Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pepperdine Caruso Law Builds Pipeline For Historically Underserved Students

Pepperdine Caruso Law Builds Pipeline for Historically Underserved Students:

In honor of Black History Month, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law is pleased to announce two major developments in its commitment to creating a diverse community on our campus.

Scholarships for HBCU Graduates

We have partnered with three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), a partnership that will serve to build an academic pipeline for historically underserved students. Pepperdine Caruso Law will offer a guaranteed half-tuition scholarship to graduates of partnering HBCUs who demonstrate scholastic excellence and plan to matriculate at Caruso School of Law.

Caruso Law guarantees a minimum 50% scholarship to any graduate of Spelman College, Tuskegee University, and Morehouse University who applies to, is accepted, and enrolls at Caruso Law for a Juris Doctorate degree. We are particularly proud to add that there is no limit on the number of students who can receive this guaranteed scholarship. We are especially grateful to alumna Zna Portlock-Houston who was an instrumental part in building the initial relationship with Tuskegee University.

Pepperdine Caruso's Diversity and Inclusion Statement affirms that "our community is rich in political, racial, and spiritual diversity which has formed a strong culture of connection among our students, faculty, and staff. We believe that each person's voice and convictions enhance our community." Led by our faith-based values and true belief that each person is created in God's image and has a place in the law, we embrace a proactive mission to increase and develop diversity within the law.

Assistant Dean of the Career Development Office Chalak Richards said, "As a graduate of both Spelman College and Pepperdine Law, I am committed to seeing both institutions move forward."

Chalak Richards holding a microphone

California's Pathways to Law

In addition, Pepperdine University and Caruso School of Law have become university and law school partners in California LAW's Pathway to Law. This program encourages students from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in the legal profession.

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February 27, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Medical School Mistreatment Of Students Is Tied To Race, Gender, And Sexual Orientation

Journal of the American Medical Association, Assessment of the Prevalence of Medical Student Mistreatment by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation:

Question  Does the self-reported prevalence of medical student mistreatment vary based on student sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation?

Findings  In this cohort study of 27,504 graduating medical students, the following students reported a higher prevalence of mistreatment than male, white, and heterosexual students: female students; Asian, underrepresented minority, and multiracial students; and lesbian, gay, or bisexual students.

Meaning  These findings suggest that there is a differential burden of mistreatment that must be addressed to improve the medical school learning environment.

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

Survey Of Law School Faculty & Staff: Trends in Funding For Legal Scholarship

Primary Research Group, Survey of Law School Faculty & Staff: Trends in Funding for Legal Research & Scholarship (2020):

This study is based on responses for 96 faculty and staff from more than 60 law schools in the USA and Canada.  The report presents detailed data on the amount of time faculty and staff spend in pursuing funding, the results of their searching, and the sources of funding.  Survey participants also comment on their use of specialized databases and other resources to find funding, with specific data on use of general university library resources, law library resources, and general university or law school research office resources.

The study helps its readers to answer questions such as: how many grants have faculty applied for?  How much finding have they brought in?  What do they think of the help that they are receiving from their university and law school research offices, or from the general university or law school library? How satisfied are they with the services of the research office?  What is the outlook for legal research funding in the future?  What percentage of funding comes from the US Federal Government, private sources, or the parent university?

Just a few of the 85-page report’s many findings are that:

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

London Study Abroad Opportunity For 2Ls And 3Ls In Fall 2020

London Full

One of the major components of our global programs at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law is our Fall London Program, now in its 39th year. I am pleased to announce that Professor David Han will be serving as the program’s academic director in Fall 2020. He and his family will travel with Caruso Law students as well as visiting law students for the Fall semester at Pepperdine’s London House in South Kensington. 

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

2021 U.S. News Law School Rankings

Robert Morse (Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News & World Report) announced yesterday that the new 2021 law school rankings will be released on Tuesday, March 17.  For the first time, they will include specialty rankings in business/corporate law, criminal law, constitutional law, and contracts/commercial law (in addition to Clinical Training, Dispute Resolution, Environmental Law, Health Care, Intellectual Property, International Law, Legal Writing, Tax, and Trial Advocacy).  Here is my coverage of the current 2020 law school rankings:

February 26, 2020 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Harvard, Yale And Stanford Law Students Chide Judiciary Over Its Handling Of Sexual Misconduct

Karen Sloan (National Law Journal), Harvard, Yale and Stanford Law Students Chide Judiciary Over Its Handling of Sexual Misconduct:

Stanford Yale HarvardStudents from the top three law schools in the country are pushing the federal judiciary to step up its efforts to combat sexual misconduct by judges, saying they are "frustrated by the slow progress" achieved since the problem came to national attention in 2017.

A coalition of law student groups from Harvard, Yale and Stanford sent a letter Feb. 24 to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the chief judges of the country’s 13 federal appellate courts that urges the judiciary to bolster its mechanisms for judicial clerks and other court employees to report misconduct, and to adopt a more uniform process to collect data on harassment and make it available to the public and to law schools.

“We write on behalf of law students who believe that the federal judiciary has responded inadequately to widespread misconduct and are concerned that the judiciary is not a safe working environment,” the letter reads.

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February 25, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Male Students Ask For — And Get — Grade Changes Far More Frequently Than Female Students

Inside Higher Ed, Male Students Ask For Grade Changes Far More Frequently Than Female Students:

Are male college students more likely than female students to ask for a grade change, and do they do so more frequently when they receive a grade they don’t like? Do male students have more favorable outcomes as a result of asking?

The answer to these questions is yes, according to new research by two university economists.

Male students are 18.6 percent more likely than female students to receive favorable grade changes when they ask for a grade change or challenge a grade, the researchers report.

Cher Hsuehhsiang Li (Colorado State) & Basit Zafar (Arizona State), Ask and You Shall Receive? Gender Differences in Regrades in College:

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

White Paper: July 2019 MBE Mean Score

Following up on my previous post, July 2019 Bar Exam Pass Rates Are Poised To Rise, As MBE Scores Increase At Highest Rate In 11 Years:  Adam Maze (Senior Academics Director, Kaplan Bar Review), White Paper - July 2019 MBE Mean Score: Depends on Your Lens:

This autumn, recent law graduates and law school personnel anxiously awaited the results of the July 2019 bar exam. For law graduates, their individual results would largely determine whether they would become a member of the legal profession or have to put their ambitions on hold. For law school officials, aggregate results could signal institutional success or a lack thereof. Overall, however, there was cause for optimism. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) reported in September that MBE ® scores had rebounded from the decline observed the prior year. But, what degree of optimism was warranted? And, more importantly, does this optimistic report portend future upward trends in the average MBE ® score and, in turn, in pass rates? 

Most commentary on the July 2019 MBE® results confidently noted that the increase observed in this past summer’s average MBE ® score had positive implications for pass rates for this past summer’s bar exams. And indeed, pass rates in most jurisdictions have increased. But, as for its implications for pass rates on future bar exams, the commentary—to the extent it has addressed this concern—has been varied and couched in circumspection. Some have cautiously suggested that the recent results might signal a turning point in bar passage rates after several years of depressed results. Others have offered a combined sense of uncertainty and pessimism about the long-term significance of the July 2019 MBE ® results, noting that a similar increase observed in the July 2017 MBE ® mean score was immediately followed the next July with a not insignificant decrease in the MBE ® mean score.

To get a sense of where things stand when it comes to average MBE ® scores, we suggest looking at the data from multiple perspectives, that is, through different ways of framing the data. Prioritizing one frame over another might simplify the story we tell ourselves, but it also risks that we tell ourselves a story that—if not wrong—is unduly incomplete. ...

MBE

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

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Latest Assault On Tenure: Firing Faculty To Avoid Declaring Financial Exigency

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Latest Assault on Tenure:

[There is a group of tenured faculty whose numbers] are small but whose significance looms large for the future of shared governance and widely understood norms of academic labor: They are professors whose tenured status has not protected them from being laid off as a cost-cutting measure.

Traditionally, institutions that dismiss tenured faculty for business reasons must declare financial exigency — a kind of higher-education version of bankruptcy, what the American Association of University Professors calls "a severe financial crisis that fundamen­tally compromises the academic integrity of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means." ...

[In a recent twist, some colleges have been] firing tenured faculty in order to dodge a declaration of financial exigency. Yet a tenured faculty member, suggests the AAUP, can be fired only for cause related to performance or conduct, or "under extraordinary circumstances such as financial exigency and program discontinuation." ...

Chronicle

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

Do The Religious Beliefs Of Law Professors Matter?

Following up on my previous posts:

Michael Simkovic USC), Law Professors Are More Religious Than Scientists, but It Probably Doesn’t Matter Much:

At Taxprof blog, Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine) covers a study by James Lindgren (Northwestern) about the religious beliefs and practices of law professors.  Lindgren compares law professors to the overall U.S. population and finds that law professors are more likely to express doubts about the existence of God.

This study is part of a line of research from Lindgren and others which compares law professors to the general population or the median member of congress on dimensions like religious or political views.  In my view, these comparison groups are uninformative and inappropriate for some of the uses to which they have been put.  For example, some argue for hiring preferences for faculty members with certain supposedly under-represented ideological views.

Law professors should not be judged by their ideological beliefs, but by their academic rigor. Law professors should not be compared to the general U.S. population or members of congress, but rather to scientists. Like scientists, law professors are much more highly educated than the general population, have higher incomes, and have opted into a career where they are expected to advance knowledge, often by relying on data collection and analysis based on scientific principles of causal inference.  Even non-empiricists are taught and teach that legal adjudication depends on application of legal rules and standards to facts and evidence, not on faith. (Brian Leiter notes that law professors are also more religious than philosophers).

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Whither The Religious Law Professor?:

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February 24, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Mitchell Hamline To Train Peking Faculty To Deliver Online Legal Instruction To Replace Classes Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Minnesota Law School to Jump-Start Online Learning for China University Closed by Coronavirus Restrictions:

MHPThe Mitchell Hamline School of Law's reputation for online classes has expanded all the way to China, where one law school is seeking to learn how to teach students remotely due to the government restrictions over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Professors from Peking University School of Transnational Law will log in Tuesday to receive training from experts at Mitchell Hamline in St. Paul, which was the first law school in the nation to provide online classes that met the accreditation standards of the American Bar Association.

Training professors so they can teach students in China, where in-person classes have been suspended this spring amid the outbreak, will be rewarding, said Kelly Von Ruden, Mitchell Hamline's director of blended learning, which is a term for coursework completed in-person and online. ...

The Peking law school is unique in providing students in Beijing with a four-year program that combines American and Chinese law school approaches and traditions.

Evacuated From Wuhan, Law Prof Works On Her Law Review Article During 14-Day Mandatory Coronavirus Quarantine

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 23, 2020

'Learning From Notre Dame And Baylor,' BYU Removes ‘Homosexual Behavior’ As Honor Code Violation

Inside Higher Ed, BYU Removes Policy on Same-Sex Intimacy:

BYU (2015)Brigham Young University's recent removal of “homosexual behavior” as a prohibited and punishable act under its honor code has caused both celebration and skepticism in the LGBTQ community.

On the surface, the removal of a passage in the honor code on Feb. 19 indicates that members of the university who display such physical intimacy will no longer be subjected to disciplinary measures, including removal from the university, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But in a series of tweets the next day, university representatives said “there may have been some miscommunication” about what the changes mean.

“We have removed the more prescriptive language and kept the focus on the principles of the honor code, which have not changed,” said Carri Jenkins, assistant to the president for university communications. “We will handle questions that arise on an individual, case-by-case basis.”

The response has left many LGBTQ students enrolled at the Utah institution in the dark about how they can express their sexual orientation, since the university did not make it explicitly clear.

Before Wednesday's changes, the university said it would act on "behavior" rather than "feelings or attraction." The now-deleted paragraphs state that homosexual behavior, which "includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings" is in violation of the honor code.

A spokeswoman for the university declined to explain what the revision will mean for LGBTQ couples who kiss, hug, hold hands, date or otherwise express their sexual orientation in public.

Salt Lake Tribune, BYU and Its Honor Code Are Learning From Schools Such as Notre Dame and Baylor About How to Open Their Arms to the Future:

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

Spokane Bishop Criticizes Gonzaga's Decision To Open The First Jesuit Law School LGBTQ+ Clinic

Catholic News Agency, LGBTQ+ Law Clinic at Gonzaga Law Raises 'Serious Concerns' For Spokane Bishop:

GonzagaGonzaga University’s plan to become the first Jesuit university to open a law clinic focused primarily on LGBT advocacy has raised “serious concerns” for Spokane's Bishop Thomas Daly.

“While the Catholic tradition does uphold the dignity of every human being, the LGBT Rights law clinic’s scope of practice could bring the GU Law School into conflict with the religious freedom of Christian individuals and organizations,” the Spokane diocese said Feb. 19 in a statement to CNA.

“There is also a concern that Gonzaga Law School will be actively promoting, in the legal arena and on campus, values that are contrary to the Catholic faith and natural law.” ...

The Lincoln LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic at Gonzaga was developed in partnership with the school’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, the university said in an announcement Feb. 14.

The clinic “aims to advance the equal rights and dignity of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ through education, programming, advocacy, research, and legal representation.” It will also provide “a special opportunity for Gonzaga law students to help protect and advance the rights of the LGBTQ+ community,” the university added.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Stephen Ferruolo To Step Down After Nine Years As San Diego Dean

Dean Ferruolo’s Thank You Tour: Nine Years, Nine Cities:

Ferruolo (2020)After nine years as Dean of the University of San Diego School of Law, Stephen C. Ferruolo has announced his plans to step down as dean of the law school in the summer of 2020. Dean Ferruolo will continue his role as a tenured member of the law school faculty, concentrating on teaching, scholarship, and coaching the Transactional Law Team.

We are grateful for the leadership Dean Ferruolo has provided. Notable accomplishments of Dean Ferruolo’s tenure include development of the first-year Experiential Advocacy Practicum, a marked increase in external scholarship funding, expansion of the Legal Clinics (including the launch of the Veterans and Women’s Clinics and revamping the Entrepreneurship Clinic), growth of Academic Success and Bar Program resources, creation of the Washington D.C. Externship program, new exchange partnerships with top law schools around the world, collaborating on two new concurrent degree programs, and leading the Transactional Law Team to a national championship. As a practicing member of the State Bar of California, Dean Ferruolo has advanced USD Law’s relationships with and connections to the legal community and the judiciary.

Stephen is the longest serving dean in San Diego's history. He has been a leader among deans nationwide and in California, particularly in his work advocating for bar exam reform. A search committee has been established to conduct a nationwide search, co-chaired by Professor Michael Devitt.

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

Friday, February 21, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Law Journals And Scholarly Integrity In The Digital Age

Janet Sinder (Brooklyn), Correcting the Record: Law Journals and Scholarly Integrity in the Digital Age,:

In the age of electronic publications, post-publication correction of errors in law journal articles may seem like a simple, technical matter. Unfortunately, a lack of standardized practices or policies related to errors discovered after publication has allowed multiple versions of articles to co-exist and retracted or plagiarizing articles to remain unnoted. An examination of a sampling of articles with publication errors highlights the need for a uniform system to allow readers to know which version of an article is the most current and correct, what changes have been made to corrected articles, and whether other, even more serious, problems were discovered.

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February 21, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concordia’s Boise Law School Gets New Parent, Will Not Close

Following up on my previous posts:

Idaho Statesman, Concordia’s Boise Law School Gets New Parent. Here’s How That Affects Students, Workers:

A Minnesota university has agreed to take over operation of the Concordia University School of Law in Boise.

This fall, the Boise law school will become part of Concordia University St. Paul, the two Lutheran schools announced at a news conference Thursday.

The agreement removes the threat that the school might cease along with the rest of Concordia University in Portland, which opened the law school eight years ago but which is now closing.

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

NY Times: Harvard, 38 Other Colleges Allow Students To Indicate Their Pronouns On Course Rosters

New York Times, Gender Pronouns Can Be Tricky on Campus. Harvard Is Making Them Stick.:

Pronouns 2For generations of future diplomats and cabinet officials educated at Harvard’s renowned John F. Kennedy School of Government, orientation day has come with a name placard that the students carry from class to class, so their professors can easily call on them.

When Diego Garcia Blum, 30, got his placard last fall, the first-year graduate student immediately took a Sharpie to it, writing “He/Him” next to the big block letters of his name. Other students did the same thing, writing “She/Her” and “They/Them.”

“Yup! Day 1,” Mr. Garcia Blum, recalled, adding, “That’s when I thought, the students are ahead of the school.”

But despite its reputation as a bastion of the establishment, the Kennedy School followed the students’ lead, agreeing to provide clear plastic stickers this semester with four pronoun options that students could apply to their name cards: “He/Him,” “She/Her,” “They/Them” and “Ze/Hir.” ...

Last week New York University said students would now be able to indicate their pronouns in the system that provides class rosters and seating charts to faculty members. At least 39 other schools allow students to indicate their pronouns on course rosters, according to a national clearinghouse maintained by the director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stonewall Center.

