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Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, November 7, 2016

Arizona State Welcomes 230 1Ls, Up 7% From 2015 (80% From 2013) While Maintaining LSATs, GPAs

Arizona State Logo (2016)Arizona State Law School (ranked #25 in U.S. News) welcomed 230 1Ls this Fall, up 7% from 2015 (215) and up 80% from 2013 (128). Despite the large increase in its 1L class size, Arizona State has been able to largely maintain its LSAT medians (161, same as in 2015 and 2010, down only 2 from its 163 peak in 2012) and GPA medians (3.64, up from 2015 (3.63) and 2010 (3.57), down only .01 from its 3.65 peak in 2012). Arizona State admitted a huge number (66) of transfer students this Fall, in line with the past three years when it ranked either first (2015 (65, 47 from Arizona Summit) and 2014 (66, 44 from Arizona Summit)) or second (2013 (73)) in the country as a percentage of its previous first year class (2015: 45.5%; 2014: 51.6%; 2013: 48%)). One wonders about the impact of such large numbers of transfer students on bar passage rates: although Arizona State graduates have led the state the past two years, its pass rate has declined from 92.0% in 2013 to 76.8% in 2016.

Here are Arizona State's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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November 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Law Schools' Dirty Little Secret: Adderall

AdderallNational Law Journal, Adderall in Law Schools: A Dirty Little Secret:

It’s a law student’s steroid.

Adderall, the drug of choice for nearly all law students who admit to using prescription medication without a doctor’s approval, is attributed with intensifying focus, stimulating thought and eliminating the need for breaks or sleep.

In the cutthroat environment of legal education, where a handful of exams can determine their fate, students use it as a performance enhancer in hopes of gaining a competitive edge, especially when they think other students are taking it, too.

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November 6, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Oregon Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Issues Apology For Wearing Blackface To Halloween Party; Dueling Online Petitions Seek Signatories

Oregon 2

Following up on my previous posts:

Register-Guard, University of Oregon Professor Who Wore Blackface on Halloween Apologizes:

During a Halloween party I hosted at my house, I wore a costume inspired by a book I highly admire, Dr. Damon Tweedy’s memoir, Black Man in a White Coat. I intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions. As part of my costume, I applied black makeup to my face and wore a white coat and stethoscope.

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November 5, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

First Circuit Affirms Judgment For Harvard Law School In Defamation Lawsuit By Graduate Reprimanded For Plagiarism

HarvardFollowing up on my previous post, Harvard Law School Prevails in Defamation Lawsuit by 2009 Grad Over Plagiarism Reprimand:  National Law Journal, Harvard Grad Reprimanded for Plagiarism Loses Appeal:

Harvard Law School has prevailed again in court against a 2009 graduate who sued for defamation and breach of contract after being reprimanded for plagiarizing a law review article. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Monday affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of alumna Megon Walker’s suit against the law school [Walker v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, No. 15-1154 (1st Cir. 2016)].

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November 5, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Volokh:  Oregon Law Profs' Attempt To End Colleague's Career Over Halloween Blackface Costume Marks 'Dangerous Place In American University Life'

Oregon 2

The Washington Post (Volokh Conspiracy): Oregon Law Professors Call for Colleague to Resign for ‘Black Man in a White Coat’ Halloween Costume, by Eugene Volokh (UCLA):

Paul Caron (Tax Prof Blog) has the story; see also here. My view: There’s nothing inherently racist about using dress or makeup to pretend to be black, or white, or Hasidic, or what have you. Indeed, if someone wore blackface and imitated an accent in a way that mocked blacks, she could be faulted for mocking blacks (just as somehow dressing up as an Orthodox Jew to mock Orthodox Jews could be faulted for that). But the notion that making oneself up to look black is just somehow per se racist strikes me as very hard to defend, whether one is trying to play President Obama (or, for that matter, Othello) or the title character in a black doctor’s memoir (“Black Man in a White Coat,” which is apparently what the professor was dressing as) or Michael Jackson. ...

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November 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

The Dan Markel Murder:  Fascinating Details About The Adelson Family Dynamics

Adelson FamilyAbove the Law, The Dan Markel Case: More Details About His Marriage To Wendi Adelson (And About Wendi’s Mother, Donna Adelson):

I’d like to share with you some interesting information that I’ve received from readers.

Danny and Wendi met through a dating website (if I recall correctly, it was JDate) ... When Wendi saw Danny’s picture, Donna Adelson, her mom, was by her — and in fact they chose together. ...

Wendi has another brother, Robert Adelson, who has flown under the radar — partly because, as noted by our first source, he’s estranged from the rest of the family. ...

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November 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oregon Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Says She Wore Blackface To Halloween Party To Teach Lesson As Author Of Black Man In A White Coat

Oregon 2

Following up on this morning's post, 23 Oregon Law Profs Call On Colleague To Resign For Wearing Blackface At Halloween Party:  KEZI 9 News, UO Law Professor Under Fire for Controversial Halloween Costume:

KEZI learned that the professor involved is [tax professor] Nancy Shurtz.

Students are outraged by the incident and have even started a petition demanding her resignation. The petition needs 100 supporters before it can be delivered to the dean of the law school.

Shurtz sent a letter to students explaining why she chose her costume. She said she read a book and wanted to portray the character. She also said she apologizes and never meant to offend anyone.

"I chose my costume based on a book that I read and liked—Black Man in a White Coat.  I thought I would be able to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story).

When I asked my daughter who is at Brown Medical School the demographics of her medical school class, she said “they do not give those statistics out mom”, but later when she asked the administration, they said there was not one black male student in the class. She and others were outraged. She was able to get the administration to assign a portion of this book (the one where the black medical student was thought to be the janitor) out to students.

I am sorry if it did not come off well.  I, of all people, would not want to offend.

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November 3, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Number Of LSAT Test-Takers Rises 1% In Latest Administration, But Only 0.3% For Year

LSAT (2015)After registering the first increase in LSAT test-takers in six years in the 2015-16 cycle, LSAC reports that the number of test-takers was up 1% in the second test administration (Sept.-Oct.) of the 2016-17 cycle:

LSAT

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November 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

23 Oregon Law Profs Call On Colleague To Resign For Wearing Blackface At Halloween Party

Oregon LogoDear Colleague,

If these allegations are true, and you did in fact wear blackface to a Halloween party, you need to resign.

It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter if it was protected by the First Amendment.

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November 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

After Indiana Tech, How Many More Law Schools Will Close? 20? 80? Will A Top 25 School Be Among Them?

ClosedNational Jurist, Indiana Tech Law School to Close in June:

Indiana Tech Law School’s future seemed doomed from the time it opened in 2013.

It was the state’s fifth law school and the 26th in the Midwest region, and critics said there was no need for another law school, especially in a time of declining enrollment numbers and fewer legal jobs.

And now, after losing nearly $20 million and graduating one class of students — just two of whom passed this year’s bar exam — the school announced it’s closing at the end of the school year [Faculty, Students To Sue Indiana Tech For Fraud In Law School's Closure]. ...

The likelihood of law school closures has been a hot topic among law school professors and bloggers for the past two years.

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

Tennessee Symposium:  Professional Leadership In Legal Education

TennSymposium, Leading the Future: Professional Leadership Education, 83 Tenn. L. Rev. 709-981 (2016):

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November 3, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Erik Jensen, Other Law Profs Are All-In For The Cleveland Indians

JensenFollowing up on Saturday's post, Chicago Law Profs And The Cubs: National Law Journal, Forget the Cubs: These Law Profs Are All-In for the Indians:

The Cubs’ World Series bid is garnering lots of national buzz and energizing some long-suffering law professor fans who are hungry to see the “lovable losers” come out winners. But the lower-profile Indians have their supporters in the academy, too.

