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Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Godliest (Utah) and Godless (Vermont) States

The IRS Scandal, Day 661

IRS Logo 2Press Release, Judicial Watch Sues IRS for Records on Destroyed Hard Drives of Lois Lerner, Other IRS Officials:

Judicial Watch announced today that on February 18, 2015, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seeking “any and all records related to the destruction of damaged hard drives from IRS employee computers from January 1, 2010, to the present.” The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v Internal Revenue Service (No 1:15-cv-00237)). The lawsuit is part of an investigation into the Obama IRS’ claim that the emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials, who are being investigated for abuses of Obama’s political opponents, were contained on hard drives that were subsequently damaged and destroyed.

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March 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

McGinnis: Will Law School Applicants Return?

John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), Will Law School Applicants Return?:

ApplicantsLaw schools have suffered a precipitous drop in applications in the last six years—the largest decline in decades. To assess whether this decline will continue and to determine the response, legal educators must first figure out the causes of the decline. Here are the three most plausible causes in ascending order of the threat that they pose to incumbents in legal education. The first is the Great Recession: law schools have declined because of a decrease in the demand for legal services caused by the Great Recession. The second is the existence of a lawyer bubble: law schools previously produced too many lawyers and there is overhang of supply that makes new lawyers less necessary. The third is structural: law has faced a technological shock, which has depressed the demand for lawyers and/or their income. [Chart: Inside the Law School Scam.]

Applicants 2It seems quite clear now that Great Recession cannot be assigned a primary role. ... The bursting of a bubble in lawyers is an inherently somewhat less plausible explanation than a housing bubble for a persistent oversupply. ... The most important cause of the decline in demand for legal services is technological shock.

Technological change has reduced the demand for lawyers, at least at the price point law schools were delivering it. The technological shock has been of two kinds.

First, machine intelligence is beginning to substitute for lawyers, particularly at the low end of the legal profession. Document discovery is moving from human to machines. Legalzoom and similar services are encroaching on the production of simple documents, like many wills and trusts. And once machines get into an area, they dominate over time.

Second, machine intelligence is reducing the agency costs from which lawyers have benefited, General counsel, for instance, can keep better track of exactly what their outside counsel are doing, cutting down on slack. The information age reduces the information asymmetry between lawyers and many of their clients. [Chart: The Law School Tuition Bubble.]

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February 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Pepperdine Hosts Conference on Wisdom Law and Lawyers

WisdomI had the honor today of participating in the annual Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics conference at Pepperdine on Wisdom Law and Lawyers (program) organized by Robert F. Cochran and Michael Helfand:

At a time when law is seen by many as purely a matter of power politics and the lawyer's role as purely a matter of pursuing client economic interests, we want to consider how wisdom should influence deliberations in legislative chambers, courts, and lawyers' offices. Both theoretical wisdom and practical wisdom have much to say about law. We hope to learn from many traditions, both religious and secular.

The conference will be organized around three general themes:

1. The Nature of Wisdom – What do our traditions teach about the nature of wisdom? Speakers are likely to address the conference topics from Greek, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and Confucian perspectives.

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February 28, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

AALS President & GW Dean Blake Morant: 'There's Never Been a Better Time to Consider Getting a Legal Education'

Chronicle of Education Video, On Leadership: What the State of Law Schools Can Teach the Rest of Higher Ed:

Declining student demand and a weak job market have turned up the pressure on law schools. Blake D. Morant, dean of the George Washington University Law School and president of the Association of American Law Schools, describes some of the things they are doing about it.

CHE

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February 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 660

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, GOP Lawmakers Seek to Jump-Start Long-Running IRS Investigation:

The new Republican-controlled Congress is trying to pump fresh life into a long-running probe of alleged targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

Seeking to jump-start the stalled inquiry, GOP lawmakers raised concerns at a House hearing on Thursday night about possible IRS wrongdoing during the course of the probe.

The hearing by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed few new details, however, and Democrats accused Republicans of airing the allegations prematurely, before all the evidence has been gathered.

Still, the hearing signaled more problems for the beleaguered tax agency, which has faced GOP ire for several years over its treatment of politically-active conservative groups, among other issues.

Witnesses appearing before the committee cited the IRS’s possibly incomplete or incorrect responses to officials’ demands for computer backup tapes containing missing IRS emails. The missing emails belonged to Lois Lerner, a now-retired IRS official who has been a focus of Republican concerns.

Forbes, New IRS Scandal Hearings Reveal 32,000 More Emails, Possible Criminal Activity, by Robert W. Wood:

In new Hearings of the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform on February 26, 2015, J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General, said he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. The hearings also revealed the fact that investigators have recovered another 32,000 emails relating to Lois Lerner. However, how many of them are duplicates of those previously recovered is not yet clear.

But in what was the most disturbing revelation, House Member attendees were told that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. That contradicted the prior testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He had testified to the effect that recovery efforts had been thorough, and that the tapes couldn’t be accessed.

It now appears that no one may have asked. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said, “It looks like we’ve been lied to, or at least misled.” ... Several Oversight Committee Members questioned how diligent the IRS had been, given how quickly the investigators now were able to find them. Yet an IRS statement repeats the tax agency’s full cooperation. It has not been inexpensive. The IRS claims to have spent $20 million responding to congressional inquiries, producing documents and providing agency officials to testify at hearings.

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February 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Tell If You’re a Jerk at Work

The JerkFollowing up on my previous post, Are You a Jerk at Work?:  Wall Street Journal, How to Tell if You’re a Jerk at Work, by  Daniel Ames (Columbia Business School) & Abbie Wazlawek (Columbia Business School):

Self-awareness is crucial in the workplace. It can also be dauntingly hard to get.

Knowing your own strengths and limitations, and how others see you and your behavior, has been linked to a range of positive outcomes. But when it comes to understanding how others see us, many of us are in the dark.

One example comes from our own research where we’ve asked negotiators at the end of a deal-making session to classify themselves as having been underassertive, overassertive or appropriately assertive. We also asked them the same question about their counterparts. When we compare how people categorize themselves with how their counterparts categorize them, the correspondence is disturbingly low—not much better than flipping a coin.

Assertiveness

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February 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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February 27, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Republicans Name Keith Hall CBO Director, Replacing Doug Elmendorf

Hall 2Wall Street Journal, GOP Leaders Name Keith Hall as CBO Director:

Congressional Republican leaders named Keith Hall to a four-year term as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, the influential nonpartisan budget scorekeeper for Congress.

Mr. Hall, a former White House economist who served as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will replace Doug Elmendorf starting April 1, GOP leaders said Friday.

Mr. Hall, who has served as chief economist of the International Trade Commission since September, headed the BLS, one of the government’s main economic-data-gathering agencies, from 2008 to 2012. He served as the chief economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 2005 to 2008.

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February 27, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Six Deans Join Law Deans on Legal Education Blog

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is thrilled to announce that our Law Deans on Legal Education Blog, ably manned by Rick Bales (Dean, Ohio Northern) and Richard Gershon (Dean, Mississippi), is adding six new Deans:

With the support of our sponsor, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, the Network is seeking to expand in two ways.

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February 27, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NALP: The Continued Improvement in Law Grad Job Prospects

NALP New LogoNational Law Journal op-ed:  Ground for Measured Optimism on Job Prospects, by James Leipold (Executive Director, National Association for Law Placement:

Increased hiring and reduced law school enrollment could spell happy futures for graduates.

Despite the endless publicity about the poor job market for law school graduates since the recession, the entry-level legal job market has actually been improving for the past three years. The improvements have been incremental, and it is still a scrappy and competitive job market for new law school graduates, but falling law school enrollment and a strengthening economy are likely to support continuing improvements for the next few graduating classes. ...

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February 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Brunson: Unilaterally Enforcing Foreign Tax Judgments

Samuel D. Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Accept This as a Gift: Unilaterally Enforcing Foreign Tax Judgments, 146 Tax Notes 541 (Jan. 26, 2015):

Current U.S. law treats foreign tax judgments differently than other foreign civil judgments, prohibiting U.S. courts from recognizing and enforcing the former, even though they recognize and enforce the latter. In this article, Brunson argues that there is no compelling reason for this different treatment and that it is ultimately detrimental to the government’s revenue collection. As long as the revenue rule continues to prevent the United States from enforcing foreign tax judgments, the nation cannot enlist foreign help in reducing the foreign tax gap; other countries will only collect U.S. tax judgments if the United States reciprocally collects their tax judgments. The revenue rule also allows foreign persons to hide their assets in the United States, effectively turning the United States into a tax haven. For the sake of reducing the international tax gap and for the sake of international tax justice, the United States must revoke the revenue rule.

February 27, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Four Tax Profs Are Among Dozens of Florida Dean Applicants

Florida Logo (GIF)After last year's failed dean search at the University of Florida College of Law (which included two tax profs among the four finalists):  pursuant to the state open records law, Florida has released the application letters and CVs of dozens of applicants, including four Tax Profs:

(Hat Tip: Dan Filler.)

February 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 659

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weisbach Presents The New View, the Traditional View, and Capital Gains Taxes on Stock Today at UCLA

WeisbachDavid Weisbach (Chicago) presents The New View, the Traditional View, and Capital Gains Taxes on Stock at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

The sale of stock cum dividend generates a gain to the seller and a dividend and capital loss to the buyer. The longer the time between the gain from sale cum dividend and the loss from disposition of the stock ex dividend, the greater then net effective tax due to the time value of money. Payment of a dividend prior to the original sale avoids these offsetting capital gains and losses and, therefore, can lower overall taxes. Neither the new view nor the traditional view models of the corporate tax incorporate this effect. This paper modifies new and traditional view models and shows that the combination of dividend and capital gains taxes can generate incentives to pay dividends sooner rather than later, contrary to the conclusions of either view. It also considers how clientele effects may change these incentives, sometimes creating incentives to pay dividends after sales and sometimes before.

February 26, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

American Taxation Association 2015 Midyear Meeting

ATA LogoThe three day 2015 Midyear Meeting of the American Taxation Association kicks off today in Washington, D.C. The full program is here.

February 26, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes

GreeceWall Street Journal, Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes:

Of all the challenges Greece has faced in recent years, prodding its citizens to pay their taxes has been one of the most difficult.

At the end of 2014, Greeks owed their government about €76 billion ($86 billion) in unpaid taxes accrued over decades, though mostly since 2009. The government says most of that has been lost to insolvency and only €9 billion can be recovered.

Billions more in taxes are owed on never-reported revenue from Greece’s vast underground economy, which was estimated before the crisis to equal more than a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

The International Monetary Fund and Greece’s other creditors have argued for years that the country’s debt crisis could be largely resolved if the government just cracked down on tax evasion. Tax debts in Greece equal about 90% of annual tax revenue, the highest shortfall among industrialized nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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February 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Much Self-Citation Is Too Much?

Highly CitedTimes Higher Education, Journal Editor’s Self-citation Rate Under Scrutiny:

A senior psychology professor has strongly denied any wrongdoing, after a blog highlighted what it claimed was his high self-citation rate in papers published in journals he edited.

Johnny Matson, a professor at Louisiana State University and an expert in autism, was the founding editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journals Research in Developmental Disabilities (RIDD) and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD).

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February 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Senate Holds Hearing on The Coming Debt Crisis

Senate LogoThe Senate Budget Committee held a hearing yesterday on The Coming Crisis: America’s Dangerous Debt (with links to testimony):

February 26, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seto: Law School Rankings by 2014 Graduates Hired into BigLaw Jobs

Seto (2014)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Law School Rankings by 2014 Graduates Hired into BigLaw Jobs, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

On Monday, February 23, TaxProf Blog blogged the National Law Journal’s article, The Go-To Law Schools [more here], which identified “the top 50 law schools by percentage of 2014 juris doctors who took jobs at the largest 250 firms by lawyer head count—as identified in The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 350 largest law firms.”

This post reports the same data for all other law schools as to which NLJ’s website provides data, and reports it in two forms: (1) by percentage of the graduating class (“% Hired”), extending the NLJ’s own ranking, and (2) by absolute numbers of hires (“# Hired”) by the NLJ250.

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February 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through February 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

43,558

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6709

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

27,757

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5297

3

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

25,790

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

4130

4

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,537

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

2871

5

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

21,636

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2764

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,533

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

2740

7

James Hines (Michigan)

20,367

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2285

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19.573

Omri Marian (Florida)

1886

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19,347

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1823

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

17,263

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1728

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

16,879

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1708

12

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,558

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1575

13

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15.551

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1569

14

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

15,027

DIck Harvey (Villanova)

1495

15

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

14,908

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1466

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,832

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1464

17

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,724

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1395

18

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,609

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1302

19

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

14,469

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1301

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,311

James Hines (Michigan)

1279

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

14,208

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1243

22

David Walker (BU)

14,139

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1131

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,815

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1120

24

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,662

Steve Willis (Florida)

1086

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,926

Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)

1085

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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February 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dexter: A Tax Expenditure Approach to Reparations

Bobby L. Dexter (Chapman), The Hate Exclusion: Moral Tax Equity for Damages Received on Account of Race, Sex, or Sexual Orientation Discrimination:

Scholars on both sides of the reparations literature divide commonly contemplate some form of federal monetary outlay. At the same time, given both the absence of such an outlay and the dire prognosis that such largesse is forthcoming, tax scholars rarely contribute to traditional reparations literature. With this Article, Professor Dexter introduces the federal income tax arena as fertile ground for the resolution of longstanding differences in the reparations debate and brings a novel and possibly controversial perspective to traditional tax expenditure analysis. In addition to highlighting the various political and administrative merits of a tax expenditure approach to reparations, he argues that allowing the exclusion of damages received on account of specific forms of discrimination – even if suffered at the hands of a private actor – would offer immediate and precisely-targeted reparational relief not only to those suffering the modern day impact of slavery and race discrimination under federal imprimatur but also to those impacted by the United States’ documented history of hostility with respect to women and sexual minorities. The narrow tailoring of relief combined with the moral force of the unclean hands theory of exclusion, he reasons, neutralizes arguments advanced in traditional reparations literature regarding excessive act, wrongdoer, and victim attenuation.

February 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 658

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon, Lois Lerner Received $129K in Bonuses:

Former IRS official Lois Lerner received $129,300 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.

Over a three-year period, Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt division at the heart of the IRS targeting scandal, received a 25 percent retention bonus—averaging $43,000 a year—on top of her regular salary.

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February 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tax Prof Brant Hellwig Named Dean at Washington & Lee Law School

HellwigContinuing the stunning series of developments over the past week at Washington & Lee Law School (links below):

Brant Hellwig Named Next Dean of W&L Law:

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio has announced the appointment of Brant Hellwig, professor of law at Washington and Lee University and an expert in the field of federal taxation, as dean of the W&L School of Law, effective July 1, 2015.

Hellwig succeeds Nora V. Demleitner, who announced earlier this week she would step down as dean at the end of the academic year.

Hellwig joined the W&L law school faculty in 2012. He teaches a variety of tax courses, including Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, Partnership Taxation, Corporate Taxation, and Estate and Gift Taxation. His scholarship in the field is similarly broad, ranging from the income tax treatment of deferred compensation arrangements to the estate tax treatment of closely held business entities employed as trust substitutes.

Update:  Above the Law, Formerly Top 30 Law School Enters Full-On Meltdown

February 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

Field Presents Aggressive Tax Planning and the Ethical Tax Lawyer Today at Toronto

Field (2015)Heather Field (UC-Hastings) presents Aggressive Tax Planning and the Ethical Tax Lawyer at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

[H]ow should a tax planner, who wants to engage in “permissible tax planning” but not cross the line over into “unethical loophole lawyering,” exercise her discretion and judgment? This paper seeks to answer this question by drawing on both (a) the extensive literature on lawyering and professionalism and (b) the social science literature regarding factors that contribute to biased decision-making and unintentional lapses in judgment. The explicit incorporation of these strands of literature into the discourse on tax ethics helps each tax planner operationalize, on an individual basis and in a way that aligns with her values, both the general and tax-specific rules of professional conduct. The existing tax ethics literature primarily focuses either on how to comply with the rules governing practice or on how the rules should be improved. Thus, this paper contributes to the literature by focusing on the issues that the rules leave to the discretion of the tax practitioner (rather than on the issues that the rules address) and by approaching the discussion from a lawyering perspective20 (rather than from a policymaking perspective).

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February 25, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The First Two Law Schools to Drop the LSAT Could Be Just the Beginning

Bloomberg, The First Two Law Schools to Drop the LSAT Could Be Just the Beginning:

Two law schools said this month that they would begin accepting applicants who have not taken the Law School Admissions Test, a move that may help curb weak interest and plunging enrollments in law schools across the country. The State University of New York-Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law said they would admit students from their respective undergraduate colleges based on their grade point average and scores on standardized tests other than the LSAT. ...

The two schools are the first to announce that they've taken advantage of a recent ruling by the American Bar Association, which accredits U.S. law schools. In August, the ABA changed its rules to allow law schools to fill up to 10 percent of their class with students who have not taken the LSAT, as long as they were at the top of their college class and scored highly on the SAT and ACT, college aptitude tests, or on the GRE or GMAT graduate school exams.

Additional law schools will probably follow. Before the ABA loosened its standards, around 15 schools had successfully applied for special dispensation to admit some students without LSAT scores, and Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education at the ABA, expects these and other programs to take advantage of new rules allowing them to do so without informing the ABA. ...

Law schools could apply for an even more liberal application of the new rule: ditching the LSAT for more than 10 percent of the class and using a different standardized test as an admissions gauge for those students if they can conclusively show that the exam is as good a predictor of academic achievement as the LSAT. As further schools begin experimenting with admissions, the composition of incoming law school classes could change, and the LSAT could lose standing as an exclusive ticket to law school.

The Spectrum, UB Law School Without the LSAT: A Crime Against Competition:

These initiatives favor UB students too strongly and make the law school appear far less competitive.

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February 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

More on Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs

President Obama Nominates Cono Namorato to be Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division

ConoPresident Obama yesterday nominated Cono R. Namorato to be Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice:

Cono R. Namorato is currently a Member of the law firm Caplin & Drysdale, a position he has held since 2006 and previously from 1978 to 2004. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Namorato served as Acting Deputy Commissioner for certain designated matters and as Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the Department of the Treasury. Before beginning his career at Caplin & Drysdale, Mr. Namorato held various positions within the Tax Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1977 to 1978, Assistant Chief and then Chief of the Criminal Section from 1973 to 1977, and Supervisory Trial Attorney and Trial Attorney from 1968 to 1973. Mr. Namorato began his career in 1963 as a Special Agent for the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS in the Brooklyn District.

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February 25, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Anemic Law Jobs Recovery

American Lawyer, Law Jobs Sees Lag in Recovery:

Legal employment is still well below its pre-recession peak and is more or less flat, while non-farm employment is strongly rebounding, according to recent average quarterly government figures.

AmLaw

February 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Senate Holds Hearing on Tax Reform, Growth and Efficiency

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday on Tax Reform, Growth and Efficiency:

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation released Economic Growth And Tax Policy (JCX-47-15):

This document ... includes an overview of economic growth and the impact that taxes may have on economic growth.

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February 25, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Number of 'Subpar' Applicants Admitted to Texas Law School Surged After Dean Sager's Ouster

Watchdog.org, Weak Admissions to University of Texas Law Increased After Sager’s Ouster:

The number of subpar applicants admitted to the University of Texas School of Law surged after President Bill Powers forced Larry Sager to resign as dean of the law school in 2011, according to numbers from a recent report on admissions favoritism by Kroll Associates. ...

Texas

For its purposes, Kroll considered subpar to be a grade point average beneath 3.0 or a score on the Law School Admission Test under 155. ...

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February 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Virginia Law School Cuts Enrollment to Lower Student/Faculty Ratio, Improve U.S. News Ranking

The Cavalier Daily, National Law School Enrollment Reaches 40 Year Low:

The number of first-year law students has reached its lowest national level since 1973, according to an American Bar Association report. In the fall of 2014, only 37,924 first-year students entered the 204 ABA-approved law schools, a 4.4 percent decrease from 2013 and a 27.7 percent decrease from 2010’s all-time high.

Whereas the University Law School has also seen a decrease — with a current total enrollment of 1,005 students, down 88 students from an enrollment of 1,093 students in 2011 — Law School Dean Paul Mahoney attributes this decline not to national trends, but rather to an intentional effort to lower the student-faculty ratio to 10:1.

Virginia

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February 25, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 657

IRS Logo 2Forbes, 12 IRS Embarrassments, 6 Questions Each Taxpayer Should Ask, by Robert W. Wood:

[Y]ou sign your tax return under penalties of perjury. That means your money—and conceivably your freedom—are on the line. It is one reason why the integrity of the IRS is so terribly important, and why the lingering IRS scandal should be resolved. Mr. Meckler in the American Spectator—understandably, but I still hope incorrectly—identifies these as what he calls the real dirty dozen. ...

Mr. Meckler says this dozen adds up to an agency failing to merit taxpayer trust. The fact that there are still unanswered questions does not mean they should not be addressed. Indeed, even if Mr. Meckler is wrong about most of this, to me, it is hardly enough to say there is no smidgen of corruption, or that nothing has been proven. For both sides of the political spectrum, the obstructionism by the administration and at the IRS has been truly disheartening. It suggests a cancer that may be hard to cut out. It reflects problems not in the rank and file of the IRS, but surely higher up. Amid all the noise, Americans should ask simpler questions, especially at this time of year.

  1. Why is the tax law so horribly complex? It isn’t the IRS’s fault. Congress passes tax laws so fundamental reform–long overdue–must start there. Even if it isn’t fair, a flat tax would be much fairer than what we have.
  2. Can I feel secure that I will be dealt with fairly by the IRS? Mostly. The tax system is full of special rules, and no one can master them all. Thus, one taxpayer may be treated very differently from another who is seemingly in the same position. That isn’t fair. Don’t confuse this with fundamental procedural fairness and non-discrimination. On the whole, the IRS does an incredible job administering our horribly unwieldy tax laws. If you are not being dealt with fairly and respectfully, complain, ask for a manager or go to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate’s Office. Speaking of the latter, wouldn’t it be incredible if Nina Olson were IRS Commissioner?
  3. Doesn’t the IRS police its employees? Yes, and it does a better job than recent stories suggest. Some are even fired, one reason much at the top is so hard to comprehend. Unreasonable or abusive requests may happen, and you need to speak up.
  4. Why does it seem that there’s always someone getting away with something in the tax world? Because there is. Wealthy people may manipulate the rules and pay less than you think they should. At the other end of the spectrum, scams may hand out earned income tax credits and bogus refunds. The fact that someone is playing the game better than you are can grate but it doesn’t mean the whole system is rigged. Reform is needed.
  5. Can I feel secure that my private taxpayer information will remain private? This may be the biggest challenge today not only for the IRS but for many in government and non-government alike. With technology and e-filing, it is a huge danger. Leaks should be dealt with severely.
  6. Why is staying off the IRS radar so important? Because much can go wrong in our terribly complex system. Avoid IRS audit triggers, and pay (don’t dispute) small bills. Even a joking suggestion of “we’ll audit you” is so sensitive. Be careful out there.

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February 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nora Demleitner to Step Down as W&L Law School Dean After Three Years of Service

W&L Logo (2014)Following up on Thursday's post, W&L Law School Permanently Reduces 1L Class to 100 (Down 47% From 2012), Eliminates 6 Faculty and 6 Staff Positions, Cuts or Freezes All Faculty Salaries, and Invades Corpus of Endowment:

To:  The Law School Alumni

From:  President Kenneth P. Ruscio and Provost Daniel A. Wubah

Subject: Important News from Lewis Hall

This morning Dean Nora Demleitner announced her intention to step down as dean at the end of the academic year and return to the faculty after a sabbatical year. Her message to the Law School Community is below.   On behalf of the entire Washington and Lee community, we want to express our deepest appreciation for her contributions these last three years.

During these extraordinarily difficult times in legal education, Dean Demleitner has led the School of Law in meeting these challenges. Her letter cites a number of the significant accomplishments during her tenure.

By the end of the week, we will announce our plan for the transition as the University continues to take a leadership role in adapting to the changing environment for legal education [emphasis added]. For the moment, we simply want to thank Dean Demleitner for her considerable efforts on behalf of the school. We look forward to her return to the faculty after her sabbatical.

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February 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hickman Presents Treasury's Retroactivity Today at Chicago

Hickman 2014 2Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) presents Treasury's Retroactivity at Chicago today as part of its Public Law & Legal Theory Workshop Series:

In Bowen v. Georgetown University Hospital, the Supreme Court described retroactivity as "not favored in the law" and generally rejected allowing federal administrative agencies to adopt regulations "altering the past legal consequences of past actions."  Unlike most regulatory agencies, Treasury and the IRS are expressly authorized by Congress to adopt regulations with precisely such primary retroactive effect.  Specifically, IRC § 7805(b) grants Treasury and the IRS the power to backdate tax regulations under a variety of circumstances.  Preliminary analysis shows that Treasury and the IRS utilize this authority regularly with little judicial oversight for abuse of discretion.  Using empirical data, this article will explore more fully Treasury and IRS utilization of the authority to adopt retroactively effective regulations interpreting the Internal Revenue Code.

February 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Leff Presents A New Method for Funding Law School Education Today at Georgetown

LeffBenjamin M. Leff (American) presents The Income-Based Repayment Swap: A New Method for Funding Law School Education (with Heather Hughes (American)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John BrooksItai Grinberg, and David Schizer:

The high cost of legal education and corresponding student debt levels is a subject of robust debate. Yet too few critics of degree cost show creativity in thinking about the optimal mechanism for funding a legal education. The traditional model for financing a legal education is that students borrow with (mostly) fixed-rate loans repayable soon after graduation. The federal government supplements loans with income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs to protect students who have borrowed more than they can afford to pay back. The reach of these programs has expanded dramatically in recent years, with the programs covering 1.3 million graduates owing around $72 billion as of the first quarter of 2014, with every indication that those figures will grow dramatically unless the programs are modified. A significant segment of those who depend on income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs will be law students, because those are among the students with the highest levels of qualifying debt.

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February 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sugin Presents Invisible Taxpayers Today at NYU

SuginLinda Sugin (Fordham) presents Invisible Taxpayers at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

The invisibility of taxpayers in the legal system creates a substantial problem for tax justice, both substantive and procedural. The courts’ application of standing doctrine, as well as its conceptualization of tax expenditures as not involving state action, has narrowed the opportunity for judicial review for tax-reducing actions taken by both Congress and the IRS. These developments fail to protect individuals, even when they have substantial individual rights claims under the Constitution.

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February 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Makes Standard 509 Law School Data For 2011-2014 Available in Excel Spreadsheets

ABA Logo 2ABA Offers Law School Consumer Data in Easy-to-Use Format:

Information reported by American Bar Association-approved law schools is now publicly available at no charge in online spreadsheets that enable easy searching, sorting, school-by-school comparisons and analysis, the ABA's law school accrediting body announced today. The spreadsheets, developed by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, will significantly improve the accessibility of information for prospective law students, pre-law advisors, media outlets and others who study and write about legal education.

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February 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Audits of High-Income Households Drop to 6-Year Low

AuditUSA Today,  IRS Audit Rate for Individuals Drops:

Your chances of facing an IRS audit rate dropped to the lowest level in at least a decade in 2014 and are expected to fall further this year, according to new data USA TODAY obtained from the nation's tax agency.

The audit rate, the percentage of individuals' tax returns IRS revenue agents examined either in person or via correspondence, fell to 0.86% last year, the data show. That represents the lowest rate since at least fiscal year 2005. After rising steadily from 2005-10, the number of IRS audits for individual taxpayers fell 21.4% during the succeeding five years, the data show.

The IRS audited slightly more than 1.2 million individuals last year, down more than 162,000 from 2013, and a drop of nearly 339,000 from 2010.

Bloomberg, IRS Audits of High-Income Households Drop to 6-Year Low:

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February 24, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Borden: Tax Revenue Effects of REIT Spinoffs

Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Counterintuitive Tax Revenue Effect of REIT Spinoffs, 146 Tax Notes 381 (Jan. 19, 2015):

Several reports have attacked REIT spinoffs because they erode the corporate tax base, apparently reducing government tax revenues. This article uses a very simple example to illustrate that multiple variables can affect the tax-revenue effect of a REIT spinoff and shows that under some assumptions the tax-revenue effect of a REIT spinoff can actually be positive.

February 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale Professors Oppose Proposed Standards of Faculty Conduct

Yale University LogoInside Higher Ed, Yale Professors Object to Vague New Faculty Conduct Policy:

Is a professor sending out a late recommendation letter for a student as bad as one who commits academic misconduct or, say, sexually harasses a colleague? And shouldn’t staff and administrators be held to the same ethical standards as faculty members? Professors at Yale University are asking those questions, among others, and generally scratching their heads at what they say is a “curious” and “confusing” proposed faculty conduct code threatening undefined sanctions for a mishmash of transgressions.

Faculty members who are critical of the document also say it seems like it’s being ramrodded through an appointed committee just weeks ahead of the formation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ first-ever Faculty Senate.

The university, meanwhile, says the document is an attempt to centralize its various policies regarding faculty conduct.

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

Fennell: Do Not Cite Or Circulate

DNCCLee Anne Fennell (Chicago), Do Not Cite or Circulate, 19 Green Bag 2d ___ (2015):

This short essay ponders why legal scholars attach formulations such as "Do Not Cite or Circulate" to draft works. It argues against the practice in most circumstances, particularly for work posted on the internet.

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

What’s Worse: Being A Tax Lawyer Or An Accountant?

TaxAbove the Law, What’s Worse: Being A Lawyer Or An Accountant?:

When I practiced law, I used to look forward to tax season. It was the one time of the year where I felt like accountants had it worse than lawyers. Which got me to thinking — which career is worse: lawyers or accountants? Which will disappear sooner? Who’s more boring? ... If you’ve got any good evidence or anecdotal war stories, speak up in the comments sections and let us know what you think. 

February 24, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Memoranda on New Law School Accreditation Standards

The IRS Scandal, Day 656

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, White House That Promised Transparency Refuses to Cooperate With IRS Probe:

The White House told Congress last week it refused to dig into its computers for emails that could shed light on what kinds of private taxpayer information the IRS shares with President Obama’s top aides, assuring Congress that the IRS will address the issue — eventually. The tax agency has already said it doesn’t have the capability to dig out the emails in question, but the White House’s chief counsel, W. Neil Eggleston, insisted in a letter last week to House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan that the IRS would try again once it finishes with the tea party-targeting scandal.

“It is my understanding that in May 2014, Commissioner Koskinen responded to this request by indicating that the IRS would be able to address new topics such as these following its completion of document productions already in progress,” Mr. Eggleston wrote in a Feb. 17 letter. “To the extent that the committee continues to have an oversight interest in this matter, I encourage you to continue working with the IRS to address those questions.”

But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s letter last year didn’t say that. Instead Mr. Koskinen said the IRS was logistically incapable of performing the search because it would have required combing through 90,000 email accounts. ...

The White House didn’t assert any privileges in refusing Mr. Ryan’s request last week, instead insisting the IRS would work on it, so there was no need for the president to get involved. That conflicts with Mr. Koskinen’s 2014 letter making clear he didn’t think such a search was feasible from his end. ...

Any official requests for private taxpayer information made by the White House are supposed to be personally signed by the president, and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation is supposed to be notified of the request. The JCT issues an annual report on all requests for IRS information, and those reports don’t show any such requests from the president during Mr. Obama’s time in office.

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February 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, February 23, 2015

NLJ: Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs

National Law Journal, The Go-To Law Schools:

Go ToThe new associate hiring picture at large law firms improved for the third straight year in 2014, but that growth wasn’t due to firms enlarging the size of the first-year associate classes. Instead, a smaller cohort of new law graduates meant that a higher percentage of them could land associate jobs at the largest 250 law firms in the country, even though those firms hired roughly the same number of new associates as in 2013.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by percentage of 2014 juris doctors who took jobs at the largest 250 firms by lawyer head count—as identified in The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 350 largest law firms. We also identified the schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner, and highlighted the 20 schools that outperform their U.S. News & World Report ranking when it comes to large firm hiring. We take an even deeper dive into our annual law school report in our special interactive feature.

The Top 50 Go-To Law Schools:  These schools sent the highest percentage of new graduates to the largest 250 law firms:

RankLaw School2014 Grads at NLJ 2502014 JDs% Grads at NLJ 250TuitionU.S. News Rank
1 Columbia 310 468 66.24% $60,274 4
2 Pennsylvania 177 278 63.67% $56,916 5
3 Chicago 129 211 61.14% $55,503 4
4 NYU 287 479 59.92% $56,838 6
5 Harvard 326 586 55.63% $55,842 2
6 Cornell 101 191 52.88% $59,360 13
7 Northwestern 144 291 49.48% $56,434 12
8 Duke 105 215 48.84% $55,588 10
9 Virginia 163 349 46.70% $51,800 8
10 Stanford 85 187 45.45% $54,366 3
11 UC-Berkeley 115 287 40.07% $48,166 9
12 Michigan 153 390 39.23% $51,398 10
13 Georgetown 239 625 38.24% $53,130 13
14 Yale 80 224 35.71% $56,200 1
15 USC 71 216 32.87% $57,507 20
16 Texas 113 351 32.19% $33,162 15
17 UCLA 102 336 30.36% $45,226 17
18 Vanderbilt 56 194 28.87% $49,722 16
19 Boston Univ. 71 246 28.86% $47,188 27
20 Fordham 119 462 25.76% $52,532 36

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February 23, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ventry & Borden: Probability, Professionalism, and Protecting Taxpayers

Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. (UC-Davis) & Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Probability, Professionalism, and Protecting Taxpayers, 68 Tax Law. 83 (2014):

This Article — the first in a three-part series — analyzes the affirmative and disciplinary duties imposed on tax lawyers that require them to make probability assessments about the merits of a client’s tax position or tax-favored transaction and to reflect those estimates with numerical precision. It describes how the Treasury, Congress, and the American Bar Association (often in concert, occasionally at odds) forged this obligatory standard of care over the last three decades with the shared goal of facilitating accurate advice, accurate reporting positions, and compliance with the law. The resulting regulatory standard of care (which swept aside the old regime of self-regulation) assists tax lawyers in avoiding flawed methodological processes and in minimizing psychological biases and misaligned incentives that can distort professional judgment. In this way, the standard of care for tax lawyers — particularly its emphasis on improving accuracy and reducing errors by updating subjective beliefs with new, relevant information — reflects a branch of probabilistic decision theory known as Bayesian reasoning.

February 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chen: Modeling Citation and Download Data in Legal Scholarship

James Ming Chen (Michigan State), Modeling Citation and Download Data in Legal Scholarship:

Impact factors among law reviews provide a measure of influence among these journals and the schools that publish them. Downloads from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) serve a similar function. Bibliometrics is rapidly emerging as a preferred alternative to more subjective assessments of academic prestige and influence. Law should embrace this trend.

This paper evaluates the underlying mathematics of law review impact factors and per-author SSRN download rates by institution.

 Chen

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February 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)