Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Does Meritocracy Stall Social Mobility, Entrench Undeserving Elites, And Undermine Higher Education?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Does Meritocracy Stall Social Mobility, Entrench an Undeserving Elite, and Undermine Trust in Higher Education?:

That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our supposedly meritocratic system is nothing but a long con,” declares Alanna Schubach, a college-admissions coach, in Jacobin. “Merit itself has become a counterfeit virtue, a false idol,” argues Daniel Markovits, a professor of law at Yale University, in a new book, The Meritocracy Trap (Penguin Press). “And meritocracy — formerly benevolent and just — has become what it was invented to combat. A mechanism for the concentration and dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations.”

An attack on meritocracy is invariably an attack on higher education, where meritocrats get sorted and credentialed. So the turn against meritocracy prompts big questions. Has meritocracy in fact failed? Is it time for universities to rethink the definition of merit, and, more broadly, higher education’s role in American life? Are meritocracy’s critics too sweeping in their indictment? Is it still — flaws and all — the fairest way to organize society? If we do away with it, what comes next?

We put these questions to 10 scholars and administrators from across the academy. Here are their responses.

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October 2, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Speaking Out Against Student Evaluations Of Teaching

Inside Higher Ed, Speaking Out Against Student Evals:

Questioning what student evaluations of teaching actually measure, various institutions have already said they won't use them in high-stakes personnel decisions or as the primary measure of teaching effectiveness.

Now the American Sociological Association and 17 other professional organizations, including the American Historical Association, are urging all colleges and universities to do the same.

"Because these instruments are cheap, easy to implement, and provide a simple way to gather information, they are the most common method used to evaluate faculty teaching for hiring, tenure, promotion, contract renewal and merit raises," reads a new statement from the sociological association, endorsed by other scholarly groups.

Despite these evaluations' "ubiquity," however, "a growing body of evidence suggests that their use in personnel decisions is problematic." The statement cites more than a dozen studies finding that students' evaluations are weakly related to other measures of teaching effectiveness, used in statistically problematic ways and can be influenced by factors such as times of day and class size. It notes that both observational and experimental research has found these evaluations to be biased against women and people of color, and says that adjuncts are particularly vulnerable in a system that depends on them for teaching performance data.

Given these "limitations," the association "encourages institutions to use evidence-based best practices for collecting and using student feedback about teaching."

More specifically, the association recommends that questions on student evaluations should be framed as "an opportunity for student feedback, rather than an opportunity for formal ratings" of teaching effectiveness. It nods to Augsburg University and the University of North Carolina at Asheville, which have both revised their evaluation instruments and renamed them (as the university course survey and the student feedback on instruction form, respectively), to emphasize the difference between feedback and ratings.

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October 2, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Racial And Gender Inclusion In Clinical Law Faculty

Deborah Archer (NYU), Caitlin Barry (Villanova), G.S. Hans (Vanderbilt), Derrick Howard (Valparaiso), Alexis Karteron (Rutgers), Shobha Mahadev (Northwestern) & Jeffrey Selbin (UC-Berkeley), The Diversity Imperative Revisited: Racial and Gender Inclusion in Clinical Law Faculty, 26 Clinical L. Rev. 127 (2019):

The demographics of clinical law faculties matter. As Professor Jon Dubin persuasively argued nearly twenty years ago in his article Faculty Diversity as a Clinical Legal Education Imperative [51 Hastings L.J. 445 (2000)], clinical faculty of color entering the legal academy in the 1980s and 1990s expanded the communities served by law school clinics and the lawyering methods used to serve clients in significant ways that enriched legal education and the profession. They also broadened clinical scholarship to include deconstructions and reconstructions of clinical teaching, offered crucial role modeling and mentorship to students of color, and helped to elevate cross-cultural communication and multiracial collaboration as core lawyering skills.

Professor Dubin catalogued these contributions while pointing to data that showed that clinical faculties remained overwhelmingly White, and he urged law schools to recognize the urgency of diversifying clinical faculty. While there has been some research and scholarship devoted to the gender composition of clinical faculties, to our knowledge, there has been no substantive reexamination of the importance of racial composition since Professor Dubin’s article in 2000, nor any examination of clinical faculty diversity beyond race, ethnicity, and binary gender.

The Clinical Legal Education Association created the Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion to draw attention to the crisis of diversity among clinical faculties, and to urge law schools to take proactive steps to remedy this longstanding failure. This Essay from the Committee assesses what progress has been made since Professor Dubin’s intervention and interrogates historical trends in the racial and gender composition of clinical faculty from 1980 to 2017, using existing data.

We found that there has been limited progress on racial and ethnic inclusion in clinical law faculties. While the total percentage of people of color has grown from 10% to 21%, the inclusion of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous faculty has been largely stagnant. Black clinical faculty members reached 7% of all clinical faculty in 1999 and have never exceeded that percentage. Latinx clinical faculty representation, at 5%, is the same as it was in 1981. Indigenous faculty have never constituted even 1%. Overall, White faculty continue to hold nearly 8 out of 10 clinical faculty positions.

Figure 1

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October 2, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet. That Is The Question (For Law Professors)

Following up on my previous post, Tax Prof Twitter Census (2019-20 Edition) (Updated):, To Tweet, or Not to Tweet. That Is the Question (for Law Professors):

TwitterLaw professors are trained to share their thoughts in lengthy, exhaustively footnoted journal articles. So it makes sense that the legal academy as a whole was initially reluctant to embrace Twitter, a medium that forces users to be concise and where the conversation can be bare-knuckled.

But it seems law professors are finally coming around to Twitter. A recent census of law professors on Twitter found that at least 1,310 are on the platform, which represents an increase of more than 500% from 2012, when just several hundred were tweeting.

More law professors have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon as they have watched early adopters use the platform in a variety of ways: From promoting their own work or offering commentary on the news of the day to connecting with others in their field or even engaging with the general public, said Bridget Crawford, a professor at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, who compiled the data. ...

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October 1, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

July Bar Pass Rates Trending Up, After Years of Decline, July Bar Pass Rates Trending Up, After Years of Decline:

It’s too soon to pop the champagne, but early results from the July 2019 bar exam are largely positive. A majority of the jurisdictions that released results in September reported increases in their pass rates. That’s welcome news for legal educators, who have been struggling to reverse declining pass rates for the past five years.

Officials with the National Conference of Bar Examiners had predicted that pass rates would rise due to an increase in the national average score on July’s Multistate Bar Exam, which is the 200-question multiple-choice portion of the exam that accounts for half of a test-takers s core in most jurisdictions. (States can assign different weights to the MBE.)

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October 1, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Florida Law School Continues Its Rise In Student Quality And Rankings

The University of Florida Levin College of Law continues its extraordinary rise in student quality and rankings:


Median LSAT

Median UGPA

US News Rank

Fall 2015




Fall 2016




Fall 2017




Fall 2018




Fall 2019




UF Law Celebrates 110th Anniversary With New Culverhouse Challenge:

University of Florida Levin College of Law is pleased to announce its third annual Culverhouse Challenge in honor of the 110th anniversary of UF Law.

Hugh Culverhouse, from the UF Law Class of 1974, has committed to a 10:1 match of 1,000 donations of $110, for a total gift of $1.1 million to fund student scholarships. ...

In addition to his own generous gifts, Culverhouse has spurred several fundraising challenges at UF Law, generating millions of dollars in new student scholarship support.

In 2017, Culverhouse initiated a challenge to the UF Law community to raise $1.5 million to match his $1.5 million commitment. His gift was then matched by the university, resulting in $4.5 million in new scholarship support. In 2018, Culverhouse joined with UF Board of Trustees Chairman Mori Hosseini, who each committed $500,000 to match $1 million in donations from alumni and friends. Once again the university matched their gifts, resulting in $3 million in new scholarship support.

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October 1, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

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October 1, 2019 in About This Blog, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: Patent Bar Exam Pass Rates Have Been Declining Alongside State Bar Exam Pass Rates

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Patent Bar Exam Results Have Been Declining Alongside State Bar Exam Pass Rates:

Bar exam pass rates have fallen and remained relatively low for several years [from ~80% in 2009 to~70% in 2018]. ... [P]atent bar pass rates have declined in recent years alongside state bar pass rates [from ~60% in 2009 to~48% in 2018]. ...

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October 1, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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October 1, 2019 in About This Blog, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 30, 2019

Is An MBA Still Worth It?

Following up on my previous post, WSJ: More Universities Close Their Full-Time MBAs Programs, Shift To Online:  Wall Street Journal:  Is an M.B.A. Still Worth It?, by Andy Kessler:

MBA 2[S]hould you get a master’s in business administration? These days a lot of people are rethinking that question. Applications are down, even at HBS and GSB (that’s Stanford’s Graduate School of Business—get with the lingo). The number of GMAT test scores sent to two-year, full-time M.B.A. programs has plummeted since 2015. Last year 70% of two-year M.B.A. programs saw declining enrollment; in 2014 it was only one-third. Rats deserting a sinking ship?

Before I really pile on, it’s worth mentioning that there are a few decent reasons to go. The first is pedigree. If you want to get a job on Wall Street or in private equity, you pretty much need an M.B.A.—a golden ticket. ... Another reason to go is the networking. ...

But—you knew this was coming—man oh man is it expensive. HBS tuition is now $73,440 a year. Total costs are estimated at $110,740 if you’re single and more than 150 grand if you’re married with two children. That excludes the cost of your MacBook, let alone forgone wages. You’d better get that Wall Street job. ...

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September 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Williams & Connolly Defends Weil Gotshal Against Tax-Bungling Allegation

New York Law Journal, Williams & Connolly Defending Weil Gotshal Against Tax-Bungling Allegation:

Weil  Gotshal & MangesWeil, Gotshal & Manges has brought in Williams & Connolly partner John Villa to defend it from allegations of unethical conduct related to advice it gave financial services firm Perella Weinberg Partners over the tax treatment of two executives’ deferred compensation.

Ex-Perella investment bankers Michael Kramer and Derron Slonecker, who are represented by Lisa Solbakken of Arkin Solbakken, accused Weil earlier this month of failing to disclose that the deferred-compensation forms at the center of their dispute with Perella didn’t comply with tax laws. Perella’s withholding of more than $10 million in deferred comp from the departed bankers was therefore invalid, they argued. ...

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September 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Week 1 Highlights Of The Dan Markel Murder Trial

New Harvard Study: 'The Dangers of Fluent Lectures' — How Smooth-Talking Professors Lull Students Into Thinking They've Learned More Than They Actually Have

Inside Higher Ed, 'The Dangers of Fluent Lectures': How Smooth-Talking Professors Lull Students Into Thinking They've Learned More Than They Actually Have:

Students who engage in active learning learn more — but feel like they learn less — than peers in more lecture-oriented classrooms. That's in part because active learning is harder than more passive learning, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Measuring Actual Learning Versus Feeling of Learning in Response to Being Actively Engaged in the Classroom). Based on their findings, the researchers encourage faculty members to intervene and correct what they call students' "misperception" about how they learn. ...

The study, involving Harvard University undergraduates in large, introductory physics classes, compared students' self reports about what they'd learned with what they'd actually learned, as determined by a multiple choice tests. Students were taught using exactly the same course materials -- a key control that many other studies comparing active versus passive learning have failed to establish. But one group learned via active instruction methods for a week at the end of the semester and the other learned via lectures from experienced and well-regarded instructors. ...

At the end of the course, students were given both "feeling of learning" and "tests of learning" assessments (the latter consisted of two, low-stakes quizzes with 12 multiple choice questions each). All of the "feeling" responses showed a consistent student preference for the passive lecture environment while scores on the learning tests -- on statics and fluids -- were significantly higher in the active classroom.


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September 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Open Offices Distract Us From Deep Work

New York Times op-ed:  Open Offices Are a Capitalist Dead End, by Farhad Manjoo:

WeOne story from WeWork’s inevitable blow-up: Our offices offer few spaces for deep work.

What was We thinking? That’s the only question worth asking now about the clowncar start-up known as The We Company, the money-burning, co-working behemoth whose best-known brand is WeWork.

What’s a WeWork? What WeWork works on is work. The We Company takes out long-term leases on in-demand office buildings in more than 100 cities across the globe (lately, it’s even been buying its own buildings). Then We redesigns, furnishes and variously modularizes the digs, aiming to profitably sublease small and large chunks of office space to start-ups and even big companies. Well, profitable in theory: The We Company lost $1.7 billion last year. ...

WeWork’s Ikea-chic, couch-and-bench-furnished open office aesthetic has also become a cultural template, the sitcom backdrop for a new generation’s workplace travails. We’s founders and investors now often position their company as a workplace innovator — in forcing workers from different companies to work very closely together, We was not only a business marvel but, they suggested, also a feel-good, Goopy force for planetary collaboration and unity. ...

How did so many people put so much money into something so many were warning would end up so badly? What was We thinking?

And then it hit me: We wasn’t thinking.

WeWork? Not really. WeCan’t! We’reTooDistracted!

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September 29, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

California To Require Mandatory Implicit Bias Training For All Attorneys By 2022

Los Angeles Times, California May Soon Push Doctors and Lawyers to Confront Their Biases:

Doctors, nurses, lawyers and court workers in California may soon be asked to confront their prejudices under a trio of legislative proposals that are headed to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Legislature passed the final bill on Thursday, one of two approved this week that would mandate implicit bias training as a continuing education requirement for many medical professionals and court workers.

AB 242:

Summary. Requires the State Bar to establish a curriculum for all attorneys on the implicit bias against certain protected groups that is common in society, and authorizes the Judicial Council to develop training for all judges, subordinate judicial officers, trial court managers, supervisors, and other court staff who routinely interact with the public on implicit bias.

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September 29, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

  1. Bryan Camp (Texas Tech), Lesson From The Tax Court: The Functional Definition Of 'Return'
  2. Enjuris, Law School Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity
  3. Matthew Smith (U.S. Treasury Department), Danny Yagan (UC-Berkeley), Owen Zidar (Chicago) & Eric Zwick (Chicago), Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century, 135 Q. J. Econ ___ (2019)
  4. Tallahassee Democrat, Five Years After Dan Markel's Murder, Trial Of Two Suspects Begins Today
  5. Fatih Guvenen (Minnesota), Gueorgui Kambourov (Toronto), Burhanettin Kuruscu (Toronto), Sergio Ocampo-Diaz (Minnesota) & Daphne Chen (Econ One), Efficiency Gains from Wealth Taxation
  6. Bryce Clayton Newell (Kentucky), 2019 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews
  7. Washington Post, How Excel's Automatic Data Formatting Can Cause Errors In Published Research
  8. Derek Muller (Pepperdine), A Few Thoughts On Free Casebooks For Law Students
  9. Symposium, Mindfulness and Well-Being in Law Schools and the Legal Profession, 48 Sw. L. Rev. 199-412 (2019)
  10. Sahar Aziz (Rutgers), Identity Politics Is Failing Women in Legal Academia, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2019)

September 28, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Weekly Legal Ed Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup, Weekly Top 10 TaxProf Blog Posts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Coastal Law School Asks ABA To Reconsider Its Request To Shed For-Profit Status

Jacksonville Daily Record, Florida Coastal School of Law's Next Chapter:

Florida Coastal (2017)Twenty-three years after it was founded, Florida Coastal School of Law is seeking to change its corporate tax status from for-profit to not-for-profit.

The school has filed with the American Bar Association an Application for Acquiescence in a Substantive Change in Program or Structure.

The application was denied at its first review in August, but the school, with the ABA’s approval, is submitting additional information for reconsideration, said Florida Coastal President Peter Goplerud.

The intent is to change the perception of the school’s corporate structure. “Rightly or wrongly, there is a cloud over for-profit education. We think that some of our competitors use our tax status against us in student recruitment,” Goplerud said. “The time is right to send a positive message to our prospective students and to our alumni and move forward in a way that will provide even more opportunity for success,” he said.

The proposed change in tax status would not change the school’s business model, however. “As a matter of good business, every law school in the country has to make a profit or they can’t survive. I was dean of three other law schools before I came to Florida Coastal. At each university, the law school was essentially required to make a surplus to turn over to the university,” he said. ...

[Llow passage rates got the ABA’s attention. ...  Florida Coastal hit its lowest Bar pass rate – 25% - in February 2017. 

Florida Coastal Bar Passage

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September 28, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 27, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Inauguration Of Pepperdine University President Jim Gash

Gash 2This has been quite a week at Pepperdine as we celebrate the Inauguration of Jim Gash, former Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and External Relations and Professor of Law at Pepperdine Law School, as President of Pepperdine University. Jim is one of my dearest friends, and I am thrilled for him, for Joline, and for Pepperdine. Here are the remarks I delivered at Wednesday's ceremony:

On behalf of the deans of Pepperdine’s five schools, I want to congratulate Jim Gash on becoming our eighth president. All presidents bring unique backgrounds and experiences to the position, and Jim is the first to come to the presidency as a faculty member and administrator at one of the five schools.

In his twenty years at the School of Law, Jim made enormous contributions to our rise in prominence. Jim joined an unranked law school, and he leaves behind a school poised to take its place among the nation’s top fifty law schools.

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September 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Identity Politics Is Failing Women In Legal Academia

Sahar F. Aziz (Rutgers), Identity Politics Is Failing Women in Legal Academia, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2019): 

Journal of Legal Education (2018)Two universal truths about patriarchy: it’s global and it’s tenacious. As women in legal academia, we are not shielded from the consequences of this reality.

Starting from this premise, my contribution to this important (yet perennial) discussion on gender (in)equity in legal academia is framed around three points. First, formalistic identity politics grounded in immutable characteristics is failing our generation of women (and women of color in particular) in the legal profession, including in the academy. Second, women who have managed to overcome the hurdles imposed by patriarchy to reach official leadership positions are as subject to institutional capture and conflicts of interest as their male counterparts. Third, the politics of civility in law schools is a patriarchal tool deployed to constrain women’s ability and willingness to radically reform existing systems of inequality.

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September 26, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

George Washington Backs Away From 'Colonial' Mascot After Students Say It Represents 'Genocide And Racism'

GWU Seems To Be Moving Away From Controversial Colonial:

ColonialThe term “Colonial” used to grace (or disgrace, depending on where you fall) mugs, expensive T-shirts and community spaces across George Washington University’s downtown D.C. campus.

However, that tradition seems to be changing.

Student groups have been advocating for the transition for some time now. On one side of the argument, GWU fans and alumni say that the term is traditional and respectful of the university’s origins. (GWU was founded through congressional charter, and the term “Colonial” was used as homage to American colonists.)

Those that want to leave the outdated term behind say that it is representative of ethnic violence, genocide and racism.

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September 25, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Law School Enrollment By Race And Ethnicity

Enjuris, Law School Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity (2018):

On average, the 2018 law school class was more racially diverse than the 2017 class. Every race and ethnicity that the ABA tracks through the ABA Annual Questionnaire increased by at least 6.1%. This includes Hispanics, Native Americans or Alaska Natives, Asians, Black Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, and Whites.



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September 25, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

AccessLex: Law School By The Numbers

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Indiana Launches Nation's First Law School Family Office Practice Program

Maurer School of Law Launches First Family Office Practice Program in United States:

Indiana (2017)The Indiana University Maurer School of Law has launched a program that trains students interested in working for family offices and firms with family office service practices. The law school will be the first in the United States with a program focused specifically on this growing area.

"The number of family offices in the U.S. is increasing at a dramatic rate," said Austen L. Parrish, Maurer School dean and the James H. Rudy professor of law. "They are capable of conducting sophisticated transactions that were traditionally the province of big companies or private-equity firms, and they also provide a complete range of traditional estate-planning, real estate, tax-planning and wealth-advising services."

Family offices are estimated to hold assets exceeding $4 trillion, and a significant number of the most prestigious law firms have established family office practices, Parrish said. "By capitalizing on this trend, the Maurer School of Law will help meet the growing demand for lawyers by offering a wide range of courses, placements and mentoring experiences," he said.

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September 24, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

AccessLex: What Do We Know About Law Student Indebtedness?

AccessLex, What Do We Know About Law Student Indebtedness?:

One of the most frequently asked data questions posed to AccessLex is “What is the average debt of a law school graduate?” Although it is a straightforward question, the answer is a bit nuanced and can vary depending on the data source.

When approached for law school debt figures or preparing the AccessLex Legal Education Data Deck, our team references the two main sources of information on law student indebtedness—the U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR). ...

According to the most recent NPSAS data, law school students who graduated in 2015-16 and used loans to finance their education borrowed an average of $134,250 in undergraduate and graduate school debt. With interest, the average cumulative amount they owed at graduation was $142,870 (Figure 1). Borrowers made up roughly 72 percent of the 2015-16 law school graduate cohort (Figure 2).


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September 24, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: A Few Thoughts On Free Casebooks For Law Students

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), A Few Thoughts on Open-Source or Free Legal Casebooks:

Professor Brian Frye is a tireless advocate (among others) for open-source legal casebooks. Casebooks are costly for students—even rented or used casebooks can run students into the thousands of dollars over three years.

To this day, I feel ashamed to say I haven’t taken advantage of open-source casebooks or developed my own materials. I thought about some of the barriers to entry. ...

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September 24, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 23, 2019

WeWork’s Adam Neumann As A Millennial Jobs Prophet: The Search For Fulfilling Work

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  The Loan Wait for a Millennial Prophet, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

Captain ClassWeWork’s Adam Neumann Was Right About One Thing: Someone Needs to Reinvent Work

Until recently, Adam Neumann, the co-founder and chief executive of We Co., had a talent that many on Wall Street found baffling. People loved throwing money at him. ... This month, ahead of a proposed initial public offering, the skeptics finally pulled the fire alarm. ... [How did he raise so much money?]

The 40-year-old Mr. Neumann is by all accounts an exceptional salesman. But I suspect there’s another, deeper reason for his investor appeal.

For about a decade, the business world has been bracing for the arrival of what might best be described as the “Millennial Prophet.” At a time when young, brash, visionary CEOs have disrupted nearly everything, it only seems logical that one of them will solve the biggest challenge of all—reinventing work itself. In Mr. Neumann, these investors may have thought they had their man.

The conventional modern view of what it means to have a job, and how that relates to having a life, hasn’t changed much in 100 years. In fact, it dates all the way back to another wildly ambitious CEO, Henry Ford.

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September 23, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cornell Medical School Raises $150m To Fund Full-Ride Scholarships (Tuition, Housing, Food, Books) For Entering Students Who Qualify For Financial Aid (50% Of Class); $50m More Needed To Fully Fund Program

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  New York Times, Cornell’s Medical School Offers Full Rides in Battle Over Student Debt:

Cornell MedAll costs — tuition, books, housing and food — will be covered for those who qualify for aid, adding Cornell to a growing list of institutions trying to ease the way for doctors-to-be.

Doctors can be among the highest-earning professionals in the country, but they are also among those saddled with the most student loans. The average medical student who graduates with debt owes $200,000, with several years of modest pay ahead as a resident or fellow, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Concerned that young doctors were being driven by financial pressures to become specialists rather than practice pediatrics or family medicine, some prominent universities have begun using major gifts from donors to relieve students from having to borrow to pay tuition.

On Monday, Cornell University went even further. Its medical school, Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, announced that all students who qualify for financial aid will get a full ride: All costs will be covered by scholarships, including tuition, room and board, books and other educational expenses. ...

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September 23, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Five Years After Dan Markel's Murder, Trial Of Two Suspects Begins Today

MarkelTallahassee Democrat, Dan Markel Murder: Trial Begins Monday, 5 Years After Slaying of Distinguished FSU Law Professor:

Any one of the 750 people who received a jury duty summons for this week could end up helping to decide the outcome of one of Tallahassee’s most high-profile murder cases.

Starting Monday morning, groups of potential jurors will be assessed 50 at a time by prosecutors and the attorneys for Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia, who are both accused of killing Florida State law professor Dan Markel five years ago.

The murder of the prominent legal scholar in his garage in broad daylight has transfixed the Tallahassee community since 2014.

But the 2016 arrests of three unlikely suspects from South Florida with seemingly no known ties to Markel, and the wicked murder-for-hire plot they are accused of carrying out, turned the case from one of the city's most-enduring mysteries to a true crime drama.

Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said she expects to begin her opening statements by Thursday. It will be the start of finding closure for Markel’s friends and family. “There is something unusual about that,” she said. “Five years is a long time to resolve a case. So we’ll be happy to get a resolution.” ...

Markel was shot and killed July 19, 2014, in broad daylight inside his Betton Hills garage in what investigators say was a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by the family of his ex-wife Wendi Adelson.

Her brother and mother, Charlie and Donna Adelson, have been implicated in the murder by investigators. No one in the family has been charged and they have denied any involvement through their attorneys.

Magbanua is the accused conduit between the alleged killers – Garcia and his childhood friend Luis Rivera – and the family, which was upset over a custody battle between Markel and Adelson.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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September 23, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

USPTO: Ohio State University Can’t Trademark ‘The'

Following up on my previous post, The Ohio State University Seeks To Trademark 'The':, Ohio State University Can’t Trademark ‘The,' and It’s Partially Marc Jacobs’ Fault:

Ohio StateThe word “the” doesn’t belong to Ohio State University, and it’s sort of Marc Jacobs’ fault, according to a letter a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sent Wednesday to a university attorney.

The office rejected an attempt by Ohio’s flagship university to trademark the word, stylized as “THE” in all caps, in ways that signify its association with the school on T-shirts and hats.

The letter cites two reasons. One is that the Marc Jacobs fashion line beat the university to the punch, seeking to trademark “the” on May 6 for its use on handbags, knapsacks and other items. Ohio State didn’t file its application until Aug. 8.

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September 22, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Excel's Automatic Data Formatting Can Cause Errors In Published Research

Washington Post, An Alarming Number of Scientific Papers Contain Excel Errors:

ExcelA surprisingly high number of scientific papers in the field of genetics contain errors introduced by Microsoft Excel, according to an analysis recently published in the journal Genome Biology.

A team of Australian researchers analyzed nearly 3,600 genetics papers published in a number of leading scientific journals — like Nature, Science and PLoS One. As is common practice in the field, these papers all came with supplementary files containing lists of genes used in the research.

The Australian researchers found that roughly 1 in 5 of these papers included errors in their gene lists that were due to Excel automatically converting gene names to things like calendar dates or random numbers. ...

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September 22, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Judge Denies Motion For Separate Trials Of Suspects In Dan Markel's Murder, Jury Selection Begins Monday (1,893 Days After Shooting)

MarkelTallahassee Democrat, Magbanua Denied Separate Trial in Markel Slaying:

Leon County Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson denied a motion to allow accused Dan Markel murder suspect her own trial.

WCTV, Judge Denies Magbanua's Request For Separate Trial in Markel Murder

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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September 21, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, September 20, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

In Advance Of Monday's Jury Selection In Dan Markel Murder Case, Magbanua Seeks Separate Trial

WCTV, Magbanua Now Asking For Separate Trial in Markel Murder:

MarkelJust days before the Dan Markel murder case goes to trial, one of the defendants is now asking for her case to be tried separately.

Jury selection is scheduled to start Monday for both Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua.

Magbanua's attorneys just filed a motion asking for a separate trial at a later date.

Her attorneys contend there is evidence that is admissible in Magbanua's case, that is not admissible against Garcia and is "overly prejudicial to him." According to the motion, that includes Garcia's previous criminal history and statements he made to fellow jail inmates that "tend to implicate Ms. Magbanua."

Garcia is facing the death penalty in this case. Magbanua is not.

Magbanua's attorneys argue in the motion that "subjecting her to trial with a death-qualified jury" would violate her due process rights.

They claim it would unfairly exclude African-Americans from the jury. "Research has consistently shown that African-Americans are more likely to oppose the death penalty than white persons," Magbanua's attorneys argued in the motion, citing a series of studies., Two Accused in FSU Law Professor Slaying Set to Face Jury:

Jury selection is slated to begin Monday in a Tallahassee court in the case against Sigfredo Garcia—who stands accused of pulling the trigger and murdering Markel—and Katherine Magbanua, the mother of Garcia’s children and ex-girlfriend of Markel’s former brother-in-law Charlie Adelson. The defendants are being tried together on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder. ...

[F]or close watchers of the case, several big questions remain: First, they wonder whether the trial will come to fruition, or whether Magbanua will take a plea deal at the last minute and cooperate with the prosecution to implicate Donna and Charlie Adelson—neither of whom have been charged with any crime. Police arrested Magbanua in 2016 and she has spent the past three years in jail—away from her two children—apparently in an attempt to get her to flip and help prosecutors.

Second, they want to know whether Garcia and Magbanua’s trial is the next step toward indictments of Donna and Charlie Adelson—which Markel’s supporters view as the ultimate goal and the only way for justice to be served.

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September 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Using Exam Wrappers To Foster Self-Assessment Skills In Law Students

Sarah Schendel (Suffolk), What You Don't Know (Can Hurt You): Using Exam Wrappers to Foster Self-Assessment Skills in Law Students, 39 Pace L. Rev. ___ (2019):

“Where did I go wrong?”

When we fail it’s tempting to forget it and move on. However, reflecting on poor performance and figuring out how to proceed is critical to being a successful student and lawyer. Unfortunately, when students receive a disappointing grade they often lack the ability to understand what went wrong and how to change.

Creating self-regulated learners who can identify what they don't know and make a plan to improve is key to helping students succeed. In order to do so – and in order to produce ethical, productive lawyers – law schools should place a greater emphasis on fostering the skill of self-assessment among students.

I propose exam wrappers as an effective and adaptable tool to strengthen law students’ self-assessment skills.

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September 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Brooks: The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart

New York Times:  The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart, by David Brooks:

MeritocracyThere are at least two kinds of meritocracy in America right now. Exclusive meritocracy exists at the super-elite universities and at the industries that draw the bulk of their employees from them — Wall Street, Big Law, medicine and tech. And then there is the more open meritocracy that exists almost everywhere else.

In the exclusive meritocracy, prestige is defined by how many people you can reject. The elite universities reject 85 to 95 percent of their applicants. Those accepted spend much of their lives living in neighborhoods and attending conferences where it is phenomenally expensive or hard to get in. Whether it’s the resort town you vacation in or the private school you send your kids to, exclusivity is the pervasive ethos. The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

People in this caste work phenomenally hard to build their wealth. As Daniel Markovits notes in his powerful new book, The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite, between 1979 and 2006, the percentage of workers in the top quintile of earners who work more than 50 hours a week nearly doubled. ...

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September 19, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Lawsuit Claims Florida Coastal Law School Used Mandatory Bar Prep Course To 'Weed Out' Students And 'Artificially Inflate' Bar Passage Rate To Retain ABA Accreditation

Following up on my prior posts (links below):   Jacksonville Daily Record, Student Files Suit Against Florida Coastal School of Law:  

Florida Coastal (2017)A student at Florida Coastal School of Law is suing the school and its owner, InfiLaw Corp., alleging that the school breached its contract with the student and negligently misrepresented requirements for education and graduation. ...

The plaintiff alleges that halfway through her time at the school, Florida Coastal changed its passing and graduation requirements; that she was forced to enroll in a Bar examination preparation course; and that Florida Coastal repeatedly changed the passing requirements for the course between semesters.

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September 19, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

LSSSE: Relationships Matter In Law School

New Research Provides Insight into the Importance of Relationships in Law School:

LSSSE 2Newly-released data by the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) provides a compelling look at the importance of relationships in law school.  Data from this Report, Relationships Matter, draw from the responses of more than 18,000 students at 72 law schools who participated in the LSSSE Survey in 2018.

“Law students do a phenomenal job of harnessing available resources and engaging with those around them,” said Meera E. Deo, Director of LSSSE. “Whether connecting with faculty, staff, or classmates, they draw on these relationships to maximize opportunities in legal education. The majority of law students know that their professors care deeply about their professional achievements and well-being, that staff members are invested in their success, and that their peers want the best for them too.”

Director's Message:

Relationships are critical. Law students who build strong connections with faculty, administrators, and classmates are more likely to appreciate their legal education overall and also have better academic and professional outcomes.

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September 19, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Emory Investigating Reports That Two More Law Profs Used N-Bomb In Class

Following up on my previous post, Tenured Emory Law Prof Suspended For Using N-Bomb Faces Firing By University Faculty Committee At Oct. 4 Hearing:, Emory Investigating Reports That 2 More Law Profs Used Racial Slur in Class:

Emory Law (2018)Emory University is investigating reports of two new incidents in which adjunct law professors reportedly used a racial slur in class, a spokeswoman for the university said Friday.

“During one of the instances, after a student raised concern about the necessity of using the word, the professor apologized, and the class continued,”’ Laura Diamond, assistant vice president of communications and public affairs, said Friday. “The university is looking into both incidents. Emory remains committed to upholding the principles of equity, inclusion, and respect that all members of community embrace and value.”

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September 18, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: End Legacy College Admissions

New York Times Editorial, End Legacy College Admissions:

A country struggling with deeply rooted inequality need not continue an affirmative action program for successful families.

For nearly a century, many American college and university admissions officers have given preferential treatment to the children of alumni.

The policies originated in the 1920s, coinciding with an influx of Jewish and Catholic applicants to the country’s top schools. They continue today, placing a thumb on the scale in favor of students who already enjoy the benefits of being raised by families with elite educations. Of the country’s top 100 schools (as determined by the editors at U.S. News & World Report), roughly three-quarters have legacy preferences in admissions. These anachronistic policies have been called “affirmative action for the rich” and “affirmative action for whites.”

Preferential treatment for legacy admissions is anti-meritocratic, inhibits social mobility and helps perpetuate a de facto class system. In short, it is an engine of inequity. Little wonder that it is unpopular with most Americans, yet supported by the affluent who both oversee the college admissions process and are its primary beneficiaries.

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September 18, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Trial Of Suspects In Dan Markel's Murder Nears As Friend Asks: What Should Happen When Your Mom and Brother Murder Your Ex?

Jason Solomon, What Should Happen When Your Mom and Brother Murder Your Ex?:

In 2014, Dan Markel — a law professor at Florida State University, loving father of two young boys, proud Jew, friend of mine — was brutally murdered by hitmen hired by his in-laws’ family, according to compelling evidence laid out by police and prosecutors. Investigators cited as motives the family’s “desperate desire” to have their daughter and grandkids live close to them in South Florida, and an upcoming court hearing that threatened to limit Dan’s mother-in-law’s unsupervised access to his kids. All of the murderers have not yet been brought to justice, though one of the hitmen has pleaded guilty and two others are scheduled for trial in September. ...

[T]here is another grave injustice in this tragic story. For the past three years, Dan’s ex-wife Wendi has denied Dan’s parents, Ruth and Phil Markel, the opportunity to visit and otherwise communicate with their grandkids. She has also changed their last names from Markel to her name, Adelson. ...

Though this may not be part of the Ten Commandments, let me suggest a related rule: When your mother and brother murder your ex-husband, you don’t get to complain about your in-laws being insufficiently supportive of your parenting. You don’t get to hold a grudge about something they did three years ago that rubbed you the wrong way, or wish they were stronger candidates for in-laws of the year. Or you shouldn’t, anyway. ...

I personally believe that Wendi had nothing to do with Dan’s death, as explained here. In retrospect, she clearly should have taken more seriously her brother’s talk of hiring a hitman, and unambiguously shut it down. Her culpability is likely to remain between her and her conscience.

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September 18, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tax Prof Twitter Census (2019-20 Edition) (Updated)

TwitterAccording to Bridget Crawford's latest census, there are 1,313 Law Profs on Twitter (54.1% male/45.9% female), including 82 Tax Profs (several with tax in their Twitter handles):

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September 17, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amidst 40% Decline In Applications, University Of Maine System Approves Law School Reorganization

Following up on my previous post, Report Recommends Sweeping Changes At Maine Law School:  Portland Press-Herald, UMaine System to Consider Changes to Maine’s Only Law School:

Maine LogoThe University of Maine System may give its law school more independence from the University of Southern Maine in hopes of addressing financial challenges, growing enrollment and improving academic programming.

The proposed changes come at a key time as the law school is embarking on a search for a new dean and trying to determine how to best meet the needs of the state as Maine’s only law school. ...

In a report released in July, the committee documented budget shortfalls, faculty positions that have gone unfilled or without pay raises, a lack of fundraising and marketing schemes, and an enrollment strategy that relies too heavily on scholarships. It also stressed a need to diversify course offerings and do outreach in rural, underserved areas of the state. ...

From 2011 to 2018, the number of applications in Maine dropped from 988 to 574 – a 40 percent decrease. ... To stay competitive, the law school has increased the amount of money it spends on grants and scholarships, but failed to bring in necessary tuition funds. ...

At the same time, state funding that flows to the law school through USM has remained stagnant at around $850,000 for several years. Cummings has pledged to increase those funds by 50 percent through 2021 to bring the new allocation to nearly $1.3 million.

Portland Press-Herald, UMaine System Trustees Approve Law School Reorganization:

Trustees of the University of Maine system on Monday approved a reorganization of the University of Maine School of Law in an effort to grow enrollment, provide more relevant academic programming and improve its financial standing. ... The law school changes, which will take place immediately, gained unanimous approval from the board.

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September 17, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Former Employee Defrauded University Of Texas Law School Out Of $1.6 Million

Texas Tribune, Former Law School Employee Defrauded UT-Austin Out of Nearly $1.6 million, Internal Report Finds:

Texas Logo (2016)A former University of Texas at Austin facilities director facing felony charges ran an elaborate financial scheme from his perch at one of the state’s top law schools, costing the university nearly $1.6 million, an internal memorandum released Friday found.

A sternly worded letter from a university provost blamed the aw school dean for “serious failures” in oversight, and the law school must pay for a continuous audit of its internal business operations for the next year. The audit will cost about $110,000.

“As a public university, we must always be good stewards of our budget and earn the public trust,” said UT-Austin spokesman Gary Susswein in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “We will work to prevent this type of behavior from occurring again.”

Jason Shoumaker is said to have engaged in a variety of financial and professional improprieties at UT-Austin, including funneling payments to vendors who may have been friends and associates, falsifying travel documents and educational credentials, and manipulating procurement processes to make a host of questionable purchases with little oversight. ...

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September 17, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 16, 2019

July 2019 Florida Bar Exam Results: Florida International Is #1 For 5th Year In A Row

Florida Bar 2The July 2019 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. The overall pass rate for first-time takers is 73.9%, up 6.7 percentage points from last year. For the fifth 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):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (95.7%)

Florida Int'l

4 (91)

2 (87.9%)


1 (31)

3 (86.8%)

Florida State

2 (48)

4 (80.8%)


3 (67)

5 (77.6%)


5 (108)

6 (71.4%)

St. Thomas

Tier 2

7 (71.0%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

8 (65.9%)


Tier 2

9 (61.1%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

10 (57.8%)


Tier 2

11 (52.6%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

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September 16, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Deuteronomy Leadership

Wall Street Journal op-ed: T-Mobile’s CEO and the Tribal Approach to Management, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

Captain ClassOfficially speaking, John Legere is the chief executive of T-Mobile, the $68 billion wireless carrier. Unofficially, the 61-year-old telecom veteran has another title.

He is, hands down, the world’s most relentless corporate pugilist.

Since he arrived at T-Mobile in 2012, Mr. Legere has used every public forum at his disposal to bash and belittle his company’s chief rivals, AT&T and Verizon; or as he likes to call them, “Dumb and Dumber.” ...

It might be tempting to dismiss Mr. Legere’s aggressive leadership style and occasionally profane language (he describes his attacks as “jabs” and “good-natured ribbing”) as the product of one man’s singular personality.After all, most CEOs don’t sport shoulder-length hair, or wear motorcycle jackets to work, or have 6.4 million Twitter followers. ...

Before rendering judgment, however, there’s one interesting tidbit about Mr. Legere that’s worth considering. His opponents may loathe him—but a large majority of his employees seem to genuinely like the guy. At T-Mobile events, the marathon-running bachelor often enjoys receptions befitting a rock star, complete with the occasional marriage proposal. While Glassdoor’s annual employee surveys aren’t scientific, the 2019 edition gave Mr. Legere a 99% internal approval rating—No. 4 overall among his CEO peers.

Mr. Legere’s intensely tribal approach to management may seem new—but in a sense, it harkens all the way back to the Old Testament.

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September 15, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Great Enrollment Crash

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Great Enrollment Crash:

Students aren’t showing up. And it’s only going to get worse. ...

Higher education has fully entered a new structural reality. You’d be naïve to believe that most colleges will be able to ride out this unexpected wave as we have previous swells.

Those who saw modest high-school graduation dips by 2020 as surmountable must now absorb the statistical reality: Things are only going to get worse. As Nathan Grawe has shown, a sharp decrease in fertility during the Great Recession will further deepen the high-school graduation trough by 2026. Meanwhile, the cost of attendance for both private and public colleges insists on outpacing inflation, American incomes continue to stagnate, and college-endowment returns or state subsidies can no longer support the discounting of sticker prices. ...

This perfect storm has changed, and will continue to change, student and family college-choice behavior for the next decade and more. I see this playing out across three dimensions: majors, money, and mission.

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September 15, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts