Paul L. Caron
Dean



Friday, August 7, 2020

NY Times: The U.S. Is Pursuing The Worst Possible COVID-19 Education Policy, Forcing Young Children Online While Risking On-Ground Classes For College Students

New York Times:  The United States Is Reopening Many of the Wrong Schools, by Susan Dynarski (Michigan):

When it is safe enough to return to school, young children would benefit the most. Yet financial pressures are pushing colleges to reopen most rapidly, an economist says.

With coronavirus cases spiking in dozens of states, the prospect of anything resembling a normal school year is fading fast.

Schools can’t safely reopen if infections are exploding in the communities they serve.

But in regions where the pandemic appears to be under control, it is most important to get the youngest children back into school buildings, to stop the alarming slide in their learning. Older students, especially those in college, are better equipped to cope with the difficulties of online education.

That is the broad consensus among experts on back-to-school priorities. But, as things stand now, much of the United States is preparing to do exactly the opposite.

In many towns, college students are more likely than kindergartners to return to school for in-person instruction. An example is my home of Ann Arbor, Mich., where schoolchildren will be learning completely online and university students will be attending at least some classes in person. ...

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August 7, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 31, 2020

Bar Exam Taker Tests Positive For COVID-19

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Colorado Bar Exam Taker Tests Positive for COVID-19, Prompting Warnings:

CoronavirusA person who sat for Colorado’s in-person bar exam this week has tested positive for COVID-19, and officials are urging those who took the test in the same room to closely monitor themselves for coronavirus symptoms.

There were 20 other people taking the exam with the infected candidate in the room at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, said Jessica Yates, attorney regulation counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court on Thursday. ...

Colorado is among the 23 jurisdictions that administered in-person bar exams July 28 and 29. The state’s supreme court earlier this month rejected a petition to adopt an emergency diploma privilege that would allow law graduates to be licensed without taking the bar exam. Diploma privilege advocates across the country have argued that it’s too dangerous to hold in-person exams when COVID-19 cases are rising in many states.

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July 31, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2020

California Deans Ask Supreme Court To Retroactively Apply Lower 139 Cut Score To February 2020 Exam-Takers

Following up on my previous post, California To Give Online Bar Exam On Oct. 5-6, Permanently Lower Cut Score, Provide Provisional Licensure For Class Of 2020 Grads:

California State Bar (2014)Letter From California Deans  to California Supreme Court (July 23, 2020):

Re: Retroactive Application of 139 Cut Score

Dear Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Associate Justices of the California Supreme Court:

As deans of California law schools, the undersigned very much appreciate this Court’s letter of July 16, 2020. We applaud your choice to forego the in-person exam in the midst of a pandemic, to create provisional licenses, and to lower the bar pass score from 144 to 139. We believe this helps meet the Court’s dual goals of fair and equal treatment of law school graduates and the protection of members of the public that utilize the services of practicing lawyers.

We write now to respectfully request that the Court allow bar admission to, at a minimum, those February 2020 exam-takers who scored between 139 and 144 on that exam. There are several reasons, both logical and practical, for this request.

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July 24, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Graduate Level Distance Learning: Enhanced Student Experience, Significant Scalability Challenges

Karen Thornton, Steven L. Schooner & Markus Speidel (all of George Washington), Graduate Level Distance Learning: Enhanced Student Experience, Significant Scalability Challenges: A Multiyear Case Study, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2020):

This article describes our experiences and "lessons learned" providing degree-based distance (online) education to graduate students (studying business, law, and policy related to government contracts or public procurement). Temporal note: our pilot, and the five years of experience described in this case study, predate the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic emergency distance teaching transition.

Among other things, we discuss our experiences with regard to fundamentally rethinking our pedagogical approach, "flipping the classroom," chunking, and scaffolded learning. We extol the benefits of working with, and being open to, advice from experienced instructional designers.

We conclude that embracing distance education, at least in a hybrid form, offers exciting opportunities for more effective teaching and student learning.

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July 23, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Diploma Privilege Approved In Louisiana, Rejected In Tennessee; Flurry Of Bar Exam Changes In Other States

Louisiana Supreme Court, Announcement Regarding 2020 Bar Examination (July 22, 2020):

Today the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an Order permitting certain “Qualified Candidates” for admission to the Louisiana State Bar to be admitted to practice without the requirement of sitting for and passing the bar examination in 2020, provided all other usual requirements for admission are met.  In addition, Qualified Candidates must complete 25 hours of continuing legal education and the Louisiana State Bar Association’s “Transition Into Practice” mentoring program by December 31, 2021.

Dissenting from the Court’s Order were Justice Jefferson D. Hughes IIIJustice James T. Genovese, and Justice William J. Crain.

The additional educational and mentoring requirements enacted in today’s Order for those Qualified Candidates who elect the emergency admissions option will serve as guardrails to ensure the competency and integrity of the newly-admitted attorneys during their first year of practice. 

Registered applicants who do not meet the definition of “Qualified Candidate” will still have two opportunities to take the bar examination in a one-day, remote format in 2020:  August 24, 2020 and October 10, 2020. 

Tennessee Supreme Court, In re: Petition For Emergency Rule Waiver (July 21, 2020):

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Reopening Plans At UC-Berkeley, Other California Campuses Fall Apart Amid Coronavirus Surge

Los Angeles Times, Reopening Plans at UC Berkeley, Other Campuses Fall Apart Amid Coronavirus Surge:

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueHopes that college life might begin a slow return to normal this fall were deflated Tuesday, when two University of California campuses announced they would begin the semester with fully remote instruction amid a pandemic surge.

UC Berkeley and UC Merced had hoped to open Aug. 26 with a mix of online, in-person and hybrid classes. But they reversed those plans as COVID-19 infections began their record-shattering increases throughout California, with cases now topping more than 400,000 and deaths, 7,800. In Los Angeles County, half of new COVID-19 cases were among those ages 18 to 40.

The UC reversals follow other decisions to do likewise by several California campuses, including USC, Pomona College and Occidental College

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July 22, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Georgetown Gives 10% Tuition Discount To Undergraduates Taking Online Classes, But Not Law Students

Washington Post, Georgetown University to Offer Tuition Breaks For Many Undergraduates This Fall:

GeorgetownGeorgetown University announced Tuesday that it will offer tuition discounts to many undergraduate students starting ­classes in August.

Students who are not invited to live on campus, which includes most upperclassmen, will receive a 10 percent cut in tuition totaling about $2,800, officials said. They said undergraduates who return to the campus in Northwest Washington will have access to services that will be unavailable to students living away from the school.

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July 22, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Do Professors Have An 'Obligation' To Teach In Person In The Fall?

Following up on last week's post on the Wall Street Journal op-ed by John Hasnas (Georgetown), Why I’ll Be Teaching On Campus This Fall:  Steven Lubet (Northwestern), Do Professors Have an "Obligation" to Teach In Person When Classes Begin?:

Like many other universities, including Northwestern, Georgetown has given faculty the choice of teaching either remotely or in-person for the coming Fall semester. I appreciate Hasna’s position; he has evaluated the risk and has chosen to accept it. ... [But y]our entire essay reads as implicit criticism of those who choose to teach remotely. You refer three times to “obligation,” while invoking the sacrifices of young people who are employed as essential workers. You do not want to “hide” from the novel coronavirus. It would be “ungenerous” if you were to teach remotely. It is your “responsibility” to be in the classroom, which is “the least I can do.” How is one to read this other than as a call to duty by the professoriate?

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July 22, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Caruso Law Hosts Webinar Today On Federal Courts In The Age Of COVID-19

COVID-19 In The Federal Courts

Pepperdine Caruso Law hosts a webinar today on Federal Courts In The Age Of COVID-19 with our three alumni U.S. District Court judges (Hon. Andre Birotte ('91), Central District of California; Hon. Charles Eskridge ('91), Southern District of Texas; and Hon. Jennifer Dorsey ('97), District of Nevada) at 3:00 p.m. ET/noon PT (free registration here).

UpdatePepperdine Caruso Law Federal Judge Alumni Discuss Courts in the Age of COVID:

Judge OCconnellDean Caron began the conversation with a tribute to the Honorable Beverly Reid O'Connell (JD '90), formerly of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California. Judge O'Connell was Pepperdine Caruso Law's first alumna to serve as a federal judge. Prior to her death in October of 2017, Judge O'Connell was a friend and mentor to the judges on the panel and a stalwart supporter of Pepperdine Caruso Law. Judge O'Connell had accepted a position as co-chair of the law school's new Board of Advisors, but unexpectedly passed away before she could preside over the board's first meeting. Pepperdine Caruso Law is grateful for all she did for the students and alumni of the law school.

The three judges on the panel began the discussion by describing their experiences on the federal bench during the COVID era. Judge Dorsey spoke of the Nevada federal courts, which began to close in mid-March. Criminal and civil proceedings continued via video and teleconferencing, which was authorized by the CARES Act. In June, some matters were resumed in the courthouse, with social distancing and a court-wide mask mandate. Most proceedings, however, are still taking place remotely.

Judge Birotte remarked that the Los Angeles courts, which were completely closed to the public beginning on March 13, are now opening in phases. Phase I of the reopening began three weeks ago with some staff returning to the courts. There have been no in-person hearings and all criminal cases have been handled by video conferencing.

Judge Eskridge commented that the Houston courts closed in late March, which was less than four months after he was confirmed to the bench. A soft reopening of the Houston courts occurred in June for filings only. It was initially decided that no trials would begin that require empaneled juries until August, but that timeline has been rescheduled to after Labor Day.

Judge Eskridge noted, with Judges Dorsey and Birotte agreeing, that lawyers are to be commended during this time for their spirited cooperation and empathetic collaboration. The judges acknowledged that the current unprecedented situation has brought out the best in the legal profession.

Judges Dorsey, Birotte, and Eskridge then turned to answering questions that included their advice to incoming law clerks, how to be effective advocates, the handling of sensitive information, and changes in cases settling, in-person depositions, and the number of COVID-related lawsuits. The three judges do not foresee any changes in externship and law clerk hiring, and Judge Dorsey offered helpful tips for students regarding job candidate interviews over zoom. They also stated that future law clerks should plan to be nimble and comfortable with circumstances changing constantly. The judges noted that the biggest issue they see moving forward will be empaneling a jury.

The three judges agreed that the biggest opportunity right now for the judiciary is the abandonment of the "That's how we've always done it" philosophy. Judge Dorsey conveyed that the embrace of technology has advantages such as allowing criminal defense attorneys to better communicate with the people they represent. Judge Birotte indicated that video and telephonic hearings are not only an efficient way to deal with matters, but are also a savings for the client and government. Judge Eskridge related that zoom and video conferencing have become the new normal, which is a technological advancement that his friend and classmate Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell advocated 10 years ago and would be pleased to see in practice today.

Pepperdine Caruso Law thanks our distinguished alumni judges for their invaluable insight.

A full recording of the event will be available soon on the Pepperdine Caruso Law channel here.

July 22, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

College Plans For On-Campus Teaching In Fall 2020 Are Crumbling

Chronicle of Higher Education, Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream Is Crumbling.:

Several prominent campuses on Monday announced reversals of prior fall reopening plans as Covid-19 case counts surge across the country. Coming after months of expressed optimism about the possibility of in-person operations, the announcements signal a retreat from those projections that may grow to a wave.

The University of California at Berkeley’s chancellor, Carol A. Christ, announced at a Chronicle event on Monday that Berkeley — which had planned to have some students on campus and to hold some classes in-person — will begin its fall semester online. The news came alongside Monday actions by Morehouse, Grinnell, and Spelman Colleges, in addition to Clark Atlanta University. ...

Such announcements have been widely predicted, even as some presidents declared that they planned to bring students back for fall classes. In planning to reopen, colleges have cited the benefits to in-person learning, the disparities in technology access off campus, and detailed safety plans. There is also a clear financial incentive to bring students back; fees for housing and dining are significant portions of operating budgets.

But in the face of rising cases nationally, and as faculty and students raise safety concerns, colleges have said they can’t pull it off. ...

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

Monday, July 20, 2020

Blackman: What Happens When A Professor Is Unable To Finish Teaching A Class Due To COVID-19?

Josh Blackman (South Texas), What Happens When a Professor Is Unable to Finish Teaching a Class Due to COVID-19?:

As the saying goes, all professors are mortal. From time to time, faculties will deal with tragedy. Due to various health situations, a professor may be unable to finish a class as planned. Perhaps the situation will last a short time. For example, a professor needs a few weeks to recover from surgery. In such cases, colleagues can cover a few classes. Or, perhaps, the professor can pre-record lectures which the students can watch. Or, in more recent times, the professor can teach a class remotely from home. (Yes, Zoom existed before March 2020). Other situations are permanent. Professors may suddenly be forced to retire. Or Professors may pass away in the middle of a semester, perhaps with little advance notice. In such cases, colleagues will have to teach the remainder of the class–that includes preparing an exam, and grading it.

Over my career, these sorts of tragedies have been quite rare. But going forward, these occurrences may become more common. And these concerns are not limited to universities with in-person or hybrid classes. Even professors who are teaching strictly online classes may still be affected by COVID-19. Colleges need to recognize these eventualities, and establish continuity of operations plans in advance. Administrations should try to ensure minimal disruption in teaching and grading. This post will highlight four factors to consider. ...

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July 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Remote Bar Exams Are A Terrible And Dangerous Idea

Amanda Pescovitz (J.D. 2020, George Washington), Remote Bar Exams For Aspiring Attorneys Are a Terrible and Dangerous Idea:

Due to the ongoing pandemic, many jurisdictions—except those plunging ahead with superspreader events—are opting to hold a remote bar examination. Passing the bar exam is currently required for a law school graduate to practice law in most cases. But it is extremely unlikely that jurisdictions have the ability to build out the infrastructure to securely administer a remote bar exam, especially on only a few months’ notice. ...

Beyond just the possibility of hacking, some remote exams are proctored using facial recognition software, raising serious concerns about the privacy of examinees biometric information, algorithmic bias, and misidentification. ...

Remotely proctored bar exams are not the solution to the current crisis. Rather, jurisdictions should adopt an emergency diploma privilege allowing at least all 2020 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools to become licensed. This country is facing a massive access to justice crisis, and preventing new law school graduates from serving their communities unless they have exposed themselves and their data to danger is unjustifiable.

The Hill, Law School Graduates Worried About Security, Privacy of Online Bar Exam:

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July 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Unsafe At Any Campus: Don’t Let Colleges Become The Next Cruise Ships, Nursing Homes, And Food Processing Plants

Peter H. Huang (Colorado) & Debra S. Austin (Denver), Unsafe at Any Campus: Don’t Let Colleges Become the Next Cruise Ships, Nursing Homes, and Food Processing Plants:, 95 Ind. L..J. Supp. ___ (2020):

The decision to educate our students via in-person or online learning environments while COVID-19 is unrestrained is a false choice, when the clear path to achieve our chief objective safely, the education of our students, can be done online. Our decision-making should be guided by the overriding principle that people matter more than money. We recognize that lost tuition revenue if students delay or defer education is an institutional concern, but we posit that many students and parents would prefer a safer online alternative to riskier in-person options, especially as we get closer to fall, and American death tolls rise. This Essay argues the extra stress of trying to maintain safety from infection with a return to campus will make teaching and learning less effective. While high density classrooms promote virus transmission and potentially super-spreader events, we can take the lessons we learned during the spring, and provide courses without the stressors of spreading the virus. We argue the socially responsible decision is to deliver compassionate, healthy, and first-rate online pedagogy, and we offer a vision of how to move forward into this brave new world. ...

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July 14, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, July 13, 2020

Several States Push Ahead With In-Person July Bar Exams, Despite COVID-19 Health Risks

ABA Journal, Some States Are Devoted To In-Person July Bar Exams, Despite Health Risks From COVID-19:

CoronavirusAs various states cancel in-person July bar exams because of COVID-19 concerns, others appear undecided or even committed to keeping things as is—even in places experiencing significant infection increases.

Rather than opt for an online exam or temporary diploma privilege, those states are giving test-takers the choice of postponing the exam to protect their health or assuming the risk and taking the exam [e.g., Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina]. ...

However at this point, a remote bar exam can’t offer a portable Uniform Bar Exam score, which is one reason some states hope to keep July in-person exams. The National Conference of Bar Examiners develops and produces the UBE. It will be offering an online exam in October, but it’s not comparable to the UBE and won’t offer a portable score, according to the group’s website.

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July 13, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Florida And Massachusetts Switch From On-Ground To Online Bar Exams

NCBE, Bar Update (July 1, 2020):

CoronavirusFlorida
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, with the approval of the Supreme Court of Florida, announced in a July 1 press release that the in-person July administration of the exam is canceled. The Board will instead administer an online exam on August 18 consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions and three essay questions. For the August exam only, applicants will not be required to take the MBE.

Massachusetts
On July 1, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners announced that a remotely administered exam for admission to the Massachusetts bar will be offered in lieu of the UBE on October 5-6.

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

UC-Hastings Law School Goes 100% Online In Fall 2020

David Faigman (Dean, UC-Hastings), Classes Remain Online for Fall 2020:

UC-Hastings Logo 3I hope this message finds you well. As I am sure you are aware, the trajectory of the pandemic is of increasing concern, statewide and nationally. And I know that you, like many across the globe, are feeling the impacts in your personal and professional lives. In light of this, I write to share important news about the coming fall semester.

In order to protect the health and safety of all community members and to allow students, staff, and faculty to plan in the face of uncertainty, I have made two decisions:

  1. We will move all classes online in the Fall 2020 (“F20”) term; and
  2. We will have an on-campus presence this fall, with socially-distanced in-person engagements including community events, social activities, faculty office hours, and study opportunities, as soon as San Francisco Department of Public Health (“Public Health”) guidelines permit.

Fall 2020 Online Classes
In May, I asked Academic Dean Morris Ratner to work with faculty to create a hybrid curriculum for our incoming 1L students and to schedule a mix of online, in-person, and hybrid options for upper-division, MSL, and LLM students. Our faculty and staff have committed an enormous amount of time and energy since the start of the pandemic to creating hybrid instructional models, and we stand ready to pivot to that modality when we can. My decision not to do so for F20 did not hinge on our readiness or capability to offer hybrid options. Rather, we simply do not have enough information at this time to be confident that we can provide a safe in-person or hybrid course experience when classes resume in August. Furthermore, I believe it is likely that Public Health guidance will require us to be online for all or part of the semester. By making our decision now, before course registration starts, students, staff, and faculty will be better able to plan for the fall. Under this model, all classes will be equally available to students regardless of their ability to come to campus.

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July 2, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Only Question For Law School Reopenings: How Do You Ask a Person To Be The Last Person To Die For A Mistake?

William H. Widen (Miami), The Only Question for Law School Re-Openings: How Do You Ask a Person To Be the Last Person to Die For a Mistake?:

CoronavirusThat is the question American law school deans and their supervisors must consider as the fall term approaches. I pose this question to advocate for law schools to teach fully online in fall 2020 because a law school might take a conservative approach in the short term without serious jeopardy to their academic mission. ...

Administrators should strategically reduce overall campus population density by teaching law online because law adapts well to distance learning. ...

Law school management must prepare to answer this question if they open classes in-person, despite reservations about safety, or the efficacy of social distancing measures. Harvard Law School and UC Berkeley Law School led with decisions to cancel in-person instruction for fall 2020. Other schools have taken notice and are in various stages of deciding the way forward, including hybrid learning approaches that mix in-person and online instruction, also designed to minimize risk, as an alternative to the risk mitigation strategy advocated for here. UC Irvine just announced a hybrid approach—all online for upper-division, with a choice given to incoming 1L students.

For 1L courses, a large classroom with active discussion is common—but not strictly necessary. Conventional wisdom suggests that a failure to hold in-person classes will result in a dramatic decline in first-year law school enrollment and, thus, tuition revenue. Financial ruin follows because law students will only pay for the in-person Socratic experience. Economics drives the decision to take the risk to open with in-person classes. The brunt of the risk is borne not only by students but also by faculty and staff—groups situated below the pay grade of the administrators sending them into harm’s way.

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July 2, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

NY Times: Philanthropy Rises In Pandemic As Donors Heed The Call For Help

New York Times, Philanthropy Rises in Pandemic as Donors Heed the Call for Help:

CoronavirusWhen the coronavirus prompted states to order residents to stay at home in March, unemployment surged around the country as huge parts of the economy slowed or stopped. Soon after, there were calls for philanthropists, charitably inclined people and even occasional donors to accelerate any giving they were planning to do.

They stepped up, it turns out, giving more and giving faster then they typically do.

The needs were urgent. Virus-related charities and social service agencies, like food banks, were thrust into an immediate role whose size and scope they were not prepared for. At the same time, arts organizations and other nonprofit groups that depend on sales of tickets to their shows and productions suddenly had no audience.

To encourage donations, the CARES Act expanded the amount of cash contributions that could be taken as a tax deduction. But the focus of the call to action was firmly on foundations and donor-advised funds, which have huge pools of money that can go only to charity.

Now three months after the initial outbreak, two reports show that Americans gave at a rate and a level that eclipsed donations during the 2008 recession and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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July 1, 2020 in Coronavirus, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oregon Is Third State To Offer Diploma Privilege To 2020 Law Graduates (All In-State Law Schools, Out-Of-State Law Schools With 86%+ Bar Pass Rate)

Following up on my previous post, Oregon Law School Deans Request Emergency Diploma Privilege For All Students Registered For July Bar Exam: NCBE, Oregon Bar Update (June 30, 2020):

Oregon BarThe Oregon Supreme Court announced on June 29 that it would grant a one-time diploma privilege to candidates who timely submitted complete applications for the July 2020 Oregon bar exam and who either 1) graduated in 2020 from one of the three Oregon law schools or 2) graduated in 2020 from any other ABA-accredited law school that had a minimum of 86% of graduates pass a 2019 bar exam on their first attempt. For those candidates who do not qualify for the diploma privilege option, the Court has announced 1) a one-time reduction in the passing score for the July exam from 274 to 266; and 2) the option to instead take a remotely administered exam in October, with scores on that exam not qualifying as UBE scores.

Derek Muller (Iowa), Three Curiosities of Oregon's Diploma Privilege Rule for the 2020 Bar Exam

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July 1, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Vermont Law School Goes 100% Online In Fall 2020

Seven Days, Vermont Law School to Hold Classes Online This Fall:

Vermont Law School Logo (2017)The Vermont Law School will hold all classes online this fall in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the college said Monday.

The decision comes as higher education institutions across the nation are grappling with how best to balance learning experience with safety amid the virus' continued spread.

"The most demanding challenge posed by the pandemic is uncertainty," said Thomas McHenry, president and dean of Vermont Law School, in a press release. "We want to provide as much notice to our students, faculty, and staff, in order to plan appropriately and deliver the high-quality course content and access to faculty that VLS is known for." ...

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July 1, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Is A Law School Meltdown Coming?

Following up on my previous post, 87% of Students Say Online-Only Legal Ed Is Overpriced; 61% May Reconsider Legal Career Or Take A Hiatus If Law Schools Cannot Be On Ground Due To COVID-19: Richard K. Vedder (Ohio University), Is a Law School Meltdown Coming?:

CoronavirusWe need lawyers, and lots of them, to enforce the rules and laws that allow for a prosperous, orderly society.

Enter Covid-19 and the possibility that law schools will forgo in-class legal education this fall. Already Harvard Law has said its fall courses are going to be taught remotely. How does this impact law students facing tuition and other fees often in the $50,000 range or even more? The apparent answer, based on a survey of 1,651 law students: “considerably.” ...

I suspect most law schools are going to realize the implications of this survey and push hard to reopen next fall, particularly as mounting evidence exists that younger people seem to be far less likely to be lethally impacted by the novel coronavirus than older adults. The health arguments against live instruction may be seriously overstated. Law schools have enormous fixed costs and are mostly exceedingly tuition-dependent. Even with risks, the live show must go on for most of them or, in a few cases, they literally may die.

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June 30, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bashing Administrators While The University Burns

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Bashing Administrators While the University Burns, by Gabriel Paquette (Oregon):

CoronavirusIn a recent piece in The Chronicle Review, François Furstenberg, a historian at the Johns Hopkins University, and a former colleague whom I greatly respect, blasts his university’s administration, which recently cut its contribution to its employees’ retirement plans. He diagnoses and denounces this policy as an inevitable outcome of the corporatization of the university and the centralization of authority within it. Norms of shared governance have given way to dirigisme.

Furstenberg joins a venerable tradition of scholars, stretching from Thorstein Veblen to his colleague Benjamin Ginsberg, who decry the misplaced priorities of universities and those who lead them. Infected by the mentality of the marketplace, these custodians of tradition contend, universities have abandoned their lofty (and laudable) mission as creators and repositories of knowledge. They have been reduced to mere finishing schools for the offspring of the One Percent. Their endowments serve as tax shelters for latter-day captains of industry whose philanthropic priorities conflict with, and eventually supersede, long-cherished academic values.

The elegiac tone of Furstenberg’s essay is justified. The following are incontrovertible: the adjunctification of the professoriate; the proliferation of deans; the defunding of public universities; the depreciation of the humanities; the sharp rise in managerial salaries; the comparative stagnation of faculty and staff compensation; the conflation of a university’s reputation with the fortunes of its athletic teams; and the asset-stripping that sometimes accompanies university partnerships with private enterprise.

It is not my purpose to rebut Furstenberg’s critique or to rationalize the injurious slashing of benefits. Yet his essay suffers from a defect that undermines its forcefulness — a false nostalgia for a purportedly lost Golden Age of faculty-led university governance, insulated from and impervious to market forces. This notion is widely shared in contemporary academic culture. It is also harmful, stifling reform when universities can ill afford complacency.

If universities are to survive the present crisis (and, sadly, many will not), a collective drive for self-preservation must replace the internecine jostling between the faculty and administration. Averting a mass-extinction event will necessitate a radical restructuring of the university, which can only succeed with an unprecedented degree of collaboration.

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June 30, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Can Faculty Be Forced Back On Campus?

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Can Faculty Be Forced Back on Campus?, by Arlene S. Kanter  (Syracuse):

CoronavirusUntil an effective vaccine is widely available, it is impossible for any college to be completely safe from Covid-19. Yet many institutions are planning to resume residential life in August. Much has been written about protecting students, but we also need to ask: If faculty members decide that it is too risky to return to campus, do they have the right to work from home?

I come to this question as a law professor from the field of disability-rights law. The Disability Rights Movement’s slogan, “Nothing About Us Without Us” reminds us that decisions should be made by the people most directly affected by them. But even if faculty members are involved in decision making, what do “we” want? Some will want to work from home; others will prefer to return to campus. What is less clear is whether faculty members who are concerned about the risks of returning to campus have the right to teach remotely from home. Several Covid-related regulations and federal and state laws can help guide us.

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June 30, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

UC-Irvine To Be 100% Online For 2Ls/3Ls In Fall 2020; 1Ls May Choose To Be On Ground For 1 Or 2 Classes Each Week

Following on on yesterday's post, UC-Berkeley Joins Harvard In Going 100% Online For Fall 2020 Semester:

Letter From L. Song Richardson (Dean) & Christopher Whytock (Vice Dean) To UC-Irvine Law Students On Fall 2020 Plans:

UC Irvine Logo (2019)June 23, 2020
Dear Students,

Now is a more important time than ever to be a law student. The world needs you. It needs lawyers dedicated to racial justice, a diverse and inclusive legal profession, and the public interest. It needs lawyers ready to ensure equal access to legal representation and to help communities and businesses rebuild as we emerge from the global pandemic. We’re committed to equipping you to meet these important legal needs, preparing you to be leaders for systemic improvement of our justice system, and giving you the foundations for launching successful careers as lawyers. We can’t wait to get started in the fall.

We hope you’re as eager for the fall semester as we are. We understand, however, that not knowing exactly what the fall semester will look like can cause anxiety. We’re so appreciative of your patience and understanding as UCI Law’s faculty and administration work to navigate the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and frequently changing public health directives to plan the best legal education possible for you. Although these unprecedented circumstances mean we can’t offer definitive answers to all of your questions, we’d like to give you this further update on UCI Law’s planning for the fall semester.

Law school orientation and fall classes will begin on schedule. We look forward to welcoming you and to the amazing things we’ll all do together, inside and outside of class, in the fall and beyond.

All UCI Law students who need or want to take their fall classes online will be able to do so. We know that while many of you will be on campus, some of you might not be ready to return due to the public health situation. You will be able to pursue your UCI Law education on schedule whether or not you are physically present.

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June 27, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Minnesota High Court Mulls Letting Law Grads Bypass The Bar Exam

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Minnesota High Court Mulls Letting Law Grads Bypass the Bar Exam:

Minnesota BarMinnesota could become the third jurisdiction to adopt an emergency diploma privilege that allows law graduates to skip the bar exam during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday issued an order establishing a public comment period on the diploma privilege idea, which was proposed in a petition submitted by three recent graduates of the University of Minnesota Law School. The public has until July 6 to weigh in.

“In light of the exceptional circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the hyper-local impact of the George Floyd killing and subsequent unrest, and the uncertain, unsafe, and disparate impacts of proceeding with the proposed examination plan, Petitioners respectfully request that the Court waive the bar examination requirement of Minnesota’s Rules for Admission to the Bar,” reads the petition.

Utah in April became the first jurisdiction to grant an emergency diploma privilege to law graduates who meet a series of requirements, among which is completing 360 hours of legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney by the end of 2020. Washington State followed suit June 12, issuing an order allowing any graduate of an American Bar Association-accredited law school who had registered for the July or September bar exams to skip the test without further requirements. The deans of Oregon’s three law schools, as well as recent law graduates in the state, on June 15 sent letters to the Oregon Supreme Court requesting a diploma privilege, though the court has yet to announce any action on that front.

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June 27, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 26, 2020

UC-Berkeley Joins Harvard In Going 100% Online For Fall 2020 Semester

Letter From Dean Erwin Chemerinsky To UC-Berkeley Law School Community On Fall 2020 Plans:

UC Berkeley (2016)June 6, 2020
Dear Law School Community,
I apologize for the length of this message, but I wanted to share with you the decisions that have been made concerning Fall 2020 instruction.

After great reflection and study, I am writing to inform you that all of our Fall 2020 classes will be conducted remotely.  For many weeks we have worked very hard to develop a schedule of in-person classes for the Fall semester that could be offered within the severe constraints created by the COVID-19 health emergency.  Our plans have gone through many iterations as we have learned more in terms of campus requirements and public health necessities.   I am enormously grateful to Molly Van Houweling, Annik Hirshen, Susan Whitman, and Beth Borowski for the huge amount of time they have spent on this.  Lisa Ferrari, Kathleen Vanden Heuvel, and Charles Cannon have made a tremendous effort to determine what we can do in the building to have in-person classes while maintaining social distancing at all times, reducing building occupancy by 75-80% as required by campus, and taking all necessary health precautions.  We have submitted detailed plans to campus and worked closely with the Provost’s office to make this work.

But after all of these efforts, I and the Contingency Planning Committee have concluded that the best course — for the health of those in our community and for our educational program — is to have the Fall semester’s classes be online.  Our top priority is protecting the health of our students, staff, and faculty.  At the same time, we want to do what is best educationally for our students.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Rising 2L Sues Harvard Law School, Demands Lower Tuition For 'Inferior' Online Classes

Following up on my previous posts:

Karen Sloan (Law.com), 'Subpar in Every Aspect': Harvard Law Student Sues Over Online Classes:

A Harvard Law student has filed a class action against the university, arguing that students should be charged a lower tuition for online classes on the grounds that they are inferior to in-person instruction.

Harvard is the latest target in a wave of litigation focused on college and university tuition reimbursements amid the COVID-19 pandemic—at least 100 campuses have been sued thus far. Plaintiffs firms Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which is representing incoming second-year law student Abraham Barkhordar, has also filed suit against 13 other universities.

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June 24, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

New York Reverses Course, Will Seat Graduates Of Out-Of-State Law Schools For September Bar Exam

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  New York State Board of Law Examiners, Update Regarding the September 2020 Bar Examination:

NYSBA (2017)The application process for the September bar exam is now complete. All candidates who successfully completed an application to sit for the bar exam will be assigned seats, provided their proof of eligibility is timely submitted and demonstrates compliance with the requirements of Court of Appeals Rule 520.3 or 520.6. See Board Rule 6000.4. The deadline to submit such proof has been extended until July 15, 2020. No handwriting specimen will be required.

Candidates will be notified regarding their seat assignments after the review of eligibility proofs has been completed.

The deadline to complete the laptop registration with Examsoft has been extended to Monday, June 29, 2020 at 4:30 P.M. Eastern Time.

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June 24, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

2020 Law School Graduates: Beware The October Online Bar Exam!

TaxProf Blog op-ed: 2020 Law School Graduates: Beware the October Online Bar Exam!, by Mitchel L. Winick (President & Dean, Monterey College of Law):

WinickThe California Supreme Court notified the California State Bar Board of Trustees last week that it is considering delaying the next bar exam until October 2020 so that California applicants can be provided an online bar exam option.

However, the details are very concerning.

According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), the October online testing option will not constitute a full Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). Scores earned on the remotely administered test will be valid only in the state(s) where it is administered and will not be eligible to be transferred as UBE or MBE scores when applying for admission to other jurisdictions.

California and other jurisdictions that choose to use this set of MBE materials  will be responsible for their own scoring, equating to previous exams, and scaling (adjusting scores from the written essay portion of the test based on the modified MBE portion) -- functions that the NCBE supports for the in-person version of the exam.

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June 24, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Faculty Want A Say In Whether They Teach Face To Face. The Conversation Is Not Going Well.

Following up on Saturday's post, Penn State Faculty Demand Right To Decide Whether To Teach In Person Or Online, Guarantee Of Jobs, Full Salary, Benefits, Raises, And Hiring Of New Faculty:  Chronicle of Higher Education, Faculty Want a Say in Whether They Teach Face to Face. The Conversation Is Not Going Well.:

In announcing its plans to resume in-person instruction as of August 10, the University of Notre Dame became one of the first major institutions to answer the question on higher education's collective mind: How will we approach the fall semester? Weeks after that announcement, Notre Dame's president, John I. Jenkins, doubled down on the importance of face-to-face education in a New York Times op-ed [We’re Reopening Notre Dame. It’s Worth the Risk.], writing that "the mark of a healthy society is its willingness to bear burdens and take risks for the education and well-being of its young."

But in doing so, Jenkins and the administration raised a second, equally thorny question: What if faculty members don't want to take those risks? That's the concern shared by 140 Notre Dame faculty members who have signed a petition asserting that “all faculty members should be allowed to make their own prudential judgments about whether to teach in-person classes."

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June 23, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Testy: LSAT-Flex And Supporting Candidates During COVID-19

The LSAT-Flex and Supporting Candidates in the Time of COVID-19
Kellye Y. Testy (President & CEO, Law School Admission Council)

Testy (2019)

We have just completed the June administration of the LSAT-Flex, the online, remotely proctored delivery of LSAT that we designed to give law school candidates the opportunity to complete their application to law school despite the COVID-19 restrictions on travel and large gatherings.

More than 8,000 candidates took the LSAT-Flex last week, bringing to nearly 18,000 the number of candidates who have successfully completed the LSAT-Flex over the past 5 weeks. Many of these candidates are applying for admission to law school this fall, and schools are delighted to be able to continue to count on the same score scale and the reliability, validity, and fairness of the LSAT as one factor in their holistic admission decisions. Each year, roughly 99% of law school matriculants include an LSAT score in their successful applications.

Obviously, an online remotely proctored test raises important questions of equity and access to technology. LSAC was committed to helping every test taker to have the equipment and resources they needed.  

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

Indiana Law School’s Innovative Fall 1L Program During COVID-19

Austen Parrish (Dean, Indiana), Indiana Law’s Fall 1L Program:

[A] committee of faculty leadership drafted, vetted, and presented to the faculty a first-year plan [In Person or Online: We Have a Plan For That] that meets the health-and-safety requirements set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the governor of the State of Indiana, and university administration. The plan is built around the idea that students have differing family, health, and other personal circumstances. Many of them will be comfortable coming to campus every day; others may need to take classes online.

I am pleased to report that what I describe here is what Maurer Law is rolling out this fall, as the plan was unanimously approved by faculty at our June 5 meeting.

The plan itself is straightforward. Instead of taking Torts, Civil Procedure, and Contracts throughout a 13-week semester, 1L students will take one course at a time in concentrated four-week blocks, with each block followed with a final exam. Small-section Legal Research and Writing courses will meet throughout the semester concurrently with the block courses, and so too will a one-credit online Legal Profession course.

Indiana 1L Schedule 2

Bill Henderson (Indiana):

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June 23, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Today's Tuesday Afternoon AALS Faculty Focus Webinar: Excellence In Online Instruction

AALS Faculty Focus:

Faculty Focus 4COVID-19 has affected the normal rhythms of the legal academy in ways that may be particularly disruptive for early-career faculty.

AALS invites tenure-track, clinical, and legal writing faculty to join us on Tuesday afternoons for “Faculty Focus,” a series of weekly webinars organized around issues these individuals may be facing as well as challenges affecting higher education and the profession in general.

Each 60-minute webinar will feature expert advice from law school leaders followed by shared experiences from early career law faculty. The sessions will be structured to encourage conversation and connection, with opportunities for participants to crowdsource solutions and discuss common issues across schools and teaching areas.

Up Next: How to spend your summer
The first series of topics will be organized around how newer faculty members might best allocate their time during the summer of 2020. The moment of pause and recalibration faculty usually experience after grades have been submitted—when the spring semester has been closed but planning for the fall has not yet begun—has become cluttered and confusing due to the exponential increase in demands on time and attention. Join our speakers to explore issues concerning work-life balance and the demands of scholarship, meeting the needs of all students online, and delivering high-quality online instruction using best practices from higher education.

Week 3 (today at 4:00 pm ET/1:00 pm PT):  Excellence in Online Instruction (register here):

Speakers:

  • Yvonne Dutton (Indiana-McKinney)
  • Nina Kohn (Syracuse)
  • John Manning (Dean, Harvard)
  • Alison Mikkor (UC-Irvine)
  • Eloise Pasachoff (Georgetown)
  • Michael Pollack (Cardozo)

Hosts:

  • Darby Dickerson (AALS President & Dean, UIC John Marshall)
  • Vince Rougeau (AALS President-elect & Dean, Boston College)

Moderator:

  • Jeff Allum (AALS Director of Research)

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

Monday, June 22, 2020

Oregon Law School Deans Request Emergency Diploma Privilege For All Students Registered For July Bar Exam

Letter From Marcilynn Burke (Dean, Oregon), Brian Gallini (Dean, Willamette) & Jennifer Johnson (Dean, Lewis & Clark) to Oregon Supreme Court: Diploma Privilege Request (June 15, 2020):

Oregon BarWe are the deans of Oregon’s three law schools, and we are writing to request that the Oregon Supreme Court, under its inherent authority to regulate the practice of law, institute a one-time emergency “diploma privilege” to practice in Oregon for any person who timely filed an application for the July Oregon bar exam and is otherwise qualified for admission, notwithstanding the COVIDrelated space limitations. We are deeply appreciative of the efforts of the Oregon State Bar (OSB) and the Board of Bar Examiners (BBX) to administer the July exam at multiple sites—including our law schools—in order to try to socially distance the applicants from each other in light of COVID-19. But as the number of new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases continues to increase steadily in our state, this plan becomes more imprudent. Indeed, COVID-19 cases have spiked this past week in Oregon to their highest level yet, causing Governor Kate Brown just last Thursday to pause reopening the state. Authorizing a diploma privilege is the more prudent and equitable option for our state.

We are not alone in our concern about holding a bar exam during a global pandemic. The Court is no doubt aware that the Washington Supreme Court, reversing its own May decision on this issue, announced on Friday that applicants registered to take the July bar exam in the State of Washington would be “granted the option of receiving a diploma privilege to practice in Washington.” The order of the Washington Supreme Court is attached. Washington is not an outlier; indeed, a number of other states have either adopted diploma privilege or are pursuing non-traditional bar exams, including remote administration.

Apart from administration of the bar exam itself, there are very real concerns for our graduates in preparing for the exam.

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June 22, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blackman: How To Teach A Hybrid Law School Class

Josh Blackman (South Texas), The Difficulties of Teaching a "Hybrid" Class:

This fall, universities will adopt three general approaches to instruction: (1) in-person instruction, (2) online instruction, and (3) hybrid instruction. This post will focus on the logistics of "hybrid" classes: specifically, where half the class is in person, and half the class is watching from home. This approach is the most difficult method, by far. Strictly in-person classes will be made tough because of social distancing rules. But the general pedagogy is familiar. And strictly online classes face certain technical difficulties. However, all of the students are on the same level, with the same challenges.

The difficulty with any "hybrid" approach is that professors have to simultaneously appeal to two very different groups of students: those who are in-person, and those who are online. At any given time, half the class will feel neglected. Pedagogy aimed at facilitating online discussion (like checking the chat feature and waiting for a student's video feed to buffer) will annoy students in class. And pedagogy aimed at the warm bodies in the room (writing on the white board or calling on a student out of the microphone's range) will annoy the students at home. Pedagogy aimed at satisfying both groups will fail to satisfy either. All the while, the professor will have to keep his eye on the real hands in the rooms, and the blue hands in the queue. Professors will have to juggle a lot of balls in the air at once.

This post will address the challenges of hybrid instruction. ...

Josh Blackman (South Texas), Another Proposal for the "Hybrid" Class:

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June 22, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lawmakers Urge Court To Lower California Bar Exam Cut Score

Following up on last week's post, Only 5% Of Black First-Time Takers Passed February California Bar Exam, Compared To 52% Of Whites, 42% Of Asians, And 31% Of Hispanics:

The Recorder, California Lawmakers Urge Court to Lower Passing Score for Next Bar Exam:

Four state lawmakers have called on the California Supreme Court to immediately drop the score required to pass the bar exam, saying the test has a “racially discriminatory impact” on would-be lawyers.

In a June 18 letter to justices, the Democratic lawmakers cite the historically low 26.8% pass rate on the February exam. While half of whites taking the exam for the first time passed, the success rates for Asian applicants (28%), Latinos (25%) and African Americans (18%) were markedly lower.

“Most alarmingly, only five percent of Black first-time bar exam takers who graduated California ABA-accredited law schools passed,” according to the letter signed by Assembly Judiciary Chairman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, Public Safety Chairman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Latino Caucus Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez and Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Shirley Weber.

CA Bar

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June 21, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Penn State Faculty Demand Right To Decide Whether To Teach In Person Or Online, Guarantee Of Jobs, Full Salary, Benefits, Raises, And Hiring Of New Faculty

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Penn State Faculty Want Final Decision on Where, How to Conduct Classes in the Fall:

Penn State UniversitySurveys show that tuition-paying college students want face-to-face instruction this fall, pandemic or not. Campuses in Pennsylvania are intent on obliging to the extent they can.

But if faculty fear health risks, should they have the final say on whether to teach remotely?

That question has surfaced at Penn State University, which announced its reopening plans Sunday even as a letter signed by more than 1,100 faculty, graduate assistants and others called on the state's flagship university to offer greater safety assurances and more transparency about the evidence on which the decision was based. ...

Penn State officials, in rolling out their plan, said the university will maintain a workplace that meets health standards. Like other schools, the instruction will be a mix of face-to-face and remotely delivered instruction, depending on circumstances.

Open Letter to the Penn State Administration Regarding Plans for the Fall and the Response to COVID-19:

[I]n the event that students return to campus for the fall semester, we ask the university to commit to the following, and to formalize all policies in writing:

The university will affirm the autonomy of instructors in deciding whether to teach classes, attend meetings, and hold office hours remotely, in-person, or in some hybrid mode. Staff should also have the option of working remotely. Instructors will be able to alter the mode of course delivery at any time if they deem it necessary for their own safety or the safety of their students; no one will be obligated to disclose personal health information as a justification for such decisions, and they will not face negative repercussions from the university or supervisors. ...

To fulfill the educational mission of our university, all faculty members, staff, graduate employees, and other essential employees must have secure employment, equity, and a guarantee of the resources necessary to perform their work. Given Penn State’s significant liquid assets, we ask the university to commit to the following:

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June 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 19, 2020

87% of Students Say Online-Only Legal Ed Is Overpriced; 61% May Reconsider Legal Career Or Take A Hiatus If Law Schools Cannot Be On Ground Due To COVID-19

Above the Law, Changing The Law School Model: Could COVID Spark Permanent Changes?:

With the new year looming, and no reason to believe COVID will be gone, how are students feeling? Harvard Law is going to online next semester and across the country, according to a new survey from TestMax, many law students and prospective law students are rethinking law school under those conditions.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Legal Education and Career Path?:

COVID-2

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June 19, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Graduates Push For Diploma Privilege As A Matter Of Racial Justice

Above the Law, Law School Graduates Push For Diploma Privilege As A Matter Of Racial Justice:

Let’s get something clear off the top. Here is the rank order of licensure options for 2020 ranked from best to worst:

Here is the rank order of licensure options for 2020 ranked from best to worst:

1. Diploma Privilege (Utah, Washington)
2. Online July Exams (Indiana, Michigan)
3. Online Fall Exams (DC)
4. Delayed/Staggered In-Person Exams (New York, Massachusetts)
5. July In-Person Exams (a frighteningly non-zero list)
6. Injecting Yourself With Coronavirus To Own The Libs (Mississippi) ...

[A] recent statement about the importance of addressing racial injustice in the wake of the George Floyd killing has become the jumping off point for a renewed call for action from recent graduates:

Your April 22nd letter setting out the Commonwealth’s 2020 bar exam plan acknowledges “reasonable concerns about the disparate impact of the bar on law graduates of color.” We implore you to consider that your solution to these “reasonable concerns” (a committee that will study possible alternatives to the bar examination “as soon as the emergency abates”) does not help the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous graduates most likely to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic—an ongoing crisis unlikely to subside prior to the Massachusetts bar exam. We refer once more to your June 3rd statement: “This must be a time not just of reflection but of action.”

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June 19, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

After 7 Of 8 Ivy League Schools Drop SAT/ACT For Class of 2025, U.S. News Will Start Ranking Test-Blind Colleges

Robert Morse (Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News) & Eric Brook (Senior Data Analyst), U.S. News to Start Ranking Test-Blind Schools:

US News College (2020)Starting with the upcoming 2021 Best Colleges rankings – to be published in September 2020 – U.S. News will rank schools that report not using the SAT or ACT at all in admissions decisions. In the past, beginning with the 2008 edition of Best Colleges, these test-blind schools were automatically excluded from the overall rankings and categorized as "Unranked."

In contrast, schools that have test-optional or text-flexible admissions policies have always been ranked and will continue to be ranked.

Why is U.S. News making this change? Because prospective students and their families want to know the academic quality of all schools, including ones that do not make use of standardized test scores. Also, in recent years a large number of colleges have changed their application requirements regarding the SAT and ACT. ...

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June 19, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

41% Of Grads Opposed Pass/Fail Law School Grading In Spring 2020

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Pass/Fail Grading in Law School Gets Mixed Marks From Students:

Recent law school graduates are split on whether the swift transition to pass/fail grades at most law campuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic this spring was a good move.

Among the nearly 200 law grads recently polled by Kaplan Test Prep, 48% said they supported pass/fail grading, while 41% said they opposed it. The remaining 11% were undecided about the change.

When COVID-19 forced law schools to quickly move online in late March and early April, the majority adopted mandatory pass/fail grading or gave students the option to have their grades issued as pass/fail. Law school administrators reasoned that the simplified grading scheme would reduce some of the pressure and anxiety law students were feeling at a time of uncertainty, and would level the playing field for students who were attending class and studying under challenging conditions.

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June 18, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ryznar: Emergency Funds In The Wake Of The Coronavirus

Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-McKinney), Emergency Funds in the Wake of the Coronavirus, 96 State Tax Notes 65 (Apr. 6, 2020):

The CARES Act targeting the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic allows taxpayers to withdraw up to $100,000 from their retirement savings, such as section 401(k) plans, without the typical 10% penalty for early withdrawal. However, retirement accounts do not make for ideal emergency funds. This Article therefore advocates that future legislation should incentivize separate savings funds.

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June 17, 2020 in Coronavirus, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

COVID-19 Planning Guide For Universities And Law Schools

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, COVID-19 Planning Guide and Self-Assessment for Higher Education (June 15, 2020):

Open SmartGlobally, institutions of higher education are facing unprecedented challenges related to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). The resulting academic, financial, ethical, and operational questions are complex and high-stakes. The COVID-19 pandemic may represent an inflection point, fundamentally altering how we work, socialize, and learn. The authors of this toolkit collectively believe that our institutions need near-term tools to ensure continuity through this pandemic as well as methods for rethinking the basic assumptions and values of their institutions.

This guide and accompanying risk assessment are designed to provide practical planning resources to help institutions gauge how effectively they are addressing a range of COVID- 19 scenarios. It is intended to accommodate a wide range of institutions: public, private, large, small, comprehensive, specialized, urban, and rural. Each institution will need to develop and implement its own tailored approach to reopening in-person instruction.

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

Can Active Learning Occur In Physically Distanced Classrooms?

Inside Higher Ed, Can Active Learning Co-Exist With Physically Distanced Classrooms?:

CoronavirusAs colleges and universities begin to craft their plans for the fall, a divide appears to be emerging.

Administrators at most campuses that have announced decisions to physically reopen their campuses (some with larger caveats than others) have asserted both that in-person learning (a) is superior to virtual learning and (b) can be done effectively and safely in classrooms that ensure physical distancing. Many faculty members agree with the first premise but are uncertain about the second, out of concern for their students and for themselves. Some of them fear that in planning to reopen, their institutions may be putting financial and enrollment considerations ahead of their students' and employees' safety.

The faculty members and administrators who run campus teaching and learning centers or are otherwise responsible for shaping their institutions' overall instructional strategies find themselves in a potential bind.

They may share some of their faculty peers' concerns about whether campuses can physically reopen safely this fall, and some (as they have expressed privately) have a seat at the decision-making table and are arguing internally against a physical reopening. But their jobs require them to help their college or university develop the most pedagogically sound way of educating students in whatever scenarios their leaders ultimately choose.

Many of those campus-level conversations remain in the early stages, but this week's "Transforming Teaching and Learning" column explores one such discussion.

The question at hand: Can "active learning" -- broadly, any instructional strategy that engages all students meaningfully in the learning process -- survive classroom environments this fall in which student interaction is severely limited by physical distancing protocols? Or will a fall semester in which instruction is delivered in physically distanced classrooms lead to an inevitable resurgence of a lecturing format that most learning experts agree is less effective? ...

This particular discussion was initiated by Christopher Heard, a professor in Pepperdine University's religion and philosophy division and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Seaver College, Pepperdine's residential undergraduate arm. Heard wrote that he had begun shifting his attention from "supporting faculty in making a rapid transition to remote teaching" this spring and summer to "thinking about supporting faculty in transitioning back to on-campus teaching with protocols in place. ...

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

Sunday, June 14, 2020

California Deans Urge Supreme Court To Not Leave Class Of 2020 Law Grads In Bar Exam Limbo

Following up on Friday's post, California Bar Exam: July September October Online?:

Letter From California Deans To California Supreme Court (June 14, 2020):

California State Bar (2014)[W]e are writing to express concern and disappointment in the manner in which planning for the summer 2020 bar exam has proceeded. We urge the Court to take concrete actions bearing the needs of the Class of 2020 graduates in mind.

We understand, of course, that circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have unsettled many settled expectations. We are all dealing with the considerable uncertainties for the fall, including the extent to which groups can gather in enclosed spaces, obviously relevant to the feasibility of an in-person administration of the bar exam. This is a time, however, when there is great need for clarity and transparency. The manner in which planning for the 2020 summer exam has proceeded thus far has not met this need.

The failure to have a concrete plan for the summer 2020 bar exam has created considerable anguish among our recent graduates. They have already suffered as a consequence of the pandemic, being required to pivot to distance education, not having the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments in law school with their peers, and not being able to attend graduation exercises with their family and friends. They have now begun studying for an exam that may take place in September, or possibly in October, or even might be postponed still later. It is exceedingly difficult for them to plan their bar studies under these conditions. And the substantial uncertainty may also adversely impact the Class of 2020 graduates’ ability to financially support themselves through the exam-taking process, as well their ability to prepare adequately and effectively for the exam itself.

We do fully recognize the challenges of settling on an appropriate timing and method for a fall administration of the exam. It is possible and perhaps quite likely that in September in many parts of the state, no groups larger than 40 will be permitted to be in the same enclosed space, even with physical distancing. At the same time, as of now, only California and D.C. have expressed interest in making use of the October date and NCBE’s potential online materials. There are extremely challenging aspects to remote proctoring and delivery, which it is not clear to us that the Bar or Examsoft have adequate preparation for or vetting to resolve. There are also serious equity concerns with an online administration, given what is required in terms of private workspace, stable internet connection, etc.

Fundamentally, we believe that more attention should be focused on the needs of a cohort— future leaders of the profession—who want and deserve more solid ground, notwithstanding the challenges we describe above.

We therefore respectfully ask the Court to consider the following:

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June 14, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Washington Supreme Court Grants Diploma Privilege To All Bar Applicants

Supreme Court of Washington, Order Granting Diploma Privilege and Temporarily Modifying Admission & Practice Rules (June 12, 2020):

Washington Bar Logo (2020)The Court by majority hereby enters the following order establishing temporary modifications to some provisions of the current [Admission to Practice Rules]

  1. APR 3 and 4 are modified to the extent that applicants for admission to practice law who are currently registered for either the July or September 2020 bar examination and who have received a Juris Doctorate degree from an ABA accredited law school, and applicants currently registered to take the LLLT examination scheduled for July 2020, are granted the option of receiving a diploma privilege to practice in Washington. The bar examinations in July and September 2020 will still be offered for those who do not qualify for the diploma privilege and those who wish to take the exam to receive a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) score.
  2. The diploma privilege option will be available to applicants currently registered to take the examinations who are taking the tests for the first time and those who are repeating the tests.

Letter From Seattle Law School Dean to Washington Supreme Court (June 10, 2020):

I write on behalf of the Seattle University School of Law faculty, who today voted unanimously to request that the Court afford a diploma privilege to law graduates who are currently registered for the July or September UBE administration in Washington. We are, thus, asking the Court to reconsider its May 13, 2020 decision via letter to proceed with the Summer 2020 administration of the bar exam. We urge the Court to announce that those law graduates who meet such eligibility requirements as the Court might set be admitted to the Washington State Bar without being required to take the bar examination. Our reasoning for this request for reconsideration of the Court’s prior decision is explained below.

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June 13, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Students Demand Harvard Law School Reverse Its Decision To Be 100% Online In Fall 2020

Following up on last week's post, Harvard Law School To Be 100% Online In Fall 2020:

Letter From Harvard Law School Students And Alumni To Dean Manning And President Bascow:

Harvard ZoomDear Dean Manning and President Bacow,
This letter is submitted on behalf of the undersigned members of the Harvard Law School (HLS) 2020-21 community, as well as our fellow HLS alumni. We write to you in appeal of your decision to be online-only for Fall 2020, and urge you to implement a hybrid semester. Our argument is laid out below, but it can be expressed in simple terms.

1.  Even the best virtual learning cannot replicate the opportunities that come with in-person learning. Although students in all years and of all backgrounds will be negatively affected by a solely virtual semester, for some members of our community, including international students and those with learning disabilities, in-person education is even more important. These students will suffer from immediate and lasting effects on their career and living situation, including being barred from all employment opportunities and not even being allowed to remain in or enter the United States.

2.  In recognition of these facts and the feasibility of hybrid semesters, Harvard Law School’s (HLS) peer institutions across America have committed to hybrid semesters as the best balance of every member of their communities' physical, mental, and emotional health. This includes law schools and universities in the hardest-hit areas of the United States, such as New York City. In light of dropping case counts across Massachusetts, the developed plans by HLS’s peer institutions, and the well-known creativity, expertise, and compassion of Harvard professors and administration, we ask that HLS do the same.

3.  We understand that this semester will not look exactly like previous semesters, but our wish is clear. In a recent survey open to all HLS students, reconsidering a hybrid option was the second-most supported initiative, behind only tuition reduction. Over 80% of those polled indicated they planned to defer if changes were not made to HLS’s approach.

4.  We are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure a high-quality, community-driven legal education that we will take with us when we leave HLS and become leaders across the US and world. We ask that the administration similarly choose courage in the face of uncertainty, creativity in the face of challenge. We ask that HLS work with students, faculty, and experts to design a hybrid approach that will maximize student wellbeing and the opportunity to learn.

HLS 1

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June 13, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Friday, June 12, 2020

California Bar Exam: July September October Online?

Letter From California Supreme Court to State Bar of California:

California State Bar (2014)This letter is a follow-up to the court’s April 27, 2020 letter concerning the administration of the June 2020 First-Year Law Students’ Examination and the July 2020 California Bar Examination.

The court is grateful to learn that the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) will offer an online-deployable version of the multiple choice Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) on October 6, 2020. As the State Bar is aware, the administration of the MBE is an essential component to scoring the entire two-day exam. Although the court had originally postponed the July 2020 California Bar Examination to September 9-10, 2020, the court will consider moving the exam to October 5-6, 2020 after the State Bar assesses its online administration of First-Year Law Students’ Examination on June 23 and the feasibility of upscaling that administration to the full exam in the fall.

State Bar of California, COVID-19 Updates:

Exam applicants are encouraged to continue studying with the September date in mind but are alerted about the possibility that these dates can change. We encourage applicants to check our website for updates.

Letter From L. Song Richardson (Dean, UC-Irvine) to California Supreme Court:

Re: Thoughts on the California Bar Examination for the Supreme Court’s Consideration

Dear Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Associate Justices of the California Supreme Court:

This is a moment for creative, forward-thinking leadership. Just as state and local governments are taking unprecedented action to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Supreme Court should take bold action that creates an equitable pathway to licensed practice for our recent graduates and protects vulnerable Californians who will face acute needs for legal services during and in the aftermath of this global pandemic. In order to craft the best possible response for this unprecedented time, the Court should (1) involve stakeholders in its decision-making, (2) seriously consider proposals to create a diploma privilege or a provisional licensing scheme, (3) weigh considerations of access, equity, fairness, and bias, and (4) promote access to justice.

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

Thursday, June 11, 2020

UC-Hastings Podcast Series: Law And The Pandemic

Law and the PandemicCOVID-19 Legal Perspectives & Information from UC Hastings Law:

UC Hastings Law has created a podcast series to share insights related to pressing legal questions arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subscribe on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or YouTube

Where’s My Stimulus? Why the IRS is Ghosting You (17:30):

In this episode, we speak with Professor Amy Spivey about the economic impact payments and get answers to many logistical questions related to this and the IRS more generally.

A Bird’s Eye View of Tax Provisions of the CARES Act (21:00):

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

NY Times: COVID-19 May Kill Many Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges

New York Times, How a Tax Benefit for Developers Could Backfire in the Pandemic:

CoronavirusSomething remarkable is percolating in the commercial real estate market: Investors may end up losing millions in tax savings on gains from the sale of their properties because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Like-kind real estate exchanges, also known as 1031 exchanges (after the provision in the Internal Revenue Code), allow investors to sell a commercial property and pay no tax on the gains as long as the money from that sale is reinvested in other real estate. It could be a similar building, land or even air rights.

The provision was preserved in the overhaul of the tax code that was signed in 2017 by President Trump, who made his wealth in real estate development, while investments in other areas, like art and classic cars, were stripped of their special tax status.

To reap the benefit, real estate investors need to identify a replacement property 45 days after the sale of the original property and close on the purchase within 180 days. If the criteria are met, the investors can defer taxes on the gains from the sale of the property. The deferral can extend until the investor’s death, at which point the capital gains tax is wiped out.

If the criteria are not met, the investors face not only an enormous tax bill for the gains but additional taxes for deductions taken while they owned the building. That can amount to millions of dollars for some properties.

As lockdowns complicated closing deals, the real estate industry lobbied the Treasury Department to get extensions on those dates, and it obliged in early April. The department said that if either the 45- or 180-day deadline fell between April 1 and July 14, it would be moved to July 15 — the new deadline, too, for filing income and other federal taxes for 2019 and the first half of 2020.

But the guidance lacked clarity on some key issues underlying disaster relief for like-kind exchanges, and the extension could do more harm than good to certain sectors of the commercial real estate market, like retailing and entertainment, that are already under economic pressure.

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June 10, 2020 in Coronavirus, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)