Paul L. Caron

Friday, December 6, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Are 'Transformative' Law School Naming Gifts Really Transformative?

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Are "Transformative Gifts" Really Transformative?: has a list of naming gifts to law schools over the last few decades, with the majority coming in the last two decades.  Here are the biggest gifts, by year:

    1998:    $115 million to the University of Arizona
    2001:    $30 million to Ohio State University
    2008:    $35 million to Indiana University, Bloomington
    2011:    $30 million to the University of Maryland
    2013:    $50 million to Chapman University
    2014:    $50 million to Drexel University
    2015:    $100 million to Northwestern University
    2016:    $30 million to George Mason University
    2019:    $50 million to Pepperdine University
    2019:    $125 million to the University of Pennsylvania ...

It remains to be seen whether any of these gifts will really change the strength and status of any of these schools. In ten years, we'll probably have a clearer idea of the impact given how recent many of the largest gifts are. 

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine):

Today, @BrianLeiter asks whether "transformative" law school gifts are really transformative, with examples. My guess is the reason they're not is (1) much of the money isn't "real" (2) deans [spend] it on pet programs (3) Univ admin "steals" it through overhead.

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), What Makes a Donation to a Law School a "Transformative" Gift? One Idea Might Be Free Tuition For All Students:

[T]he single most dramatic thing a school could attempt to do? Make it free.

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December 6, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawsky's Free Income Tax Problem Generator

Sarah Lawksy (Northwestern) has created a great free website that generates multiple-choice federal individual income tax practice problems in a variety of subject areas.  From the FAQ page:

Lawsky (2017)Q: What does this website do?
A: It generates multiple-choice federal individual income tax practice problems. The problems are a random selection of facts, names, and randomly (but thoughtfully) generated numbers about a range of basic tax topics. You can pick a particular topic, or you can have the website to pick both a topic and problem at random.

Q: Are the answers also random?
A: Mostly, no. The multiple-choice answers are based on mistakes people commonly make (though one random answer is usually thrown in there).

Q: What happens once I pick an answer?
A: If you pick a wrong answer, the website usually provides a substantive hint about what you did wrong. A right answer usually returns a full explanation. In many of the explanations of answers both right and wrong, there is a link to the relevant code section.

Q: Do the questions repeat?
A: Eventually--there are not an infinite number of problems--but there are a lot of different problems. Setting aside the numbers' changing, which doesn't necessarily provide conceptually different questions, different types of problems toggle a bunch of different facts and relationships between the numbers, all of which change the problem conceptually. For example, for like-kind exchanges, there are five different facts than can toggle (asset is personal use or business use, whether there is debt relief and whom that debt relief favors (someone who provides boot or not), etc.) and four different questions. For installment sales there are even more toggles; for unrestricted property as compensation, many fewer.

Q: What is this for?
A: Whatever you want. A professor can use to generate problems for teaching or to give students direct access to it; a student can use it to practice for tax class--whatever works for you. The website is free and is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 license, which means, roughly, that you can share this or use it for any purpose, just so long as you give appropriate credit, distribute the material so other people can use it under the same terms, and don't create any additional restrictions.

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December 6, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Number Of College Students Seeking Mental Health Services Has Soared 35% In Five Years

Register-Guard, As Stigma Ebbs, College Students Seek Mental Health Help:

More college students are turning to their schools for help with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems, and many must wait weeks for treatment or find help elsewhere as campus clinics struggle to meet demand, an Associated Press review of more than three dozen public universities found.

On some campuses, the number of students seeking treatment has nearly doubled over the last five years while overall enrollment has remained relatively flat. The increase has been tied to reduced stigma around mental health, along with rising rates of depression and other disorders. Universities have expanded their mental health clinics, but the growth is often slow, and demand keeps surging.

Long waits have provoked protests at schools from Maryland to California, in some cases following student suicides. Meanwhile, campus counseling centers grapple with low morale and high burnout as staff members face increasingly heavy workloads. ...

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December 6, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Levy: Why I Resigned In Protest From Penn Law's Board When A Conservative Professor Was Punished

Following up on my previous post, Wall Street Journal op-ed, University of Pennsylvania Trustee and Penn Law Overseer Resigns Over Treatment Of Amy Wax:  The Daily Signal op-ed:  Why I Resigned in Protest When a Conservative Professor Was Punished, by Paul Levy:

Penn Law (2020)In 2018, I resigned as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and an overseer of its law school to protest the shameful treatment of law professor Amy Wax.

Her sin, in the eyes of her detractors, was to question the wisdom of racial preference policies that brought to the law school, in her estimation, black students who did not rise to the top half of the class.

Her challenge to campus orthodoxy led to a firestorm. ...

In 1967, the University of Chicago’s widely respected Kalven Committee—which was assembled to explore the university’s role in political action—warned:

There is no mechanism by which [the university] can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives. … The neutrality of the university … arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints. ...

I now look upon a once-beloved campus and see oppression the likes of which I did not think possible.

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December 5, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Something Borrowed: Interdisciplinary Strategies For Legal Education

Deborah L. Borman (Arkansas) & Catherine Haras (Cal State-L.A.), Something Borrowed: Interdisciplinary Strategies for Legal Education, 68 J. Legal Educ. 357 (2019):

The focus of this article is “Borrowed Strategies,” education theories and techniques from other disciplines that encourage faculty and students to achieve better learning in law school to ultimately become better practitioners. We address some of the faulty learning theory that pervades the legal academy, i.e., neuromyths, dismissing learning styles as unsupported scientifically. We provide healthy recommendations for teaching and learning based on techniques both inside and outside of legal education.

Conclusion.  To achieve progress in learning in legal education, we need to abandon tired neuromyths about learning styles, multiple intelligences, multitasking, left-brain and right-brain theories of personality, and other fallacies that do not advance teaching or learning in law classrooms. These neuromyths stymie law education at a crucial time in the academy Instead, law andragogy, which embodies the Socratic method of dialogue, can and should leverage this powerful self-regulating practice to enhance law learning. Law can also adopt the literature on cognitive psychology and institute an evidence-based teaching and learning focus on the following concepts explored in detail above:

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December 5, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Prof Mildred Robinson, UVA's First Black Female Faculty Member, To Retire


Professor Mildred Robinson Set To Retire:

Professor Mildred Robinson, a groundbreaking tax law instructor whose scholarship and community service have emphasized equity, will teach her last class at the University of Virginia School of Law at the end of this semester. She will retire this spring after almost 35 years on the faculty.

Robinson was UVA Law’s first African American female tenured professor. She was hired with tenure in 1985 from Florida State University.

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December 5, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Moves, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2019 New York Bar Exam Results: Columbia #1

NYSBA (2017)The July 2019 New York bar passage rates by law school are out. Here are the results for first time test takers for the 15 New York ABA-approved law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (New York and overall).

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

NY (Overall)

1 (96.9%)


1 (5)

2 (95.8%)


2 (6)

3 (93.8%)


3 (13)

4 (91.0%)


4 (39)

5 (88.9%)

St. John's

7 (77)

6 (87.7%)


8 (91)

7 (86.4%)


5 (52)


Statewide Average

8 (81.5%)


6 (71)

9 (78.5%)

New York Law School

13 (117)

10 (75.5%)


12 (115)

11 (74.8%)


11 (108)

12 (73.4%)


14 (122)

13 (72.5%)


10 (104)

14 (65.3%)


9 (100)

15 (63.4%)


15 (Tier 2)

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December 5, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

2L In Harvard Tax Clinic Argues Case In U.S. Court Of Appeals For The 7th Circuit

Harvard Law Today, Clinic Stories: Prepping for the U.S. Court of Appeals:

HarvardThrough Harvard Law School’s Federal Tax Clinic, students have the unique opportunity represent low-income taxpayers in disputes with the IRS, both before the IRS and in federal court. Working individually and in teams, they represent taxpayers involving examinations, administrative appeals collection matters, and cases before the United States Tax Court and federal district courts.

In this video, we follow Adeyemi “Yemi” Adediran ’21, a second year student in the Clinic, as he prepares to argue an appeal on behalf of a military veteran with PTSD in the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago. The veteran’s appeal to the Seventh Circuit centered on his eligibility for innocent spouse relief under the Internal Revenue Code. Over a three year period, the veteran’s wife embezzled $500K from the Appleton, Wisconsin Blood Bank—where she worked as a bookkeeper. She was arrested and sentenced to jail, but because the couple filed taxes jointly and embezzled money is taxable, they were both legally responsible for back taxes on the money.

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December 4, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Hidden Costs Of Medical School Pose Barrier For Diverse Students

New York Times, ‘I Have a Ph.D. in Not Having Money’:

American medical schools are the training grounds for a white-collar, high-income industry, but they select their students from predominantly high-income, and typically white, households. Ten years ago, a national study found that over 75 percent of medical school students came from the top 40 percent of family income in the United States, representing an annual income above $75,000. A study last year from the Association of American Medical Colleges re-examined medical school demographics and found that the numbers had barely budged. Between 1988 and 2017, more than three-quarters of American medical school students came from affluent households.

Students from low-income families who choose to apply to medical school find the path lined with financial obstacles. The application phase entails MCAT registration ($315) and preparation, application fees ($170 for the first school and $40 for each additional one), travel and attire for interviews (on average more than $200 per school). After enrollment, students are expected to purchase equipment and study aids. Each year brings new certification tests, with registration fees running upward of $600.

Aspiring doctors know that tuition is costly; the median educational debt held by medical school graduates in 2018 was $200,000, up 4 percent from the previous year. But less advertised are all the hidden costs of a medical education. ...

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December 4, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law Students Who Handwrite Their Notes Outperform Laptop Users By One Grade (e.g., B + to A-)

Colleen P. Murphy, Christopher J. Ryan, Jr. & Yajni Warnapala (Roger Williams), Note-Taking Mode and Academic Performance in Two Law School Courses, 68 J. Legal Educ. 207 (2019):

Our study of whether academic performance in two required doctrinal law school courses was linked to note-taking mode found that, when controlling separately for LSAT, handwriters had a higher combined GPA in those courses than laptop users. Moreover, our results, using a quasi-experimental method (the difference-in-differences analysis) to control for LSAT and to isolate the effect of receiving a memo about the pitfalls of using a laptop to take notes, indicated a substantial positive association at a statistically significant level between handwriting and academic performance.

Table 4

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December 4, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top Law Schools: Tax Law

Following up on my previous post, 2020 U.S. News Tax Rankings (175 Law Schools)Top Law Schools: Tax Law, preLaw, Vol. 23, No. 2, Fall 2019, at 44:

preLaw magazine graded law schools based on the breadth of their curricular offerings. The scores were weighted as follows: 30% for a concentration, 24% for a clinic, 12% for a center, 12% for an externship, 9% for a journal, 8% for a student group, 5% for a certificate and added value for other offerings.

Tax Law

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December 4, 2019 in Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Outlook For Legal Education In 2020

Martin Pritikin (Dean, Concord), Legal Education: The Outlook for 2020:

They say hindsight is 20/20. As we look ahead to the year 2020, we can make some educated guesses about the “weather” in store for law schools.

Admissions Outlook: Partly Sunny
The nationwide declines in law school applications have leveled out in the last few years, with a number of schools even seeing increases. This modestly positive trend is likely to continue. ... On the whole, expect law school applications nationwide to increase by 3 to 7 percent next year.

Law School Closures: Scattered Showers
The most highly-ranked law schools are seeing some of the biggest rebounds in applications (not surprisingly, given that applications among those with the highest LSAT scores fell by the greatest share from 2010-2016). Some schools whose graduates struggle with bar passage and employment, however, will continue to face an existential threat.

In the last few years, nearly a dozen law schools have closed, lost their accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA), or been put on probation by the ABA. ...

[I]t is reasonable to expect that between one and three law schools will lose their accreditation, be placed on probation, or announce closure within the coming year.

GRE: Abundant Sunshine
You don’t need to be Nostradamus to foresee that at least a dozen more law schools will adopt the GRE as an alternative admissions test to the LSAT in 2020. ...

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

Is Transferring To Another Law School Worth It?

Following up on my previous post, 2018 ABA Data Show Continued Decline In Number And Percentage Of Transfers:  Is Transferring Worth It?, Nat'l Jurist, Vol. 29, No. 2, Fall 2019, at 11:

Switching schools can have its upsides, but it requires careful planning. And adapting to a new environment is not for the faint of heart. ...

Georgetown receives the highest number of transfer students in the nation, averaging between 100 and 110 each year. “That’s actually about the same size as our first-year sections, so we see a value in having that community,” Wack said. “There’s a very active transfer student association, and it is a group of students that come in sharing not the same experience that first-year cohorts might have had, but that transfer students experience.” 


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

Latest Developments In The Dan Markel Case: Garcia Appeals His First Degree Murder Conviction; 'What Do You Have To Do To Get A Death Sentence Around Here?'

Markel SuspectsWTXL, Sigfredo Garcia Appealing First Degree Murder Conviction:

About a month after sentencing, Sigfredo Garcia is appealing his first degree murder conviction.

Garcia was sentenced to life for killing Dan Markel last month. Right now, Garcia doesn't have an attorney for the appeal process.

Tallahassee Democrat, It's Time to Re-examine Capital Punishment:

What do you have to do to get a death sentence around here?

That’s not asked derisively, or with sarcastic disrespect for the dignity of our court process or the solemnity of imposing the ultimate penalty. The extreme difficulty of getting a jury to unanimously agree on execution, to cite just one major flaw, should make legislators finally abolish the death penalty when they convene next January. ...

Tallahassee recently had two ghastly murder cases which underscore the odds against getting juries to agree on death.

Sigfredo Garcia and his accomplice drove eight hours from Miami — twice! — to kill Dan Markel, an FSU law professor they’d never met and who had caused them no harm.

Testimony in Garcia’s trial indicated it was a contract killing, one of the aggravating factors in a capital case.

Yet the jury that convicted Garcia didn’t recommend his execution. He got life without parole eligibility.

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December 3, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, December 2, 2019

New Enrollments Of International Students Fall 6.6% At American Universities

Inside Higher Ed, New International Enrollments Decline Again:

New enrollments of international students fell by 6.6 percent at American universities in academic year 2017-18 compared to the year before, marking the second straight year in declines in new enrollments, according to new data from the annual Open Doors survey.

New enrollments fell 6.3 percent at the undergraduate level, 5.5 percent at the graduate level and 9.7 percent at the nondegree level from 2016-17 to 2017-18.

A separate survey of institutions found that the decline in new international enrollments is continuing this fall, though the drop was less severe than that reported last year. ...

Among the top 10 states hosting international students, there were increases in the total number of international students (including OPT participants) in No. 1 destination California (+3.2 percent), No. 2 New York (+2.4 percent), No. 4 Massachusetts (+8.4 percent), No. 5 Illinois (+2.2 percent), No. 6 Pennsylvania (+1.3 percent) and No. 7 Florida (+1.7 percent), and declines in No. 3 Texas (-0.9 percent), No. 8 Ohio (-2.8 percent), No. 9 Michigan (-0.7 percent) and No. 10 Indiana (-2 percent).  ...

Percent Change in Total International Enrollments from 2016-17 to 2017-18
From Top 15 Countries of Origin by Academic Level

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

40-Year Returns On Investment At 4,500 Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education, A New Study Calculates Return on Investment — 40 Years After Enrollment. Here’s What We Learned.:

College is expensive, and prospective students, their parents, and policy makers want to know: What kind of return can I expect on my investment?

Until now, those seeking answers have been able to evaluate the payoff of a degree as measured by official data on earnings, either one year after graduating or a decade after enrolling. A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce provides an answer on an even longer scale: 40 years.

A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges [press release] ranks 4,500 two- and four-year colleges that primarily offer bachelor’s or associate degrees or certificates by their return on investment 10 and 40 years after enrollment. To measure ROI, the study uses net present value, which estimates how future earnings are valued in the present. The measure, calculated using data from the College Scorecard, essentially weighs the cost of paying for college against what students could potentially earn down the line.

Top 10

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

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December 2, 2019 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: New Lawyers Are Swimming in Debt

Following up on my previous post, Is Your Law School Worth It? Law School Debt-to-Income Ratios:  Wall Street Journal, New Lawyers Are Swimming in Debt:

WSJ 5The vast majority of law-school graduates carry debt loads that exceed their initial earnings, new federal data shows, the latest sign a law degree isn’t a sure path to immediate financial success.

Median earnings a year after graduation topped the federal-loan figure for graduates from just 11 of about 200 law schools for which the U.S. Department of Education released data. The favorable ratios were largely for elite private institutions—including Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Northwestern University and Stanford University—that send many graduates into high-paying law firms. The list also included one public school, the University of Iowa.

For the rest of the law schools, graduates’ debt loads surpass earnings, in some cases by many multiples. ... Graduates of the six schools at the bottom of the ranking carried debt that was more than five times earnings. ...

The debt level exceeded $100,000 for graduates of more than half of the law schools on the Education Department list, with three dozen mostly private schools topping $150,000. Three schools had graduates with debt below $60,000. Annual tuition for three-year programs at the most selective law schools is nearing $70,000, not including living expenses. ...

Some law schools whose numbers look unfavorable say they view themselves as places of opportunity for first-generation law students and minorities who may have to rely more heavily on loans compared with better-off classmates “We borrow our asses off, there’s just really no other way,” said Hillary Kane, the chief communications and marketing officer at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, where she earned a degree.

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

LRW Professor's Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination In Non-Renewal Of Contract After Teaching At Wake Forest Law School For 19 Years

Karen Sloan (, Professor's Suit Against Wake Forest Highlights Status Rift in Law Schools:

Lentz 3A longtime Wake Forest University legal writing professor has sued the university, claiming she was discriminated against and subjected to harassment due to her age, gender and medical condition when her teaching contract was not renewed in September.

Plaintiff Barbara Lentz had taught at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, law school since 2000, but her complaint alleges an eroding relationship with law school administrators in her final years at the school centered on her salary and employment status. ...

The 21-page complaint highlights many of the same tensions that exist on law faculties across the country: Namely the lower status of legal writing faculty as compared with doctrinal faculty. Legal writing instructors are generally paid less than faculty who teach traditional podium courses, and on many law campuses they work off short-term, renewable contracts.

Lentz filed suit against Wake Forest in state court in late October, and on Nov. 22 the suit was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Lentz alleges that she taught 15 different courses during her time at the law school, including the required first-year contracts and an experiential clinic in Nicaragua. But she claims that she was repeatedly rebuffed by administrators when she sought an explanation for why she was paid less than other faculty in light of her heavy teaching load and willingness to teach courses outside the sphere for legal writing. ...

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

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December 2, 2019 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

California's Disappearing ABA Law Schools

Karen Sloan (, CA's Disappearing ABA Law Schools:

California Law SchoolsCalifornia is losing not one but two (La Verne and Thomas Jefferson) ABA-accredited law schools. (Well, three (Whittier) if you take a more expansive view of the issue.) ...

The number of law schools in the Golden State was pretty evenly split between ABA-accredited and California-accredited for a long time. (I’m not going to delve into the state’s unaccredited law schools, which is a whole different can of worms.) But with these upcoming changes, the number of law schools approved by the ABA will drop to 18 while the number of state-accredited schools will climb to 23. ...

I think this move away from ABA law schools in California is the result of a number of factors. The most obvious is that there aren’t as many people going to law schools these days and the model isn’t a money generator the way it was 10 years ago. ...

So the big question, to me, is whether other ABA law schools that are further down the California food chain will follow suit and ditch their ABA status. Are Thomas Jefferson and La Verne the ice breakers that will make it more palatable for other campuses to go that route?

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December 1, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Questions To Ask Before Choosing An Online LL.M

Questions To Ask Before Choosing an Online LL.M., Nat'l Jurist, Vol. 29, No. 2, Fall 2019, at 15:

2U Pepperdine 2You want to advance your legal career with an online LL.M. But with so many options, narrowing your search can be difficult. You need to consider not only which specialty you’d like to pursue but also which online program is the best fit. ... Here are the most important questions you need to ask before choosing an online LL.M. program.

  1. Are classes in real time or recorded?
  2. Who is teaching?
  3. How much interaction will you have with the professors?
  4. How much interaction will you have with fellow students?
  5. How will you be supported?
  6. What do you do about technical problems?
  7. What services can you access after graduation?
  8. Can you become a residential student if you decide online isn’t right for you?
  9. Can you try out a course before enrolling?

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

Sunday Morning In Malibu


"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118

December 1, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

WSJ: The Impact Of The SAT Adversity Index On Median SATs — A School-By-School Analysis

Following up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, What Happens If SAT Scores Consider Adversity? Find Your School:

What if SAT scores could take into account whether a student went to an elite boarding school in New England or a struggling public school in Chicago’s poorest neighborhood?

The College Board, which administers the SAT, asked this question and developed an adversity score for every U.S. high school, measuring about 15 factors such as income level and crime rate in a school’s neighborhood.

It abandoned the single-number measurement over the summer after a public outcry from educators and parents. Instead, it plans to give colleges a range of socioeconomic data on high schools and their neighborhoods.

The Wall Street Journal obtained the College Board school-adversity scores, which ranked schools from 1 to 100 in degree of adversity. It then asked a Georgetown University data scientist to use those scores to adjust the average SAT results of 10,353 high schools where at least 30 students took the SAT.


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November 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Law School Traditions, Old And New

Caruso Logo (Two Lines) (Tight JPEG)I think a lot about what the state of Pepperdine Caruso School of Law will be when I hand the keys over to the next dean. I have made a conscious effort to continue and strengthen the many wonderful traditions begun by my predecessors that give life to the founding principles of the school:  excellence, faith, and community. Among the many such traditions:

Another long-standing tradition is to invite students who cannot go home for Thanksgiving to join faculty for dinner, as Courtney and I did today:

Thanksgiving Home 2019

Over the past thirty months, I have also tried to establish new traditions that I hope will continue after I am gone:

On Monday, we instituted what I hope will be an annual tradition by gathering together as a community for lunch to give thanks for all of God's blessings. Pepperdine University Chaplain Sara Barton shared a wonderful Thanksgiving message, augmented by prayers from faculty and students:

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November 28, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lawyer (And Law Student) Mental Health: 'Thanksgiving' Isn't Just A Holiday, Attorney Mental Health: 'Thanksgiving' Isn't Just a Holiday:

Lawyers are hardwired to notice the negative in every situation.

But then Thanksgiving comes around, with its tradition of reflecting on the year and expressing gratitude for the good things in life.

And experts ask: What if the Thanksgiving feeling lasted all year?

They say the season creates positive emotions and can increase connections to loved ones. It’s a welcomed reprieve from the high-stress, adversarial profession that has created a lawyer population suffering from depression, anxiety and substance use disorders at rates higher than the general population.

“Lawyers, more so than others, need to be more intentional about cultivating positive emotions,” said Anne Brafford, a former equity partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, who’s transformed herself into a positive psychology Ph.D. student and lawyer-wellness aficionado.

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

Turn Off Your Phone For Thanksgiving

New York Times op-ed:  Turn Off Your Phone for Thanksgiving, by David Leonhardt:

Power OffThis week, Americans will endure flight delays, traffic jams and other logistical miseries to spend time with family and friends. And when the holiday weekend is ending, many will lament that they don’t get to spend enough time with those relatives and friends.

But during the weekend itself, these same lamenters will spend a lot of time ignoring the people around them and distractedly staring into their phones. They will get a notification and disappear down a digital rabbit hole of Facebook posts, text messages and fantasy-football updates. They will monitor the comments on the photos they just posted, instead of engaging with the human beings in those photos.

Many of us have a complicated relationship with our phones. We enjoy them in the moment. Yet when we reflect on all the time we spend looking at a tiny screen, we feel lousy about it. We pine for a less addictive relationship with the online world.

So let me make a suggestion for this Thanksgiving weekend: Turn off your phone, and keep it off for a full 24 hours. I predict you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll like it.

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November 28, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

WKRP In Cincinnati Thanksgiving Turkey Drop

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Maynard Presents Converting Student Loans (And Other Aid Programs) To Cash Grants Today At Toronto

Goldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Louisville) presents Hold on to Your Student Loan . . . I’ll Take the Cash Instead at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

Maynard (2019)The federal government has finally admitted what some knew and others suspected: the federal student loan program is veering into hot mess territory. At the end of January, the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Inspector General released its final audit report (OIG Report) regarding the cost of income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and loan forgiveness programs. The report gave a stark assessment: “Decision makers and others may not be aware of the growth in the participation in these IDR plans and loan forgiveness programs and the resulting additional costs. They also may not be aware of the risk that, for future loan cohorts, the Federal government and taxpayers may lend more money overall than is repaid from borrowers.“ Although federal student aid programs have been blessed by legislators and presidents and reauthorized over several decades the intricacies of their impact have been little known by those in Congress.

The OIG Report confirmed what scholars had warned about in previous years: the costs of the IDR and loan forgiveness programs had been vastly underestimated. Even more troubling is the fact that their benefits disproportionately accrue to borrowers with high incomes who attend expensive institutions. The intent of this federal program was both honorable and well-meaning, as most subsidies are, but the result should not be a surprise. Every policymaker worth her salt knows that government programs are subject to the law of unintended consequences. First developed by Robert K. Merton, the law of unintended consequences states that unanticipated or unintended effects invariably result from human action, most often government action in the form of legislation and regulation.

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November 27, 2019 in Colloquia, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Data-Visualization And Student Evaluations: Male Profs Are Brilliant And Funny; Female Profs Are Mean And Rude

Chronicle of Higher Education, What a Data-Visualization Tool Tells Us About How Students See Their Professors:

Student evaluations of teaching are both widely used and, as a host of studies have shown, deeply flawed. They don’t measure teaching quality particularly well. They also reflect students’ bias, in that women and minorities tend to receive more critical evaluations. The problem is significant enough that 18 scholarly associations signed onto a statement in September asking colleges to not rely on them heavily in determining teaching effectiveness.

Thanks to Ben Schmidt, a clinical associate professor of history and director of digital humanities at New York University, we also have an interesting way to visualize the differences in the ways that students evaluate male and female professors. And we can see how different disciplines are described.

A few years ago, Schmidt mined 14 million reviews on RateMyProfessors to create an interactive tool, Gendered Language in Teacher Reviews. Plug a term into the chart and you can see how many times per million words of text it is used, broken down by gender and discipline. It’s a fascinating — and highly addictive — look at the way in which students perceive their professors. 



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November 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (10)

Why Are So Many Women Leaving Big Law?

American Lawyer, 'Death by a Thousand Cuts': Why Are Women Leaving Big Law?:

Walking Out The DoorMany experienced women attorneys in Big Law love what they do, but often they leave firms because they’re dissatisfied with how their firm operates and treats them, according to a report by ALM Intelligence and the American Bar Association.

Walking Out the Door: The Facts, Figures and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice, is the result of a study by the ABA and ALM Intelligence, the research arm of ALM, that surveyed nearly 1,300 attorneys in the 500 largest firms in the United States. They found that more than 90% of men and women reported satisfaction in the substantive aspects of their practice such as intellectual challenge and level of responsibility. But it found large gender gaps when respondents were asked about their firm’s operational policies, including opportunities for advancement and workplace diversity.

The study found that only 50% of women are satisfied with the recognition of their work as opposed to 70% of men. About 45% of women surveyed said they’re satisfied with their opportunities for advancement, while 69% of men reported satisfaction.

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November 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Schools Are The Latest Battleground For Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Following up on my previous post, Students Petition To De-Gender All Seattle Law School Bathrooms:, Law Schools Are the Latest Battleground for Gender-Neutral Bathrooms:

GenderAt Seattle University School of Law, students who want to use one of the school’s two fully accessible gender-neutral bathrooms must travel up to the third floor of the law library via a specific stairwell or elevator.

At the University of Minnesota Law School, students seeking one of the school’s two gender-neutral bathrooms must go to the library’s fourth floor—a trip that can take up to 10 minutes.

Students on both campuses are lobbying administrators to add gender-neutral restrooms, following in the footsteps of Yale law students who successfully pushed to add the school’s first multi-stall gender-neutral restrooms earlier this year. Yale in February dedicated two new such restrooms, which required a legal challenge to a Connecticut building code that mandated a certain number of restrooms for men and women in every building.

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November 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Barton: Fixing Law Schools

Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee), Fixing Law Schools: From Collapse to the Trump Bump and Beyond (NYU Press 2019):

Fixing Law School 2An urgent plea for much needed reforms to legal education

The period from 2008 to 2018 was a lost decade for American law schools. Employment results were terrible. Applications and enrollment cratered. Revenue dropped precipitously and several law schools closed. Almost all law schools shrank in terms of students, faculty, and staff. A handful of schools even closed. Despite these dismal results, law school tuition outran inflation and student indebtedness exploded, creating a truly toxic brew of higher costs for worse results.

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the subsequent role of hero-lawyers in the “resistance” has made law school relevant again and applications have increased. However, despite the strong early returns, we still have no idea whether law schools are out of the woods or not. If the Trump Bump is temporary or does not result in steady enrollment increases, more schools will close.

But if it does last, we face another danger. We tend to hope that crises bring about a process of creative destruction, where a downturn causes some businesses to fail and other businesses to adapt. And some of the reforms needed at law schools are obvious: tuition fees need to come down, teaching practices need to change, there should be greater regulations on law schools that fail to deliver on employment and bar passage. Ironically, the opposite has happened for law schools: they suffered a harrowing, near-death experience and the survivors look like they’re going to exhale gratefully and then go back to doing exactly what led them into the crisis in the first place.

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November 26, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Distance Legal Education: Lessons From The *Virtual* Classroom

Jacqueline D. Lipton (Pittsburgh), Distance Legal Education: Lessons from the *Virtual* Classroom:

In the 2018-2019 revision of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, the ABA further relaxed the requirements relating to distance education in J.D. programs. However, outside of a handful of schools that have received permission to teach J.D. courses almost entirely online, most experiments in distance legal education have occurred in post-graduate (i.e. post-J.D.) programs: LL.M. degrees, and various graduate certificates and Master’s degrees in law-related subjects. These programs can be taught completely online without requiring special ABA permission.

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November 26, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Defense Of American Excellence

Jasper L. Tran (Minnesota), In Defense of Excellence, 73 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc ___ (2020) (reviewing Anthony T. Kronman, The Assault on American Excellence (2019)):

KronmanWhile Anthony Kronman’s The Assault on American Excellence certainly has many rich veins to mine, this Review aims to tap only those central to his observations on how academic excellence has gradually lost its reign in colleges and universities. Part I situates the Book among his earlier scholarship and other scholars’ work. To better understand his vantage point, Part II contextualizes the Book with Kronman’s intellectual journey and the historical-to-current views on diversity. Part III discusses the Book in detail, beginning with Kronman’s argument for the pursuit of excellence followed by his identification of the three anti-excellence movements, and critically engages the Book with arguments/counterarguments that it could have, should have, but did not cover. Part IV briefly concludes with an ex ante view on the future of excellence. ...

Conclusion.  While this short Review does not do enough justice to the Book, which is excellent and worth reading in its entirety, I venture to leave some brief thoughts. “‘The true question to ask respecting a book is, Has it helped any human Soul?’” Kronman’s Book certainly has eased mine and possibly the souls of those who still believe in intellectual diversity and the pursuit of excellence. It may even help save the lost souls who are still perplexed about the increasingly aggressive intrusion of politics to higher education to better understand and formulate their stands on this issue.

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November 26, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Indiana University Professor’s Views Are Loathsome, Stupid, And Ignorant, The Provost Said. But He Won’t Be Fired.

Lauren Robel (Executive Vice President and Provost, Indiana University), On the First Amendment:

Professor Eric Rasmusen has, for many years, used his private social media accounts to disseminate his racist, sexist, and homophobic views. When I label his views in this way, let me note that the labels are not a close call, nor do his posts require careful parsing to reach these conclusions. He has posted, among many other things, the following pernicious and false stereotypes:

  • That he believes that women do not belong in the workplace, particularly not in academia, and that he believes most women would prefer to have a boss than be one; he has used slurs in his posts about women;
  • That gay men should not be permitted in academia either, because he believes they are promiscuous and unable to avoid abusing students;
  • That he believes that black students are generally unqualified for attendance at elite institutions, and are generally inferior academically to white students.

Ordinarily, I would not dignify these bigoted statements with repetition, but we need to confront exactly what we are dealing with in Professor Rasmusen’s posts. His expressed views are stunningly ignorant, more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st. Sometimes Professor Rasmusen explains his views as animated by his Christian faith, although Christ was neither a bigot nor did he use slurs; indeed, he counseled avoiding judgments. Rhetorically speaking, Professor Rasmusen has demonstrated no difficulty in casting the first, or the lethal, stone.

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November 26, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 25, 2019

U.S. News Pulls Five College From Rankings For Misreporting Data

Robert Morse (Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News) & Eric Brooks (Senior Data Strategist, U.S. News), U.S. News Withdraws Five Schools' 2019 Best Online Rankings:

US News Online 3Five Institutions notified U.S. News they misreported data used to calculate their rankings for the 2019 edition of Best Online Programs. They are Western Colorado University (one program unranked), Missouri University of Science & Technology (one program), Auburn University (two programs), Ohio University (three programs) and the University of Dallas (one program). [See details here.]

The misreporting by each program resulted in their numerical ranks being higher than they otherwise would have been. Because of the discrepancies, U.S. News now lists these programs as "Unranked," meaning they no longer have numerical ranks. Each school's profile page has been updated with the Unranked status, and U.S. News deleted the incorrect data on their profiles. All rankings of other schools are unchanged.

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November 25, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Move Toward Greater Diversity In Deanships

Chronicle of Higher Education, A Move Toward Greater Diversity in Deanships:

In 2016, law schools were behind where education schools stood on gender equity in 1996, with only 30 percent of law deans being women.

At the University of Utah, Elizabeth Kronk Warner became the first woman and first Native American dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law this year. ... [S]he did not go into the job knowing that she was breaking new ground. When the news releases came out, she realized what her appointment meant. Knowing that she was the first did not change her approach to her new job, but it made her more aware.

"Anytime you’re the first of anything, there’s a little bit more responsibility because, in my experience, people will ascribe lack of success to gender or race if you don’t do well," says Warner.

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November 25, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Forbes: Is Your Law School Worth It?

Forbes, Is Your Law School Worth It?:

It’s no secret going to law school is a big investment in both time and money. But does that investment always pay off? Of course, lawyers often enjoy high salaries, rewarding careers, and more. But where you go to law school can mean a lot in how that investment pays off. New data released from the Department of Education this week gives us a peak into the debt and earnings for law schools across the country. These data show how much the median student borrows for law school (undergraduate debt is excluded) and how much the median student earns one year after earning a law degree. ...

In the chart below, you can see how schools compare. The schools are color coded by the sector of the school. Click here for interactive data.


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November 25, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers: Michigan Junior Scholars’ Conference

Michigan Law School has issued a Call for Papers for its 6th Annual Junior Scholars' Conference:

Michigan Law Logo (2015)The University of Michigan Law School invites junior scholars to attend the 6th Annual Junior Scholars Conference, which will be held on April 17-18, 2020, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The conference provides junior scholars with a platform to present and discuss their work with peers, and to receive detailed feedback from senior members of the Michigan Law faculty. The Conference aims to promote fruitful collaboration between participants and to encourage their integration into a community of legal scholars. The Junior Scholars Conference is intended for academics in both law and related disciplines. Applications from graduate students, SJD/PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, teaching fellows, and assistant professors (pre-tenure) who have not held an academic position for more than four years, are welcomed.

Applications are due by January 3, 2020.

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November 25, 2019 in Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 24, 2019

As Recession Looms, Even Harvard Is Uncertain About What That Means For Higher Ed

Chronicle of Higher Education, A Recession Is Looming. Even Harvard Is Uncertain About What That Means for Higher Ed.:

Harvard 1Harvard is an outlier when it comes to most issues in higher education, with its $40-billion endowment, buffer from state budget politics, and end-of-year operating surplus nearing $300 million. But in preparing for a brewing economic recession, the university is no exception: It faces a lot of uncertainty.

That’s partly because so much has changed since the Great Recession. The university has new revenue streams. Officials are in the process of restructuring the endowment-management company. And an American culture of greater skepticism toward higher education means that universities may bear the brunt of any downturn on many fronts.

“Some economists have suggested that student debt could be a precipitating factor in the next recession, which would place higher education in the awkward position of being vulnerable to and potentially blamed for the financial crisis,” reads one document of several posted to Harvard’s website on the university’s financial planning. The university’s office of financial strategy and planning wrote that higher education may face greater regulatory control and additional tax obligations because of the changed sentiment. ...

“We’re 123 months into the longest expansion maybe in U.S. history, and we see indications that we’re toward the end of the cycle,” said Thomas J. Hollister, chief financial officer, in a Harvard publication. “All of our schools and units are doing scenario planning, thinking through what they can or should be doing now to prepare for a variety of economic pressures.” ...

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

Wharton: Getting Law Firms To Use Analytics

Knowledge@Wharton, The Next Legal Challenge: Getting Law Firms to Use Analytics:

WhartonDave Walton is among the rarest of lawyers, one who is dedicated to expanding the use of big data and predictive analytics in the legal field. It’s a tough challenge because the sector is inherently risk-averse. But Walton, chair of Cyber Solutions & Data Strategies at Philadelphia-based Cozen O’Connor, is determined to effect change in the sector.

Wharton marketing professor Raghuram Iyengar, who is faculty director of Wharton Customer Analytics, recently joined Walton for an interview with Knowledge@Wharton about the challenges of getting lawyers to embrace analytics, and the benefits they stand to gain. Iyengar also teaches an executive education program titled, Customer Analytics for Growth Using Machine Learning, AI, and Big Data.

Knowledge@Wharton: The legal field layers on top of just about anything we can imagine, which creates a lot of analytics challenges. What are some of those challenges?

Dave Walton: I think the legal field is still in its infancy on analytics and big data…. We’re still trying to figure it out, and there’s still a lot of consternation in some corners about what is analytics? What does it mean to be a lawyer? Lawyers have this idea that, “Well, my brain was trained. My judgment is everything. My personal experience is everything. There is no way a computer could ever do my job.” That’s what they mistake analytics and AI for. A lot of lawyers don’t understand it’s using data to supplement your judgment, your experience and your decision-making process, and perhaps seeing things that you wouldn’t otherwise see because you have access to data analytics and data expertise. ...

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

Saturday, November 23, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

WSJ: American Consumers Follow Their Politics — Starbucks/Chick-fil-A, NBA/NASCAR, Levi's/Wrangler

Wall Street Journal, Are Your Jeans Red or Blue? Shopping America’s Partisan Divide:

Levi Strauss and Wrangler both got their start as the go-to jeans for cowboys, railroad workers and others who pioneered the American West. Today, they are on opposite sides of a political divide that is affecting not only how people vote but what they buy.

Consumer research data show Democrats have become more likely to wear Levi’s than their Republican counterparts. The opposite is true with Wrangler, which is now far more popular with Republicans.

There is no simple explanation behind those consumer moves. Some of it is due to social and political stances companies are taking, such as Levi’s embrace of gun control. Some is tied to larger geographic shifts in the political parties themselves, as rural counties become more Republican and urban areas lean more Democratic. Wrangler is popular in the cowboy counties of the West and Midwest while San Francisco-based Levi’s resonates more with city dwellers.

Together those factors are combining to create a new, more partisan American consumer culture, one where the red/blue divisions that have come to define national politics have drifted into the world of shopping malls and online stores.


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November 23, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

A Dozen Suggestions For Harvard Law School's New Shield

Following up on my previous post, Harvard Law School Ditches Its Seal Modeled On Family Crest Of 18th Century Slaveholder After Student Protest:  Harvard Law Record, A Few Humble Suggestions for Harvard Law School’s New Shield:

Harvard Law School is in the midst of a search for a new shield, having retired the previous one in 2016 due to the Royall family’s involvement with slavery. While Dean Manning has assured Student Government that the working group tasked with selecting the new shield is making steady progress, its operations have generally been opaque. To remind the school that the search for a new shield is indeed underway and to inject some much-needed life into the discussion of what symbol we ought to pick to represent ourselves, I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting a few designs that seem fitting.


At first glance this [left] might appear to be nothing more than a shameless rip-off of the YLS shield [right]. But that is far from true. Because merely ripping off our rival’s shield would be the kind of pettiness that the noble students of HLS are supposed to be above. It would be unoriginal. It would be sophomoric. It would be precisely the kind of conduct that one would expect of a YLS student.

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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup