Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

ABA Weighs New Free Speech Rule For Law Schools

Reuters, ABA Weighs New Free Speech Rule for Law Schools:

ABA (2023)The American Bar Association may soon require law schools to adopt free speech policies, a change that follows several high-profile campus incidents in which students disrupted controversial speakers.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which oversees law school accreditation, on Friday will consider a new rule mandating “written policies that encourage and support the free expression of ideas.”

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August 16, 2023 in Law School, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Tech | Permalink

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Pepperdine’s Place In The 2024 U.S. News Law School Rankings

US News (2023)By now most of you have seen the news that Pepperdine Caruso Law ranks #45 in the 2024 U.S. News Law School Rankings. This is the highest ranking in our 54-year history, topping the previous highest rankings in 2021-22 (#46) and 2020-21 (#47). I am pleased that we also received the highest ranking in our history in several components of the rankings, including academic peer reputation and student selectivity (median LSAT scores, median undergraduate GPAs).

We did not join the U.S. News boycott for many of the reasons Georgia Dean Bo Rutledge outlined in the Chronicle of Higher Education. We do not chase rankings at Pepperdine Caruso Law. Instead, we are laser-focused on our strategic priorities, including recruiting a student body each year with stronger academic credentials, a deeper commitment to our Christian mission, and a richer diversity of personal backgrounds, lived experiences, and viewpoints; and preparing them in a one of a kind close knit community to pass the bar exam and secure full-credit legal employment at higher rates. Those priorities produce a rankings benefit as well, and we gladly reap those results. The new methodology adopted by U.S. News in response to the boycott is still far from perfect, but is much better than prior methodologies.

Pepperdine Caruso Law also was recognized by U.S. News with Top 50 rankings in three specialty programs based on our reputation among faculty in those fields:  #2 in dispute resolution, #29 in tax law, and #34 in clinical training, as well as near Top 50 rankings in constitution law (#53), international law (#53), and business|corporate law (#54).

We are proud of our past, excited by all we have accomplished thus far, and exhilarated at what we will be able to achieve in the future with the additional resources provided by Rick Caruso's $50 million naming gift.

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May 11, 2023 in Law School, Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Organ: The Declining 2022 Law School Transfer Market

This blog posting updates my blog postings over the last several years regarding what we know about the transfer market, for example 2021 and 2020. With the ABA’s posting of the 2022 Standard 509 Reports, we now have several years of more detailed transfer data from which to glean insights about the transfer market among law schools.

Numbers of Transfers and Percentage of Transfers Continue to Decline to the Lowest Levels in the Last Decade

As shown in Table 1 below, the number of transfer students received by law schools in 2022 decreased to 1231, the smallest number of transfers in the last decade.  For the last several years, the transfer market has been shrinking, having declined from 5.5% in 2014, to 4.7% in 2016, to 4.0% in 2018, and now 3.0% in 2022.  Aside from a slight bump in 2017, and another bump in 2020, this drop reflects a continuation of a gradual decline in transfers over the last several years — from more than 2100 to less than 1300 (down nearly 40%) and from 5.5% of first-years in the previous fall to 3.0% (down nearly 50%).

Table 1 — Number of Transfers and Percentage of Transfers from 2014-2022











Number of Transfers










Previous Year First Year Enrollment










%   of Previous First-Year Total










After an increase in transfers in 2020, we have seen declines in 2021 to 1375 and 3.6% and 2022 to 1231 and 3.0% — the lowest number and percentage in a decade. This may partly be attributable to the larger enrollment among first-years in fall 2021, which enabled some law schools both to grow the size of their first-year class while simultaneously increasing their median LSAT.  With this larger group of first-year students in fall 2021, some schools may have dialed back their transfer classes a little bit in the summer of 2022 due to limited capacity. 


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January 17, 2023 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Top 50 Law Schools: Percentage Of Students Receiving At Least 50% Tuition Scholarships

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Leiter: U.S. News Issues 4th 'Corrected' Law School Rankings

US News Logo 2Brian Leiter (Chicago), US News Releases Yet a 4th "Corrected" Ranking, Retracting the One Issued on Tuesday!:

According to a statement from US editor Bob Morse: ... 

These revisions changed the rank of every law school, excerpt Mercer (which remained at #127). Yale even dropped from #1 to #14. The full revised rankings are here.

April 1, 2021 in Law School, Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, December 21, 2020

Organ: 2020 Legal Ed Data Show Rebound In Transfer Market

This blog posting updates my blog postings over the last several years — 2015, 2016, 2017,  2018, 2019,  regarding what we know about the transfer market. With the ABA’s posting of the 2020 Standard 509 Reports, we now have seven years (2014-2020) of more detailed transfer data from which to glean insights about the transfer market among law schools.


As shown in Table 1 below, the number of transfers in 2020 increased to 1612 (4.2%).  For the last several years, the transfer market had been shrinking, having declined from 5.5% in 2014, to 4.7% in 2016, to 4.0% in 2018, and down to 3.4% in 2019.  Aside from a slight bump in 2017, this is the first meaningful increase in transfers in many years, although the level is still less than in 2015-2017 when there were more than 1700 transfers.

Table 1 – Number of Transfers and Percentage of Transfers from 2014-2020









Number of Transfers








Previous Year First Year Enrollment








%   of Previous First-Year Total








Some of this increase is attributable to the students transferring from Concordia to Idaho.  Idaho doesn't normally show up on the transfer list, but this year it has 105 transfers as a result of Concordia announcing its closure.  But that only explains part of the increase of more than 300 transfers between 2019 and 2020.  I believe the most likely additional explanation for this bump in transfers was the financial uncertainty for law schools associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly uncertainty regarding the number of first-year students who would show up at law schools that had announced during the summer a shift to online instruction for the fall semester.  With uncertainty regarding first-year enrollment and revenue, some law schools may have hedged by looking for more transfers.  For example, Harvard took 65 transfer students — the largest class of transfers it has taken in a number of years.  Its entering class this year was only 501 — when it has consistently welcomed 560 students almost every year for the last several years.  Knowing it might be welcoming a smaller entering class, I suspect Harvard made a conscious decision to welcome more transfers to counterbalance the loss of revenue from a smaller first-year class.  Other law schools on the list that showed an increase between 2019 and 2020 included George Washington (up 22), Berkeley (up 19) and Florida (up 11).  Relatedly, some students might have considered transferring because online learning might have made it possible for them to attend another law school without having to move, such that the transaction costs of transferring might have seemed smaller than in prior years.  And if students were going to be taking online courses anyway at the law school at which they started, why not transfer and take online courses at a law school that is more highly ranked.


Table 2 lists the top 15 law schools participating in the transfer market in descending order in Summer 2017 (fall 2016 entering class), Summer 2018 (fall 2017 entering class), Summer 2019 (fall 2018 entering class), and Summer 2020 (fall 2019 entering class).  The nine law schools on the list all four years include Cal. Berkeley, Columbia, Florida, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Loyola Marymount, NYU, UCLA.  Arizona State and Northwestern have been on the list three of the four years.

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December 21, 2020 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Reflections On Class Of 2019 Employment Outcomes

With the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar's release of its spreadsheet of employment outcomes for the Class of 2019, I am writing to look at trends over the last several years for a couple of different categories of employment outcomes while also offering a brief thought on the possible irrelevance of these data in light of the economic disruption resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Total Number of Graduates in Full-time, Long-term Bar Passage Required or JD Advantage Positions Increased almost 4.5%

With respect to full-time, long-term, Bar Passage Required (BPR) and JD Advantage (JDA) positions, the Class of 2019 offers some good news, with an increase in the total number of these positions from 26,632 to 27,352 (an increase of more than 700 and slightly less than 3%).   This is the largest number of these positions since 2015 (28,078).






% of Grads in FTLTBPR/JDA





































This is the third-year in a row in which full-time, long-term BPR positions increased — from 23,424 for the Class of 2018 to 24,472 – an increase of 1,048.  This is the first time since the Class of 2014, with 24,978 graduates in full-time, long-term BPR positions, that this number has been above 24,000.   This year also saw a continuation of the decline in the number of full-time, long-term JDA jobs that had paused briefly with the Class of 2018.  Full-time, long-term JDA jobs dropped from 3,209 for the Class of 2018 to 2,880 for the Class of 2019.  This is down nearly 40% from the 4,762 full-time, long-term JDA positions for the Class of 2014.  Indeed, the percentage of graduates in full-time, long-term JDA positions has fallen from 11% for the Class of 2014 to 8.5% for the Class of 2019.

Because the number of graduates has fallen from 43,132 for the Class of 2014 to 33,954 for the Class of 2019 (down over 21%), the percentage of graduates in full-time, long-term BPR or JDA positions has climbed for the fifth consecutive year, reaching 80.55%, up from 77.68% for the Class of 2018 (and up from 68.95% for the Class of 2014).

FTLTBPR as a Percentage of July First-Time Bar Passers from ABA-Accredited Law Schools nears 100%

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June 2, 2020 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, December 16, 2019

2019 Transfer Data Show Continued Decline In Number And Percentage Of Transfers

This blog posting updates my blog postings of December 2014December 2015March 2017, December 2017 and December 2018 regarding what we know about the transfer market. With the ABA’s posting of the 2019 Standard 509 Reports, we now have six years (2014-2019) of more detailed transfer data from which to glean insights about the transfer market among law schools.


As shown in Table 1 below, the number of transfers decreased to 1294 (3.3%), continuing a steady decline since a peak of 2,501 (5.8%) in 2013. It is also the lowest number and percentage of transfers we have seen since at least 2011.

For the last several years, the transfer market has been shrinking, having declined from 5.8% in 2013, to 5.2% in 2015, to 4.8% in 2017, to 4.0% in 2018, and now down to 3.4% in 2019.

Table 1 – Number of Transfers and Percentage of Transfers from 2011-2019











Number of Transfers










Previous Year First Year Enrollment










% of Previous First-Year Total










While it is hard to know for sure what might be causing this decline in transfers over the last several years, I believe the most likely explanation for the continuing decline in transfers over the last several years is the corresponding decline in law schools with conditional scholarship programs.  As I noted in a blog posting on conditional scholarship programs in January 2018, the number of law schools with conditional scholarship programs declined from 140 to 89 between 2011-12 and 2016-17.  As of the 2017-2018 academic year, there were only 77 law schools with conditional scholarships that were reduced or eliminated.  This decline in the number of law schools with conditional scholarship programs likely has reduced the number of rising second-year law students considering transferring.  In past years, it is likely that a reduced or eliminated conditional scholarship was a catalyst for some law students to consider transferring.  If they were going to have to pay more to continue their legal education because of a reduced or eliminated scholarship, they might as well consider transferring to a more highly ranked law school.  With the reduction in the number of law schools with conditional scholarship programs, however, this financial incentive to consider transferring has been diminished.


Table 2 lists the top 15 law schools participating in the transfer market in descending order in Summer 2016 (fall 2015 entering class), Summer 2017 (fall 2016 entering class), Summer 2018 (fall 2017 entering class), and Summer 2019 (fall 2018 entering class).

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December 16, 2019 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018 ABA Data Show Continued Decline In Number And Percentage Of Transfers

This blog posting updates my blog postings of December 2014, December 2015, March 2017, and December 2018 regarding what we know about the transfer market. With the release of the 2018 Standard 509 Reports, we know have five years of more detailed transfer data from which to glean insights about the transfer market among law schools.


The number of transfers decreased to 1494 (4%), continuing a steady decline since a peak of 2,501 (5.8%) in 2013. It is also the lowest number and percentage of transfers we have seen since at least 2011.

For the last five years, the transfer market has not been growing, it has been shrinking, having declined from 5.8% in 2013, to 5.2% in 2015, to 4.8% in 2017, to 4.0% in 2018.










Number of Transfers









Previous Year First Year Enrollment









%   of Previous First-Year Total










The following two charts list the top 15 law schools participating in the transfer market in descending order in Summer 2015 (fall 2014 entering class), Summer 2016 (fall 2015 entering class), Summer 2017 (fall 2016 entering class), and Summer 2018 (fall 2017 entering class). One chart is based on “numbers” of transfers and the other chart is based on the number of transfer students as a percentage of the prior year’s first year class.

Note that in these two charts, the “repeat players” are bolded – those schools in the top 15 for all four years are in black, those schools in the top 15 for three of the four years are in blue.  Nine of the top 15 have been on the list for the largest number of transfers all four years.  Even though George Washington remains one of these nine law schools, the number of transfers it has accepted has declined from over 100 in 2015 and 2016, to 67 in 2017, to 31 in 2018.

Largest Law Schools by Number of Transfers from 2015-2017

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December 17, 2018 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Observations On Enrollment Patterns For The Fall 2018 Entering Class Based On Preliminary Data

In a blog posting in August relating to projections for the fall 2018 entering class, I suggested that with applicants up over 60,000 (up over 8% from 2017) the fall 2018 entering class might be over 40,000 (up roughly 8%). I made this prediction based on the strength of the applicant pool and the perception that given the opportunity, law schools would seek to regain revenue lost over the last few years. I also suggested that the distribution might be “lumpy” with some of the increase concentrated in highly-ranked schools (given the growth among applicants with high LSATs of 165 or higher).

We will know more one month from now when the ABA releases data from the Standard 509 reports for all ABA-accredited law schools, but based on preliminary reports from 142 law schools (nearly 72% of the 199 law schools in the 48 contiguous state and Hawai’i), I appear to have over-estimated the growth in matriculants, while correctly predicting significant “lumpiness” in enrollment growth skewed toward law schools with higher median LSATs.


The first-year class across the 199 ABA-accredited law schools in the 48 contiguous states and Hawai’i in 2017 totaled roughly 36,900 students. Across the 142 law schools on which I have available data for 2018, the 2017 first-year enrollment totaled 28,352, or roughly 76.8% of the total across all 199 law schools in the sample. First-year enrollment at these 142 law schools in 2018 increased by 1,231 to 29,583, an increase of 4.3%. If the remaining 57 law schools see a comparable increase in enrollment of 4.3%, the 2018 first-year class across these 199 law schools would be roughly 38,500. In all likelihood, however, it will be even smaller than that. As shown in Table 1 below, the 57 law schools for which data is not presently available are disproportionately law schools that had median LSATs of less than 155 in 2017, across which the smallest average gains in enrollment have been seen for the fall 2018 entering class.

My prediction that the first-year class might be over 40,000 appears to have been erroneous for three reasons. First, I failed to account for two law schools that ended up not enrolling classes for fall 2018 (Arizona Summit and Valparaiso).  Second, I failed to account for the impact of ABA regulatory efforts on law schools with lower median LSATs, a number of which significantly reduced enrollment to improve the LSAT profile of their entering classes. Third, and perhaps most significantly, however, I believed higher-ranked law schools would take advantage of a larger applicant pool with stronger credentials to welcome more students to enhance revenue. In doing so, I failed to heed one of the key points highlighted in research I have been working on with Bernie Burk and Emma Rasiel -- that law schools tend to favor profile over revenue. Thus, a number of law schools that could have enrolled more first-years without impacting their first-year class profile chose instead to increase their class profile rather than increasing enrollment as much as they might have.


The information in Table 1 highlights the enrollment patterns for fall 2018 across the 142 law schools with available data, highlighting the number and percentage of law schools with first-year enrollment increases or decreases of 5% or more overall between 2017 and 2018, and also showing the number and percentage of first-year enrollment increases or decreases across law schools within different LSAT categories based on median LSAT for the 2017 entering class.

There are a couple of things worth noting in Table 1. First, data are available on a much larger percentage of law schools with median LSATs of 155 or higher than law schools with median LSATs of 154 or lower. Second, as I predicted in August, more law schools with median LSATs of 155 or higher showed increases in first-year enrollment of 5% or more compared to law schools with median LSATs of 154 or lower.

Table 1 - Increases or Decreases in First-Year Enrollment of 5% or More

Median LSAT








Overall Total

% Reporting



















































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November 19, 2018 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Updated Analysis Of Law School Attrition Data — 2018

In October 2015 and February 2016, I posted blogs discussing attrition rates between 2010 and 2014, and 2010 and 2015, respectively. With the release of the 2017 Standard 509 reports in December, I now have compiled attrition data from all of the fully-accredited ABA law schools outside of Puerto Rico for the last seven years, through 2016-17. I have calculated average attrition rates for the class as a whole and then broken out average attrition rates by law schools in different median LSAT categories – 160+, 155-159, 150-154 and <150. (Earlier this month, Brian Tamanaha noted that there are 14 law schools that have non-transfer attrition rates in the 2016-17 academic year in excess of 20%, the threshold set forth in Interpretation 501-3 which the Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar adopted early in 2017.)

This blog reports that overall first-year non-transfer attrition increased each year until the 2016-17 academic year, going from 5.81% to 7.33% through 2015-16, before dropping back to 6.46% in 2016-17. This overall increase, however, results largely from increases in non-transfer attrition among schools with a median LSAT less than 150, as the non-transfer attrition rates for law schools with a median LSAT of 150 or greater have generally been in a downward trend over this period. Interestingly, one point reflected in this data is the inverse relationship between median LSAT category and attrition rates. “Academic attrition” rates increase significantly as median LSAT of law schools decreases; for four of the last five years, “other attrition” rates also increase as median LSAT decreases. 

The decline in non-transfer attrition in 2016-17 is noteworthy given that it is the first decline in non-transfer attrition in the last several years.  Notably, one significant contributor to the decline in non-transfer attrition in 2016-17 was the exclusion of Charlotte from the calculations given its closure.  (For example, had Charlotte not been included in the 2015-16 non-transfer attrition calculations, the overall non-transfer attrition rate for 2015-16 would have been 6.96% rather than 7.33%.)  That said, even taking into account the "Charlotte" factor, 2016-17 still shows the first decline in overall non-transfer attrition in the last several years.

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January 16, 2018 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Far Fewer Law School Conditional Scholarship Programs In 2016-17 Than In 2011-12

This blog posting highlights the much smaller number of law schools with conditional scholarship programs in 2016-17 compared to 2010-11.  It also looks at the smaller number and smaller percentage of first-year students with conditional scholarships in 2016-17 compared with 2011-12, and the extent to which the number and percentage of rising second-year students whose scholarships were reduced or eliminated has changed since 2011-12.  Next, it analyzes both the prevalence of conditional scholarship programs among law schools across different rankings categories and the extent to which scholarship retention rates differ among law schools across different rankings categories.  In this regard, it notes both that there are almost no conditional scholarship programs among top-50 law schools as of 2016-17, and that the concentration of conditional scholarship programs in law schools ranked 101 and lower probably means a disproportionate number of women students and minority students are dealing with conditional scholarships. Finally, it looks at how the distribution of retention rates by decile has changed since 2011-12.

  1. Introduction

Several years ago, the Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved revisions to Standard 509, requiring that law schools post a chart identifying the number of conditional scholarships given to incoming first years and the number of those scholarship recipients whose scholarships were reduced or eliminated at the end of the first year.  As a result, there is now a much greater universe of publicly available information about law school scholarship programs. In the summer of 2013, I posted to SSRN an article entitled Better Understanding the Scope of Conditional Scholarship Programs among American Law Schools, summarizing the first year of available data on conditional scholarship programs, covering the 2011-12 academic year.  Law schools have now published this data for six years, with data covering the 2016-17 academic year having just been released as of December 15.

  1. Number of Law Schools with Conditional Scholarship Programs Declines by 36.4%

As shown in Chart 1 below, excluding the three law schools in Puerto Rico, there were 140 fully-accredited ABA law schools with conditional scholarship programs in 2011-12. For the 2016-17 academic year, however, the number of fully-accredited ABA law schools with conditional scholarship programs had dropped to 89, a decline of over 36%.Chart 1 2017 Cond. Schol. Blog SECOND

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January 2, 2018 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A 'Marvel'ous Dinner

Tax Court (2017)On October 19th the Tax Court was in Lubbock in the person of Chief Judge Paige Marvel.  The Court’s involvement with the ABA Tax Section is well known, but I did want to give a shout-out to its equally important involvement with legal education.  Each year the tax faculty at Tech Law (myself, Alyson Outenreath, Steve Black, Vaughn James, and Terri Morgeson) hold a Tax Careers Panel at the Law School (graciously sponsored in recent by the Texas State Bar Tax Section). We always time it so that we can invite the Tax Court Judge to be on the panel. We are delighted that every judge has participated.

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October 28, 2017 in Bryan Camp, Law School, Legal Education, Miscellaneous, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Survey: Rankings Are The Most Important Factor In Students' Decision On Which Law School To Attend

Following up on yesterday's post on a survey of law school applicants by Blueprint LSAT Preparation:  

What will have the largest impact in determining which law school you will ultimately choose? Rank in order of importance, 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.

Ranking Survey

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August 31, 2017 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Friday, January 30, 2015

Retired Professor Gives $1 Million to Emory Law School

CarneyPress Release,  Retired Professor Gives $1 Million to Emory Law:

Emory Law Professor William J. Carney and his wife, Jane [left and right in photo, along with Dean Robert Schapiro and Sue Payne, Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Center for Transactional Law and Practice], have created a challenge grant of $1 million to benefit the law school's Center for Transactional Law and Practice.

The Carneys' gift will allow the center to hire an assistant director and to enhance both its experiential programs and academic offerings. When the law school has raised $1 million in matching funds, it will establish the William and Jane Carney Chair of Transactional Law and Practice, to be held by the center's executive director.

The gift is one of the largest named gifts from a professor ever given to Emory University. ...

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January 30, 2015 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, August 4, 2014

The 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings in the World

The 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings in the World:

Durham-Law-SchoolFrom stunning examples of Gothic revival to Brutalism’s giant box-like constructions, the world’s most impressive law school buildings span decades and even centuries. With modern marvels like Frank Gehry’s Loyola Law campus and the new University of Sydney Faculty of Law building, and traditional structures like Yale Law’s Sterling Law Building, these architectural giants were chosen for their ingenuity, aesthetic beauty, and commitment to creating an environment that honors the history and study of law. Many of these buildings house some of the world’s most prestigious and selective law programs, and a number of them set a precedent for green building standards and solutions. [Photo: #1 Durham Law School, Durham, UK. The top-ranked U.S. law school building is Thomas Jefferson.]

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

August 4, 2014 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Makes Lawyers Happy?

Lawrence S. Krieger (Florida State University, College of Law) & Kennon M. Sheldon (University of Missouri (Columbia), Department of Psychological Sciences), What Makes Lawyers Happy? Transcending the Anecdotes with Data from 6200 Lawyers:

Attorney well-being and depression are topics of great concern, but there has been no theory-driven empirical research to guide lawyers and law students seeking well-being. This article reports a unique study establishing a hierarchy of five tiers of factors for lawyer well-being, including choices in law school, legal career, and personal life, and psychological needs and motivations established by Self-Determination Theory. Data from several thousand lawyers in four states show striking patterns, repeatedly indicating that common priorities on law school campuses and among lawyers are confused or misplaced. Factors typically afforded most attention and concern, those relating to prestige and money (income, law school debt, class rank, law review, and USNWR law school ranking) showed zero to small correlations with lawyer well-being. Conversely, factors marginalized in law school and seen in previous research to erode in law students (psychological needs and motivation) were the very strongest predictors of lawyer happiness and satisfaction. Lawyers were grouped by practice type and setting to further test these findings. The group with the lowest incomes and grades in law school, public service lawyers, had stronger autonomy and purpose and were happier than those in the most prestigious positions and with the highest grades and incomes. Additional measures raised concerns: subjects did not broadly agree that judge and lawyer behavior is professional, nor that the legal process reaches fair outcomes. Specific explanations and recommendations for lawyers, law teachers, and legal employers are drawn from the data, and direct implications for attorney productivity and professionalism are explained.


Chart 2

March 18, 2014 in Law Review Rankings, Law School | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, May 31, 2013

U.S. News Law School Efficiency Rankings

2014 U.S. NewsRobert Morse (Director of Data Research, U.S. News & World Report), Which Highly Ranked Law Schools Operate Most Efficiently?:

U.S. News has developed a new, exclusive list showing which law schools are able to produce the highest educational quality, as determined by their place in our Best Law Schools rankings, but spend relatively less money to achieve that quality. ...

U.S. News measures financial resources in part by taking into account how much a law school spends per student on instruction, including faculty and staff salaries, library, supporting services and other expenditures, such as financial aid. The financial resources ranking factor is a direct measure of the size of each law school's yearly budget expenditures per student compared with other law schools, and it has an 11.25 percent weight in the Best Law Schools rankings methodology.

The new list is based on the concept of operating efficiency, defined as a law school's total budget expenditures per student divided by its overall score – which U.S. News uses to determine its overall numerical rank – in the 2014 Best Law Schools rankings. This calculation reveals how much each law school is spending for each point in its overall score and thus, its position in the rankings.

The less a law school spends relative to other schools as correlated to its overall U.S. News rank, the more efficient it is in producing a quality education compared with other schools. ...

Only schools that were numerically ranked in the top 100 in the Best Law Schools 2014 rankings were included in this analysis. The table below shows the 25 law schools that scored the highest on the operating efficiency measure, sorted by those that spent less per student to achieve a relatively high rank.

Law School

US News Rank

Spending per Student

Spending per Student for Each Point in US News Overall Score

Louisville  68  $28,151  $654.67
Rutgers-C.  91  $26,858  $688.67
G. Mason  41  $38,684  $703.35
Wisconsin  33  $42,415  $731.29
Rutgers-N.  86  $30,236  $755.90
Wm. & Mary  33  $44,104  $760.41
N. Carolina  31  $45,232  $766.64
Tennessee  61  $34,792  $773.16
Nebraska  61  $35,228  $782.84
Kentucky  58  $36,407  $791.46
Georgia St.  54  $38,099  $793.73
Houston  48  $39,761  $795.22
Hawaii  80  $33,025  $805.49
Alabama  21  $53,469  $810.14
G. Wash.  21  $53,495  $810.53
Arkansas  68  $35,041  $814.91
Missouri  76  $34,437  $819.93
Virginia  7  $69,704  $820.05
LSU  76  $34,909  $831.17
Utah  41  $46,512  $845.67
Florida  46  $45,654  $861.40
Georgetown  14  $64,734  $863.12
Wake Forest  36  $49,318  $865.23
Emory  23  $57,323  $881.89
Ohio State  36  $50,269  $881.91

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

May 31, 2013 in Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Law Schools Shrink Part-Time Programs After U.S. News Closed Rankings Loophole

National Law Journal, Part-Time Law School Losing Allure:

NLJ_Page_1[E]nrollment in, and applications to, part-time programs has declined, but law schools themselves have played a role in that dropoff. Enrollment in part-time day programs fell dramatically in 2009 — the first year U.S. News & World Report began weighing the Law School Admission Test scores and undergraduate grade-point averages of part-time students in its rankings calculations. The council's study appeared to substantiate what legal educators long suspected: that schools were funneling lower-performing students into part-time day programs to prop up their rankings, but curtailed the practice when it no longer offered any advantage. And then there's the rough economy....

Between 2006 and 2010, the number of matriculants in part-time day programs decreased by 57%. Part-time evening programs saw a more modest decline — 17%. Meanwhile, law schools continued to create part-time programs. There were 40 part-time day programs at ABA-accredited schools in 2006 and 53 by 2010. Similarly, there were 55 evening part-time programs in 2006 and 65 by 2010. ... [T]he U.S. News loophole prompted some of this growth — law schools could admit weaker students without compromising their rankings.

February 3, 2012 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

UConn = Wannabe U

Wannabe U Inside Higher Ed reviews Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University (University of Chicago Press, 2009), by Gaye Tuchman (University of Connecticut, Department of Sociology):

The book contains a discussion of the way faculty members look down on those who lead the university's divisions and colleges, viewing them as "corporate administrators" and not scholars. The professors check out the publication records of new administrators and gossip about how sparse or old they are. "When he wants to discuss research, he has to talk about his dissertation. He apparently hasn't done any research since then," quips a faculty member of one administrator. Another says of an administrator: "I don't know how many times I have heard him mention that he is a biologist. It's as though he mentions his field when he talks to [a group of faculty leaders] so that we will know he is intelligent." ...

In her concluding chapter, she calls Wannabe "a conformist university," with an emphasis on "doing what must be done to elbow its way up the rankings." She writes that the administration is imposing "an accountability regime" on faculty members. And she notes that while professors still have much more freedom than most American employees, "as the decades pass, working at a university will become more and more like working in the corporate world" and administrators will be hired for their ability to carry out corporate-style management. (While the book's barbs tend to find administrators as targets, it also criticizes professors, particularly for their lack of interest in teaching issues as compared to research agendas.)

The examples in the book portray an administration much more concerned with making the university look outstanding than actually becoming outstanding. And measures that Tuchman writes are of dubious value (U.S. News & World Report rankings, for example) appear to count much more than the vibrancy of intellectual life or the student learning experience. ...

An abundance of evidence points to Wannabe's identity as UConn, Tuchman's employer.

October 6, 2009 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Downside of an iPhone

Jayne Volleyball Fruit (090309) One of the things I love about my iPhone is the ability to multitask my way through the day.  I pound out email whenever and wherever I can -- waiting in line at the grocery store, before and during breaks in my kids' games, while watching Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert before I go to bed, etc.  I especially like digging through email on my way to and from the parking garage at work.  Today, I discovered the downside of that strategy.  My daughter has her first volleyball game of the season, and we volunteered to provide the pregame meal.  So this morning I put in the trunk of my car a cooler of drinks and a huge fruit salad that my wife made last night, and planned to bring them to the high school later this afternoon after stopping off at Potbelly to get 20 sandwiches for the girls.  It was a brilliant strategy -- to save time in not having to go home before the game, I would put the fruit salad in the faculty refrigerator at the law school.  Of course, I had to check email when walking from my car to the law school while carrying my laptop and the fruit salad ...  So does a good father/husband (1) tell the team, "Sorry, I dropped the fruit salad"; (2) tell the team, "Sorry, Mrs. Caron forgot to make the fruit salad"; or (3) leave an hour early and buy outrageously overpriced pre-cut fruit at Kroger's?

September 3, 2009 in Law School, Miscellaneous, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Caused Loyola-L.A.'s Fall in the U.S. News Rankings?

Loyola Brian Leiter reports on the plunge in Loyola L.A.'s academic reputation score from 2.6 in the 2009 U.S. News rankings (tied with Cincinnati, Houston, Indiana-Indianapolis, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, and Santa Clara) to 2.3 in the 2010 U.S. News rankings (tied with LSU, Louisville, Maine, Mercer, Mississippi, Missouri-Kansas City, New York Law School, St. John's, St. Louis, and Vermont).  Because academic reputation is the single biggest factor in the U.S. News methodology (25%), Loyola slipped in the overall ranking from 63 in 2009 to 71 in 2010.  Leiter reports that "only once in the last eight years did another school's peer reputation score drop that much."  The reason for the precipitous drop in academic reputation?  Leiter quotes an email from Loyola-L.A's Dean attributing the decline to U.S. News changing the way it listed Loyola on its academic reputation survey -- from "Loyola Law School" to "Loyola Marymount University."

July 17, 2009 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Albany Trumpets 94% Employment Rate; Unemployed Grads Disagree

From Law School Headlines:

Albany Law School recently released the following statement:

Albany Law Has Beaten National Average for 25 Years Albany Law School today announced a 94% employment rate in legal positions for its 2008 graduating class, outpacing the national average of 90% percent for all law schools. “Our consistent record of employment success is a testament not only to the quality and commitment of our students over the years, but also to the faculty who educate them and the staff who support them,” said President and Dean Thomas F. Guernsey.

According to our angry tipster, this release has not set well with the Albany Law Class of 2008:

This is outrageous. I personally know more than 20 unemployed graduates. MORE THAN 6% OF THE CLASS. The career services wasn’t interested in much of the graduating class filling out the form, as I had to seek it out. ... The student body is livid. Not about the number but about the boasting in the release. The release says nothing about working for $8 an hour, or begging Bank of America to put me on a 35 year payment plan

June 16, 2009 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

3Ls: What Will You Miss Most About Law School?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Negotiating Your Law Review Publishing Agreement

My friend and colleague Tim Armstrong gave a great talk to our faculty yesterday on An Introduction to Publication Agreements for Authors.  He provides some great advice for negotiating the publication agreement with law reviews and book publishers in his blog post and two-page memorandum.

May 14, 2009 in Law School, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Franklin Pierce to Merge With University of New Hampshire

Franklin Pierce Law Center, New Hampshire's only law school, is set to merge with the University of New Hampshire, in a bid "to break into the [U.S. News] top 100."  Concord Monitor (via  Law School Headlines).

May 8, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 2, 2009

NLJ: 27 Law Schools Seek Deans

In this week's National Law Journal:  Wanted: Law School Deans. Lots of Them. Dozens of Law schools Search for Leaders; Many Leery of New Demands, by Julie Kay:

Even in this economy, there seems to still be a demand for one high-paying job — law school dean. At least 27 law schools throughout the country are searching for new deans — and many are having a tough time filling the position.

Law schools from Harvard to the University of Arizona to Case Western to the University of Miami have all embarked on dean searches, and some are finding somewhat slim pickings, with the same applicants recycled for many of the jobs.

That's because law school deanships, once highly sought after, are now high-stress jobs, thanks in part to the economy. With fundraising plummeting, donors in short supply and state budgets being slashed, law school deans are finding themselves up to their necks in stress. Many have quit in the past year to go back to teaching, which still pays fairly well and has far fewer headaches.

"Being a dean is less attractive than it used to be," said Thomas Ulen, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. "An increasing percentage of the job — upwards of 80 to 90% — is devoted to fundraising. And with the economy in this state, that is not easy. And let's face it, being a law professor is one of the best jobs in the universe." ...

A complete list of schools with open law dean positions:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas (Little Rock)
  • BYU
  • Cardozo
  • Case Western
  • Duquesne
  • Elon
  • Florida International
  • Golden Gate
  • Harvard
  • Memphis
  • Miami
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Northern Illinois
  • Notre Dame
  • Rutgers (Newark)
  • South Texas
  • St. John's
  • Texas Tech
  • Tulane
  • University of Washington
  • Whittier
  • William & Mary
  • Wyoming

For a list of the finalists in many of these dean searches, see here.

February 2, 2009 in Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arizona State Faculty Face 12% Pay Cut by June 30

Scary news from the Arizona Republic:

Arizona's public universities on Tuesday unveiled their offers to make cuts in their budgets this year, saying they would strip thousands of employees of weeks of pay and eliminate jobs and some programs. ...

[T]he proposal would require employees, including tenured professors, to take time off as unpaid leave. ... ASU's portion of the proposed $100 million cut is $45.3 million. Much of it would come from employees, who could lose 12% percent of their remaining pay before July.

A memo from ASU's President provides further details of the furlough/pay reduction for faculty.

January 29, 2009 in Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stanford Law Grad-Call Girl Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

I previously blogged 2001 Stanford Law Grad Cristina Schultz (now Cristina Warthen after her marriage to David Warthen, co-founder of the online search engine Ask Jeeves, now known as, who was indicted in California federal district court for failing to pay taxes on $133,717 she earned as a prostitute in 2003 (United States v. Warthen, No. CR-08-682).  From the San Jose Mercury-News:

A Stanford law school graduate pleaded guilty Monday to federal income tax evasion charges, admitting she ran a high-priced call girl service "entertaining'' clients in cities across the country.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, filed in federal court in San Jose, Cristina Warthen agreed to pay $313,000 to the government to cover taxes on the earnings she made as a prostitute who went by the name of "Brazil.'' As part of the plea bargain, Warthen would not be sent to federal prison, but instead would serve one year of home detention and three years of probation.

During a hearing, Warthen, dressed in a gray pantsuit, said little as she agreed to the terms of the plea arrangement. U.S. District Judge James Ware set Warthen's sentencing for June 15.

Federal prosecutors in September charged Warthen, 34, with tax evasion, alleging she failed to pay taxes on more than $133,000 she earned as a prostitute in 2003. Court papers show Warthen at the time was jetting off to Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and other cities for liaisons with clients she solicited on her steamy Web site, ",'' all of whom paid her in cash.

See also ABA Journal, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle.  (Hat Tip: Above the Law.)

January 27, 2009 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Law School, Legal Education, News | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 26, 2009

NLJ: 3Ls Brace for Tough Job Prospects; Does Tax Offer Hope?

In this week's National Law Journal: The View from 3L: Law Students Brace for Tough Reality, by Karen Sloan:

Although 3Ls aren't in despair, many of them are far less confident about what the future holds for them than the classes that preceded them.

The article then profiles 3Ls at Georgia, Michigan, NYU, San Diego, Vanderbilt, and concludes with this great quote from the Michigan 3L:

Jenkins landed just six on-campus interviews at the start of the school year and got three callbacks. Two firms flew him in for second-round interviews, but no job offers emerged. The third firm finally came through with an offer in mid-November, and Jenkins will head off to a midsize New York firm, where he expects to work in the tax practice.

"Taxes are as omnipresent as death," Jenkins said. "I think it's a relatively safe place to be."

January 26, 2009 in Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unsuccessful Iowa Legal Writing Faculty Candidate Sues, Claiming Discrimination Due to Her Conservative Views

Teresa R. Wagner, Associate Director of the University of Iowa College of Law Writing Resource Center, has filed a lawsuit against the school and its dean, Tax Prof Carolyn Jones, claiming that she was twice rejected for a legal writing faculty position because of her conservative political views.  From the Chroncile of Higher Education and Des Moines Register:

She argues that affiliations listed on her résumé, including stints with groups like the National Right to Life Committee, did her in with a liberal-leaning faculty. To bolster her case, the lawsuit dissects the political affiliations of the approximately 50 faculty members who vote on law-school faculty hires; 46 of them are registered as Democrats and only one, hired 20 years ago, is a Republican, the lawsuit states. Ms. Wagner also says that a law-school associate dean suggested that she conceal her affiliation with a conservative law school [Ave Maria] and later told her not to apply for any more faculty positions.

"She just wants to make it known that conservatives need not apply," Wagner's lawyer, Stephen Fieweger of Moline, Ill., said. "Liberals talk about diversity, except when it comes to bringing in a different, conservative point of view."

UpdateVolokh Conspiracy and Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

January 24, 2009 in Law School, Legal Education, News | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

State Financing of Universities Leads to Lower Quality Faculty

Irina Khovanskaya (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Konstantin Sonin (New Economic School, Moscow) &  Maria Yudkevich (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) have posted Budget Uncertainty and Faculty Contracts: A Dynamic Framework for Comparative Analysis on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

We study hiring decisions made by competing universities in a dynamic framework, focusing on the structure of university finance. Universities with annual state-approved financing underinvest in high-quality faculty, while universities that receive a significant part of their annual income from returns on endowments hire fewer but better faculty and provide long-term contracts. If university financing is linked to the number of students, there is additional pressure to hire low-quality short-term staff. An increase in the university's budget might force the university to switch its priorities from 'research' to 'teaching' in equilibrium. We employ our model to discuss the necessity for state-financed endowments, and investigate the political economics of competition between universities, path-dependence in the development of the university system, and higher-education reform in emerging market economies.

(Hat Tip: Max Huffman.)

January 24, 2009 in Law School, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chronicle: University-Provided Laptops Are Taxable to Faculty

I previously blogged that the IRS increasingly is requiring faculty to report the value of university-provided cell phones as income under § 280F.  This week's Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the IRS is similarly targeting faculty who receive a university-provided laptop:  Professors May Have to Pay Taxes on College Laptops, by David Shieh:

Professors lucky enough to get laptops from their institutions may want to watch out — the taxman could come knocking.

Manchester College has announced that employees with university-owned laptops will now have to add those laptops to their tax forms as taxable items. This means a $1,600 laptop with a four-year life expectancy would add $400 per year to an employee’s taxable income ....

At Manchester, the news has caused “significant push back from employees” who want to avoid paying additional taxes. ... “Many want to exchange their laptop for a desktop to avoid the tax liability in the future.” ...

Because university laptops are often used for personal purposes, the IRS counts them as taxable “fringe benefits,” said Bertrand Harding, a tax lawyer specializing in nonprofit institutions, in an interview with The Chronicle. If a college is able to provide documentation showing such laptops were used for business purposes every time they were turned on, it would not have to pay tax on the machines. But few institutions could offer any such proof, Mr. Harding said.

In recent years, the IRS has started to crack down on fringe benefits like laptops and cellphones, and it has asked institutions to pay taxes that were not withheld from employees, Mr. Harding said. This has resulted in an increasing number of colleges — like Manchester — listing laptops as taxable items, Mr. Harding said. “Some colleges just put their heads in the sand and say we’re just going to wait for the IRS to come,” Mr. Harding said. “Others are changing their policies so they don’t get hammered when the IRS comes in.”

Many law schools give faculty a choice between an office desktop computer and a laptop computer.  Faculty concerned about the tax consequences should consider the desktop option (unless they plan on being Treasury Secretary).  For a detailed discussion of these tax rules, see Handling Employee Use of Employer-provided Computers and Cell Phones.  (Hat Tip: Bruce McGovern.)

January 22, 2009 in Law School, News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tax Teachers of the Year

The AALS has announced that the following Tax Profs have been selected as the Teacher of the Year for 2007-08 at their respective law schools:

Donaldson Samuel A. Donaldson (University of Washington)  






Field Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)   






Lyons William H. Lyons (Nebraska)




Yu Michael T. Yu (California Western)







Prior Tax Teachers of the Year: 

January 20, 2009 in Law School, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Chronicle: "Customizable" J.D. Degrees

Three Chronicle of Higher Education articles by Peter Schmidt on "customizable" law school degrees, with excerpts below the fold:

Continue reading

January 20, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Buckles: Should Yale Lose its Tax Exemption Because of its Opposition to the Solomon Amendment?

Johnny Rex Buckles (Houston) has posted Do Law Schools Forfeit Federal Income Tax Exemption When They Deny Military Recruiters Full Access to Career Services Programs? The Hypothetical Case of Yale University v. Commissioner, 41 Ariz. St. L.J. ___ (2009), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Most U.S. law schools prohibit prospective employers who discriminate against students on any of several grounds, including sexual orientation, from utilizing the schools' student recruitment programs conducted by their career services offices. Because homosexuals who disclose their sexual orientation may not serve in the United States armed forces, some law schools at times have limited the channels through which military recruiters may interview students. In response to the application of these anti-discrimination policies to military recruiters, Congress enacted the Solomon Amendment. The Solomon Amendment eliminates certain federal funding otherwise available to an institution of higher education if it denies military recruiters the same access to its students and campus that other recruiting employers receive. Although the Supreme Court has recently upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, another legal issue -- one that existing legal scholarship has never considered -- remains outstanding. The issue is whether private law schools that have denied military recruiters full access to student recruitment programs have forfeited their federal income tax exemption under § 501(c)(3) under the public policy doctrine announced in Bob Jones University v. United States. This article rigorously analyzes this provocative issue by positing a hypothetical Supreme Court case, Yale University v. Commissioner, in which four opinions written by fictional Supreme Court Justices determine the tax-exempt status of several private, free-standing law schools or their affiliated universities. This format not only facilitates an analysis of the nuances of the public policy doctrine, but also exposes and illustrates the vagaries of the doctrine. Building on Reforming the Public Policy Doctrine, 53 U. Kan. L. Rev. 397 (2005), this article concludes that the hypothetical case of Yale University v. Commissioner demonstrates that the public policy doctrine should be reformed.

January 20, 2009 in Law School, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is the Law Professor Gravy Train Over?

New York Times (Jan. 18, 2009):  The Last Professor, by Stanley Fish:

I have argued that higher education, properly understood, is distinguished by the absence of a direct and designed relationship between its activities and measurable effects in the world. ...

It may be fun to argue its merits (as I have done), but that argument may be merely academic – in the pejorative sense of the word – if it has no support in the real world from which it rhetorically distances itself. In today’s climate, does it have a chance?

In a new book, The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities, Frank Donoghue ... asks that question and answers “No.” ... Except in a few private wealthy universities (functioning almost as museums), the splendid and supported irrelevance of humanist inquiry for its own sake is already a thing of the past. ...

One vision, rooted in an “ethic of productivity” and efficiency, has, he tells us, already won the day; and the proof is that in the very colleges and universities where the life of the mind is routinely celebrated, the material conditions of the workplace are configured by the business model that scorns it. The best evidence for this is the shrinking number of tenured and tenure-track faculty and the corresponding rise of adjuncts, part-timers more akin to itinerant workers than to embedded professionals. ... Universities under increasing financial pressure, he explains, do not “hire the most experienced teachers, but rather the cheapest teachers.” Tenured and tenure-track teachers now make up only 35% of the pedagogical workforce and “this number is steadily falling.” ...

People sometimes believe that they were born too late or too early. After reading Donoghue’s book, I feel that I have timed it just right, for it seems that I have had a career that would not have been available to me had I entered the world 50 years later. Just lucky, I guess. 

Forbes (Jan. 14, 2009):  The Great College Hoax, by Kathy Kristof:

Accepted into the California Western School of Law, a private San Diego institution, [Joel] Kellum couldn't swing the $36,000 in annual tuition with financial aid and part-time work. So he did what friends and professors said was the smart move and took out $60,000 in student loans.

Kellum's law school sweetheart, Jennifer Coultas, did much the same. By the time they graduated in 1995, the couple was $194,000 in debt. They eventually married and each landed a six-figure job. Yet even with Kellum moonlighting, they had to scrounge to come up with $145,000 in loan payments. With interest accruing at up to 12% a year, that whittled away only $21,000 in principal. Their remaining bill: $173,000 and counting.

Kellum and Coultas divorced last year. Each cites their struggle with law school debt as a major source of stress on their marriage. "Two people with this much debt just shouldn't be together," Kellum says.

The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that's just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle. The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks. ...

Not only are college numbers spun. Some are patently spurious, says Richard Sander, a law professor at UCLA. Law schools lure in minority students to improve diversity rankings without disclosing that less than half of African-Americans who enter these programs ever pass the bar. Schools goose employment statistics by temporarily hiring new grads and spotlighting kids who land top-paying jobs, while glossing over far-lower average incomes. The one certainty: The average law grad owes $100,000 in student debt. "There are a lot of aspects of selling education that are tinged with consumer fraud," Sander says. "There is a definite conspiracy to lead students down a primrose path."

AALS Committee on Research Program (Jan. 9, 2009), Citations, SSRN Downloads, U.S. News, Carnegie, Bar Passage, Careers: Competing Methods of Assessing Law Schools (podcast):

  • Bill Henderson (Indiana):
    • 25:30: "Employment outcomes do not turn on your U.S. News ranking."
    • 25:55:  At 50 law schools, 20% of the students are either unemployed, flunked out, or are unknown, yet the ABA and LSAC disavow the use of data to rank law schools.
  • Richard Matasar (Dean, New York Law School):
    • 1:16:50: "We are an input-focused business, and outputs are what the students are paying for."
    • 1:20:40:  "Law school needs to be about what people need -- not what we're good at. ...  Most of us are social misfits, and we're the ones who've been designated to teach the students how to work interpersonal skills."
    • 1:21:20:  "We should be ashamed of ourselves.  We own our students' outcomes. We took them. We took their money. We live on their money to pay to come to San Diego. And if they don't have a good outcome in life, we're exploiting them. It's our responsibility to own the outcomes of our institutions. If they're not doing well ... it's gotta be fixed. Or we should shut the damn place down. And that's a moral responsibility that we bear in the academy. It's a leadership responsibility that each of us has. And damn the U.S. News if it affects our rankings. The kids are not gonna show up. Do you know that LSAT registrations are flat to down this year. That students' applications to law school are flat to down in a substantial number of law schools. That's never happened in a downturn in the economy before. They're catching on. Maybe this thing they are doing is not so valuable. Maybe the chance at being in the top 10% is not a good enough lottery shot in order to effectively spend $120,000 and see it blow up at the end of three years of law school.
  • Jason Solomon (Georgia):
    • 1:29:20: "We're mad as heck and we can't take it anymore. ... To the panelists and others in the room: what are we going to do?  Are people from AALS leadership here?"
  • Bryant G. Garth (Dean, Southwestern):
    • 1:32:00:  "This group has stonewalled completely and killed any kind of real consumer information for 20 or 30 years, and that's what made U.S. News own this particular enterprise. And it's something that maybe those that stonewalled for some long might have to take some initiative and responsibility in remedying the situation we find ourselves in."

January 20, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Clickers a Hit at MIT as Part of "Technology Enhanced Active Learning" Program

New York Times:  At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard, by Sara Rimer:

The physics department has replaced the traditional large introductory lecture with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning. Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50%.

M.I.T. is not alone. Other universities are changing their ways, among them Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard. In these institutions, physicists have been pioneering teaching methods drawn from research showing that most students learn fundamental concepts more successfully, and are better able to apply them, through interactive, collaborative, student-centered learning. ...

The new approach at M.I.T. is known by its acronym, TEAL, for Technology Enhanced Active Learning. A $10 million donation from the late Alex d’Arbeloff, an M.I.T. alumnus, co-founder of the high-tech company Teradyne, and former M.I.T. corporation chairman, made the switch to TEAL possible. The two state-of-the-art TEAL classrooms alone cost $2.5 million, Professor Belcher said. Unlike in the lectures, attendance counts toward the final grade, and attendance is up to about 80%. Classes meet three times a week, for a total of five hours. Homework is due three times a week. ...

Younger professors tend to be more enthusiastic about TEAL than veterans who have been perfecting their lectures for decades. One of the newer professors, Gabriella Sciolla, who arrived in 2003, was teaching a TEAL class on circuits recently. She gauged the level of understanding in the room by throwing out a series of multiple-choice questions. The students “voted” with their wireless “personal response clickers” — the clickers are essential to TEAL — which transmitted the answers to a computer monitored by the professor and her assistants.

“You know where they are,” Professor Sciolla said afterward. She can then adjust, slowing down or engaging students in guided discussions of their answers, as needed. Lecturing in 26-100, she said, she could only look out at the sea of faces and hope the students were getting it. “They might be looking intently at you, understanding everything,” Professor Sciolla said. “Or they might be thinking, ‘What am I going to do when I get out of this bloody class?’

(Hat Tip: Sarah Lawsky.)

January 19, 2009 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

19 States to Sign on for Uniform Bar Exam?

National Law Journal: Uniform Bar Exam a Reality? A Total of 19 States Positioned to Implement UBE, by Leigh Jones:

The possibility of a uniform bar exam that would help standardize attorney licensing state-to-state is inching closer to becoming a reality. Currently, 19 states are positioned to implement the uniform bar exam, or UBE as it is called. The exam, designed to create a consistent competency measure for admission to practice, would be a three-component test, all with the same questions, administered in each jurisdiction.

Although many states historically have held onto their testing autonomy by developing some of their own exam questions and by using their own pass scores, legal professionals say that a single exam — such as those utilized for physicians, architects and accountants — is an increasing likelihood for lawyers. ...

The uniform bar exam would consist of three components, all developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners: the MBE; the Multistate Performance Test; and the Multistate Essay Examination. The uniform test score would include performance on these components only and would not incorporate a state law portion. Each state would continue to do its own grading and, at least initially, each state could set its own minimum pass score. Individual states would continue to conduct their own character and fitness screening for bar admission.

The 19 jurisdictions that could most readily begin using the uniform exam already include the three components developed by the National Conference on their bar exams. Illinois, Missouri and Colorado are among those states.

January 19, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Learning With "Clickers" Gets Better After Peer Discussions

In this month's Science:  Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions:

When students answer an in-class conceptual question individually using clickers, discuss it with their neighbors, and then revote on the same question, the percentage of correct answers typically increases. This outcome could result from gains in understanding during discussion, or simply from peer influence of knowledgeable students on their neighbors. To distinguish between these alternatives in an undergraduate genetics course, we followed the above exercise with a second, similar (isomorphic) question on the same concept that students answered individually. Our results indicate that peer discussion enhances understanding, even when none of the students in a discussion group originally knows the correct answer.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Learning With "Clickers" Gets Better After Peer Discussions, by Ruth Hammond:

College students who use wireless handheld devices called "clickers" to register answers to instructors' questions during lectures are more likely to give correct responses after discussion with their peers, studies have found. But, researchers wondered, were students improving merely because they copied the answers of fellow students? Or had they actually gained a greater understanding of the material? The findings of a new study published in the latest issue of Science suggest that improvement after peer discussion reflects real learning.

study could be put in place without clickers, students enjoy using the device as long as they're given challenging questions, Ms. Smith says. The device is used in college classrooms across the country, especially in large lecture courses in the hard sciences and mathematics, says Jane E. Caldwell, a biology instructor at West Virginia University who has published a paper in CBE--Life Sciences Education reviewing research on clickers. She says the new paper in Science "made a great stride in pinning down the cause of improvement in performance," showing it was not just the result of "persuasion by bright students that happened to be sitting nearby."

(Hat Tip: Jim Maule, Barbara McFarland.)

January 17, 2009 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 16, 2009

NLJ: Private Law Schools Hit Harder by Budget Cuts

From next week's National Law Journal: Law Schools Dealing With Budget Cuts; Private Law Schools May Have It Worse, by Karen Sloan:

A number of states facing revenue shortfalls are eyeing cuts wherever possible, and higher education is a potential target. The financial picture isn't much brighter — and may actually be worse — for private law schools. Those schools generally rely more heavily than their public counterparts on income from endowments to pay for operations, and the nose-diving financial markets have hit endowments hard. ...

University of Chicago Law School Dean Saul Levmore said reliance on funding from endowments varies, but generally makes up a quarter to a half of the operating budget at private schools. Considering that many endowments have lost between 20% and 40% of their value, schools will likely need to make cuts, he said. However, the full impact of shrinking endowments won't be felt for several years. Law schools may see modest budget cuts in the short term, but long-term reductions could reach about 17% for very endowment-dependent schools if the economy does not recover quickly, Levmore said.

The article notes the budget cuts at these law schools:

  • Florida State: 7%
  • North Carolina:  projected 3%, 5% or 7%
  • Temple: 2%
  • UC-Hastings:  5%
  • UNLV:  9%

UNLV's Nancy Rapoport makes a plea to the Nevada state legislature to reconsider UNLV's budget cuts.

January 16, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Maule: A 27-Step Guide to Teaching a Tax Course

YodaI previously noted that Jim Maule (Villanova) has a well-deserved reputation as the Yoda of tax teachers, as he generously shares his insights with both tax faculty (via email discussion groups, exam banks, and PowerPoint banks) and tax students (via CALI exercises).  His latest contribution is Preparing for Class, Law-Profesor Style, which details the 27 steps he takes in preparing to teach his tax courses: 

Long before I walk into the first class in any course, I have been investing significant amounts of time preparing for the course. For fall semester courses, the preparation usually begins in April or May, is suspended during most of the summer, and resumes in August. For spring semester courses, the preparation usually begins in late October or November, is suspended during part of December, and resumes in early January. Some people, including law students, think that there's nothing much for the professor to do but to pick up the book assigned to the course and last year's notes, walk into the classroom, and begin talking. Though that might happen in some courses, it ought not happen, and it surely doesn't happen in my courses. I've been meaning, for several years, to dedicate a posting to an explanation of the process that I use to prepare a course that I have previously taught. Hopefully, it's informative to people inside the law school community as well as to those who are on the outside looking in. ...

Well, that's how I get ready for a course. There are law faculty who follow a similar pattern. There are others who do not. Someone who does not use Powerpoint slides, clicker questions, or problems requiring preparation and solution, and who does not provide supplemental materials, can omit a good chunk of what I do as I prepare. If they also omit semester exercises, there's even less to do. I do what I have decided needs to be done for my teaching to be effective. I doubt I'd be comfortable trying to get by on less. And without my checklist, which is a shorthand version of the 27 steps I've described in this post, I'd be lost. So, when someone asks what I am doing when I'm not in the classroom, I explain that in addition to writing and dealing with committee and other administrative matters, I'm working through my course preparation checklist. I'm usually getting ready for next semester while the current semester is underway. In a few years there will come a semester when I won't be getting ready for a next semester. I will ditch those checklists and I will be …. yes, listless.

January 15, 2009 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Texas A&M Faculty Protest $10k Bonuses Based on Student Evaluations

Texas A&M faculty are protesting plans to give $2,500 - $10,000 bonuses to the Top 15% of faculty solely on the basis of student evaluations:

The chancellor of the Texas A&M University System wants to give bonuses worth up to $10,000 to some instructors, but so far, many aren't interested. "I've never had so much trouble giving away a million dollars," Chancellor Mike McKinney said, laughing. ...

But faculty members have voiced concern about the program's fairness, worried that it relies on a single evaluation method and could become a popularity contest that wouldn't serve students. Many instructors haven't signed up to participate; the faculty senate passed a resolution opposing the program. ...

"I don't think faculty are going to pander to students for a few thousand dollars," said Traci Carte, an associate professor of management information systems.

UpdateFaculty Pay by "Applause Meter" (Inside Higher Ed)

January 12, 2009 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Path to Victory in the Classroom Laptop War?

In my AALS talk this week, I again made the case for using technology to create an active learning environment in the classroom.  I drew on two aspects of the just-released LSSSE data from 29,000 law students at 85 law schools on their use of laptops in class.

First, students who use laptops a lot in class:

  • Are more likely to contribute to class discussion (54% v. 45%)
  • Are less likely to come to class unprepared (5% v. 10%)
  • Work harder to meet faculty expectations (73% v. 62%)

Second, students report that they frequently use their laptop in class for the following activities:

LSSSE Chart   

In my talk, I argued that clickers give students incentive to curtail their use of laptops in class to email, surf the web, or IM.  For further coverage of LSSSE's laptop data, see

January 10, 2009 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

NY Times: Law Deans Personally Call Admitted Applicants

New York Times:  The Dean Is on the Line, by Victoria Goldman:

"Let me be the first to congratulate you."

That’s Michael J. States’s greeting to applicants after they’ve been accepted at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Forget the thick envelope. A successful applicant to many top law and business schools can expect to learn the news via a call from the dean. The cynical explanation: applicants get more excited about enrolling when they get a call on their cellphones instead of an admittance letter, and that improves a school’s selectivity numbers. The warm and fuzzy reason: admissions offices are responding to digital depersonalization. ...

So with the rise of the Internet, deans at institutions like Harvard, Yale, Emory and the Berkeley and Los Angeles branches of the University of California have made thousands of phone calls a year just to say welcome. (Hat Tip: Michael Solimine.)

From Steely Dan:  Rikki, Don't Lose That Number:

You tell yourself you're not my kind
But you don't even know your mind
And you could have a change of heart
[Dean] don't lose that number
You don't wanna call nobody else

Update:  Pete Wentz offers these alternatives:

Tommy Tutone:  8675309:

Jenny, I got your number,
I need to make you mine.
Jenny, don't change your number,
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)

The Marvelettes:  Beechwood 4-5789:

[Dean] Don't be shy, just take your time ...
I'd like to get to know you
I'd like to make you mine
I've been waiting, standing here so patiently
For you to come over [and make the offer to me]
And my number is Beechwood 4-5789

January 8, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

LSSSE Releases Annual Report: Laptops Help Student Learning, Law Schools Lag in Teaching Legal Writing

LSSSE2008AR The Law School Survey of Student Engagement today released its annual report, Student Engagement in Law Schools: Preparing 21st Century Lawyers.  Among the findings:

Laptop computer use and its educational implications have sometimes generated heated debate among legal educators. LSSSE findings show that student use of laptops for keeping and reviewing notes and calling up previously briefed cases goes together with high levels of engagement in courses. So when used effectively, laptops may well enhance learning, rather than being a substitute for other kinds of course engagement or simply a distraction.

In the crucial area of legal writing, the 2008 findings are more complex and unsettling. Nearly half of responding students reported that they have not had enough practice in developing their legal writing skills in situations matching or approximating real-world legal practice. At the same time, students reported that such practice-oriented writing assignments were particularly effective in enhancing their legal research and communication skills. So, while in aspiration much of legal education is starting to move beyond an exclusive focus upon “thinking like a lawyer,” in practice the schools generally have a long way to go to make those aspirations real achievements.

The questions about how schools foster professionalism resulted in perhaps the most intriguing finding. The size of the student body as well as mission of the school turns out to matter significantly for the formation of ethically cognizant and publicoriented lawyers. Students at smaller schools and those with religious affiliation do best in these important areas. In this as in the case of legal writing, this year’s LSSSE findings are important feedback for legal educators bent on improvement.

January 7, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Advice for Young Law Scholars

Gordon Smith (BYU) offers some advice for young law scholars, from the perspective of someone who has written 15-20 tenure review letters over the past few years.  I think his final point is often overlooked by young scholars, to their detriment:

You probably can't afford a publicist, so you will have to market yourself. This piece of advice comes from a very basic insight: if I haven't heard of you before I get the call or the email inviting me to review your work, that's a bad sign for you. I almost always accept invitations to write tenure letters simply because I believe this form of service is important. Rarely am I asked to write a review for someone who is completely unknown to me, but it happens. And it's hard for me to imagine writing a letter about how significantly you have influenced the field if I have never heard of you. Send reprints. Get yourself invited as a guest blogger on a popular law professor blog. Go to conferences. Host your own conference. Invite important figures in your field to give talks at your law school. Find a mentor. Do whatever it takes to get to know the players in your field, and cultivate those relationships.

I talked about this at the 2007 AALS Annual Meeting, Building and Marketing Your Scholarly "Brand"

January 4, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

W&L Dean Sues NY Times Over Story Charging Lobbyist Had Affair With John McCain

Washington & Lee Dean Rodney A. Smolla is one of the two lawyers representing Washington, D.C. lobbyist Vicki L. Iseman in her lawsuit against the New York Times, alleging that the paper's Feb. 21 front-page article wrongly asserted that she an Sen. John McCain had an improper romantic relationship. (Hat Tip: Jack Bogdanski.)

December 31, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)