Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What’s Wrong With Law School?

American Lawyer Daily:  What’s Wrong With Law School?, by Susan Beck:

Law firms may not be known for innovation, but they look positively cutting edge next to law schools. That was the consensus at the two-day Leading Legal Innovation conference, which drew 30 law firm leaders, professors, and entrepreneurs.

Among the topics on the table: Law schools are great at teaching students how to read a court decision, but they don’t teach many of the skills needed to be a successful lawyer. They also don’t screen applicants for the qualities that make for good lawyers. High grades and test scores alone are not good predictors for success.

William Henderson, an associate professor at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law, suggests that a school like his, which doesn’t top many law firms’ recruiting lists, could indeed differentiate itself by teaching and screening for interpersonal skills. "If you can build a curriculum that teaches competencies like empathy, networking, and teamwork, a school could really change and be innovative,” says Henderson. Some additional adjunct faculty might be needed for those courses; however, Henderson admits that most law professors don’t have the skills to teach courses like this. (Henderson says his school is planning changes to address these gaps, but the school isn't ready to "share its playbook" at this point.)

Northwestern University School of Law is already aiming to differentiate itself by screening for more mature, experienced students. "This entering class had only three percent who came straight from college," says dean David Van Zandt. "More than 82% have two years experience, and I'm thinking more and more we need to increase that. I think it takes a while to learn the ability to work with others in teams and communicate effectively." ...

Several professors complained that the ABA--and its outdated accreditation standards--is the main bulwark against innovation. “The ABA is stifling law schools and preventing needed change,” says Northwestern dean Van Zandt. “Their regulation forces most of us to build an Acura instead of a Corolla, and that’s a real harm to society.” Van Zandt cited ABA rules requiring that a high percentage of a school’s faculty be full-time and tenured, rules limiting online courses, and burdensome and expensive requirements for law school libraries. “If you want to start a law school, you probably need 50-60,000 books in your library."

Benjamin Barton, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, contrasted law schools with business schools. "Business schools are massively more innovative because no one has to go to business school," he says. "They're more interested in showing that they're giving you something of value." In addition, he says, business school professors are much more attuned to the real world. "At a business school, corporate executives pay $10,000 a week to talk to

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

Inside Higher Ed: Women Profs Spend More Time on Teaching, Less on Research

From today's Inside Higher Ed:  The Teaching Paradox, by Scott Jaschik:

A new survey of faculty members in English and foreign languages will challenge some assumptions about how and why women and men are not promoted at the same levels or feel the same satisfaction in academe.

The Modern Language Association has yet to release its “associate professor survey,” which, notwithstanding its name, included both associate and full professors. But professors involved in the report, due out soon, revealed some of the key findings Sunday at the MLA’s annual meeting: ...

  • Women work an average of 1.5 hours more per week than do men on grading student work.
  • Men work an average of 2 hours more per week on research ...

Many women reported feeling hostility from many of their colleagues and a lack of support in research, even as many departments value it over teaching. This raises the potentially troubling question, she said, of whether women value teaching for the “magic” of the classroom or because “teaching can be a kind of refuge” in that the classroom is the place where women (and men) have the most control over their professional decisions. ...

Joycelyn K. Moody, the Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said that what most troubled her about the responses was that women reported feeling shame about their interest and success in teaching. Women should be feeling pride in their success as teachers, she said, but are “perceiving themselves as performing below expectations,” because they aren’t doing more research. It’s time to “dismantle those institutional values,” Moody said, so that the shame disappears.

Moody also said that the survey results will show how some discussions that have been going on for years in higher education have missed a key element: gender. She noted that Ernest L. Boyer’s Scholarship Reconsidered in 1990 “paid no particular respect to gender,” even as it called for shifting the reward system in higher education to value research on teaching and to see curricular work as contributing to scholarship. To talk about “free floating anxiety” about the relative value of scholarship vs. teaching, without considering gender, she said, missed a key point.

December 29, 2008 in Law School, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

ABA Journal: Northwestern Unapologetically Poaches 1Ls at Other Schools

The December 2008 ABA Journal includes Transfers Bolster Elite Schools, by Leslie A. Gordon:

Northwestern University Law School is actively—and unapologetically—re­cruit­­ing top-performing law students from lower-ranked schools, a practice that some deans claim is becoming commonplace at elite institutions.

Each year, 150 or so of Northwestern’s 5,000 applicants turned down for first-year admission receive letters inviting them to apply again for “conditional acceptance” the following fall. “The acceptance would be contingent upon your achieving a certain GPA or class rank during your first year of law school elsewhere,” says the letter, which is signed by the school’s assistant dean of admissions.

Deans of lower-tier law schools argue that such recruiting is pred­atory, allowing elite schools to poach their best students. Moreover, they claim the practice helps top schools boost revenues in their second- and third-year classes, while keeping up their LSAT and GPA averages—both significant com­ponents of U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings.

Northwestern Dean David Van Zandt says that he understands the poaching charge, and that it’s “probably true.” But top-performing students who have proved themselves “should be entitled to transfer, and there’s no harm in us facilitating that,” says Van Zandt. “Chrysler and General Motors don’t agree not to poach each other’s customers.”

During the 2006-2007 academic year, the Chicago-based school—which was listed ninth in the 2008 U.S. News law school rankings—added 43 transfers to its 238-student first-year class. Other top-ranked schools that year had similar gains. At 14th-ranked Georgetown University Law Center, 93 students transferred in. UCLA School of Law, which ranked 16th on the U.S. News list, netted 31 transfers to its 323-student first-year class. Fifth-ranked NYU Law added 38 transfers to a class of 447.

David Logan, dean of Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, R.I., says there’s been a drastic increase in transfer students in recent years. It suggests to him the schools are gaming the rankings, but he admits that would be hard to prove. “Because the ABA has only [collected] transfer numbers for the past couple of years, there can be no definitive proof of a trend over time,” Logan says. ...

While elite schools argue that transfer students benefit from “trading up,” Logan laments a ripple effect that begins with the brain drain on the origi­nal school, which reduces academic discussion and harms the bar passage rate. In addition, faculties lose research assistants, classmates lose friendships, and tuition increases are imposed to offset departing students. And at their new school, transfer students will find it tougher to forge relationships. “They’re just cash cows,” Logan says.

Northwestern’s Van Zandt disagrees: “I find that argument patronizing to a group of people who are going into a profession of judgment. These are smart people. Some transfers won’t work out, just like anything in life. But quite a few are advantaged.”

Clarification:  In Transfers Bolster Elite Schools, ...  Northwestern University School of Law said it extends conditional second-year acceptance to 150 of the 5,000 applicants turned down for first-year admission. A representative for the law school now says it extends only 15 to 25 such conditional acceptances each year.

(Hat Tip: Adam Steinman.)

Update:  For more, see Above the Law and The Volokh Conspiracy.

December 29, 2008 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 26, 2008

NY Times on Abrupt Firing of Duquesne Law Dean

The New York Times picks up the story (previously blogged here and here) of the abrupt firing of Duquesne's dean: Dean’s Firing Draws Protest at Duquesne Law School, by Sean D. Hamill:

The root of the tension between the two men, many at the university say, was [President] Dougherty’s desire to centralize the administration when he came to Duquesne in 2001, making sure that all major decisions and communication came through his office. Dr. Dougherty’s efforts included emphasizing a longstanding practice that none of the university’s deans could have any contact with board members — which Dr. Pearson told [Dean] Guter he had run afoul of when he sent postcards to the Duquesne community announcing a law professor’s new book, further straining his relationship with Dr. Dougherty.

