Paul L. Caron
Dean


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Debate: Will COVID-19 Cause A Massive Shift By Colleges (And Law Schools) To Online Education?

New York Times op-ed:  The Future of College Is Online, and It’s Cheaper, by Hans Taparia (NYU):

CoronavirusUp until now, online education has been relegated to the equivalent of a hobby at most universities. With the pandemic, it has become a backup plan. But if universities embrace this moment strategically, online education could expand access exponentially and drop its cost by magnitudes — all while shoring up revenues for universities in a way that is more recession-proof, policy-proof and pandemic-proof. ...

[U]niversities don’t need to abandon in-person teaching for students who see the value in it. They simply need to create “parallel” online degrees for all their core degree programs. By doing so, universities could expand their reach by thousands, creating the economies of scale to drop their costs by tens of thousands.

There are a few, but instructive, examples of prestigious universities that have already shown the way. Georgia Tech, a top engineering school, launched an online masters in computer science in 2014. The degree costs just $7,000 (one-sixth the cost of its in-person program), and the school now has nearly 10,000 students enrolled, making it the largest computer science program in the country. Notably, the online degree has not cannibalized its on-campus revenue stream. Instead, it has opened up a prestigious degree program to a different population, mostly midcareer applicants looking for a meaningful skills upgrade.

Similarly, in 2015, the University of Illinois launched an online M.B.A. for $22,000, a fraction of the cost of most business schools. In order to provide a forum for networking and experiential learning, critical to the business school experience, the university created micro-immersions, where students can connect with other students and work on live projects at companies at a regional level. ...

Many universities are sounding bold about reopening in-person instruction this fall. The current business model requires them to, or face financial ruin. But a hasty decision driven by the financial imperative could prove lethal, and do little to help them weather a storm. The pandemic provides universities an opportunity to reimagine education around the pillars of access and affordability with the myriad tools and techniques now at their disposal. It could make them true pathways of upward mobility again.

Bloomberg op-ed:  College as We Know It Coming to an End? Don’t Bet on It, by Joe Nocera:

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May 26, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

COVID-19 And Law Teaching: Developing Asynchronous Online Courses For Law Students

Yvonne Dutton (Indiana-Indianapolis) & Seema Mohapatra (Indiana-Indianapolis), COVID-19 and Law Teaching: Guidance on Developing an Asynchronous Online Course for Law Students, 65 St. Louis U. L.J. ___ (2020):

CoronavirusMost law schools suspended their live classroom teaching in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly transitioned to online programming. Although professors can be commended for rapidly adapting to an emergency situation, some commentators have nevertheless suggested that the emergency online product delivered to students was substandard. Based on our own experiences in designing and delivering online courses, we caution against embracing a broad-reaching, negative conclusion about the efficacy of online education. Indeed, much of this emergency online programming would be more properly defined as “emergency remote teaching,” as opposed to “online education.” Delivering online education to students involves more than giving the same classroom lecture on Zoom. Online education requires professors to design their courses to be delivered at a distance, with the goal being to create a course driven by pedagogy using technological tools to inform and enhance the learning experience. COVID-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, and because some schools might be unable to bring all of their students back into the classroom in the fall, we urge faculty to prepare to deliver their courses online. Law schools and faculty should not wait for another emergency and should prepare to deliver at least some of their courses online in the fall. To aid with this transition, this Article offers some guidance on how to develop and implement an effective asynchronous distance-learning course for law students.

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May 26, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Law Schools Safely Teach On Campus In Fall 2020?

Ilya Somin (George Mason), Some Tentative Suggestions for Safely Restarting In-Person Teaching at Universities:

CoronavirusUniversities around the country are pondering the question of whether and how to resume in-person teaching during the upcoming fall 2020 semester. In-person instruction has major advantages over the online version many of us have experienced this spring. But it would be foolish and irresponsible to ignore the risks of spreading Covid-19. I don't have anything approaching a comprehensive solution to this dilemma. But in this post, I offer some tentative suggestions for how in-person teaching can be restarted, while minimizing risk, while also avoiding creating an unbearable dystopian on-campus environment. ...

The proposals I offer rely on three key ideas. First, the advantages of in-person education are far greater for some types of classes than for others. Second, there are ways to protect faculty and students who face especially high risks without moving to a fully on-line model for the classes they teach or take. ...

I. Exploiting Variation in the Relative Advantages of In-Person Teaching

[S]chools can potentially keep smaller classes online, while reserving limited classroom space for bigger ones. This may seem like the exact opposite of what might be useful for maintaining social distance. Obviously it is easier for a small group to do so than big one. But by moving smaller classes online, schools can free up a lot of classroom space that would otherwise be used for them. That in turn can allow them to split up larger courses between two rooms.

The professor can be in one room, along with however many students can fit in there with while maintaining social distancing. The remaining students can be in the second room. They can watch the professor (and other students) on a large TV monitor set up at the front. The professor can in turn see the students in the second room on a monitor set up in her room.

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May 26, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Technology For Faculty Office Hours In Fall 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Faculty Cuts Begin, With Warnings Of More To Come

Chronicle of Higher Education, Faculty Cuts Begin, With Warnings of More to Come:

When the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to deplete projected budgets, college leaders ... looked to minimize expenses and make difficult choices about priorities. While decisions were still up in the air, faculty members, especially those off the tenure track, feared that their ranks would be thinned. Now, those cuts are starting to be made across academe. (The Chronicle is tracking them here.)

Chronicle

Thirty-one faculty members were laid off at Missouri Western State University, while 20 others will receive terminal one-year contracts, Inside Higher Ed reported. St. Edward’s University, in Texas, eliminated an unknown number of employee positions, including some faculty members on and off the tenure track, the Austin American-Statesman reported. City University of New York colleges have begun announcing plans to remove hundreds of adjunct positions, according to the CUNY faculty and staff union; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood in solidarity with the union, saying in a statement that “austerity is not the answer.” And rumors have swirled at Ohio University that instructor positions will be eliminated, speculation that was confirmed in a Friday-evening message to the campus from the president. ...

Faculty leaders on various campuses are scrutinizing those decisions. They say they appreciate the need to be frugal but don’t understand why contingent faculty members, who are often the lowest paid and do the bulk of the teaching, are on the chopping block. ...

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May 24, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Yes, Online College Sux. You Should Do It Anyway.

Rebecca Schuman, Yes, Online College Sux. You Should Do It Anyway.:

CoronavirusA few days ago I was leading my five-year-old daughter along the stretch of block we walk every day, half-assedly scanning for errant joggers to shame, and I snapped this photo of some sidewalk art by the occupants of a student house share. “BE NICE :),” they wrote. “ONLINE SCHOOL SUX.”

I mean, they’re not wrong. Online school — “remote learning” as we like to call it, “hybrid pedagogical delivery models” if you’re feeling fancy — does, indeed, sux, when that’s not the specific experience you signed up for. Deliberately-online programs, on the other hand, (entire degrees or just single course offerings) are different; not only are they often less expensive than their in-person counterparts, online courses are just built differently. Deliberately online courses often use a “flipped,” partially asynchronous model, where the “lecture” component is actually a series of short, digestible videos that students can watch on their own time, supplemented by videoconference sessions with small groups that work through problems or issues in the “homework” in more depth.

Intentionally online courses are also taught by instructors who have specific training in digital pedagogy and “remote course delivery.” The same cannot be said for the thousands of poor souls who, in Spring 2020, had to put all of their courses online with zero notice and less experience, a fact which contributes mightily to the extent to the current state of sux.

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May 24, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Coronavirus Leadership Lesson From Margaret Thatcher: 'Great Love That Stirs Others'

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  The Iron Lady and the Coronavirus Age, by Peggy Noonan:

Thatcher BiosColumnists often say things like “the tectonic plates are shifting.” They are shifting as never before and all at the same time. We have never seen this earthquake.

What is essential now from our political class? I find inspiration in a monumental work, the journalist Charles Moore’s three-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher. It is a masterpiece of fairness and insight. It is also something new, a work of justice done to a woman in modern politics.

At its heart it is not a story about political survival but about seriousness—about the purpose of politics, which is to guide your nation safely through the world while creating the conditions and arrangements by which your people can flourish. It is about winning the argument about how to achieve safety and flourishing.

In his stirring epilogue, Mr. Moore sums up Thatcher’s career, legacy, and essential nature. She cannot be understood, he writes, based only on her public statements. She must be seen also in light of her character: “Its contradictions were striking. She was high-minded and highly educated, yet had a common touch. She was fierce, but kind; rude, and courteous; calculating, yet principled; matter-of-fact, yet romantic; frank, yet secretive; astute, yet innocent; rational, yet capricious; puritanical, yet flirtatious.” She “combined an immense assurance about following her own way with a permanent uneasiness in life.” ...

What at bottom drove her? “If there was one uniting force in everything Mrs. Thatcher did, it was her love for her country.” All truly great political leaders have this love, which involves a heightened vision of their nation. Thatcher’s love was not always requited. “But great loves such as hers go beyond reason, which is why they stir others, as leaders must if they are to achieve anything out of the ordinary.”

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May 23, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graduation In Your PJs? Law School Commencements Go Virtual

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Graduation in Your PJs? Law School Commencements Go Virtual:

Zoom MeetingThis year’s law graduates won’t have to worry about tripping on their gowns as they get their  diplomas or mugging for the camera as they shake the dean’s hand.

Law schools have been forced to ditch the in-person pomp and circumstance routine, with many holding “virtual” affairs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first digital ceremonies [began two weeks ago] and will continue through mid-June as new lawyers wrap up their studies and launch their careers at an unprecedented time. Many law schools have said they plan to hold an in-person celebration at a later date, but, for now, ceremonies will be online. ...

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May 23, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dean Amar: Why It Is Unconstitutional For State Bars, When Doling Out Bar-Exam Seats, To Favor In-State Law Schools

Following up on my previous post, New York's Discrimination Against Graduates Of Out-Of-State Law Schools Is Unconstitutional — 'Whether It’s Toilet Paper Or Bar Exam Seats, Hoarding Is Wrong':

Vikram Amar (Dean, Illinois), Why It is Unconstitutional for State Bars, When Doling out Bar-Exam Seats, to Favor In-State Law Schools:

Amar 3As bar examiners around the country grapple with administering bar exams this summer (either in July, as originally scheduled, or a month or two later) in the kind of socially distanced format the COVID-19 pandemic seems likely to require, a troubling pattern is emerging. Starting with New York (three weeks ago), a number of states—anticipating that there will be more demand for exam seats than can be accommodated—have announced policies that give formal priority for exam registration to people who graduated from in-state law schools, and that discriminate openly against out-of-state schools and the graduates therefrom. Massachusetts and Tennessee (like New York) recently made clear they will give formal preference to, and only to, graduates of all in-state law schools. So too with Maine and North Dakota (the only law school in each state being that of the public flagship university). And Connecticut and Missouri will give preference to graduates of in-state law schools along with some graduates of out-of-state (but often nearby) schools.

This trend is disturbing, because of the message it sends (about selfishness in times of crisis) and also, even more importantly, because the actions of most of these state bars (Connecticut and Missouri may be more complicated) are unconstitutional.

To be sure, administering a professional licensure exam in these times is challenging. And many states—especially those states that give the so-called Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), a test whose score can be used to seek admission in over 30 states in the nation—are probably correct in expecting that more people will seek to take the test in their states than can, given social distancing, be accommodated. (I am fully supportive of efforts of my law dean colleagues around the country to brainstorm about ways to expand the number of exam seats, but the reality is that demand for exam spaces could easily exceed supply in many states this summer). Scarcity is unfortunate. But as public agencies (generally overseen by state high courts), bar examiner bodies must manage that scarcity in ways that are consistent with the United States Constitution. And treating all in-state law schools more favorably than all out-of-state schools simply won’t fly, constitutionally speaking. (Although many constitutional challenges might be made, in this essay I limit myself to Commerce Clause concerns.) ...

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May 21, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Harvard Makes Online Zero-L Course Free For All U.S. Law Schools Due To Coronavirus

Zero-L

Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus:

Harvard Law School announced Wednesday it will offer its online, pre-term “Zero-L” course for free for all United States law schools this summer in an effort to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the success of incoming law students.

The Law School and the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning created the Zero-L program in 2018 to ensure students from all backgrounds could enter the school with foundational knowledge about the legal field. The name Zero-L refers to the names of 1L, 2L, and 3L for first, second, and third-year law students.

The program is taught by Law School professors and features self-paced modules that students can refer back to throughout their entire first year. It covers topics such as how to read a case and the stages of civil litigation. ...

In 2019, four other law schools — Seton Hall University, Northeastern University, Boston College, and the University of Baltimore — adopted the program.

The Law School had planned to make the Zero-L program available to other schools for a fee, but decided to waive that fee in light of the pandemic. All law schools in the United States who wish to participate can offer the course to their incoming students starting July 1. ... [T]he Law School has not eliminated the possibility of reinstating the fee in future years.

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May 21, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

More On ABA's Decision To Approve Power To Permit Online Legal Ed During Pandemics, New Distance Ed Rules; Reject Call To Suspend 75% Bar Passage Requirement

Following up on my previous post:  ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Summary of Actions of the Section’s Council at its Public Meeting (May 15, 2020):

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar met virtually on May 15 to consider recommendations, reports and other issues on its agenda. The Council took these key actions:

• Adopted the first formal steps, including a revision to Rule 2 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedures for the Approval of Law Schools, to permit the Council to take action to provide law schools appropriate and necessary relief from the requirements of the Standards in the event of disasters or emergencies. The Council’s Standards Review Subcommittee recommended the proposed change because of uncertainty surrounding the next academic year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the absence of such authority in the current rules.

Currently, Standard 107(a)(1) provides for a variance to a particular school for emergencies and disasters. That authority will continue, but the proposed change would permit the Council to provide temporary relief from a rule or the requirements of a standard to allow law schools to respond to a regional or national emergency, such as weather disasters and pandemics. The relief granted would be effective only for the duration of the extraordinary circumstance and only to the extent specifically provided. The proposed change will go out for Notice and Comment with the intent to submit it to the House of Delegates for its August 2020 meeting so that the Council will be in a position to address potential issues for the 2020- 2021 academic year.

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May 21, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

U.S. Department Of Education Extends Online Education Flexibility Through Fall 2020 Semester

UPDATED Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (May 15, 2020):

Department of Education LogoThe Department appreciates that postsecondary institutions and their students face continued challenges resulting from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This guidance provides updated information that expands upon the Department’s March 5, 2020 and April 3, 2020 guidance. Here, we provide additional regulatory flexibilities due to the President’s declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19 and provide information about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Pub. L. No. 116-136, signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020. We will provide additional guidance on our COVID-19 webpage as needed.

Department Guidance

Distance Education
We are aware of the need for institutions to plan how they will offer instruction for upcoming periods of enrollment. Many institutions have informed us of their intent to offer both the summer and fall terms using distance education. To provide the necessary flexibility for institutions to make timely decisions, we are expanding the broad approval for the use of distance education as provided in the April 3, 2020, EA to include payment periods that overlap March 5, 2020, or that begin on or between March 5, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

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May 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

COVID-19 May Cause Higher Ed To Finally Confront Runaway Academic Spending, Including 67% Of Tenured Faculty Who Are Underproductive

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  How to Address the Elephant in the Room: Academic Costs, by Paul N. Friga (University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School): 

American higher education is widely regarded as the best in the world. At the same time, critics have suggested that it is slow to change, unresponsive to student demands, bloated, and expensive. With Covid-19, higher education is now facing its most significant challenge. We have an opportunity to do everything we can to make strategic shifts not only to survive but also to thrive through this crisis. It won’t be easy. ...

In early March, I predicted scenarios with damage up to 50 percent to universities’ operating expenses. Other surveys, including one just completed in late April of chief financial officers, suggest potential negative impacts closer to 10 to 15 percent of revenues, as shown below.

Chronicle

I believe that the time has come to discuss the elephant in the room. No doubt this will be a delicate subject on many campuses. Even with the recognition that we are facing dire financial situations, the initial reaction often is that academic spending is “core to our mission and must be maintained.” My recommendation is to approach this conversation carefully, strategically, and inclusively, with three key steps — organize, analyze, and prioritize. ...

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May 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Horwitz: A Skeptical Comment On The Wisconsin Diploma Privilege

Following up on last week's post, Using The Diploma Privilege To Reflect On What We Do And What We Ought To Do:  Paul Horwitz (Alabama), A Skeptical Comment on the Wisconsin Diploma Privilege:

Wisconsin BarAnent my previous post on using the Wisconsin diploma privilege to "reflect on what we do and what we ought to do" in legal education, I heard from Jason Yackee, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin's law school. My post featured a piece quoting Wisconsin lawyers and regulators discussing the privilege--a useful source of information to those of us who have discussed or invoked the privilege without first-hand experience. More information is better, and Prof. Yackee offers his own experience-based judgment, which is more skeptical than that of the people I quoted earlier. With his permission and my thanks, I offer his response below, with some comments following.

The Covid-19 pandemic has called into question the ability of states to safely administer in-person examinations for admittance to the bar. One potential solution, perhaps only temporary in nature, is to substitute some version of a “diploma privilege”, through which students who have graduated from certain law schools are granted permission to practice without taking a traditional bar exam. Recent posts on Prawfsblawg and on Paul Caron’s Taxprof Blog have suggested that Wisconsin’s long-standing diploma privilege regime might serve as a model. Wisconsin is, famously, the only state to allow graduates from in-state law schools (of which there are only two, at UW-Madison and Marquette University) to bypass the Wisconsin bar exam. That exam consists of the Multistate Bar Exam, which is developed by an organization based—note the irony—in Madison, Wisconsin. Graduates of all other law schools in the union, from Yale on down to Thomas Jefferson, must take and pass the test. This system has very occasionally and never successfully been challenged in federal court as impermissibly discriminatory (under dormant commerce clause or equal-protection logics) against students who have graduated from out-of-state law schools.

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May 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Jim McGoldrick

McGoldickPepperdine University Mourns the Passing of Professor James M. McGoldrick:

Pepperdine University is saddened to announce the passing of Jim McGoldrick (’66), professor of law at the Caruso School of Law, who died today, May 16, 2020, following complications related to COVID-19. He was 76.

“The passing of Professor Jim McGoldrick is a profound loss to our community,” says President Jim Gash, long-time associate and former student of McGoldrick. “Jim was one of my favorite professors when I was a law student at Pepperdine and was a beloved colleague during my 20 years of teaching alongside him. His dry wit and easy laugh will be greatly missed.” 

Prior to his nearly 50-year career at Pepperdine, McGoldrick spent his first few years as an attorney working for the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice and as a trial lawyer with California’s Tulare County Legal Services. Ron Phillips, the senior vice chancellor and Caruso School of Law Dean Emeritus, reflects, “Jim McGoldrick was the third full-time professor ever hired by Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, and the longest serving by a wide margin, beginning in 1971. He likely taught more of our students than anyone else. Jim entertained his students as he taught them. He made friends easily, including me. Jim was one of a kind, and will be sorely missed—and fondly remembered.” ...

McGoldrick 1976“Professor McGoldrick was a larger than life figure in his 50 years on the Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty, beloved by generations of students, staff, and faculty,” says Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean Paul Caron. “He leaves a lasting legacy at the law school and in the lives of all who passed through here.”  ...

McGoldrick is survived by his wife, Jan; his daughter, Julie M. McGoldrick (’92, JD ’04); his son, John T. McGoldrick (JD ’00); and his granddaughter, Sadie B. White.

In Memory of Jim McGoldrick:

Pepperdine mourns the loss of Professor Jim McGoldrick who was beloved by generations of students in his 50 years on the Caruso School of Law faculty. He will be deeply missed. For those who wish to leave a lasting tribute, please share your memories of Jim by clicking on the Comments tab. You may also make a gift to the Jim McGoldrick Memorial Law Scholarship in his memory by clicking the Make My Gift tab.

I shared this memory of Jim on the tribute page:

I first met Jim when he walked into my office as a brand new visiting professor to invite my wife and me to dinner with some other Pepperdine professors at one of his favorite Malibu restaurants. Courtney and I were especially touched as this was our first social occasion as members of the Pepperdine community. Other dinners followed through the years, and we will always remember Jim's kindness and wit. As a faculty member and then Dean, I witnessed first hand Jim's incredible talent and dedication as a teacher. Courtney and I have hosted hundreds of students in our home for dinners in my three years as dean, and we always go around the table asking students which professor has had the biggest impact on them. Jim's name is mentioned time after time after time -- the students simply loved him. And Jim loved his students. I will never forget discussing with Jim how we could minimize the impact of his COVID-19 illness on his students moments before he was to be put on a ventilator. I am in awe that, in that scary moment, Jim's main concern was his students. Pepperdine Caruso Law School will not be the same without Jim physical presence. But we will strive in our own ways to put our students first in everything we do, as Jim did for 50 years.

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May 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hayashi & Kleiman: Local Governments Need More Revenue. Try Progressive Property Taxes.

Washington Post op-ed:  Local Governments Need More Revenue. Try Progressive Property Taxes., by Andrew Hayashi (Virginia) & Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego):

Local governments are cash-strapped. Even if Congress agrees to give them financial support, it probably won’t be enough. Localities must raise revenue using the fiscal tools available to them — but without overburdening struggling households. The answer is a progressive property tax. The tax could feature rates that increase with property values, income-based tax relief or deferral of payment. Many states provide such deferrals to senior citizens and the disabled, and this could be extended to those eligible for unemployment benefits.

Not only is a progressive property tax fair, but it can help stabilize household finances. Homeowners are far from being universally wealthy; more than 15 percent earn less than half of their area’s median income. Since tax rates would fall with home prices during a recession, households would have more to spend on the goods and services that keep people employed. Our research shows that cutting property taxes in a recession increases spending and reduces mortgage defaults [Countercyclical Property Taxes, reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado) here].

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May 19, 2020 in Coronavirus, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Firm-By-Firm Guide To BigLaw Summer Associate Programs During COVID-19

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Summer Associate Programs and COVID-19: How Law Firms Are Responding:

CoronavirusA firm-by-firm guide to how Big Law is shifting its summer plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Big firms have been forced to shorten, cancel or otherwise shift their summer associate programs in light of closed offices across the country, remote working arrangements and the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to update the list below as changes continue to roll in.

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May 18, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Simkovic: Legal Occupations Prove Resilient During COVID Shutdowns

Michael Simkovic (USC), Legal Occupations Prove Resilient During COVID Shutdowns:

CoronavirusInternational efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus have come at heavy economic cost.  According to figures recently released by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. national unemployment rates have spiked from less than 5 percent to more than 14 percent as of April 2020, reaching the highest level since the Great Depression. ...

Legal occupations have proved remarkably resilient and currently have the lowest unemployment rate of any category tracked by the BLS.  Unemployment for legal occupations reached only 3.7 percent in April of 2020.  Unemployment rates for lawyers are likely even lower because legal occupations include lawyers as well as occupations that typically have significantly higher unemployment rates than lawyers, such as paralegals and other legal support workers.  In the first quarter of 2020, these non-lawyer legal occupations had unemployment rates around 2.3 to 2.5 percent, compared to 1.1. percent for lawyers.

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May 18, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

University President Explains Why Faculty/Staff Pay Freezes And Layoffs Are Preferable To Dipping Into Endowment During COVID-19

Stephen Wood, A University President Responds to Those Who Have Suggested The School Should Dip Into the Endowment:

CoronavirusTo the esteemed members of our faculty and staff,

First of all, let me say that I sincerely hope you are all safe and healthy during this trying time. As president of this University, there is nothing more important to me than the health and safety of our community. Though I’m currently away from campus, summering on my private island off of Maine, my thoughts are almost always with you, and my secretary is literally always available to field your questions and hear your concerns.

What’s not here for you, however, is the University’s endowment.

I bring this up because a number of you have reached out to provide us with valuable feedback regarding our recently announced budget adjustments. Specifically, many of you have asked why an institution with a $46 billion endowment is freezing salaries, rescinding job offers, refusing to adjust tenure tracks, and laying off staff instead of using an endowment the size of Iceland’s GDP to keep our community afloat.

Let me say this: We hear you. You are valid. You. Matter. Secondly, and no less importantly, let me make something clear: The. Endowment. Is. Not. For. You.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sir, we dip into 5 percent of the endowment per year to cover operating costs, so why don’t we just go up to, like, 7 or 8 percent instead of leaving our employees to twist in the wind?” Let me personally assure you that I hear what you’re saying, and it’s horseshit. Under no circumstances may we touch the endowment. We would sooner take Henry Kissinger’s name off our Center for the Study of Human Rights than take another penny out of the endowment.

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May 17, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

If Liquor Stores Are Essential, Why Isn’t Church?

New York Times op-ed:  If Liquor Stores Are Essential, Why Isn’t Church?, by Michael McConnell (Stanford) & Max Raskin (NYU):

CoronavirusChurches and synagogues were tragically empty [last month], among the holiest days of the year for America’s Christians and Jews. With few exceptions, the nation’s faithful found solace via computer screens and in solitary prayer, acquiescing to restrictions on their constitutional liberty that would have seemed unthinkable a few months ago.

But many are asking: How long must this go on? America was founded in no small part so that people of every creed and conviction could worship without hindrance, in accordance with conscience and tradition. ...

[I]n the days ahead, religious leaders and public health officials will need to find new ways to deal with the novel conundrums forced on us by this novel coronavirus. Fortunately, these new arrangements can be fashioned with some very old materials: the centuries-old principles of the First Amendment.

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May 17, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 16, 2020

ABA Council Approves Power To Permit Online Legal Ed During Pandemics, New Distance Ed Rules; Rejects Call To Suspend 75% Bar Passage Requirement

Following up on my previous posts (here and here):  ABA Journal, Expanded Online Law School Classes Could Continue Under Plan Endorsed by ABA Legal Ed Council:

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)The council of the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar would have more authority to enact short-term, emergency policies and procedures for schools under a proposed law school accreditation rule change endorsed Friday by the council. ...

A May 8 standards review subcommittee memo detailed the proposal, which suggests adding new language to Rule 2, authorizing the council to adopt emergency policies and procedures in response to “extraordinary circumstances” under which meeting the standards would constitute an extreme hardship for law schools. The proposal would apply to law schools regionally or nationally, not individually. ...

Separate from the rule proposal, the council Friday also voted in favor of a plan to delete Standard 306 and fold it into Standard 105, which deals with substantive changes in programs, Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, told the ABA Journal.

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May 16, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

MBA Programs Brace For Enrollment Declines, Deferrals Due To COVID-19

Following up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, M.B.A. Programs Across the Globe Anticipate Drop in Fall Enrollment:

Business schools in the U.S. and abroad are bracing for a decline in enrollment for the rest of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic upends higher education and threatens already-fragile graduate programs.

In past years, an economic downturn typically results in an uptick in prospective students going to business school because they are eager to get a leg up in a tough job market. But the current threat of Covid-19, which has cleared out college campuses and forced many schools to complete spring semesters online, coupled with a recession is shaping up to be different.

Nearly half of business schools now say they expect enrollment to slide for academic terms that start within the next six months, according to a survey released Thursday by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the business-school accrediting firm.

Wall Street Journal, Top MBA Programs Ponder Deferrals:

Business schools are weighing whether to allow admitted students to postpone enrollment by a year or two as colleges and universities across the U.S. grapple with whether and how to reopen campuses this fall.

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May 16, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Modeling The Spread Of COVID-19 At UCLA

Daily Bruin, Modeling the Spread of COVID-19 in UCLA Classrooms:

Key takeaways

  • According to our model of the undergraduate student network, each UCLA student shares a class with 228 other students on average.
  • Our simulation shows that with an R0 value of 5.7, 94% of UCLA undergraduates could be infected by the end of fall quarter, and with an R0 value of 2.0, 8% of UCLA undergraduates could be infected.

Introduction
In the middle of a global pandemic, uncertainty has become the new normal. Many states across the country are now beginning to lift restrictions, but colleges must weigh the difficult decision of how to keep students and staff safe while still providing a quality education. While UCLA has already decided to move summer sessions A and C online, the fate of fall quarter is still up in the air. Crowded lecture halls and dorm rooms make it nearly impossible for students to practice social distancing without a disruption to normal college life. As UCLA grapples with whether to welcome students back to campus in the fall, The Stack examines how quickly COVID-19 could spread through the undergraduate student body. Inspired by professor Kim Weeden’s model of course enrollment networks at Cornell University, we created our own model of how connected UCLA students are based on the classes they enroll in. We also thank Professor Mason Porter and Professor Stephanie Wang from the UCLA Math department for providing guidance on modeling the student networks and for their constructive comments in the development of this piece. ...

In our model network, students had an average of 228 connections. We ran the simulation 100 times from week 0 to finals week with an R0 value of 5.7, and found that on average, 94% of students were infected by the end of fall quarter. The peak of new cases occurred at week 6 with over 11,000 new cases. With a smaller R0 of 2.0, we found that 8% of students were infected by the end of fall quarter. We also calculated the average number of infections over 100 runs for several different values of R0. The following chart shows the number of people infected on average through the 11 weeks, for varying values of R0:

UCLA 2

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May 15, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Do Faculty Have The Right To Refuse To Teach In The Fall Due To COVID-19?

Inside Higher Ed, Do Faculty Have The Right To Refuse To Teach In The Fall Due To COVID-19?:

CoronavirusAs colleges and universities agonize over whether students will return in the fall, either to campus or online, they’re making a big assumption: that faculty members will show up to teach.

The expectation isn’t ill founded. Faculty jobs, especially the good ones, were hard to come by even before hundreds of institutions announced pandemic-related hiring freezes. No one wants to be out of a job right now. But no one wants to get sick, either.

Teaching online for another semester is so far outside many professors’ original job descriptions that it is nearly as unpalatable, to some, as being shut in a room with students. Even so, many professors say they'd prefer a remote term, or even a delayed academic year, to teaching face-to-face again too soon.

“So far, no one has really talked about protecting the faculty,” said Alan Czyzewski, a professor of accounting at Indiana State University who is over 60 and statistically at a greater risk of falling ill with COVID-19 than many of his students and some of his colleagues. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t be doing everything we can for students, but the faculty are equally important. If we get sick, or three to four of us get sick all at the same time, who’s going to be teaching class?” ...

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May 14, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Graduate Degrees Dramatically Boost Job Prospects During A Pandemic

Inside Higher Ed, Graduate Degrees Boost Job Prospects During Pandemic More Than Others:

Researchers expected any kind of higher education to boost job prospects for Americans recently out of work. But they found those with graduate degrees are doing better than other degree holders.

It’s been well accepted for years that a college degree makes it easier to get a job. A new survey shows that amid the coronavirus pandemic, that may not be true across the board.

More than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began, and the nationwide unemployment rate has climbed to 14.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Strada Education Network survey released Wednesday shows that more than half of Americans have lost jobs, hours or income as a result of the pandemic. Of those people, graduate and professional degree holders are more likely to have started a new job in the past month than people with a bachelor’s degree, associate or vocational degree, some college education, or a high school diploma or less. 

IHE

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May 14, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Boston University Probes Cheating On Online Exams During COVID-19

Boston Globe, BU Investigating Whether Students Cheated on Online Exams:

Boston UniversityBoston University is investigating whether some students in classes including chemistry and physics have cheated on quizzes and exams now that they are taking them online, far from campus and the watchful gaze of professors and teaching assistants.

The university has launched a probe into whether students used online resources, such as Chegg, a California-based company that provides tutoring services, to get answers to exams while taking them from their homes, according to BU officials.

The potential cheating scandal has sparked a flurry of messages in online chat rooms and has highlighted a potential flaw in this new, remote learning and testing environment that undergraduates and faculty members have been thrust into due to the pandemic. ...

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May 12, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

UC-Hastings Sues San Francisco Over ‘Insufferable’ Sidewalk Conditions Amid COVID-19

The Recorder, UC Hastings, Other Tenderloin Residents Sue San Francisco Over ‘Insufferable’ Sidewalk Conditions Amid COVID-19:

UC Hastings LogoA coalition of businesses and residents of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, led by the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, have sued the city and county claiming that government officials have allowed the area to become “a containment zone” for drug and homelessness issues in the city.

The federal lawsuit, filed Monday by lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger in San Francisco and Greenberg Gross in Los Angeles, claims that the number of homeless people in tents on sidewalks in the working-class neighborhood has more than doubled since March when local “shelter in place” orders took effect to combat the spread of COVID-19. ...

David Faigman, chancellor and dean of UC Hastings, said Monday that the lawsuit was seeking a safe and healthy environment for the school’s “housed and unhoused neighbors.” The dean said that the school had “no other options and no more time to wait.” ...

The lawsuit notes that students who decline offers of admission to the law school frequently cite the conditions in the neighborhood as a significant factor in their decisions. According to the complaint, one such student responded to a 2020 survey from the school saying: “One of the big reasons I did not go to Hastings is the homeless population surrounding the campus. I quite honestly did not feel safe, and I could not imagine walking home alone at night. I was looking forward to living in San Francisco but was shocked by the magnitude of the drug use surrounding the campus. … My family was harassed and approached by a drug dealer when walking around the campus. I could not imagine attending school in a place where this is a daily occurrence.”

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May 12, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Businessweek Suspends MBA Rankings Due To COVID-19; Will US News Follow Suit? What About Law School Rankings?

Following up on my previous post, GMAC, Accreditors Seek To Postpone Business School Rankings During COVID-19:

COVID-19 US NewsPoets&Quants, Businessweek Agrees To Suspend Its MBA Ranking This Year:

Bloomberg Businessweek, which annually publishes one of the five most influential rankings of MBA programs, today (May 7) announced that it would suspend its 2020 ranking due to the disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Poets&Quants, Wimps: Will U.S. News Chicken Out & Pause Its MBA Ranking?:

The wimpy decision to pause one of the five most influential MBA rankings comes less than two weeks after the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT exam, and two business school accreditation agencies asked ranking organizations, including Businessweek, to halt their work and postpone the publication of their lists.

Sad to say, Businessweek‘s ranking has waned in importance over the years after a series of abrupt methodology changes and highly inconsistent an less-than-credible results. ... It is one thing, however, for Businessweek to pause its ranking–part of which is based on employment statistics that are more than a year old. It is an entirely another thing for U.S. News & World Report, the most followed MBA ranking in North America, or the Financial Times, the most influential ranking in Europe and Asia, to halt publication of their rankings. Both of these media organizations gather freshly issued metrics that help inform the applicant market, allowing candidates to compare and contrast these schools far beyond any numerical rank they are given.

In fact, the release of those metrics, made uniform by the reporting requirements imposed on schools by U.S. News and the FT, is especially critical in this year made turbulent by the coronavirus outbreak and the global recession. Transparency is more critical today than ever before. Applicants should have access to timely metrics that will likely show which schools have best weathered the storm at hand. ...

Bob Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News, has told Poets&Quants that “the team at U.S. News continues to monitor the unprecedented disruptions to business schools themselves, their current students and prospective students caused by COVID 19.  As a result, we’re still reviewing our strategies for both our next U.S. News Full-time and Part-time Best Business Schools rankings and fall 2020 data collection.”

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May 12, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Universities, Colleges, And Law Schools Plan To Be Open On Campus This Fall

Mike Spivey, Universities, Colleges, and Law Schools Plan to Be Open On Campus This Fall:

CoronavirusJust about every college, university, and law school — in fact, every college, university, and law school we’ve spoken to; we’ve spoken to chancellors, presidents, provosts, and deans — plans to be open, on campus. ...

[W]hat about law schools? It’s a whole different entity because you don’t have dorms. They have a lot more flexibility because they’re smaller; they can have different methods of educational platform delivery because of the smaller sizes. I think that makes them more nimble. They’re going to look a lot different; it's interesting because we’ve talked to a lot of deans of law schools, this is where our firm got its genesis and where we have our most experience. Again, the theme is on campus. They want to be on campus; they want to educate in person. Faculty will likely be in the building, and they will be in the classroom, but they’ll also likely be in their offices. Law schools have the ability, again unlike a dorm, to test people every day, so you can test people entering and exiting. So they will be on campus. The plan for most law schools is to at least record but also potentially simulcast every single class — so for example, for international students, a class could be simulcast. Although, that gets kind of interesting because of time zones. If you’re nine time zones away, should you be required to attend a class at 3:00 in the morning? I mean, I guess if you work at the Gates Foundation, the answer is yes, you’re up at 3:00 AM. So maybe they’ll be recorded. There are some scenarios where maybe there will be 1Ls on campus but 2Ls and 3Ls will be online. That again helps with the mitigation, the social distancing. There are scenarios, potentially, where students will have a lot more say in whether they can just choose to take classes online, but law schools by and large — the ones we've talked to, which again are numerous — are going full throttle with planning to have at least an on-campus component, but with the backup — for anyone who doesn’t want to be there, anyone who can’t be there for international reasons, or certainly for preexisting conditions or symptomatic reasons — of recorded classes or simulcast classes online.

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May 12, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Google Cuts Off Free Food For Its Employees Working From Home During COVID-19

CNBC, Google Tells Employees They Can’t Expense Food or Other Perks When Working From Home:

Google (2019)Google employees won’t be able to expense food or gym costs while working from home — even if they have extra money from unused event or travel budgets.

The company issued an updated policy in the last week that states employees cannot expense perks while working from home, including food, fitness, home office furniture, decoration or gifts, according to materials viewed by CNBC.

The policy also states that employees cannot use unused budgets to do things like purchase meals for themselves or their teams during virtual meetings or donate to charities of their choice.

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May 12, 2020 in Coronavirus, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (3)

Good College (And Law School) Teaching Does Not Require Sharing Air With Students

San Francisco Chronicle op-ed:  Good College Teaching Does Not Require Sharing Air With Students, by Michael Hunter Schwartz (Interim Provost, Pacific):

Zoom 49Online college teaching, like in-person college teaching, is effective or ineffective, inspiring or soul-sucking, rigorous or lax, based entirely on what the professor does to engage, connect with, and challenge the students. ...

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to reconsider some of our assumptions about the world. Maybe it’s time we also reconsider our understanding of good teaching. I write from the perspective of having taught law for more than a quarter century and having both taken an online college class (about 20 years ago) and taught one (last spring). ...

Poor in-person teaching happens every day at every university. ... Poor online teaching also happens every day. ...

But great teaching and deep learning also happen online. ... What matters are active learning experiences that cause students to practice recalling and applying what they heard. The most effective teachers, whether they are teaching in person or online, plan their class sessions so that students devote the bulk of their time to using what they are learning.

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May 12, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, May 11, 2020

57 Deans Ask Massachusetts To Not Discriminate Against Graduates Of Out-Of-State Law Schools In Sitting For September Bar Exam

Following up on my previous post, Massacuhsetts Will Give Priority To Graduates From Massachusetts' 8 Law Schools For Limited Spots To Take September Bar Exam (May 5, 2020):

Mass Bar (2020)Deans Ask Massachusetts To Not Discriminate Against Graduates Of Out-Of-State Law Schools In Sitting For September Bar Exam (May 7, 2020):

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
John Adams Courthouse
1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500,
Boston, MA 02108

Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 5-140
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Chief Justice Gants and Mr. Harris,

We are deans of law schools across the country who have students who sit for the bar examination in your state each year. We write in response to the recent announcement of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners:

“Should the number of applicants to sit for this administration of the Massachusetts UBE exceed the number of available seats, access to available seats will be prioritized, as follows.

1. All graduates of law schools located in Massachusetts who have met all requirements of S.J.C. Rule 3:01 and who are sitting for the bar exam for a first time or a second time will be provided a seat for the exam, regardless of the date of the filing of the Petition for Admission to the Massachusetts bar.”

We recognize that this decision is framed against the need to protect public health in the midst of a pandemic that has brought devastating loss of life. And we are mindful of the very difficult decisions and trade-offs that all institutions, including your Court and your Board, must make at this time.

Still, as you can imagine, the news of your approach has fallen hard on the many students who had planned to sit for the bar in Massachusetts this summer or fall, a number of whom are Massachusetts residents and have already physically returned or relocated to Massachusetts during this pandemic. And we worry that the resulting delay in the exam’s administration and admission to practice will fall hardest on the most economically vulnerable of our graduates and on those whose continued presence in the United States will be compromised by the delay.

We stand ready to help find solutions that could expand testing capacity in feasible ways. We write collectively to offer our support to put in place some combination of the following measures to mitigate the effect of your April 30 decision on graduates from out-of-state schools:

• Offering second dates for Massachusetts’ administration of the UBE in the September 9-10 sitting that will be offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners;
• Increasing seating for Massachusetts’ September 30-October 1 administration of the UBE by adding new locations within Massachusetts;
• Creating seats for Massachusetts’ administration of the UBE outside of Massachusetts, including, potentially, using some of our schools as possible venues;
• Working to develop an on-line bar exam, either in conjunction with the NCBE or as a freestanding Massachusetts exam.

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May 11, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Late Is Late! The Impact Of COVID-19 On Filing Petitions

Tax Court CoronavirusA recurring issue in Tax Court litigation is the timeliness of petitions.  Currently the rules are strict.  While the Tax Court has used some very creative legal reasoning over the years to find some small stretch in the statutes, it steadfastly holds to the view that it is powerless to apply basic and well-settled equitable principles to stretch the statutes any further.  Thus Tax Court judges routinely, and reluctantly, kick taxpayers out of court.

Today’s case shows both the routine and the rigidity of the Tax Court’s approach to petition timing rules.  It’s a timely lesson because the COVID-19 pandemic has huge potential to create significant litigation on this issue.  I predict there will be many late-filed petitions that, in equity and good conscience, should be heard, but will have to be dismissed unless (1) the Court changes its mind and begins to apply well-settled equitable principles to alter statutory timing requirements or (2) Congress explicitly grants the Court authority to apply timing rules using equity. 

In Bryce Kent Smith & Natosha Ann Smith v. Commissioner, Docket No. 3463-20 (Order of Dismissal)(May 7, 2020) (Judge Foley), the taxpayers filed their petition timely but filed with the IRS.  By the time it got to the Court it was three days late.  And late is late!  The Court dismissed the petition.  Details below the fold.

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May 11, 2020 in Bryan Camp, Coronavirus, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

July 2020 Bar Exam Status By Jurisdiction

National Conference of Bar Examiners, July 2020 Bar Exam Status by Jurisdiction (as of May 8, 2020):

Jurisdictions-2020-Exam-Map

Table Format

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May 10, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

July Bar Exam Update: Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, South Dakota

CoronavirusSupreme Court of Alabama, In re: July 2020 Alabama Bar Examination (May 8, 2020):

[A]pplicants shall be eligible to participate as student interns, as defined by the Alabama Rule for Legal Internship by Law Students, by satisfying all requirements of said rule, with the following temporary exceptions:
1. Applicants shall not be required to satisfy the law student registration requirement of Rule I.A of the Rules Governing Admission to the Alabama State Bar;
2. An applicant shall be permitted to participate as a student intern until the earlier of: (1) the applicant’s date of admission to the Alabama State Bar; or (2) the date of release of results of the February 2021 bar exam. 

Indiana Supreme Court, In the Matter of the July 2020 Indiana Bar Examination (May 7, 2020):

On April 8, 2020, the Court entered an Order in which it indicated that it would announce its plan for the administration of the July 2020 Indiana bar examination on or before May 8, 2020. As a result of the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear whether the State Board of Law Examiners will be able to safely administer a two-day, inperson Indiana bar examination on July 28-29, 2020 as scheduled or at any later date in calendar year 2020.

The Supreme Court therefore ORDERS that the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners shall conduct a one-day bar examination administered remotely on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The examination shall consist of the Indiana Essay Examination and a series of short answer questions on the topics tested on the Multistate Bar Examination. ...

Additional information regarding delivery of the online bar examination, including plans for proctoring, will be provided by the State Board of Law Examiners to bar exam applicants, law schools, bar review courses and other interested parties by May 28, 2020.

The Louisiana Supreme Court and Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions Announce Changes to July 2020 Bar Examinations (May 8, 2020):

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May 10, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Christian Perspective On COVID-19: Pray, Trust, Act, And Hope

Christian Coronavirus

Mike Paulsen (St. Thomas), our Straus Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law this semester, wrote this wonderful Easter letter to his 1L students: Pray, Trust, Act, and Hope:

Many of us—most of us, probably—are experiencing spiritual anguish and uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic. What follows is a letter I sent to my law students at Pepperdine, where I am visiting this semester. Several had asked “what I thought,” specifically as a Christian (and not just as a law professor) about all this. This was my heartfelt but decidedly non-expert response to the class.

I share it here, more or less as it went to my students, and invite you to “listen in”—on the beginnings of a conversation doubtless common among all struggling believers. It runs the range of emotions that parallel Holy Week—anguish, fervent prayer, faith in the midst of pain and grief, fear and doubt, and finally the expectant hope of restoration and God’s ultimate victory over evil.

Dear beloved Constitutional Law students:

This is not part of the assigned reading. (But some of you might find it to be of a tad bit more interest than the cases on the Commerce Clause.)

Some of you have asked me “what I think about all this” as a Christian—“all this” being the coronavirus, how to respond to it from the perspective of faith, how to maintain perspective, how to be. I know that some of you are experiencing pain, anguish, fear, and grief. You are not alone. And you’re looking for answers—or at least a framework for thinking about these things: something to hold on to. You are not alone on this score. I wish I knew and had all the answers. I don’t. I am writing this for you, even as I am working out my own thoughts and emotions.

I thought a good way to organize my thinking was to frame the question in terms of what Christians (and other persons of faith) can do. How should we respond? How should we react, spiritually, to all this? How do we process it?

My answer breaks down into four categories: Pray. Trust. Act. Hope. I’ll offer some thoughts on each.

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May 10, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 9, 2020

ABA Fast Tracks Proposal To Waive Accreditation Standards Due To COVID-19

ABA Journal, ABA Legal Ed Section Contemplates Rule Change in Light of Novel Coronavirus:

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)A proposal to change an ABA law school accreditation rule, which would allow for temporary relief in regional and national emergencies, is now being considered.

It will be discussed May 15, when the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar meets remotely. In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, some deans have concerns about whether potential distance learning classes in the fall will meet ABA accreditation standards.

A May 8 standards review subcommittee memo details the proposal, which suggests adding new language to Rule 2, authorizing the council to adopt emergency policies and procedures in response to “extraordinary circumstances” in which compliance with the standards “would create or constitute extreme hardship for multiple law schools.”

ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Memorandum on Proposed Changes to Rule 2 (May 8, 2020):

Attached are a proposed change to Rule 2 with an Explanation and a redlined copy showing the proposed changes to the Rule. As you will see, this proposed change would permit the Council to provide temporary relief from a rule or the requirements of a standard to allow law schools to respond to a regional or national emergency, such as weather disasters and pandemics. The relief granted would be effective only for the duration of the extraordinary circumstance and only to the extent specifically provided.

The proposed change is necessary because we are unsure of what the fall semester will bring with the COVID-19 pandemic, or what the Department of Education will permit accreditors to do to meet the continued emergency. The SRS recommends approval of this proposed change for Notice and Comment. If approved, the Notice and Comment process will be fast-tracked with the intent to submit the proposed changes to the House of Delegates for its August 2020 meeting so that the Council will be in a position to address potential pandemic issues that may arise for the fall semester. This fast-tracking will necessitate a July online Council meeting for the purpose of approving the final recommendation of the SRS following the Notice and Comment period. ...

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May 9, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Releases 9-Part Questionnaire On Law School Responses To COVID-19 In The Spring 2020 Semester

The ABA yesterday released a 9-part questionnaire on law school responses to COVID-19 in the spring 2020 semester:

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)To what extent did your school shorten the academic calendar for the spring 2020 semester:
a. did not shorten ___
b. shortened by ____ weeks
If the semester was shortened by more than one week, briefly describe the steps that were taken to make up any missed time or otherwise ensure that the learning outcomes, competencies, and/or knowledge requirements in each course were achieved in compliance with the Standards.

NOTE: All schools should answer Questions 2-8. For schools with a distance education variance, the questions should be answered as they relate to the school’s program of legal education not governed by the variance. For the legal education programs governed by the variance, Question 9 asks for a description of what modifications were made to those programs.

2. In the spring 2020 semester, did your school convert scheduled in-person courses to distance education courses as defined in Standard 306(a)? YES ___ NO ___
If YES,
a. On what date did the change to distance education class sessions take place?
b. In one to five sentences, describe how the distance education was delivered (e.g., synchronously, asynchronously, using what platform, etc.)
c. In one to five sentences, describe how the school provided adequate training and support to faculty and students in converting any courses to distance education.
d. In one to five sentences, describe how the school ensured adequate hardware, software, and network capacity were available to faculty and students.

3. Did your school modify its requirements for courses qualifying as experiential learning courses under Standard 303?
If YES, in one to five sentences, describe the modifications made (e.g., permitting remote work for placement sites, assigning alternative work to meet the required hours, etc.).

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May 9, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas A&M Law Faculty Musical Salute To Graduates: We Will, We Will, Zoom You

Friday, May 8, 2020

Florida To Proceed With July Bar Exam With Temperature Checks, Social Distancing, Masks, And 14-Day Quarantines For Out-Of-State Applicants

Florida Board of Bar Examiners Release (May 5, 2020):

Florida BarThe Florida Board of Bar Examiners, with the approval of the Supreme Court of Florida, plans to proceed with the administration of the General Bar Examination on July 28 and 29, 2020 in accordance with Rule 4-14 of the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar.

The Board has been working closely with the Florida Department of Health (“FDOH”) and other medical experts to identify and implement protocols that the FDOH requires for the safe administration of the exam for all involved, including applicants, administrators, and proctors. Those protocols will include:

  • Administration in Tampa and Orlando. The Board will administer the July 2020 General Bar Examination at the Tampa Convention Center and the Orange County Convention Center to create additional space for social distancing. The Board will assign each applicant to either Tampa or Orlando.
  • Screening Questions and Temperature Checks. FDOH officials will ask screening questions and check the temperature of all applicants, administrators, and proctors before they can enter an exam site. Applicants with a temperature of 100.4° or higher will not be allowed to sit for the exam. Applicants who leave the exam site will be required to be screened again before re-entry.
  • Social Distancing. Only one applicant will sit at a table, and tables will be at least six feet apart in all directions. Applicants must remain six feet apart when in line to enter or exit an exam site and during the administration of the exam.
  • Wearing Masks. All applicants will be required to wear a mask during the exam and when in line to enter or exit an exam site. Applicants will not be allowed to sit for the exam if they do not wear masks. Applicants will be asked to leave the exam if they remove their mask during the exam. Administrators and proctors also must wear masks.
  • Out of State Applicants. The Governor of the State of Florida has issued Executive Orders 20-82 and 20-86 relating to persons traveling to Florida from out of state. Based on these or any subsequent Executive Orders, applicants traveling to Florida for the bar exam may be required to quarantine for 14 days or some other time period prior to the start of the examination.

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May 8, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professor Group Calls For Suspension Of ABA Accreditation Standard 316 Requiring 75% Bar Passage Within Two Years Due To COVID-19

Society of American Law Teachers, SALT Calls for Suspension of ABA Standard 316:

SALT LogoIn light of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting disruptions of bar-exam administration, SALT has called upon the Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar to suspend ABA Standard 316. The standard, as part of the law-school accreditation process, requires that at least 75% of a law school’s graduates have passed the bar exam within two years of graduation. As SALT’s statement (below) makes clear, the pandemic renders uncertain the ability of law-school graduates to take and pass the bar in the near future. Applying Standard 316 in this environment would render uncertain the status of law schools with high percentages of graduates disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Suspending Standard 316 is a reasonable accommodation to the current crisis.

SALT Calls on the Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar of the ABA to Suspend ABA Standard 316:

COVID-19 disruptions to the 2020 bar exam nationwide necessitates that ABA Standard 316, Bar Passage, be suspended.

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May 8, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

If Law Schools Can’t Offer In-Person Classes This Fall, What Will They Do Instead?

ABA Journal, If Law Schools Can’t Offer In-Person Classes This Fall, What Will They Do Instead?:

CoronavirusStudents may not feel safe attending courses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s also true for professors, say law school deans, many of whom want in-person classes this fall but are making various plans they hope meet ABA accreditation standards. ...

Some deans predict law schools will have hybrid courses in the fall, with both in-person and remote class time.

“We have to do what is best for the health of our students and faculty, and I am sure that in the pandemic, regulatory bodies will be reasonable about this,” says Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Other deans are less confident and wonder if they will need accommodations for the ABA’s distance education standard.

Under ABA Standard 306, law schools can offer up to one-third of their credits online, 10 of which can be for first-year classes. In February, the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar published a guidance memo, which stated distance learning could be a good solution for emergency situations where law school facilities are unavailable or something makes it hard for students to get to the campus. ... However, some deans question if the writing will extend through the fall. ...

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May 8, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Advice To Law Students In The Time Of Covid-19: Your Path To Big Law

Law.com, Advice to Law Students in the Time of Covid-19: Your Path to Big Law:

CoronavirusWe don’t know how long this recession will last. We do know it will change Big Law hiring numbers, timing and processes. If you’re one of the many talented, driven, prelawyer types whose plans just took a jolt, let me say I’m really sorry. This is no fault of yours, and it stinks. But it has happened, so how should you respond to it all? Let me start with two particulars on how firms hire, turn to their implications for particular cohorts of candidates and conclude with important themes for all would-be recruits.

Hiring’s Third Dimension: Success-Oriented Behaviors
A decade ago, firms looked for two things in candidates: smarts and interpersonal skills. The former was appraised based on academics and that later based on chatty in-person interviews. Over the past decade, things changed. Firms did some form of study of the characteristics of recruits that correlate with success at the firm. Success was measured as longevity (i.e., how long a recruit stays, the logic being that hiring and training associates is a major investment; associates have to stay five years to provide a decent return, and longer—through to partner—if they’re to be part of successfully building the institution.

The studies typically produced three findings that, in retrospect, should not have been surprising. First, regarding “smarts,” the studies showed no correlation between smarts (measured by GPA, prestige of law school or college, clerkships, etc.) and success at the firm. Indeed, in some ways, there was a negative linkage (e.g. associates from the elite law schools didn’t stay as long as their less-credentialed contemporaries).

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May 8, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

New York Should Replace Discriminatory Bar Exam Plan With Emergency Licensure Open To All Law School Graduates

Following up on this morning's post, 54 More Deans Ask New York To Not Discriminate Against Graduates Of Out-Of-State Law Schools In Sitting For September Bar Exam:

Bloomberg Law op-ed:  New York’s Bar Exam Changes Are Misguided—Here’s a New Proposal, by Claudia Angelos (NYU), Eileen Kaufman (Touro), Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State) & Patricia E. Salkin (Touro):

NYSBA (2017)Jurisdictions around the country are struggling to offer the bar exam during the Covid-19 pandemic. The difficulties are particularly acute in New York, which hosts about 10,000 bar takers each July, has been hit hard by the pandemic, and faces an increasingly desperate need for legal services throughout the state. ...

The New York Court of Appeals moved quickly to acknowledge the public health realities, postponing the July exam until September and announcing plans for a distinguished working group to explore contingency plans if that exam, too, needs to be canceled or postponed.

But the court has issued a plan for the September exam that is misguided: the plan confirms that there will be insufficient seats for all candidates wishing to take the exam; prioritizes graduates of New York law schools for claiming seats; and encourages graduates to take the exam in other states.

The announcement makes clear that New York needs to find another means for licensing new lawyers. The court should be facilitating, not obstructing, entry to the profession at a time when clients desperately need legal help and new lawyers are eager and ready to work.

We write here to propose what New York should do, as a practical, policy, and constitutional matter, in order to maintain entry to the profession.

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May 7, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Finding Real Life In Teaching Law Online

The New Yorker:  Finding Real Life in Teaching Law Online, by Jeannie Suk Gersen (Harvard):

New Yorker (2014)During my first year teaching at Harvard Law School, I fell flat on my face. In addition to prepping for class like a maniac, I spent an inordinate amount of time cultivating a professional aura. I always dressed up for class, did my hair, and put on makeup. One day, I found myself late getting to class. In my pencil skirt and heels, I entered the amphitheatre-style classroom from the back. My fifty students were already seated and ready. Rushing down the gauntlet of steps toward the podium, carrying my casebook, teaching notes, seating chart, and a hot tea, I felt my ankle buckle. Everything flew out of my hands and I face-planted. The univocal gasp of my students still haunts my nightmares. I thought, in that moment, that my teaching career was over, but I got up, walked to the podium, and began teaching the class, because I didn’t know what else to do. I was immediately more relaxed and comfortable than I’d ever been in the classroom—and so, it seemed, were my students, who loosened up immensely.

Earlier this month, I logged in to Zoom to teach my constitutional-law class. That day, we were covering the gay-rights and same-sex-marriage cases. I looked at my hundred and fifteen students’ faces Brady Bunched onscreen and got the first sentence out—and realized my voice was quivering and my face was contorting. I was crying in class. A friend had died in the hospital the previous evening, after years of serious pulmonary illness and a double lung transplant. I told my students and asked for a minute to turn off my camera. When I returned, the group chat had exploded with messages of support from students, which made me cry more. Loss and sadness now in the open, we continued on with learning the Supreme Court’s due-process and equal-protection doctrines.

As we move toward the end of the school year in lockdown, the need to practice social distancing has made teaching and learning online the norm. And, though most schools have not made official decisions about what to do for this coming fall, they are being forced to consider continuing with online instruction if the pandemic doesn’t abate. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine how, having sent students away as the virus spread, universities could welcome them back to classrooms and dormitories in the absence of a vaccine.

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May 7, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

COVID-19 Is Disproportionately Impacting Research By Women Faculty

The Lily, Women Academics Seem to be Submitting Fewer Papers During Coronavirus. ‘Never Seen Anything Like It,’ Says One Editor:

CoronavirusMen are submitting up to 50 percent more than they usually would.

Six weeks into widespread self-quarantine, editors of academic journals have started noticing a trend: Women — who inevitably shoulder a greater share of family responsibilities — seem to be submitting fewer papers. This threatens to derail the careers of women in academia, says Leslie Gonzales, a professor of education administration at Michigan State University, who focuses on strategies for diversifying the academic field: When institutions are deciding who to grant tenure to, how will they evaluate a candidate’s accomplishments during coronavirus?

“We don’t want a committee to look at the outlier productivity of, say, a white hetero man with a spouse at home and say, ‘Well, this person managed it,’” says Gonzales. “We don’t want to make that our benchmark.” ...

[T]the anecdotes are consistent with broader patterns in academia, says Gonzales: If men and women are at home, men “find a way” to do more academic work.

When men take advantage of “stop the clock” policies, taking a year off the tenure-track after having a baby, studies show they’ll accomplish far more professionally than their female colleagues, who tend to spend that time focused primarily or solely on child care. Some of the responsibilities are determined by biology: If a woman chooses to breast-feed, that takes up hours every day. Women also face a physical recovery from giving birth.

Inside Higher Ed, Early Journal Submission Data Suggest Covid-19 Tanking Womens Research Productivity:

It was easy to foresee: within academe, female professors would bear the professional brunt of social distancing during COVID-19, in the form of decreased research productivity.

Now the evidence is starting to emerge. Editors of two journals say that they’re observing unusual, gendered patterns in submissions. In each case, women are losing out.

Editors of a third journal have said that overall submissions by women are up right now, but that solo-authored articles by women are down substantially.

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May 7, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Bar Exam Does Little To Ensure Attorney Competence, Say Lawyers In Diploma Privilege State

ABA Journal, Bar Exam Does Little to Ensure Attorney Competence, Say Lawyers in Diploma Privilege State:

CoronavirusIn his 60 years of law practice, Milwaukee attorney Franklyn M. Gimbel has known good and bad attorneys. And, according to him, whether they passed a bar exam, which in Wisconsin is not required for most in-state law school graduates, has no bearing on their lawyering abilities or character.

“I know a lot of lawyers who have misbehaved—I’ve represented some of them,” says the former State Bar of Wisconsin president. “While the bar exams have become more difficult and longer, I’m not sure if you look at a lawyer a couple of decades down the road that the bar exam really was a filter.”

Wisconsin is the only state in the nation with what is known as diploma privilege, whereby in-state law school graduates can become lawyers without sitting for the bar, but many law school students—and some deans—are now urging other states to adopt the licensing procedure in the event that the July bar exam can not be administered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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May 6, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

CLEA Statement On The July 2020 Bar Examination

Clinical Legal Education Association, Statement of the CLEA Board of Directors on the 2020 Bar Examination:

CLEA 3The Clinical Legal Education Association (“CLEA”), the nation’s largest association of law professors, urges State authorities in charge of attorney licensure to promulgate rules and policies in response to the current pandemic that expand the availability of legal representation for underserved clients and equitably account for the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on recent law school graduates. In the face of this unprecedented crisis, we are called to work together to protect each other. We must be pragmatic, flexible and caring. While we are strongly drawn to precedent and tradition, as are all lawyers, we urge that strict adherence to the current model of a single, high stakes, timed bar examination as the primary gatekeeper to the profession will needlessly exacerbate inequality and further injustice during this pandemic.

As this crisis has developed, a number of approaches to bar licensure have emerged. Some jurisdictions have announced plans to postpone the bar exam a few months and then require applicants to sit for the traditional exam. These plans seem not to fully grapple with the difficult situation in which we find ourselves. CLEA joins others in calling for jurisdictions to adopt alternatives to the bar exam, such as supervised practice, sequential licensing, and diploma privileges. We recognize that one size may not fit all and that solutions will vary according to the needs and circumstances of each locale. Nevertheless, one thing is certain – this is not a time for business as usual.

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May 6, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NCBE July Bar Exam Update

National Conference of Bar Examiners, Update (May 5, 2020):

NCBE (2020)As of May 5, 19 jurisdictions have announced that they intend to cancel or postpone the July bar exam; the other jurisdictions either plan to go ahead with the July exam or have not yet made a decision. Based on this information, NCBE has determined that there will most likely be a sufficient number of July examinees to administer the bar exam. Accordingly, we plan to make our exam materials (MBE, MEE, and MPT) available to those jurisdictions that choose to administer an exam in July.

As we announced on April 3, NCBE is also making additional sets of exam materials available for two fall administrations for those jurisdictions that have delayed their July exams or decided to offer an additional administration in the fall in the event they must limit seating for the July exam. For information about jurisdiction announcements, visit our July 2020 Bar Exam: Jurisdiction Information page.

We also continue to study and formulate options for an emergency remote assessment for those jurisdictions that cannot administer an in-person bar exam due to COVID-19 restrictions.

We will continue to work closely with jurisdictions in the weeks ahead to help ensure that law graduates have the answers they need as they prepare for licensure.

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May 6, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Faces $1.2 Billion Shortfall Due To COVID-19

Following up on my previous posts:

Bloomberg, Harvard Sees $1.2 Billion Revenue Shortfall Due to Pandemic:

Harvard University, the richest U.S. college, is forecasting a revenue shortfall of nearly $1.2 billion over two academic years, showing how the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic are crippling schools.

Harvard faces a drop of $415 million in anticipated revenue for the year ending June 30, and a further $750-million shortfall compared to budgeted expectations for the year beginning July 1, Executive Vice President Katie Lapp said in a statement Tuesday. ...

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May 6, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)