TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, November 19, 2018

What Are Law Schools Training Students For?

Forbes:  What Are Law Schools Training Students For?, by Mark A. Cohen (CEO, Legal Mosaic):

The legal profession and the trillion-dollar global industry are undergoing a transformation. The seminal elements of legal practice—differentiated expertise, experience, skills, and judgment—remain largely unchanged. The delivery of legal services is a different story altogether. New business models, tools, processes, and resources are reconfiguring the industry, providing legal consumers with improved access and elevated customer satisfaction from new delivery sources. Law is entering the age of the consumer and bidding adieu to the guild that enshrined lawyers and the myth of legal exceptionalism. That’s good news for prospective and existing legal consumers.

The news is challenging for law schools, most of whom seem impervious to marketplace changes that are reshaping what it means to be a lawyer and how and for whom they will work. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), a branch of the Department of Education, rebuked the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2016 for its lax law school oversight and poor “student outcomes.” Paul LeBlanc, a NACIQI member, concluded that the ABA was “out of touch with the profession.”

Law schools have made some strides during the past few years-- experiential learning, legal technology, entrepreneurship, legal innovation, and project management courses,   are becoming standard fare. A far bigger—and more important step would be for the legal Academy to forge alignment with the marketplace. That would be a “win-win-win” for students, law schools, and legal providers/consumers. Students would be exposed to the “real world” and the skills, opportunities, and direction it is taking. The Academy would acquire context, use-cases, and an understanding of consumer challenges and needs—a strong foundation from which to remodel legal education and training, address the "skills gap," as well as to improve “student outcomes.” Legal providers/consumers would benefit from a talent pool better prepared to provide solutions to the warp-speed pace and complex challenges of business. ...

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November 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Observations On Enrollment Patterns For The Fall 2018 Entering Class Based On Preliminary Data

In a blog posting in August relating to projections for the fall 2018 entering class, I suggested that with applicants up over 60,000 (up over 8% from 2017) the fall 2018 entering class might be over 40,000 (up roughly 8%). I made this prediction based on the strength of the applicant pool and the perception that given the opportunity, law schools would seek to regain revenue lost over the last few years. I also suggested that the distribution might be “lumpy” with some of the increase concentrated in highly-ranked schools (given the growth among applicants with high LSATs of 165 or higher).

We will know more one month from now when the ABA releases data from the Standard 509 reports for all ABA-accredited law schools, but based on preliminary reports from 142 law schools (nearly 72% of the 199 law schools in the 48 contiguous state and Hawai’i), I appear to have over-estimated the growth in matriculants, while correctly predicting significant “lumpiness” in enrollment growth skewed toward law schools with higher median LSATs.


The first-year class across the 199 ABA-accredited law schools in the 48 contiguous states and Hawai’i in 2017 totaled roughly 36,900 students. Across the 142 law schools on which I have available data for 2018, the 2017 first-year enrollment totaled 28,352, or roughly 76.8% of the total across all 199 law schools in the sample. First-year enrollment at these 142 law schools in 2018 increased by 1,231 to 29,583, an increase of 4.3%. If the remaining 57 law schools see a comparable increase in enrollment of 4.3%, the 2018 first-year class across these 199 law schools would be roughly 38,500. In all likelihood, however, it will be even smaller than that. As shown in Table 1 below, the 57 law schools for which data is not presently available are disproportionately law schools that had median LSATs of less than 155 in 2017, across which the smallest average gains in enrollment have been seen for the fall 2018 entering class.

My prediction that the first-year class might be over 40,000 appears to have been erroneous for three reasons. First, I failed to account for two law schools that ended up not enrolling classes for fall 2018 (Arizona Summit and Valparaiso).  Second, I failed to account for the impact of ABA regulatory efforts on law schools with lower median LSATs, a number of which significantly reduced enrollment to improve the LSAT profile of their entering classes. Third, and perhaps most significantly, however, I believed higher-ranked law schools would take advantage of a larger applicant pool with stronger credentials to welcome more students to enhance revenue. In doing so, I failed to heed one of the key points highlighted in research I have been working on with Bernie Burk and Emma Rasiel -- that law schools tend to favor profile over revenue. Thus, a number of law schools that could have enrolled more first-years without impacting their first-year class profile chose instead to increase their class profile rather than increasing enrollment as much as they might have.


The information in Table 1 highlights the enrollment patterns for fall 2018 across the 142 law schools with available data, highlighting the number and percentage of law schools with first-year enrollment increases or decreases of 5% or more overall between 2017 and 2018, and also showing the number and percentage of first-year enrollment increases or decreases across law schools within different LSAT categories based on median LSAT for the 2017 entering class.

There are a couple of things worth noting in Table 1. First, data are available on a much larger percentage of law schools with median LSATs of 155 or higher than law schools with median LSATs of 154 or lower. Second, as I predicted in August, more law schools with median LSATs of 155 or higher showed increases in first-year enrollment of 5% or more compared to law schools with median LSATs of 154 or lower.

Table 1 - Increases or Decreases in First-Year Enrollment of 5% or More

Median LSAT








Overall Total

% Reporting



















































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November 19, 2018 in Jerry Organ, Law School, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

With Sharp Rebuke to Law School, Judge Tosses Prof's Suit That Included ABA

Charlotte Logo (2016)National Law Journal, With Sharp Rebuke to Law School, Judge Tosses Prof's Suit That Included ABA:

A federal judge in Florida has tossed a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former professor at the Charlotte School of Law against the defunct school, its parent company InfiLaw Corp. and the American Bar Association.

Judge Roy Dalton, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that plaintiff Barbara Bernier’s claims that Charlotte and InfiLaw defrauded the federal government of more than $285 million by admitting unqualified students were too vague to move forward. Moreover, two earlier False Claims Act actions against InfiLaw’s soon-to-close Arizona Summit Law School bar Bernier’s suit because they brought very similar allegations, Dalton ruled.

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November 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 18, 2018

New International Student Enrollment In American Higher Ed Fell 6.6% In 2017, On Heels Of 3.3% Decline In 2016

Institute of International Education, Fall 2018 International Student Enrollment:

Figure 2

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November 18, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

July 2018 California Bar Exam Pass Rate Falls To 67-Year Low

California Bar ExamThe California State Bar has released the results from the July 2018 bar exam. The overall pass rate was 40.7%, down 8.9 percentage points from last year and a 67-year low. For California ABA-accredited law schools, the pass rate was 64%, down 6 percentage points from 2017.  The mean scaled MBE was 1404 compared with the national average of 1395 (a 32-year low).

The Recorder, Nearly Six in 10 Failed California's July 2018 Bar Exam:

The results mirror lower bar scores in other states. The percentage of successful test-takers in Pennsylvania, Texas [results by school], New York [results by school], Florida [results by school], and Indiana all dipped year over year. ... But California’s nearly six-in-10 failure rate is shocking for a state that has tried to boost scores by shortening the test by a day and conducting studies of the notoriously difficult exam.

State Bar of California, State Bar Releases July 2018 Bar Exam Results:

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November 17, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Pepperdine At Daybreak

We feel grateful and blessed to be back at our beloved Pepperdine this morning.

Back in Pepperdine

November 16, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Northwestern Law Is Paring Back Amid Budget Woes. Are Other Elite Schools Next?

Following up on my previous post, Northwestern Law Dean Cites School's 'Difficult Time' As Reason For Faculty Cuts:, Northwestern Law Is Paring Back Amid Budget Woes. Are Other Elite Schools Next?:

The recent decision to trim staff and lecture faculty at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law amid a budget shortfall illustrates that even elite law schools are subject to the financial pressures of staying competitive in a soft legal education market.

But make no mistake: Name-brand law schools on the whole are faring better than their counterparts further down the legal education food chain.

That’s according to experts who have studied the changing economics of law schools and deans at several schools within U.S. News & World Report’s top 20, who say that fundraising has been strong and that the financial shortfalls that emerged in the midst of the so-called crisis in legal education have largely been addressed. Put another way, don’t expect top law schools to announce drastic cuts any time soon. ...

Former University of North Carolina law professor Bernie Burk and University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Jerome Organ examined enrollment, tuition and scholarship trends in legal education from 2010 to 2016 to conclude that the nation’s law schools are collectively losing $1.5 billion annually due to lower enrollment and lower actual cost for students.

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November 16, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

LSAC Hit With $480k Attorney Fees In LSAT Disability Litigation

National Law Journal, LSAT Maker Hit With $480K in Fees for Disability Violations:

A federal judge has ordered the Law School Admission Council to pay nearly half a million dollars in attorney fees to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in connection to litigation over its accommodation of Law School Admission Test takers with disabilities.

The California agency sought more than $567,000 in attorney fees after it successfully petitioned the court to hold the council in civil contempt for violating a 2014 agreement on how it would handle requests for accommodation on the LSAT. The parties met for a court hearing on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday largely sided with the agency in finding that the council must pay $480,000. ...

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November 16, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Next Big Innovation In Law School Teaching: Low Tech

Nikos Harris (British Columbia), The Risks of Technology in the Law Classroom: Why the Next Great Development In Legal Education Might Be Going Low-Tech, 51 U. British Colum. L. Rev. 773 (2018):

It is often assumed that technology improves every facet of our lives, including learning in the university classroom. However, there is mounting evidence that traditional lecturing and note-taking techniques may provide the optimal learning environment. Student use of laptops, and professor use of electronic course slides, may actually impair learning in a manner which has particular significance for legal education. This emerging evidence suggests that law professors can make a justifiable decision to bring about a "low tech revolution" in their classrooms.

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November 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Clerk Signing Bonuses Reach $400,000; Jones Day Hires 11 Clerks, Including Pepperdine Law Grad

Supreme Court (2018)National Law Journal, $400K for SCOTUS Clerks: A Bonus Too Far?:

[T]he prevailing hiring bonus for Supreme Court clerks is $400,000—up from $300,000 in 2015. And that does not include salaries. If the trend continues, the clerk bonus will soon approach twice the annual salary of the justices they work for. Associate justices are paid $235,000, and the chief justice gets $267,000.

Firms such as Jones Day, which announced Tuesday that it hired 11 clerks from last term’s “class,” take the number in stride, even as in the case of Jones Day if it amounts to a $4.4 million investment. The firm has recruited 47 Supreme Court clerks since 2012. The firm declined to discuss its compensation practices.

Bloomberg Law, Jones Day Lands Almost a Third of Latest Supreme Court Clerks:

The Jones Day arrivals include five women:

  • Cynthia Barmore, a Stanford Law School graduate who clerked for Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and will work in the Washington office.
  • Elizabeth G. Bentley, a Harvard Law School graduate who clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and will work in the Minneapolis office.
  • Carmen G. Iguina Gonzalez, a New York University School of Law graduate who clerked for Sotomayor, and will work in the Washington office.
  • Brittney Lane Kubisch, a Pepperdine University School of Law graduate who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, and will work in the Los Angeles office.
  • Mary H. Schnoor, a Harvard Law School graduate who clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and will work in the Chicago office.

The other clerks Jones Day hired are:

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November 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Elite Teaching The Elite: Who Gets Hired By The Top Law Schools?

Eric Segall (Georgia State) & Adam Feldman (USC), The Elite Teaching the Elite: Who Gets Hired by the Top Law Schools?:

Do you want to teach at a top 25 law school? If so, you had better excel at something you will encounter years before you will even consider applying to be a law professor. Something that has no relationship at all to the skills academics need. You better score extremely high on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) (or now at some schools the GRE). If you don’t score towards the very top, you will likely not be admitted to a top 10 ranked law school. And if you do not attend a top 10 ranked law school, no matter what you accomplish during the school you do attend (even a top 20 school) or afterwards, your chances of teaching at a top law school are virtually non-existent. The reality is that by far the most important credential one needs to teach at a top law school is to attend a top law school. The elite, teaching the elite, who will then teach more elites.

Top 10(1)

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November 15, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

HELP NEEDED FROM VOLUNTEER LAWYERS: The Pepperdine Disaster Relief Clinic And The Woolsey Fire

PDRDear Lawyers, Law Professors, Legal Clinics:

We need your help. Today, I am officially launching the Disaster Relief Clinic to serve Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Conejo Valley here in Southern California where the Woolsey Fire is still burning.

Pepperdine students are displaced and scattered, and we are closed through Thanksgiving, when we are embarking on a massively ambitious, dense final week of school and finals, all while we try to be compassionate to the students. I do not want to put volunteering on their plate until we can launch the clinic course in January.

So now, we need volunteer lawyers and clinical law profs. We're going to run an emergency, triaged VLP. I need lawyers and law profs to take cases by referral.

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November 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

2019 National Tax Moot Court Competition Registration Is Open

National Tax Moot CourtRegistration is open for the 2019 National Tax Moot Court Competition, being held March 7-9, 2019, on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. This year, the competition is co-sponsored by the Florida Bar Tax Section and UF Levin College of Law. The problem release date is November 19, 2018, with a submission deadline of January 19, 2019.

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November 14, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2018 New York Bar Exam Results: NYU #1

NYSBA (2017)The July 2018 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 (98.4%)


2 (6)

2 (98.3%)


1 (5)

3 (94.1%)


3 (13)

4 (89.1%)


4 (37)

5 (86.7%)

St. John's

6 (83)

6 (83.5%)


8 (88)


Statewide Average

7 (80.5%)


5 (56)

8 (75.9%)


9 (106)

9 (73.8%)


13 (125)

10 (72.3%)


6 (83)

11 (70.2%)


9 (106)

12 (65.9%)


13 (125)

13 (64.1%)

New York Law School

11 (110)

14 (62.0%)


11 (110)

15 (48.6%)


15 (Tier 2)

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November 14, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean Chemerinsky Recommends Removing Boalt Name From UC-Berkeley Law School

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Harvard Law Students Launch Campaign To #DumpKirkland Over Mandatory Arbitration Agreements For Associates

KirklandBloomberg Law, Law Students Plan to #DumpKirkland Over Arbitration Agreements:

Students at Harvard Law School have launched a campaign urging their peers to boycott Kirkland & Ellis until the firm removes mandatory arbitration agreements from its employee contracts.

On Monday morning, a student-led organization called the Pipeline Parity Project published a copy of a 2018 Kirkland arbitration agreement. In it, associates waived their right to sue the firm in court over a range of employment concerns, including sexual harassment and wage theft.

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November 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Big Law Killed My Husband': An Open Letter From A Sidley Partner's Widow

SIdleyAmerican Lawyer, 'Big Law Killed My Husband': An Open Letter From a Sidley Partner's Widow:

Joanna Litt’s husband, Gabe MacConaill, a 42-year-old partner at Sidley Austin, committed suicide in the parking garage of the firm’s downtown Los Angeles office last month.

My husband took his life—our life—on Sunday, Oct. 14, one month to the day before our 10-year wedding anniversary. We had been planning a trip for over a year in anticipation of celebrating.

I’m beyond lost and I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of my life. Gabe was my best friend, my partner, my lover, and my constant. I turned to him for everything, and he was always there with the most perfect advice and words. He was my world, and after losing him, I can absolutely say, my better half. Gabe and I did not have children (except for our dog Ivy) and we made that deliberate choice so we could focus solely on our life together, because we were happy. And now he’s gone. He saw no other choice or path.

I never thought in a million years that he could or would do that. And I keep going back to one thought: “Big Law” killed my husband. ...

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November 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tenured Emory Law Prof Suspended After Allegedly Again Using N-Bomb

Emory Law (2018)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Emory Wheel, Law Professor on Leave After Allegedly Repeating Racial Slur:

Emory Law Professor Paul J. Zwier II, who was briefly suspended from teaching after he said the N-word in class in August, has been placed on paid administrative leave after the University received multiple reports that he recently repeated the same racial slur, according to School of Law Interim Dean James B. Hughes Jr.

Hughes announced Zwier’s leave on Monday following a Friday statement that he was investigating allegations against the tenured professor.

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November 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Michigan State Dean: Making Law School Part Of University 'Will Stabilize Us'

Michigan State Logo (2013)Following up on my previous post, Michigan State Law School To Fully Integrate With University: Lansing State Journal, Dean: Making MSU College of Law Part of the University 'Will Stabilize Us':

By 2020, the Michigan State University College of Law will no longer be a private law school located in the heart of the East Lansing campus. It will be a part of the university.

"Everybody recognized that sooner or later this was going to happen," said Lawrence Ponoroff, dean of the law school. ...

[T]he move comes after several difficult years. Like many other schools, the MSU College of Law has seen declines in applications and enrollment.

Its expenses outran revenue to the tune of $1.74 million between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, according to the school's 2016 990 tax form, the most recent available.

“This action will stabilize us," Ponoroff told the law school's Board of Trustees on Oct. 31, "but it’s not a panacea, and we will still all need to continue to work very hard to bring the law school to the next plateau, the levels that we’d like to see it achieve.”

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November 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

UC-Berkeley Law School Confronts Racist Legacy Behind Boalt Hall

UC Berkeley BoaltFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Los Angeles Times, UC Berkeley Law School Confronts the Racist Legacy Behind its Famed Boalt Hall:

For more than a century, UC Berkeley's elite law school has been closely tied to the name of the building that houses it, Boalt Hall.

Law school alumni have affectionately referred to themselves as “Boalties.” The Boalt name has been attached to more than 120 organizations, public forums and positions related to the law school — including its alumni and student groups, endowed chairs, school directory and Facebook page. Over time, in the California legal community, many people simply came to call the law school Boalt Hall.

But the revelation that John Henry Boalt, a 19th-century San Francisco attorney, was virulently anti-Chinese has rocked the school and plunged it into the national debate over what to do when honored historical figures turn out to have unsavory pasts. The Berkeley controversy comes as other schools, such as Stanford, the University of San Francisco and Cal State Long Beach, are reexamining California’s past and changing building names or dropping mascots associated with those who kept slaves or mistreated Native Americans and Asian Americans.

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November 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Non-Elite Universities Launch Medical, Not Law, Schools In Search Of Future Financial Stability

MaristInside Higher Ed, Medium Sized Institutions Look To Medical Schools For Future Financial Stability:

As its fellow midsize, modestly endowed private colleges look nervously to the future, Marist College in New York’s Hudson Valley is making a bold, nearly $180 million bet: last month, it announced that it will partner with a regional health-care provider to build a new medical school.

Marist Health Quest School of Medicine is expected to open its doors in 2022, reaching capacity in 2032 with about 500 students.

Adding a medical school to a private college is “honestly a big leap up in scope and complexity,” said [former Loyola-Chicago Law School Dean and Marist College] President David Yellen. But it makes sense, he said. “If you have the resources, there’s room for another good medical school. And we think it will boost our status and reputation.”

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November 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 11, 2018

University of Illinois Law School Releases Additional Documents Related To Allegations Of Professor's Sexual Misconduct

Illinois LogoFollowing up on my previous posts:

The University of Illinois Law School has released two additional documents relating to the sexual harassment claims involving Professor Jay Kesan:

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November 11, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fires Cause Massive Destruction In Malibu, But Pepperdine Is Safe

Malibu awakens to massive devastation this morning. As the map below shows, the fires came within feet of Pepperdine (the blue oval on the map) on three sides, but not a single permanent structure on campus was lost thanks to the heroic efforts of firefighters on the ground and in the air. In every talk I give, I say I am the luckiest law school dean in America to have the privilege of serving with the most amazing collection of people I have ever been associated with. Our hearts are broken by the loss around us.

Fire Map Malibu

Firefighters stopped the fire just a few feet from our home (at the northwestern most point of campus):

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November 10, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Contextual Problem Of Law Schools

Eli Wald (Denver), The Contextual Problem of Law Schools, 32 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 281 (2018):

Law schools have a contextual problem. They teach law universally, ignoring context. Through a traditional curriculum that has changed relatively little in over a century, law schools advance a universal approach to professionalism and professional identity preparing law students to enter a homogenous legal profession in which lawyers practice law performing similar tasks in similar practice settings representing similar clients. Except that unlike legal education, the practice of law has grown immensely complex and diverse over time. Far from universal, law practice and lawyers have become richly contextual. Context now matters in the practice of law: client identity, lawyer identity, tasks, subject matters and status inform and shape what lawyers do and their exercise of professional judgment. Law schools’ disregard of context thus constitutes a significant problem as it misleads students and fails to adequately prepare them for the practice of law.

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November 10, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Malibu Burning

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Scholars With Surnames Beginning With Letters Early In The Alphabet Have An Unfair Advantage In Citation Studies

Jeffrey R. Stevens (Nebraska) & Juan F. Duque (Arcadia), Order Matters: Alphabetizing In-Text Citations Biases Citation Rates, Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviews (2018):

Though citations are critical for communicating science and evaluating scholarly success, properties unrelated to the quality of the work—such as cognitive biases—can influence citation decisions. The primacy effect, in particular, is relevant to lists, which for in-text citations could result in citations earlier in the list receiving more attention than those later in the list. Therefore, how citations are ordered could influence which citations receive the most attention. Using a sample of 150,000 articles, we tested whether alphabetizing in-text citations biases readers into citing more often articles with first authors whose surnames begin with letters early in the alphabet.

We found that surnames earlier in the alphabet were cited more often than those later in the alphabet when journals ordered citations alphabetically compared with chronologically or numerically.

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November 9, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mid-Term Exams, One-Handed Catches, And Deliberate Practice

BresciaTaxProf Blog op-ed:  Mid-Term Exams, One-Handed Catches, and Deliberate Practice, by Ray Brescia (Albany):

Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., of the New York Giants has already passed into football legend and even popular culture for his ability to make remarkable, one-handed catches.  For some this might suggest that “OBJ,” as he is often called, has innate talent, which he certainly does.  But a little digging on the internet shows that he actually practices these catches, again and again and again, outside of games.  He may be supremely talented, but he also works at perfecting his craft.

Recently, in an excellent post on Best Practices For Legal Education, Carrie Sperling discussed some of the benefits of offering mid-term assessments in her law school classes. For her, offering mid-terms, when coupled with a “growth mindset,” helps propel students toward mastery of a given subject.  Sperling identifies at least three reasons for offering mid-term assessments: students learn first, “whether they are using the right strategies,” second, “whether they have put forth enough effort,” and third, the ways “they can change course in order to grow their intelligence before the final exam.”  I have also found these to be true as a result of my own use of mid-terms.

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November 9, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Slain Mobster Whitey Bulger's Career Advice To Students: 'If You Want To Make Crime Pay, Go To Law School'

BulgerIndependent, Career Mobster James Whitey Bulger's Surprising Advice to Three Schoolgirls:

In the years leading up to his death in jail last week, notorious Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger wrote about his regrets in life.

Bulger, imprisoned for life for his role in 11 murders, wrote a letter to three teenage girls in 2015, telling them he was "a ninth-grade dropout" who "took the wrong road". The former mobster said he was among "society's lower, best forgotten" members. He told the students, who had first written to him for a school history project, not to spend their time on him. "My life was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame and suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon," he wrote.

The US Bureau of Prisons confirmed that Bulger (89) died last Tuesday at the jail in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

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November 9, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Should Professors Teach More At The University Of Wisconsin To Avoid Program Cuts?

WisconsinInside Higher Ed, Should Professors Teach More to Avoid Program Cuts?:

Faced with steep budget cuts, several University of Wisconsin System campuses have targeted academic programs to try to save money. The Superior campus announced last year that it was suspending 25 programs, including nine majors — sociology and political science among them. The Stevens Point campus said it would cut 13 majors, including English, history, political science and sociology — and expand programs it says are more job oriented and in demand. In many cases where colleges take this approach, humanities and other liberal arts disciplines face some of the deepest cuts.

The Oshkosh campus is taking a different route to solvency: it’s asking tenured and tenure-track faculty members in the College of Letters and Science to teach more.

“I fully understand the hardship that this change may present to faculty and instructional academic staff,” Colleen McDermott, dean of the college, wrote to faculty members in a recent letter about the change. “We have exhausted every other route of cost cutting for the college (short of laying off faculty or closing programs).”

Currently, tenure-line faculty members in the college teach 24 credit hours per year, or 12 credit hours -- typically four classes -- per semester. But most professors apply for and get what’s known as a curriculum modification to teach 18 credit hours per year, or three classes a semester, to spend more time on research.

Starting next year, however, professors will all teach a minimum of 21 credit hours per year, or four classes one semester and three the other. That’s regardless of where they are in their curriculum-modification schedules, which last three years. ...

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November 8, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

UC-Berkeley Adopts Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Action Plan After African-American Composition Of MBA Class Falls From 8.9% To 2.1%

UC Berkeley HaasInside Higher Ed, Berkeley B-School Vows to Do Better on Diversity:

The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, is vowing to do a better job of recruiting minority students after enrolling a full-time M.B.A. class that many criticized for having only six black students in a class of 291. That's down from 10 black students who enrolled last year, in a smaller class of 282, and a peak in 2016 of 19 black students in a class of 252. A report issued by the business school [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan] said that it "failed to react quickly" as black enrollment numbers fell. New steps being taken include hiring a director of diversity admissions, adding scholarship dollars and using a "first-offer-best-offer" approach, and changing M.B.A. admissions criteria "to consider an applicant’s skillset and experience in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion."

November 8, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Future Of Training Powerful Legal Communicators

Nicholas W. Allard (Former Dean, Brooklyn) & Heidi K. Brown (Brooklyn), The Future of Training Powerful Legal Communicators, NYSBA J., Sept. 2018, p. 10:

Twenty years ago, lawyers communicated through lengthy client opinion letters or settlement demand letters transmitted via fax or FedEx, briefs filed with the court (often hand-delivered by couriers), and perhaps the occasional press release carefully crafted for high profile cases. Today, in our fast-paced, media-saturated, and tech-driven world, we see lawyers like Michael Avenatti advocating for his clients through Twitter soundbites. Pleadings and briefs – once buried in dusty court filing cabinets – are electronically accessible for the world’s review and “Monday-morning quarterback” scrutiny. Attorneys conduct negotiations, conferences, and depositions with their national or even international counterparts over Skype, GoToMeeting, or Zoom. Lawyers establish permanent digital footprints through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Legal communication is rapidly changing because of technological advances, disruptive business models, and globalism – forces that are transforming the 21st century world of law. The legal profession and legal educators – famously slow and often resistant to adaptation – must evolve with the times. Standing still, clinging to the “business as usual” status quo is not a luxury we can afford. ...

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November 7, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxation, Inequality, And Life: An Interview With Ed Kleinbard

KleinbardBYU Law School Magazine, On Taxation, Inequality, and the Citizen’s Role: An Interview With USC’s Professor Kleinbard:

FlemingYou had a lengthy career at a high level of law practice followed by a period of high-level government service. How would you compare the satisfactions of those two parts of your professional life?

Kleinbard:  I enjoyed law practice very much. In contrast, from 2007 to 2009 my service as chief of staff of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (jct) required me to be the principal non-partisan tax adviser to the most partisan collection of men and women on the planet. I was surprised at how little interest there was in improving our tax laws unless the improvement would advance a partisan agenda. Working as a staff member at jct is an interesting way of observing bare-knuckle politics, but the chief of staff is a job I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy and the irs’s Office of Chief Counsel are excellent places for young lawyers to both contribute to the public good and gain important skills and experience—usually without quite as much day-today political drama as one faces on the Hill. I highly recommend that kind of service.

FlemingWhat advice would you have for an undergraduate who is considering law school?

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November 7, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Number Of 1Ls By State (2017 v. 2010)

Law School Transparency lists the number of 1Ls by state in 2017 and the change in enrollment since 2010.  Twelve states had enrollment declines in excess of 1,000:

  1. California: 4237 (-29.1%)
  2. New York: 4147 (-20.6%)
  3. Florida: 2297 (-38.5%)
  4. Texas: 2199 (-14.2%)
  5. Massachusetts: 1956 (-18.6%)
  6. Illinois: 1818 (-25.5%)
  7. Washington, D.C.: 1763 (-19.0%)
  8. Michigan: 1405 (-48.2%)
  9. Pennsylvania: 1393 (-24.2%)
  10. Virginia: 1199 (25.4%) 
  11. Ohio: 1069 (-35.3%)
  12. North Carolina: 1055 (-35.1%)

24 states had enrollment declines in excess of 25%:

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November 7, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Legal Education Report Card

ABA Logo (2016)Barry Currier (Managing Director, ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar), A Legal Education Report Card:

If you were asked to grade legal education as an enterprise, what would be the categories or roles for which grades should be assigned? What grades would you give legal education? ... Here’s a first take:

Legal education must provide accessible, high quality legal education confirmed by measurable outcomes related to learning, skill development, and employment outcomes that serves well the students, the profession, and the public. Grade: A/F ...

[A]t its best, U.S. law schools offer an education of unsurpassed quality, and it is better than it has ever been. True, the education can be expensive, but for many the expense is justified by the careers that the education makes possible. At its worst, legal education carries a hefty price tag that leaves graduates with high debt and limited opportunities. ... The quality of programs, outcomes, and opportunities for graduates are a mixed bag across legal education as a whole, thus the A/F grade.

Legal education must conduct research that advances knowledge and protects/promotes the rule of law in the U.S. and the world. Grade: A

The research that has been and continues to be done in U.S. law schools is at or among the best in the world by almost any measure. It makes major contributions to the evolution of both public and private law, leads the growing conversation about the increased use of technology in law and the practice of law, and is increasingly interdisciplinary and global in approach. Legal education has been and continues to be blessed by the participation of some of America’s most talented and wise individuals.

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November 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Deans Chemerinsky, Peñalver & Rodriguez: Innovation, Skills, And The Future Of Legal Education

November 6, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Tax Prep Companies Use FOIA Requests To Thwart Dennis Ventry's Criticism Of Free File Program

New York Times, Industries Turn Freedom of Information Requests on Their Critics:

Dennis J. Ventry Jr., a law professor at the University of California, Davis, drew the ire of tax preparation companies like Intuit and H&R Block this summer by criticizing a deal they have to provide a free tax filing service through the Internal Revenue Service.

The companies promptly hit back with a tactic that corporations, lobbyists and interest groups are increasingly using against academic researchers: Their trade coalition filed a public records request with the university in July seeking everything Mr. Ventry had written or said about the companies this year, including emails, text messages, voice mail messages and hand-jotted notes.

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November 6, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Northwestern Law Dean Cites School's 'Difficult Time' As Reason For Faculty Cuts

Northwestern (2018), Northwestern Law Dean Cites School's 'Difficult Time' as Reason for Faculty Cuts:

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is cutting staff and teaching positions amid a financial shortfall.

Dean Kimberly Yuracko informed the Chicago school’s faculty of the downsizing plan and budget problems in a message to its internal listserv, saying the school is in a “challenging financial position.” In an interview Monday, Yuracko, who sent the message to the school’s faculty in late September, said that the law school is not in dire financial straits. She said that a directive from the central university to reduce expenses and her new deanship—she took over in September—spurred her to take a close look at how and where the law school was spending its funds. ...

Northwestern Law’s situation is notable for several reasons. It dispels the notion that elite law schools—Northwestern is ranked No. 11 by U.S. News & World Report—are immune or at least buffered from the fiscal woes that have plagued many law schools since 2010, when enrollment and the national applicant pool shrunk significantly. Second, it demonstrates aggressive fundraising is no cure-all for financial pressures in a fiercely competitive law school environment. ...

In addition to reducing staff, clinical, and lecture positions through eliminating vacant jobs and not renewing certain short-term teaching contracts next year—tenured faculty positions are not under review—the school is increasing the size of its LL.M. class to increase revenue, she said. Affected clinicians and lecturers have been informed that their contracts will end this academic year, she added. ...

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November 6, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Court: Foreign Lawyer Cannot Deduct Cost Of NYU LL.M. Because It Qualified Him To Sit For The New York Bar

Tax Court (2017) Valle v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2018-51 (Nov. 5, 2018):

The sole issue presented for decision is whether petitioner is entitled to deductions for education expenses incurred in 2014 while pursuing a master of laws (LL.M.) degree from New York University (NYU). ...

Petitioner earned his law degree (Licenciatura en Derecho) from Carlos III University in Spain in September 2006. That same month he began working as a full-time associate at the Madrid, Spain, office of PricewaterhouseCoopers Tax & Legal Services, S.L. (PwC). Petitioner continued his foreign legal education while working at PwC, earning an LL.M. degree with a major in corporate law from Instituto de Empresa Law School in Spain in July 2008. In November 2009 petitioner began work as an associate at Bird & Bird LLP’s office in Madrid. On January 8, 2010, petitioner was admitted to the bar association of Madrid; he has since maintained a license to practice law in Spain. In September 2010 petitioner commenced work at the Madrid offices of Olswang LLP, an international law firm. From September to December 2011 petitioner was stationed at the London, England, office of Olswang LLP. Petitioner describes his tasks at each of PwC, Bird & Bird LLP, and Olswang LLP as “among others, drafting specialized legal documents, such as contracts and memoranda, researching and analyzing legal and business requirements for clients and providing advice on legal matters.”

After practicing law for several years in Madrid and London, petitioner moved to New York City to pursue an additional LL.M. degree at NYU. Petitioner enrolled at NYU in September 2013 and earned his LL.M. in May 2014. ...  Petitioner paid tuition expenses of $27,435 to attend NYU’s LL.M. program during tax year 2014. 

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November 6, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Gamage: A Call For Professors To Cancel Classes On Election Day

VoteDavid Gamage (Indiana), A Call for Professors to Consider Cancelling Classes on Election Day, and for Employers to Consider Letting Employees Leave Early:

Democracy is important. Democracy is fragile.

Those were my reflections a few weeks ago, when my family gathered for the unveiling of my grandfather’s gravestone — my grandfather who escaped Nazi Germany while most of his family was sent to concentration camps, and who then started a new life in the U.S. and enlisted to fight on behalf of his new country. ...

What can we do as individuals to protect democracy? We can vote, of course. But those of us who have the privilege of being professors or employers can potentially do more.

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November 5, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 4, 2018

July 2018 Georgia Bar Exam Results: Georgia #1 For 5th Consecutive Year

Georgia State BarHere are the results of the July 2018 Georgia Bar Exam Results for first-time test-takers by law school, along with each school's U.S. News ranking:

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

GA (Overall)

1 (88.1%)


2 (32)

2 (85.4%)

Georgia State

3 (65)

3 (84.8%)


1 (22)

4 (75.3%)


4 (128)


Statewide Avg. (GA Law Schools)



Statewide Avg. (Non-GA Law Schools)


5 (40.4%)

John Marshall

5 (Tier 2)

6 (35.7%)



Daily Report, Georgia Bar Exam Pass Rate Dips From Prior Year

November 4, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Conference: Christianity And The Common Good

Harvard Law Today, Christianity and the Common Good (program):

A panel of legal and theological authorities came together at Harvard Law School to discuss the topic, Christianity and the Common Good. Presented by Harvard with the Thomistic Institute, which aims to promote intellectual Christian thought at universities, the conference brought together a number of guests including Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch ’91, who gave the keynote address. (Justice Gorsuch’s address was closed to the press.)

In one panel discussion, three distinguished guests—Fr. Dominic Legge of the Thomistic Institute, Adrian Vermeule ’93, Ralph S. Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, and Jacqueline Rivers, professor of African-American studies at Harvard University—explored the topic of the common good from the respective viewpoints of Christian philosophy, black cultural history, and political theory.

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November 4, 2018 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, November 3, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Law School Dean Buys 'Conference Bike' To Increase Collaboration, Fitness

Campbell University, Law School’s New ConferenceBike Combines Collaboration and Fitness:

Campbell Law Dean J. Rich Leonard spotted his first ConferenceBike when he was in Vienna with a group of students last spring.

His first thought? Campbell Law School needed one. “It’s a way to combine collaboration and fitness,” Leonard explained. “Our generous donors provide me with discretionary funds for the sole purpose of doing unique and creative things like the ConferenceBike.”

The seven-seat conference bike, known as the CoBi, is available for faculty, staff and student meetings. The recent addition of bike lanes in North Carolina’s capital city made its application even more practical, according to Leonard.

COnference Bike 2

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November 3, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)