The most difficult dispute — which many believe set the tone for everything thereafter — came during Mr. Guter’s first year, when Prof. John T. Rago sought tenure. The faculty and Mr. Guter approved of tenure, but Dr. Dougherty opposed it. “The president wanted me to align my stance with his, but I said I’d stand with Rago,” Mr. Guter recalled. “He wasn’t happy.” ...

Bruce Ledewitz, a professor at the school since 1980 who said he was not an early fan of Mr. Guter’s, said it was obvious that Mr. Guter simply “didn’t toe the president’s line.” Reading from a list of improvements he keeps on his desk, Professor Ledewitz said: “Bar scores are up. The moot court team won national titles. Alumni giving is up. The research and writing program was nationally ranked. Faculty scholarship is up. If you have a list like this, it isn’t rocket science; he’s good at what he does.”

But on a faculty that has long been broken into factions, not everyone sees it that way. “I’m relieved to see the change that has come to the law school,” said Robert S. Barker, a professor at the school for 26 years. “The folks under Guter have driven away two faculty members, marginalized another, and done serious damage to the academic programs, particularly for international students.”

Interestingly, the NY Times does not mention the U.S. News angle to the story.  (Hat Tip: Ann Murphy, Lee Sims, and Sarah Waldeck.)

December 26, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Single Mother Celebrates Christmas in New Habit for Humanity Home After Persevering Through Law School

Here is an inspiring story from the Witchita Eagle about Latina Alston, a 30-year old single mother of three who overcame more obstacles than most of us will ever face to earn a law degree at Washburn and is now an assistant public defender.  Single Mother Perseveres to Earn Law Degree, by Roy Wenzl:

In her first year at Washburn, in 2004, Latina cried in class all the time, sobbing quietly while she studied torts, contract law, criminal procedure. ... The teachers had warned her that the first year breaks a lot of people. ...

Latina struggled. She nearly failed a writing exam that would have sent her packing had she not passed.

During spring break, in March 2005, she had an emotional meltdown. ...  Her car broke down. She spent $600 fixing it, and then collapsed.

When classes resumed, she failed to get out of bed. Stress, welfare, food stamps, guilt over living off her mother, and relentless study had wrecked her health. For two days, she took her kids to school and day care, but went back to bed instead of class. She was so depressed she could barely move. ... And then the phone rang.

It was another black student. There were only 12 in the first-year class.  Are you OK? Why aren't you in class? Can I help you study? Do you need anything?  Get your butt out of bed. And get back to class.

"At Washburn, the black students felt isolated, alone, except that we thought the white faculty and students were watching us, maybe waiting for us to fail," Latina said later. "So we'd pretty much made a vow that none of us were going to fail.... If I had not gotten up on my own, I think the others would have come in and dragged me out with their hands."

Her fellow black students pleaded with her not to let them down.

She got out of bed.

In early June Latina's car broke down again. She was crying in class again, facing failure. She needed a 2.0 GPA or she would wash out.

She passed. Barely. ...

She hung on, through the second year. Then the third.

The other black students helped her, as she helped them. All 12 graduated.

By the time she got her diploma in May 2007, Latina had made one of those mistakes she admits she's prone to. When she slipped into her cap and gown, she was four months pregnant, still unmarried. Dylan Wharton-Alston, her third child, was born in October 2007. ...

Latina was single, and for the next four months she studied to pass the bar exam, often with three children clinging to her, asking for help, pleading for attention. Helping her study, and cheering her on, were her African-American classmates.

She passed the Kansas bar in February 2008. ...

As Sedgwick County's newest public defender, Latina earns $45,000 a year. She owes more than $100,000 in student loans.

Her boss, Osburn, hearing her life story for the first time last week, expressed amazement that she got through law school. "I went to Washburn, too, and I had kids, but I had a wife... I had help. I can't imagine what it was like, what she did." He said Latina hadn't told him how hard it was for her to get through. ...

In the 19 months since she returned to Wichita, Latina has slept every night in one bedroom with her children. The room is at her mother's house, the same tiny, two-bedroom dwelling where Latina grew up. There are holes in the floor where rodents come in; the windows let in winter chill; a tree is growing through the back of the house.

But last week Latina signed the papers on a Habitat for Humanity house that she qualified for and helped build. In that house, Latina has given her mother a room to herself; Latina will sleep on the living room couch. ...  They closed on the house on Wednesday.

"My mother has no retirement, no savings," Latina said last week. "She's given her whole life away, to her children, to her grandchildren. So yeah, she gets a room in the new house."

In that house this Thursday, the Alston family will celebrate Christmas.

On Legal Blog Watch, Carolyn Elefant blogs about the story in Law Student's Experience a Triumph Over Racism, or Typical?:

Alston's story comes across as a feel good Horatio Alger tale -- and yet as of this posting it has generated 152 comments [now 198], many of them negative. At least half of the commenters criticized Alston for her remarks about the racism she faced at Washburn, where she was one of only twelve black students in the entire class. ...

The article also focuses on how it was Alston's fellow black students who encouraged her to finish law school and cheered her on as she studied for -- and subsequently passed -- the bar.

For me, Alston's comments soured an otherwise uplifting story. Personally, I think the typical law school environment discourages all students equally, no matter their gender or race. Virtually every lawyer has a story of how they had at least one, if not more, arrogant Kingsfield-ian professor and put up with silly competitive antics (like stealing tests from the library or hiding books needed for an assignment) from cutthroat students willing to do anything to make law review and snag a job. But like so much else in life, all that nonsense serves as a rite of passage to get where you want to go.

Still, perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe the racism that Alston faced at her law school was far more pervasive, so much so that she felt compelled to include it as part of her story.

What do you think? Do law schools wait for black students to fail or intentionally isolate them from the student body? What was your experience?

December 25, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hastings Trims Faculty Raises, Restricts Hires

From The Recorder: Law School Trims Faculty Raises, Restricts Hires, by Petra Pasternak:

Bracing for more bad news from the state of California, Hastings College of the Law is forgoing some raises and scaling back on hiring, and has asked department heads to shave 5 percent from their current operating budgets.

December 23, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 22, 2008

U.S. News Rankings, Lack of Faculty Scholarship Blamed for Duquesne Dean's Firing

Following up on my prior post, Duquesne Dean Resigns After Given 24-Hours Notice to Resign or be Fired; Tenure Battle, Lack of Faculty Scholarship Cited as Reasons:  see yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  Law School Rankings Carry Big Clout; Duquesne's Low Ranking Given as Reason for Dean's Controversial Removal, by Bill Schackner:

Duquesne University cited its law school's fourth-tier finish in U.S. News & World Report in explaining Dean Don Guter's removal, but some of what figured prominently in that showing may have been partly beyond his control.

If nothing else, the fact the magazine entered into the discussion at all illustrates the influence of these rankings, which often are scorned by college administrators for problems including subjectivity, but nonetheless are closely followed by prospective students and others.

In a phone interview, Robert Morse, who directs research for the magazine rankings, cited half a dozen criteria that figured significantly in Duquesne's low rank in March.

