Paul L. Caron

Thursday, November 26, 2020

WKRP In Cincinnati Thanksgiving Turkey Drop

In High Court Appeal, Ex-Student Alleges Texas Law School's Cheating Scandal Caused His Bad Grades, Dismissal

Texas Lawyer, In High Court Appeal, Ex-Law Student Alleges Texas Law School's Cheating Scandal Caused His Bad Grades, Dismissal:

When justices on the Texas Supreme Court return from Thanksgiving break, one of the first cases they’ll hear asks if an aspiring lawyer can sue for due-process violations because his law school dismissed him for getting poor grades.

But the law student argues there’s more to it, since the case also involves allegations of a cheating scandal where a professor gave students copies of exam questions, details of an investigation by the law school, and claims that the exam fiasco made the plaintiff fail by giving other students an unfair advantage.

The high court previously allowed a law student to claim constitutional violations for his disciplinary dismissal, and this new dispute between former first-year student Ivan Villarreal and Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston asks whether the same cause of action is open to a student who got dismissed for academic reasons.

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November 26, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Law Grad Who Twice Failed Florida Bar Exam Gets Four Years In Prison For Setting Up Fake Law Firm

Tampa Bay Times, Fake Tampa Lawyer Gets Four Years in Prison For Fraud, Identity Theft:

A woman who posed as an attorney even though she never passed the Bar exam, misleading judges and clients and running up bills in the name of a friend, will spend more than four years in prison, a federal judge decided Wednesday.

Roberta Guedes must serve 4 1/2 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Senior U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. also ordered Guedes to undergo mental health treatment and to pay $14,318 in restitution.

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

Big Law Avoids ‘Lost Generation’ With Remote First-Year Programs

Bloomberg Law, Big Law Avoids ‘Lost Generation’ with Remote First-Year Programs:

In the past six months, Grace Fernandez graduated from Berkeley Law, took the California bar exam, and started a new job as an associate at Fenwick & West.

She did it all from her childhood bedroom in Phoenix.

“It’s definitely a surreal and unexpected change,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez’s experience isn’t unusual, as Fenwick is one of several Big Law firms to use online communications to bring on their newest batch of associates this fall. Other firms have opted to hold off first-year start dates until early 2021.

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy for human resources departments to integrate first-years, who are often fresh out of law school like Fernandez, into firms’ practices.

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

ABA Permits Law Schools To Use Pandemic As Excuse For Failing 75% Within 2 Years Bar Passage Accreditation Standard

At its meeting last Friday, the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the following accreditation standard changes:

ABA Logo (2016)Law schools are normally required to submit their annual Bar Passage Questionnaires each February. Publication of certain information from the Bar Passage Questionnaires is published a few weeks after the deadline. The 2021 Bar Passage Questionnaire is due in February 2021, but changes in the timing and format of many July 2020 Bar Exams, expanded diploma privilege, and limits on the number of graduates who could sit for the bar exam in certain states, as well as the impacts of COVID-19 and recent racial reckonings on minority groups, required the Committee to consider changes in law school reporting for the 2021 Bar Passage Questionnaire. As such, the Committee makes the following recommendations to the Council.

  1. Law Schools will complete the 2021 Bar Passage Questionnaire in the same manner they have done so for the last several years. There will be two main changes
    a. Law schools must specifically report the number of graduates admitted to practice via diploma privilege.
    b. There will be two bar passage rates reported. One will include just those graduates who took the bar exam and the other will include graduates who took the bar exam plus those that were admitted via diploma privilege.
  2.  Standard 316 will not be suspended.
    a. A Law School that believes certain circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted opportunities for its graduates to sit for the bar exam or its compliance with Standard 316’s two-year bar passage rate will be permitted to share specific information with the Council for the Council’s consideration in determining compliance.
  3. The Managing Director’s Office will have discretion to move the Bar Passage Questionnaire deadline from February to April if the timing of the publication of bar exam results from various states makes it challenging for law schools to collect and accurately report bar passage information by the normal February deadline.4
  4. The Committee also recommends the Council approve the attached Bar Passage
    Questionnaire. This questionnaire incorporates Recommendation #1, and
    Recommendations #2 and #3 can be communicated to law schools by the Managing
    Director’s Office. 

The Council also approved several changes to the teach-out plans of law schools placed on probation:

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

UNC Professor Patricia Bryan Eases Into Retirement

Professor Patricia Bryan Eases Into Retirement:

Bryan UNC 3As Professor Patricia Bryan eases into her retirement, we wanted to look back on her illustrious career.

Bryan joined the Carolina Law faculty in 1982 and serves as the Henry P. Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law. Her teaching and research interests include tax and law and literature. She is the author of Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland (Algonquin 2005, University of Iowa 2007) and the co-editor of Her America: "A Jury of Her Peers" and other Stories, a collection of stories by Susan Glaspell. Bryan has written and spoken extensively about Glaspell’s work. She has also done historical research into several criminal cases from the 19th century and has published articles about them in the Stanford Law Review and the Annals of Iowa. Most recently, she has researched and written about the federal tax exemption and public financing for sports stadiums.

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November 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duke Receives An A+ In Handling Coronavirus

Los Angeles Times, Duke University Receives An A+ in Handling Coronavirus:

Duke (2020)Duke University is sometimes referred to as a pretty good knock-off of fancier schools farther north. But while those ivy-clad universities with smart students, prestigious medical schools and big endowments stayed closed this fall, Duke invited its freshmen, sophomores, some upperclassmen and all of its graduate students to its Durham, N.C., campus for largely in-person classes.

Now, it’s schooling those sniffier schools on how to reopen safely.

Starting Aug. 2 and continuing up to this week, when the Duke campus made a pre-planned reversion to online classes for the remainder of the semester, the university implemented a rigorous testing, tracking and surveillance program for more than 10,000 students. And it has carried out, on a grand scale, an innovative scheme — called pooled testing — that can stretch limited testing resources without forfeiting accuracy or resolution.

For Duke’s returning students, the result has been a relatively safe and almost normal return to learning, at a time when other colleges and universities either shuttered their campuses or ignited community outbreaks as they reopened with scant measures in place to detect or isolate infected students. ...

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Advice To Law Professors Giving Final Exams During COVID-19

LawProfBlawg (Anonymous Professor, Top 100 Law School), Your Compassionate Final Exam:

Some professors are giving short, timed exams while watching their students to assure that they don’t cheat. That means a LOT can go wrong for some students. The shorter the time window, the greater the chances of problems.  Broader and larger windows (more time to work, more flexibility in the time taking the exam) go a long way to mitigate problems. But even that doesn’t eliminate some of the challenges of taking exams in a pandemic.

Some students do not have spaces in which to work, concentrate or think.  They live with parents, family, and roommates. They may not have access to reliable internet. But yeah, you watch the zoom, prof.

Schools are closing for the Thanksgiving break and afterward in anticipation of a (now certain) COVID-19 spike. Great! But, where does one take that incredibly short term final with certain internet? How does one find child care for those definitive three hours? See Law Students In the Age of Coronavirus. It’s not like these problems haven’t been foreseen for a long while. Amazing that there are still discussions about what a final should look like right now. ...

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November 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Acknowledgments As A Window Into Legal Academia

Jonathan I. Tietz (Michigan) & W. Nicholson Price II (Michigan), Acknowledgments as a Window into Legal Academia, 98 Wash. U. L. Rev. 307 (2020):

Legal scholarship in the United States is an oddity—an institution built on student editorship, a lack of peer review, and a dramatically high proportion of solo authorship. It is often argued that this makes legal scholarship fundamentally different from scholarship in other fields, which is largely peer-reviewed by academics. We use acknowledgments in biographical footnotes from law-review articles to probe the nature of legal knowledge co-production and de facto peer review in legal literature. Using a survey of authors and editors and a textual analysis of approximately thirty thousand law-review articles from 2008 to 2017, we examined the nature of knowledge co-production and peer review in U.S. legal academia.

Our results are consistent with the idea that substantial peer-review-like vetting occurs in the field. We also found evidence that both authors and editors use the information in acknowledgment footnotes as a factor in article submission and selection. Further, the characteristics of acknowledgment footnotes in articles in high-ranking law reviews differ dramatically from those in low-ranking law reviews in ways that are not simply due to differences in article quality.

Michigan 2

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November 24, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vanderbilt's Chris Guthrie Is Sixth Law School Dean To Give At Least $100,000 To Students

Chris Guthrie, Vanderbilt Dean and John Wade-Kent Syverud Professor of Law, and his partner Tracey George, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox Family Chair in Law and Liberty, and Professor of Political Science, have pledged $100,000 to establish a need-based scholarship in honor of the first African-American men and first African-American woman to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School:

Guthrie George 3The Harris, Porter & Work Scholarship will recognize Janie Greenwood Harris (LLB ’64), Edward Melvin Porter (LLB ’59) and Frederick Taylor Work, Sr. (LLB ’59), and support students with a demonstrated commitment to civil rights. ...

“We have had the privilege of meeting Janie, Melvin and Fred,” Guthrie explained. “We are in awe of their courage, accomplishments and grace. They make us so proud to be a part of the Vanderbilt Law School community, and we are excited and humbled to be able to recognize them with a scholarship named in their honor.”

This is the second need-based scholarship that George and Guthrie have endowed at the law school. “We are committed to doing what we can to ensure that talented students, regardless of need, are able to study at our law school  because we believe in the power of a Vanderbilt legal education to make a difference,” Guthrie said.

George and Guthrie have also made a gift of $25,000 to support current student initiatives to address issues of racial injustice.

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November 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Colleges Have Shed 10% Of Their Employees Since The Pandemic Began

Chronicle of Higher Education, Colleges Have Shed a Tenth of Their Employees Since the Pandemic Began:

September, the traditional start of the fall semester, saw the continuation of historic job losses at America’s colleges just as they sought some return to normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Preliminary estimates suggest that a net 152,000 fewer workers were employed by America’s private (nonprofit and for-profit) and state-controlled institutions of higher education in September, compared with August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates industry-specific employee figures. The net number of workers who left the industry from February to September now sits at around 484,000.


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November 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 23, 2020

Pace Seeks To Hire Entry Level Or Lateral Tax Prof

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Hiring Announcement:

Pace Logo (2018)The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University invites applications to fill up to two full-time, academic tenure-track/tenured faculty positions at the rank of assistant professor, associate professor, or professor. The positions will begin in August 2021. Applicants must be committed to providing excellent legal training both in person and online, engaging in meaningful service within the law school and in the broader community, and producing excellent scholarship.

Applicants should have teaching and research interests in any of the following areas: environmental law, natural resources law, sustainable business law, energy and climate law, public health law, contracts law, business law, and tax law. Applicants whose interests cover multiple of these areas are particularly encouraged to apply. We welcome applications from candidates interested in doctrinal, experiential, and/or clinical teaching.

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November 23, 2020 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Some Professors Push Stanford To Boot Conservative Hoover Institution And Its $550 Million Endowment

Los Angeles Times:  COVID-19 Falsehoods Lead Stanford to Examine Ties to Right-Wing Hoover Institution, by Michael Hiltzik:

HooverStanfordOn Monday, Stanford University took a step that might be career-shattering in almost any field except academia: It formally distanced itself from a faculty member.

The faculty member is Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a former professor at its medical school. At the moment, Atlas is a leading advisor on the COVID-19 pandemic to President Trump.

“Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic,” the university said. ...

Stanford’s statement was couched in the neutral terms common in academic disputes. But it points to an increasingly acrimonious discussion on the Palo Alto campus — whether Stanford should formally distance itself from the Hoover Institution, or at least redefine a relationship that has periodically exploded into political controversy.

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November 23, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Fall 2021 Law School Admissions At The Quarter-Pole: Applicants Are Up 32%, With Biggest Increases Among The Highest LSAT Bands And Applicants Of Color

Following up on my previous posts on the Fall 2021 law school admissions season:

We are now 25% of the way through Fall 2021 law school admissions season. The number of law school applicants are up 31.7%:

ABA Applicants

Mike Spivey projects that applicants will be up 28% for the full admissions season, but Jeff Thomas cautions that the increase in applicants may be an illusion because first-time LSAT test-takers are down 3% thus far.

Applicants are up the most in the New England (52.5%), Midwest (48.9%), and Northeast (39.1%); and up the least in the Great Lakes (18.8%), South Central (21.9%), Northwest (27.2%).

LSAC Geography

Applicants' LSAT scores are up 70.4% in the 170-180 band, 32.7% in the 160-169 band, 19.0% in the 150-159 band, and 10.9% in the 120-149 band:

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November 23, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Father-Daughter Duo Tackles Law School Together At Syracuse

WSYR, Father-Daughter Duo Tackles Law School Together at Syracuse University:

Syracuse 2It’s not unusual for someone to attend the same school as their parent or even study the same degree, but how about doing all of that at the exact same time?

It’s been the reality for one father-daughter duo taking on Syracuse University’s College of Law together.

“It’s not embarrassing to go to school with your parent,” said Lauren Deutsch.

For Lauren and her father, Scott, it’s actually pretty cool. ...

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

Marquette Faculty Stage Sickout Over Proposed Budget Cuts, Cancel Numerous Classes

Following up on my previous post, Marquette May Cut Up To 20% Of Faculty And Staff Due To Budget Shortfall:  Marquette Wire, Faculty and Staff “Sickened” by Proposed Budget Cuts:

Marquette University (2020)Multiple Marquette instructors called in sick Monday after stating they were especially “sickened” by the budget cuts proposed by the university. This lead to multiple online and in-person classes being canceled Monday.

The budget cuts proposed by the university could potentially lead to a large number of faculty and staff being laid off due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. ...

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November 22, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

October 2020 Florida Bar Exam Results: Florida International Is #1 For 6th Year In A Row

Florida Bar 2The October 2020 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. The overall pass rate for first-time takers is 71.7%, down 2.2 percentage points from last year. For the sixth 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 (89.3%)

Florida Int'l

4 (90)

2 (84.4%)

Florida State

2 (50)

3 (83.9%)


1 (24)

4 (74.4%)


5 (105)

5 (72.56%)


3 (67)

6 (67.4%)


Tier 2

7 (66.9%)

St. Thomas

Tier 2

8 (65.9%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

9 (61.7%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

10 (61.2%)


Tier 2

11 (57.6%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

For discussion of how Florida International graduates consistently overperform on the bar exam, see:

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November 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

February California Bar Exam Will Be Online; Committee Recommends Provisional Licensure For July 2015-Feb. 2020 Takers Who Scored 1390-1439

Supreme Court of California:

California Bar ExamCourt Issues Order for February 2021 Bar Exam to be Administered Online (Nov 19, 2020):
The Supreme Court of California on Thursday issued an order to administer the February 2021 California Bar Examination online. The exam will take place on Feb. 23 and 24, with the State Bar given discretion to grant in-person testing for those needing accommodations. The Supreme Court in July permanently lowered the passing score from 1440 to 1390.

The Recorder, State Bar Committee Endorses Alternative Path to Law License:

A state bar committee on Friday endorsed a path to full licensure for certain recent law school graduates who have taken but not passed California’s bar exam.

The Provisional Licensure Working Group adopted two sets of supervised practice requirements that, if completed, would allow those who scored between 1390 and 1439 on an exam administered between July 2015 and February 2020 to join the bar without having to take the exam again. The change is aimed at about 2,000 applicants who would have passed the exam if the new 1390 cut score, and not the previous 1440 mark, had been in place at the time.

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

As Colleges Plan To Return To In-Person Teaching In The Spring Semester, Faculty Rebel

Chronicle of Higher Education, Colleges Ask Professors to Return to the Classroom. Their Answer? That’s ‘Reckless.’:

When the University of Florida, in Gainesville, announced in July that fall-semester classes would be largely online, the daily new-case rate for Covid-19 was hovering between 60,000 and 70,000 nationwide. This week, daily new cases reached more than twice that number. Health experts warn that the country faces a prolonged surge.

But at Florida and other colleges, leaders have signaled to their professors that, come spring, they will be expected to ramp up their in-person instruction.

The reason?

An on-campus learning experience is critical to their students’ success, these institutions say. That success, colleges know, is important for keeping enrollments up. And in some cases, the move appears to come down to politics and money. In his message to campus, Florida’s president, W. Kent Fuchs, said that offering in-person courses was the “best shared opportunity” to protect the university’s budget and employee jobs.

On the behalf of students and “of those whose jobs will be saved,” Fuchs offered his “deep and heartfelt appreciation.”

But instructors at Florida and other institutions are not feeling that appreciation. They point out that the latest spike in Covid-19 cases has dangerously strained hospitals , and that many students are not sticklers for social-distancing. They say the benefits of in-person teaching are not worth putting employees, their families, and others at risk.

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

Open And Closed (Homage To Katy Perry's Hot And Cold) — For Law Professors Teaching Online

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Faux Righteousness Of Test-Optional Admissions: Increasing U.S. News Rankings, Not Diversity, Is The Motivation

Chronicle of Higher Ed op-ed:  The Faux Righteousness of Test-Optional Admissions, by Stephen Burd (New America):

Standardized testing’s stranglehold over college admissions is breaking. The inability of millions of students to sit for the SAT and ACT exams in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed hundreds of colleges to stop requiring prospective students to submit their scores. While Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and others have made it clear that this is just a short-term solution, many more colleges are rethinking the value of the tests to their admissions practices for the long term.

College leaders at these institutions are finally acknowledging what critics of standardized testing have been saying for years: That the SAT and ACT don’t provide much predictive value in determining which students will succeed in college; that the tests serve as a barrier to low-income and minority students who tend to score lower than their more wealthy and white peers; and that the exams have created a test-taking frenzy in affluent communities where wealthier families hire high-paid coaches and tutors to help their children learn the tricks of the tests, so they can artificially inflate their scores.

While some brave colleges, such as the California Institute of Technology, Catholic University of America, Dickinson College, some University of California campuses, and the entire California State University system, have chosen not to consider test scores at all, most colleges are taking a middle-ground approach known as “test optional” admissions. Going test optional means it is up to prospective students to decide whether to submit their scores. ...

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November 19, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School vs. Med School: Which Is Harder?

Click on video to view it directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate

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November 19, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Is The Projected Large Increase In Fall 2021 Law School Applicants A COVID-19 Illusion? First-Time LSAT Test-Takers Are Down 3%

Following up on this week's posts:

Jeff Thomas (Kaplan):

In a year when we’ve been desperate for some good news, it’s heartening to see that the increase in law school applicants is across the board, with almost every ABA-approved law school seeing a jump. And while there are reasons to be optimistic, we’d caution against premature exuberance. While many are speculating about an “RBG Effect,” which to be fair, could be a contributing factor, the increase we are seeing right now is more likely a simple result of timing.

Between last year’s LSAT transition to a digital format, which caused many aspiring attorneys to test later than they normally would, and this year’s COVID situation, which gave many test-takers the opportunity to test earlier than they normally would, we’re simply seeing students apply earlier in the cycle this year compared to last year.

Two data points worth considering:

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November 19, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Artificial Intelligence In Law Schools

Emily Janoski-Haehlen (Akron) & Sarah Starnes (Akron), The Ghost in the Machine: Artificial Intelligence in Law Schools, 58 Duq. L. Rev. 3 (2020):

ABA Standard 1.1, Comment 8 is vague but leaves the door wide open for attorneys and law schools to define what it really means to be technologically competent. Law schools have a great opportunity to take advantage of Comment 8, and the state's unique adoption and interpretation of Comment 8, to teach law students about being technologically competent before they graduate and begin to practice. Incorporating legal technology skills and knowledge into the curriculum of law schools is the first step to better prepare students for the future of law practice and legal services. It could also lead to more opportunities for access to justice initiatives including better access to legal services for the underrepresented and easier access to attorneys and the legal system using advancements in technology. In addition, the adoption of new technologies in the legal profession has and will continue to lead to the creation of new jobs for law graduates.

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November 19, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

An Empirical Study Of Law School Externships

Anahid Gharakhanian (Southwestern), Carolyn Young Larmore (Chapman) & Chelsea Parlett-Pelleriti (Chapman), Achieving Externship Success: An Empirical Study of the All-Important Law School Externship Experience, 45 S. Ill. U. L.J. ___ (2020):

With law school externships more popular than ever, the need for an empirical evaluation of externship success is timely and essential. The promise of getting closer to practice readiness propels many law students to enroll in an externship (also known as field placements). But no study has empirically measured whether and to what extent law students get close to first-year law practice readiness through their externship, and what factors lead to that success. Without such a study, the American Bar Association’s regulation of externships and law schools’ externship design decisions are made without the benefit of critical data. This Article describes the year-long, multi-school Externship Study conducted to concretely measure (1) whether and to what extent externships lead to practice-readiness and (2) which attributes of the law school, the externship placement, or the students themselves are the most important contributors to that success.

In this Article, the authors use statistical models, descriptive summary, and narrative summary to analyze data from hundreds of law students and the lawyers and judges who supervised them in externships. The results reveal a high level of externship success, measured in terms of practice readiness.

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November 18, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amid Claims That Online Bar Exam Went Well, Some Test-Takers Have A Different View

ABA Journal, Amid Claims That Online Bar Exam Went Well, Some Test-Takers Have a Different View:

ExamSoft, the company that provided the software for the two-day online bar exam offered earlier this month, maintains that only a small percentage of test-takers experienced problems with their product. But for those who did, many say there should have been no issues and some suspect the hitches were expected by the company.

The online exam, which was composed of materials from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, took place Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. Approximately 30,000 people took the exam, and it’s believed to have been the first professional licensing exam administered remotely, according to Judith Gundersen, president of the NCBE. In an email to the ABA Journal, she said it appears that more than 98% of applicants had no software issues. ...

The five test-takers who were willing to be interviewed on the record by the Journal took the California and New York bar exams. All say they finished the test despite significant software problems. ...

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November 18, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Applicants Are Way Up. Is It A 'Trump Bump' Or An 'RBG Moment'?

Following up on Monday's post, Projections For Fall 2021 Law School Applicants: +28% (+53% In 160-180 LSAT Band):  Karen Sloan (, Law School Applicants Are Way Up. Is It an 'RBG Moment'?:

Is law school suddenly a hot ticket? Or are aspiring attorneys submitting their law school applications earlier in the year because they have extra time on their hands thanks to COVID-19?

Admissions officials at law schools across the country are struggling to make sense of an early surge in applications this cycle, as well as what looks to be a notable uptick in the number of applicants with high scores on the Law School Admission Test. As of Monday, the total number of law school applicants was up 32% compared to this time a year ago, and the number of applications submitted thus far is up nearly 57%. Thus, not only are more people applying, but they are also submitting applications at more schools than in the past. Applications are up at 194 of the 199 American Bar Association-accredited law schools, the data from the Law School Admission Council show.

“It has become trite, but 2020 is a unique year,” said Council president Kellye Testy on Tuesday. “We are seeing a real surge in candidates taking the LSAT and applying. There are a lot of factors at work here. But we hear a lot of about motivation from [Ruth Bader Ginsburg]—the RBG moment. We’re been saying our candidates have ‘really big goals.’ They are talking about racism, COVID, economic inequality, political polarization, and climate change. They are inspired to make a difference.”

It’s too soon to know whether these strong numbers will be sustained for the remainder of the admissions cycle. ... The timing of LSAT score releases could also be a factor, noted law school admissions consultant Mike Spivey in a recent blog post.

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November 18, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

New International College Enrollments Plummet 43% Due To COVID-19

Chronicle of Higher Education, Covid-19 Caused International Enrollments to Plummet This Fall:

Open Doors CoverThe number of international students at American colleges plunged this fall, according to a just-released survey by the Institute of International Education, with new enrollments diving 43 percent as tens of thousands of students stuck overseas because of the pandemic deferred their admission or called off their studies altogether.

Although the current drop is without precedent, international enrollments had begun to decline even before Covid-19 struck, according to new data from the institute and the U.S. State Department. According to the annual “Open Doors” report, released on Monday, enrollments decreased nearly 2 percent in the fall of 2019. ...

Some 40,000 students elected to defer their studies. Allan Goodman, IIE’s president, cited that figure as a sign of pent-up demand and a reason for optimism. After past pandemics, when travel became safe again, there were surges of students, he said, noting that this is the 12th time the Open Doors report has been released during a pandemic. “There’s no reason to suspect at the end of this pandemic we won’t see a similar thing.”

Inside Higher Ed, New International Enrollments Drop 43% in the Fall

November 18, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

How Time-Pressured Performance Tests In Law School Prepare Students For The Bar Exam And Legal Practice

Sabrina DeFabritiis (Suffolk) & Kathleen Elliott Vinson (Suffolk), Under Pressure: How Incorporating Time-Pressured Performance Tests Prepares Students for the Bar Exam and Practice, 122 W. Va. L. Rev. 107 (2019):

Law schools and students are under pressure to gain the competencies needed to gain licensure to practice law and be successful at it. Law schools have an ethical and professional responsibility to best prepare their law students for success on the bar and in practice. Incorporating performance tests into a law school curriculum gives law schools an opportunity to serve a dual role of providing students much-needed practice on bar exam skills and preparing students for practice, as the performance tests assess the lawyering skills required to successfully practice law. This Article offers examples of how law schools can do a better job of increasing students’ minimum competencies to pass the bar, gain employment, and practice law effectively while not requiring a major overhaul of law school curriculum or demanding the expenditure of a huge amount of time and effort by faculty.

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November 17, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Pedagogy Post-Pandemic: Harnessing The Benefits Of Online Teaching

Yvonne Dutton (Indiana-Indianapolis) & Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianapolis), Law School Pedagogy Post-Pandemic: Harnessing the Benefits of Online Teaching, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2021):

Since COVID-19 required a significant shift to increased online teaching and learning in institutions of higher learning in spring 2020, one narrative has been that students do not like online classes, and online classes are inferior to those delivered live and in person. This Article takes issue with this broad and overarching criticism of online course delivery. No doubt, some types of students may not learn as well online as they do in the classroom, and some online classes may not be designed to deliver a quality learning experience. Our experience teaching asynchronous online classes in law school, however, demonstrates that there are many benefits to a well-designed online course that can enhance student learning—benefits that can be incorporated into law school pedagogy even after the pandemic is no longer a threat to health and safety of students and faculty.

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November 17, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Washington University Law Review's Response To Michael McConnell's Use Of The N-Word In His Stanford Class

Statement by the Undersigned Editors of Volume 97, 97 Wash. U. L. Rev. i (2020):

Washington U. Law School Logo (2014)On May 27, 2020—two days after the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota—professor and former judge Michael McConnell, the author of one of the following Articles, used the n-word in a class at Stanford Law School while reading a quotation he attributed to Patrick Henry. As members of the first legal journal to publish Professor McConnell since May 27, the undersigned editors of Volume 97 of the Washington University Law Review condemn Professor McConnell’s use of the n-word in the classroom. We believe that the use of this word in the classroom is unacceptable and unnecessary, as it significantly disrupts the learning environment and places a burden on Black students that other students do not face.

Michael W. McConnell (Stanford), Statement By Michael McConnell to Stanford Law School Community (May 29, 2020), 97 Wash. U. L. Rev. v (2020):

On Wednesday, in connection with the debates over ratification of the Constitution in Virginia, I quoted an ugly racial epithet used by Patrick Henry. I make it a priority in my class to emphasize issues of racism and slavery in the formation of the Constitution, and directly quote many statements by supporters and opponents of slavery. This was a particularly ugly incident, where the speaker sought to build opposition to the Constitution by stoking the racism of his Virginia audience. I presented the quotation in its historical context, emphasized that they were not my words, and condemned their use. It is vitally important to teach the history of the American Founding warts and all, and not to bowdlerize or sugar-coat it.  ...

I conclude with two points. First, I hope everyone can understand that I made the pedagogical choice with good will – with the intention of teaching the history of our founding honestly. Second, in light of the pain and upset that this has caused many students, whom I care deeply about, I will not use the word again in the future.

John Inazu (Washington University), Scholarship, Teaching, and Protest, 97 Wash. U. L. Rev. vii (2020):

The preceding protest stems from Professor Michael McConnell’s use of an unredacted historical quote containing the N-word in one of his classes at Stanford Law School. Professor McConnell began the quote with a warning and followed it with a condemnation. He intended to show how this nation’s founders were not unblemished heroes but also embodied deeply racist attitudes that have been part of our country’s history since its inception. In other words, Professor McConnell was making an anti-racist teaching point. After talking with concerned students at Stanford, he has said that he will not use the N-word again.

Some members of this Law Review determined this should not be the end of the matter, and this protest ensued. Parts of the protest statement highlight a desire to address racial inequities at our law school and within the Law Review. I applaud that desire. ...

While I stand with the protesters in their desire to address racial injustice, as the faculty editor of the symposium that follows, I object to this protest for four reasons.

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November 17, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

AI Report: Humanity Is Doomed. Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money!

Ashley London (Duquesne) & James Schreiber (Duquesne), AI Report: Humanity Is Doomed. Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money!, 58 Duq. L. Rev. 97 (2020):

AI systems are powerful technologies being built and implemented by private corporations motivated by profit, not altruism. Change makers, such as attorneys and law students, must therefore be educated on the benefits, detriments, and pitfalls of the rapid spread, and often secret implementation of this technology. The implementation is secret because private corporations place proprietary AI systems inside of black boxes to conceal what is inside. If they did not, the popular myth that AI systems are unbiased machines crunching inherently objective data would be revealed as a falsehood. Algorithms created to run AI systems reflect the inherent human categorization process and can, in some respects, become a lazy way to interact with the world because the systems attempt to outsource the unparalleled cognitive skills of a human being into a machine.

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November 17, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Role Of Empathy In Effective Leadership

Wall Street Journal:  Joe Biden Promises Empathy, but That’s a Difficult Way to Lead, by Sam Walker (author, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams (2018)):

EmpathyStop me if you already know this, but Donald Trump did not win the presidential election. Neither did Joe Biden.

On Saturday night, during a drive-in pep rally in Delaware, the Biden campaign revealed the true winner on two giant video boards behind the stage.

They said: “The People Have Chosen Empathy.” ...

The prevailing view is that empathy is a good thing for humans to possess: It's a positive and unifying social force for good. But the people who study it are increasingly less convinced. What’s even murkier is the relationship between empathy and leadership.

Studies have linked highly empathetic leaders to popularity and the ability to build better working relationships. But another pile of data suggests they can be indecisive and ineffectual in making tough decisions. ...

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

Miami Law Prof Weighs In On Controversy Over Colleague's Pro-Trump Tweets

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Michael Froomkin (Miami), Thoughts on L’Affaire Ravicher:

Miami Law (2020)Daniel Ravicher started and runs a successful entrepreneurship clinic (the “Startup Practicum”) at the University of Miami School of Law.  His office happens to be in the same pod as mine, so back in the days when people saw people I would see him from time to time. Like an increasing number of the people who teach students in law these days, Ravicher is not a tenured member of the faculty, and indeed was not hired for his scholarship. Instead he was hired for his skills, and has a term renewable contract.

He’s recently taken to social media — and even Fox TV — to claim he’s been fired for his pro-Trump tweets and other speech, or is about to be, or may not have his contract renewed when it expires. As far as I have been able to ascertain, at least the first two of these claims are simply false. The fate of the third lies well in the future.

While Ravicher has behaved badly — lying about your employer counts as behaving badly in my book — the University has, with one exception (discussed rather far below), behaved quite well, and held, so far at least, to its fundamental commitments to academic freedom. ...

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

Projections For Fall 2021 Law School Applicants: +28% (+53% In 160-180 LSAT Band)

Following up on my previous post, The Booming Fall 2021 Law School Admissions Season: Applicants Are Up Over 35%, With Biggest Increases Among The Highest LSAT Bands And Applicants Of Color:  Mike Spivey (Spivey Consulting), 2020-2021 LSAT Score Volume Projections as of 11/9:

We’re a couple months into the 2020-2021 application cycle, and so far our increase in applicants hasn’t slowed down. If anything, it’s sped up. In this post, we will look at past data on specific LSAT score bands' volume throughout the cycle, then project what final LSAT score volume may look like this cycle. ...

Spivey 1

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

Texas Federal Judges Release Music Video: 'We'll Be Back'

The Texas Lawbook, SDTX Federal Judges Release New Music Video: ‘We’ll Be Back’:

A new video featuring Judge Jennifer Elrod [J.D. 1992, Harvard] of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and U.S. District Judge Charles Eskridge [J.D. 1990, Pepperdine] singing about the coronavirus’ impact on the federal courts in the Southern District of Texas is spreading across Facebook and other social media sites.

The three-minute, fifty-second video, adapted from the original lyrics of Lin-Manuel Miranda called “You’ll be back” and performed by Jonathan Groff in the musical Hamilton, features Judge Elrod and Judge Eskridge telling lawyers in Houston and Galveston concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on trials and appeals that they should not worry.

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 15, 2020

5 Steps Law School Deans Can Take To Improve Diversity And Inclusion

ABA Journal op-ed:  5 Steps Law School Deans Can Take to Improve Diversity and Inclusion, by Leonard M. Baynes (Dean, Houston):

Baynes (2020)The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have highlighted to the world that systemic racism exists. It has caused many law schools, law firms and other legal employers to grapple with how to foster more diversity and inclusion as well as what it means to be antiracist. ...

As law school deans, we have an obligation to do more than to say there is no talent. We have an obligation to treat the racism that members of our community face with the same degree of seriousness as we have the pandemic and the economic downturn.

Faculty and staff have bent over backward to do the right thing—to make the right choices; to do the least harm in preparing for the pandemic and coping with the economic downturn. We need to have the same degree of commitment and attention to the racial threats and ill treatment that diverse members of our community face each day. Leadership starts at the top. As dean, you establish the vision that others will follow.

Here are practical steps that you can follow:

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November 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont Law School Dean Tom McHenry To Step Down At The End Of His Term

Vermont Law School Press Release, Vermont Law School Dean To Step Down, Board of Directors Cites Accomplishments:

McHenryToday, the Board of Trustees of Vermont Law School and its President and Dean, Thomas McHenry, jointly announce his decision not to seek renewal for another term and that he will step down at the end of June 2021. “The Board of Trustees is grateful for all that Tom has accomplished for the School and the intensity of his commitment to the success of VLS,” said Glenn Berger, Chairman of the Board. McHenry will continue to lead the School while the Board immediately commences a search for his successor.

Valley News, Vermont Law School President to Serve One Term:

McHenry’s tenure has coincided with one of the most difficult periods in VLS’ 48-year history as it, like law schools everywhere, has had to grapple with a national downturn in enrollment and rising costs. VLS, with a minimal endowment, is largely dependent upon tuition and grant funding to meet its approximately $23 million operating budget.

That led McHenry, only 12 months into the job in 2018, to revoke tenure of 14 out of 19 senior professors, who instead were offered short-term contracts. McHenry said the moves were necessary to close a $1 million budget gap. After severance payments, the move was projected to save $2 million annually in the coming years, McHenry told the Valley News.

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

The Faithful Voters Who Helped Put Biden Over The Top

New York Times op-ed:  The Faithful Voters Who Helped Put Biden Over the Top, by Michael Wear (Not Our Faith PAC; co-author, Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign's Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement (2020)):

Compassion (2020)Joe Biden succeeded in his mission to end Donald Trump’s presidency, and he did so, in part, because of the wise, persistent and strategic way his campaign related to faith. This was not inevitable.

Mr. Trump’s re-election effort, like his campaign in 2016, relied on his ability to appeal to Christian voters directly, without robust competition. While Hillary Clinton certainly won among some religious communities, including people of faith who are racial or religious minorities, Democrats did not do nearly enough in 2016 to contest Mr. Trump’s explicit appeals to Christians of all backgrounds, who still comprise over two-thirds of the electorate. In 2016, Mrs. Clinton lost support among more religious demographics compared with 2012. In 2020, Joe Biden and his campaign insisted that would not happen again. Christians, and others, responded and made an essential contribution to Mr. Biden’s winning coalition.

While exit poll data will continue to adjust as the final votes are tallied, we already know that Mr. Biden’s outreach has been vindicated. Nationally, he won 23 percent of white evangelicals, closing the gap from 2016 by 11 percentage points (from 64 to 53). This amounts to a swing of well over four million votes nationally, which accounts for much of Mr. Biden’s lead in the popular vote. While there has been significant discussion of Mr. Trump’s gains among Black and especially Hispanic voters, Mr. Biden more than made up for those losses with his increased share of white evangelical support. ...

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November 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 14, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Miami Law Professor Says He Was Fired Over Tweets. The University Disagrees.

Following up on my previous posts,, University of Miami Law Professor Says He Was Fired Over Tweets. The University Disagrees.:

Miami (2019)A Florida law school professor and the university where he teaches are at odds over his employment status—he says he has been fired, and the school says he is still employed—as faculty members have spoken out to condemn his offensive Twitter activity.

Last week, University of Miami School of Law professor Daniel Ravicher posted a handful of tweets that were deemed racially insensitive and unprofessional by students and colleagues. That led to a phone call with Dean Anthony E. Varona wherein the dean told Ravicher his contract would not be renewed if he didn’t change his pattern of tweets and issue an apology, Ravicher told in an interview.

Then Ravicher, whose contract expires in May 2022, tweeted Friday morning that he had been fired.

“I’ve been fired because I refuse to censor my speech and apologize, in addition to satisfying other yet to be defined requirements,” the tweet read. “The only uncertainty is when my last day will be, either the end of my contract or sooner if the school can fabricate a performance related reason.”

But according to his employer, Ravicher has not been fired.

“Professor Daniel Ravicher, a lecturer at the School of Law, has not been terminated, nor has he been removed from his course. We are not sure why he is saying or suggesting otherwise,” Varona said in a statement.

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

College Applications Plummet For Next Year's Freshman Class

Wall Street Journal, College-Admissions Season Was Already Stressful. Pandemic Made It Chaotic:

Through Nov. 2, the Common Application had nearly 8% fewer first-year applications than in the same period last year—and 10% fewer applicants. The application is used by more than 900 colleges and universities. ...

Early data show that the number of high-school seniors who have filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for next school year is down 16% from this time last year. The numbers are even lower among students of color and those in high-poverty high schools and rural areas, according to a National College Attainment Network analysis of Education Department data. ... Common App data show 16% declines in both applicants who requested fee waivers and those who would be first-generation college students. ...

Todd Rinehart, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said he knows of peer schools with applications down by at least 10% so far this year.

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November 14, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Miami Law Faculty Condemns Colleague's 'Egregious Lack Of Professional Judgment' In Pro-Trump Tweets

Following up on Saturday's post, Students Express Concerns Over Miami Law Professor's Twitter Support For Trump In Presidential Election:  The Miami Hurricane, A Letter From Faculty Regarding Professor Ravicher:

Miami (2019)To the University of Miami Community:
We write as faculty members of the University of Miami School of Law to address the recent public statements of Dan Ravicher, who currently teaches a University of Miami Law School practicum.

On his Twitter account, Ravicher has promoted baseless claims about fraud in the presidential election, suggested a need to use lethal force against protesters after the election, compared calls for political accountability to the Holocaust, groundlessly accused law faculty of retaliating against students for their political views and made several uninformed claims about race, ethnicity and identity in the United States.

These public social media posts demonstrate, at the very least, an egregious lack of professional judgment.

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November 13, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tax Innovators Exchange Today At Stetson

New Tax Innovators Exchange Brings National Tax Experts to Stetson Law:

STIX 3The Tax Law Society at Stetson University College of Law will present the Stetson Tax Innovators Exchange (S.T.I.X.) on Nov. 13, 2020, featuring nationally renowned experts in environmental taxation and tax technology.

S.T.I.X. is a new and forward-thinking tax law collaboration event focused almost exclusively on tax practitioners – those working in the trenches every day.  The nation’s top tax attorneys will dive into bleeding edge approaches to the practice of tax law and lead group discussions where practitioners can share challenges they face…and have a platform full of the greatest tax minds in the country work the problem out with them.

This interactive seminar will feature topics that run the gamut, but the overall goal is to ensure attendees leave armed with useful new techniques to advance not only their practice, but the field itself.

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November 13, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lily Batchelder Among Law Profs Named To Biden-Harris Transition Team

Biden-Harris Transition, Agency Review Teams:

Biden-Harris TransitionAgency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One. These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government. The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.

Jonathan H. Adler (Case Western), Transition Teams Assemble!:

[I]t's interesting how many law professors are on the various lists. The Department of Justice team is headed by Duke Law's Christopher Schroeder, a veteran of both the Clinton and Obama Administration's at DOJ. Other law profs on the Justice team are Dawn Johnsen (Indiana), Pam Karlan (Stanford), Richard Lazarus (Harvard), Marty Lederman (Georgetown), Barb McQuade (Michigan), and Christina Rodriguez (Yale).

The DOJ team may have the largest representation of legal academics, but other law professors are sprinkled throughout the other teams. For instance, Kevin Washburn (Iowa) is heading up the Interior Department team, where he is joined by Bob Anderson (Harvard) and Amanda Leiter (American). The Treasury Department team includes Lily Batchelder (NYU) and Mehrsa Baradaran (UC Irvine) (who is also on the Federal Reserve team), and the Environmental Protection Agency team includes Cynthia Giles (Harvard), Joe Goffman (Harvard), and Ken Kopocis (American).

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