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February 21, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Enron Meets Academia: Altered Grades, Manufactured Transcripts, And Store-Bought Diplomas

Harvey Gilmore (Monroe College), Enron Meets Academia ... Altered Grades, Manufactured Transcripts, and Store-Bought Diplomas, 19 Fla. Coastal L. Rev. 567 (2019):

As Enron and Bernie Madoff once showed us the depths that people will go to hide who they really are, there are many others out there who have created entire academic profiles... and even careers... under false pretenses. This is the story of only a few of them.

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February 20, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Report Reveals Lack Of Black Faculty, Student Bias At Penn State

Daily Collegian, ‘More Rivers To Cross’ Report Reveals Lack of Black Faculty, Student Bias at Penn State:

Penn State 5To biobehavioral health professor Gary King, an in-depth report highlighting the various obstacles many African American professors have faced at Penn State over the last 15 years raised the question, “Are we really all in?”

King hopes to bring this question to light among the community by sharing the “More Rivers To Cross” report, prepared by himself and African American studies associate professor Darryl Thomas.

The 93-page report examines issues spanning from representation and tenure to student evaluations and administrative opportunities.

The report operates on a variety of scales — examining issues at predominantly white universities through a nationwide lens and demonstrating how these issues are relevant to the Penn State community.

Penn State

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

Law School Rankings By Ultimate Bar Passage Rates

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has released comprehensive data on bar passage outcomes for ABA-accredited law schools. Here are the 43 law schools with ultimate bar passages rates for the Class of 2017 greater than 95% (the full data for all 199 law schools is here):

1 CONCORDIA 100.00%
1 WISCONSIN 100.00%
1 YALE 100.00%
4 VIRGINIA 99.66%
5 PENNSYLVANIA 99.59%
6 DUKE 99.55%
7 CHICAGO 99.52%
8 STANFORD 99.45%
9 U. WASHINGTON 99.39%
10 MARQUETTE 98.95%
11 NEBRASKA 98.90%
12 HARVARD 98.83%
13 NYU 98.32%
14 SAINT LOUIS 97.96%
15 CORNELL 97.50%
16 TULSA 97.47%
17 OKLAHOMA 97.37%
18 UC-BERKELEY 97.32%
19 BAYLOR 97.06%
20 ILLINOIS 97.06%
21 BOSTON COLLEGE 97.00%
22 COLUMBIA 96.93%
22 COLORADO 96.93%
24 TEXAS 96.78%
25 GEORGIA STATE 96.59%
26 KANSAS 96.55%
27 VANDERBILT 96.30%
28 NORTH CAROLINA 96.26%
29 NORTHWESTERN 96.22%
30 MIAMI 96.20%
31 ST. JOHN'S 96.17%
32 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL 96.10%
33 FORDHAM 96.10%
33 WILLIAM & MARY 96.04%
35 ALABAMA 96.03%
36 MICHIGAN 95.99%
37 GEORGETOWN 95.85%
38 SYRACUSE 95.59%
39 NOTRE DAME 95.54%
40 GEORGIA 95.48%
41 UCLA 95.40%
42 BOSTON UNIVERSITY 95.26%
43 USC 95.15%

February 20, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death Of Former UConn Dean Hugh Macgill

Hartford Courant, Obituary: Hugh C. Macgill:

MacgillHugh C. Macgill, the witty and charismatic dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law from 1990 to 2000, died Feb 13, 2020. He was 79. Construction of the Thomas J. Meskill Law Library was Macgill's signature achievement as dean. Asked in 2010 what his vision of the new library had been, he replied with typical lucidity, "Space to put the books in, damn it!" ...

Known for his trademark bushy owl-like eyebrows, Hugh Macgill was an antic intellectual provocateur, whose command of history and language captivated many, infuriated some, but piqued all. While he infused his love of books, classical music, wine, the outdoors, the law school, and baseball with an ironic mischief, in his heart he channeled a fierce compassion for others and a deep conviction in the truth of the rule of law.

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February 20, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Muller: Are Most Law Schools Losing A Million Dollars a Year?

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Are Most Law Schools Losing a Million Dollars a Year?:

MullerI tracked down 990 data for 14 law schools. Nine of these law schools reported seven-figure losses (“revenue less expenses”) for at least one of the last two fiscal years. The median loss in 2017 was $1.5 million; the median loss in 2018 was $720,000. My goal isn’t to call out particular schools in this post, so I anonymized the schools.

You’ll notice that some schools experienced dramatic swings from one year to another. A sizeable gift, a sale of property, a restructuring of debt are all among the possible reasons why one year’s net revenue may have increased significantly; a tranche of funds for faculty buyouts or scholarships may decreased it; a sharp swing in student enrollment may shift it in one direction or another. That might limit the value of making any overall comparisons.

Now, of course, the caveats. 990 data comes mostly from stand-alone law schools, which are not representative of all law schools.

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

New Reports Find Illinois Law Professor Violated Sexual Harassment Policy

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Illinois Newsroom, New Reports Find U Of I Law Professor Violated Sexual Harassment Policy:

KesanA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign law professor facing a new investigation into claims he sexually harassed students and fellow faculty has been found in violation of the university’s sexual misconduct policy. That’s according to internal investigative reports from late last year that Illinois Times obtained through a public records request. The law firm hired by the university to investigate new claims against Jay Kesan from 15 women suggests that “significant employment action be taken” against the tenured professor.

A former student lodged a complaint against Kesan with the university in November 2018, initiating the subsequent investigation a month after the first into sexual harassment allegations against him became public.

After receiving new investigative findings from the Office for Access and Equity, the dean of the College of Law recommended in February that the university pursue “serious sanctions, up to and including dismissal.”

Kesan wrote in a statement to the Illinois Times that the report “makes no attempt to be fair or neutral.” He wrote, “There is no evidence that supports many of the findings.” Kesan wrote that he had not been treated fairly by the university and that he is “about to be punished for the third time now for the same basic conduct.” He noted he has undergone counseling “in order to improve and to also show my commitment to the process.”

According to a university spokesperson, Kesan has not been allowed at the College of Law for over a year and is on paid administrative leave. His last reported salary is $238,183.21 according to a university database.

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February 19, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Rankings By Bar Exam Overperformance

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar yesterday released comprehensive data on bar passage outcomes for ABA-accredited law schools. Here are the 56 law schools that outperformed their state's average bar pass rate for first-time takers in 2019 by at least 10% (the full data for all 199 law schools is here):

    School Pass Rate State Pass Rate Difference
1 GEORGIA 91.76% 67.78% 23.98%
2 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL 94.81% 70.92% 23.89%
3 WISCONSIN 100.00% 76.99% 23.01%
4 MARQUETTE 99.44% 77.00% 22.44%
5 GEORGIA STATE 86.91% 65.92% 20.99%
6 STANFORD 95.32% 74.35% 20.97%
7 CHICAGO 96.45% 76.32% 20.13%
8 HARVARD  98.93% 79.01% 19.92%
9 YALE 96.26% 77.38% 18.88%
10 DUKE 97.70% 78.98% 18.72%
11 UCLA 89.46% 70.94% 18.52%
12 UC-BERKELEY 90.37% 71.88% 18.49%
13 MICHIGAN 95.39% 77.18% 18.21%
14 VIRGINIA 95.79% 77.69% 18.10%
15 ILLINOIS 92.50% 74.74% 17.76%
16 USC 87.73% 70.06% 17.67%
17 PENNSYLVANIA 97.07% 79.69% 17.38%
18 VANDERBILT 94.15% 77.27% 16.88%
19 TEXAS 93.29% 77.10% 16.19%
20 FLORIDA 87.12% 71.09% 16.03%
21 FLORIDA STATE 86.71% 70.78% 15.93%
22 NORTHWESTERN 91.97% 76.05% 15.92%
23 BELMONT 96.25% 80.56% 15.69%
24 GEORGETOWN 92.67% 76.99% 15.68%
25 NEW HAMPSHIRE 87.09% 72.22% 14.87%
26 LIBERTY 92.00% 77.25% 14.75%
27 NOTRE DAME 90.16% 75.69% 14.47%
28 UC-DAVIS 84.46% 70.01% 14.45%
29 MERCER 81.25% 66.98% 14.27%
30 NORTH CAROLINA 92.50% 78.85% 13.65%
31 COLUMBIA 95.11% 81.48% 13.63%
32 IOWA 92.59% 79.02% 13.57%
33 NYU 95.96% 82.48% 13.48%
34 SETON HALL 90.44% 76.99% 13.45%
35 MINNESOTA 93.04% 79.62% 13.42%
36 WILLIAM & MARY 90.91% 77.53% 13.38%
37 BAYLOR 90.32% 77.29% 13.03%
38 TEXAS A&M 90.32% 77.34% 12.98%
39 GEORGE MASON 87.90% 75.07% 12.83%
40 WASHINGTON & LEE 89.72% 76.99% 12.73%
41 INDIANA - BLOOMINGTON 88.19% 75.47% 12.72%
42 GEORGE WASHINGTON 88.02% 75.35% 12.67%
43 ARIZONA STATE 86.69% 74.17% 12.52%
44 PEPPERDINE 82.42% 70.17% 12.25%
45 ALABAMA 93.65% 81.72% 11.93%
46 CORNELL 93.79% 81.97% 11.82%
47 UC-IRVINE 81.49% 69.74% 11.75%
48 CAMPBELL 91.51% 79.86% 11.65%
49 LOYOLA-CHICAGO 85.32% 74.10% 11.22%
50 WAKE FOREST 90.00% 78.86% 11.14%
51 COLORADO 87.50% 76.54% 10.96%
51 WAYNE STATE 81.51% 70.55% 10.96%
53 BOSTON UNIVERSITY 91.60% 80.73% 10.87%
54 EMORY  82.82% 72.02% 10.80%
55 BOSTON COLLEGE 91.46% 80.99% 10.47%
56 WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY 89.13% 78.70% 10.43%

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

Merritt: Ranking Academic Impact

Deborah J. Merritt (Ohio State), Ranking Academic Impact:

OOPaul Heald and Ted Sichelman have published a new ranking of the top U.S. law schools by academic impact. Five distinguished scholars comment on their ranking in the same issue of Jurimetrics Journal in which the ranking appears. But neither the authors of this ranking nor their distinguished commentators notice a singular result: The Heald/Sichelman rankings include a law school that does not exist.

According to Heald and Sichelman, Oregon State ranks 53d among U.S. law schools for its SSRN downloads; 35th for its citations in the Hein database; and 46th in a combined metric. Oregon State, however, does not have a law school. The University of Oregon has a law school, but it appears separately in the Heald/Sichelman rankings. So Heald and Sichelman have not simply fumbled the name of Oregon’s only public law school.

Instead, it appears that my own law school (Ohio State) has been renamed Oregon State. I can’t be sure without seeing Heald and Sichelman’s underlying data; even the “open” database posted in Dropbox refers to the nonexistent Oregon State. But Ohio State, currently tied for 34th in the US News survey, seems conspicuously absent from the Heald/Sichelman ranking.

I’m sure that my deans will contact Heald and Sichelman to request a correction–assuming that Oregon State actually is Ohio State. Oregon State Law School’s administrators probably will not complain. They can’t celebrate either, of course, because they don’t exist. But apart from that correction, let’s ruminate on this error. What does it have to say about rankings? ...

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February 19, 2020 in Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Teaching Drugs: Incorporating Drug Policy Into The Law School Curriculum

OSU

Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Teaching Drugs: Incorporating Drug Policy into Law School Curriculum (blog post):

Despite the significant impact of laws and policies surrounding controlled substances, few classes in the typical law school curriculum focus on either basic legal doctrines or broader scholarship in this field. This gap in law school curricula is especially problematic given the shifts in the landscapes of legalized cannabis and hemp, as well as the range of legal and policy responses to the recent opioid crisis. To better understand how law schools currently approach these issues and to identify how drug policy and law could be better incorporated into law school curricula, we conducted two surveys of all accredited law schools in the U.S. and hosted a workshop of legal scholars who work in this space. The surveys and workshop were designed to identify law school courses currently taught and the primary obstacles to teaching this subject matter. The results show that the vast majority of law schools do not teach courses touching on drugs or the evolving legal structures around cannabis, and this is true even for law schools located in states with legalized cannabis markets.

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

Currier: Optimizing The Law School Curriculum For The 21st Century

Barry Currier (Managing Director, ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar), Optimizing the Law School Curriculum for the 21st Century:

CurrierJ.D. programs are not likely to expand. If anything, the discussion is about reducing the number of credits required for graduation and shortening the period of study. Yet, there is consistent and persistent conversation about courses or general topics that should be added to what the ABA Standards require. Within the framework of the J.D. degree, what courses or topics should be required by the ABA Standards? Beyond the Standards’ basic requirements, what more, and how much more should schools choose to require? What is the optimal curriculum for schools to require within an 83-90 credit program that stretches over 2+ years? If something new should be added and it is not likely that will be accomplished by increasing the number of units needed to graduate, what will be given up?

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

La Verne Law School Seeks To Terminate 'Gadfly' Tenured Prof For Threatening To 'Assassinate' A Colleague

Following up on my previous post, La Verne Foregoes ABA Accreditation, To Continue As California-Accredited Law School:  Inside Higher Ed, When a 'Threat' Derails a Career:

La Verne seeks to terminate a gadfly professor for allegedly threatening to "assassinate" a colleague. Is it going too far?

KleinDiane Klein saw the writing on the wall in 2016: the University of La Verne, where she works as a professor of law, was going to either close the law school or dramatically change the way it did business. Wanting to give the program and its tenured professors a fighting chance, she joined the university’s Faculty Handbook revision committee. Her immediate focus was shaping how La Verne would terminate tenured faculty members, if it came to that.

Fast-forward four years and the law school is still open, with plans to transition to California Bar Association backing from the more stringent American Bar Association accreditation. The reason for the change, among others, is that La Verne has struggled to meet ABA standards for bar exam passage rates. But Klein’s tenured job is still on the line, not due to any program closure, but because she stands accused of threatening the life of a colleague.

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

CBO: Graduate And Professional School Students Account For 81% Of Loan Forgiveness

Congressional Budget Office, Income-Driven Repayment Plans for Student Loans: Budgetary Costs and Policy Options:

CBO examines how enrollment in income-driven plans has changed and how those plans will affect the federal budget. CBO projects the costs of two sets of options that would change the availability of such plans or change borrowers’ payments.

CBO 2-1

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February 18, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Charitable Giving To Colleges Grew 6.1% In 2019 To All-Time High ($50 Billion)

Inside Higher Ed, Giving Growth Slows:

Donations to institutions of higher education grew for the 10th consecutive year, but the gifts were not evenly distributed among the types of institutions, and totals were inflated by some large gifts from mega-donors like Michael Bloomberg.

The latest report on voluntary giving to higher education, from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE, found that donations in the 2019 fiscal year reached $49.6 billion, an all-time high since the numbers have been reported. The total is up 6.1 percent from $46.7 billion in 2018. Donations grew by 7.2 percent between 2017 and 2018. The report covered information from 914 institutions. Of those, 872 institutions also reported information in fiscal year 2018.

IHE

However, a single gift of $1.2 billion from Michael Bloomberg's foundation to Johns Hopkins University skewed the results somewhat, said Ann Kaplan, senior director of the study. Other Bloomberg entities beyond his foundation brought his total contribution to $1.8 billion. Without those gifts, overall giving slowed down and just kept pace with inflation.

February 17, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michigan 2L: Politics Invades The Ivory Tower

Law.com:  For Law Students, Politics Invades the Ivory Tower, by Renee Griffin (J.D. 2021, Michigan):

Michigan Law Logo (2015)I hesitate to venture into this fraught area at all, but politics pervades the law school atmosphere and ignoring that fact feels unnatural to the point of irresponsibility. ...

I first feel obligated to acknowledge the idea that top law schools are dominated by liberals and leftists, both on the student and faculty side. I am not qualified to rebut or affirm that claim; I have no knowledge of its statistical accuracy, and can only speak to my limited experience as a second-year Michigan Law student. I would be uncomfortable, however, trying to categorize my professors and classmates as “liberal” or “conservative” or “moderate,” especially given that law students asked for their opinions on an issue are prone to respond that “it depends.”

I think it’s a profound mistake to paint law students, or their professors, with a broad brush. ...

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

What The Bible Taught Abraham Lincoln About America

Wall Street Journal Essay:  What the Bible Taught Lincoln About America, by Meir Soloveichik (Yeshiva) (co-author, Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States (Oxford University Press 2003)):

LincolnWhen Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, he was certainly not thought of as a man given to religious fervor. But over the next 4½ years, as hundreds of thousands of Americans died in the Civil War, the 16th president evolved into a theologian of the American idea, using the language and concepts of the Bible to reflect on the war’s larger meaning. This year on Presidents Day, Americans will observe the 211th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. But in an age of declining biblical literacy, we are in danger of losing touch with a key source of his greatness.

Why, for instance, did Lincoln begin the Gettysburg Address with the words “fourscore and seven years ago?” It isn’t because he usually spoke that way, as many readers of the speech might now assume. Rather, he knew that his audience was deeply familiar with the King James Bible and would recognize the language of the Psalms: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years.” As Adam Gopnik has written, Lincoln “had mastered the sound of the King James Bible so completely that he could recast abstract issues of constitutional law in biblical terms.” ...

Lincoln’s biblical reflections on America reached full flowering in his Second Inaugural Address, delivered in March 1865. More a sermon than a political speech, it is the most remarkable piece of oratory in American history. Lincoln called his country to repentance and described the Civil War as God’s punishment for American slavery, concluding with the Psalmist’s declaration that “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” The historian Paul Johnson has noted that it is impossible to imagine any other statesman of Lincoln’s time—Disraeli, Napoleon III, Bismarck—giving such a speech; only Americans were accustomed to seeing themselves in such biblical terms.

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February 17, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tennessee's Four Dean Finalists Include Kansas Dean (And Tax Prof) Stephen Mazza

Tennessee

University of Tennessee, College of Law Announces Dean Candidates:

Professor Joan Heminway (Feb. 24)
University of Tennessee College of Law
CVBio

Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Susan Kuo (Feb. 26)
University of South Carolina School of Law 
CVBio

Dean Stephen Mazza (Feb. 27)
University of Kansas College of Law
CVBio

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February 16, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Before Closing, Concordia University Submits Layoff Notices For All Law School Faculty And Staff; Dean Works To Affiliate With New University To Keep School Open And Preserve Jobs

Following up on Wednesday's post, Law School Fights For Survival Amid Parent University's Closure:  Idaho Statesman, Concordia U. Letter Says All Workers Will Lose Jobs. Here’s What Boise Law Dean Says:

Concordia Logo (2018)Concordia University in Portland has notified Oregon officials that all of its employees will be laid off as the university closes, including its 12 full-time professors, 20 other staff members, 48 part-time faculty members and 17 part-time student workers at Concordia’s Boise law school.

But the law school dean says that’s not so.

In a letter dated Wednesday, the Lutheran university notified the Oregon Dislocated Worker Unit and the city of Portland of the layoffs. The university told students and staff on Monday that it will close its doors at the end of spring term, after 115 years.

At the same time, the school said it was in discussions to keep the School of Law in Boise operating.

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

Saturday, February 15, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

$30 Million Gift To Yale Law School Is Part Of Government Probe Into Foreign Funding Of Universities

Karen Sloan (Law.com), $30M Gift to Yale Law Is Part of Government Probe Into Foreign Funding:

Yale University LogoA $30 million donation from an executive at Chinese online retailer Alibaba to Yale Law School in 2016 appears to have helped spur a U.S. Department of Education investigation into the wider campus’ disclosure of foreign gifts.

The Education Department announced Wednesday that it is investigating Yale and Harvard University’s disclosure of contracts and donations from foreign entities—federal law requires colleges to report any such gift in excess of $250,000.

Department officials said this week that they believe Yale may have failed to report at least $375 million in foreign gifts and contracts in recent years, and that Harvard has also failed to fully disclose foreign gifts. ...

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Mandel: The Risks Of Incorporating Citations Data Into The U.S. News Law School Rankings

Gregory N. Mandel (Temple), Measure for Measure: The Risks of Incorporating Citations Data into U.S. News Rankings, 60 Jurimetrics J. 69 (2019):

This short essay responds to Paul Heald and Ted Sichelman’s article, Ranking the Academic Impact of 100 American Law Schools, 60 Jurimetrics J. 1 (2019). Heald and Sichelman's work provides a rigorous analysis of law school faculties’ citation and download statistics. Their recommendation to incorporate these statistics into U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings, however, appears misguided.

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February 14, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Teaching Law Isn't What It Used to Be!

Connecticut Law Tribune op-ed:  Teaching Law Isn't What It Used to Be!, by Mark Dubois (Connecticut):

Returning to the academy after a few years doing bar leadership and other things, such as working as a prep cook in a wonderful soup kitchen, was exhilarating and frightening. I taught one day and one evening session. I really liked the evening folks. (Full disclosure, I attended four years of night law school; I never took a day course.) They were a bunch of accomplished adults with incredibly varied backgrounds and interests. One guy is on the U.S. Parachute Team. Others run businesses, travel extensively, teach, design and build things. Many are married with kids. (Some kids attended class. That must have been fun at show-and-tell.) How they do it all is a mystery, but they’re learning good skills in time and resource management that’ll make them good lawyers.

The day students don’t seem to like me much. I think I am kind of a Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. (see “The Paper Chase”) in a world expecting Fred Rogers. I take solace in the fact that they’ll one day figure out how much I made them learn, but right now I’m parking off campus.

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February 14, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

University Of Wisconsin Receives $70 Million Gift To Match New Or Enhanced Professorships And Chairs

University of Wisconsin, New John and Tashia Morgridge Gift: $70 Million Committed to One-For-One Match:

WisconsinThanks to the generosity of UW alumni John and Tashia Morgridge, UW–Madison has announced a new $70 million matching opportunity to support faculty recruitment and retention.

The match will be available to donors who would like to establish or enhance an endowed professorship or chair fund. An endowed professorship or chair distributes income annually in perpetuity to support faculty salary and research.

This one-to-one match will provide private support to help UW–Madison recruit and retain world-class faculty. ...

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February 13, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NYU Law Students Join Harvard And Yale In Boycotting Paul Weiss Until Firm Drops Exxon As A Client

Following up on my previous posts:

Karen Sloan (law.com), Paul Weiss Targeted, This Time by NYU Law Students:

Thirty students from New York University School of Law disrupted a Paul Weiss recruiting event Tuesday evening—marking the third time in a month that aspiring lawyers from an elite law campus have targeted the firm over its representation of ExxonMobil in climate change litigation.

It’s the latest sign that the law student-initiated #DropExxon campaign against Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison is spreading. Harvard law students held the first protest Jan. 15, followed by Yale students Feb. 6. Protest organizers are already circulating a national pledge in which signers vow not to interview with the firm for summer associate positions or work there until the firm drops Exxon as a client. And they say they hope to see more direct confrontations with the firm in the run-up to the summer’s on-campus interview season and are in talks with students at other law schools. ...

“First you heard from Harvard, then you heard from Yale; now you’ll hear from us,” the students chanted. “We, the students of NYU Law will not work for you while you work for Exxon. We are here tonight because this is do or die. Our future is on fire and you’re fanning the flames. If you want to work with us, then drop Exxon.”

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February 13, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Jerks Of Academe: Are You One?

Following up on my previous posts (link below):  Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Jerks of Academe, by Eric Schwitzgebel (UC-Riverside; author, A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures (MIT Press 2019)):

JerkThis morning you probably didn’t look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a jerk?” And if you did, I wouldn’t believe your answer. Jerks usually don’t know that they are jerks.

Jerks mostly travel in disguise, even from themselves. But the rising tide (or is it just the increasing visibility?) of scandal, grisly politics, bureaucratic obstructionism, and toxic advising in academe reveals the urgent need of a good wildlife guide by which to identify the varieties of academic jerk.

So consider what follows a public service of sorts. I offer it in sad remembrance of the countless careers maimed or slain by the beasts profiled below. ...

The Big Shot. The Creepy Hugger. The Sadistic Bureaucrat. The Embittered Downdragger. This list is not exhaustive, nor are the types exclusive. Jerkitude manifests in wondrous variety, and not all the species have yet been cataloged. Hybrids abound — for example, the past-his-prime Big Shot who is becoming an Embittered Downdragger.

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February 13, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Survey Of Law School Faculty: Evaluation Of The Law Library

Primary Research Group, Survey of Law School Faculty: Evaluation of the Law Library (2020):

This 113-page study presents data from a survey of 107 law faculty and administration from more than 60 law schools in the United States and Canada about how they feel about their law school libraries.  The report updates our earlier report on the same subject, published in 2016.

Table 3

The study presents detailed data on overall satisfaction with the law library and with many distinct facets and features of the library and library staff.  Unique data sets are available on satisfaction with interlibrary loan, group study rooms, database range and availability, information technology, information literacy training, eBook collections, journal collections, and much more.  In addition, the report presents answers to open ended questions about what faculty would like to see more – or less of – in their libraries.

The report also gives distinct data on the percentage of faculty who approach law librarians by phone, email, text, social media, in-person and through other means.

The study also looks closely at information using habits of law faculty, pinpointing the frequency of use of West, LexisNexis, Google Scholar, HeinOnline and Bloomberg Law and furnishing highly useful benchmarks for law librarians to use with their own statistics and internal surveys.

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Experts Say 23% of Lawyers’ Work Can Be Automated—Law Schools Are Trying To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

CNBC, Experts Say 23% of Lawyers’ Work Can Be Automated—Law Schools Are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve:

Go to law school, pass the bar, become a lawyer and retire at 65 with a gold watch? For decades, this was one of the clearest professional pathways students could pursue, but that’s changing.

While law school graduates out-earn those with just a high school or bachelor’s degree on average, the legal profession is not immune to the same technological trends that have touched essentially every industry.

Advances in technology such as artificial intelligence allow modern software to scan legal documents, streamline communications and find relevant casework for lawyers. McKinsey estimates that 23% of work done by lawyers can be automated by existing technology.

The cost of law school, like the cost of undergraduate programs, has steadily increased over the past several decades, making it more expensive for students to consider a profession in law.

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February 12, 2020 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Fights For Survival Amid Parent University's Closure

Karen Sloan (Law.com), Law School Fights for Survival Amid University Closure:

Concordia Logo (2018)Concordia University School of Law is on the brink of shutting down, a collapse that would make it one of seven non-elite law schools to close or merge in recent years.

The parent university of the Boise, Idaho, law school—Concordia University in Portland, Oregon—announced plans Monday to close at the end the spring semester as a result of shrinking enrollment and mounting debt. The university is 115 years old.

The fate of the American Bar Association-accredited law school remains unclear. Officials said this week that they are looking for another institution to take over the seven-year-old law school so that it can remain open. ...

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February 12, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Highest Performers, Lowest Pass Rate: There Is Something Seriously Wrong With The California Bar Exam

TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Highest Performers but Lowest Pass Rate, There is Something Seriously Wrong in California, by Mitch Winick (President & Dean, Monterey College of Law) (This op-ed is reprinted with permission from the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA). It was originally published in the February 2020 Contra Costa Lawyer magazine, a publication of the CCCBA. You can view the original online here):

Winiick (2020)Great news! California bar examinees were once again among the highest performers in the nation on the July 2019 bar exam. According to last month’s released results, California examinees scored 17 points higher on the Multistate Bar Examination than the national mean (1428 v. 1411 scaled points). In MBE terms, this is a very significant difference and also predicts that these examinees performed better on their state-topic essays and performance tests because these scores commonly correlate. These exam results unquestionably reflect the high quality of legal education and preparation of California bar examinees.

But something is seriously wrong! Only 50.1% of these high performing examinees passed the California bar exam. Meanwhile, lower scoring examinees passed at a 20% higher pass rate in many other major jurisdictions. This dramatic difference results from California using an artificially high minimum passing score (“cut score”) when compared with every other major jurisdiction. To put this in context, California’s cut score of 1440 is significantly higher than the national mean of 1350. Furthermore, every other U.S. jurisdiction except Delaware has adopted cut scores between 1290 and 1390. The five most comparable large jurisdictions, including New York, use passing scores of 1330 to 1360. Only California sits as an outlier using 1440.

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February 12, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)