Paul L. Caron
Dean


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Livingston: Tax And Culture

Michael A. Livingston (Rutgers), Tax and Culture: Convergence, Divergence, and the Future of Tax Law (Cambridge University Press 2020):

Livingston 3Tax scholars traditionally emphasize economics and assume that all tax systems can be evaluated in more or less the same way. By applying the insights of anthropology, sociology, and other social sciences, Michael A. Livingston demonstrates that tax systems frequently pursue different values and that the convergence of tax systems is frequently overstated. In Tax and Culture, he applies these insights to specific countries, such as China and India, and specific tax issues, including progressivity, tax avoidance, and the emerging area of environmental taxation. Livingston concludes that the concept of a global tax culture is, in many cases, merely a reflection of Western hegemony, and is unlikely to survive the changes implicit in the rise of non-Western nations and cultures.

Table of Contents:

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April 28, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 26, 2020

COVID-19: Death, Truth, Faith, And Love

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Dying Gives Us a Chance to Confront Truth, by C. Kavin Rowe (Duke University Divinity School; author, Christianity's Surprise: A Sure and Certain Hope (2020)):

RoweSince my wife entered hospice, we’ve grown closer together and deeper in our faith.

The Covid-19 pandemic has swept away the illusions that led [church congregations]—and much of the world—to ignore death. The virus will kill only a small minority of the world. Yet its prevalence has reminded people everywhere that if Covid-19 doesn’t kill them, something else will. This​realization recalls a truth central to the Christian tradition: No one will get out of life alive.

Over time Christians developed a set of practices to help us tell this truth and to prepare for death. In the Middle Ages this was called the ars moriendi, the art of dying. Today, a quick death often is seen as ideal. Yet the ars moriendi holds the opposite view: It’s a good thing to see death coming and to have time to prepare. Time and habit provide the chance to live fully and—even at the last hour—become a mature human being, one who tells the truth.

I know this firsthand because my dying wife tells the truth. When she was referred to hospice some time ago, after a long and painful decline, she simply noted, “I don’t want to die. I want to finish raising our son.”

Through attentive care, hospice has extended her life—and with it the chance to talk about our successes, failures, hopes, sorrows, beliefs, and doubts. The demand to face death created a new chance to grow closer together and deeper in our faith. We don’t have time to argue about what a “messy kitchen” means when we’re focused on sharing the truths we need to hear: I love you. I wish we could grow old together. I wanted to know our son’s wife and our grandchildren. I will be with you until the end. ...

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April 26, 2020 in Book Club, Coronavirus, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Law In The Time Of COVID-19

Katharina Pistor (Columbia), Law in the Time of COVID-19:

Law CovidThe COVID-19 crisis has ended and upended lives around the globe. In addition to killing over 160,000 people, more than 35,000 in the United States alone, its secondary effects have been as devastating. These secondary effects pose fundamental challenges to the rules that govern our social, political, and economic lives. These rules are the domain of lawyers. Law in the Time of COVID-19 is the product of a joint effort by members of the faculty of Columbia Law School and several law professors from other schools.

This volume offers guidance for thinking about some the most pressing legal issues the pandemic has raised, especially (though not exclusively) for law in the United States: from the rights of prison inmates who live under conditions that make them exceptionally vulnerable to the highly contagious virus to the options for contracting parties who now face circumstances that make it impossible for them to live up to their past commitments. The book does not give legal advice. Instead, it identifies critical legal issues that affect many peoples’ lives, offers fresh perspectives for thinking about those issues, and provides guidance to legislatures and policy makers about the legal challenges ahead.

Gillian Lester (Dean, Columbia), Foreward:

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April 23, 2020 in Book Club, Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

McMahon: The Tax Law System Is Only Incomprehensible To Some

Stephanie Hunter McMahon (Cincinnati), The Tax Law System is Only Incomprehensible to Some (reviewing Wendy Wagner (Texas) & Will Walker, Incomprehensible!: A Study of How Our Legal System Encourages Incomprehensibility, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do About It (Cambridge University Press 2019):

Wagner 2Journalists often remark that income tax rules are incomprehensible and that taxpayers cannot understand the law or the explanatory guidance created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In her recent book with Will Walker, Incomprehensible!, Wendy Wagner develops a rubric to evaluate the process by which the law and agency action become incomprehensible.

Unfortunately, applying that rubric to the federal tax system is difficult because of the system’s multiple speakers and audiences. Attempting to fit this system within the rubric, however, highlights how federal tax rules’ incomprehensibility depends upon how one defines the relevant audience, a task the government has yet to undertake. ...

Given what appear to be everyone’s weak incentives to provide comprehensibility, Wagner’s analysis helps show how the federal tax system has important lessons to learn. This system is not inherently incomprehensible. Taxpayers need to be encouraged to convey information to the IRS in a comprehensible form, and the IRS needs to figure out how to differentiate guidance for sophisticated and unsophisticated taxpayers. For both speakers and audience members, cooperative communication may be collectively valued, but the tax system’s perceived gamesmanship and everyone’s pursuit of their individual interests will make comprehensibility hard to develop.

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April 21, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Avi-Yonah: Why Study Tax History?

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Why Study Tax History? (reviewing Studies in the History of Tax Law, Vol. 9 (Peter Harris (Cambridge) &  Dominic de Cogan (Cambridge) eds. 2019)):

RAYSince the beginning of this century, John Tiley organized an annual tax history conference at Cambridge, a tradition that was continued after his death under the leadership of Peter Harris. These are the papers from the ninth Cambridge Tax Law History Conference, held in July 2018. In the usual manner, the papers have been selected from an oversupply of proposals for their interest and relevance, and scrutinized and edited to the highest standard for inclusion in this prestigious series. The result is an outstanding book, with many high quality contributions to historical tax research.

The papers fall within five basic themes. Four papers focus on tax theory: Bentham; social contract and tax governance; Schumpeter's 'thunder of history'; and the resurgence of the benefits theory. Three involve the history of UK specific interpretational issues: management expenses; anti-avoidance jurisprudence; and identification of professionals. A further three concern specific forms of UK tax on road travel, land and capital gains. One paper considers the formation of HMRC and another explains aspects of nineteenth-century taxation by reference to Jane Austen characters. Four consider aspects of international taxation: development of EU corporate tax policy; history of Dutch tax planning; the important 1942 Canada–US tax treaty; and the 1928 League of Nations model tax treaties on tax evasion. Also included are papers on the effects of WWI on the New Zealand income tax and development of anti-tax avoidance rules in China.

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March 19, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Shaviro: Literature And Inequality

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Literature and Inequality: Nine Perspectives from the Napoleonic Era Through the First Gilded Age (Anthem Press 2020):

Shaviro 2We are an intensely social species, and often a rivalrous one, prone to measuring ourselves in terms of others, and often directly against others. Accordingly, relative position matters to our sense of wellbeing, although excluded from standard economic models that look only at the utility derived from own consumption of commodities plus leisure. For example, people can have deep-seated psychological responses to inequality and social hierarchy, creating the potential for extreme wealth differences to invoked feelings of superiority and inferiority, or dominance and subordination, that may powerfully affect how we relate to each other.

The tools that one needs to understand how and why this matters include the sociological and the qualitative. I use the particular tool of in-depth studies of particular classic works of literature (from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice through Theodore Dreiser’s The Financier and The Titan) that offer suggestive insights regarding the felt experiences around high-end inequality at different times and from different perspectives.

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March 14, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Crawford Reviews Infanti's Our Selfish Tax Laws

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Ashley Unangst (J.D. 2020, Pace), A Picture of Society with Critical Tax Theory As Its Interpreter, 41 J. Am. Tax'n Ass'n 128 (2019) (reviewing Anthony Infanti (Pittsburgh), Our Selfish Tax Laws: Toward Tax Reform That Mirrors Our Better Selves (MIT Press 2018)):

Our Selfish Tax LawsProfessor Infanti's work has long explored issues of bias and difference in the U.S. context, and with this book, he places his study of U.S. tax law in a comparative context with Canada, France and Spain. He uses the lenses of housing policy and the taxable unit to illustrate each country’s different values. Professor Infanti’s book illustrates the myriad ways that the U.S. tax law both supports and is a constituent part of a discriminatory legal system that treats people differently because of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, and disability. In that way, the tax laws are a “mirror” of the society we currently have. But Professor Infanti goes a step further and calls readers see, in the reflection of the tax laws, the possibility of our “better selves.” Professor Infanti recognizes the extraordinary expressive value of the tax law; he imagines a system of collection, enforcement and public spending that benefits all people and reflects the nation’s highest and best values of equal opportunity, human dignity and shared community. ...

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March 10, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Graetz & Shapiro: The Wolf At The Door: The Menace Of Economic Insecurity And How To Fight It

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia) & Ian Shapiro (Yale), The Wolf at the Door: The Menace of Economic Insecurity and How to Fight It (Harvard University Press 2020):

WAD.Front CoverThe acclaimed authors of Death by a Thousand Cuts argue that Americans care less about inequality than about their own insecurity. Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro propose realistic policies and strategies to make lives and communities more secure.

This is an age of crisis. That much we can agree on. But a crisis of what? And how do we get out of it? Many on the right call for tax cuts and deregulation. Others on the left rage against the top 1 percent and demand wholesale economic change. Voices on both sides line up against globalization: restrict trade to protect jobs. In The Wolf at the Door, two leading political analysts argue that these views are badly mistaken.

Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro focus on what really worries people: not what the rich are making but rather their own insecurity and that of people close to them. Americans are concerned about losing what they have, whether jobs, status, or safe communities. They fear the wolf at the door. The solution is not protectionism or class warfare but a return to the hard work of building coalitions around realistic goals and pursuing them doggedly through the political system. This, Graetz and Shapiro explain, is how earlier reformers achieved meaningful changes, from the abolition of the slave trade to civil rights legislation. The authors make substantial recommendations for increasing jobs, improving wages, protecting families suffering from unemployment, and providing better health insurance and child care, and they guide us through the strategies needed to enact change.

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February 21, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Survey Of Law School Faculty & Staff: Assessment Of Law School Leadership

Primary Research Group, Survey of Law School Faculty & Staff: Assessment of Law School Leadership (2020):

Approximately 60.42% of law school faculty and staff are satisfied or very satisfied with the fairness and transparency of promotion and tenure decisions at their law schools, according to the Survey of Law School Faculty & Staff: Assessment of Law School Leadership.

Table 1.2.1

Table 1.2.2

The study presents findings from a survey of 96 faculty members and staff from 72 law schools in North America.  The report presents highly detailed data on satisfaction levels with a broad range of law school efforts and characteristics including but not limited to: the law school marketing and student recruitment efforts, recent graduate job placement assistance, policies on sexual harassment and discrimination, cost control and budgeting, law school information technology, provision of help in attracting grants for faculty research, attracting quality students, maintenance of buildings and other physical infrastructure, the quality of legal education, the quality of law school publications, and the overall success of the school’s strategic vision and positioning.

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February 12, 2020 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Shaviro Reviews Clausing's The Progressive Case For Global Capital And Gale's Fiscal Therapy

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Writing Books Versus Journal Articles (JOTWELL) (reviewing Kimberly Clausing (Reed College; moving to UCLA), Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital (Harvard University Press 2019); and William G. Gale Brookings Institution), Fiscal Therapy: Curing America’s Debt Addiction and Investing in the Future (2019)):

Clausing GaleWhy write a book rather than journal articles? Insofar as we write for ourselves, it’s a function of the project. Some ideas for projects may best lend themselves to articles, but others may need to be book-length in terms of their scope. But we also write for other people, and one great thing about being an academic is that you have wide entrepreneurial choice regarding which audiences you wish to reach—be it in general, or project-by-project. There’s no right or wrong about it (well, maybe there are better and worse choices sometimes), any more than novels should all fit in a particular genre, or scientific research should restrict itself to a particular subject area or methodology. There’s also no right answer as between the aims of advancing knowledge, engaging in art for art’s sake, and attempting to improve the world—all of these enterprises have value, and of course they often overlap.

Two outstanding recent books by prominent tax economists—Kim Clausing and William Gale—show how attempting to improve the world can overlap with advancing the other goals noted above through clear, lucid, convincing explanation and analysis.

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February 6, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ben Barton Discusses Fixing Law Schools

Inside Higher Ed, Author Discusses Fixing Law Schools:

Fixing Law SchoolsThe decade after 2008 was not a good one for law schools. Applications and enrollment fell. Some closed. This is the subject of Fixing Law Schools: From Collapse to the Trump Bump and Beyond (NYU Press). But the author -- Benjamin H. Barton is professor of law at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville -- also has a path forward for law schools.

He discussed the book via email.

Q: What happened in 2008? Why was the decade that followed so hard for law schools?
A: 2008 is actually the wrong date. For the first few years of the Great Recession, law schools actually saw a rise in applications, as college graduates who worried about a weak job market opted for graduate schools of all types, including law schools. In 2011 the overall economy had started to improve, but job placement for law schools stayed very poor. Suddenly there was a flood of terrible press featuring how bad the job market was, how expensive law school had become and the doubling of student debt during the 2000s. Law schools entered into a tailspin: fewer applicants, fewer enrollees and much more discounting for the students who did come. Revenue and enrollment fell precipitously overall, by around 33 percent. Several law schools closed, and many, many more faced challenging times. ...

Q: How should law schools change?

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January 16, 2020 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Forgiveness And Mercy: Our Most God-Like Power

Following up on my recent post, Forgiveness: Law, Faith, Christmas, And Hamilton:  Wall Street Journal:  David Skeel (Pennsylvania), Our Most God-Like Power (reviewing Martha Minow (Harvard), When Should Law Forgive? (W. W. Norton & Company 2019), and Malcolm Bull (Oxford), On Mercy (Princeton University Press 2019)):

Forgive MercyAmerican public life is full of disputes about justice and forgiveness. Take the Dreamers—the nearly 700,000 young adults who came from Mexico and elsewhere as children, did not obtain citizenship or permanent resident status, and have been in legal limbo since President Obama signed an executive order giving them temporary legal status in 2012. Depending on whom you talk to, these immigrants should either be deported immediately or given full citizenship.

When the brother of Botham Jean, the unarmed black man shot in his Dallas apartment by Amber Guyger, a white off-dudy police officer, asked the judge if he could hug Guyger and offer forgiveness at the end of her trial, reactions were similarly divided. Many found the brother’s gesture of mercy profoundly moving; for others, it was only a distraction from justice.

Two types of forgiveness are intertwined in these instances.

The first is legal forgiveness. Our legal system is committed to justice, and to honoring the rule of law. But sometimes we make exceptions, declining to punish a defendant who has violated the law or providing partial amnesty for tax evaders. This is legal forgiveness.

The second type of forgiveness, interpersonal, is often described as a “release of resentments.” When Brandt Jean offered to forgive Amber Guyger, he was letting go of his anger against his brother’s killer and so extending interpersonal forgiveness.

How can legal forgiveness be reconciled with the rule of law? What do legal and interpersonal forgiveness have to do with one another? These questions are implicit in the current controversies about justice and mercy or forgiveness, and they are the focus of two thoughtful but idiosyncratic new books.

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January 5, 2020 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Forgiveness: Law, Faith, Christmas, And Hamilton

Martha Minow (Harvard), When Should Law Forgive? (2019):

When Should Law ForgiveThe potential power of forgiveness in an age of resentment.

Crimes and violations of the law require punishment, and our legal system is set up to punish, but what if the system was recalibrated to also weigh grounds for forgiveness? What if something like bankruptcy―a fresh start for debtors―were available to people convicted of crimes? Martha Minow explores the complicated intersection of the law, justice, and forgiveness, asking whether the law should encourage people to forgive, and when courts, public officials, and specific laws should forgive.

Who has the right to forgive? Who should be forgiven? And under what terms? Minow tackles these foundational issues by exploring three questions:

What does the international response to child soldiers teach us about the legal treatment of juvenile offenders in the United States?

  • Why are the laws surrounding corporate debt more forgiving than those governing American student and consumer debt, and sovereign debt in the developing world?
  • When do law’s tools of forgiveness, amnesties, and pardons strengthen justice, peace, and democracy (think South Africa), and when do they undermine law’s promise of fairness (think Joe Arpaio)?

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December 8, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Brooks: The Ethical Tax Judge

Kim Brooks (Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law), The Ethical Tax Judge, in Ethics and Taxation (Robert van Brederode ed., Springer 2020):

Ethics TaxThis chapter advances the claim that judges have an ethical obligation of competence that requires them to enhance their knowledge about language (in the context of statutory interpretation) and income tax law design and policy. It articulates some of the foundational understandings that support that competence and provides a simple hierarchy of approaches to interpreting income tax law. It concludes by contending that greater competence is not only more ethical but also advances other important societal goals fulfilled by the imposition of income tax systems. ...

Ultimately, judges should seek to interpret income tax legislation in a fashion that respects our interdisciplinary understanding of how words are used to express ideas and supports the effective functioning of income tax legislation.

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December 5, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Barton: Fixing Law Schools

Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee), Fixing Law Schools: From Collapse to the Trump Bump and Beyond (NYU Press 2019):

Fixing Law School 2An urgent plea for much needed reforms to legal education

The period from 2008 to 2018 was a lost decade for American law schools. Employment results were terrible. Applications and enrollment cratered. Revenue dropped precipitously and several law schools closed. Almost all law schools shrank in terms of students, faculty, and staff. A handful of schools even closed. Despite these dismal results, law school tuition outran inflation and student indebtedness exploded, creating a truly toxic brew of higher costs for worse results.

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the subsequent role of hero-lawyers in the “resistance” has made law school relevant again and applications have increased. However, despite the strong early returns, we still have no idea whether law schools are out of the woods or not. If the Trump Bump is temporary or does not result in steady enrollment increases, more schools will close.

But if it does last, we face another danger. We tend to hope that crises bring about a process of creative destruction, where a downturn causes some businesses to fail and other businesses to adapt. And some of the reforms needed at law schools are obvious: tuition fees need to come down, teaching practices need to change, there should be greater regulations on law schools that fail to deliver on employment and bar passage. Ironically, the opposite has happened for law schools: they suffered a harrowing, near-death experience and the survivors look like they’re going to exhale gratefully and then go back to doing exactly what led them into the crisis in the first place.

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November 26, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bloomberg Tax Podcast With Sam Brunson: When Religion Tangles With Tax Law

Btax

Bloomberg Tax Podcast: When Religion Tangles With Tax Law: Things to Consider:

In the U.S., religious practices have an unclear relationship to the tax code. Sam Brunson, a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has an idea to give some structure to the way policy makers deal with that relationship.

Congress historically writes religious accommodations into the tax code on a case-by-case basis: A group of people appears with a specific tax problem, and lawmakers decide whether to write a fix.

But what if there were a framework that would help them consider the problems consistently and fairly? Brunson proposes such a framework in his book, God and the IRS: Accommodating Religious Practice in United States Tax Law.

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November 10, 2019 in Book Club, Tax, Tax News, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Drumbl Presents Tax Credits For The Working Poor: A Call For Reform Today At San Diego

Michelle Lyon Drumbl (Washington & Lee) presents Tax Credits for the Working Poor: A Call for Reform (Cambridge University Press (2019)) at San Diego today as part of its Tax Law Speaker Series:

Tax CreditsThe United States introduced the earned income tax credit (EITC) in 1975. Today it is the most significant earnings-based refundable credit in the Internal Revenue Code. The United States is the oldest example of a country using its domestic revenue system to deliver and administer social welfare benefits to lower-income individuals or families, but this approach is no longer unique to the United States: a number of other countries, including New Zealand and Canada, have experimented with or incorporated analogous credits into their tax systems. These other countries imported the concept from the United States. Might the United States be able to improve upon the administration of its EITC by importing the experiences and lessons learned in other countries?

Tax Prof reviews:

From the unique lens of a tax justice warrior working on the frontlines fighting poverty, Michelle Lyon Drumbl details the troubled history of US refundable tax credits and compares similar international programs to reimagine relief for America's vulnerable working families. A must read for anyone engaged in critical rethinking of economic justice policies.
Francine J. Lipman - University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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October 30, 2019 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The French Economist Who Helped Invent Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax

The New Yorker, The French Economist Who Helped Invent Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax:

Gabriel Zucman and his colleagues are advocating a progressive wealth tax as a solution to global inequality, one that rethinks both evasion and the goals of taxation. ...

The Triump of InjusticeTo trace the progress of the wealth tax from a fringe academic idea to the center of the Democratic Presidential primary, it is helpful to begin a bit off-center. On September 15, 2008, the day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, a twenty-one-year-old student of Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, started work as a trainee economic analyst in the offices of a Paris brokerage house called Exane. Zucman felt obviously underequipped for the task before him: to write memos to the brokerage house’s clients and traders helping to explain why the very durable and minutely engineered global financial system appeared to be on the verge of collapse. Poring over some of the data he was given, which concerned the international flows of investments, Zucman noticed some strange patterns. The amount of money that had been moving through a handful of very small economies (Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, the tiny Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey) was staggering. “Hundreds of billions of dollars,” Zucman recalled recently, making the “B” in “billions” especially emphatic. Eventually, he would calculate that half of all foreign direct investment—half of the risk-seeking bets, placed from overseas in India, China, Brazil, and Silicon Valley, and of the safety-seeking investments, placed in the United States and Europe and stock indexes—was moving through offshore hubs like these.

Before the financial crisis, the rise of offshore tax havens hadn’t been ignored—one element of the Enron scandal of 2001, for instance, was the eight hundred and eighty-one overseas subsidiaries the company had created, which had helped it avoid paying federal taxes for three years—but those stories took place within a more confined and more frankly moral framework: it was a cat-and-mouse plot, about the mobility of wealth, and the fruitless efforts to pursue it. Zucman’s intuition was that these arrangements did not describe a moral or a legal drama but a macroeconomic one. That much wealth, poorly documented or regulated, might have helped to destabilize the global economy. It also seemed that, if economists were not attuned to the amount of wealth stored in offshore havens, they might also have missed the extent of global inequality, since it was billionaires who stored money in the Cayman Islands, not retirees. ...

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October 27, 2019 in Book Club, Tax, Tax News, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Gig Academy

Adrianna Kezar (USC), Tom DePaola (USC) & Daniel Scott (USC), The Gig Academy: Mapping Labor in the Neoliberal University (Johns Hopkins University Press 2019):

Gig AcademyOver the past two decades, higher education employment has undergone a radical transformation with faculty becoming contingent, staff being outsourced, and postdocs and graduate students becoming a larger share of the workforce. For example, the faculty has shifted from one composed mostly of tenure-track, full-time employees to one made up of contingent, part-time teachers. Non-tenure-track instructors now make up 70 percent of college faculty. Their pay for teaching eight courses averages $22,400 a year—less than the annual salary of most fast-food workers.

In The Gig Academy, Adrianna Kezar, Tom DePaola, and Daniel T. Scott assess the impact of this disturbing workforce development. Providing an overarching framework that takes the concept of the gig economy and applies it to the university workforce, this book scrutinizes labor restructuring across both academic and nonacademic spheres. By synthesizing these employment trends, the book reveals the magnitude of the problem for individual workers across all institutional types and job categories while illustrating the damaging effects of these changes on student outcomes, campus community, and institutional effectiveness. A pointed critique of contemporary neoliberalism, the book also includes an analysis of the growing divide between employees and administrators.

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October 15, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, And Equality On Campus

Ulrich Baer (Vice Provost, NYU), What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, and Equality on Campus (Oxford University Press 2019):

What Snowflakes Get RightAngry debates about polarizing speakers have roiled college campuses. Conservatives accuse universities of muzzling unpopular opinions, betraying their values of open inquiry; students sympathetic to the left openly advocate against completely unregulated speech, asking for "safe spaces" and protection against visiting speakers and even curricula they feel disrespects them. Some even call these students "snowflakes"-too fragile to be exposed to opinions and ideas that challenge their worldviews. How might universities resolve these debates about free speech, which pit their students' welfare against the university's commitment to free inquiry and open debate?

Ulrich Baer here provides a new way of looking at this dilemma. He explains how the current dichotomy is false and is not really about the feelings of offended students, or protecting an open marketplace of ideas. Rather, what is really at stake is our democracy's commitment to equality, and the university's critical role as an arbiter of truth. He shows how and why free speech has become the rallying cry that forges an otherwise uneasy alliance of liberals and ultra-conservatives, and why this First Amendment absolutism is untenable in law and society in general. He draws on law, philosophy, and his extensive experience as a university administrator to show that the lens of equality can resolve this impasse, and can allow the university to serve as a model for democracy that upholds both truth and equality as its founding principles.

New York Times op-ed:  What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech, by Ulrich Baer (Vice Provost, NYU)

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October 15, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Sad History Of American Business Schools

Steven Conn (Miami University), Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools (Cornell University Press 2019):

NothingDo business schools actually make good on their promises of "innovative," "outside-the-box" thinking to train business leaders who will put society ahead of money-making? Do they help society by making better business leaders? No, they don't, Steven Conn asserts, and what's more they never have.

In throwing down a gauntlet on the business of business schools, Conn's Nothing Succeeds Like Failure examines the frictions, conflicts, and contradictions at the heart of these enterprises and details the way business schools have failed to resolve them. Beginning with founding of the Wharton School in 1881, Conn measures these schools' aspirations against their actual accomplishments and tells the full and disappointing history of missed opportunities, unmet aspirations, and educational mistakes. Conn then poses a set of crucial questions about the role and function of American business schools. The results aren't pretty.

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October 10, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Reviews Of Basic Income: A Radical Proposal For A Free Society And A Sane Economy

Reviews of Philippe Van Parijs (University of Louvain) & Yannick Vanderborght (Université Saint-Louis, Brussels), Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy (Harvard University Press 2017):

Basic IncomeCaterina Calsamiglia (Institute for Political Economy and Governance) & Sabine Flamand (Universitat Rovira i Virgili), Book Review, 57 J. Econ. Lierature 644 (2019):

In order to clarify the potential impact of a basic income, we argue that any discussion on whether to adopt a basic income policy should be framed within the greater context of the transfer system as a whole. In particular, such discussion should consider separately the issues of (i) the desired income distribution to be achieved and (ii) the most efficient way of achieving it through a transfer system. Further, we stress the importance of the non-take-up phenomenon in current transfer systems and discuss the potential necessity of a basic income policy in the age of automation.

Juliana Bidadanure (Stanford), Income for All: The Idea of Universal Basic Income Is More Practical Than It Might Sound:

In times of economic austerity—when the welfare state is shrinking as an ideal and an institution; access to childcare, healthcare and education are increasingly contested as rights of all; and the paradigm of individual responsibility rules—it is easy for progressives to give up on big ideals. If we can’t even protect Planned Parenthood or affordable healthcare, pushing for anything more visionary seems based on mere wishful thinking. But for these same reasons, it may be more urgent than ever for progressives to propose radical utopias with the potential to federate otherwise divided societies. That’s the view that Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght take in their fantastically comprehensive book, Basic Income.

Marc Levinson (Wall Street Journal), Cash Handouts for Everyone:

“Basic Income,” by Belgian academics Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght, represents an attempt to lay out a systematic case for what would be a radical departure in public policy. This book, it must be said up front, it not an easy read. Messrs. Van Parijs and Vanderborght are ethicists, and their closely argued text has all the liveliness of a philosophical treatise. But “Basic Income” provides a rigorous analysis of the many arguments for and against a universal basic income, offering a road map for future researchers who wish to examine policy alternatives. ...

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September 26, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Brooks: The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart

New York Times:  The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart, by David Brooks:

MeritocracyThere are at least two kinds of meritocracy in America right now. Exclusive meritocracy exists at the super-elite universities and at the industries that draw the bulk of their employees from them — Wall Street, Big Law, medicine and tech. And then there is the more open meritocracy that exists almost everywhere else.

In the exclusive meritocracy, prestige is defined by how many people you can reject. The elite universities reject 85 to 95 percent of their applicants. Those accepted spend much of their lives living in neighborhoods and attending conferences where it is phenomenally expensive or hard to get in. Whether it’s the resort town you vacation in or the private school you send your kids to, exclusivity is the pervasive ethos. The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

People in this caste work phenomenally hard to build their wealth. As Daniel Markovits notes in his powerful new book, The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite, between 1979 and 2006, the percentage of workers in the top quintile of earners who work more than 50 hours a week nearly doubled. ...

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September 19, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Joulfaian: The Federal Estate Tax: History, Law, and Economics

David Joulfaian (U.S. Treasury Department), The Federal Estate Tax: History, Law, and Economics (MIT Press 2019):

JoulifanA comprehensive and accessible account of the U.S. estate tax, examining its history and evolution, structure and inner workings, and economic consequences.

Governments have been levying some form of inheritance tax since the ancient Egyptians did so in the seventh century BC. In the United States, the federal government experimented with various forms of inheritance taxes, settling on an estate tax in 1916 and a gift tax in 1932. Despite this long history, there are few empirical studies of the federal estate tax. This book offers the first comprehensive look at U.S. estate and inheritance taxes, examining their history and evolution, structure and inner workings, and economic consequences. Written by David Joulfaian, a veteran economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the book provides accessible accounts of such topics as changes in tax laws, issues of equity, the fiscal contribution of the estate tax, and its behavioral effects.

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September 12, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Harvard Law Review: Zelenak's Congress, Treasury, And The Design Of The Early Modern Income Tax

Recent Publications, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 2108 (2019):

Figuring Out the TaxFiguring Out the Tax: Congress, Treasury, and the Design of the Early Modern Income Tax. By Lawrence Zelenak. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press. 2018. Pp. ix, 306. $110.00. [Reviewed by Charlotte Crane (Northwestern) here]

How did the American income tax turn out the way it has, in its oft-criticized, much-maligned form? In this meticulously researched book, Professor Lawrence Zelenak examines the early development of the U.S. income tax system. He dives into the history behind several of the most consequential — and in some cases, most controversial — features (or, arguably, errors) of our income tax system: the step-up in basis at death, the charitable deduction for unrealized appreciation, the marriage penalty and bonus, and more. The fascinating narrative recounts the inception of each of these errors as well as efforts to fix them, showing that efforts to reform loopholes (or, some might say, features) of the tax system tend to fail “if the federal government can afford to leave the error in the Internal Revenue Code” (p. 6).

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August 30, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Florida Tax Review Publishes New Issue

The Florida Tax Review has published Vol. 22, No. 2:

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August 28, 2019 in Book Club, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Henderson Reviews American Law Firms In Transition: Trends, Threats, And Strategies

William Henderson (Indiana), Book Review (reviewing Randall Kiser, American Law Firms in Transition: Trends, Threats, and Strategies (ABA Aug. 9, 2019)):

KiserWhen it comes to empirical research on lawyers, we’re all lightweights compared to Randall Kiser. Over the last decade, Kiser has authored books on lawyer decision making in the context of litigation, Beyond Right and Wrong (2010), the mindset and work habits of trial lawyers who consistently outperform their peers, How Leading Lawyers Think (2011), and an empirically grounded analysis of the skills and behaviors needed to build a successful legal career, Soft Skills for the Effective Lawyer (2017).

Now comes Kiser’s treatment of U.S. law firms, American Law Firms In Transition: Trends, Threats, and Strategies (2019). I doubt any law firm leader could read this book and conclude that Kiser got it wrong.

The portion of the book that is primarily diagnostic (chapters 1-4) includes a detailed analysis of law firm demographics (we’re getting older), hiring practices (invalid, unreliable, underspecified), clients (they’re insourcing and innovating ahead of firms), strategy (preoccupation with firm size and lateral hiring rather than excellence; obsession with premium rates, which props open the door for new entrants), fragility (collapses are commonplace), and the normalization of all things short term (among other things, highly toxic to the next generation of lawyers).

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August 27, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

Haben Girma, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law (Aug. 6, 2019):

HabenThe incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.

Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn't see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.

Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.

Haben takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection.

Wall Street Journal, Haben Girma Is a Trailblazer for the Deaf and Blind:

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August 12, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Wallace: Tax Policy And Our Democracy

Clint Wallace (South Carolina), Tax Policy and Our Democracy, 118 Mich. L. Rev. ___ (2019) (reviewing Camille Walsh (Washington), Racial Taxation: Schools, Segregation, and Taxpayer Citizenship, 1869–1973 (University of North Carolina Press 2018), and Anthony C. Infanti (Pittsburgh), Our Selfish Tax Laws: Toward Tax Reform That Mirrors Our Better Selves (MIT Press 2018)):

Racial SelfishTwo new books explore the many ways in which U.S. tax policies and tax systems have promoted social injustices and continue to do so. In Racial Taxation, Camille Walsh provides a vivid depiction of the under-scrutinized fiscal history of elementary through secondary education in the United States, from the post-Reconstruction era until San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. In Our Selfish Tax Laws, Anthony Infanti details how existing U.S. Federal tax policies manifest problematic power structures that exclude and disadvantage many if not most taxpayers. Together, these books dissect a variety of flawed tax structures and reveal that tax discrimination grounded in race, gender, heteronormativity, differences in physical ability, and, pervasively, power dynamics, are not a malignant tumor on an otherwise healthy body, but rather are a systemic, pathological affliction on the entire U.S. fiscal state. This essay reviews Walsh’s and Infanti’s work, and builds on the authors’ rich historical and analytical contributions to ask: how can tax policy be reformed so that, rather than betraying and undermining the foundations of American democracy, it works to strengthen democratic institutions and their connection with members of a democratic society?

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August 8, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Kronman: The Downside of Diversity: Assault On American Excellence

Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘Elite Schools Are National Treasures. Their Elitism Is What Makes Them Such.’:

KronmanSince stepping down from his 10-year tenure as dean of Yale Law School, Anthony T. Kronman has been thinking a lot about the larger purposes of a humanities education. He’s addressed the topic in two books, Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (Yale, 2007) and Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan (Yale, 2016), this last a 1,000-page exploration of his personal theology that draws on thinkers from antiquity to Freud to Rawls. (Kronman earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and spent some time undergoing psychoanalysis.) As Joshua Rothman put it in The New Yorker, Kronman "suspects that he might have found the meaning of life."

His most recent book, The Assault on American Excellence, will be published by Free Press in August. It’s a crisply argued jeremiad about what Kronman sees as the wrong turn taken by elite universities in recent years. Under the guise of concerns for inclusion and a misplaced egalitarianism, Kronman argues, universities have abandoned what should be their core commitments to reasoned argumentation and, more controversially, to the development of an "aristocratic ethos."

I met with Kronman in his office at the Yale Law School to talk about democracy and aristocracy, campus debates over free speech, affirmative action, and what he calls "the conversational ideal." ...

Much of your argument depends on the tension between democratic and aristocratic values. Colleges — and you’re really talking about elite colleges, here — ought to preserve, you say, "an aristocratic ethos in an otherwise democratic culture."

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August 5, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Brooks Reviews Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions

Kim Brooks (Dalhousie), Will Feminist Judges Really Make a Difference? (JOTWELL) (reviewing Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Anthony C. Infanti (Pittsburgh), Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions (Cambridge University Press 2017)):

Feminist JudgmentsFeminist judgments projects originate in Canada. ... The first volume of American re-writes focused on decisions of the US Supreme Court. Surprising only to people who do not teach tax, the next volume of American re-writes takes up tax opinions. Released on December 28, 2017, as an invitation to continue holiday festivities, a volume edited by Bridget Crawford and Anthony Infanti serves up a veritable buffet of delights. Eleven rewritten American tax opinions comprise the volume. Six are rewritten Supreme Court decisions, one if a rewritten federal circuit court opinion, and four are rewritten Tax Court opinions.

The end result is spectacular. I want to draw attention to two features in this short review. These features are not tied, given this more general audience, to the tax context of the decisions. That’s worth underlining: this is a volume that is worth reading for scholars in any area of law with an interest in feminist legal theory and practice and how feminists approach legal and factual questions.

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July 29, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Seven Leadership Secrets Of Great Team Captains

Wall Street Journal op-ed: The Seven Leadership Secrets of Great Team Captains, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

Captain ClassLet’s imagine that Dr. Frankenstein gave you the keys to his laboratory and that it was your mission to build the perfect captain for a sports team. Maybe you would start with the donor body of a freak talent—a superstar with transcendent skills and abundant charisma. You’d then probably want to inject qualities such as eloquence, diplomacy, institutional fealty and dedication to the highest principles of sportsmanship.

Conventional wisdom suggests that these are the key traits of a superior captain. But are they really?

Some years ago, I set out to identify the greatest teams in sports history across the world, from the National Basketball Association to international field hockey, and to see what, if anything, they had in common. In the end, only 16 unambiguously outstanding teams made the cut. The list included several teams that were familiar to me and some that weren’t.

They all had just one shared characteristic: Their long streaks of dominance either began or ended—and in many cases overlapped precisely—with the tenure of one player. And in every case, this player was, or eventually became, the captain.

The men and women who led these teams were surprisingly similar to one another, but their skills, personalities and leadership styles were not at all what I expected. The qualities they shared were not the ones I would have installed in Frankenstein’s laboratory. Some, in fact, were traits I would have rejected.

It occurred to me that in sports—and perhaps in other fields where teamwork matters, from business, politics and the military to science and the arts—we’ve been choosing the wrong people to lead us. The captains whom I identified had seven traits in common:

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July 26, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Teaching With Feminist Judgments: A Global Conversation

Bridget Crawford (Pace), Kathryn Stanchi (UNLV), Linda Berger (UNLV), Gabrielle Appleby (New South Wales), Susan Appleton (Washington University), Ross Astoria (Wisconsin), Sharon Cowan (Edinburgh), Rosalind Dixon (New South Wales), Troy Lavers (Leicester), Andrea McArdle (CUNY), Elisabeth McDonald (Canterbury), Teri McMurtry-Chubb (Mercer), Vanessa Munro & Pam Wilkins (Detroit Mercy), Teaching with Feminist Judgments: A Global Conversation, 38 Law & Ineq. ___ (2020):

Feminist JudgmentsThis conversational-style essay is an exchange among fourteen professors—representing thirteen universities across five countries—with experience teaching with feminist judgments. Feminist judgments are “shadow” court decisions rewritten from a feminist perspective, using only the precedent in effect and the facts known at the time of the original decision. Scholars in Canada, England, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, India and Mexico have published (or are currently producing) written collections of feminist judgments that demonstrate how feminist perspectives could have changed the legal reasoning or outcome (or both) in important legal cases.

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July 19, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Stanford Law Faculty Summer Reading List

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Krieger: The Hidden Stresses Of Law School And Law Practice

Lawrence S. Krieger (Florida State) has updated his wonderful booklet, The Hidden Stresses of Law School and Law Practice (2018) (ordering information) (thoughts about timing and use):

KriegerIt is time for the summer announcement of the student assistance booklets (now updated) that I’ve been doing for several years. Some of you may want to provide them to incoming or present classes at your school. Please note: We will be away from July 15-30, so if you need these little books for early August, please let me know. ... If you have questions, just email me directly, lkrieger@law.fsu.edu. If you wish to order, have any questions, or wish to view the entire contents before ordering, just email me directly.

Why This Book?

In the past few years there have been powerful scientific findings about lawyers and law students. They are so recent that few lawyers, students, or even law teachers are aware of them. These findings show clearly what makes us happy, and what happens in law school and then law practice that can undermine that happiness. This book explains this science and the largely hidden stresses of law school and law practice – how we first encounter them in school, why they continue to impact lawyers long after graduation, and why it doesn’t have to be that way. It offers practical, direct approaches to preserve and improve your well-being, based on these findings and decades of teaching, litigating, and working with law students and lawyers. The closing sections extend this knowledge specifically to career and job choices.

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July 10, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

How Much Do Coaches (And Deans) Matter?

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  How Much Do Coaches Matter?, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

BCAIIn 1979, Bill Campbell quit his job as head coach of Columbia University’s chronically dreadful football team. He moved to California to work for Apple and eventually became chief executive of Intuit.

The decision that made Mr. Campbell a Silicon Valley legend, however, involved a return to his roots. When he died in 2016, he was, according to a new biography, “the greatest executive coach the world has ever seen.”

Mr. Campbell, who shunned publicity, compiled a stunning roster of mentees that included Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s Larry Page and Facebook ’s Sheryl Sandberg. The book, Trillion Dollar Coach, was written by a trio of former pupils, including Google’s one-time CEO, Eric Schmidt.

To the authors, there’s no question Mr. Campbell deserves enormous credit for the success of the companies he worked with. “A trillion dollars understates the value he created,” they wrote. Without his “integral” guidance at Google, they argue, “the company would not be where it is today.”

After finishing this book, I met up in New York with another author who knows a thing or two about coaches: Andre Iguodala.

The 35-year-old Mr. Iguodala has played for four different NBA teams. As the primary captain of the Golden State Warriors, he’s made five straight trips to the NBA Finals since 2014, won three championships and set the league record for wins in a single season. Last Sunday, the Warriors, now in rebuilding mode, traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies, which would be team No. 5.

In his 15 seasons, Mr. Iguodala has earned a reputation as one of the NBA’s most thoughtful and outspoken players, and in his new memoir, The Sixth Man, he offers candid reviews of the coaches he’s played for. While Golden State’s Steve Kerr earns high marks, others don’t fare so well. ...

In [Mr. Iguodala's] view, a team’s ability to win depends less on the coach’s modus operandi than how well the players organize themselves around it—or in some cases, in opposition to it. ...

These two books present vastly different takes on coaching. Mr. Campbell’s acolytes seemed to crave his input and follow his advice with minimal skepticism. To Mr. Iguodala, every coach basically dumps out a different box of Legos and forces the team to build something.

They can’t both be right—or can they?

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July 9, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A Kosher Fourth Of July

ProclaimWall Street Journal:  A Kosher Fourth of July, by William McGurn:

Two hundred forty-three years ago, a new nation was inspired by the Old Testament.

Since that fateful July 4 when the Second Continental Congress invoked the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to declare independence from King George III, an argument has raged over the Christian roots of the American Founding. Now a group of scholars suggest that if we are looking only to the Gospels to understand the new American nation, we may be arguing over the wrong testament.

“The American Republic,” they write, “was born to the music of the Hebrew Bible.”

The book is called Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States: A Sourcebook. The title comes from Leviticus and is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The book comes courtesy of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, where it was pulled together by Meir Soloveichik, Matthew Holbreich, Jonathan Silver and Stuart Halpern.

These men are not arguing that America was founded as a Jewish nation. Nor is their subject Jews in America, or the role of Jews in the American Founding. Their proposition is more supple and profound: that at key moments in the national story, Americans have looked to the ancient Israelites to understand themselves, their blessings and their challenges.

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July 4, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Solitude, Leadership, Lawyers, And Law Professors

Amul Thapar (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit) & Samuel Rudman (Choate, Hall & Stewart, Boston), Solitude, Leadership, and Lawyers, 117 Mich. L. Rev. 1277 (2019) (reviewing Michael Erwin (Character & Leadership Center) & Raymond Kethledge (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit), Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude (2017)): 

Lead Yourself FirstLead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude bears all the hallmarks of a well-crafted legal argument. That makes good sense, because it was coauthored by a great lawyer. Lawyers, however, do not play a large role in the book. We were curious to know whether the book’s core argument—that solitude is indispensable to leadership—applies to law.

To do so, we test the book’s argument on its own terms. The book develops its argument in two ways: by reviewing historical examples and by interviewing contemporary leaders from all walks of life. Following the book’s lead, we apply its hypothesis to a historical example with which we are familiar, and we discuss solitude with modern-day lawyers. We conclude that the book’s lessons about solitude and leadership apply just as squarely to lawyers as they do to other leaders. ...

[W]e came to this subject with a healthy dose of skepticism. Perhaps because we are both extroverts who enjoy team settings, we would not have expected solitude to play such an important role in leadership. Add our names to the ranks of the converted. By the end of the book, we were persuaded, and we expect others will be too: one of the historical examples or interviews will call to mind how the reader does his or her best thinking, and we are willing to bet that important parts of it are done alone.

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July 3, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Tax, Inequality, And Human Rights

Tax  Inequality & Human Rights 2Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights (Philip Alston (NYU) & Nikki Reisch (NYU) eds. Oxford University Press 2019):

In Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights, experts in human rights law and in tax law debate the linkages between the two fields and highlight how each can help to tackle rapidly growing inequality in the economic, social, and political realms. Against a backdrop of systemic corporate tax avoidance, widespread use of tax havens, persistent pressures to embrace austerity policies, and growing gaps between the rich and poor, this book encourages readers to understand fiscal policy as human rights policy, and thus as having profound consequences for the well-being of citizens around the world. Prominent scholars and practitioners examine how the foundational principles of tax law and human rights law intersect and diverge; discuss the cross-border nature and human rights impacts of abusive practices like tax avoidance and evasion; question the reluctance of states to bring transparency and accountability to tax policies and practices; highlight the responsibility of private sector actors for shaping and misshaping tax laws; and critically evaluate domestic tax rules through the lens of equality and nondiscrimination. The contributing authors also explore how international human rights obligations should influence the framework for both domestic and international tax reforms. They address what human rights law requires of state tax policies and how tax laws and loopholes affect the enjoyment of human rights by people outside a state's borders. Because tax and human rights both turn on the relationship between the individual and the state, neo-liberalism's erosion of the social contract threatens to undermine them both.

Part I: The Relevance of Human Rights to Tax Law, Policy, and Practice
1. Nikki Reisch (NYU), Taxation and Human Rights: Mapping the Landscape
2. Olivier De Schutter (University of Louvain (Belgium)), Taxing for the Realization of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
3. Sandra Fredman (Oxford), Taxation as a Human Rights Issue: Gender and Substantive Equality
4. Mitchell Kane (NYU), Tax and Human Rights: The Moral Valence of Entitlements to Tax, Sovereignty, and Collectives
5. Allison Christians (McGill), The Search for Human Rights in Tax

Part II: Tax Abuse in Global Perspective: Cross-Border Dimensions and International Responses

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June 29, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Alice Goffman’s First Book Made Her A Star. It Wasn’t Enough To Get Her Tenure At The University Of Wisconsin

WisconsinChronicle of Higher Education, Alice Goffman’s First Book Made Her a Star. It Wasn’t Enough to Get Her Tenure.:

Alice Goffman [Wikipedia] wrote one of the most widely read sociology books in recent memory. But On the Run, her account of young black men caught up in the criminal-justice system, became entangled in ethical controversies. Now her academic career appears to be foundering.

Goffman failed to achieve tenure at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, according to James Raymo, chair of the sociology department.

The details of how that decision unfolded, and why, are unclear. Raymo, citing confidentiality rules, would say only that the department did not recommend Goffman for promotion to associate professor with tenure. Goffman, he said, did not appeal. Professors in her situation can continue at the university for one year, and she remains at Wisconsin. ...

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June 24, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Untangling Fear In Lawyering

Untangling FearAlexander H. Schmidt, Beyond the Bravado: Some Lawyers Are Scared to Death (reviewing Heidi K. Brown (Brooklyn), Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy (2019)):

Great lawyering in the modern era frequently comes from a source far removed from the confident bravado of the lawyer stereotype portrayed in films and on TV. In her fourth book, The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy (2017), Brooklyn Law School Prof. Heidi Brown revealed that, in a profession dominated by extroverted, self-assured and garrulous personalities, it is often quiet, withdrawn and even under-confident lawyers who shine at the heavy lifting of intellectual research, creative thinking and persuasive writing demanded at the highest levels of today’s competitive and challenging legal environment.

Introverted, shy and socially anxious law students and lawyers, we learned, are hidden gems that every law professor and law firm manager should seek and hone towards self-actualization to maximize their schools’ prestige and their firms’ profits. While dedicated to reassuring reticent lawyers that they are not alone and, given their inward-looking nature, that they can possess essential legal skills of insight, empathy and analytical attentiveness that more outgoing lawyers sometimes do not develop, her earlier book The Introverted Lawyer also served as a much-needed clarion inviting the legal profession to shake off its dusty bias favoring extroversion and embrace the talents and value introverts bring to the table.

Professor Brown’s most recent book, Untangling Fear In Lawyering, is likewise a must read for legal professionals. The book first reminds us that introverts not only belong but can thrive as lawyers—even high stakes litigators—advancing both the profession and the law itself. It then takes the next needed step by providing a wisdom-laden instruction manual that quiet and anxious students, lawyers and their mentors can use to unwind the misaligned thinking, loss of self-esteem and resulting despair that can accumulate in introverts once they are thrust into the arena and expected suddenly to excel at what for them are inherently discomforting tasks: public speaking, facing critical judges and handling hostile adversaries, difficult clients or abusive superiors. ...

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June 22, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What 'Good' Dads Get Away With: Why Do Progressive Men Still Refuse To Do Their Share Of Household Work?

RageNew York Times op-ed:  What ‘Good’ Dads Get Away With, by Darcy Lockman (author, All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership (2019)):

When my husband and I became parents a decade ago, we were not prepared for the ways in which sexism was about to express itself in our relationship. Like me, he was enthralled by our daughters. Like him, I worked outside the home. And yet I was the one who found myself in charge of managing the details of our children’s lives.

Too often I’d spend frantic days looking for spring break child care only to hear him ask, “Oh, there’s no school tomorrow?” Or we’d arrive home late with two tired kids, and instead of spearheading their nighttime routine he’d disappear to brush his own teeth. Unless I pointed out these lapses (which he’ll tell you I often did, and I’ll tell you I often did not), he was unaware.

We’ve all heard this story before. Thinking about my own relationship, and watching the other couples I knew, I kept wondering: Why is this still happening?

The optimistic tale of the modern, involved dad has been greatly exaggerated. The amount of child care men performed rose throughout the 1980s and ’90s, but then began to level off without ever reaching parity. Mothers still shoulder 65 percent of child-care work. In academic journals, family researchers caution that the “culture of fatherhood” has changed more than fathers’ actual behavior.

Sociologists attribute the discrepancy between mothers’ expectations and reality to “a largely successful male resistance.” This resistance is not being led by socially conservative men, whose like-minded wives often explicitly agree to take the lead in the home. It is happening, instead, with relatively progressive couples, and it takes many women — who thought their partners had made a prenatal commitment to equal parenting — by surprise. Why are their partners failing to pitch in more?

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May 7, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Metric Society Has Exacerbated Competition, Comparisonitis, And Inequality On The Road To A 21st Century Dystopia

The Metric SocietySteffen Mau (Humboldt University (Berlin)), The Metric Society: On the Quantification of the Social (2019):

In today’s world, numbers are in the ascendancy. Societies dominated by star ratings, scores, likes, and lists are rapidly emerging, as data are collected on virtually every aspect of our lives. From annual university rankings, ratings agencies, and fitness tracking technologies to our credit score and health status, everything and everybody is measured and evaluated.

In this important new book, Steffen Mau offers a critical analysis of this increasingly pervasive phenomenon. While the original intention behind the drive to quantify may have been to build trust and transparency, Mau shows how metrics have in fact become a form of social conditioning. The ubiquitous language of ranking and scoring has changed profoundly our perception of value and status. What is more, through quantification, our capacity for competition and comparison has expanded significantly — we can now measure ourselves against others in practically every area. The rise of quantification has created and strengthened social hierarchies, transforming qualitative differences into quantitative inequalities that play a decisive role in shaping the life chances of individuals.

This timely analysis of the pernicious impact of quantification will appeal to students and scholars across the social sciences, as well as anyone concerned by the cult of numbers and its impact on our lives and societies today.

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April 25, 2019 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

College Wouldn’t Cost So Much If Students And Faculty Worked Harder

VedderWall Street Journal op-ed:  College Wouldn’t Cost So Much If Students and Faculty Worked Harder, by Richard Vedder (Ohio University; author, Restoring the Promise: American Higher Education Today (2019)):

I assign far less reading, demand less writing, and give higher grades than I did two generations ago.

One reason college is so costly and so little real learning occurs is that collegiate resources are vastly underused. Students don’t study much, professors teach little, few people read most of the obscure papers the professors write, and even the buildings are empty most of the time.

The New York Federal Reserve says more than 40% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” but many already are while in school. Surveys of student work habits find that the average amount of time spent in class and otherwise studying is about 27 hours a week. The typical student takes classes only 32 weeks a year, so he spends fewer than 900 hours annually on academics—less time than a typical eighth-grader, and perhaps half the time their parents work to help finance college.

It wasn’t always this way. As economists Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks have demonstrated, students in the middle of the 20th century spent nearly 50% more time—around 40 hours weekly—studying. They now lack incentives to work very hard, since the average grade today—a B or B-plus—is much higher than in 1960 when the average grade-point average of around 2.5 implied a typical grade of B-minus or C-plus.

I’m part of the problem: I’ve been teaching for 55 years, and I assign far less reading, demand less writing, and give higher grades than I did two generations ago. ...

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April 20, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Death Of An Adjunct ... And The University's Soul

AdjunctThe Atlantic, The Death of an Adjunct:

Thea Hunter was a promising, brilliant scholar. And then she got trapped in academia’s permanent underclass. ...

To be a perennial adjunct professor is to hear the constant tone of higher education’s death knell. The story is well known—the long hours, the heavy workload, the insufficient pay—as academia relies on adjunct professors, non-tenured faculty members, who are often paid pennies on the dollar to do the same work required of their tenured colleagues.

The position is often inaccurately described as akin to a form of slavery. Thea, a scholar of rights, slavery, and freedom, would have been the first to say that is not the case. It is more like the lowest rung in a caste system, the one that underrepresented minorities tend to call home.

“Just as the doors of academe have been opened more widely than heretofore to marginalized groups, the opportunity structure for academic careers has been turned on its head,” a 2016 report on faculty diversity from the TIAA Institute, a nonprofit research center focused in part on higher education, reads. From 1993 to 2013, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in non-tenure-track part-time faculty positions in higher education grew by 230 percent. By contrast, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in full-time tenure-track positions grew by just 30 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of faculty members were tenured or tenure-track in 1969. Now roughly three-quarters of faculty are nontenured. The jobs that are available—as an adjunct, or a visiting professor—rest on shaky foundations, as those who occupy them try to balance work and life, often without benefits. And Thea wobbled for years.

She was on the tenure track, and then she wasn’t. She had a promising job lead, and then it wasn’t so promising. She was on her way to publishing, and then that fizzled. Meanwhile, her hopes and setbacks were compounded by an underlying reality that many adjuncts face: a lack of health insurance. She was a black woman in academia, and she was flying against a current. Some professors soar; adjuncts flap and dive and flap again—until they can’t flap anymore. ...

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April 18, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Infanti: How U.S. Tax Laws Discriminate Against Women, Gays And People of Color

InfantiPBS News Hour op-ed:  How U.S. Tax Laws Discriminate Against Women, Gays and People of Color, by Anthony Infanti (Pittsburgh):

What and how a country chooses to tax says a lot about its values.

A core value built into the DNA of America, for example, is equality. And in practice, Americans imagine their country to be more equal than it is and strive to treat every member of society that way.

But, as I learned in researching my book, Our Selfish Tax Laws: Toward Tax Reform That Mirrors Our Better Selves (MIT Press 2018), America’s tax laws paint a different picture.

Instead of reflecting a society constantly striving to better itself, U.S. tax laws are mired in the past. They reinforce the social and economic marginalization of women, racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants and people with disabilities.

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April 16, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Clausing: Fixing Our 'America Last' Tax Policy

OpenThe Hill op-ed:  Fixing Our 'America Last' Tax Policy, by Kimberly Clausing (Reed College):

On inauguration day, Trump promised the American people he would put “America first.” This rhetoric has provided verbal backing for new trade restrictions, immigration reductions and the withdrawal of the United States from prior international agreements and commitments.

As I argue in my new book, “Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital,” these new trade barriers and immigration restrictions are more likely to harm than help American workers.

Tariffs are regressive consumption taxes, and trade wars generate new disruptions that hurt American workers and industries, including soybean farmers with unsold crops as well as autoworkers facing plant shutdowns resulting in part from higher costs due to steel tariffs in the United States. 

Likewise, immigration restrictions harm American workers and our larger economy. We lose talent, innovation and entrepreneurship; we will have fewer Nobel prizes, fewer workers with desperately needed technological skills and fewer billion-dollar startups. Also, the budget pressures of our aging population weigh more heavily.

But policymakers looking for a better way to put “America first” might usefully start with the tax code. The 2017 tax legislation known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has many provisions that are in desperate need of improvement. ...

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April 14, 2019 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Clausing Presents The Progressive Case For Free Trade, Immigration, And Global Capital Today At Loyola-L.A.

OpenKimberly Clausing (Reed College) presents Open: he Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital (Harvard University Press 2019) today at Loyola-L.A. as part of a panel discussion with Jeffrey Atik, Kathleen Kim, Katie Pratt, and Ted Seto:

With the winds of trade war blowing as they have not done in decades, and Left and Right flirting with protectionism, a leading economist forcefully shows how a free and open economy is still the best way to advance the interests of working Americans.

Globalization has a bad name. Critics on the left have long attacked it for exploiting the poor and undermining labor. Today, the Right challenges globalization for tilting the field against advanced economies. Kimberly Clausing faces down the critics from both sides, demonstrating in this vivid and compelling account that open economies are a force for good, not least in helping the most vulnerable.

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April 11, 2019 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Commuter Faculty Spouses

Commuter SpousesInside Higher Ed, ‘Commuter Spouses’:

Many academics have partners who are academics, and "two-body issues" complicate many a job search. A new book looks at the impact of these situations on the couples and on society. While many of the couples examined in Commuter Spouses: New Families in a Changing World (Cornell University Press Mar. 15, 2019) are academics, the book explores the issues that arise for others as well.

Danielle Lindemann, assistant professor of sociology at Lehigh University, wrote the book based not only on her research but on her personal experience. She responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: Your author ID says of you, your husband and your "feisty preschooler" that "Currently they all live together." As you note in the acknowledgments, this is a subject you know from personal experience. What has your experience as a "commuter spouse" been like?

A: I lived apart from my husband (part of the time) from 2011 to 2013 while I was doing a postdoc at Vanderbilt in Nashville and he remained in New York. We’re actually not a great case study of commuter marriage, because in many ways we had an ideal setup. We knew we were doing it for a finite period, we were childless at the time, it was a research-oriented postdoc, so there was a lot I could do remotely, and we’re also incredibly privileged in a lot of ways. If you changed just one of those variables, it probably would have been a lot less tolerable. As it was, by the end of the two years, I was more than ready to be done with the commuting. In that last respect, I was similar to the people I interviewed for the book. Most people could find at least one thing they liked about the arrangement, but almost nobody was saying, “This my ideal setup and I want to do it forever.” Everyone I interviewed, except for one person, was either back living with their partners at the time I spoke with them, or planned on resuming cohabitation in the future.

Q: Many academic jobs are in small college towns. How does this influence the academic couple in a commuter relationship?

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March 31, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Gallup's 'Single Most Profound Finding In Its History': 70% Of An Organization's Success Depends On The Quality Of Its Managers

ManagerWall Street Journal op-ed:  One Fix For All That's Wrong: Better Managers, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

Five years ago, the Gallup organization embarked on one of the most ambitious deep dives it has ever conducted; an analysis of the future of work based on a decade of input from nearly 2 million employees and more than 300,000 business units. The results confirmed something Gallup had seen before: a company’s productivity depends, to a high degree, on the quality of its managers.

What no one saw coming, however, was the sheer size of that correlation—something Gallup calls “the single most profound, distinct and clarifying finding” in its 80-year history. The study showed that managers didn’t just influence the results their teams achieved, they explained a full 70% of the variance. In other words, if it’s a superior team you’re after, hiring the right manager is nearly three-fourths of the battle. ...

The study’s conclusions, laid out in Gallup’s forthcoming book, It’s the Manager, struck a particular chord with me. I, too, had exhaustively studied teams—although my subjects were the top dynasties in sports. I’d reached a similar conclusion: The overwhelming driver for sustained excellence in sports was another kind of middle manager, the team captain.

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March 27, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)