Earlier this summer, Legal Evolution applied to the Library of Congress for an International Standard Serial Number, or ISSN. A few weeks ago, we received our official approval. Legal Evolution is ISSN 2769-6161. You can look us up, along with other publications, at the ISSN Portal.
Most readers have little familiarity with ISSN, primarily because it operates in the background. Its purpose is to track specific titles of ongoing or serialized publications. In essence, it’s part of the inventory control system for the world’s knowledge. Historically, knowledge has been stored in libraries. But nowadays, an ever-growing proportion is stored in the Cloud.
In the case of Legal Evolution, the reason to get an ISSN was less about being tracked by libraries and more about documenting our status as knowledge, on par with materials in journals, magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals. Indeed, it was a small step in a subtle, low-grade turf battle that is going to take years to complete. Fortunately, I am well-positioned to participate in this battle. And it’s near-certain that my side (our side) is going to win. This is because accessible online content has become an organic part of how knowledge workers gather and consume information, solve problems, and build their professionals communities.
What turf is being contested? The subtle, low-grade turf battle is taking place inside universities and centers on the question, “Do blog posts count as research, publications, or scholarship?”
My first semester as a tenure-track professor started on August 19, 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, with no precedent and no playbook.
I’ve never designed and led a course on my campus that didn’t involve masked faces or checker-patterned Zoom screens. I’ve never not had to teach remote and in-person students simultaneously. I have had to recite our “six feet, mask up” mantra while figuring out why my Zoom students can’t hear, my cursor has disappeared, and my in-person students can’t see the PowerPoint slides — as all of us are overwhelmed by the absurdity of it all.
I’m part of a faculty group — the post-pandemic generation — that for the next few years will define the future of instruction in higher education. For us, the past year or so was daunting, but it was also liberating. Because with no expectations of normalcy, many of us in this new faculty cohort have been approaching our strange new academic world with a sense of possibility more than of trepidation.
Why should universities guarantee jobs to a bunch of elitists who study esoteric subjects and brainwash students with left-wing politics? This critique of tenure in higher education is as old as tenure itself, and it’s gaining ground. In recent years, governing boards and legislators in several states have attempted to ban tenure or curtail its power — sometimes succeeding, as in Wisconsin. In the American labor market, where employers have unusually wide latitude to hire and fire at will, it’s not hard for politicians to channel popular resentment toward a small class of workers with relatively strong protections.
That class is getting even smaller. The proportion of American faculty members on the tenure track has been falling since the 1970s, and today just a third of college professors have tenure or are on track to receive it. Every year more and more teachers join the ranks of contingent faculty members, surviving contract to contract with little hope that these debates will ever apply to them.
Over the years, tenure’s defenders have offered up noble pleas for the system. It does not grant a teacher a job for life but simply protection from arbitrary firing and retribution; it safeguards academic freedom; it decreases turnover and creates a more stable learning environment for students; it’s more cost-effective than critics suggest, especially when compared with how much universities spend on new administrative positions and lavish student facilities.
All these arguments are basically right. But they will never persuade tenure skeptics outside the university. That’s because the fight over tenure is not really about tenure. It’s a proxy for a larger debate about the meaning of academic freedom and the priorities of higher education. These are intractable battles in the culture wars, but universities are not helpless to confront them — as long as they grapple with the real problems in the tenure system and academic culture. ...
We have our first glimpse at 2021-2022 cycle volume. As of 9/23 there were about 6,000 law school applicants so far this year. That's about 15% more than last cycle's ~5,100, and 50% more than the 2019-2020 cycle's ~3,900.
Last week, St. Mary’s University School of Law became the first to offer an online-only Juris Doctor program that received American Bar Association accreditation. The five-year pilot is set to launch in the fall with 25 students remotely attending the San Antonio-based law school’s virtual part-time J.D. program.
The secret sauce for ABA approval? St. Mary’s University School of Law Dean Patricia Roberts noted her law school already had a real-time yearly assessment in place that tracks each student’s progress. “We could say to the ABA we are already tracking that and we can track that with the [new] cohort and the ABA can use that to inform future decisions about online J.D. programs,” Roberts said.
Learn about the legal academic hiring market! This video discusses fellowships & VAPs; describes what a law professor's job entails; explains how the entry-level hiring market works; and talks a bit towards the end about the lateral market, including visitorships. The video focuses on tenure-track doctrinal positions.
The purpose of this video is to break down information barriers and help level the playing field for those interested in legal academia. In part, Professors Leandra Lederman (Indiana; Google Scholar) & Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington; Google Scholar) discuss their experiences. Professor Lederman is a senior professor who has taught at several schools and has served on Faculty Appointments Committees. Professor Bearer-Friend is a junior professor who completed a VAP (Visiting Assistant Professorship) before entering a tenure-track position.
There are several online and other resources discussed in this video. We also recommend seeking out mentors for advice, particularly with respect to your own situation and specific issues or potential barriers you are concerned about. The resources shown or discussed in the video include the following:
The Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm President Biden’s nominee Lily Batchelder to serve as assistant secretary for tax policy in the Treasury Department.
The upper chamber voted 64-34 to confirm Batchelder, a law professor at New York University and a former Obama administration official, on Wednesday afternoon.
In the key role, Batchelder will serve as senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for developing and implementing tax policy. She will oversee the Office of the Tax Legislative Counsel, the Office of the International Tax Counsel, the Office of the Benefits Tax Counsel, and the Office of Tax Analysis.
How do you know when it’s time to leave a tenured position and find something else to do?
In Born Standing Up (2007), Steve Martin writes about no longer finding creative fulfillment in his comedy act and sensing that it was already on the downward slope: “I was not self-destructive, though I almost destroyed myself. In the end, I turned away from stand-up with a tired swivel of my head and never looked back, until now.” He went on to pursue a more satisfying career as an actor, producer, writer, and musician.
While I have experienced nothing remotely comparable to Martin’s success, his memoir resonated with me because I am facing a similar career decision. After more than 20 years on the tenure track at a liberal-arts college — climbing from assistant professor to endowed professor — I have decided to go on unpaid leave to write, retrain, and look for new career pathways. ...
Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they now trail female college students by record levels.
At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.
This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59% of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
In the next few years, two women will earn a college degree for every man, if the trend continues, said Douglas Shapiro, executive director of the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse.
No reversal is in sight. Women increased their lead over men in college applications for the 2021-22 school year—3,805,978 to 2,815,810—by nearly a percentage point compared with the previous academic year, according to Common Application, a nonprofit that transmits applications to more than 900 schools. ...
American colleges, which are embroiled in debates over racial and gender equality, and working on ways to reduce sexual assault and harassment of women on campus, have yet to reach a consensus on what might slow the retreat of men from higher education. Some schools are quietly trying programs to enroll more men, but there is scant campus support for spending resources to boost male attendance and retention.
Executive Summary In Spring 2020, the ABA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) and ABA Media Relations launched a survey to understand the impact of student loan debt on the personal and professional lives of relatively new lawyers—ABA members who had been licensed or graduated law school in the last 10 years. The results were illuminating—roughly half of the respondents indicated postponing or foregoing investing in their local community through purchasing a home and starting a family due their debt, over half reported having accumulated more than $150,000 in debt upon graduating law school, and 40 percent reported their student loan debt balance had actually increased since graduation, despite payments. The report revealed several other key insights, but also raised additional questions about the impact of student loan debt on the overall financial and emotional well-being of young lawyers.
To pursue these additional questions, we collaborated with AccessLex Institute to conduct another ABA YLD member survey in May 2021, targeting members under age 36 who earned a law degree or who were licensed in the last 10 years. Over 1,300 members representing attorneys and law school graduates in big law, solo practice, government, industry, non-profit settings, and JD-advantage positions, among others, completed the 44-item questionnaire. In addition to seeking information about the impact of student loan debt on their ability to reach traditional life milestones that previous generations regularly attained, we also posed questions meant to assess how student loan debt influences career decisions, overall financial stability, and emotional well-being. Additionally, we examined young lawyers’ experiences and satisfaction with seeking financial advice and support, as well as their pre-law awareness of the cost and potential value of J.D. attainment.
In contrast to the 2020 survey, this year’s survey was administered against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent and ongoing efforts to rebound from its negative impacts, and related events such as the temporary suspension of student loan payments, distance learning and remote bar examinations, as well as the reopening of businesses and other operations. Although the survey does not directly address or measure the impact of these events, it is likely they influenced the mindset of those responding to the questionnaire. Our analysis of the results showed that:
The pandemic-prompted surge of interest in the management degree in 2020 looks to be a passing fad.
Some of the best known M.B.A. programs in the U.S. registered precipitous drops or sluggish interest from prospective candidates this year, following a 2020 admissions cycle in which applications soared.
Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management reported a 20% drop in applications to its M.B.A. program for the incoming fall of 2021 class. Columbia Business School reported a 6% decline. ...
This year was expected to be a banner one for applications to top-tier M.B.A. programs. In 2020, application volumes surged for the first time in five years, thanks in part to loosened standardized testing requirements and extended admissions deadlines that let students seeking to ride out a shaky job market apply for many months beyond the normal admissions time frame. Instead, this year’s results are mixed and admissions experts say the pandemic-spurred interest in the degree could further evaporate by next year.
Poets&Quants has reviewed the 2020-2021 application data by comparing peer schools with each and comparing historical data. At the 15 top-25 schools for which we have data, only Northwestern Kellogg School of Management (-20.3%) and Columbia Business School (-6.3%) saw declines. For the other 13 schools, apps were up — and in some cases, up big.
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow recently took a leave of absence from the network to attend a one-year master’s degree program for nonlawyers at Yale Law School. By drawing attention to Yale’s M.S.L. program, Ms. Harlow helps shed light on the absurdity of the legal profession’s time-consuming and expensive requirements to be licensed as a lawyer, which primarily serve to raise lawyers’ earnings and limit access to justice.
If Ms. Harlow wanted to practice law after completing the M.S.L. program, she wouldn’t be able to do so. Instead, she would have to be accepted by a law school with a three-year program accredited by the American Bar Association, and pass a state bar exam. The ABA and state bar examiners maintain that these requirements establish a minimum standard of quality for lawyers and protect clients from incompetent representation.
However, their rationale doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Legal advice is what economists call a “credence good” because, like auto repairs and medical procedures, its quality is difficult for consumers to evaluate accurately, even after purchase. Thanks to technological advances, many industries have made strides toward reducing the cost of imperfect information associated with credence goods. Websites like Angie’s List (now Angi) and Yelp, as well as social media platforms, inform consumers about the quality, reputation, and performance of service providers, such as plumbers, electricians and landscapers. Similar websites, such as Avvo and Martindale-Hubbell, let consumers search for lawyers.
Does tenure increase or decrease racial diversity in the faculty ranks? The question is imbued with fresh urgency on the heels of recent controversies involving Nikole Hannah-Jones and Cornel West.
Pose the question to some scholars, however, and they tend to bristle, but for starkly different reasons.
Peony Fhagen, senior associate dean of equity, inclusion, and faculty development at Colorado College, thinks it’s somewhat insidious to ask the question now, just as a critical mass of diverse academics are making professional progress. “You’re going to take this away when we come on board?” she asks.
In contrast, Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, cringes at the question because he doesn’t think it’s relevant. “Racial diversity should have no bearing on tenure decisions,” says Wood, a former tenured anthropologist, associate provost, and president’s chief of staff at Boston University. “Anyone who owes his or her tenure to such considerations has advanced in the academic world via racial discrimination and is rightly to be looked upon by colleagues as having vitiated academic standards.”
The July 2021 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. The overall pass rate for first-time takers is 71.6%, down 0.1 percentage point from last year. For the seventh year in a row, Florida International is #1. Here are the results for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):
FIU, the largest public university in the South Florida, led the rankings of Florida’s 11 law schools with a whopping 88.8% passing rate. ... “I’m just so very proud and impressed by our Bar takers,” said FIU law dean Anthony Page. “They have shown an enormous amount of resilience and persistence and legal skill given all of the travails of the last year.” ... This marks the seventh consecutive year that FIU has come out on top in the larger fall administration of the exam. ...
At San Diego State University, we had 25 tenured and tenure-track Black faculty members in the fall of 2017. This fall, thanks to significant policy and process changes and cross-divisional partnerships, we have 42 — a 68-percent increase in a span of only four years. Since the summer of 2020, we’ve hired nine Black faculty members in academic departments. An additional three hires have faculty status but are in student-affairs offices (such as counseling and campus cultural centers).
In four short years, we have made important and noticeable improvements in the Black community on our campus. These faculty members are introducing new courses, overseeing student-retention and -success programs, and offering our students crucial and much-needed one-on-one connections. Certainly we have more to do, but we’ve laid the foundation to ensure that the number of Black faculty members at the university will continue to rise over time.
How did we do it? Here are some strategies we used and lessons learned along the way.
A judge is set to weigh requests by Katherine Magabunua’s attorneys to disqualify prosecutors and continue her trial on charges she was involved in coordinating Dan Markel’s murder.
Her attorneys in the past week have leveled accusations prosecutors intentionally provided the jury misleading evidence and left out information that was exculpatory during her first trial in 2019.
They also have concerns about health safety after Magbanua, 36, unbeknownst to her attorneys Christopher DeCoste and Tara Kawass, both cancer survivors, was brought into court late last month with COVID-19.
Magbanua is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder in Markel's July 2014 shooting at his home on Trescott Drive.
The hearing in front of Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler is set for Monday morning in Tallahassee, with a trial in the high-profile case set for Oct. 4.
Katherine Magbanua’s attorneys are asking a judge to delay her October trial, saying they have “zero confidence that the court system can ensure safety during the retrial.” ...
The request to delay the trial comes just days after Magbanua’s defense team asked a judge to disqualify the State Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case. It accuses prosecutors of “intentionally presenting misleading evidence” and “substantial misconduct.”
Magbanua is scheduled to be retried on Oct. 4 after her first trial ended in a hung jury. She’s accused of conspiracy and murder in the 2014 murder of FSU professor Dan Markel. Two other co-defendants — Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera — are already serving time in prison for the crime. ...
At Rutgers, everyone who teaches law is called a professor, but that is not true at many other institutions, where faculty who teach topics including legal writing, academic success and clinical work are often given titles including “instructor” or “director.” They are usually paid less than tenure-track professors and sometimes have little if any job security, according to academics interviewed by the ABA Journal.
