the job lasted at least a year. ... Of those jobs, 26,337 required passing the bar, meaning they were typical legal jobs. An additional 4,714 were in fields that technically did not require law degrees, but where employers preferred to hire J.D.s anyway—think congressional staffers, labor organizers, or NGO workers. Finally, 1,724 were in jobs completely unrelated to law, which sounds bad, but the reality is that a certain number of graduates always do something unconnected to their degree.

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Let’s say those numbers hold. In that case, we can expect that about 91 percent of the class of 2016 will find long-term, full-time work, compared with about 72 percent last year. About 73 percent would be in full-time, long-term legal jobs, compared with 58 percent last year. Essentially, employment rates would look similar to those in 2007, when the mid-2000s legal hiring wave crested. That year, about 92 percent of graduates were employed, and 76.9 percent obtained legal jobs. (Both those figures included part-time and short-term positions).

(Hat Tip: Jordan Barry.)

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June 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)