Three of them -- spending per student, faculty-to-student ratio, and the number of volumes and titles in the law library -- involve law school funding decisions that at a university often rest partly or in whole with central campus administration, observers say.

Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare, who raised U.S. News in defending Mr. Guter's Dec. 10 removal, says it was neither the sole nor an overriding factor. "He has been apprised of various expectations over three years," she said. Duquesne officials say they ousted Mr. Guter for performance failings they can't specify for confidentiality reasons, but they also said the law school needs to improve its scholarship. ... 

Duquesne ranked second to last out of 184 law schools in per-student spending on instruction, library and support, Mr. Morse said. It spent 64% of what nearby Pitt spends.

Duquesne's law student-to-faculty ratio, at 18.2 to 1, ranked 160th, Mr. Morse said. Volumes and titles in Duquesne's law library, at 386,540, ranked 153rd.

Rounding out the six criteria were the school's 145th ranking in the median LSAT entrance exam scores; a 1.9 out of 5 possible points in a category allowing law schools to rate peers; and a 157th place in the share of the Class of 2006 employed full- or part-time nine months after graduation. It was 86.1 percent, Mr. Morse said. ...

With Duquesne declining to specify evaluation criteria or any promises the dean made upon his hiring, interpreting his removal is more difficult. "That's a significant unknown," Mr. Morse said. Still, he said, concerning the school's budget, it would seem "there has to be some culpability" on the part of the central administration. Noting the relatively low per-student spending, he added, "It's hard to compete when you're spending that much less."

Ms. Fare said Duquesne actually has increased the law school's operating budget since 2005 by $3 million, or 31%, but that Mr. Guter during his tenure failed to spend down a surplus reaching $1.4 million, or award more than $1 million in financial aid money under his control. "In the first class recruited by former Dean Guter, the school disregarded a planned enrollment reduction authorized by the provost," she said. "This action by the school resulted in a higher acceptance rate, lowered the overall LSAT [score] and resulted in lower expenditures per student."

Ms. Fare said a law school can raise its standing among peers, and thus its magazine ranking, through scholarly activity. But she provided an excerpt of an ABA report from a 2007 law school visit, stating, "the faculty, with a few exceptions, is not publishing substantial quantities of work in the high visibility outlets that will draw national attention to the faculty's work."

(Hat Tip: Brian Leiter.)

December 22, 2008 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Northwestern B-School Sends Acceptance Emails to Fifty Rejected Applicants

Fifty applicants to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management received an email from the school offering them admission.  But when they later logged onto the school's website, they learned that they had been rejected.  The school blamed the mistake on a "technological glitch."

Spokeswoman Megan Washburn said the school's automated mail-merge process mistakenly attached acceptance letters to candidates who had been declined. ...

One 28-year-old Chicagoan excitedly phoned his parents and enjoyed a celebratory dinner Monday after receiving the acceptance e-mail in error. But the next morning, when he logged into the college's Web site to learn more about enrolling, he found out he had been rejected.

December 19, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Law School Seeks to Sell Naming Rights to Everything (Except the Bathrooms)

Following up on my previous posts:

St. Thomas (Miami) is seeking to sell naming rights to the school for $10 million, and in the meantime has sold the naming rights to various pieces for $600,000, including:

  • Center for Student Affairs ($100,000)
  • Breezeway ($50,000)
  • Conference Room ($25,000)
  • Law Library ($25,000)
  • Main Entrance ($25,000)
  • Moot Court Atrium ($10,000) 

The school reports that it is seeking to sell the naming rights to classrooms and faculty suites, but not the bathrooms.

December 17, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today Is Final Day to Submit Comments on ABA's Proposal to Eliminate Student-Faculty Ratio Data

Today is the final day to submit comments to the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education & Admission to the Bar on the proposal of the Standards Review Committee to eliminate computation of the student-faculty ratio in connection with the accreditation of law schools (Standard 104 and  Interpretations 402-1 and 402-2). Under the current Standards, a ratio of 20:1 or less creates a presumption of compliance; a ratio of 30:1 or more creates a presumption of noncompliance.

The Standards Review Committee will conduct a hearing on the proposal on January 9 at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego. Written comments on the proposal and requests to speak at the hearing can be emailed to Becky Stretch ([email protected]), the Assistant ABA Consultant on Legal Education

The student-faculty ratio currently is included in the ABA/LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools and accounts for 3% of the U.S. News law school rankings (and 5% in the U.S. News college rankings and 20% in the new U.S. News world college rankings). 

The Legal Writing Institute and Association of Legal Writing Directors oppose the change; other criticism appears at Best Practices for Legal Education, Feminst Law Professors, and Legal Writing Prof Blog.

As one who teaches at a law school whose strategic plan emphasizes the many educational advantages available when a small student body (375 students) is combined with a comparatively large full-time faculty, resulting in one of the Top 10 student-faculty ratios (9.6 to 1) in the country, I agree with the critics of the proposal:

[T]here are obviously arguments in favor of continuing to produce a student-faculty ratio, as evidenced by the fact that three committee members voted to continue to calculate and publish a student-faculty ratio. First, schools may have put considerable effort and resources into improving the student-faculty ratio, so we ought not to eliminate the ratio without giving more careful thought to the different ways in which schools might be relying on the ratio. Second, even though the student-faculty ratio may not give us dispositive answers to the question whether a law school’s faculty is sufficiently large, it does provide a starting point for inquiry, and we ought not eliminate it until we have developed better output measures that we might use in lieu of this traditional input measure. Third, to the extent that Interpretation 402-1 encourages schools to give more faculty members (e.g., legal writing faculty) security of position so that they count in the ratio, that is a good thing. And fourth, we may invite a range of potential unintended consequences if we eliminate the student-faculty ratio as an isolated question without a full assessment of all of Chapter Four of the Standards.

As I have argued elsewhere, the ABA should require that law schools provide more, not less, information to our various constituencies and to the public.

December 15, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Duquesne Dean Is Fired; Tenure Battle, Lack of Faculty Scholarship Cited as Reasons

Duquesne Dean Don Guter has been fired after only three years in his deanship.  Guter, a 1977 graduate of the school, is a retired Rear Admiral, Judge Advocate General, and former top lawyer for the U.S. Navy.  Con Law Prof Ken Gormley has been named interim dean.  Press reports say that Dean Guter blames "a personal feud with university President Charles Doughtery" stemming from a tenure battle:

During Mr. Guter's tenure, the law school has seen gains in a number of indicators including its bar-passage rate, which rose to 97% from 68%. But there have also been tensions between the law school and university President Charles Dougherty, including the president's initial refusal to grant tenure to professor John Rago despite a favorable faculty vote and backing of the dean. The president's refusal sparked a student protest before Dr. Dougherty reversed course and granted Mr. Rago tenure.

For TaxProf Blog's coverage of Professor Rago's tenure battle, see here and here.

In justifying the firing, a university spokesperson claimed "we need to improve the level of scholarship at the law school."  (Duquesne ranked among the bottom 25 law schools in the most recent study of per capita productivity of articles in top journals by faculty at non-Top 50 law schools.)

Update:  From Dean Guter's 2-page letter to President Dougherty:

During my short tenure as Dean, we have enjoyed record bar pass rates that rose from 68% at my arrival to 88%, 91% and 97% in my three years. These are our highest rates in at least 25 years and rank us second in the state. ...  Our relationship with alumni has never been stronger and giving is robust. Perhaps most importantly, I brought surcease to a divided and angry faculty and high morale to our students, all in consistent support for the University's mission statement.

I need not go on because you know all of these things and many more. I chronicle them only to rnake the point that under these circumstances, it would be dishonest, disingenuous, unbelievable to the public, and most importantly unethical for me to abruptly resign in the middle of the school year and in the middle of exams no less, by accepting your invitation to manufacture an excuse to cover-up what is obviously and unprofessionally your personal animus toward me despite my attempt this last Easter season to seek reconciliation with you through Fr. Fogarty. You rebuffed my attempts in a most un-Catholic manner which I am told by a Spiritan is "the one unforgivable sin."

December 11, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alfieri Criticizes Carnegie Report

Anthony V. Alfieri (Miami) has posted Against Practice, 107 Mich. L. Rev. ___ (2009), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This essay examines the theory/practice dichotomy in legal education through the prism of the Carnegie Foundation's Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. Descriptively, it argues that the Foundation's investigation of law school curricular deficiencies in the areas of clinical-lawyer skills, professionalism, and public service overlooks the relevance of critical pedagogies in teaching students how to deal with difference-based identity and how to build cross-cultural community in diverse, multicultural practice settings. Prescriptively, it argues that the Foundation's remedial call for the curricular integration of clinical-lawyer practices similarly overlooks the utility of critical pedagogies in teaching students not only how to understand difference, but also how to represent difference-based clients and communities here and abroad. The essay is divided into two parts. Part I explores the Carnegie Foundation's assessment of law schools in preparing students through contemporary case-dialogue and in integrating alternative practice pedagogies. Part II analyzes the ramifications of the Foundation's report for alternative curricular frameworks, particularly critical pedagogies grounded in difference-based identity and community, here briefly sketched in a study of the West Coconut Grove Historic Black Church project at the University of Miami Law School's Community Economic Development and Design Clinic. The case study demonstrates both the difficulty and the necessity of developing theory/practice pedagogies effective in dealing with difference-based identity in the context of representing communities of color.

December 10, 2008 in Law School, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New York Law School Data

As part of its NYLJ 100 issue, the New York Law Journal has published this interesting chart with data on the 15 New York Law Schools, including:

  • Number of full-time students (largest: NYU (1,424); smallest: CUNY (412))
  • Percentage of minority students (largest: CUNY (31.3%); lowest: Albany (14.0%))
  • Percentage of women students (largest: CUNY (65.2%); lowest: Columbia (44.4%))
  • Student/faculty ratio (highest: New York Law School (23.0/1); lowest: Columbia (9.5/1))
  • Tuition (highest: Cornell ($43,688); lowest: CUNY ($10,562))
  • LSAT -- 75th percentile (highest: Columbia (174); lowest: Touro (153))
  • LSAT -- 25th percentile (highest: Columbia, NYU (169); lowest: Touro (150))
  • GPA -- 75th percentile (highest: NYU (3.86); lowest: Touro (3.30))
  • GPA -- 25th percentile (highest: Columbia (3.56); lowest: Touro (2.78))

December 9, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Grad School Enrollments Drop, Business & Law School Enrollments Increase, During Recession

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed report that the number of students taking the Graduate Record Examination will decline in 2008, the first time in history that the GRE has seen a fall in test-taking during an economic downturn.  In contrast, business schools and law schools apparently will continue to be safe ports in the economic storm, with GMAT (10.4%) and LSAT (6.2%) test registrations both up sharply this year (although, as I noted last week, a big contributor in the surge in LSAT takers is the ABA's rule change requiring law schools to report a student's highest, rather than average, LSAT score).

December 8, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Law School Exam Taking Tips

Jeff Lipshaw (Suffolk) of our sister Legal Profession Blog offers some very helpful Law School Exam Taking Tips

December 7, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Racial Gaps in Faculty Job Satisfaction

Cornell Tops NY Bar Exam

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Indiana Gets $35m Gift, Renames School

From the Indiana Business Journal:

Indianapolis attorney and businessman Michael Maurer is giving $35 million to the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, which has been renamed in his honor.

The gift, the largest in the law school’s history to come from a single donor, will fund an undetermined number of scholarships. Because the donation comes during IU’s $1 billion Matching the Promise fund-raising campaign, the university will match investment income from the gift in perpetuity. ...

Maurer said he wanted to make a more meaningful gift during the capital campaign, which ends June 30, 2010, and IU offered him the chance to name the law school. Noting that he entered IU law with one of the lowest undergraduate grade-point averages in the class, Maurer said, “The irony of it kind of tickled me.”

The new name, the Michael Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, is effective today. ...

Maurer’s gift brings the law school’s fund-raising during the capital campaign to $83 million. Last December, Lilly Endowment donated $25 million for faculty recruitment. IU will match income from that gift, as well.

Update:  The National Law Journal has more here.

December 4, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NLJ on LSAT Surge

Following up on yesterday's post, Repeat LSAT Takers Surge Following Rule Change Permitting Reporting of Only Highest Score:  the National Law Journal picks up the story today:

Sam Stonefield, associate dean for external affairs and a professor of law at Western New England College School of Law, said the new rule also hurts diversity initiatives at today's law schools because applicants in several minority groups are less likely to incur the cost and time necessary to retake the LSAT.

But Allen Easley, dean of the University of La Verne College of Law, who served as chairman of the questionnaire committee of the ABA's section of legal education and admission to the bar, which adopted the rule, said the change was implemented because law school deans were feeling pressured to reflect high LSAT scores in rankings such as U.S. News & World Report and believed competitors were manipulated their average LSAT scores. "If we let everybody report the high score, everyone is on the same level playing field and we eliminate that concern," he said.

He said the number of "repeaters" had been increasing before the ABA implemented the rule, although he admitted that the change could have exacerbated the rise. As to the potential impact that the rules could have on diversity at law schools, his committee concluded that the issue was speculative and outweighed by the other concerns, he said.

December 4, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bar Pass Rates Rise in Several States

The National Law Journal reports that the bar passage rate on the July 2008 exam rose in several large states, including California (5.6% -- 61.7% in 2008 v. 56.1% in 2007), Massachusetts (3.4% -- 86.4% v. 83.0%), and New York (4.1% -- 74.7% v. 70.6%):

The upward trend reflects national scores on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) portion of the test. The multiple choice section can count for up to half of an applicant's score depending on the state, said Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference, which designs the MBE. The national mean on the MBE portion of the test hit a record 145.60 out of a 200-point scale, up from 143.73 in July 2007, Moeser said. ...

One possible explanation is the new attention law schools are giving to preparing students to take the bar examination, Moeser said. "A number are taking [such courses] seriously," she said. A growing number of law schools have offered bar prep courses for credit since the American Bar Association's (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar began allowing such programs in 2005. A resolution passed by the ABA's House of Delegates at this summer's ABA annual meeting allows law schools to make such programs mandatory.

High average LSAT scores for July 2008 bar exam takers who graduated from law school in the spring of 2008, also accounts for some of the strong performance on this summer's bar examination scores, Moeser said.

December 4, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tax LL.M. Grad: $150k Student Loans, 300 Letters to Law Firms, 1 Interview, 0 Job Offers

Scary news from CNN Money and the ABA Journal: Andrew Magdy (J.D. 2007, Michigan State; LL.M. (Tax) 2008, Washington University) has $150,000 in student loans and has been unsuccessful in his search for a law firm tax job.  He has sent out letters and CVs to 300 law firms but has received only one interview.

December 3, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

Repeat LSAT Takers Surge Following Rule Change Permitting Reporting of Only Highest Score

Following up on my prior post, ABA to Require Schools to Report Highest LSAT Scores from Multiple Tests, Rather Than Average Scores (6/14/06), Bill Henderson (Indiana) today reports that the predicted surge in students re-taking the LSAT has indeed occured: the number of repeat LSAT takers for the October 2008 test increased 16.8% nationally, and a staggering 33.7% in the Northeast -- at $127 per test, those 13,610 repeat test takers represent $1,728,470 to the LSAC.

Update:  The National Law Journal has more here.

December 3, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Clickers: A Dissenting View

Chronicle of Higher Education: Classroom Clickers and the Cost of Technology (op-ed), by Michael Bugeja (Director, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University):

Ira David Socol, a scholar of technology in special education at Michigan State University, states, "The idea of wasting money on a device no more sophisticated pedagogically than raising your hand drives me nuts, whether it is students' money or the university's." Cellphones, he says, can perform the same tasks as clickers with more interactivity and less inefficiency. ...

Businesses routinely take advantage of the helpful cultures of information-technology and teaching-excellence centers. The first impulse of many such campus programs is to be of service; the second is to be on the cutting edge of innovation in a technological environment. Such virtues, however, can be vices when manipulated by marketers whose goal is profit, not pedagogy. ...

I am still wary of clickers, and I asked professors in my unit if they were using them. ... The students were against clickers ... : "One said that she and her friends would slow down lectures by inputting incorrect answers to poll questions. Another said that it was not unusual to have one student bring multiple clickers as a favor to friends in classes in which clicker responses were used to award credit." ...

Institutions have much to learn from students about the cost and effectiveness of technology. Chief information officers need to be consulted before departments invest in expensive for-profit consumer technologies. Professors need to realize that technology comes at a price, even when advertised as "free." Finally, administrators need to double their efforts at cost containment, demanding assessment before investment, especially in schemes that bypass mandated accountability standards. Otherwise business as usual will continue to disenfranchise our students, who will hold their debt-ridden futures in their clicking hands.

(Hat Tip: Jim Hart.)

December 1, 2008 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lipshaw: Memo to Lawyers: How Not to "Retire and Teach"

Jeffrey M. Lipshaw (Suffolk) has published Memo to Lawyers: How Not to "Retire and Teach," 30 N.C. Cent. L. Rev. 151 (2008).  Here is the abstract:

Many long-time practitioners muse about what it might be like to retire and teach, not realizing there is no more galvanizing phrase to their counterparts who have long toiled in the academy, nor one less likely to enhance the prospects of the unfortunate seasoned applicant who utters the phrase. I intend this essay not for law professors (though it may either amuse or irritate them), but for those in the practice who aspire, after all these years, to return to the academy. With a good deal of humility acquired along the way, I offer some realistic advice to job seekers, concluding that wistful phrase is precisely the opposite of the true sine qua non of success: demonstrating the capability of, and commitment to, being a productive scholar.

November 28, 2008 in Law School, Scholarship, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Law Students Deserve Better Teaching

National Jurist November 2008 Jon Peters, a law student at Ohio State, has an interesting op-ed in the November 2008 issue of The National JuristTeaching Deserves to be Valued:

I'm confident that many law schools do value teaching, but I'm equally confident that its value, in practice, doesn't suit that rhetoric.  That is, I no longer believe what I was told -- that teaching is first among equals at law schools,,, in the context of the three traditional tenets of higher education: teaching, research and service.  Indeed, it seems that teaching has assumed redheaded stepchild status, behind the favorite child: scholarship.

[A]bsent an economic incentive [for good teaching], teaching will remain a distant second to scholarship, in light of the pressures created by scholarship-heavy P&T criteria and the pressures created by the rankings.

The legal academe cannot continue to incentivize faculty to be better than bad, but not necessarily to be good; to take its cues from the rankings; and overall to marginalize the importance of teaching.

It should go without saying, students deserve better than that.

November 26, 2008 in Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ACTEC Sponsors 2009 Student Writing Competition

The Legal Education Committee of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) is sponsoring the 2009 Law Student Writing Competition:

Purpose:  This competition was created by ACTEC’s Legal Education Committee, which consists of law school professors who teach in the area of trusts and estates and practitioners who teach as adjuncts in the trusts and estates field. The competition honors the late Mary Moers Wenig, a member of ACTEC’s Legal Education Committee, who was a law school professor for over 30 years.

Consistent with ACTEC’s purposes, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Mary Moers Wenig Student Writing Competition was created to encourage and reward scholarly works in the area of trusts and estates. ACTEC’s purposes are to maintain an association of lawyers, international in scope, skilled and experienced in the preparation of wills and trusts; estate planning; probate procedure and administration of trusts and estates of decedents, minors and incompetents; to improve and reform probate, trust and tax laws, procedures, and professional responsibility, to bring together qualified lawyers whose character and ability will contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the College; and to cooperate with bar associations and other organizations with similar purposes.

Eligibility:  This competition is open to any alw student in good standing (full-time or part-time) who is currently enrolled as a J.D. or LL.M. candidate in an ABA-accredited law school within the United States or its possessions.

Subjects: The paper must relate to the area of trusts and estates, broadly defined to include:

  • Business Planning
  • Charitable Planning
  • Elder Law
  • Employee Benefits
  • Fiduciary Administration
  • Fiduciary Income Taxation
  • Fiduciary Litigation
  • Estate Planning and Drafting
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Substantive Laws for the Gratuitous Transmission of Property
  • Wealth Transfer Taxation (Estate, Gift and GST Tax)


  • 1st Prize: $5,000 and publication in the ACTEC Journal
  • 2d Prize:  $3,000 and online publication on ACTEC’s website
  • 3d Prize:  $1,000 and online publication on ACTEC’s website

Deadline:  June 1, 2009

For more information:

November 25, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Graduate Tax Programs

I have updated the links to all of the graduate tax programs in the left column of TaxProf Blog, arranged:

November 24, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Downside of a J.D.

National Law Journal:  Discovering a Law Degree's Downside:  Sending the Wrong Signal in Bad Times?, by Leigh Jones:

When Dina Allam graduated last spring from Ohio State University with a joint law and master of business administration degree, she thought the combination would catch the eye of employers who could appreciate a mix of analytical skills and business know-how.

But after months of looking for a nonlawyer job that would put all that education to work and help pay off some of the nearly $85,000 in student loan debt, Allam began to think she'd made a mistake by going the law degree route.

"People don't see the value in the joint degree. They think I'm confused," she said.

In hindsight, Allam said she would have forgone the juris doctor degree and pursued just the MBA. But at the time she started law school, she was convinced that a J.D. diploma could open doors to a wide variety of job options.

"They made it sound like there were so many careers you could go into," said Allam, now a client engagement manager with Wipro Technologies in Columbus, Ohio. "I definitely think all the interviews I had were because I was in business school and not because I had a law degree."

Law schools and placement professionals frequently tout the versatility of a law degree as a path to alternative careers. But even in good economic times, the advantage of a juris doctor degree in landing a job in another field may well be overblown.

With student loan debt at an all-time high and law schools churning out about 44,000 degrees each year, graduates looking for nonlawyer jobs are finding that they often are priced out, overqualified and undervalued.

The upshot for many is that, while they appreciate the knowledge they gained, they find that they are no more marketable — and sometimes less — than if they'd avoided the law school ordeal altogether.

November 21, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Law Schools Ponder Decline in Minority Enrollment

National Law Journal: Law School Deans, Profs Ponder Reasons for Decline in Minority Enrollment, by Thomas Adcock:

The controversy surrounding Columbia Law School's documentation of a "disturbing" decline in enrollment of minority students at law campuses around the country has deans and professors in New York state discussing a perceived cultural bias in the LSAT examination, combined with the test's exaggerated importance as an element of the annual rankings of their institutions by U.S. News & World Report.

Although LSAT scores have actually trended upward during the past 15 years, according to the report, many in the New York legal academy contend that informal "cut-off" numbers set by law schools have simultaneously risen -- as a means of gaming the U.S. News rankings to their competitive marketing advantage.

November 20, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Do Legacy Admissions Violate the Constitution & Civil Rights Act?

Inside Higher Ed: Looking to the Past to Ban Legacy Admissions, by Scott Jaschik:

[T]his week — for the second time this year — a law journal is publishing a legal analysis that suggests that legacy preferences are illegal. The new issue of the Santa Clara Review features an article — whose lead writer would like to find plaintiffs to test his theory — arguing that the 1866 Civil Rights Act bars legacy admissions at public and private institutions.  [Steve D. Shadowen, Sozi Pedro Tulante & Shara L. Alpern, No Distinctions Except Those Which Merit Originates: The Unlawfulness of Legacy Preferences in Public and Private Universities, 49 Santa Clara L. Rev. 51 (2009).]

An article earlier this year in the Washington University Law Review argues that the “nobility clauses” of the U.S. Constitution ban legacy admissions at public institutions.   [Carlton F. W. Larson, Titles of Nobility, Hereditary Privilege, and the Unconstitutionality of Legacy Preferences in Public School Admissions, 84 Wash. U. L. Rev. 1375 (2006).]

November 20, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Women Lag Behind Men at Large Law Firms

The National Association of Women Lawyers today released the results of its third annual National Survey on the Status of Women in Law Firms.  The report finds significant disparities between men and women in the number and compensation of partners in large law firms:

  • 48% of associates, 27% of non-equity partners, and 16% of equity partners, are women
  • At 99% of the firms, the highest-paid partner is a man
  • Women earn less than their male counterparts at the associate ($7,000), of-counsel ($14,000), nonequity partner ($23,000), and equity partner ($87,000) levels.

Press and blogosphere coverage:

November 18, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

University Fires Professor Because of Blog Post

Texas A&M International University Professor Loye Young was fired for this blog post.

Mr. Young defends himself here, here, here, and here.  (Hat Tip:  Chaz Perin.) 

November 18, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Arkansas Con Law Prof Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against His Students Over Racism Charges

Following up on my earlier post, Arkansas Con Law Prof Sues His Students for Defamation, Claiming They Twisted His Anti-Affirmative Action Views to Accuse Him of Racism (4/30/08):  Today's Inside Higher Ed reports that Arkansas-Little Rock Law Prof Richard J. Peltz has dropped his lawsuit:

After you’ve been called racist by some students, can you sue to get your reputation back?

Richard J. Peltz, who teaches law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, tried. The idea of suing students intrigued and worried many observers of the professoriate, and Peltz’s case prompted much discussion about free speech and the respect that should be accorded both professors and students. Peltz has now dropped his suit — but he did so only after the law school agreed to fully investigate the charges against him and after he received a letter affirming that, based on that investigation, he had done nothing racist or inappropriate.

The university has also agreed to discuss allowing Peltz to again teach required courses, which he was barred from offering once the complaints against him were filed.

For more, see ABA Journal.

November 17, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2008 Tannenwald Writing Competition Results

Results in the 2008 Tannenwald Writing Competition, sponsored by the Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and the American College of Tax Counsel:

First Prize ($3,500):  Kathryn A. Fuehrmeyer (Notre Dame), Cutting Out the Middleman:  Allowing Offshore Debt-Financed Investments by Tax Exempt Organizations.  Faculty Sponsore:  Lloyd H. Mayer.

Second Prize ($2,500):  Andrew D. Appleby (Wake Forest), How the IRS Should Tax Record-Setting Baseballs and Other Found Property Under the Treasure Trove Regulation.  Faculty Sponsor:  Joel S. Newman. 

Third Prize ($1,500):  Leslie J. Carter (Chicago), Blowing the Whistle on Avoiding Use Tax on Online Purchases.  Faculty Sponsor:  Julie Roin.

November 13, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Texas to Raise $200m to Crack U.S. News Top 10

Austin American-Statesman: Law School Dean Trying to Break Into Top 10 Rankings:

Lawrence Sager knows he will be measured by his ability to raise the $200 million he has promised to add to the University of Texas School of Law's endowment. ... If he can raise the money by the university's 2014 deadline, he will nearly double the current $202 million endowment and exceed by fivefold the most money ever raised in a single drive for the law school.

Hitting his $200 million target, Sager says, is crucial to attracting top faculty and the best students, essential ingredients in his drive to elevate the school from 16th in annual U.S. News and World Report rankings to the Top 10, alongside law schools such as Yale, Harvard and Stanford. For the past 20 years, UT School of Law has maintained a ranking in the Top 20 but never cracked the Top 10. ...

"You find yourself worrying about the rankings much too much, but you can't not care about these rankings," Sager said. "They affect your ability to attract the best students and faculty. One of the key ways to affect those rankings is to spend more money."

(Hat Tip: ABA Journal.)

November 12, 2008 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Another Reason to Cherish This Job

I wake up every morning incredibly thankful that I have this job -- I honestly think it is the best job in the world. And tenure (with a generous defined-benefit plan backed by the State of Ohio) is especially comforting in these increasingly scary economic times.  Today's Inside Higher Ed brings yet another reason to cherish our Tax Prof jobs:  6-6 Course Loads and No Benefits, by Scott Jaschik:

Consider Chandra G. Elkins, who teaches composition and developmental reading at Tennessee Tech University and Nashville State Technical Community College. She typically teaches a 5-5 course load and tries to pick up a summer course or two as well. Last year, teaching ten courses over the course of a year, she earned $15,210. This year, she is hoping to earn more, so she has added a sixth course for next semester, which she will teach at Motlow State Community College. “It’s really depressing. I have to really, really love my job,” she said. “Literally, I could quit my job and get a job at the local Wal-Mart full time and make more money and have benefits.”

Sheila Sullivan teaches at the same colleges as an adjunct. By teaching a 6-6 load, plus summer work, she is able to get her total income up in the $24,000-$26,000 range (no benefits).

12 courses a year -- that is the normal workload over four years for a law professor at most schools!

November 12, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Law Student Pummels Intruder Who Tried to Steal His Laptop

From Tempe, Arizona TV station KPHO and Above the Law:

ASU student Alex Botsios said he had no problem giving a nighttime intruder his wallet and guitars. When the man asked for Botsios' laptop, however, the first-year law student drew the line.

"I was like, 'Dude, no -- please, no!" Botsios said. "I have all my case notes...that's four months of work!"

That's when Botsios showed him exactly how important case notes are to a law school student. He wrestled his bat away, punched the guy repeatedly, and called police.

Botsios just had a bruised knuckle and a few scratches, while the intruder looked like this. He had to be taken for stitches before being booked for armed robbery and kidnapping.

November 11, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Building a Better LSAT: Predicting Lawyer, Not Law Student, Success

Following up on last week's post, UC-Berkeley: Testing for Empathy as an LSAT Alternative?: Today's Inside Higher Ed:  Building a Better Admissions Test, by Scott Jaschik:

Most standardized admissions tests — from the SAT and ACT to those used for admission to graduate and professional schools, such as the Law School Admission Test — promise one thing: to predict academic success in the first year enrolled. Most standardized tests also face growing skepticism because white and Asian students tend to outperform, on average, black and Latino students.

What if a standardized test managed to predict much more than first-year success? And what if there existed the possibility of having standardized tests that didn’t have ethnic or racial gaps, but better predicted long-term success?

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have been engaged in a long-term research project to produce such tests for use in its law school — and they think they have a model that does those things exactly: predicts success as a lawyer (not just as a first-year student) and finds success across demographic groups. Given that law schools exist to produce lawyers, not first-year law students, Berkeley officials think their findings are significant and they are now releasing them for public view and — they hope — for testing on a national scale.

Continue reading

November 11, 2008 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Law School Faculty Recruitment Should Emulate Medical School Match Program for Residents

Tax Prof Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) proposes that law school faculty recuitment emulate medical school matching programs for residents:

The main beneficiaries of a matching system would be schools that historically have difficulty in recruiting their first, second, or even third-choice candidate. Might women of all colors and other “outsiders” fare better under a matching system, too? ... A match program would minimize faculty fatigue and increase efficiencies in hiring, defined as slots being filled by candidates that a faculty deemed desirable, although perhaps not first-preferred.

November 10, 2008 in Law School, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 7, 2008

UC-Berkeley: Testing for Empathy as an LSAT Alternative?

Wall Street Journal Law Blog: Berkeley Calls for Research into LSAT Alternative; Testing for Empathy?, by Dan Slater:

Former Berkeley law prof Marjorie Shultz ... thinks they can do better, reports the Recorder. Shultz and Berkeley psychology prof Sheldon Zedeck have been studying alternatives to the LSAT. They recently published their findings in a 100-page report. They say the LSAT, with its focus on cognitive skills, does not measure for skills such as creativity, negotiation, problem-solving or stress management, but that they have found promising new and existing tests from the employment context that do.

On Monday, Berkeley law Dean Christopher Edley posted a message to a listserv for deans at ABA-accredited law schools highlighting some of the findings, and asking for support in building a case to expand the project. ...

We “need lawyers with the kind of skill sets that the world needs — like empathy, persuasiveness and the willingness to have the courage to do the right thing — which the LSAT does not measure,” said Jeffrey Brand, dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law.

The ABA Journal has more here.

November 7, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

FBA Tax Section Student Writing Competition

The Federal Bar Association Section on Taxation invites law students to participate in its annual annual tax writing competition:

The first-prize winner will receive $1,500 and a trip to the FBA’s Annual Tax Law Conference on March 6, 2009 in Washington, D.C. along with a commemorative plaque. Second prize will receive $750 and a commemorative plaque. Submissions must be no longer than twenty pages and must be e-mailed or postmarked by January 15, 2009.

November 4, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Clickers Redux

Clickers As regular readers of this blog know, I use clickers in all of my classes (see this New York Times story) and wrote an article on my experience (Taking Back the Law School Classroom: Using Technology to Foster Active Student Learning, 54 J. Legal Educ. 551 (2004)).  I will be evangelizing about their use at the AALS Annual Meeting on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 as part of the Committee on Curriculum's Workshop on Redesigning Legal Education.  Today's Inside Higher Ed reports on the use of clickers at the Universities of Delaware, Maryland, and Pittsburgh in Clicker U., by Scott Jaschik:

To some academics, clickers are a great new technology, allowing professors to measure instantly whether students in a large class are grasping new concepts (or are even in class). To others, clickers represent a depersonalizing influence.

At the annual meeting of Educause, an organization of college technology officials, the former appeared solidly in the majority. Indeed, at a session on the use of clickers, officials of three large universities reported that once professors start to use clickers, the devices’ popularity took off, and not just in mammoth lecture classes. To these officials, the questions about clickers weren’t of the “Should we use them or not?” variety but of the policy variety: Should institutions support only one model on campus or whatever professors pick? Who is responsible for training professors in their use? Should certain uses of clickers be discouraged or encouraged?

November 3, 2008 in Law School, Scholarship, Tax Conferences, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tax Court Requires House Counsel to Include Forgiven Law Student Loan in Income

The Tax Court yesterday required David Plotinsky, Assistant Counsel in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives, to include in income $3,043 of law school and college student loans that were forgiven when he consolidated his loans with the lender.  Plotinsky v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2008-244 (10/30/08):

Pursuant to AES's incentive program, if an individual were to consolidate the individual's student loans by taking out a loan from AES ... and the individual were to make 36 consecutive on-time monthly payments on the AES loan, AES would discharge a portion of that loan.

Petitioner was aware of AES's incentive program when in August 2001, after graduating from law school, he consolidated petitioner's Federal student loans through AES ... 

In 2004, pursuant to AES's incentive program and as a result of 36 consecutive on-time payments having been made on petitioner's consolidated student loan, AES discharged $3,043 of that loan.

AES issued Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt (2004 Form 1099-C), to petitioner for his taxable year 2004. That form showed $3,043.28 as the amount of debt canceled. The instructions to the 2004 Form 1099-C that AES sent to petitioner stated in pertinent part: "Generally, if you are an individual, you must include the canceled amount on the 'Other Income' line of Form 1040. * * * However, some canceled debts are not includible in your income."

Petitioner timely filed Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for his taxable year 2004 (petitioner's 2004 return). In that return, petitioner reported gross income of $76,917 that did not include the $3,043.28 of petitioner's consolidated student loan that AES discharged. Petitioner attached to petitioner's 2004 return a document (petitioner's attachment to petitioner's 2004 return) that stated in pertinent part:

I received a Form 1099-C from AES Graduate & Professional Loan Services ("AES"), which stated a cancellation of debt in the amount of $3043.28. I am not reporting this amount as income because it is my reading of Internal Revenue Service Pub. 525, at 17-18, that this cancellation constitutes a gift rather than income.

AES is the lender with which I consolidated my law school loans approximately three years ago. As an incentive to select AES as my lender, AES offered a reduction in the total amount of my loans, and it is this offer that forms the entire basis for the debt cancellation of $3043.28. The offer was contingent upon my making 36 consecutive on-time monthly payments, and now that this has been achieved the debt cancellation is locked in.

Mr. Plotinsky represented himself in the case, and the judge was not impressed with his argument:

In relying solely on Helvering v. Am. Dental Co., 318 U.S. 322 (1943), to support his position that AES's discharge of $3,043 of petitioner's consolidated student loan constituted a gift under section 102(a), petitioner fails to acknowledge that the Supreme Court in Commissioner v. Jacobson, and Commissioner v. Duberstein, requires us to consider AES's intention in discharging $3,043 of petitioner's consolidated student loan. We shall do so now. ...

On the record before us, we find that AES did not intend to discharge $3,043 of petitioner's consolidated student loan out of "detached and disinterested generosity" ... or "out of affection, respect, admiration, charity or like impulses" ... On that record, we further find that petitioner has failed to carry his burden of establishing that, in discharging $3,043 of petitioner's consolidated student loan, AES intended to make a gift to him.

Based upon our examination of the entire record before us, we find that the $3,043 of petitioner's consolidated student loan that AES discharged is not excludable for his taxable year 2004 from his gross income under section 102(a). On that record, we further find that petitioner must include for that year that amount in his gross income.[FN]

FN:  On brief, petitioner further argues that, even if we were to find that the $3,043 of petitioner's consolidated student loan that AES discharged is includible in his gross income, he should recognize that income over the remaining life of petitioner's consolidated student loan. We reject that argument. Income from the discharge of indebtedness is income for the year in which the indebtedness is discharged. Sec. 61(a)(12); see Jelle v. Commissioner, 116 T.C. 63 (2001).

October 30, 2008 in Law School, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ken Hirsh Named Director of Law Library at Cincinnati

Hirshk I am delighted to share the news that Kenneth J. Hirsh of the Duke Law Library has been named Director of Law Library and Information Technology and Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, effective February 1, 2009.  I have served on the Board of Directors of CALI with Ken for the past four years and am thrilled that we were able to attract a person with his background, experience, talent, and leadership ability to take the helm of our library.  From the UC press release:

Mr. Hirsh is a graduate of the University of Miami (A.B. 1974) and received his J.D. from the University of Florida in 1977. He practiced law in Florida for nearly ten years before obtaining his M.S. in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University in 1989. He then joined the Law Library at Duke University School of Law and served as Reference Librarian (1989-1994), Manager of Computing Services (1993-2001), and Director of Computing Services (2001-2008). Mr. Hirsh also has served as a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke since 1989, teaching Legal Research and a course in Technology in the Practice of Law.

Mr. Hirsh’s extensive experience in both reference and information technology at one of the country’s finest law schools will serve the College of Law and its Library well. His accomplishments at Duke have been as an innovator – using his legal education, practice background, and technical expertise to bring new technologies to bear beneficially on the work of law students and faculty.

He likewise has been a nationally prominent leader in two of the foremost organizations in his field, the American Association of Law Libraries (“AALL”) and the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (“CALI”). Mr. Hirsh served as President of the AALL’s Southeastern Chapter and currently serves as Secretary of CALI and a member of its Board of Directors. CALI honored him with its Excellence in Service Award in 2000. The AALL similarly hailed Mr. Hirsh’s contributions, honoring him for distinguished service in 2004. AALL has named its distinguished service award in the area of computing services for Mr. Hirsh.

As I previously blogged, this is an incredibly exciting time at Cincinnati, and we are thrilled that Ken has come aboard to help implement the College's ambitious strategic plan.

October 29, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why No Competition for the LSAT?

Inside Higher Ed: GRE vs. GMAT, by Scott Jaschik:

The Educational Testing Service, which had and lost the lucrative market for admissions testing for those aspiring to earn M.B.A.’s, is increasing its efforts to gain back a good share of that business.

In 2003, ETS lost the contract to manage the Graduate Management Admission Test to ACT and a division of Pearson. In the last year, ETS has been quietly and not so quietly urging business schools and students to consider using the Graduate Record Examinations instead of the GMAT. Now ETS is upping the ante, with a more formal campaign and by unveiling a table that compares GRE and GMAT scores in terms of predictive validity for business-school performance. The lack of such comparative data has discouraged business schools from considering using the GRE, since some worry about considering GMAT scores for some applicants and GRE scores for others.

The reason that the GMAT can be challenged in this way is that it is a test of verbal, mathematical and writing skills (as is the GRE). The GMAT does not focus on finance or accounting or business strategy. It’s also more expensive than the GRE ($250 vs. $140 in the United States). And with nearly 250,000 tests given in the testing year that ended June 30, it’s a testing market others eye. ...

35 additional M.B.A. programs have said that they will accept GRE scores, bringing the total to 125 — a fraction of those that accept the GMAT, but a notable increase. ...  The Graduate Management Admission Council is disputing the ETS claims about the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. “At this point, there is only one valid predictor of success in in an M.B.A. program: It is the GMAT,” said David A. Wilson, president of GMAC. He said that whatever comparisons ETS is making can’t equal the long-term validity studies conducted by his organization showing a clear relationship between certain scores and success in business school.

October 29, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Two-Tiered System of Legal Education?

Bar Passage and Best Practices for Legal Education, by Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (New Mexico):

[T]he confluence of bar passage imperatives and the Best Practices/Carnegie movement might result in a kind of “two-tier” legal education where students with higher LSAT’s and grades will get the Best Practices/Carnegie type education and students with lower LSATs and grades will get a legal analysis focused legal education … [I]ronically legal analysis is the skill that Best Practices and Carnegie Report conclude that legal education over emphasizes … WOW! Is this backward!

October 28, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UC-Irvine to Offer Full $100k Scholarships to First Entering Class of 60 Students

Monday, October 20, 2008

Controversy Over BU's Response to "Scathing" 1L Student Evaluations

Above the Law reports on the controversy surrounding Boston University's response to "scathing" teaching evaluations of a 1L class.

October 20, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Economic Squeeze to Hit Faculty Hiring?

A hiring freeze at William & Mary has sparked a blogosphere discussion on the impact of the economic downturn on law faculty hiring.  The consensus:  fewer retirements and fewer slots to fill.

October 20, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

3Ls Have $73k Average Debt, Bleak Job Prospects; 1Ls & 2Ls Face 33% Cut in Summer Associate Programs

In this week's National Law Journal:

A Grim Verdict Awaits Law Grads:  Lots of Debt, Very Few Law Firm Jobs, by Leigh Jones:

Nearly 44,000 law students nationwide will graduate next year with an average of about $73,000 in loan debt, according to numbers from the ABA.

And while most would-be lawyers already have accepted that only a small fraction will start their careers with a big-firm salary of $160,000, the past few weeks of economic chaos have caused many to wonder if any kind of attorney work is in their near future. ...

It is too early to tell to what extent law firms scaled back hiring this fall for summer associates in 2009. But James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), said that, anecdotally, law firms were more cautious in the offers they made. "For the class of 2009, it will be tough," he said. ...

The number of legal jobs nationwide is steadily declining, according to employment figures released this month by the U.S. Department of Labor. Jobs in the law sector shrank by 2,000 in September — the fifth consecutive month of losses. The legal work force of 1,165,100 was down by 1.15% from a year ago, when the industry employed 1,178,600 people.

Summer Associates Feel the Heat; As Economy Wilts, Firms Are Cutting Their Summer Programs, by Karen Sloan:

[T]here will be 30% to 35% fewer summer associate positions nationwide in 2009. ... Not surprisingly, the shrinking pool of summer associate spots is mostly due to the turbulent economy. Law firms are looking for ways to trim budgets, and cutting summer associates is one of the easiest ways to do that ... A handful of firms have canceled their summer associate programs in 2009, while a larger number of firms have quietly reduced the number of summer associates they plan to bring on.

With fewer summer associate spots available overall, some recruiters have noticed that law students seem to be casting a wider net as they search for positions. Students who in other years may have been firmly committed to securing a spot in a New York office are now willing to look in other cities or at smaller firms.

October 20, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)