According to 2019 article by Renee Nicole Allen, Alicia Jackson and DeShun Harris, men traditionally occupying faculty seats at law schools, while women work in skills positions, including libraries, legal writing, clinics, academic success. The article, titled “The ‘Pink Ghetto’ Pipeline: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Legal Education,” states that women often enter legal education work through nontenured skills-based teaching jobs, which frequently are done on a contract basis and pay poorly, with heavy workloads.
Besides gender disparities, racial disparities exist, too, says says Rachel López, a professor at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, who also directs its Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic. “In the legal academy, so many who dispel racism and inequality in scholarship for some reason are blind to it at their own institution,” she adds.
Data from the July 2021 bar exam is starting to roll in, and test-takers' performance isn't looking great.
The average score on the Multistate Bar Exam, the 200-question multiple-choice portion of the test, fell to 140.4. That's a decrease of 0.7 from July 2019, which is the last time a national cohort of examinees took the same test, the National Conference of Bar Examiners announced Wednesday.
But more alarmingly for test takers and legal educators, pass rates are down year-over-year in all but one of the nine states that have announced results, some by large margins.
The national MBE mean scaled score for July 2021 was 140.4, a decrease of 0.7 points compared to the national mean of 141.1 in July 2019, the most recent previous July administration when a full national group was tested. 45,872 examinees from 53 jurisdictions took the MBE in July 2021, a slight increase over the 45,334 examinees from 54 jurisdictions who took the exam in July 2019. ...
Jurisdictions have begun reporting their July 2021 results; bar examination pass rates as reported by jurisdictions are available on the NCBE website. Many jurisdictions are still in the process of grading the written components of the bar exam; once this process is completed, bar exam scores will be calculated and passing decisions reported by those jurisdictions.
Professors Leandra Lederman & Allison Christians summarize Season 1 & bring Break Into Tax into Season 2! Prof. Lederman will run Season 2, and it will feature some guest co-hosts. Prof. Christians will make some cameo appearances here and there!
Break Into Tax series is intended for anyone learning about tax, anywhere in the world. For more about our backgrounds, see the Season 1 Intro video.
The original proponents of trigger warnings on campus argued that they would empower students suffering from trauma to delve into difficult material. “The point is not to enable — let alone encourage — students to skip readings or our subsequent class discussion,” the philosopher Kate Manne wrote in The New York Times. “It’s about enabling everyone’s rational engagement.”
Now, about a decade after trigger warnings arrived on college campuses, it’s clear that an avoidance rationale is officiallycompeting with the original lean-in logic.
A recent Inside Higher Edpiece by Michael Bugeja, an Iowa State journalism professor, is emblematic of this shift. In light of the tumultuous times (a “mental-health pandemic,” ongoing sexual violence and racism, the anxiety of returning to in-person instruction), Bugeja says that trigger warnings are needed now more than ever. All faculty members should follow his lead, he argues, and include detailed trigger warnings on their syllabi accompanied by the following note: “You don’t have to attend class if the content elicits an uncomfortable emotional response.”
Bugeja’s article prompted us to review the latest research on the efficacy of trigger warnings. We foundno evidence that trigger warnings improve students’ mental health. What’s more, we are now convinced that they push students and faculty members alike to turn away from the study of vitally important topics that are seen as too “distressing.” ...
The online J.D. program will begin recruiting for Fall 2022 with accreditation by the American Bar Association.
St. Mary’s University and its School of Law today announced that it is the first law school in the nation to approve offering a fully online J.D. program that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Following the ABA’s approval of the School of Law’s online program request in May, St. Mary’s University leaders this week announced their intention to move ahead with the innovative program and recruit a cohort of students who will begin their studies online in Fall 2022.
“As the only law school serving San Antonio and the southernmost school serving South Texas, St. Mary’s Law has a tradition of excellence in legal education stretching back to its founding in 1927,” said Patricia Roberts, J.D., St. Mary’s Law Dean and Charles E. Cantú Distinguished Professor of Law. “This new fully online J.D. program — the one and only of its kind — exemplifies how St. Mary’s Law continues to lead with tradition and innovation.”
Netflix’s new hit comedy “The Chair” revels in certain clichés of university life — mock-Gothic buildings, wood paneling, crusty old-timers who don’t know how to use a photocopier, and, of course, an ambiguous relationship between a professor and a student: Bill is a charismatic English professor who is in a tailspin after the death of his wife, and Dafna is a literature-loving undergrad who is desperate to get into Bill’s class. She gives him a ride; they quote T.S. Eliot to each other; he signs a copy of his book for her; she makes him a pie. We think we know where this is going, because we’ve seen it so many times before: in “Election” (1999), “The Squid and the Whale” (2005) and “Elegy”(2008), based on Philip Roth’s novel “The Dying Animal”— to take just a few recent examples. “The Chair” ultimately upends our expectations in a way that is both comic and poignant. Don’t have sex with me, Dafna in effect says to Bill: Teach me.
The cultural fascination with professor-student affairs seems to have grown in step with policies restricting them. (“Be careful,” the dean warns Bill in “The Chair.” “This department is hanging on by a thread.”) Policies prohibiting professor-student sex — “consensual relationship policies” as they are usually known — are now common in the United States. A 2014 study found that 84 percent of the American universities surveyed had some prohibitions on professor-student relationships. ...
Despite the bans’ origins in feminist activism, some feminists at the time denounced these prohibitions as a betrayal of their principles. To deny that women students could consent to sex with their professors, they argued, was infantilizing and moralizing. Were women university students not adults? Were they not entitled to have sex with whom they pleased? Did such policies not play into the hands of the religious right, which was all too keen to control women’s sex lives? ...
In many ways, the contemporary focus on consent is a victory. Historically, sexual assault was defined not by the absence of consent but by the presence of force, which meant that the countless women who froze with fear or chose to submit rather than face the alternative were not, legally speaking, raped. But in recent years our interest in consent has become single-minded. The habit of viewing all kinds of exploitative, creepy or troubling sex solely through the lens of consent has left us unable to speak, in many situations, about what is really going wrong.
The Law School Admission Test just got longer, but aspiring attorneys still managed to do pretty well.
The average score earned by the 24,907 people who took the LSAT this August was 154.19, just 1.4 points lower than the 155.6 average score among August 2020 LSAT takers. Both exams used an at-home, online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the most recent test was four sections long—one section longer than the August 2020 iteration.
Officials with the Law School Admission Council, which designs and administers the LSAT, say the score difference between the latest tests is negligible and the data throws cold water on the theory that LSAT scores have soared over the past year because a shorter exam is inherently easier. (The number of people who applied to law school with LSAT scores of 160 and above last admissions cycle was up 25% or more in each five-point score band, and the number of applicants with the highest scores of 175-180 more than doubled.)
Some readers will recall some posts from July about Twitter's most unhinged law professor. Remarkably, he continues to lie about me almost two months later, I guess because he's not used to getting any pushback on his unethical behavior. ...
Richard even tried to smear other law professors (including two of my colleagues) as racists; commenting on this paper about lax tenure standards in law schools by three younger scholars (one of whom, contrary to Richard, is untenured) [Adam Chilton (Chicago), Jonathan Masur (Chicago) & Kyle Rozema (Washington U.), Rethinking Law School Tenure Standards, 50 J. Legal Stud. 1 (2021)], he tweeted:
Attorneys for Katherine Magbanua are seeking to disqualify prosecutors, who allege she was involved in the plot to kill Dan Markel, saying they intentionally provided the jury misleading evidence and left out information that was exculpatory during her first trial.
Less than a month before Magabnua goes back on trial for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder, her Miami attorneys are asking a judge to oust the State Attorney’s Office from her prosecution.
Their claims, filed in Leon County Circuit Court Friday afternoon, lie in exhibits presented at Magbanua’s first trial in 2019. A hung jury was unable to decide her fate and a mistrial was declared. She will again face a jury October 4.
The exhibits include phone and bank records for Magbanua that they say not only were inaccurate but contained information kept from the jury that may have provided evidence in her favor.
When the University of Illinois Chicago suspended and launched an investigation into law professor Jason Kilborn, he initially didn’t know where to turn.
He had posed a long-used hypothetical question in a December 2020 law school exam using redacted references to two slurs. The question about employment discrimination included a plaintiff being called “a ‘n____’ and ‘b____’ (profane expressions for African Americans and women)” as explosive evidence of the discrimination. But even redacting the terms didn’t save him from criticism — or eventually being targeted by his school. ...
In January, just before the first class on the first day of spring semester, UIC’s administration abruptly suspended him. He said they refused to explain the basis for the indefinite suspension, despite being asked. ...
On Jan. 19, FIRE called on UIC Chancellor Michael D. Amiridis to reject “any intent to punish Kilborn over his protected expression.” FIRE gave UIC a good-faith opportunity to back off Kilborn and to reaffirm his academic freedom rights.
UIC responded to confirm that it was, in fact, conducting an investigation into Kilborn’s exam and rejecting our concerns about his academic freedom rights. The move earned UIC a spot on FIRE’s annual list of the 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech, as well as pointed criticism from outlets and commentators acrossthecountry.
In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Northwestern University law professor Andrew Koppelman billed the situation as “punitive overreactions of university administrators grow[ing] ever more demented.” ...
Through the fund, FIRE connected Kilborn with a local attorney, Wayne Giampietro. With help from the FLDF team at FIRE, the pair reached a resolution with UIC. Kilborn agreed to alert the dean before responding to student complaints about racial issues, and the audio of his classes would be recorded — both stipulations Kilborn welcomed in order to protect himself against spurious complaints, and one he’d already decided to take independently.
Today is a very special day at Pepperdine. For the 14th consecutive year, we displayed 2,887 American flags for each American life lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and 90 international flags representing the home countries of those from abroad who also were killed.
Michael Goodnight was halfway into his flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, when the pilot told passengers that air traffic to their destination was halted because a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. Soon the pilot said a second plane had hit the other tower and that they would turn back.
“Everybody was scared,” said Goodnight, who was then dean of admissions at the University of Miami School of Law. “We knew something bad was happening.”
Goodnight was among more than 300 admissions officers and thousands of aspiring students preparing to attend the Law School Admission Council’s New York City Law School Forum – the year's largest law school recruiting event. The forum was planned for Sept. 14 and 15 at the Marriott World Trade Center, a 22-story hotel that straddled the iconic twin towers' base before its destruction in the nation’s worst-ever terrorist attack.
Goodnight and about 10 other forum participants were scheduled to check into the Marriott on Sept. 11. None made it on site before the attacks that morning, saving them from the experience of thousands of direct 9/11 victims and survivors. But the near miss left current and former law school admissions officers contemplating what might have happened had the forum been just a few days earlier, or the attacks a few days later. ...
Working from home under emergency circumstances isn’t an excuse for attorneys to slack off on their ethical obligations.
That’s the takeaway of a draft opinion from the State Bar of California’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct released Thursday for public comment. The opinion clarifies that attorneys have the same ethical duties under the California Rules of Professional Conduct when working remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters as they do when they are in the office. The state bar is accepting public comment on the opinion through Nov. 12.
“Lawyers and law firms should implement reasonable measures, policies, and practices to ensure continued compliance with these rules in a remote working environment, with a particular focus on the duties of confidentiality, technology competence, communication, and supervision,” the opinion reads.
When working from home, attorneys should ensure other household members can’t access confidential client information. Separate accounts should be created for anyone else who uses a lawyer’s computer.
Following up on my previous posts (links below): Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, The Beat Goes On:
The discordant beat at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Bowen School of Law in Little Rock unfortunately continues.
Two UALR law professors who questioned the way an endowed professorship had its title quietly changed to attach the name of William J. Clinton have found their lives and careers significantly altered since a legislative hearing on the name change not long ago.
Professor Tom Sullivan, who earlier this summer sent an open email to the faculty about the Clinton name change, has left the school on his own volition within the past two weeks.
Professor Robert Steinbuch, who publicly questioned the change, has seen both seminar classes he's taught for nearly 20 years yanked away and canceled, and he's been reassigned to teach an unfamiliar class vacated by Sullivan's departure.
Asked about these developments, Bowen Law School Dean Theresa "Terri" Beiner told me in an email exchange that she "cannot comment on personnel matters. Generally, courses are assigned by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs based on the needs of the law school. Any recent decisions had nothing to do with the Aug. 19th legislative hearing or any events leading up to that hearing." ...
My understanding of the fallout at Bowen following that state Senate hearing into this months-long flap are as follows:
At its August 19-20, 2021, meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (the “Council”) considered the status of Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (the “Law School”) and concluded that the Law School is not in compliance with Standards 202(a), (c), and (d). ...
[Standard 202. RESOURCES FOR PROGRAM (a) The current and anticipated financial resources available to the law school shall be sufficient for it to operate in compliance with the Standards and to carry out its program of legal education. ... (c) A law school is not in compliance with the Standards if its current financial condition has a negative and material effect on the school’s ability to operate in compliance with the Standards or to carry out its program of legal education. (d) A law school is not in compliance with the Standards if its anticipated financial condition is reasonably expected to have a negative and material effect on the school’s ability to operate in compliance with the Standards or to carry out its program of legal education.]
Stringent tuition refund policies at colleges and universities have led to students and their families purchasing tuition insurance, in case COVID-19 forces them to withdraw from the academic term. ...
“We’ve seen almost four times growth in the business in two years,” said John Fees, co-founder and CEO of GradGuard, a company that offers tuition insurance. “We are seeing record numbers of purchase rates, and we’re paying a lot of claims. More students and more universities are adopting the program.”
Most colleges and universities don’t offer students refunds on their tuition if they have to withdraw from the semester after a certain number of weeks have passed. That’s where tuition insurance comes in — it provides reimbursement for the cost when a student can’t complete an academic term due to an unforeseen, covered circumstance. Illnesses are usually considered justified reasons for reimbursement, but circumstances such as a college choosing to switch from in-person to virtual classes are not.
In his welcome address to incoming Harvard Law students this year, Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning ’85 made the case that lawyers and the legal profession will be central to resolving many of the challenges facing the nation and the world today.
“This past year and a half has again brought focus on grievous ills that have been with us too long and that can no longer wait for solutions—racism, inequality, public and private abuses of power, intolerance, threats to democracy, the list goes on,” said Manning, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law. “And the profession you have chosen is integral to solving all of these problems.”
In a beginning-of-the-year tradition that goes back decades, Manning spoke to more than 700 incoming J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D students in Harvard University’s historic Sanders Theatre on Aug. 26. As part of the school’s effort to support the community’s health amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and reduce the number of people in the room at any one time, the students who normally attend as one group were divided into two cohorts, which the dean addressed separately.
When the going gets tough, the tough go to law school. For most of the past decade, as America crawled out of the Great Recession, law school applications overall were in decline, and we had little reason to think they’d bounce back any time soon.
And then, as is so often the economic story these days, along came COVID-19. Law school applications leapt 13% this year. The industry hadn’t seen that kind of increase in interest since 2002. ...
Whether this increase is a good or bad thing is a matter of perspective.
When Vermont Law School (VLS) released a plan to cover a 1993 campus mural with acoustic tiles, the last thing the administration expected was to be taken to court by the artist. VLS’s decision responded to student criticism of the mural’s caricature-like depictions of African Americans and its emphasis on White saviorism. The mural, “The Underground Railroad, Vermont and the Fugitive Slave,” which consists of two eight-feet-by-24-feet panels painted by Sam Kerson in 1993, was designed to address Vermont’s role in the liberation of enslaved people. The first panel, with vignettes of punishment, auction, and forced labor, also shows a crowd of African Americans holding drums, masks, and spears. The second panel depicts famous abolitionists and features, in a particularly prominent role, a White woman blocking a man tracking down escaped enslaved people. In December 2020, Kerson decided to sue the school, claiming its plan violates the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) which protects art from “intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification.” ...
In defense of his mural, Kerson contends that VLS is “using the smoke screen of student complaints” to, “be the arbiter of what the public is allowed to see,” a line of thinking which misleadingly focuses the conversation on the issue of censorship. Kerson is free to produce as much art expressing his views as he wants. In fact, he’s already created a new series of paintings called “The Muralist Imagines the Destruction of His Works,” referencing the mural at VLS. The plan to cover the mural doesn’t censor Kerson by prohibiting him from producing work nor does it permanently destroy the mural. VARA legal protections are meant to preserve the ideas embodied in art and protect the artist’s integrity, not ensure that the artwork can be viewed forever. As the lawyers representing VLS cleverly pointed out, nowhere in VARA does it mention that an artwork must remain viewable.
The more crucial issue this controversy brings to light is the means employed by academic institutions to foster more inclusive campus cultures, especially through the visual arts. ... As societal views on race, colonization, and American history shift, more debates over controversial artwork will no doubt emerge. Setting the precedent that VARA permits institutions to cover murals is legally sound (as expected from a law school) and provides schools with a way to resolve similar dilemmas in the future. Free speech is a fundamental right that should be protected. VLS’s decision, though, is not about the censoring of speech. It’s a case of a school taking a necessary action to create a more conscientiously inclusive campus than the one they had previously.
As the delta variant has caused COVID-19 to surge again in the United States, there’s been a flurry of attention paid to the share of Americans who have chosen to forgo the vaccine against the coronavirus. Trying to understand the causal factors that would lead to one not getting the inoculation seems to be the first task when it comes to finding ways to reduce vaccine hesitancy coast to coast.
One of the primary dimensions that news outlets seem to be focusing on is religion. The headlines are published nearly weekly - evangelical Christians are the ones who are the most reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, when I review the data from a survey that was conducted on May 11, 2021 that was administered by Data for Progress, I don’t find a lot of evidence that evangelicals are the ones lagging behind. In fact, I find that those without any religious affiliation were the least likely to have received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced law schools to move online nearly overnight and adopt new approaches to teaching. It also upended much of how the legal industry operates and has likely permanently reshaped the landscape that future graduates will be entering.
Now, as the dust begins to settle, law schools find themselves at a crossroads: Do they return fully to their traditional pre-pandemic models, or do they move forward by embracing some of the lessons from the crisis? And what exactly should they be teaching future attorneys about the practice of law?
In this series, Law360 Pulse takes a closer look at the juncture law schools find themselves in, including both the opportunities and challenges in updating their curriculum for a post-pandemic future, the potential costs of making wholesale changes and how law firms should be stepping into the conversation. ...
For many years, Harvard Business School attracted more applicants and could boast a lower admit rate than its equally prestigious Law School.
Harvard Law School received a total of 9,993 applications, up 33% over the 7,505 applications received a year earlier. The school admitted 685 candidates to get to its enrolled incoming class of 560 students for an acceptance rate of 6.9%, well below the 12.9% admit rate last year.
Georgetown University Law Center’s admissions dean Andrew Cornblatt knew something unusual was happening last October, when his office had received far more applications than normal for that time of year. The surge never died down.
By the end of the admissions cycle, Georgetown had 14,000 applicants, a 41% increase from the previous year. It was the largest applicant pool on record at any law school, outpacing the national 12.6% increase in law school applicants. ...
Its median LSAT score rose three points to 171, while the median grade-point average increased to 3.85 from 3.78 a year ago. Other top law schools also made gains in their LSAT and GPA medians this year, though Georgetown is thus far alone in posting a three-point LSAT increase.
In a national first, Syracuse University College of Law has partnered with legal education nonprofit AccessLex Institute to offer AccessLex's interactive Helix Bar Review prep course free of charge to all Syracuse Law students [the usual cost is $1,199 for the UBE and $279 for the MBE].
Helix Bar Review is a state-of-the-art, comprehensive bar review program that offers students full access to the program during their third year of law school, up to 20 weeks before the bar exam. Early access is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Helix Bar Review, and it ensures that students with multiple responsibilities in law school, at work, or at home, can start their review early and complete the entire course on the schedule they choose. Other bar preparation programs are not fully open to students until much later.
Jennifer Bird-Pollan, a tax law professor who joined the faculty in 2010, has been named associate dean of academic affairs for the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law. ...
“Jennifer is committed to our academic program, our students and faculty success,” UK Rosenberg Law Dean Mary J. Davis said. “She has a wealth of leadership experience in our college and across campus, and I look forward to working with her.”
Bird-Pollan serves as the Judge William T. Lafferty Professor of Law and teaches federal income tax, estate and gift tax, international tax, partnership tax, corporate tax, and a seminar in tax policy. Her research lies at the intersection of tax law and philosophy, specifically regarding the taxation of wealth transfers and issues of sovereignty in international taxation.
In 2017, Bird-Pollan won the law school’s Duncan Teaching Award, which is presented annually to a faculty member who has excelled in the classroom, courtesy of the Robert M. and Joanne K. Duncan Faculty Improvement Fund.
Scholars have long been targeted for sanction by ideological adversaries. However, some worrying trends are emerging. The current research reveals that since 2015 targeting incidents are on the rise and are increasingly coming from within academia itself — from other scholars and especially from undergraduate students. These targeting incidents take a multitude of forms, including demands for an investigation, demotion, censorship, suspension, and even termination.
This research documents the ways and reasons that scholars have faced calls for sanction; how scholars and institutional administrators have responded to different forms of targeting; and what (if any) sanctions scholars have ultimately faced in response to these targeting incidents, from 2015 to the present (up to and including July 31, 2021).
The key findings of this report include:
Over the past five and a half years, a total of 426 targeting incidents have occurred. Almost three-quarters of them (314 out of 426; 74%) have resulted in some form of sanction.
The number of targeting incidents has risen dramatically, from 24 in 2015 to 113 in 2020. As of mid-2021, 61 targeting incidents have already occurred.
Scholars were targeted most often for speech involving race (e.g., racial inequality, historic racism, racial slurs, BLM, DEI).
St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio recently received approval from the American Bar Association to offer the nation's first online-only ABA-accredited law degree program, and while the effort was heralded by many law professors and experts, it also drew the frustration of others.
Because accreditation matters are confidential, the ABA could not comment on specifics. However, a representative of the ABA did confirm that St. Mary's received approval in May on a requested variance relating to the online program.
"The short answer is that St. Mary's online program has been approved by the [ABA's] Council," the representative told Law360 Pulse. ...
More law schools are considering offering remote courses after the pandemic. But that transition to digital education comes with a price—which can take the form of the law school paying a portion of its tuition revenue to an online program management (OPM) company for multiple years of aid. While some caution that such arrangements could be opaque and unfair, many note that as law schools accelerate their transition to remote education, the need for OPMs is only going to increase.
Lee Bradshaw, chief strategy officer of online program management provider Noodle, said the final holdouts to remote higher education—law and medical schools—are finally beginning to embrace a hybrid learning model.
“We’re seeing an undercurrent in medical and law,” said Bradshaw. “I know [of a] few university-driven initiatives to bring in a bunch of universities to have conversations about online [education] for law and medical schools. For me, that’s the beginning of a sea change for those disciplines.”
Specifically, he said, more U.S. law schools are applying to the American Bar Association for a 306 distance education variance.
New York University School of Law's flagship law review can claim another court win over a group of academics challenging the journal’s diversity policies.
A three-judge panel from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday unanimously affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the group’s 2018 lawsuit against the NYU Law Review [Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences v. New York University, No. 20-1508 (2d Cir. Aug. 25, 2021)]. The appeals court agreed that Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences (FASORP) lacked standing. ...
FASORP sued the NYU Law Review in 2018, alleging that its diversity policies violate "Title VI and Title IX by using race and sex preferences when selecting its members, editors, and articles." It also sued the Harvard Law Review in federal court in Boston on nearly identical grounds in a suit that was dismissed in 2019, which it did not appeal. ...