TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cassidy: Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down

R. Michael Cassidy (Boston College), Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down, 64 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2014):

With growing consensus that legal education is in turmoil if not in crisis, law schools need to take advantage of industry upheaval to catalyze innovation in the way they train their students. Curriculum reform, long the “third rail” of faculty politics, is now essential if some law schools are going to survive the present tsunami of low enrollments and stagnant hiring. One cautiously optimistic note within this doomsday symphony is that law school deans are now in extremely strong bargaining positions with their faculties and boards of trustees with respect to curriculum innovation.

In this essay, the author proposes a pivotal reform to the third year curriculum involving team-taught “Advanced Legal Problem Solving” workshops in subject specific areas, and describes the precise structure, content and staffing of such capstone courses. He argues that such workshops would significantly enhance the preparation of law students for entry into the profession, and would create an efficient and cost-effective route for law schools to satisfy rigorous new ABA accreditation standards regarding experiential learning and outcomes assessment.

September 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

NY Times Debate: Should the ABA Allow Paid Externships for Law Students?

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate: Getting Pay and Credit for a Legal Education:

The American Bar Association prohibits law students from receiving pay for internships and externships that grant them academic credit. Critics have pressured the organization to reverse this standard, as law students face mounting debt and a slow job market.

Should law students be compensated for internships that count toward graduation?

  • Michael Cardozo (Partner, Proskauer Rose, New York), Don’t Deny Credit When Credit Is Due:  "Government and nonprofit offices provide part-time work and academic credit, which would be denied if the students were paid."
  • Olympia Duhart (Professor, Nova Law School), Money Changes Everything:  "Yes, law students need money but rolling back the prohibition on allowing them to receive pay and credit for the same work ignores some key realities."
  • Aaron Sohaski (Student, Cooley Law School), Let Us Get Paid:  "Before granting credit, law schools could still evaluate paid externship opportunities on a case-by-case basis to ensure they meet stringent educational requirements."

September 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Philadelphia Trial Lawyer Gives $50 Million to Drexel Law School; 4th Largest Gift to a U.S. Law School

Philadelphia Inquirer, Trial Lawyer Kline Gives $50M to Drexel Law School:

DrexelIn one of the largest gifts ever to a U.S. law school, Drexel University said Wednesday that Philadelphia trial lawyer Thomas R. Kline will give the eight-year-old institution $50 million to bolster its effort to reach the top ranks of legal education.

Drexel president John A. Fry said the money will be used to fund scholarships, add faculty and to expand the law school's trial advocacy program, which provides training for lawyers who plan to focus on courtroom practice.

Included in the gift is the former Beneficial Saving Fund Society building at 12th and Chestnut Streets, an imposing classical revival style structure that has been vacant since 2001 and that will house the law school's Institute for Trial Advocacy.

In recognition of the gift, the law school will be named the Thomas R. Kline School of Law. ...

Kline’s gift is the fourth-largest ever to a U.S. law school, Drexel said. The largest was a $130 million contribution to the University of Arizona law school in 1999 from broadcasting executive James Rogers; next is a $100 million gift from Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan to the law school of Ave Maria University in Florida; in third place is a $55 million gift to the Chapman University law school from real estate developer Dale E. Fowler and his wife, Sarah Ann.

September 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Red Letter Day at Pepperdine

Red LetterAs I have blogged before, one of my favorite things about Pepperdine is the opportunity to meet some of the interesting people drawn to this place.  I had the privlege last night of hearing Tony Campolo deliver a public lecture, followed by a breakfast meeting this morning with Tony and fifty students, faculty, and staff to discuss his provocative book, Red Letter Revolution, co-authored with Shane Claiborne (whom I blogged about here):

For all the Christians facing conflict between Jesus’ words and their own lives, for all the non-Christians who feel they rarely see Jesus’ commands reflected in the choices of his followers, Red Letter Revolution is a blueprint for a new kind of Christianity, one consciously centered on the words of Jesus, the Bible’s “red letters.”

Framed as a captivating dialogue between Shane Claiborne, a progressive young evangelical, and Tony Campolo, a seasoned pastor and professor of sociology, Red Letter Revolution is a life-altering manifesto for skeptics and Christians alike. It is a call to a lifestyle that considers first and foremost Jesus’ explicit, liberating message of sacrificial love.

Shane and Tony candidly bring the words of Jesus to bear on contemporary issues of violence, community, Islam, hell, sexuality, civil disobedience, and twenty other critical topics for people of faith and conscience today. The resulting conversations reveal the striking truth that Christians guided unequivocally by the words of Jesus will frequently reach conclusions utterly contrary to those of mainstream evangelical Christianity.

September 17, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Faculty Development, Faculty Incentives, and Law School Innovation

Following up on my previous post,  Faculty Development, Faculty Incentives, and Law School Innovation:  American Bar Foundation, Analyzing Carnegie's Reach: The Contingent Nature of Innovation:

ABF 3Analyzing Carnegie’s Reach: The Contingent Nature of Innovation, a recent article published in the Journal of Legal Education [63 J. Legal Educ. 585 (2014)] by ABF Research Professor Stephen Daniels (with Martin Katz and William Sullivan), explores curricular innovation and institutional change in American law schools between 2001 and 2011. Since the economic downturn of 2008–09 and the related contraction of the legal market, lawyers, journalists, legal educators and pundits have written and debated about the state of legal education and the need for change. Given rising levels of student debt, and shrinking job prospects, is law school “worth it”? Are law students well prepared to enter the market? Are the schools too beholden to the ranking system of US News and World Report, and other similar outlets? There has been discussion of “failing law schools,” even an influential book by that title by Brian Tamanaha, of Washington University School of Law (University of Chicago Press, 2012), but far too little systematically collected and analyzed data on what efforts law schools have or have not made to change the status quo.

Continue reading

September 17, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas Jefferson Law School Defaults on $133m of Junk Bonds, Hopes to Restructure Debt and Remain Open

Thomas Jefferson LogoFollowing up on my previous post, S&P Downgrades Many Law Schools, Thomas Jefferson Falls to Junk Bond Status:  Above the Law, Troubled Law School Defaults On Its Bonds, May Be Forced To Cease Operations:

Under the copy of the Event Filing and Agreement we received, the law school had until September 5, 2014, before remedial action would be taken by its Bondholders under the direction of its acting Trustee. ...  (Ed. note: In its official response, TJSL states that a new Agreement is now in effect, and that it runs through October 17, 2014.) Thomas Jefferson Law may not be able to stay open if it can’t restructure its financial obligations, which currently total $133,390,000. As set forth in the Agreement, TJSL pledges that it will “work in good faith to diligently negotiate a reasonable restructuring of its obligations under the Loan Agreement that will enable TJSL to remain in operation.”

We received this official statement from a representative of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law after the original story was published exclusively on Above the Law:

While it is correct that the School did not make a payment on June 26th, the School has paid most of the June payment and has engaged in constructive dialogue with its bondholders to restructure its obligations. Those constructive discussions have resulted in a series of agreements through which the bondholders have agreed not to exercise their remedies. The most current such agreement runs through October 17th (not September 5), and we are confident that a consensual restructuring will occur.

For several months the School, its legal counsel, and financial advisors have worked closely with the bondholders, their representatives, legal counsel, and financial advisors. The parties have a mutual interest restructuring the law school’s debt in a way that will allow the school to remain in operation and prosper. As part of the negotiations, various potential structures and restructuring alternatives have been discussed. At the core of each alternative is ensuring the school can provide the educational experience required of an ABA accredited school and ensure the school’s long term success.

The parties are currently considering the various approaches that have been developed by the advisors to the school and the bondholders, and are confident that an agreement will be reached in the near term.

The School expects to have additional positive information concerning our work with the bondholders within the next few weeks. Because a restructuring of the School’s obligations to the bondholders is likely, the School believes that it will be able to continue to prosper.

ABA Journal, Law School Misses Bond Payment, Seeks to Restructure Obligations

Thomas Jefferson's students have the lowest bar exam pass rate (50%) among California's 21 ABA-accredited law schools; the second-fewest full-time, long-term jobs as lawyers (29%) within nine months of graduation among California's 21 ABA-accredited law schools; and the most law school debt ($180,665) among the nation's 200 law schools.  Thomas Jefferson's latest available Form 990 lists the Dean's total compensation as $528,430 and nine other faculty and adminstrations with total compensation in excess of $175,000.

Update:  Wall Street Journal, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Gets Reprieve after Missed Bond Payment:

Thomas Jefferson School of Law is scrambling to restructure its debt after blowing a bond payment deadline.

The downtown San Diego private law school has disclosed in a financial filing that it failed to meet its entire debt obligations in June. But an agreement the school struck with creditors staves off doomsday at least until Oct. 17, while requiring it to come up with another $2 million.

School officials say they’re counting on reaching a restructuring deal with bondholders, who’ve agreed not to pursue legal remedies for the time being.

September 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

QS World University Rankings 2014-15

QSQS World University Rankings 2014-15:

1.  MIT
2.  Cambridge
2.  Imperial College London
4.  Harvard
5.  Oxford
5.  University College London
7.  Stanford
8.  Cal-Tech
9.  Princeton
10.  Yale
11.  Chicago
12.  ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
13.  Penn
14.  Columbia
14.  Johns Hopkins
16.  King's College London
17.  Edinburgh
17.  Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
19.  Cornell
20.  Toronto
21.  McGill
22.  National University Singapore
23.  Michigan
24.  Ecole normale supérieure, Paris
25.  Australian National
25.  Duke

QS 2

September 17, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Florida State Remembers Dan Markel

MarkelFlorida State is holding a memorial service today to remember Dan Markel, who was shot and killed on July 18. Speakers include faculty from Florida State and other law schools, current and former students, and Dan's sister. Dean Don Weidner will present the Alumni Class of 1966 Award to Dan’s Parents, Phil Markel and Ruth Markel. For the full program, see here

Dan's friends and family have set up a website, Help Us Tell Dan Markel’s Story.  For more memorial tributes to Dan, see here.  For updates on the investigation into Dan's murder, see here.

September 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Applications Decline at All Five Georgia Law Schools

Monday, September 15, 2014

NY Times: Student Loans Increasingly Burden the Elderly, Not Just the Young

New York Times:  Student Loan Debt Burdens More Than Just Young People, by Elizabeth Olson:

NY Fed[A]n estimated two million Americans age 60 and older ... are in debt from unpaid student loans, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Its August Household Debt and Credit Report said the number of aging Americans with outstanding student loans had almost tripled from about 700,000 in 2005, whether from long-ago loans for their own educations or more recent borrowing to pay for college degrees for family members.

The debt among older people is up substantially, to $43 billion from $8 billion in 2005, according to the report, which is based on data from Equifax, the credit reporting agency. As of July 31, money was being deducted from Social Security payments to almost 140,000 individuals to pay down their outstanding student loans, according to Treasury Department data. That is up from just under 38,000 people in 2004. Over the decade, the amounts withheld more than tripled, to nearly $101 million for the first seven months of this year from over $32 million in 2004.

While older debtors account for a small fraction of student loan borrowers, who have accumulated nearly $1 trillion in such debt, the effect of owing a constantly ballooning amount of debt but having a fixed income can be onerous, said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

“Those in default on their loans can see their Social Security checks garnished, leaving them with retirement income that leaves them well below the poverty line,” he said at a committee hearing this week to examine the issue. “Some may think of student loan debt as a young person’s problem,” he said, “but, as it turns out, that is increasingly not the case.” ...

The Government Accountability Office warned this week about the growth of educational debt among seniors. It released a report that relied on different data from that used by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but nonetheless painted an ominous picture of lingering debt burden.

GAO

More than 80 percent of the outstanding balances are from seniors who financed their own education, the GAO report concluded, and only 18 percent were attributed to loans used to finance the studies of a spouse, child or grandchild. But the default rate for these loans is 31 percent — a rate that is double that of the default rate for loans taken out by borrowers between the ages of 25 and 49 years old, according to agency data.

(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)

September 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

More Professors Read Mean Student Evaluations

Following up on my previous post on Professors Reading Mean Student Evaluations (in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets):  Chronicle of Higher Education, In Cheeky Pushback, Colleges Razz Rate My Professors:

Mean TweetsThe Internet can be a nasty place, as academics know well from Rate My Professors. ... Many professors assail the website and anything that might give it credence. But at least some faculty members have recently concluded that the best way to challenge the site and its unsubstantiated ratings is to mock it without mercy. ...

Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night comedy host, popularized the shtick of having people read aloud the incredibly nasty things that other people write about them online, set to “Everybody Hurts,” the plaintive tune by REM.A good example from the spot’s debut is Andy Dick, the comedian. “Oh, this one’s actually sweet,” he reads. “‘Can it be my turn to punch Andy Dick until there’s bones in his stool?’”

As much as faculty members tend to loathe Rate My Professors, comments on the website rarely approach that level of venom. Many professors simply ignore the site, while others confess to girding themselves to peek at the comments, reasoning that even the rawest feedback can offer useful information.

(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

 

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 14, 2014

There Are Too Many Lawyers. What's One Law School Dean to Do?

San Francisco Weekly, Schooled, Indebt, Struggling & Broke: There Are Too Many Lawyers. What's One Law School Dean to Do?:

Wu (Frank)[UC-Hastings Dean Frank] Wu is not, by most measures, a humble person. But he's definitely conspicuous. ... Wu is, by turns, an eccentric, somewhat endearing, and often polarizing figure — colleagues describe him as a "straight-shooter" with an outsized personality; critics accuse him of bluster. If there's one thing everyone can agree on, though, it's that Wu has a daunting task before him. Four years ago, he took the reins at Hastings, a prestigious institution that's been walloped by the Great Recession.

Now, Wu has a glutted workforce and a lacerated state budget to contend with as he tests new ideas in one of the most brutal legal markets in the country, trying to reverse the university's steady downward swing. Though he says he doesn't have much faith in law schools, Wu believes he can make this one work.

As recently as 10 years ago, law school was the thing you did if you'd majored in literature or philosophy and couldn't figure out how to make money. A student who clawed his way to the top of the class had a good shot at a high-paying job. But when the economy crashed, so did the legal field. Harvard and Yale graduates weren't guaranteed job offers. Big firms were paying their new hires a reduced salary to go away for a year because there was no work for them. And when the year was up, there sometimes wasn't a job to come back to.

All those problems were exacerbated for students at UC Hastings, a 136-year-old public university near Civic Center that had always prided itself on being independent — it's one of the few in the country that doesn't have to answer to a larger institution — and on nurturing a lower-income, multicultural student body. The first law school in the University of California system, it's an ancient, venerable institution in a city that no longer cares about ancient, venerable institutions. ...

State budget cuts have hobbled the university; meanwhile, to Wu's horror, law schools keep opening their doors all around the country, minting new would-be lawyers who want to settle in San Francisco and will further squeeze the city's already small legal job market.

And though law schools are ubiquitous, the worthwhile, ABA-accredited ones — places like Stanford, Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley, and Hastings — are becoming prohibitively expensive while offering no guarantee of a job.

Hastings, then, despite its well-intentioned faculty and aggressive programming — what other school has a Startup Legal Garage that teaches students how to make it on their own as lawyers in Silicon Valley? — had, just by virtue of being a law school, unwittingly become part of the problem.

Wu is the first to acknowledge that he cannot change the market. But with a little ingenuity, he can change the law school model, making it more interdisciplinary and more pragmatically job-oriented, even if that means slashing enrollment or acknowledging that some students might have to reinvent themselves as small-businesspeople. Lawyering might be an old, feudal business, but law schools won't survive if they don't adapt to the new economy, Wu says. That's the only way to keep Hastings, or any of its peers, afloat.

But Wu's first task is to transform UC Hastings in the eyes of everyone else. Right now, the school is mired in a years-long rankings slump, according to U.S. News & World Report, the oft-reviled, oft-revered site of record that rates law schools. In 1992 it was 19th among the 175 accredited law schools nationwide; when Wu arrived in 2010, it was 39th. This year: 54th.

Continue reading

September 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where Are All the Law School Applicants?

Connecticut Law Tribune editorial, Where Are All the Law School Applicants?:

Nearly every law school in America is facing declining applications. Nationally, the level of applications has declined back to the level of 1976. It is clear that this drop is a problem for law schools, many of which opened or expanded over the intervening decades. What is less clear is the reason for the change, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, and whether it is likely to reverse itself in the years ahead.

LSAC

What is the reason for this dramatic reversal? Conventional wisdom credits two principal factors. First, the legal job market suffered a combined cyclical and structural downturn in 2008. ... The second factor weighing against law school applications is the growing recognition of the burden of student debt. ...

Is this drop in law school enrollment a good or bad thing? One part is arguably good: many young people applied to law school because they had good grades and board scores and wanted to keep their options open, rather than truly thinking through that a legal career was right for them. Now, in contrast, anyone applying to law school has likely given serious thought to the decision.

But the decline is also unfortunate. Unfortunate for the young people who choose not to go to law school, because they are missing what can be incredibly rewarding career. Apart from the studies about the return on investment in a law degree, the career can bring satisfaction and opportunities for growth and career changes that few other paths provide.

Continue reading

September 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Craig Boise Named to Chair at Cleveland-Marshall

Press Release:

BoiseCleveland-Marshall College of Law is pleased to announce the appointment of Dean Craig M. Boise to the Joseph C. Hostetler – Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law.  The Chair in Law was created through generous gifts from John D. Drinko, a former managing partner of the firm, and other donors, and is the first chaired professorship created at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Hewitt B. Shaw, Managing Partner of BakerHostetler’s Cleveland office, said “BakerHostetler is honored to have our firm’s name closely identified with the innovative and progressive leadership demonstrated by Dean Boise.”

Dean Boise noted that BakerHostetler has been a strong supporter of Cleveland-Marshall over the years, having previously underwritten visiting professors, named professors, annual lectures, and student scholarships. “We are grateful for BakerHostetler’s many generous contributions to the law school, and I am honored to be connected to the long tradition of excellence and innovation at the firm through the Chair in Law.”

Continue reading

September 13, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

September 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Enough Is Enough: Snakes and the Indigestibility of Lawyers

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Snakes and the Indigestibility of Lawyers:

Snakes 2What is occurring is not a real “crisis” for all law schools. The worst “crisis” is for debt-laden law graduates and formerly employed lawyers who are losing their jobs. Collectively, US law schools still managed to graduate 46,364 new lawyers in 2012 and 46,776 in 2013. These are interesting figures in light of Bureau of Labor Statistics projections are that there will only be a net average of 23,500 jobs per year through 2020. ...

Think of the legal profession as a boa constrictor that has swallowed a very large cow. In debating whether the radical slump that is being experienced by the American legal profession, new law graduates and US law schools is cyclical or a unique transformation, think about the legal profession’s job absorption capacity as being “the snake”. If you know how a snake digests its food you know the “meal” is swallowed whole and gradually moves down the snake’s digestive tract until consumed. Depending on the animal’s size the consumption can take a long time. The bigger the animal being relative to the size of the snake the larger and more slowly moving is the “bulge”.

In this metaphor, law graduates are “snake food”, the legal profession’s employment markets “the snake”, and law schools an apparently mindless automatic system on auto-pilot that just keeps “feeding the snake” no matter what. It’s sole limiting factor appears to be a shortage of the “applicant fuel” required to run the law school “machine”. Certainly, intelligent strategies have not flowed from the so-called processes of “faculty governance” lauded by so many of the self-interested naifs who make up law faculties. The problem is that the “meals” in the form of new law graduates have so greatly exceeded the reptile’s digestive capacity that the “snake” has only been able to ingest half the food offered and even much of that only partially.

Continue reading

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11th Remembrance at Pepperdine

Waves

Annual Waves of Flags Display Pays Tribute to 9/11 Victims:

Seven years after the debut of the meaningful and moving tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pepperdine University continues to honor those lives lost with a stunning display of flags on the expansive lawn at Alumni Park, Malibu. Each flag, reflecting each victim's nationality, represents each of the nearly 3,000 victims of that tragic day.

The installation of the flags, which will be on display until Monday, Sept. 22, was conceived and led by the University's chapter of the College Republicans in 2008. Since that time, the display has come to be a focal point in the Malibu community to gather in remembrance and meditation of the innocent lives lost on 9/11, including Tom Burnett, alumnus of Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business and Management. ...

As it has annually since September 2001, the Office of the Chaplain, the Department of Public Safety, and the Office of the President will host a brief memorial service at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Heroes Garden, a 14,880-square-foot outdoor sanctuary that overlooks the Pacific Ocean on one of the highest bluffs on the Malibu campus. The garden serves as a public space to pause, reflect, and honor those who sacrificed their lives on 9/11, including Burnett.

Heores Garden

September 11, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Student Loans, Moral Hazard, and a Law School Mess

Steven J. Harper (Northwestern), Student Loans, Moral Hazard, and a Law School Mess:

If the ability of a school’s graduates to use their legal training initially in a JD-required job is an appropriate way to measure a law school’s success, then many are unambiguous failures. For the class of 2013, 33 of 201 ABA-accredited schools placed fewer than 40 percent of their graduates in long-term full-time JD-required employment (excluding law school-funded jobs).

But here’s the kicker. Thanks to the moral hazard that the federally-backed loan program creates, some schools with the worst employment records for recent graduates have students with the highest levels of law school loan debt.

For the class of 2013, three of the top ten schools with the highest average student loan debt at graduation placed less than one-third of their graduates in full-time long-term JD-required jobs (again, excluding law school-funded positions). They were: Thomas Jefferson ($180,000 average student debt; 29 percent employment rate), Whittier ($154,000 average student debt; 27 percent employment rate), and Florida Coastal ($150,000 average student debt; 31 percent employment rate).

How do these schools and others like them accomplish this economically perverse feat? Large doses of prospective student confirmation bias combine with federally-backed student loans to create a dysfunctional market.

Continue reading

September 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship

Following up on Paul H. Edelman (Vanderbilt) & Tracey E. George (Vanderbilt), Six Degrees of Cass Sunstein: Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship, 11 Green Bag 2d 19 (2007):  Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), Top Coauthors in Legal Academia:

The role that collaboration plays in creativity and the production of knowledge is an major focus of my recent research. As such, I’m generally interested in patterns of collaboration. ...  [T]he legal academy’s coauthorship rate appears to be much lower than most social sciences, and more comparable to those seen in the humanities.

The Thomson Reuters Web of Science indexes many legal journals, including about 100 student-edited Law Reviews. The indexing begins in 1956, and between then and now contains data on around 100,000 law review articles. I pulled metadata on all of these articles and used them to create a legal academic coauthorship network. The initial 100,000 papers listed 52,945 unique author names. I selected all the multi-authored pieces and constructed a network with links between any individuals listed as coauthors on these pieces. The result is a network with 11,474 authors, linked together quite sparsely with 12,546 coauthorship relations. ... The table below lists the top 30 collaborators and their number of coauthors. ...

These top 30 are the coauthoring superstars. The vast majority of authors didn’t coauthor at all (they’re excluded from the network) and those who did coauthor tended to only do so with one or two other authors. The diagram below shows this distribution. The x-axis here starts at 1 (because I excluded those with 0 coauthoring relationships) so you can see that over 6000 of our 11,474 authors only coauthored with one other author. The number of academic partnerships drops off quickly before reaching the maximum of 38.

coauthorship_dist

September 11, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More on College Rankings

ABA Tax Section Releases 2014-15 Law Student Tax Challenge Problem

Lstc-14thThe ABA Tax Section has released the J.D. Problem (rules; entry form) and LL.M. Problem (rules; entry form) for the 14th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge (2014-2015):

An alternative to traditional moot court competitions, the Law Student Tax Challenge asks two-person teams of students to solve a cutting-edge and complex business problem that might arise in everyday tax practice. Teams are initially evaluated on two criteria: a memorandum to a senior partner and a letter to a client explaining the result. Based on the written work product, six teams from the J.D. Division and four teams from the LL.M. Division receive a free trip (including airfare and accommodations for two nights) to the Section of Taxation 2015 Midyear Meeting, January 29-31 in Houston, TX, where each team will defend its submission before a panel of judges consisting of the country’s top tax practitioners and government officials, including tax court judges. The competition is a great way for law students to showcase their knowledge in a real-world setting and gain valuable exposure to the tax law community. On average, more than 60 teams compete in the J.D. Division and more than 40 teams compete in the LL .M. Division. For examples of the "Best Written" winners from past competitions, please click here.

IMPORTANT DATES

  1. Submission Deadline: November 7, 2014
  2. Notification of Semifinalists and Finalists: December 19, 2014
  3. Semifinal and Final Oral Defense Rounds: January 30, 2015 in Houston, TX

September 10, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Analysts, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Prof Moves, 2014-15

Moves VAP Hire

  • Julian Fray (Boston University Tax LL.M.) to Northeastern

Entry Level Hires

  • Tessa Davis (VAP, Tulane) to South Carolina
  • Erin Scharff (VAP, NYU) to Arizona State
  • Bernard Schneider (Tax LL.M., NYU) to Queen Mary University of London

Lateral Moves

Promotions, Tenures, Chairs, and Professorships

  • Jordan Barry (San Diego) to Professor of Law with Tenure
  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky) to James and Mary Lassiter Associate Professor of Law with Tenure
  • Craig Boise (Dean. Cleveland-Marshall) to Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law
  • Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago) to Associate Professor of Law with Tenure
  • Roger Colinvaux (Catholic) to Professor of Law with Tenure
  • Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) to Professor of Law with Tenure
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) to Hoffman F. Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law with Tenure
  • Bret Wells (Houston) to Associate Professor of Law with Tenure

Administrative Appointments

Visits

  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky) to Vienna University (Fulbright) (2014-15)
  • John Brooks (Georgetown) to Columbia (Spring 2015)
  • Danshera Cords (Albany) to Pittsburgh (2014-16)
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU) to Vienna University (Oct. 2013), Central European University (Apr. 2015)
  • David Herzig (Valparaiso) to Louisville (2014-15)
  • Tracey Kaye (Seton Hall) to University of Luxembourg (Fulbright) (Fall 2014)
  • Michelle Kwon (Tennessee) to SMU (Fall 2014)
  • John Miller (Idaho) to UC-Hastings (Spring 2015)
  • Ann Murphy (Gonzaga) to Shanghai University (Fulbright) (2014-15)
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) to UC-Hastings (Fall 2014)
  • Gregg Polsky (North Carolina) to Duke (2014-15)
  • James Puckett (Penn State) to Alabama (Fall 2014)
  • Tracey Roberts to UC-Hastings (2014-16)
  • David Schizer (Columbia) to Georgetown (Spring 2015)
  • Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) to North Carolina (Fall 2014), Fordham (Spring 2015)
  • Larry Zelenak (Duke) to Northwestern (2014-15)

Retirements

  • Ron Chester (New England)
  • Joseph Dodge (Florida State)
  • Ron Pearlman (Georgetown)
  • Gail Richmond (Nova)
  • Dan Schneider (Northern Illinois)
  • Bill Turnier (North Carolina)

For prior years' Tax Prof Moves, see:

Continue reading

September 10, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Ivy League Is Broken and Only Standardized Tests Can Fix It

The New Republic:   The Trouble With Harvard: The Ivy League Is Broken and Only Standardized Tests Can Fix It, by Steven Pinker (Harvard):

Ivy League (2014)It’s not surprising that William Deresiewicz’s Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League has touched a nerve. Admission to the Ivies is increasingly seen as the bottleneck to a pipeline that feeds a trickle of young adults into the remaining lucrative sectors of our financialized, winner-take-all economy. And their capricious and opaque criteria have set off an arms race of credential mongering that is immiserating the teenagers and parents (in practice, mostly mothers) of the upper middle class.

Deresiewicz writes engagingly about the wacky ways of elite university admissions, and he deserves credit for opening a debate on policies which have been shrouded in Victorian daintiness and bureaucratic obfuscation. Unfortunately, his article is a poor foundation for diagnosing and treating the illness. Long on dogmatic assertion and short on objective analysis, the article is driven by a literarism which exalts bohemian authenticity over worldly success and analytical brainpower. And his grapeshot inflicts a lot of collateral damage while sparing the biggest pachyderms in the parlor. ...

But the biggest problem is that the advice in Deresiewicz’s title is perversely wrongheaded. If your kid has survived the application ordeal and has been offered a place at an elite university, don’t punish her for the irrationalities of a system she did nothing to create; by all means send her there! The economist Caroline Hoxby has shown that selective universities spend twenty times more on student instruction, support, and facilities than less selective ones, while their students pay for a much smaller fraction of it, thanks to gifts to the college. Because of these advantages, it’s the selective institutions that are the real bargains in the university marketplace. Holding qualifications constant, graduates of a selective university are more likely to graduate on time, will tend to find a more desirable spouse, and will earn 20 percent more than those of less selective universities—every year for the rest of their working lives. These advantages swamp any differences in tuition and other expenses, which in any case are often lower than those of less selective schools because of more generous need-based financial aid. The Ivy admissions sweepstakes may be irrational, but the parents and teenagers who clamber to win it are not. ...

At the admissions end, it’s common knowledge that Harvard selects at most 10 percent (some say 5 percent) of its students on the basis of academic merit. At an orientation session for new faculty, we were told that Harvard “wants to train the future leaders of the world, not the future academics of the world,” and that “We want to read about our student in Newsweek 20 years hence” (prompting the woman next to me to mutter, “Like the Unabomer”). The rest are selected “holistically,” based also on participation in athletics, the arts, charity, activism, travel, and, we inferred (Not in front of the children!), race, donations, and legacy status (since anything can be hidden behind the holistic fig leaf). ...

Jerome Karabel has unearthed a damning paper trail showing that in the first half of the twentieth century, holistic admissions were explicitly engineered to cap the number of Jewish students. Ron Unz, in an exposé even more scathing than Deresiewicz’s, has assembled impressive circumstantial evidence that the same thing is happening today with Asians. ...

Knowing how our students are selected, I should not have been surprised when I discovered how they treat their educational windfall once they get here. A few weeks into every semester, I face a lecture hall that is half-empty, despite the fact that I am repeatedly voted a Harvard Yearbook Favorite Professor, that the lectures are not video-recorded, and that they are the only source of certain material that will be on the exam. I don’t take it personally; it’s common knowledge that Harvard students stay away from lectures in droves, burning a fifty-dollar bill from their parents’ wallets every time they do. Obviously they’re not slackers; the reason is that they are crazy-busy. Since they’re not punching a clock at Safeway or picking up kids at day-care, what could they be doing that is more important than learning in class? The answer is that they are consumed by the same kinds of extracurricular activities that got them here in the first place. ..

What would it take to fix this wasteful and unjust system? Let’s daydream for a moment. If only we had some way to divine the suitability of a student for an elite education, without ethnic bias, undeserved advantages to the wealthy, or pointless gaming of the system. If only we had some way to match jobs with candidates that was not distorted by the halo of prestige. A sample of behavior that could be gathered quickly and cheaply, assessed objectively, and double-checked for its ability to predict the qualities we value….

We do have this magic measuring stick, of course: it’s called standardized testing.

Continue reading

September 10, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2015 U.S. News College Rankings


US NewsU.S. News & World Report today released its 2015 College Rankings. Here are the Top 25 National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges (along with their 2012-2014 rankings): 

2015

Rank

 

National Universities

2014

Rank

2013

Rank

2012

Rank

1

Princeton

1

1

1

2

Harvard

2

1

1

3

Yale

3

3

3

4

Columbia

4

4

4

4

Stanford

5

6

5

4

Chicago

5

4

9

7

MIT

7

6

5

8

Duke

7

8

10

8

Penn

7

8

5

10

Cal-Tech

10

10

10

11

Dartmouth

10

10

11

12

Johns Hopkins

12

13

13

13

Northwestern

12

12

12

14

Washington (St. Louis)

14

14

14

15

Cornell

16

15

15

16

Brown

14

15

15

16

Vanderbilt

17

17

17

18

Notre Dame

18

17

19

19

Rice

18

17

17

20

UC-Berkeley

20

21

21

21

Emory

20

20

20

21

Georgetown

20

21

22

23

UCLA

23

24

25

23

Virginia

23

24

25

25

Carnegie Mellon

23

23

23

25

USC

23

24

23

27

Wake Forest

23

27

25

2015

Rank

 

Liberal Arts Colleges

2014

Rank

2013

Rank

2012

Rank

1

Williams

1

1

1

2

Amherst

2

2

2

3

Swarthmore

3

3

3

4

Wellesley

7

6

6

5

Pomona

4

4

4

5

Bowdoin

4

6

6

7

Middlebury

4

4

5

8

Carleton

7

8

6

8

Haverford

9

9

10

8

Clermont-McKenna

9

10

9

11

Davidson

9

12

11

11

Vassar

13

10

14

13

U.S. Naval Academy

12

14

14

14

Washington & Lee

14

14

12

15

Hamilton

14

16

17

15

Harvey Mudd

16

12

18

15

Colby

22

18

21

15

Wesleyan

22

22

21

19

Bates

17

17

12

19

Grinnell

17

22

19

19

Smith

20

18

19

22

Colgate

20

18

21

23

Oberlin

25

 

24

24

Macalester

24

24

 

24

Scripps

25 

24

 

24

U.S. Military Academy

17 

18

14

Update:  Washington Post, U.S. News College Rankings Trends, 2010-2015:

These tables show the top 150 drawn from each of two U.S. News lists of national universities and national liberal arts colleges.  

National

Liberal

September 9, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Dan Markel

It has been almost two months since the tragic death of Dan Markel.  Some updates:

There is a memorial service tonight in New York City at NYU from 7:00-9:00 p.m. (registration here).

Remembering DannyDan's friends and family have set up a website, Help Us Tell Dan Markel’s Story:

The outpouring of kind words in memorials and remembrances of Danny has been overwhelming. We are so grateful to see how many lives he has touched. We want to collect all of your thoughts and memories about Danny so that Ben and Lincoln will know the impact their father had on all of you. Please help us tell his story by sharing yours below.

We’d also love to receive any videos you have of Danny, and any video messages you may have or would like to create. For instructions on what to do with those, please email us at rememberingdanmarkel@gmail.com.

For more memorial tributes to Dan, see here.  For updates on the investigation into Dan's murder, see here.

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

Dean Gershon: Do Law Schools Need the AALS?

Richard Gershon (Dean, Mississippi), Do Law Schools Need the AALS?:

AALS (2014)[D]o law schools even need the AALS anymore? Ten years ago, schools would have never asked that question, and new schools were eager to join, because of the enhanced prestige of AALS membership. After all, you wanted to be listed in the Directory under “Member Schools,” instead of “Fee Paid Schools.” But, there are around 180 member schools out of approximately 200 total law schools (around 90%), so does membership really add prestige? AALS membership might matter to other legal academics, but I am convinced that lawyers and judges, for the most part, do not care whether their law school is a member school, and prospective students only really care about rankings and ABA approval.

The cost of membership in AALS is over $10,000 for most law schools (the AALS Bylaws state that fees are determined by FTE). Additionally, law schools pay the cost of sabbatical review by the association. These dues pay the salaries of a fulltime staff, and overhead. Recently, the AALS has decided to purchase a building.

Continue reading

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

Is Beyoncé's Birthday a Valid Excuse for a Student to Miss Class?

Monday, September 8, 2014

The 100 Most Influential People in Tax and Accounting

100 Most InfluentialI am honored to be included on the list of Accounting Today's 100 Most Influential People in Tax and Accounting for the ninth year in a row:

Caron once stood out as one of the few serious tax bloggers out there; now that there are a lot more tax blogs online, he stands out even more -- because they all refer to him and his near-comprehensive content.

Near-comprehensive?  In any event, I am flattered to be on the list with such high-powered people in the tax and accounting worlds, including:

(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

September 8, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Should Universities Profit From Vodka Jell-O Shots Consumed by Their Students?

Inside Higher Ed, Jell-O Shots: University-Approved?:

Jello ShotsLast month -- just in time for a new season of college football -- Kraft Foods released a new line of Jell-O molds in the shapes of various university logos. Four of the "jiggler mold kits" were unveiled last year, but products for 16 more teams have now been added, including the University of Alabama, Ohio State University, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

In a press release, Kraft said the kits are meant to be used in creating Jell-O treats for tailgate parties for alumni and fans. But some are concerned that the themed molds could be seen as university-endorsed invitations to create alcohol-laced "Jell-O shots" -- a mixed message for universities fighting to curb binge drinking among students. ... Aaron White, the program director of college and underage drinking prevention research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "If I were a student, I'd be awfully confused if I heard about the dangers of drinking and drinking games at freshman orientation and then when I got to Wal-Mart, I found these Jell-O molds with my school's logo on it."

Kraft admits that it is aware Jell-O shots are a popular way to consume the dessert, but the company told the website Vocativ that it doesn't condone using the molds for that purpose. The half-dozen universities contacted for this article did not return requests for comment.

The financial details behind the universities' licensing deals with Kraft have not been released, but colleges have a profitable history of licensing their trademarks to products that may sometimes send a mixed message to students. Shot glasses and pint glasses sporting college logos have been a mainstay at university bookstores for decades. Some colleges have even licensed their logos to appear on Ping-Pong balls and so-called "tailgate tables." Many college students have other names for the products, often used for the campus favorite beer pong.

Jell-O shots can be a particularly risky form of binge drinking, White said. Because Jell-O masks the flavor of the alcohol, it can be difficult for students to recognize how many drinks they've actually consumed. Like the similarly fruit-flavored and highly alcoholic college staple "Jungle Juice," when students consume Jell-O shots "the line between a small buzz and a dangerous overdose is very thin," White said. Students may also think of Jell-O as food, he added, meaning the consumption could be happening on a dangerously empty stomach.

Jell-O Shot kits are available for these twenty universities:

Continue reading

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NY Times Debate: Why Don’t Americans Take Vacation?

New York Times Room for Debate:  Why Don’t Americans Take Vacation?:

NY Times Room for DebateAccording to a new report, four in 10 American workers allow some of their paid vacation days to go unused. Why aren’t we taking time off? Is it because we’re a culture of workaholics or are companies not doing enough to accommodate paid vacation?:

  • Ellen Bravo (Family Values @ Work), We Need Standards for Paid Time Off:  "Employees create value and earn compensation. That compensation should include time to recover when ill, and to relax and rejuvenate."
  • John de Graaf (Take Back Your Timem), Many Feel Trapped by Work:  "It's up to business leaders to see the value of vacations for their employees, give them time off and encourage them to take it."
  • Bruce Elliott (Society for Human Resource Management), Unlimited Vacation — So Crazy It Works:  "For young workers, flexibility when it comes to paid time off is a major factor in employee retention."
  • Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn (Rutgers Universitym), Overworking Is Part of Our Identity:  "My research shows that Americans who work over 40 hours a week are more happy than those who work less, but that doesn't always translate into economic success."
  • Tweets on Vacation, or Lack Thereof:  "Room for Debate rounded up reader responses from Twitter."

New York Times Deal Book:  What I Learned on My Vacation, by Tony Schwartz:

NY Times Dealbook (2013)I have spent much of my adult life struggling to believe it is acceptable to simply, and deeply, relax. I come by this conviction honestly. Both my parents worked obsessively. I grew up believing my value was inextricably connected to what I accomplished — with my brain — in every moment. If I wasn’t producing something tangible, I quickly began to feel anxious and unmoored. ...

[T]he more renewal I built into my life, the more productive I became. Because I rested more regularly, I found that when I worked, I was more energized, focused and efficient. I got more done, at a higher level of quality, in less time. I built a company to teach these principles to others, and encouraged employees to make time off the job as important in their lives as time on the job. For starters, we give all of our employees at least five weeks off a year.

Continue reading

September 7, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Using Humor in the Law School Classroom

Humor 3Wall Street Journal, Law School Should be Funnier, Says Professor:

Stephen F. Reed, a clinical law professor at Northwestern University School of Law, says professors shouldn’t underestimate the pedagogical power of laughter. “[H]umor can have value in creating a lively classroom environment in which students are ready to learn, and in its best forms can help faculty accomplish their pedagogical goals,” Mr. Reed writes. ...

He encourages professors to brush up on pop culture and jot down ideas before class. And he also cautions against going overboard with slapstick:  "I cannot emphasize this enough: do not be a clown in class; be a professor with a sense of humor."

Stephen F. Reed (Northwestern), The Lively Classroom: Finding the Humor in Business Associations, 59 St. Louis L.J. ___ (2015):

I have yet to meet a faculty member who does not, in at least some small way, use humor in the classroom. It almost seems to be part of human nature, and some of its value is obvious: it commands attention, it relaxes both the speaker and the audience, and it provides a release in stressful situations. It may even help us to better retain information.2 This article is not intended to justify humor in the classroom, which other authors have covered,3 but takes as a given that humor can have value in creating a lively classroom environment in which students are ready to learn, and in its best forms can help faculty accomplish their pedagogical goals.

My main project, then, is to give you ideas on how to introduce humor to your course no matter how “unfunny” you consider yourself to be. I understand that those of you who do not believe you can use humor effectively in the classroom may dismiss this piece immediately.4 Although I implore you to give the ideas below at least a pilot run next semester, I understand completely why you might think it futile. ... Too often, we ignore that much of what happens in the classroom depends on certain inherent physical and personality traits of the instructor. Many of us wonder - even fear - that maybe some faculty have just “got it” and we do not. Anyone can buy a dapper new outfit, but only Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie can wear it like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, while the rest of us middle-aged professors in the “prime” of our careers wear the same outfit like Buddy Hackett or Carol Channing.7See material on staying current with cultural references, infra.

Continue reading

September 6, 2014 in Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: More Parents Foot the Bill For MBAs For Their Kids

Wall Street Journal, More Parents Foot the Bill for Business School M.B.A.s; Aim to Minimize Debt to Keep Career Options Open:

MBAProspective business students are trying to steer clear of student loans. Instead, they're sidling up to more familiar investors: their parents.

Forty-four percent of people considering graduate business degrees last year expected to tap mom and dad for financial assistance, up from 38% in 2009, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT business-school entrance exam and surveys thousands of hopeful students annually. They also expected their parents to foot more of the bill: 20% in 2013, compared with 13.7% four years earlier. ...

The shift in expected funding sources is due in part to concerns that institutional debt will limit postgraduation job opportunities, students and career services officials say. Graduating M.B.A.s are increasingly drawn to entrepreneurial ventures and early-stage startups. By minimizing their debt loads they can better afford to give up the steady paychecks of traditional finance or consulting jobs, they say.

Continue reading

September 6, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, September 5, 2014

ABA Journal Question of the Week: Tell Us About Your Craziest Classmate From Law School

ABA Journal (2014)ABA Journal Question of the Week: Tell Us About Your Craziest Classmate From Law School:

Nearly all students, from kindergarten through law school, have returned to classes at this point. In honor of that, we ask you to remember your time in law school—specifically, your fellow students.

Tell us about your craziest classmate from law school, whether he or she was crazy smart; had crazy sleeping or eating habits; or took crazy risks. And if you know what that former classmate is doing now, please share! (And please use pseudonyms if necessary to protect his or her identity.)

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

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly Roundup

September 5, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barnhizer: The ‘Death’ of Law Schools and the Five Stages of Grief

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Kubler-Ross Criteria and the ‘Death’ of Law Schools:

StagesJust for fun I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at the psychological context of the rapid decline and possible “death” of a number of American law schools. It seemed appropriate to adopt Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s hypothesis about the stages we go through when coping with fundamental crises such as death, job loss, permanent disability or the fracturing of a key relationship [denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance]. ... This seems to offer a useful heuristic for evaluating the conditions and fates of law schools experiencing plummeting demand for their services, challenges to their educational quality, a legal profession in the midst of a profound transformation, and the decay of the financial resource base due to declining tuition revenues.

I suggest that for many law schools what is occurring is a “transformative tsunami”. While it is psychologically dispiriting for many traditional law faculty members whose privileged worlds are turning out to be built on shifting sand, the conditions are creating a set of exciting challenges and opportunities for an entrepreneurial inventiveness. We can only hope that the changes will improve the quality of legal education and the delivery of legal services. Unfortunately, and inevitably, that inventiveness is being compelled from outside the law schools. ...

Below the top-rated forty or fifty law schools the competitive conditions demand context-specific strategic action adapted to the strengths and mitigating the vulnerabilities of the institutions. The harsh fact is that some of the lesser ranked law schools are likely to (and should) “die”. Some will “expire” by actually going out of existence. Others will change their operational systems into forms different from the “cookie cutter” model of university law schools for the past century. These changes will be exciting, innovative and productive in the sense that Joseph Schumpeter intended in his description of the periodic process of “creative destruction” where the old ways of doing things are transformed into new forms of production. Most tenure track law faculty will not be pleased.

Continue reading

September 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Scholarly Incentives, Scholarship, Article Selection Bias, and Investment Strategies for Today's Law Schools

Dan Subotnik (Touro) & Laura Ross (Touro), Scholarly Incentives, Scholarship, Article Selection Bias, and Investment Strategies for Today's Law Schools, 30 Touro L. Rev. 615 (2014):

Anecdotal evidence supplied by authors suggested that article acceptance by law reviews was based to a significant extent on the affiliation and prestige of the author. The implication for readers was that most law professors could not expect a fair reading and that, indeed, those from 3rd and 4th tier schools had only the feeblest prospects of cracking the top tier. With many aspects of employment tied to law review placement --e.g. faculty recruitment and tenure -- law professors could understand the need to tamp down career expectations. And law students could begin to see the small benefit they got from law review production. 

Table 2

Table 3A

Table 4

Continue reading

September 5, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This Is Your Brain on Law School

BrainAbigail A. Patthoff (Chapman), This is Your Brain on Law School: The Impact of Fear-Based Narratives on Law Students, 2015 Utah L. Rev. ___:

Law students regularly top the charts as among the most dissatisfied, demoralized, and depressed of graduate student populations. As their teachers, law professors cannot ignore the palpable presence of this stress in our classrooms – unchecked, it stifles learning, encourages counterproductive behavior, and promotes illness. Yet, in the name of persuasion, professors frequently, and perhaps unwittingly, introduce additional fear into the classroom as a pedagogical tool via a common fear-based narrative: the cautionary tale. By taking lessons from existing social science research about “fear appeals” – scare tactics designed to frighten the listener into adopting a particular behavior – this article suggests that we can actively manage one source of law student anxiety by more thoughtfully using cautionary tales.

September 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Students Who Exercise Regularly Have Higher GPAs

Purdue University, College Students Working Out at Campus Gyms Get Better Grades:

PurdueCollege students who visit their campus gyms are more likely to succeed in the classroom, according to data from Purdue University.

"Students who worked out at Purdue's gym at least once a week were more likely to earn a higher grade point average than students who visited less or not at all," says Tricia Zelaya, assistant director for student development and assessment at Purdue's Division of Recreational Sports. "Going to the gym is so much more than going to the gym. Students who are motivated by fitness and wellness tend to have better time management skills, and research shows that being fit is good for the mind. It all ties together."

For example, the more than 1,820 students who visit Purdue's France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center at least 16 times a month earned a GPA of 3.10 or higher. The correlation between grades and gym use also is shown with moderate users. Students who used the gym at least seven times a month had an average GPA of 3.06. The average GPA for students who did not regularly use the gym was a 2.81.

(Hat Tip: Inside Higher Ed.)

September 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Professor Shoots Himself in the Foot in Classroom. Literally.

ShootIdaho State Journal, ISU Instructor Shoots Himself in the Foot:

An instructor was wounded in the foot after his concealed handgun discharged in a classroom at the Physical Science Complex on the Idaho State University campus at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. ... “It was in his pocket.” ... “He did have an enhanced concealed carry permit.”

The instructor, who was teaching in the chemistry department, was not taken by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center, but his wound was treated and he was released from the hospital Tuesday evening. “It's unfortunate,” ISU President Arthur Vailas said. “I'm sure the incident was scary and embarrassing.”

Vailas, who is a gun owner and hunter, said he likes guns but not on campus. He joined other Idaho university professors and chief of police from cities with universities during the last Idaho legislative session in opposition to legislation that now allows concealed carry on campuses in Idaho so long as the person has obtained an enhanced permit. Enhanced permits require additional training. ...

Continue reading

September 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Robert Reich: College Is a Ludicrous Waste of Money

Salon:  College Is a Ludicrous Waste of Money, by Robert Reich (UC-Berkeley):

InequalityThis week, millions of young people head to college and universities, aiming for a four-year liberal arts degree. They assume that degree is the only gateway to the American middle class.

It shouldn’t be.

For one thing, a four-year liberal arts degree is hugely expensive. Too many young people graduate laden with debts that take years if not decades to pay off.

And too many of them can’t find good jobs when they graduate, in any event. So they have to settle for jobs that don’t require four years of college. They end up overqualified for the work they do, and underwhelmed by it.

Others drop out of college because they’re either unprepared or unsuited for a four-year liberal arts curriculum. When they leave, they feel like failures.

We need to open other gateways to the middle class. 

Press reports last month noted that Reich earns a $243,000 salary at UC-Berkeley and is teaching one class this semester.

September 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Law School, I Love You

Gawker:  Law School, I Love You, by David Shapiro (Brooklyn Law School 3L):

LoveI went to NYU for college and finished as fast as I could because I didn't enjoy it and wasn't engaged by what I was studying (economics, history, metropolitan studies). After that, for about two years, I worked at a part-time clerical job so menial that I couldn't tell my best friends what I did. I made $13,689.60 a year. My mom told me that when she found out what I was doing, her heart sunk. One time, on the phone, my Dad asked me how old I thought I would be before he stopped supporting me. ...

I was sitting in my Civil Procedure class when I realized I loved law school. ... I sent a Google Chat message to my friend who was sitting next to me that said, "i think i love law school? is that possible/reasonable?" She didn't respond because she was focusing on the lecture. I Googled it and found a message board posting entitled, simply, "does anyone else love law school." The common thread running through the replies was incredulity. Nobody had ever told me, or any of these students on this message board apparently, that law school could be a thing that you could love. I thought it was just a thing you had to drag yourself through before you could become a lawyer. It would be like if someone told me to go to the dentist not only to get my teeth cleaned but also because I might really have a good time hanging out with the dentist.

I also noticed, for the first time, I didn't dread getting out of bed to go to school. I was going to office hours with my professors just to talk. ... More than anything, I loved learning about the rational underpinnings for the beliefs of people I disagree with—for a liberal law student, reading one of Justice Scalia's opinions is like going on an ideological safari through an awe-inspiring argument in a parallel universe. In the winter, before finals, I sat in the library, seven days a week, most days until after midnight. I'd never worked harder, cared more about what I was doing, or been happier. Over winter break after my first semester, my Dad hung my grades up on the refrigerator. They weren't perfect grades but, for the first time, he said he was proud of me.

After two years of law school, I still feel this way about it, but there is a lingering problem: It can be really embarrassing to tell people that I go to law school. I think that's driven in part by a long-held belief that people who go to law school can't hack it in the professional world, are cursedly uncreative, or have given up on their dreams. (Some students in law school confirm this; most don't.)

Continue reading

September 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

WSJ: Law Schools Boost Enrollment After Price Cuts

Wall Street Journal: Law Schools Boost Enrollment After Price Cuts; Some Institutions Trim Tuition Amid Dearth of New Students, by Jennifer Smith:

A strategy rarely employed in legal education—price-cutting—appears to be paying off for a handful of law schools.

Three institutions that trimmed tuition for some or all students [Iowa, Roger Williams, La Verne] are set to boost their first-year class sizes by 22% to 52% this fall compared with 2013, according to an analysis of preliminary enrollment data compiled by The Wall Street Journal. At a fourth {Penn State], a new grant program that effectively cuts the cost of tuition nearly in half for all in-state students has also been followed by a substantial jump in new students.

The gains—which at two of the schools were accompanied by a slight downtick in test scores—are notable given the broader plunge in U.S. law-school enrollment since 2010 amid a grim legal job market. ...

First-year enrollment figures at two law schools outside the 100 top-ranked schools [Akron, Ohio Northern] slid even after they reduced cost. ...

After a three-year downturn in enrollment, many law schools across the U.S. are weighing whether to maintain tuition revenue by loosening admission standards, or keep classes smaller to avoid jeopardizing their rankings. Among the tuition-choppers, the median LSAT score dipped by one point at Iowa Law, to 160, though the school's median GPA increased to 3.64, compared with 3.59 in 2013. At Roger Williams, the median LSAT also went down one point, to 148, and the median GPA dropped slightly, from 3.18 in 2013 to 3.16.

Continue reading

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

Death of Brittany McGrath (J.D. 2014, Brooklyn Law School)

Daily Hampshire Gazette:  A Father-Daughter Bond That Ended Far Too Soon:

EdWednesday morning at 10, people who loved Edward Daniel McGrath Jr. and his daughter, Brittany Danielle McGrath, gather in Northampton to attempt what must seem impossible: Accept that this doting dad and loving child, joined for a late-summer motorcycle ride and both in love with partners who appreciated their unique ways, died because a driver addled by heroin allegedly nodded off and crossed the center line. ...

James Walter Ainsworth ... will face two counts of felony motor vehicle homicide under the influence of drugs, as well as operating to endanger, possession of heroin and driving with a suspended license. Police say Ainsworth climbed into a potentially lethal weapon, an SUV, and allowed it to collide with innocent people.

According to an Easthampton police report, witnesses at the scene said Ainsworth climbed out of the SUV and looked passively at the wrecked motorcycle. He lit a cigarette. A witness reported seeing Ainsworth slumped minutes before against the driver’s side window, apparently asleep. He was heard to say at the scene, “The curb woke me up.” ...

Ed and Brittany liked to ride together, her obituary said. It was part of their bond. She was about to take a job with a British law firm, having just graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School, following years in New York City studying at Fordham University. Their Thursday afternoon ride north toward Northampton was surely a joyous reunion.

Obituary, Brittany McGrath (1985-2014):

BrittanyAfter graduating from Fordham with honors and awards she went on to work for the Manhattan District Attorney's office as a trial prep assistant. Her experience working at the DA's office deepened her desire to pursue social justice, so she pursued an education in law, continuing studies at Brooklyn Law School. While at Brooklyn Law she continued leading her Moot Court team to multiple international victories, including at Oxford University. Continuously on the Dean's list she was a member of the Law Review and was sought after by many professors to assist in legal research. Just three short months ago, she graduated magna cum laude from BLS, and had accepted a position at an international British law firm, Allen and Overy. She would have started on September 15th volunteered for the coalition of the homeless, was a member of the board of directors for the Harlem Youth Baseball Organization, and was a fierce advocate for as a junior associate. She children and animal rights, both adopting and placing many homeless animals. She had a magical connection with everyone she met, and will forever be missed. ...

Brittany is survived by her mother, Iris McGrath, best friend and sister Chelsea McGrath, and her partner and love of her life, Juan Reinoso, and their household: dogs Valencia, Mocha, Nala, Smokey, and cats Tuxedo, Misu, and Lolita.

Services will be Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m. at Ahearn Funeral Home at 783 Bridge Road in Northampton. Flowers can be sent to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue.

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

UNLV Law School Faces $3 Million Budget Shortfall Due to 25% Enrollment Decline

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Financial Stresses Challenge UNLV Law School:

UNLV LogoIn a state with few higher education bragging rights, UNLV’s law school stands out. The law school is ranked among the top 100 by U.S. News and World Report and its graduates are in demand locally, with students doing well on the state bar exam.

But the school’s success could plummet quickly if something isn’t done about the gap in its budget. ... The school once saw 150 students enrolling every year; the new norm is 110-115. The result: A $3 million shortfall.

The University of Nevada Board of Regents is asking for $1.5 million in state funds to help the law school adjust to the economic reality. The rest of the loss likely will be absorbed through cost cutting, a tuition hike, philanthropy and new programs.

Boyd is looking to add a new signature program — a master’s in gaming law and regulation — as well as offer more educational opportunities for business professionals. The faculty already has approved the new gaming law master’s program. The regents will vote Friday on whether or not to approve the program, which would be the first of its kind in the nation. If approved, Boyd will recruit internationally, targeting Macau and Singapore for students, [Dean Daniel] Hamilton said. ...

The other solutions Boyd is implementing to weather its financial predicament are less palatable to students and faculty. Tuition for Boyd students will gradually go up, 4 percent next academic year and 4 percent the following year. ... Boyd has implemented a hiring freeze, planned phased-out retirements of faculty and is exploring the idea of voluntary buyouts for faculty, Hamilton told regents when advocating for additional state funds Aug. 22.

Continue reading

September 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Symposium: Teaching Trusts & Estates

T&ESymposium, Teaching Trusts and Estates, 58 St. Louis U. L.J. 643-846 (2014):

September 2, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 10 Law Schools for Hispanic Students

HispanicHispanic Business Magazine has published its annual ranking of the Top 10 Law Schools for Hispanics:

  1. Florida International
  2. Florida State
  3. Miami
  4. American
  5. Nova
  6. Texas
  7. USC
  8. San Francisco
  9. UCLA
  10. New Mexico

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

September 2, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Harrison: Faculty Jobs for Spouses Reduce Opportunities for Others

Gainesville Sun op-ed:  Faculty Jobs for Spouses Can Reduce Opportunities for Others, by Jeffrey L. Harrison (Florida):

Trailing SPouse 2A front-page story in The Sun on Aug. 23 described efforts to accommodate the trailing spouses of highly desirable faculty candidates. It tells the sunnier side of the story, but not the things fair-minded people should consider. That is, if “fair” means equal opportunity, no cutting in line and hiring the best people.

When a trailing spouse is involved, there typically is no public notice that a job is open. Oftentimes a job paying tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars is manufactured. No other person may apply for that job or is likely to even know about the job regardless of his or her qualifications.

In the modern version of the “ol' boy” and “who do you know” systems, it adds the “who are you sleeping with” system. ...

Marriages and partnerships unfortunately fall apart. When they do, UF is stuck with an employee that it would never have hired (and perhaps a position it never would have created) but for the relationship. Since “trailing” was a requirement of being hired, shouldn't there be a re-evaluation when the relationship ends in which all job seekers are finally given a chance for the position?

Does anyone really believe that a trailing spouse is held to the same standard as others? Put differently, do you want to be the dean who says no to someone when the outcome is the loss of an eminent faculty member in another department who the dean there and the president of the university, on whom your position and greatly enhanced salary depend, desperately want to keep?

Continue reading

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

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup