Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Decline And Fall Of Grade Deflation At Princeton

Following up on my previous post, Princeton and Wellesley May Re-inflate Grades:  The Princetonian, The Decline and Fall of Grade Deflation:

Princeton has little to show for its experiment in “grade deflation,” except inflating grades that continue to lag behind those of its peer institutions.  ...

[I]t's never been easier to get an A at Princeton. ... A- was the median grade in the 2018-2019 academic year. 55 percent of course grades were in the A-range. In 1998, they were 43 percent of course grade. ...

B-range grades comprised 34 percent, and the C-range comprised six percent. D’s were merely half a percent. A Princetonian’s chance of getting a F was one in a thousand. The remaining four percent went to “passes.” ...

As of last year, the college-wide GPA was 3.46. Yet using the average rate of inflation during 1985-2000, I projected that it would be approximately 3.63 today had deflation never occurred. That’s on par with Harvard’s 3.65 in 2016 and Yale’s 3.58 in 2012. Still, Princeton’s grades are inflating at roughly the same pace as they were in the late 1990s. ...

While deflation aimed to create “uniform grading standards” for academic departments, it didn’t affect them equally. 

PrincetonChronicle of Higher Education, The Real Problem With Grade Inflation:

I still would very much like us to go to the law schools, go to the employers, and find out how the grades are actually used. It would be extremely useful if we could convey more information to the students and to the faculty about what grades actually do in people's lives, before we give in and spend so much energy trying to get good grade-point averages.

January 27, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Banzhaf: Godless Liberal Law Professors Are Training Future Lawyers

John F. Banzhaf, III (George Washington), Godless Liberal Law Professors Are Training Future Lawyers:

Law professors — those teaching students who will soon become precedent-setting litigators, judges, and frequently legislators and regulators or their staffs — are not only overwhelmingly liberal, but are also many times more likely to be godless than the general public, according to a recently published study [James Lindgren (Northwestern), The Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Experiences of Law Professors, 15 U. St. Thomas L.J. 342 (2019)]. ...

The study concludes that "law professors today are far less likely to believe in God than the general population, even compared to that segment of the population with graduate and professional degrees. Indeed, even compared to other professors, law professors are much less religious." ...

While the study did not address the effect of having a law faculty which is much more liberal and much less religious than the general population on what and how such law professors teach prospective lawyers, it's hard to see how a relative paucity of conservative and/or strong religious views would not have a significant impact, and for the same reason that African Americans and Hispanics are so actively sought out by law schools as part of their affirmative actions programs for both students and faculty. ...

[I]f it's appropriate to favor certain groups (e.g., Blacks and Latinos) in hiring and admission at law schools, it's not clear why such a policy should not apply as well to other underrepresented groups such as conservatives, Christians, and others with underrepresented religious backgrounds, etc.

Continue reading

January 26, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Lindgren: The Religious Beliefs, Practices, And Experiences Of Law Professors

James Lindgren (Northwestern), The Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Experiences of Law Professors, 15 U. St. Thomas L.J. 342 (2019):

Very little is known about the religious beliefs and practices of American law professors. In the drive for diversity, religion usually takes a back seat at university campuses. About two decades ago, I surveyed law faculties at the top one hundred law schools, asking professors about their religious affiliations [Measuring Diversity: Law Faculties in 1997 and 2013, 39 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 89 (2016).]. I found that Christians were represented at only about half their percentages in the larger population, while Jewish and nonreligious law professors were substantially overrepresented. This article begins with an update of that study, but unlike the 1990s survey, this one probes much deeper, presenting data on belief in God, church attendance, and religiously motivated discrimination.

While the pattern of underrepresentation in Christian religious sects today is similar to that of the 1990s, the differences in actually believing in God are much larger than for mere religious affiliation.

Lindgren 1

Law professors today are far less likely to believe in God than the general population, even compared to that segment of the population with graduate and professional degrees. Indeed, even compared to other professors, law professors are much less religious.

Lindgren 3

Additionally, law professors are substantially less likely to attend religious services than their non-professorial counterparts.

Continue reading

January 26, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Empirical Investigation Of Legal Scholarship On Religion

James C. Phillips (Stanford), Is U.S. Legal Scholarship “Losing [Its] Religion” Or Just Playing Favorites?: An Empirical Investigation, 1998–2012, 2018 Pepp. L. Rev. 139 (2019):

The place of religion in America is changing. This paper seeks to understand that change in a narrow but influential context: legal scholarship. Focusing on the time period after the Supreme Court struck down RFRA as applied to the states and a flurry of state-level RFRA’s in the mid 2010’s, the study examines nearly 1300 law review articles to present a quantitative intellectual history. The study finds that religion is portrayed increasingly less positively over the period, based on a five-point positivity scale created for the study. The paper also finds that some faiths are portrayed more positively (Native American religions, Islam, Judaism, and other non-Christian faiths) than others (general Christianity, Catholicism, and other specific Christian faiths).

Cleff 1
Cleff 2

Continue reading

January 26, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Tenured University of Minnesota Law Prof Sentenced In Tax Fraud Case

Following up on my previous post, University of Minnesota Law Professor Charged In Multi-Million Dollar Corporate Fraud Scheme:  Minneapolis Star-Tribune, University of Minnesota Law Professor Sentenced to Probation For Lying to IRS:

AdamsA federal judge sentenced University of Minnesota financial law professor Ed Adams to two years of probation and $5,000 in fines Thursday for lying to the Internal Revenue Service.

Judge Donovan Frank said Adams deserved a harsher sentence than the one year of probation that prosecutors requested because of his role as a tenured professor who should be setting an example for up-and-coming lawyers.

“You clearly knew more than most that what you were doing was illegal and unethical,” said Frank.

Still, the punishment is much lighter than what Adams could have faced if he had been convicted on the original charges.

Continue reading

January 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Law Students Get Tattoos?

SmartLawyer, Should Lawyers Get Inked?:

TattooIt would be hard to call getting a tattoo a rebellious act or a thumbing of the nose at social norms or expectations. ...  36% of U.S. people between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.

But what of lawyers?

Should they risk getting a tattoo, given they work in one of the more conservative professions going? ...

Lawyers are not, say, lifeguards. They don’t expose a lot of skin. And just about all of the advice we saw on the internet said lawyers can definitely rock a tat — just make sure it’s not exposed.

Continue reading

January 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Court Cites Student Loans As Reason To Deny Bar Admission To New Lawyer

Adam S. Minsky (Forbes), Court Cites Student Loans As Reason To Deny Bar Admission To New Lawyer:

For one recent graduate of law school [Cynthia Marie Rogers (J.D. 2019, Capital University Law School)], ... student loan debt played a major role in the Ohio Board of Bar Commissioners denying her admission to the Ohio bar to practice law as an attorney there.

According to the Ohio Supreme Court, Rogers graduated from law school with over $300,000 in student loan debt. Her husband also has significant student loan debt, and the Court noted that together, their combined balance is nearly $900,000.

The Board was concerned about the size of their debt, as well as testimony from Rogers where she stated that neither she nor her husband were repaying their loans because their income was too low to require making payments. ...

Continue reading

January 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Forget Daddy Day Care. At This School, It's Law Dean Day Care.

Karen Sloan (, Forget Daddy Day Care. At This School, It's Law Dean Day Care.:

Fershee 2On Wednesday, three inches of slushy snow fell on Omaha, Nebraska—enough to close area schools and day cares across the city.

But Creighton University and its law school remained open, creating a conundrum for staff, faculty and students suddenly faced with the prospect of missing work and class to watch their kids.

That’s when Creighton law Dean Joshua Fershee stepped in. He messaged the law school community to offer his child care services.

“While I’m not a licensed provider, I’m generally good with kids and would be happy to watch some little ones, if it helps,” wrote Fershee, the father of 11-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old boy. “We’ll figure it out.” ...

Continue reading

January 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Competition For Law Dean Jobs Heats Up

Karen Sloan (, Competition for Law Dean Jobs Heats Up:

Now that the legal education market is on the rebound, the competition for getting a deanship is stiffer, according to recruiters and sitting deans. At the same time, the appetite for law deans from nontraditional backgrounds—coming out of Big Law or the bench, for example—appears to have waned. ...

For a number of years, fewer people were vying for deanships because legal education’s fortunes were uncertain and the job was particularly difficult, said Werner Boel, a consultant with search firm WittKieffer who has helped to place many law deans at schools across the country. Boel noted that dean searches are getting a bit more competitive these days as law school enrollment numbers have stabilized and the job has become more attractive. ...

Continue reading

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

Muller: Despite Stable Enrollment, Law Schools Continue To Shed Full-Time Faculty

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Despite Stable Enrollment, Law Schools Continue to Shed Full-Time Faculty:

Law schools dropped from 10,226 full-time faculty (this figure includes all full-time positions, regardless of faculty status) in 2017 to 9470 in 2019, a 7% decline in two years. Law schools are doing more with less. Indeed, they’re not being replaced with adjuncts or temporary faculty—non-full-time faculty also declined (albeit at a smaller rate) in this period, too (from about 17,000 to about 16,500). ... 44 law schools saw faculty declines of at least 15% in that time period. ...

19 law schools decreased their full-time faculty by least 20% (including William & Mary (-28.1%), SUNY-Buffalo (-26.2%), and UC-Berkeley (-22.3%)).

Continue reading

January 23, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

University Of Washington Dean Responds To Law Students' Demand For Racial Justice

Following up on yesterday's post, University Of Washington Law Students Demand Racial Justice:  I reached out to Dean Mario Barnes on Monday, and he provided me this statement to share yesterday afternoon:

BarnesAt the beginning of the Winter quarter, I had the privilege of teaching the first session of our 1L Perspectives course. During that course, many students shared their concerns about diversity-related issues at UW Law. A few of the issues raised included diversity among our faculty and student body, the experience of people of color at our school, our curriculum, our ability to prepare students to correct a racist and oppressive justice system, and other crucial topics.

Embracing diversity in all forms has been central to my vision for UW Law since becoming dean in 2018 because I believe diverse experiences and perspectives improve legal education and practice.

My leadership team and I are working with the students who brought these concerns forward. We hear their concerns, and we are taking action. We identified a time at the end of January for an in-depth public dialogue about these extremely important topics. Some of our immediate changes include:

Continue reading

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

University Of Washington Law Students Demand Racial Justice

The Daily op-ed:  Law Students Demand Racial Justice, by Ashleen O'Brien (J.D. 2021, University of Washington):

University of Washington (2020)First-year students at the UW School of Law began Winter quarter by demanding that the school administration prioritize diversity. Before a lecture that was scheduled to be given by Dean Mario Barnes to the entire first-year class, a group of students of color and their allies stood up and began a demonstration.

Clad in all black clothing and standing together in front of the class, the demonstrators commanded the attention of the room. Some had covered their mouths with pieces of tape reading “silenced” to represent the erasure experienced by people of color, queer people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized individuals at UW Law.

In a series of questions addressed to the Dean and faculty, demonstrators demanded to know why there are so few professors of color at the school, why professors who have continuously displayed racism and transphobia are not held accountable, and why there are no native students in the first-year class.

Continue reading

January 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

NALP: 2019 Report On Diversity In U.S. Law Firms

NALP, Representation of Black or African-American Associates Eclipses Pre-Recession Levels for the First Time Despite Slow Overall Progress:

NALP New LogoThe National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has released its 2019 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms. The report, which is based on information from the recent 2019-2020 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE), shows that for the first time, Black or African-American representation among associates has finally topped the prerecession level reached in 2009 — although by a just a hair.

“While that is a positive sign, it is barely so, and it strikes me as somewhat of a tragedy that it has taken more than 10 years to achieve such a meager benchmark, and it is notable that the number remains well below five percent,” said James G. Leipold, NALP Executive Director. “The overall arc of the storyline for large law firm diversity remains the same — it is one of slow incremental gains for women and people of color in both the associate and partner ranks,” he added. After studying the data in the annual report for more than 15 years, Leipold is convinced that “despite steady gains, great structural and cultural hurdles remain that prevent law firms from being able to measure more rapid progress in increasing diversity, particularly among the partnership ranks.”

The data in the report confirmed these trends, as women and people of color are best represented among summer associates, and well-represented among associates, but then leave the lawyer ranks each year after at a higher rate than white men, culminating in dramatic underrepresentation among equity partners, with just one in five equity partners being women and only 7.6% of equity partners being people of color.


Continue reading

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

Board Of Regents To Vote Today On Big Tuition Hikes At California's Public Law Schools

Karen Sloan (, Big Tuition Hikes Loom at University of California's 4 Law Schools:

California Law SchoolsGoing to a public law school in California is poised to get significantly more expensive—especially for out-of-state students.

The University of California Board of Regents is set to vote Jan. 22 on proposed tuition increases at the four law schools within its system that, on average, would hike the amount of their so-called professional degree supplemental tuition by 17% between 2020 and 2023 and ultimately widen the gap between what California residents and nonresidents pay.

The increases would apply to students at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; the University of California, Davis School of Law; the University of California, Irvine School of Law; and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. The University of California Hastings College of the Law is the state’s fifth public law school, but it operates independently of the University of California system and its tuition and budget is not set by the Board of Regents.

Under the proposal, tuition and fees at Berkeley Law, currently at $52,500 for California residents and $55,000 for nonresidents, according to university documents, will increase to $63,000 and $75,500, respectively, by 2023.

Continue reading

January 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Women Hold Editor-In-Chief Positions At The Top 16 Law Reviews

Karen Sloan (, Women Hold Editor-In-Chief Positions at the 16 Most Elite Law Reviews:

For the first time ever, female law students sit atop of the mastheads of the flagship law reviews at each of the top 16 law schools in the country, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report [Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Chicago, Columbia, NYU, Penn, Virginia, Michigan, Berkeley, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, Georgetown, UCLA, Texas].

Continue reading

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

UC-Berkeley 3L: Reflections On Equity, Inclusion, And Change In The Legal Profession

Daily Journal op-ed:  Solving the Inclusion Conundrum: Reflections on Equity, Inclusion and Making Change in the Legal Profession, by Noor-ul-ain Hasan (J.D. 2020 UC-Berkeley):

California Law Review 4Legal profession surveys consistently show a persistent, systematic inclusivity problem: at 70% male and 88% white it is one of the least racially and gender-diverse professions in the U.S. Over 80% of all federal judicial clerkships are secured by white applicants. At large U.S. law firms, women are only 20% of full equity partners and minorities are just 9% of full equity partners. Professor Meera Deo's "Unequal Profession" demonstrates how race and gender dynamics affect the legal academy. 

Through my experience as editor-in-chief of the "California Law Review," I have seen firsthand the power of inclusive and diverse teams. Our journal is about 50% people of color and 59% women. About 30% of our editors identify as LGBTQ+ and nearly a third are first generation professional students.

Continue reading

January 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Online Enrollments Grow, But Pace Slows

Inside Higher Ed, Online Enrollments Grow, but Pace Slows:

The proportion of all enrolled college students who took at least one online class continues to rise, edging up to 34.7 percent in fall 2018 from 33.1 percent the previous year. The rate of increase appears to be slowing ever so slightly, although online education remains the main driver of growth in postsecondary enrollments.

These are among the conclusions one might glean from the latest federal data on distance education enrollments, drawn from the Education Department's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The data generally show more students studying online, at virtually all types of institutions and at all levels of post-high school learning. The table below shows the basic trends:

Continue reading

January 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Academy Overweights Co-Authored Articles, To The Detriment Of Women, Faculty Of Color, And Faculty With Surnames That Fall Later In The Alphabet

Inside Higher Ed op-ed:  Bias in the Academy: Counting Co-Authors, by Linus Yamane (Pitzer College; "If your last name begins with the letter Z, he would like to co-author a paper with you"):

In light of the frequent campus climate issues of recent years, many of us in higher education have been thinking about inherent biases in our institutions’ appointment, promotion and tenure systems. How might faculty of color and women be systematically thwarted when they try to move up the academic labor market? One fundamental way such biases manifest themselves is how academe gives credit for single-author and multiple-author journal article publications.

In my field of economics, the number of authors per paper has increased monotonically over time. ...  [I]f departments do not distinguish between single-authored and co-authored journal articles, it is easier to increase the number of publications with co-authors.

When I talk with faculty members of color, they express a concern about this practice of co-authoring papers. They tell me that it is harder for faculty of color to find co-authors. In many ways, finding a co-author is like finding a spouse. We tend to marry people who look like ourselves. Tall people tend to marry other tall people. Educated people tend to marry other educated people. White people tend to marry other white people. There are similar patterns with co-authors. They tend to have ties to the same graduate schools. They have interests in the same subfields. And faculty members of color tend to write with other faculty of color. But with fewer faculty of color in academe, it is harder for those scholars to find appropriate co-authors.

Unfortunately, while the practice of co-authoring articles creates a bias against faculty of color, we can do little to change the situation immediately. If we can increase the number of faculty members of color in higher education, that will help, but it will take some time.

For today, we must focus on being careful about properly crediting the work in co-authored journal articles when we evaluate faculty members. While single-author papers send a clear signal about skills and abilities of the author, co-authored papers do not provide specific information about each author’s skills and abilities. That ambiguity can result in systematic biases. We must make sure that we recognize the work of co-authors in a fair and consistent way. ...

Continue reading

January 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Muller: A Small But Rising Cohort Of GRE Law School Admissions

Following up on my previous post, ABA 509 Report Data: Non-LSAT (GRE) Applicants Up 20%: Derek Muller (Pepperdine), A Small But Rising Cohort of GRE Law School Admissions:

Muller GREIn 2019, no-LSAT admissions rose from 168 to 384—more than doubling from the previous year, which more than doubled the year before. Undoubtedly, on the rise.

Whoa, cowboy! That’s a data spike! But… not really. In fact, my first chart is probably pretty deceptive.

You see, 384 admissions among 37,873 matriculants represents just 1% of all law school admissions. Still a small number—but rising. ...

Even though GRE admissions still represent a very small percentage of overall admissions, only a few dozen law schools accept the GRE. That means GRE admissions are disproportionately concentrated at a few law schools. Last year, I noted that Arizona had about 15% of its class as GRE admissions, and Harvard and Georgetown around 2% or 3% of the class. Several classes are above 5% this year: Alabama (8 non-LSAT admissions), Arizona (17), BYU (16), Kent (12), Georgetown (48!), Georgia (19), Harvard (43!), Hawaii (12), Northwestern (27), St. John’s (13), and Buffalo (8).

Continue reading

January 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, January 20, 2020

Don't Mess With Law Profs

January 18, 2020 was Darren Bush Day in Houston Texas, in honor of the University of Houston law professor's third degree black belt in Northern  Shaolin/Northern Praying Mantis King Fu:

Bush Proclamation

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

Why MBAs Are Thriving Everywhere But America

Bloomberg Businessweek, Why MBAs Are Thriving Everywhere but America:

At a glance the MBA might appear to be in trouble.

Applications worldwide to advanced business programs dropped 6.9% this year, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the GMAT test, a key benchmark for prospective students. But the world outside America tells a very different story.

Two-thirds of European full-time MBA programs reported an increase in applications in 2019, with a similar number in Asia reporting growth, the GMAC data show. And more than half of Canadian business schools have seen an increase. Contrast that with the U.S., where a booming labor market and ballooning tuition fees have contributed to declines at three in four full-time MBA programs. 

Continue reading

January 20, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

UCLA Law Prof: Why I Won’t Let My Classes Be Recorded

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Why I Won’t Let My Classes Be Recorded, by John Villasenor (UCLA):

In early January, I received an email message from an audio-visual coordinator at the UCLA School of Law asking whether I wanted my spring-semester class to be recorded. More specifically, the message informed me that all class sessions are recorded by default unless the instructor opts out. I responded, as I have to similar messages in previous years, with a request not to record my class.

It’s not that I don’t recognize the advantages of recording. For a student forced to miss class for a legitimate reason, such as illness, having access to a video can make it easier and more efficient to catch up. I also recognize that in large lecture-hall courses with hundreds of students, opportunities for substantive student participation are limited. ...

But for smaller, highly interactive classes — my forthcoming law-school class will have about 25 students and is designed to provide plenty of student engagement — there are also reasons that the growing practice of recording classes should give us pause. One is privacy: Not mine, which I’ve long since decided doesn’t exist when I’m standing at the front of a classroom, but that of the students. ...

Continue reading

January 19, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Declining Participation In Football Threatens American Exceptionalism

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  The Leadership Case for Saving High-School Football, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

Captain Class

For the first time in 30 years, high-school sports participation declined. ... The chief culprit wasn’t a lack of interest in sports. It’s the accelerating rejection of the biggest high-school sport of all: 11-player tackle football.

Last season, football suffered its steepest loss of players in 33 years, according to the NFHS, while its share of total sports participants fell below 13% for the first time on record. ...

[T]he sport lost 31,000 high school players last year, according to the NFHS; its fifth consecutive annual decline. Forty-two states reported net losses, including football hotbeds such as California, Florida and Ohio.

I can’t blame any parent, or child, for abandoning ship. Nobody needs to play football. But I sincerely believe that the sport is worth saving. Football will never be entirely safe. But if the sport’s overseers figure out the right adjustments to make (see an entirely separate column), I have no doubt that its positive influence on kids will continue to outweigh the risks. Football, in my view, is one of the best tools we have for teaching teamwork and leadership.

Consider this: The U.S. has maintained a consistent global edge in business, scientific research, military power and (recent events notwithstanding) functional government. We’ve shown that we’re pretty good at working together. And we’ve sustained this for decades even with schools that trail those in other nations by most measures of academic rigor.

Have you ever wondered why that is?

Most high schools don’t teach “team studies” or “applied leadership.” Traditional classes like social studies, history and civics may touch on those themes, but only in passing. My theory is that American schools haven’t bothered teaching teamwork in classrooms because they didn’t need to. That’s what organized sports are for.

Continue reading

January 19, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Harvard Law Students Avoid Applying For Clerkships With Trump-Appointed Judges

Boston Globe, Some Harvard Law School Students Are Avoiding Applying to Clerkships With Trump-Appointed Judges:

Harvard Law School (2016)Used to be that the promise of earning a sterling line on a resume and connections to stars of the legal profession was enough to lure Harvard law students to federal clerkships.

But recently, when Harvard Law School was urging its students to apply to work for one of President Trump’s newly appointed judges, it felt the need to offer further incentives: “Next to Lake Tahoe and great skiing!” the job alert read.

But that apparently wasn’t enough. Two days later, in mid-December, the law school again nudged its students to apply for clerkships with federal judges, noting that some judges, including two Trump appointees, had received no Harvard applications — calling them “wasted opportunities.”

As Trump reshapes the federal judiciary with staunch conservatives and controversial picks, some Harvard Law School students appear to be thinking twice about applying for clerk jobs with them, and passing up what are generally considered plum positions. ...

Continue reading

January 18, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Harvard Law Students Urge Boycott Of Paul Weiss To Force Law Firm To Drop ExxonMobil As A Client

Medium, Harvard Law Students Shutdown Reception For Law Firm Defending Exxon’s Role in the Climate Crisis:

Paul WeissStudents push partners at Paul, Weiss to #DropExxon: “We won’t work for you while you work for them.”

Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law School Students Campaign for Law Firm Paul Weiss to Drop Representation of ExxonMobil:

Dozens of Harvard Law School students disrupted a first-year student recruitment event held by corporate law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP Wednesday night, calling on the firm to stop representing the oil and gas company ExxonMobil in ongoing climate change litigation.

Harvard Corporation member Theodore V. Wells, who works as a partner at the firm, was a lead lawyer for ExxonMobil. The firm did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the protest.

Shortly after the firm’s speaker came on stage, a group of students revealed a banner reading #DropExxon, according to a press release about the protest. They also chanted over the speaker, “We, students of Harvard Law School, will not work for you as long as you work for ExxonMobil. Our future is on fire, and you are fanning the flames. If you want to recruit us, then drop Exxon and join us in fighting for a livable future.”

Continue reading

January 17, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Unbearable Virtue Mongering Of Academics

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Unbearable Virtue Mongering of Academics:

FishStanley Fish is skeptical of free speech, and dismayed by the ubiquity of Subarus.

Charming and pugnacious, the literary critic and legal theorist Stanley Fish, at 81, remains one of the besieged humanities’ most prominent voices. His new book, The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump (2019), out last month from Simon & Schuster, brings his combination of theory and polemic to a host of topical controversies. Probably no one will agree with all of it, but, as ever with Fish, it’s impossible to come away from his arguments without feeling one’s own ideas become sharper.

Fish’s career, from Miltonist to university super-administrator to best-selling intellectual pundit, is difficult to imagine now, when the prestige of the humanities has plummeted, along with the funding. From the present vantage, the influence of figures like Fish — or Judith Butler, or Henry Louis Gates Jr., or any number of other scholars with primary appointments in departments of literary study — might seem idiosyncratic.

"Programs that I grew up with and assumed would always be a part of the educational landscape have disappeared," Fish told me. "That can’t be a good thing if you are interested at all in subjects like literature, history, philosophy."

In 1959, when Fish was finishing college, he faced a choice between graduate school in English and law school. He chose English, in part because Yale offered him a free ride. I asked whether he’d make the same decision today. "That wouldn’t be a choice at all," he said. "I would go for law."

Continue reading

January 17, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ben Barton Discusses Fixing Law Schools

Inside Higher Ed, Author Discusses Fixing Law Schools:

Fixing Law SchoolsThe decade after 2008 was not a good one for law schools. Applications and enrollment fell. Some closed. This is the subject of Fixing Law Schools: From Collapse to the Trump Bump and Beyond (NYU Press). But the author -- Benjamin H. Barton is professor of law at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville -- also has a path forward for law schools.

He discussed the book via email.

Q: What happened in 2008? Why was the decade that followed so hard for law schools?
A: 2008 is actually the wrong date. For the first few years of the Great Recession, law schools actually saw a rise in applications, as college graduates who worried about a weak job market opted for graduate schools of all types, including law schools. In 2011 the overall economy had started to improve, but job placement for law schools stayed very poor. Suddenly there was a flood of terrible press featuring how bad the job market was, how expensive law school had become and the doubling of student debt during the 2000s. Law schools entered into a tailspin: fewer applicants, fewer enrollees and much more discounting for the students who did come. Revenue and enrollment fell precipitously overall, by around 33 percent. Several law schools closed, and many, many more faced challenging times. ...

Q: How should law schools change?

Continue reading

January 16, 2020 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Is Returning To The Faculty After Deaning An Honor? Or A Demotion?

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Does Pausing Your Administrative Career Mean It’s Over?, by Margaret Farrar (Former Dean, John Carroll University):

Last year I was given a career choice that was not, in fact, a choice. The particulars of my situation aren’t important, but here’s the upshot: Last March, I was sitting in a meeting with my university’s new president, discussing my reappointment as dean, and it wasn’t going well.

Ultimately the president offered me a graceful exit: He suggested I stay in the job for an additional year while I searched for a new deanship elsewhere. That way, I could write my own career narrative as one of continual ascent. I hadn’t been ousted — I had decided to "seek a new challenge," "apply my skills to a different kind of institution," or (in the words of LeBron James, when he left Cleveland the first time) "take my talents to South Beach."

I was grateful for the option, but of course the offer wasn’t purely altruistic. An additional year would give the president more time to find my successor. This was what used to be called "a gentleman’s agreement" — a polite, quiet arrangement that would ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.

I took a weekend to think about it. I knew what I was supposed to do: Accept the one-year extension and start job-hunting; onward and upward. Instead, come Monday morning, I told the president I would stay but not as dean. I opted to take a pay cut and join the faculty. ...

Continue reading

January 16, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lawyers Are Leading U.S. Colleges And Universities More Than Ever Before. Is That Good Or Bad For Higher Education?

Washington Post, Lawyers Are Leading U.S. Colleges and Universities More Than Ever Before. Is That Good or Bad For Higher Education?:

In the following piece, Patricia E. Salkin, provost of the graduate and professional divisions of Touro College in New York, looks at another characteristic of college and university presidents: how many are attorneys, and what that means for higher education. This perspective is part of a multi-year study on lawyer presidents that the author is doing as part of a PhD in creativity at University of the Arts.

The trend over the last three decades indicates that in the 2020s, we can expect to see a record number of lawyers appointed as college and university presidents. With roughly 4,000 colleges and universities, more lawyers in the mix is a good thing in the constant evolution of higher education.

The number of lawyer president appointments has more than doubled each decade of the last three, with a staggering 158 lawyers appointed in the last half of the 2010s. If the trend continues, in the new decade lawyers may account for 300 to 400 presidents — more than 10 percent of all sitting campus presidents. This is astonishing considering that for 90 years, from 1900 to 1989, lawyer presidents made up less than 1 percent of all presidents during any given decade.


Continue reading

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

Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig Sues The New York Times For Defamation

Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig Sues the New York Times for Defamation:

Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig filed a lawsuit against the New York Times Monday after the newspaper published an article suggesting that Lessig was defending the practice of accepting secret donations from deceased sex offender Jeffrey E. Epstein.

In a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts federal court, Lessig accused the Times of publishing a “false and defamatory” story with a headline and lede that served as “clickbait.”

The New York Times story, titled “A Harvard Professor Doubles Down: If You Take Epstein’s Money, Do It in Secret,” was based on a Sept. 8 Medium post by Lessig in which he explained his decision to sign a petition in support of Joichi “Joi” Ito, who resigned as head of the MIT Media Lab in September after Ronan Farrow reported in the New Yorker that the lab had taken steps to cover up its relationship with Epstein. ...

Continue reading

January 16, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

NY Times: In A Homecoming Video Meant To Unite The University Of Wisconsin, Almost Everyone Was White

Following up on my previous post, University Of Wisconsin Use Photoshop To Paint Faux Diversity: New York Times, In a Homecoming Video Meant to Unite Campus, Almost Everyone Was White:

WisconsinThe video was created to show off the University of Wisconsin. Instead, it set off a furor, and a reckoning over what it means to be a black student on campus.

The video was just two minutes long: a sunny montage of life at the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in Madison. Here were hundreds of young men and women cheering at a football game, dancing in unison, riding bicycles in a sleek line, “throwing the W” for the camera, singing a cappella, leaping into a lake.

“Home is where we grow together,” a voice-over said. “It’s where the hills are. It’s eating our favorite foods. It’s where we can all harmonize as one. Home is Wisconsin cheese curds. It’s welcoming everyone into our home.”

Days before Homecoming Week, the student homecoming committee, tasked with producing the video, posted it online. The outrage was almost instantaneous. Virtually every student in the video was white.

This is the story of a video that galvanized and divided a university plagued by a history of racist incidents, as told by the people who saw it happen. Black students in particular say the homecoming video crystallized a daily fact of life: They feel they are not wanted at the University of Wisconsin, where there are significantly fewer African-Americans per capita than in the state, which is mostly white. This fall, more than 30,000 undergraduates began the school year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fewer than 1,000 of them are African-American.

Continue reading

January 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Florida Bill Would Stop Adelson Family From Preventing Dan Markel's Parents’ Access To Their Grandchildren

Tallahassee Democrat, Jeff Brandes Bill, Citing Markel Murder Case, Could Allow Grandparents More Visitation Rights:

Friends of Dan Markel are hoping a bill filed by Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes could afford the slain Florida State law professor’s parents, and others like them, more access to their grandchildren.

Markel’s parents, Phil and Ruth Markel, have not seen their grandchildren since 2016 amid allegations that the family of their mother, Wendi Adelson, is being investigated in connection with a murder-for-hire plot.

The childrens’ names were changed to Adelson to shield them from intense media coverage of their father’s murder, Wendi Adelson said. The Markels have also been denied visitation. ...

Pointing to the case that has played out on a national stage, Brandes proposes changing a 2015 law that allows grandparents to petition for visitation if a living parent has been convicted of a felony. The 2020 revision, SB 1886, looks to expand the court remedy to lingering cases in which the living parent’s family is being investigated but is still active in the children’s lives.

Continue reading

January 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lessons Learned From Visits At Harvard, Stanford, And NYU Law Schools That Did Not Produce Offers

Tess Wilkinson-Ryan (Pennsylvania), On Visiting:

When I was a teenager there was this meme/prank where a boy would approach a girl and ask “Would you like to dance?” and no matter what her response, he would then announce loudly, “No, I said you look fat in those pants!” I did not have cause to think of this, which even then was usually deployed as a sort of meta-joke, until I tried to explain to a colleague how I felt about my lateral visiting stints. I think there is something about the mild humiliation of an appointments visit, particularly if there’s no permanent offer, that makes most people reluctant to talk about the experience at all. But that pluralistic ignorance is probably bad, because it distorts the cost-benefit calculus that law schools and candidates are employing for an already costly practice. So let’s talk about it.

In the early winter months of 2014, pre-tenure, I got really flattering phone calls from deans at Stanford, Harvard, and NYU, respectively. I agreed to a one-semester visit at Stanford, a three-week teaching visit at Harvard, and eventually to a two-week non-teaching visit at NYU. I was not looking to move, but you never know, and in any case visiting appeared to be the coin of the realm. ...

It’s sort of embarrassing to recount these stories, a real tour of my bad decisions and poor coping skills. But it occurred to me recently in hearing a not-dissimilar tale from a colleague that there is a widely-shared experience that doesn’t get talked about, because it sounds like sour grapes just to describe it. I agreed to all of this! I agreed to be judged and now I’m mad that the judgment was negative! Also it’s just regular embarrassing — I was publicly rejected. ...

Continue reading

January 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Harvard Recruits African-American Applicants Who Have 'No Chance Of Being Admitted'

New York Times, That Recruitment Letter From Harvard Probably Doesn’t Mean Much:

The message, emailed to more than 100,000 high school students, was seductive and flattering: “Your strong grades and standardized test scores indicate to us that Harvard and other selective institutions may be possibilities for you.”

Harvard encouraged them to apply. But many of the recipients had little chance of getting in, especially if they were black, according to a new analysis of the university’s admissions data by three economists.

Peter Arcidiacono (Duke), Josh Kinsler (Georgia) & Tyler Ransom (Oklahoma), Recruit to Reject? Harvard and African American Applicants:

Over the past 20 years, elite colleges in the US have seen dramatic increases in applications. We provide context for part of this trend using detailed data on Harvard University that was unsealed as part of the SFFA v. Harvard lawsuit. We show that Harvard encourages applications from many students who effectively have no chance of being admitted, and that this is particularly true for African Americans. African American applications soared beginning with the Class of 2009, with the increase driven by those with lower SAT scores. Yet there was little change in the share of admits who were African American. We show that this change in applicant behavior resulted in substantial convergence in the overall admissions rates across races yet no change in the large cross-race differences in admissions rates for high-SAT applicants.

Harvard 1

Continue reading

January 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Are Free Textbooks For Law Students Open Source?

Inside Higher Ed, Free Textbooks for Law Students:

OER 3Law school is notoriously expensive, but a growing number of professors are pushing back on the idea that law textbooks must be expensive, too. Faculty members at the New York University School of Law have taken matters into their own hands by publishing their own textbooks at no cost to students.

Barton Beebe, a law professor at NYU, published the sixth edition of his trademark-law textbook last year. Fellow NYU professors Jeanne Fromer and Christopher Jon Sprigman also published the first edition of their copyright-law textbook in 2019. Both titles are available to download electronically at no charge and are already in use at dozens of universities. Print copies of the textbooks can be ordered on demand through Amazon for the bargain-basement price of $20.26 and $15.40, respectively. The authors make no profit from these sales.

Professors authoring free textbooks isn’t a new concept. The open educational resources (OER) movement, which depends on faculty members sharing their work with the public for no personal monetary gain, was established over a decade ago. But law professors have been slow to embrace the OER movement, preferring to assign titles from well-known publishers that typically charge students in excess of $200 per book. At NYU, law students are advised to budget $1,450 for books and supplies each year on top of their $66,000 tuition.

Whether the free textbooks that Beebe, Fromer and Sprigman authored should be considered OER is a surprisingly complex question. The term “OER” is noticeably absent from the university’s promotion of the free textbooks, despite the textbook authors themselves embracing the term. Yes, the textbooks are free, but are they open?

Definitions of OER vary, but many advocates agree that OER content must be openly licensed to make clear that users can revise and remix the content however they desire. Creative Commons licenses requesting that users provide attribution to the original author, or preventing them from selling the work commercially, are common for OER materials. But licenses stating “no derivatives” are not. These licenses prohibit users from sharing content they have modified without prior permission, even if their changes improve the original material.

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

Another Path For Public Service: Pro Bono In Big Law

New York Law Journal, Another Path for Public Service: Pro Bono in Big Law:

A growing number of young lawyers today say they want to use their law degrees to take on the world’s challenges, which seem to grow knottier every day. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the “Millennial generation wants to create social impact with their skills and talent, and not just with their checkbooks or by spending a day in the soup kitchen.” The Pro Bono Institute likewise notes that many lawyers say they want to make a difference in the lives of others and the fate of the planet and “demand a sense of purpose” in their work.

At the same time, recent graduates can face some seriously scary debts, which often take years or even decades to pay off. Law School Transparency, a non-profit organization, found that 75% of 2018 law school graduates took students loans. These students on average borrowed about $115,000 to pay for law school. This amount may be on top of additional debt from their undergraduate studies, as the Pew Research Center reports that the percentage of young adult households with any student debt has doubled in the last 20 years. New lawyers going straight into public service can participate in law school loan-forgiveness programs, but even those require up to a 10-year commitment of work at a legal service provider or NGO. Once there, lawyers do incredibly important and rewarding work but just like lawyers in corporate practice can face long hours, frustration and burnout.

Navigating between “doing well” and “doing good” has traditionally required picking either a corporate or a public service path. There is still no magic bullet, but because of how big firms have evolved, there is a counter-intuitive and increasingly attractive option. These days there are great opportunities to do enormously powerful public interest work in large private firms—with the firms actively seeking the work, encouraging it and supporting it financially.

Continue reading

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

Legal Writing Faculty Bear A Disproportionate Share Of 'Office Housework'

Mary Bowman (Arizona State), Legal Writing as Office Housework?, 68 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2020):

This essay examines persistent status issues that legal writing faculty face through the lens of Joan Williams’s “office housework” paradigm [Harvard Business Review, “Office Housework” Gets in Women’s Way]. Office housework includes tasks that are not valuable for career advancement, even when they are necessary for an organization’s success. Williams’s research shows significant gender and racial disparities across industries in who carries disproportionate burdens of office housework. These disparities mirror the disparities seen when comparing the composition of legal writing faculties to the composition of law school faculties generally, as well as the salary and security of position disparities between the two groups.

Applying this paradigm, the essay argues that legal writing faculty disproportionately bear the burden of three types of office housework:

Continue reading

January 14, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scholarship As Fun

Thomas Schultz (King's College London), Scholarship as Fun:

This paper — which is part of a symposium for Pierre Schlag — argues that the pursuit of fun is possibly better than most of our usual pursuits in legal scholarship. This has three likely implications, which are reflected in the structure of the paper: a recognition of the coexistence of mutually exclusive legal realities entertaining dialectic relationships; the abandonment of oneness of the legal academy; and the need to situate ourselves within tangled socio-professional hierarchies.

Continue reading

January 14, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Dispatches From The AALS Annual Meeting: Rankings, Rankings, And More Rankings

Following up on my previous coverage (links below):  Karen Sloan (, Dispatches from the Association of American Law Schools' Annual Meeting:

2020 US News Law SchoolRankings, Rankings, and More Rankings
In case that headline didn’t tip you off, rankings were a big deal at this year’s annual meeting. More specifically, U.S. News & World Report’s introduction of a “scholarly impact” ranking of faculties appears to have more than a few people in a tizzy. That ranking was a focus of no less than three separate panels over the weekend, two of which featured Bob Morse, U.S. News’ chief data strategist and the person responsible for the law school rankings. Legal academics love to hate on Morse and the U.S. News rankings, primarily for what they see as the outsized influence of the rankings on prospective students and the pernicious effects of playing the rankings game. So Morse is used to facing the slings and arrows of law professors, and frankly, he got away from this year’s AALS relatively unscathed. ...

Here are some of the big concerns raised by academics about the project:

Continue reading

January 13, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scholarly Refereeing Is Not Productive

Aboozar Hadavand (Johns Hopkins), Daniel S. Hamermesh (Barnard) & Wesley W. Wilson (Oregon), Is Scholarly Refereeing Productive (at the Margin)?:

In economics many articles are subjected to multiple rounds of refereeing at the same journal, which generates time costs of referees alone of at least $50 million. This process leads to remarkably longer publication lags than in other social sciences. We examine whether repeated refereeing produces any benefits, using an experiment at one journal that allows authors to submit under an accept/reject (fast-track or not) or the usual regime. We evaluate the scholarly impacts of articles by their subsequent citation histories, holding constant their sub-fields, authors’ demographics and prior citations, and other characteristics. There is no payoff to refereeing beyond the first round and no difference between accept/reject articles and others. This result holds accounting for authors’ selectivity into the two regimes, which we model formally to generate an empirical selection equation. This latter is used to provide instrumental estimates of the effect of each regime on scholarly impact.

Continue reading

January 13, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Approves Thomas Jefferson Law School's Teach-Out Plan

Following up on my previous post, Thomas Jefferson Loses ABA Accreditation, To Continue As California-Accredited Law School:  Council, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Notice of Council Decision: Thomas Jefferson School of Law Teach-Out Plan:

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2018)This notice is being issued pursuant to Rule 48 of the ABA Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.

At a meeting on January 6-8, 2020, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (the “Council”) considered a teach-out plan submitted by Thomas Jefferson School of Law (the “Law School”). After careful review of the Law School’s submission, the Council approved the teach-out plan filed on December 31, 2019.

Continue reading

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

Winners Of The Second Annual Leading Edge Prize For Legal Education Innovation

Wolters Kluwer Announces Winners of Second Annual Leading Edge Prize for Educational Innovation:

Leading EdgeWolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory today announced the winners of the second annual Leading Edge Prize for Educational Innovation, which rewards teams with $10,000 for the best educational and professional solutions for law students and new legal professionals. ...

One of the winning teams, The Underrepresented Experience: How Low Income and Minority Students Successfully Navigate the First Year of Law School, seeks to better understand the Council on Legal Education’s CLIC program, a group admission model for underrepresented students from non-traditional backgrounds that provides scholarship funding and continued academic support for students in the program. Led by Carla D. Pratt, Dean and Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law and Camille deJorna, deputy for legal and global higher education at the Law School Admission Council, the team will interview CLIC students and use these interviews to analyze how navigating legal education with a small cohort of students with similar backgrounds contributed to their law school success. ...

Continue reading

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Shaping The Next Generation Of Lawyers: A Call To The Christian Legal Community

Jeffrey A. Brauch (Former Dean, Regent), Shaping the Next Generation of Lawyers: A Call to the Christian Legal Community:

In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation published Educating Lawyers, its influential and comprehensive assessment on how well law schools law schools train our students. One of the most important recommendations made by Carnegie that law schools should provide an apprenticeship in professional identity. Professional identity “draws to the foreground the purposes of the profession and the formation of the identity of lawyers guided by those purposes.”  To Carnegie, an apprenticeship in professional identity means training students both in professional ethics and professionalism, what it called “the wider matters of morality and character.”

Continue reading

January 12, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)