Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Amidst 75% Enrollment Decline, Thomas Cooley Abandons Naming Rights To Minor League Baseball Stadium

Cooley 2

Karen Sloan (, Struggling Cooley Law School Relinquishes Minor League Ballpark Naming Rights:

It’s the end of an—admittedly strange—era in law school advertising.

The minor league baseball stadium in Lansing, Michigan, will no longer bear the name of Cooley Law School, the Lansing Lugnuts announced this week. The law school opted not to renew its naming rights for the ballpark, which it acquired in 2010 for $1.5 million over 11 years. That presumably leaves no professional sport venues in the country named for a law school. (The stadium deal was believed to be a first and no law school has followed suit in the subsequent decade.)

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Stetson Competition Generates Tax Solutions To Address Climate Change

New Competition Generates Tax Solutions to Address Climate Change:

Stetson Logo (2020)Stetson University College of Law launched a new competition to galvanize students to develop innovative tax law policies that could fund solutions for sea level rise.

Though tax policy might not be the first discipline to come to mind in which to seek tools to combat climate change, attorney and author Richard O. “Dick” Jacobs felt confident Stetson students, if given the challenge, could mine it to great effect. Rising sea levels are a pressing issue for Florida’s future, and Jacobs thought funding a competition would jump start a conversation by focusing on tax policy solutions to help address the problem.

And so The Stetson Environmental Tax Policy Writing Competition: Tax Policy Solutions to Address Sea Level Rise was born. Students submitted their ideas in late spring, and a committee of tax and environmental lawyers judged the competition using the following criteria: (1) breadth and depth of analysis and sources, (2) creativity and originality, (3) objectivity and legal accuracy, (4) effectiveness of writing style, (5) practicality for addressing the issue, and (6) compliance with the contest rules.

Submissions could include proposed changes to the Florida Constitution and to Florida tax and regulatory law. The first and second place winners split a $1,000 cash prize. The winners of the inaugural competition were:

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September 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Location In Red Or Blue States Influences Whether Colleges Are Teaching On-Ground (Red) Or Online (Blue) This Fall


Inside Higher Ed, Political Influence on Fall Plans:

Colleges and universities looked at several factors when determining whether to reopen their campuses to students for the fall, including local COVID-19 case numbers, campuses' ability to physically distance students and what students said they wanted in surveys.

But another factor seems to have played a major role in the decision-making process, one that is not being touted in news releases or letters to the community: colleges' decisions appear to be closely tied to whether the state they are in is red or blue.

Data from the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College was able to predict the likelihood of whether an institution planned to be in-person or predominantly in-person for the fall term based on the political leanings of the state.

"In an ideal world, perhaps it shouldn’t matter whether there’s a D or an R after your governor’s name," said John Barnshaw, vice president of research and data at Ad Astra, which provides scheduling software and consulting services to institutions of higher education. The company also partnered with Davidson College for its data project by sending out surveys to its members. "But it seems to matter, for better or for worse." ...

If the state was carried by President Trump in the 2016 election, colleges in that state are significantly more likely to have planned more in-person instruction in the fall. This is also true for states with Republican governors and Republican control of legislatures. Colleges in states with a trifecta of a governor, state senate and house all under control of the Republican Party are even more likely to be in person.

The inverse also is true — colleges in states with Democratic governors or legislative control are more likely to offer remote instruction. ...

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September 15, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Today’s College Classroom Is A Therapy Session

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Today’s College Classroom Is a Therapy Session, by Joseph Epstein (Northwestern):

TherapyReading about ... award-winning teachers makes one wonder if teaching has become the pedagogical equivalent of psychotherapy. Ought teaching to be primarily about building self-esteem in students, “nurturing” and above all making them feel “safe?” And what do you suppose an “inclusive and anti-racist learning space” looks like?

The two biggest lies about teaching are that one learns so much from one’s students and, so gratifying is it, one would do it for nothing. I had a number of bright and winning students, but if I learned anything from them, I seem long ago to have forgotten it. I always felt I was slightly overpaid as a teacher, but I wouldn’t have accepted a penny less. The one certain thing I learned about teaching is that you must never say or even think you are a good teacher. If you believe you are, like believing you are charming, you probably aren’t. ...

Teaching ... is less about making students feel welcome, supported and safe than it is about making them mildly ashamed of their ignorance and slightly fearful of exposing it. Shame and fear (also of failure) may not be central to classroom learning, but are indubitably part of it. They certainly were of my own.

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

Ropes & Gray Offers One-Year Deferral Program For Incoming And Current Associates; Will Other Big Law Firms Follow?

American Lawyer, Ropes & Gray Launches Voluntary Associate Deferral Program:

Ropes & GrayRopes & Gray has kicked off a voluntary one-year deferral program for its incoming first-years, who are due to start in January, and its current associates.

While many big firms delayed the start of their 2020 first-year associate classes to early 2021, Ropes’ option of a full deferral year may be the first in the Am Law 100 this year  — and it could pave the way for others to offer similar recession-era programs.

Ropes has made clear that this decision was not a result of financial stress, and first-years can still choose to start at the firm in January. Ropes was also among the first firms to make its summer associate program virtual and shortened.

The firm will pay participants an $80,000 stipend to work at a public interest group or nonprofit. They may also take a $38,800 stipend—20% of first-year starting pay—to take a personal sabbatical doing whatever they wish, except for practicing law at a law firm. Above the Law first reported on the new offering Thursday.

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

Arizona State Law Faculty And Staff Have Given $5 Million For Students Over Past Decade

Press Release, ASU Law Faculty, Staff, Community Raise Over $2.5 Million, Provide Employment Opportunities For Students During Pandemic:

DownloadIn a world that is changing every day, the faculty of Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University stepped up to support its students in multiple ways while providing the most exceptional legal education possible.

ASU Law’s generous donors, including faculty members, have contributed over $2.5 million in financial support during the pandemic. These donations have provided ASU Law students with public interest fellowships, first-generation and diversity scholarships, externship stipends, experiential learning opportunities and support for essential needs.

And over the summer when student employment opportunities were canceled or cut short due to COVID-19, ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester called on faculty to create innovative, paid internship and externship opportunities for students. Quickly stepping in, faculty launched a highly successful program, with 81 students participating in these special summer work opportunities while earning more than $220,000 in paid stipends from ASU Law.

ASU Law also awarded nearly $13 million in scholarships to incoming JD students for fall 2020, and the college gave more than $50,000 to students needing extra support due to COVID-19.

This support is part of ASU Law’s continuing spirit of generosity with more than $80 million in donor gifts, close to $5 million coming from faculty and staff, raised in the last decade.

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

2020 IFA International Tax Student Writing Competition (Sept. 30 Deadline)

IFA Logo (2015)The deadline in the International Fiscal Association's 2020 International Tax Student Writing Competition is September 30:

2020 IFA International Tax Student Writing Competition:
Subject: Any topic relating to U.S. taxation of income from international activities, including taxation under U.S. tax treaties.
Open to: All students during the 2019-20 academic year (including independent study and summer 2020 school courses) pursuing a graduate degree (J.D., L.L.M., S.J.D., M.S.T., MTA, Masters of Taxation, or similar program). Any appropriate papers written in fall 2019 or spring and summer 2020.
Publication: The winning author will be entitled to publish his/her article in the Tax Management International Journal, which is produced by Bloomberg BNA.
Submission DeadlineSeptember 30, 2020.
Prize:  $2,000 cash, plus expenses-paid invitation to the IFA USA Branch Annual Meeting in Chicago on April 22-23, 2021.

Here are the recent winners:

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September 15, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2020

2021 U.S. News College Rankings

US NewsU.S. News & World Report has released its 2021 College Rankings. Here are the Top 25 National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges:


National Universities




















Johns Hopkins














Washington (St. Louis)




Notre Dame













Pepperdine is ranked #49.

Prior Years' U.S. News National University Rankings:

2021 U.S. News Liberal Arts College Rankings:

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September 14, 2020 in Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

California Law School Deans Request Supreme Court To Make Oct. 5-6 Online Bar Exam Open Book With No Proctoring

Letter to Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the California Supreme Court:

California Bar ExamWe write as deans of the ABA-accredited law schools in California.  We express our appreciation for all of your efforts to deal with the many issues concerning the bar exam at this unprecedented and difficult time.

We write now to urge that California administer the bar exam on October 5-6 without remote proctoring and without limits on what materials the student may consult during the exam.  Indiana and Nevada took this approach in July for their bar exams.

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September 14, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bahadur: Attrition And Bar Performance

TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Attrition and Bar Performance, by Rory Bahadur (Washburn):

Recently I was made aware of an incredibly well researched article by Jeffrey Kinsler [The Best Law Schools for Passing the Bar Exam].  The article predicted bar outcomes based on incoming credentials and listed the 15 schools that overperformed their incoming credentials the most and the fifteen schools that underperformed the most on the bar based on incoming credentials. 

The article identified the 15 top overperforming schools as


The Top 15 Law Schools for Bar Passage




Florida International






Texas A&M






Georgia State


Texas Tech


New Hampshire




South Carolina


Seton Hall


Cleveland State



And it identified the 15 most underperforming schools as


The Bottom 15 Law Schools for Bar Passage








John Marshall (Atlanta)


New York Law School






Thomas Cooley










Golden Gate


District of Columbia


San Francisco

The article suggests reasons for why these schools fall where they do but I thought it would be interesting based on my current research in this area to compare 1L attrition rates for these schools.  I very quickly used two on-line sources for the comparison.  I used this site to ascertain 1L attrition rates for law schools and this site to ascertain the seven-year average national 1L attrition rates for schools in different LSAT ranges.  The findings are laid out in the following tables that are modified from the article by Kinsler.

For the top 15 schools the data looks like this and it indicates the average 1L attrition rate for these schools is almost twice as high as the national average rate of 1L attrition for schools with similar LSAT entering credentials.

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Use And Abuse Of Critical Race Theory In American Christianity

Following up on yesterday's post, Deans Of All Five University Of California Law Schools Defend Critical Race Theory Against Trump's Attacks:  David French, On the Use and Abuse of Critical Race Theory in American Christianity:

Three months ago I published a Sunday newsletter in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing called “American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go.” As best I can tell, it went more viral than anything else I’ve ever written, and it spawned a flood of follow-up questions. Among the most common? “David, as a Christian, what do you think of critical race theory and intersectionality?”

My answer is complicated, but the bottom line is relatively clear—it’s more useful and interesting than many of its critics contend, but it ultimately fails as both a totalizing theory of American life and as a philosophy truly compatible with the Christian gospel.

I was first exposed to critical race theory (CRT) almost 30 years ago, during my first year at Harvard Law School. During my entire 1-L year, only one of my professors wasn’t a so-called “crit,” an advocate for CRT. In fact, more than half of all my law school classes were taught from a critical legal theory perspective, and I’ve encountered (and debated) crit-informed legal arguments virtually my entire career. ...

A critical legal theorist will often deconstruct any given story or narrative to look for hidden ways that power, privilege, and assumptions about language color our decisions and our discourse. I’ll get to the problems of this framing later, but let me first show how it can help illuminate important truths. ...

CRT-infused analysis helps me not only understand the reason for persistent disparities, it should also build empathy and motivate action. What can we do to ameliorate the effects of this disparate power and privilege?

So does this mean that critical race theory is entirely good, useful, and worthy of Christian embrace? Not so fast.

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

Vischer: How Distinctive Should Catholic Law Schools Be?

Robert K. Vischer (University of St. Thomas), How Distinctive Should Catholic Law Schools Be?, 59 J. Cath. Legal Stud. ___ (2020):

Light UnseenIn what ways should a Catholic law school be distinctive? To what extent should Catholic and non-Catholic law schools share similar criteria for judging institutional success? Are there circumstances under which a preoccupation with distinctiveness might distract a Catholic law school from focusing on its mission? While Catholic law schools will approach these questions from a diversity of perspectives, we should be careful neither to ignore the importance of distinctiveness nor to equate worthy manifestations of Catholic identity with only those qualities that are not also exhibited by non-Catholic law schools. This essay was presented as part of a symposium convened to explore the themes of a new book by John Breen and Lee Strang, A Light Unseen: A History of Catholic Legal Education in the United States.

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

Survey Finds Many College Students Lack Knowledge Of Religious Traditions

Ideals 2

Inside Higher Ed, Survey Finds Many College Students Lack Knowledge of Religious Traditions:

Many college students are not gaining the skill sets and knowledge they need to navigate a religiously diverse country, according to a new longitudinal study based on surveys of students across 122 campuses.

Less than a third (32 percent) of college students said they developed better skills to interact with people of diverse beliefs while in college, and nearly three-quarters of fourth-year students earned a grade of C or below on a short, standardized quiz testing their knowledge of eight different religious worldviews, the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) found. The survey was led by researchers at North Carolina State and Ohio State Universities and Interfaith Youth Corps, a nonprofit organization.

IHE Faith

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

Saturday, September 12, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Deans Of All Five University Of California Law Schools Defend Critical Race Theory Against Trump's Attacks

Joint Statement of the Deans of the University of California Law Schools About the Value of Critical Race Theory:

UC (All Five)Dear UC law school community and friends,
As the Deans of the five University of California law schools, we write with one voice to defend Critical Race Theory and to speak against the attacks upon it by the President of the United States and the Office of Management and Budget. The faculties of the UC law schools include many of the leading scholars in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and our law schools engage in a good deal of important scholarship, teaching and policy work about how race and racial oppression shape law and society. We are enormously proud of our CRT colleagues and the important work they do, and we are deeply distressed to see the federal government attack this important intellectual tradition, caricature it in an unjustified and divisive manner, and ban federal employees from learning about it through trainings.

On September 4th, the Director of the Office Management and Budget, at the direction of the President, banned any training within the federal government related to Critical Race Theory, calling it “anti-American propaganda.” The OMB memorandum equates Critical Race Theory to two inaccurate and wildly oversimplified tenets: (1) that the United States is “an inherently racist or evil country” and (2) that white people are “inherently racist or evil.” This characterization reduces a sophisticated, dynamic field, interdisciplinary and global in scope, to two simplistic absurdities.  In fact, a central principle of Critical Race Theory is that there is nothing “inherent” about race.  Rather, CRT invites us to confront with unflinching honesty how race has operated in our history and our present, and to recognize the deep and ongoing operation of “structural racism,” through which racial inequality is reproduced within our economic, political, and educational systems even without individual racist intent.

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September 12, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11th At Pepperdine

This is a very special day at Pepperdine, as we honored the 2,887 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with our 13th Annual Waves of Flags Display:

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September 11, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Law School Exams During A Pandemic: One Law School’s Experience

Beth Parker (Nova), Law School Exams During a Pandemic — One Law School’s Experience:

CoronavirusIn 2020, toward the end of the Winter semester, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life across the globe. Institutions, including law schools, felt the widespread effects of this public health crisis. Law schools were forced to move entire curriculums online in record time and consider how they were going to administer final exams. There is no precedent or manual for how to do this successfully. The pressure of the high stakes law school final exam that the law student’s entire grade and ranking rest upon is stressful, to say the least. Law students are on edge during final exams during normal times, but as the United States became overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, universities sent students, faculty, and staff home to finish the semester online and were left with a myriad of issues to address. One issue that arose was how to deliver final exams in a completely online format while maintaining the integrity of the law school exam. This article discusses the pivot to flexibility that one law school had to make, under emergency conditions, and with limited resources.

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September 11, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Black Lawyers On Why Big Law Can't Keep Them Around

American Lawyer, Why They Left: Black Lawyers on Why Big Law Can't Keep Them Around:

American Lawyer LogoBig Law is failing Black lawyers. The stories of those who have left can help explain why.

Black attorneys are—and have always been—significantly underrepresented in the legal profession, more so than Latino and Asian American lawyers. Despite comprising more than 13% of the U.S. population, less than 2% of Big Law partners are Black, according to ALM data.

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September 11, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Will October's Online Bar Exams Implode For The 30,000 Takers? Why Aren't More States Offering Software 'Stress Tests'?

Karen Sloan (, Will October's Online Bar Exams Implode? Takers Request 'Stress Tests' to Find Out:

Upwards of 30,000 people are slated to take online bar exams in October, but virtually no jurisdiction is planning to hold so-called “stress tests” to see if the software platform delivering the test will hold up under the strain.

That’s a concern for law graduates like Melanie Blair, who is planning to take Illinois’ online exam Oct. 5 and 6. Blair is among the 11 examinees who filed a petition Sept. 1 asking the Illinois Supreme Court to compel the Illinois Board of Bar Admissions to conduct two live mock exams in the weeks before the exam to test the platform provided by ExamSoft—the outside vendor that every jurisdiction offering an online exam has contracted with. The court denied the petition two days later in a terse opinion that offered no reasoning for the decision. ...

Illinois test takers are not alone in their worries that the absence of wide-scale, simultaneous mock testing will conceal potential technical issues with the ExamSoft platform and result in a faulty exam come October. New Jersey currently appears to be the only jurisdiction planning anything akin to a stress test—it has asked test takers to take a mock exam at 11 a.m. Sept. 8, or as close as possible to that time.

But most other jurisdictions—including New York, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois, are requiring test takers to complete short two mock exams using the ExamSoft system at their own convenience. That will help examinees ensure that testing software is installed correctly on their laptops and will help them get familiar with the format of the online exam. But it won’t reveal potential problems with the capacity of ExamSoft’s system, the Illinois petitioners argued.

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September 10, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Relationship Between Bar Passage Rates And Attorney Discipline

Following up on my previous posts:

William Patton (USC Law & UCLA Medicine), A Rebuttal to Kinsler's and to Anderson and Muller's Studies on the Purported Relationship between Bar Passage Rates and Attorney Discipline, 93 St. John's L. Rev. 43 (2019):

I applaud Professors Kinsler, Anderson, and Muller for investigating whether the bar examination is relevant to patterns of attorney discipline. However, their research failed to prove that: (1) students from low rated law schools engage in significantly more unethical behavior; (2) there is a causal relationship or correlation between students who attend low ranked schools, their bar exam scores, and their disciplinary patterns; or (3) students from low ranked schools who scored lower on the bar exam are either not minimally competent to practice law or are a significantly greater danger to the public than students who attended elite law schools.

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September 10, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Rutgers Seeks To Hire An Entry Level Or Junior Lateral Tax Prof

Rutgers Logo (2016)Rutgers Law School invites applications from entry level and junior lateral candidates for a tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor of Law at the Newark campus starting in the 2021-22 academic year. We are especially interested in candidates with demonstrated interest in one or more of the following areas: Property, Tax, Intellectual Property, Nonprofit Organizations, and Trusts & Estates.

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September 10, 2020 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Letterhead Bias And The Demographics Of Elite Law Review Publications

Harvard Law School Letterhead

Stephen Thomson (City University of Hong Kong), Letterhead Bias and the Demographics of Elite Journal Publications, 33 Harv. J. L. & Tech. 203 (2019):

This article is the result of the most extensive audit of U.S. law review articles ever undertaken. It presents and discusses the findings of an audit of articles published in the top fifty U.S. law reviews from 2014–2018 inclusive. Analyzing over 4,500 articles and the demographics of almost 6,000 authors, it demonstrates through hard data that: (i) letterhead bias is a real phenomenon; (ii) some journals have high rates of publishing their own faculty’s work, a phenomenon that tends to be worse in higher-ranked journals; (iii) overseas authors stand a very low probability of being published in a top fifty U.S. law review; (iv) there is no real correlation between a journal’s ranking and the extent to which it publishes practitioner-authored work; and (v) articles in more highly ranked journals have a greater tendency toward being co-authored.

These findings reveal some hard truths about the elite U.S. law review market, grounded in hard data, both for aspiring authors and editorial boards across the U.S.

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September 10, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

California Supreme Court Urged to Ditch Online Bar Exam

Bloomberg Law, California Supreme Court Urged to Ditch Online Bar Exam:

California Bar ExamLeaders of the group United for Diploma Privilege have filed an emergency petition to the California Supreme Court, urging justices to waive the state’s bar exam requirement and instead allow law school grads to become licensed without taking the test.

Advocates have asked the California court to consider diploma privilege before, but their suggestions were rebuffed in mid-July, when the court ordered a two-day online test in October, and authorized a provisional licensing plan that allows some law school graduates to practice temporarily before passing the test.

But circumstances have changed, wrote Pilar Escontrias and Donna Saadati-Soto, leaders of the national diploma privilege group and recent law school grads who plan to practice in California. For one thing, they note in their exhaustive 275-page brief posted on the court’s website Wednesday afternoon that several states in recent months have adopted forms of emergency diploma privilege, including Utah, Washington State, and Louisiana.

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September 10, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Blame Pollyanna Presidents When Covid-19 Plans Fail

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Blame Pollyanna Presidents When Covid-19 Plans Fail, by Gregg Gonsalves (Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Co-director of Global Health Justice Partnership, Yale):

CoronavirusAs the pandemic rages in many states, some college presidents are engaging in wishful thinking and hubris, believing they can keep the coronavirus at bay by relying on piecemeal responses. Sadly, we’re already experiencing outbreaks on campuses and retreats to remote learning: the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the first major institutions that have seen the virus outwit their best plans. There will be many more over the coming weeks. ...

As we see more and more outbreaks on campuses, university presidents and trustees will run for cover, and these kinds of rationalizations for what they did and did not do are going to come in a torrent. They’ll blame students first and foremost for breaking campus codes of conduct, and bring the hammer down on them. ...

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September 9, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

400 Of 700 Michigan State Law Students Cannot Access Their Student Loans Due To Gymnastics Scandal, Integration With University

Lansing City Pulse, Nassar Fallout Delays Student Loans For Hundreds at MSU Law:

Michigan State Logo (2013)Most law school students at Michigan State University are still waiting to receive their student loans more than a week after classes began as officials grapple with federal consequences stemming from the Larry Nassar investigation.

Nearly 400 of the 700 students registered to attend MSU’s College of Law this semester are affected, MSU officials confirmed yesterday. They are in their second week of virtual classes.

“We realize this process and situation is frustrating for students and causes disruptions in their funding plans,” an MSU spokeswoman explained to City Pulse after students reached out with concerns. “We are working closely with the federal government to get this process resolved.”

The College of Law — formerly known as the Detroit College of Law — relocated to East Lansing in the ‘90s and, until a planned integration this year, was independent of MSU, complete with its own financial aid and loan procedures.

That merger, however, hit a hiccup with the U.S. Department of Education stemming from Clery Act violations related to Nassar and the subsequent sanctions levied against MSU. As a result, MSU cannot technically add other loan-eligible locations without federal approval. Nassar is a former MSU physician and professor who is serving time in prison for sexual abuse. 

Until the federal government rubber stamps the merger, that means students still don’t have access to their loan money. They found out about the problem last week. Interim Dean Melanie Jacobs hasn’t made any promises, but hopes the issue can be resolved by next week, she said.

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September 9, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Northeastern’s $50 Million COVID-19 Bet

Chronicle of Higher Education, Northeastern’s $50-Million Bet:

Northeastern UniversityThe university went big on its reopening gamble. Can it beat Covid-19? ...

Northeastern has spent more than $50 million planning for a safe re-entry, an investment that will be put to the test this weekend, when approximately 8,000 of the university’s undergraduates begin moving in to campus residence halls. The university has built its own labs for frequent testing with fast turnarounds, continually sanitizes buildings, and created a flexible-learning system that allows students to move back and forth between virtual and in-person classes in a richer, more interactive way than in a typical Zoom class.

Northeastern has booked nearly 1,500 hotel and apartment rooms to ensure that no more than two students share a room, and has leased a wing of Boston Symphony Hall for student dining and meal distribution.

What’s noteworthy about Northeastern’s reopening plans, said Christopher R. Marsicano, an assistant professor of the practice of higher education at Davidson College, is “the scale at which they’re doing it and the fact that they’re trying to pull off, in a major city, what the University of North Carolina couldn’t do in a suburb.”

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September 9, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

ABA Tax Section Releases 20th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge Problem

The ABA Tax Section has released the J.D. Problem (rules; entry form) and LL.M. Problem (rules; entry form) for the 20th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge (infographic):

LSTCAn alternative to traditional moot court competitions, the Law Student Tax Challenge (LSTC) is organized by the Section’s Young Lawyers Form. The LSTC asks two-person teams of students to solve a complex business problem that might arise in everyday tax practice. Teams are initially evaluated on two criteria: a memorandum to a senior partner and a letter to a client explaining the result. Based on the written work product, six teams from the J.D. Division and four teams from the LL.M. Division receive a free trip to the Section’s Midyear Meeting, where each team presents its submission before a panel of judges consisting of the country’s top tax practitioners and government officials, including tax court judges. The competition is a great way for law students to showcase their knowledge in a real-world setting and gain valuable exposure to the tax law community.

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September 9, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eight Law Schools Tackle Racism And Injustice With Two-Day 'Teach-In'

Following up on my previous post, #ScholarStrike: Professors Plan Strike For Racial Justice:  Karen Sloan (, Law Schools Tackle Racism and Injustice With Two-Day 'Teach-In':

Scholar StrikeThe fall semester has just gotten underway at many law schools, but some professors are setting their traditional lessons aside Tuesday and Wednesday and focusing instead on racism and systemic injustice as part of a national higher education teaching strike.

A consortium of eight law schools led by Black women deans is embracing what has been dubbed the Scholar Strike for Racial Justice—a teach-in organized by University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Bulter and Grand View University historian Kevin Gannon that has drawn hundreds of professor participants across the country and was inspired by professional athletes who recently went on strike in protest of racism. Faculty at those law schools have the choice to not teach Sept. 8 and 9; to devote their courses to discussions about systemic racism and how the law contributes to inequality; and to participate in a slate of online seminars centered on racial justice.

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September 9, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

WSJ: More Schools Offer Online MBAs

Following up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, More Schools Offer Online MBAs:

Online M.B.A.s are gaining traction during the coronavirus era as more U.S. business schools seek new students and some wonder if their traditional full-time and on-site M.B.A. programs will survive.

Many universities said this year that they would roll out online M.B.A. degree programs, including the business schools of Howard University, Wake Forest University and John Carroll University. They join the ranks of some big state schools, including the University of Illinois’s Gies College of Business and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, which have launched online M.B.A.s and are reporting significant increases in applications and online enrollment for the fall.

“We found there is a huge potential market for folks who want to get a Howard M.B.A.,” said Anthony Wilbon, dean of the business school at Howard, one of the most high-profile of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The Washington, D.C., university has had a traditional, two-year, in-person M.B.A. program for decades and had been considering an online version before the pandemic. ...

Online M.B.A.s have proliferated over the past decade. Since 2009 the number of online M.B.A.s at accredited business schools in the U.S. more than doubled, according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Many of the top business schools initially resisted, leaving remote learning to for-profit education outlets. But now more high-profile universities are joining the online-learning ranks. ...

Boston University’s Questrom School of Business announced last summer that it would offer a less-expensive, $24,000 all-online M.B.A. starting in the fall of 2020. Interest has exploded since the pandemic began. Questrom was planning to enroll 200 students in its first online M.B.A. class this fall but has doubled that to 400 students, said J.P. Matychak, an associate dean at the school. ... Boston University’s online M.B.A. program is trying to scale up to 2,000 students in the next few years.

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September 8, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Their Freedom

The Atlantic:  Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Their Freedom, by John McWhorter (Columbia):

AtlanticOur national reckoning on race has brought to the fore a loose but committed assemblage of people given to the idea that social justice must be pursued via attempts to banish from the public sphere, as much as possible, all opinions that they interpret as insufficiently opposed to power differentials. Valid intellectual and artistic endeavor must hold the battle against white supremacy front and center, white people are to identify and expunge their complicity in this white supremacy with the assumption that this task can never be completed, and statements questioning this program constitute a form of “violence” that merits shaming and expulsion.

Skeptics have labeled this undertaking “cancel culture,” which of late has occasioned a pushback from its representatives. The goal, they suggest, is less to eliminate all signs of a person’s existence—which tends to be impractical anyway— than to supplement critique with punishment of some kind. Thus a group of linguists in July submitted to the Linguistic Society of America a petition not only to criticize the linguist and psychologist Steven Pinker for views they considered racist and sexist, but to have him stripped of his Linguistic Society of America fellow status and removed from the organization’s website listing linguist consultants available to the media. An indication of how deeply this frame of mind has penetrated many of our movers and shakers is that they tend to see this punishment clause as self-evidently just, as opposed to the novel, censorious addendum that it is. ...

[T]he Heterodox Academy conducted an internal member survey of 445 academics. “Imagine expressing your views about a controversial issue while at work, at a time when faculty, staff, and/or other colleagues were present. To what extent would you worry about the following consequences?” To the hypothetical “My reputation would be tarnished,” 32.68 percent answered “very concerned” and 27.27 percent answered “extremely concerned.” To the hypothetical “My career would be hurt,” 24.75 percent answered “very concerned” and 28.68 percent answered “extremely concerned.” In other words, more than half the respondents consider expressing views beyond a certain consensus in an academic setting quite dangerous to their career trajectory.

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September 8, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Are Universities (And Law Schools) Legally Obligated To Exempt High-Risk Faculty From In-Person Teaching During COVID-19?

Mark L. Jones (Mercer), Cathren Koehlert-Page (Barry), Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne (Mercer) & Gary J. Simson (Mercer), It’s Alright, Ma, It’s Life and Life Only: Are Colleges and Universities Legally Obligated during the Coronavirus Pandemic to Exempt High-Risk Faculty from In-Person Teaching Requirements?:

CoronavirusAfter hurriedly transitioning to online learning when the coronavirus pandemic burst onto the scene during spring semester 2020, colleges and universities across the U.S. spent much of the spring and summer deciding how to proceed in the fall. Should all courses continue to be taught entirely online? Should all return to in person? Is the best answer instead some sort of hybrid curriculum? Because the pandemic has defied prediction at every turn, colleges and universities not going entirely online can’t help but know that at any point during the semester they may suddenly be forced to revisit and revise their decision. Furthermore, after a summer in which the virus continued to infect U.S. residents at an alarming rate, colleges and universities are surely on notice that the pandemic should figure front and center in their planning as they think about in-person vs. online instruction for spring semester 2021.

We believe that, for the duration of this pandemic, a college or university planning to offer any in-person classes has a moral obligation not to require any faculty members to teach in person who, out of concern for their own physical or emotional well-being or for that of another member of their household, ask to teach online instead. For now, however, we leave it to others to discuss more fully colleges’ and universities’ moral obligations. Our topic is colleges’ and universities’ legal obligations to allow faculty to opt for online, rather than in-person, teaching during this pandemic, and within that topic, we limit our focus to the group of faculty whom we believe colleges and universities have the clearest legal obligation to protect — those who, according to the criteria identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appear to be most vulnerable to getting seriously ill or even dying if they contract the coronavirus. In the language of the CDC, our focus is faculty members “at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19” — a group that we call “CDC high-risk faculty.” According to the CDC, anyone is high risk who has reached age 65 or who has one of various specific medical conditions, including cancer, chronic kidney disease, pregnancy, hypertension, and more.

We outline various arguments that colleges and universities are legally obligated during this pandemic to exempt CDC high-risk faculty from any in-person teaching requirement.

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September 8, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Florida Is Seventeenth State To Reject Emergency Diploma Privilege For Law School Graduates During COVID-19

In re: Petition to Amend the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar and the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, No. 20-1236 (Fla. Sept. 3, 2020):

Florida Supreme Court COVID 19On August 20, 2020, Petitioners, who total more than 50 members of The Florida Bar in good standing, petitioned this Court, pursuant to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 1-12.1(f), to adopt emergency rules to provide for admission to The Florida Bar without examination, followed by a supervised practice requirement to aid registrants for the July 2020 Florida General Bar Examination who have been severely impacted by the delays in administering the examination. ... For the reasons explained below, the Court declines to authorize such a pathway to Bar membership.

Bloomberg Law, Law School Grads Can’t Skip Florida Bar Exam, Court Says

The National Conference of Bar Examiners reports that Florida is the seventeenth state to deny requests for an emergency diploma privilege during COVID-19:

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September 8, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, September 7, 2020

Allowing Law School Graduates To Practice Law Without Taking A Bar Exam Through A Diploma Privilege Does Not Put The Public At Greater Risk Of Attorney Misconduct

William Patton (USC Law & UCLA Medicine), Admitting Law Graduates By Bar Examination Versus By a Diploma Privilege: A Comparison of Consumer Protection:

State bar associations for decades have justified increasing the rigorousness of their bar examinations as a necessary measure for assuring consumer protection. However, no state has provided data based empirical evidence that increasing the difficulty of a bar examination has a direct correlation with increasing consumer protection (decreasing attorney discipline based upon incompetency and/or ethical violations). This study of the Wisconsin State Bar disciplinary system demonstrates that there is little difference in the protection of the public between admitting law students to the practice of law by a diploma privilege versus requiring passage of a bar examination.


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September 7, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Two Professors Sue Florida Coastal Law School For Breach Of Contract Over Pay Cut

News4Jax, Professors Sue Florida Coastal School of Law Over ‘Breach of Contract’:

Florida Coastal (2017)Two law professors are suing Florida Coastal School of Law in a complaint that accuses the for-profit school’s owners of putting their own interests ahead of the school’s.

The four-count lawsuit was filed July 17 in Duval County by the law firm of Morgan & Morgan on behalf of law professors Benjamin Priester and Jennifer Reiber. The professors, who have taught at the school for over a decade each, are seeking more than $30,000 in damages and a jury trial.

Among other things, the suit accuses Florida Coastal School of Law and its ownership of breach of contract by unilaterally cutting employees’ agreed upon salaries to offset budget shortfalls. It says the professors, who would not have kept working for the school if their pay wasn’t misrepresented, are owed unpaid wages.

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September 6, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

A First Step Toward Loving Our Enemies

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  A First Step Toward Loving Our Enemies, by John Danforth (Episcopal priest; former U.S. Senator (R-MO)) & Matt Malone (Jesuit priest; Editor in Chief,  America Magazine: The Jesuit Review):

Love[A] growing number of Americans regard their political opponents not as fellow citizens with whom they disagree but as enemies; as politically, socially and even morally irredeemable. Millions of Americans consume news in echo chambers, while countless numbers have lost friends or even turned away from family over political disagreements.

This tendency to divide the world between us and them has come even to American churches, where righteous advocacy of social justice can come across as self-righteous scolding of individuals. Christians have a religious duty to champion the cause of justice. But as the prophet Micah teaches, they also have the duty to walk humbly with God and with their neighbors, especially when tempted to think of themselves as the swords of divine judgment.

Ultimately, everyone bears responsibility for polarization. This might seem like unwelcome news, but it’s the opposite. As long as the cause of the problem is someone else, then nothing can be done. But those who acknowledge how they contribute to the problem also can begin to imagine how they can create a better culture. In this world Americans would see each other as neighbors and treat each other as friends, even and especially when they disagree deeply.

We are priests from different Christian churches. We belong to different generations and have worked for different political parties. Yet we share a love of country that transcends those differences. Above all, we share a faith in God, who alone has the power to separate the righteous from the sinners.

This may sound fantastical or naively optimistic, but a common element in the traditions of both our churches may provide a practical model for reducing polarization. It is called the exchange of peace, a simple act of reconciliation before beginning the most sacred part of the liturgy. We turn to one another and say: “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” This practice should go beyond our sanctuaries. Imagine if Americans began to exchange the peace with their political opponents. In a secular setting they could simply say, “I am your friend.”

This would transform the tone of politics. Treating opponents as friends would be more than a nicety. By showing that we are disposed to listen as well as speak, it would make possible real dialogue. ...

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September 6, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Practicing Faith

Practicing Faith:

Practicing FaithAt Pepperdine, we believe faith is to be practiced. We never arrive at or happen upon a perfected faith, but we practice faith day by day. Spiritual practices serve as a rhythm of life by which we encounter God. You might think of spiritual practices like the mosaic elements on a stained glass window. While we encounter each one separately, as a whole they help us become people with spiritual resilience, equipped to participate in God's work in the world.

Practicing your faith is not an assignment. Not a to-do list. Not a reason to feel shame or beat yourself up for not doing it "right." In fact, there is no "right" or "best way" to practice. Practicing faith is, well, practice. We pray this resource renews your soul and draws you into the active life of God.

Welcome, beloved.
Sara Barton, University Chaplain

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September 6, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Adds 1.4 Million Jobs, Legal Profession Adds ... Nothing

American Lawyer, Jobs Report: US Economy Adds 1.4 Million Jobs, Legal Adds ... Nothing:

BLS (2015)Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. While the U.S. economy overall added 1.4 million jobs in August, buoyed by almost 250,000 temporary census workers that will be laid off at month’s end, the legal vertical added exactly zero jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly jobs report

While not counted in this month’s report, a spat of layoffs in recent days suggests that a flat month of job growth might be the best the industry can expect for some time. 