Should you tune into Game [7] of the World Series tonight, you’ll probably see Erik Jensen on your television during line drives and pop flies. The longtime [tax] professor at Case Western Reserve School of Law will be sitting in the first row, about 10 yards past first base—the same seats he and a group of colleagues have shared at Cleveland’s Progressive Field for decades.

Other Law Prof Cleveland Indians fans featured in the story:

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November 2, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faculty, Students To Sue Indiana Tech For Fraud In Law School's Closure

Indiana Tech (2016)Following up on Monday's post, Indiana Tech Law School To Close June 2017 Following $20 Million In Losses:  Indiana Lawyer, Indiana Tech Law School Faculty Considering Lawsuit After Closure Announcement:

One law school faculty member is describing Indiana Tech’s decision to close its law school as sudden, abrupt and shocking, and indicated that legal action may be coming.

The faculty member, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the university administration had indicated to the law school faculty and administration as well as to the students and American Bar Association that it had set aside a $20.3 million operating reserve to cover all losses that the law school would incur through the 2019-2020 academic year.

Now the faculty feels it has been defrauded and is preparing to take appropriate action through the legal system. "The university cares about one thing and one thing only – money,” the faculty member said. Comparing the university to a corporation, the faculty member said Indiana Tech did not care about quality of education or quality of students. It only cares about profit.

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November 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

British Columbia's Highest Court Unanimously Approves Canada's First Christian Law School, Says Religious Freedom To Ban Student Sex Outside Of Heterosexual Marriage Trumps LGBTQ Rights

Trinity WesternFollowing up on my previous posts (links below): Toronto Star, B.C. Christian University Wins Legal Victory in Bid to Open Law School:

Appeal Court of B.C. decided in favour of Trinity Western University, which seeks to ban its students from having sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage.

A decisive legal victory in British Columbia has put an evangelical Christian university one step closer in its bid to secure recognition for its proposed law school.

The Appeal Court of B.C. released a decision in favour of Trinity Western University on Tuesday, describing efforts by B.C.’s law society to deny accreditation to the school’s future lawyers as “unreasonable.” [Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of British Columbia, 2016 BCCA 423 (Nov. 1, 2016)]

The legal dispute centres around the university’s community covenant that bans its students from having sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage.

In a unanimous decision, a panel of five judges said the negative impact on Trinity Western’s religious freedoms would be severe and far outweigh the minimal effect accreditation would have on gay and lesbian rights.

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November 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

50% Of Law Schools Selected For Random ABA Audit Flunked Placement Data Documentation

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Inside Higher Ed, Law Schools Flagged for Job Data:

The first audits of the employment data that law schools report about their recent graduates have generated concern among watchdogs, with a series of reviews finding several deficiencies that raise questions about the class of 2015’s reported outcomes.

Most notably, a review of 10 randomly selected schools found that half had missed a compliance benchmark for the documentation they are supposed to keep on file when reporting key metrics like whether their students are employed 10 months after graduation and whether they are working in a position that required them to pass the bar. Schools were flagged for not being able to show documentation to support important parts of reported employment data, or if investigators found evidence key pieces of employment data were incomplete, inaccurate or misleading. Other reviews found issues at a substantially smaller percentage of schools related to handling documentation or posting required information online.

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November 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mitchell Hamline Welcomes 338 1Ls This Fall, Down 14% From 2015 (42% From 2010)

Mitchell HamlineThe new post-merger Mitchell Hamline School of Law welcomed 338 1Ls this fall, down 14% from the combined totals for the separate Hamline and William Mitchell law schools in 2015 (391) and down 42% from 2010 (584).

Here are the admission data for Hamline and William Mitchell for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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November 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

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November 1, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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November 1, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Indiana Tech Law School To Close June 2017 Following $20 Million In Losses

Michael Simkovic Leaves Seton Hall For USC

Simkovic 3Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) has accepted a lateral offer with tenure from USC. His recent articles include:

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October 31, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller:  Why Is The ABA Still Accrediting Law Schools?

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Why Is the ABA Still Accrediting Law Schools?:

Perhaps we have legal education [because] we believe that attorneys should be, somehow, perhaps, well-rounded and well-educated individuals, apart from their ability to pass the bar exam? That would seem to be the driving concern—we think (perhaps you don't, but work with the assumption) lawyers shouldn't just be able to pass the bar and practice law; they should have some kind of training and background before they practice law and something that qualifies them apart from the bar exam's test of "minimum competence." ...

But there is a different, perhaps reverse, form of the question: if legal education provides students with three years of sound education and a degree at the end, why is the bar exam even needed? Isn't graduating from a law school after three years of thickly-regulated education sufficient to make one eligible to practice law? Indeed, it's a reason why the state of Wisconsin offers "diploma privilege" to graduates of its two law schools. ...

[W]hy is the ABA still accrediting law schools given its new obsession with the ability of graduates to pass the bar exam? ... There are two principal, and opposing, kinds of responses one could make to my query.

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October 31, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wisconsin Welcomes 149 1Ls, Down 20% From 2015 (39% From 2010)

Wisconsin LogoWisconsin Law School (ranked #33 in U.S. News) welcomed 149 1Ls this Fall, down 20% from 2015 (186) and down 39% from 2010 (246).

Here are Wisconsin's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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October 31, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chicago Cubs Unite Jews, Christians And Muslims Who Identify With 108-Year Exile

Cubs5Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Cubs Are the Official Team of Jews—Also Christians, Buddhists and Muslims:

Jews, Christians, Muslims see affinity in club’s 108-year exile.

All religions, to some extent, seek to understand the value, meaning and purpose of suffering. That includes everyday plagues, such as enduring a calamitous baseball losing streak. It’s no accident spiritual thinkers make the connection.

“All this attention on the Cubs has me thinking about hope, the most underappreciated Christian virtue,” Michael Laskey, a Yankees-loving National Catholic Reporter columnist, wrote last year. Lauding Cubs fans for braving horrible weather in support of often-terrible teams, Mr. Laskey wrote that “this type of hope—showing up when things are hard—might be exactly the virtue the church most needs right now.”

A rabbi who is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post recently hailed the Cubs as “the Jews of the sports world,” an idea seconded by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, who made a stop at Wrigley Field on a swing through Chicago this month. “The Cubs might be the most Jewish team in America,” said Mr. Dermer. “They’ve experienced a long period of suffering, and now they’re hoping to get to the promised land.”

There are Cubs-themed yarmulkes and caps spelling the team’s name in Hebrew. “What did Jesus say to the Cubs?” says a popular T-shirt in Chicago. “Don’t do nothin’ til I get back.”

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October 30, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts Expect Charlie And Donna Adelson To Be Charged In Dan Markel's Murder

Adelson FamilyVice, ​Who Put the Hit Out on a Florida Criminal Justice Professor?:

In the hours before and after Dan Markel was shot in the head outside his home in Tallahassee, Florida, two years ago, his former brother-in-law Charlie Adelson called a paramour, Katherine "Katie" Magbanua, at least nine times. While the conversations were not recorded, the phone calls are among several key pieces of evidence cops believe connect Adelson and his lover to the two men they've formally accused of actually killing Markel, according to a recent probable cause affidavit charging Magbanua with orchestrating the Florida State professor's murder. ...

"I believe and investigators believe that at one point [Magbanua] called Charlie to tell him the deal is done," Leon County County state attorney William "Willie" Meggs told me recently over the phone. "What proof do we have? None at the moment. It will probably come, but we are not there yet."

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October 30, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Syracuse Dean (And Tax Prof) Craig Boise: 'The Only Harley-Riding, Piano-Playing, Calf-Roping Law Dean In The Country'

SyracuseDaily Orange, College of Law Dean Craig Boise Described as the ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’:

His friends describe him as the closest a real person could come to being James Bond.

Syracuse University College of Law Dean Craig Boise is a man of many talents. When he meets someone for the first time, odds are it’ll take that person a while to discover his collection of talents — he’s a skilled classical pianist, scuba diver, sailor, motorcyclist, corporate international tax law guru, salsa dancer, world traveler and a former SWAT team member whose roots lie in small-town Missouri.

“I don’t think there are many deans who have kicked down doors on drug busts and also played classical piano,” said Andrew Morriss, law school dean at Texas A&M University and Boise’s longtime friend and colleague. “He’s kind of like the most interesting man in the world from the tequila commercials.”

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October 29, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Chicago Law Profs And The Cubs

CubsNational Law Journal, Chicago Law Profs Don’t Need Lecture on Cubs’ Chances:

Chicagoans are abuzz with excitement over the possibility of a Cubs championship, which would be the first since 1908, and the legal academy is not immune. [David] Rudstein [(Chicago-Kent)] is just one of many professors at the city’s six law schools who are following the team with either sense of unbridled optimism or dread that it could fall apart at any moment. These are the Cubs, after all. ...

Ann Lousin, a professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, had the unenviable task of teaching her three-hour sales transactions class during the first night of the World Series. Students still showed up, but by hour two she noticed pleading looks in their eyes. “You try to teach the Uniform Commercial Code while the World Series is going on,” she said the following morning. “It’s brutal.”

Other Chicago Law Profs quoted in the story:

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October 29, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Law School Formerly Known As South Texas Agrees To Change Name From Houston College Of Law, Subject To Approval Of University Of Houston

Houston South TexasFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Houston Chronicle, Law School in Trademark Fight Will Change its Name Again:

By the end of 2016, the private law school in downtown Houston will have yet another new name, attorneys said on Wednesday.

Houston College of Law, formerly known as South Texas College of Law, has agreed to change its name one more time in the next two weeks to avoid going to trial in a federal trademark lawsuit brought by the University of Houston, which said the new name and red-and-white color scheme was confusing to consumers.

Lynne Liberato, one of the lawyers for the school with a soon-to-be-announced name, said the college has taken down a banner on campus, removed merchandise from its store and plans to have several billboards taken down, possibly as soon as this week.

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October 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

BigLaw Moneyball

MoneyballLaw.com, Big Law Moneyball:

Littler Mendelson is the second Am Law 100 firm (after Drinker Biddle & Reath) to follow in the Oakland A’s footsteps by hiring a dedicated head of data analytics. It’s only a matter of time before Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are playing Big Law partners.

In job interviews with half a dozen law firms last year, Zev Eigen quizzed firm leaders as much as they probed him. They wondered what a data scientist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could do for them.

He was curious what they would let him do.

Eigen, a Cornell-educated lawyer who was on the faculty at Northwestern University School of Law at the time, developed a test for what he calls “status quo bias” at law firms. He told managing partners that their firms should be teaching and training their own would-be first-year associates in jurisdictions such as California and New York that allow apprentices to sit for the bar exam. The plan would save firms $880,000 in salary per associate over a 10-year timeframe.

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October 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wendi Adelson's Novel: Art Imitating Life?

AdelsonFollowing up on my previous post, What Wendi Adelson's Novel Reveals About Dan Markel's Murder:  Above the Law, The Dan Markel Case: Insights From Wendi Adelson’s Novel:

Over at Outside the Law School Scam, blogger “dybbuk123” took one for the team and read This Is Our Story, the “criminally lousy” novel written by Dan Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson. ...

A source of mine who also read This Is Our Story shared additional interesting observations:

The basic premise of Attorney Lily’s life is that she married a professor (Joshua Stone). She says that she married him too quickly, and that at the time she was “absolutely sick and tired of dating” and saw “dating, at its best, as nothing more than a romantic interview. ‘Are you the kind of person who would produce good looking, smart and nice children and never cheat on me and help me clean up the kitchen and love me even when I’m grouchy and not trade me in for a younger model and not join the other team?'”

This is, you may recall, pretty much exactly what Wendi said about Dan in her writing-class podcast — that she married a man she lacked passionate love for because she figured he would be a good father.

Joshua gets a job at North Florida State University in Hiawassee Springs (“the ‘Wassee), a small town in the Florida panhandle. Lily moves there because that’s where his job is, but she hates it. She takes many digs at “the Wassee” throughout the book — making fun of the people, their speech, their clothing, calling the town “irrelevant.”

This is consistent with what sources have described as Wendi’s dislike and disdain for Tallahassee, which she fled in favor of cosmopolitan Miami as soon as she could after Dan’s death.

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October 27, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Market Myth And Pay Disparity in Legal Academia: We Should Amend The Equal Pay Act To Prohibit Market Excuses For Pay Differentials

Paula A. Monopoli (Maryland), The Market Myth and Pay Disparity in Legal Academia, 52 Idaho L. Rev. 867 (2016):

The definition of merit in academia is highly subjective, based in large part on the rank of the journal one publishes in and how often one publishes. ... There have been two high profile cases in legal academia in the past several years. ... The first case is that of Professor Lucy Marsh ... of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Marsh was the lowest paid faculty member at the school after forty years of teaching. The second case involved the release of documents pursuant to a Texas Public Information Act request by faculty members at the University of Texas School of Law documenting previously undisclosed compensation in the form of six-figure forgivable loans to certain faculty members, very few of whom were women. A discussion of the two cases ... illustrates why market excuses are so pernicious in terms of gender pay disparities in legal academia. ...

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October 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Millennial International: Sponsor A Millennial Today

October 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (15)

CrimeStoppers Reduces Reward For Tips In Dan Markel Murder Investigation From $25k To $3k

Markel 3WCTV, Reward for Information in Dan Markel Case Decreased:

Big Bend Crime Stoppers announced Tuesday that the reward for information leading to an arrest in the murder case of Florida State professor Dan markel has been decreased.

BBCS says effective immediately, tipsters will receive the standard amount, which is up to $3,000. They say the adjustment is due to a change in donor reward participation.

Tallahassee Democrat, Reward in Dan Markel Case Reduced

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October 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Use Of Metrics To Assess Scholarly Performance: The Emperor’s New Clothes?

BibliometricsInside Higher Education, Can Your Productivity Be Measured? (reviewing Yves Gingras (University of Quebec), Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses (MIT Press, 2016):

“Since the first decade of the new millennium, the words ranking, evaluation, metrics, h-index and impact factors have wreaked havoc in the world of higher education and research.” ...  Ultimately, Bibliometrics concludes that the trend toward measuring anything and everything is a modern, academic version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which — quoting Hans Christian Andersen, via Gingras — “the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality there was no train to hold.”

Gingras says, “The question is whether university leaders will behave like the emperor and continue to wear each year the ‘new clothes’ provided for them by sellers of university rankings (the scientific value of which most of them admit to be nonexistent), or if they will listen to the voice of reason and have the courage to explain to the few who still think they mean something that they are wrong, reminding them in passing that the first value in a university is truth and rigor, not cynicism and marketing.”

Although some bibliometric methods “are essential to go beyond local and anecdotal perceptions and to map comprehensively the state of research and identify trends at different levels (regional, national and global),” Gingras adds, “the proliferation of invalid indicators can only harm serious evaluations by peers, which are essential to the smooth running of any organization.”

And here is the heart of Gingras’s argument: that colleges and universities are often so eager to proclaim themselves “best in the world” -- or region, state, province, etc. -- that they don’t take to care to identify “precisely what ‘the best’ means, by whom it is defined and on what basis the measurement is made.” Put another way, he says, paraphrasing another researcher, if the metric is the answer, what is the question?

Without such information, Gingras warns, “the university captains who steer their vessels using bad compasses and ill-calibrated barometers risk sinking first into the storm.” The book doesn’t rule out the use of indicators to “measure” science output or quality, but Gingras says they must first be validated and then interpreted in context. ...

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October 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Santa Clara Welcomes 246 1Ls, Down 5% From 2015 (But Up 62% From 2014)

Santa Clara Law School (2016)Santa Clara Law School (ranked #129 in U.S. News) welcomed 246 1Ls this Fall, down 5% from 2015 (260) and down 22% from 2010 (314), but up 62% from 2014 (152). Here are Santa Clara's 25%/50%/75% LSAT scores for those years:

  • 2010 class of 314:  158/160/162
  • 2014 class of 152:  156/157/160
  • 2015 class of 260:  153/155/157
  • 2016 class of 246:  151/154/157 

Here are Santa Clara's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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October 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

The Dan Markel Murder Investigation: Why Was Katherine Magbanua's First Degree Murder Charge Reduced To Second Degree Murder?

MagnaubaAbove the Law, The Dan Markel Case: Is Katherine Magbanua Cutting A Deal?:

A source of mine on the ground in Tallahassee alerted me to an interesting change in the criminal docket for Katherine Magbanua, the woman accused of acting as a conduit in the Dan Markel murder between the two alleged hitmen and whoever ordered Professor Markel’s murder.

When Katie Magbanua was arrested earlier this month in connection with the crime, she was charged with first-degree murder. ... [A]t some point between last week and today, Katherine Magbanua’s exposure got downgraded from first-degree to second-degree murder. What might this mean?

One possibility: Magbanua has entered into a plea agreement and is cooperating with the police. This would not be shocking. ...

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October 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Succession Planning in Law Schools

Bales 2TaxProf Blog op-ed: Succession Planning in Law Schools, by Rick Bales (Former Dean, Ohio Northern):

In business, one of the principal responsibilities of a leader is to groom a successor. At General Electric, for example, CEO Jeff Immelt spends about 40% of his time on developing the company’s future leaders. At Eli Lilly, half the variable compensation for senior executives is tied to mentoring skills and leadership development.

The impact of succession planning in business is often obvious and public. On the negative side, consider Sumner Redstone, who is having a King Lear year as family and confidants publicly grovel for his affection and fight among each other over his media empire even while he’s on the right side of the grass. On the positive side, consider Proctor & Gamble, where for 175 years every CEO started a career there as an entry-level employee.

In law schools, and higher education generally, the impact of succession planning is equally dramatic, if less public. Universities drift; law schools become internally dysfunctional. Moreover, the change in skill sets required as one moves up the higher-education ladder are at least as significant as in business. A great faculty member is strong in the classroom (which requires lots of solo class prep) and a gifted researcher — mostly solitary work; a successful dean must be visible and social and a consensus-builder. Likewise, a great associate law dean is detail-oriented and knows precisely how the train works; a successful dean envisions future destinations and can raise money to lay the track.

The average tenure of a Fortune 500 CEO is 4.6 years — longer than the 3-odd-year tenure of an average law dean [the average tenure of serving deans is 3.6 years; the median tenure is 2.4 years]. Yet, though succession planning is institutionalized at most large companies, in law schools and higher education generally it is haphazard at best. Consider, for example, the number of  searches in which there is not a single viable internal candidate.

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October 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weapons Of Math Destruction: How U.S. News' 'Craven' Decision To Eschew Affordability In Its Rankings Increases Inequality

WeaponsThe Traps of Big Data (reviewing Cathy O'Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (2016)):

As O’Neil defines it, a weapon of math destruction, or WMD, has three elements: Opacity, Scale, and Damage. Combined, these factors create traps with feedback loops, capturing victims in systems they can’t understand and can’t escape, all the while exploiting them. Of the three, Scale seems the most pernicious element, enabling Damage.

After a critique of value-add theory for teachers and a refresher course on the 2008 credit-default swaps and mortgage-backed securities that led to the Great Recession’s financial meltdown, O’Neil produces a trenchant analysis of the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. After reading this chapter about how higher education has become captured by a big data system, the limitations and difficulties of the Impact Factor seem downright charming.

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October 24, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, October 23, 2016

More Than 30 Law Schools Pay Student Bar Review Costs: Does It Improve Pass Rates?

Bar Review LogosABA Journal, More Law Schools Are Covering Bar Review Costs: Is It Improving Pass Rates?:

Out of law schools who have July 2016 bar results for first-time test takers, many saw their pass rate percentages drop.

And of the schools that saw pass rates rise, some are increasingly covering partial or entire bar review costs for graduates.

Mike Sims, president of the test prep group BARBRI Bar Review, told that ABA Journal that more than 30 law schools now pay for their students’ bar review. According to the business’s website, courses cost between $2,595 and $3,995, depending on when someone enrolls.

“I beg for money from alumni and say it’s a great investment, because otherwise these people will keep failing,” says Lawrence W. Moore, interim dean of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

The school’s first-time test-taker pass rate for July 2016 was 76.69 percent;last year it was 71.53 percent.

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October 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Focus On Reputation/Selectivity Over Earnings/Outcomes Will Render U.S. News Rankings An Anachronism

US NewsNew York Times, How Much Graduates Earn Drives More College Rankings:

PayScale introduced its first college salary report in 2008, and the College Scorecard from the federal government followed last year, ushering an elephant into the hallowed halls of college admissions: What do the schools’ graduates actually earn?

Despite the hand-wringing of many in academia, who saw the immeasurable richness of a college education crassly reduced to a dollar sign, the data has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges. Earnings data are finding their way into a proliferating number of mainstream college rankings, shifting the competitive landscape of American higher education in often surprising ways.

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October 23, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Council Approves 75% Minimum Bar Pass Rate

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)National Law Journal, Tighter Bar-Pass Rule Adopted by ABA Accrediting Body:

The American Bar Association body that accredits law schools voted on Friday to tighten the bar exam-passage standard that schools must meet in order to get the organization’s accreditation blessing. The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar overwhelmingly decided to strengthen its bar pass standard for accredited law schools—a long-debated move proponents said is necessary to ensure law schools don’t admit students unlikely of passing the all-important attorney licensing exam.

The council voted for the stricter standard over the opposition of diversity advocates who warned that schools with large numbers of minority students could lose their accreditation and that the stricter rule would prompt schools to admit fewer minority students. That, in turn, would exacerbate the legal profession’s longstanding diversity problem, they argued.

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October 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Greg Mankiw Happily Paid $2,500 For A Hamilton Ticket, But Asks: Why Should 80% Go To Resellers Rather Than Lin-Manuel Miranda?

Hamilton 3Continuing my obsession with interest in Hamilton (links below):  Sunday New York Times op-ed: I Paid $2,500 for a ‘Hamilton’ Ticket. I’m Happy About It., by N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard):

You may have heard that “Hamilton” tickets are hard to come by. ... We, however, had no problem getting tickets. Two weeks before our trip, I logged into StubHub, the online ticket marketplace owned by eBay. I found the performance we wanted, located some great seats and within a few minutes was printing our tickets.

The rub is the price. Including StubHub’s fee, I paid $2,500 a ticket, about five times their face value. Such a large markup is not unusual.

Now, at this point, some people might object to this price. Terms like “scalping” and “price gouging” are pejoratives used to demonize those who resell tickets at whatever high prices the market will bear.

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup