Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 23, 2016

Brian Leiter Weighs In On 'The Turmoil At The University Of Florida Over Its Tax Program'

Florida Logo (GIF)Brian Leiter (Chicago), The Turmoil at the University of Florida Over Its Tax Program:

One peculiarity of the critical analysis of the tax program by UF faculty member Robert Rhee is that, in discussing the Sisk data on faculty citations, he fails to note (at least not that I saw) that tax is a low-citation field compared to corporate or constitutional law or just about every other field!  That does lead me to wonder about the reliability of other parts of his analysis. ...

I must admit, the spectacle of this debate about a school's program playing out on blogs is an embarrassment by itself.  Between the Blog Emperor and the perpetually aggrieved Jeffrey Harrison (who naturally, has been weighing in on this affair), also a UF faculty member, Dean Rosenbury has her hands full!   Florida was fortunate to get a Dean of this caliber, folks there should behave better!

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education, Tax | Permalink


I always find it interesting when people who are not under the authority of a particular manager, dean or CEO, tell those that are under the authority, they should be happy to have said manager, dean or CEO. Taking no public position on whether Rosenbury is a "gift" to UF or not, it bears pointing out that the credentials of an academic do not always translate into good management skills.

Posted by: Michelle Jacobs | Sep 23, 2016 8:15:07 AM

Prof. Leiter,
I have some questions:

By what objective criteria or metric do you evaluate Dean Laura Rosenbury to be a high caliber Dean?

Is tacitly approving a data-free smear job by one of her (most loyal) faculty members that insults, denigrates, and humiliates both the esteemed faculty and the highly regarded students and recent graduates indicative of the strong leadership qualities that make up a high caliber Dean?

Would a high caliber Dean not stand up for her students and rebuke the Rhee report unequivocally?

Moreover, is directly embarrassing and humiliating both a current student and a lifelong faculty member (that faculty member being quite possibly the most beloved and highest revered person on campus, now that Tebow is gone, and that student being the EIC of Florida's law review and so presumably a rising star) in a published article by calling them for all intents and purposes sexist (or as she put it purveyors of "unconscious gender bias" whatever that may be) because they chose to compliment the Dean's energetic demeanor by positively introducing her as "vivacious" (which regardless of its apparent gender affiliation is simply not offensive to anyone of reasonable sensibilities not otherwise searching for micro-aggressions to feel slighted) evidence of high caliber deanship? Of course not! It more indicative of someone who, despite lamenting about comments regarding her age, has consistently demonstrated over her short time at Florida that she is simply to young, inexperienced, and immature for the position that she holds.

Florida's law school is in chaos and the buck stops with the Dean, and while that can often be unfair too a certain degree; in this case that is the appropriate place for it to rest.

Posted by: T.T. | Sep 23, 2016 11:25:32 AM

I'm a tax practitioner and not an academic. I have no reason to doubt Prof. Leiter's analysis of which law professor lives in the ivoriest tower. However, I submit that the solution to "The Law School Crisis" probably looks more like the Florida tax LL.M. program than it does a law review footnote.

The Florida program prepares its graduates to practice tax law by requiring students to apply the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations to real tax law programs --- in person, everyday. That's what tax lawyers do. The fact that the program focuses on the law itself, rather than viewing the law through the lens of social science, does not make it less rigorous and should not make it less prestigious. It does make the program relevant.

Anecdotally I can say that I've practiced side by side with NYU LL.M. graduates at a Big Four accounting firm. Certainly the legal academy and U.S. News magazine consider NYU to be more prestigious than Florida. But Florida better prepared me to practice my profession.

I can only hope that the legal academy will begin to operate more like the Florida tax program rather than destroying it. We practitioners want and need graduates who know how to do things much more than we need another "See supra note 227, at 437."

Posted by: Florida LL.M. 2011 | Sep 23, 2016 12:26:46 PM

A sad day for UF.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 23, 2016 7:25:40 PM