The number of jobs in the legal sector, composed of attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries and others who make their living in the law, sat at 1,107,600, the same number as July and about 45,000 jobs lower than the same point in 2019. 

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September 5, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Attorneys For Dan Markel Murder Suspect Katherine Magbanua Seek Pretrial Release From Prison

Tallahassee Democrat, Attorneys for Magbanua Continue Pursuit of Pretrial Release in Dan Markel Murder Case:

MagnaubaThe attorneys for Dan Markel murder suspect Katherine Magbanua are again making their case to have their client released from jail on bond.

They cite the October mistrial in which a jury did not convict her on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder or solicitation to commit first-degree murder, a lesser burden than the one required to consider whether bond is appropriate.

In the 31-page filing earlier this week, Magbanua’s attorneys Chris DeCoste and Tara Kawass ask that she be released from the Leon County Detention Facility while she awaits a trial date, which is not likely until 2021. A case management conference has been set for December. ...

"The state’s case here rested ‘almost entirely’ on the statement of Mr. Rivera," Magbanua's attorneys wrote. "It was the only piece of evidence directly implicating Ms. Magbanua… (and was) also substantially contradictory to other evidence presented at trial."

Their client was offered immunity in exchange for testimony against the Adelson family, which she did not give, even just days before the trial when she met with Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman and State Attorney’s Office Investigator Jason Newlin. In television interviews, Cappleman alluded to the role Magbanua could play in her own release from jail.

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September 5, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Will Covid-19 Revive Faculty Power?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Will Covid-19 Revive Faculty Power?:

Across the country, faculty members are campaigning to be meaningfully heard by the powers that be at their institutions — big and small, elite and open access. They’re laying the bricks of new structures of faculty and staff governance after decades of erosion. In some ways, the pandemic has become this “great leveler,” says Jennifer Fredette, an associate professor of political science at Ohio University. Tenured professors are feeling the insecurity that contingent faculty members have long experienced. A raw deal has reached their doorstep, she says, and they’re now saying, “Nobody deserves this.”

Fredette finds this renewed interest in faculty organizing — especially that it’s happening across the country — energizing. But, she’s quick to add, it’s difficult work.

The pandemic, with the financial pummeling that accompanies it, is a mighty force, perhaps impossible to combat. By the beginning of July, more than 51,000 higher-education employees had already been furloughed, laid off, or had their contracts not renewed, according to Chronicle reporting. Some boards and presidents have acted unilaterally, with little incentive not to. Decades of adjunctification have already thinned the ranks of full-time college instructors and weakened the collective power of the teaching staff — perhaps past a point of no return.

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September 4, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Ongoing Challenges In Researching Affirmative Action In Legal Education

Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock) & Richard J. Peltz-Steele (UMass), Ongoing Challenges in Researching Affirmative Action in Legal Education: Maximizing Public Welfare Through Transparency, 26 Tex. Hisp. J.L. & Pol'y 57 (2020):

The public good often depends on social science research that employs personal data. Volumes of scientific breakthroughs based on data accumulated through access to public information demonstrate the importance and feasibility of enabling research in the public interest while still respecting data privacy. For decades, reliable and routine technical methods have ensured protection for personal privacy by de-identifying personal data. Social science research into legal education and admission to the bar is presently a matter of urgent public interest and importance, requiring solid empirical analysis of anonymized personal data that government authorities possess. Social science research into the effects of affirmative action represents standard, indeed commonplace, research practice furthering the public interest, while employing established methods that minimize the risk to privacy. Yet, when seeking information regarding admissions standards and success metrics, researchers have faced remarkable headwinds from government officials. In this article, we continue to discuss a topic that we have devoted significant professional energy: the proper balance of privacy, transparency, and accountability in researching legal education.

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September 4, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Black University Of San Diego Law Students Demand Classroom Diversity Monitors To Report ‘Questionable Conduct’

The College Fix, Black Law Students Demand Classroom Diversity Monitors to Report ‘Questionable Conduct’:

USD (2016)The Black Law Students Association at the University of San Diego School of Law is calling for campus administrators to train and post diversity officers in classrooms to observe and report bias and other “disparaging” actions against students of color.

According to an open letter from the USD Black Law Students Association, these diversity officers would be charged with watching classrooms and reporting incidents or conduct they consider questionable or discriminatory.

“As Black law students we are privileged with the opportunity to pursue a legal education and seek membership to the legal profession, however, we are not immune to the oppression that is inextricably linked to our Blackness,” the group states in their six-page letter to USD law faculty and students.


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September 4, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, September 3, 2020

University Of Iowa Condemns Faculty Sickout Protesting Campus Reopening Plan

Inside Higher Ed, University of Iowa Students and Faculty Stage Sickout Protesting Campus Reopening Plan:

Iowa Logo (2019)Faculty, staff and students at the University of Iowa staged a “sickout” Wednesday, the latest in a series of escalating calls to end face-to-face instruction during the pandemic. ...

Megan Knight, associate professor of instruction in rhetoric, participated in the sickout, including via this email autoreply:

I am away from my desk in recognition of today's “sick-out” event. This event is intended to communicate to the UI administration the urgent need for all classes to be moved to an online format immediately, to avoid furthering the public health crisis currently unfolding in Iowa City.

Knight said in an interview that there is “really a lack of leadership here and real confusion on my part as to, ‘OK, who’s in charge here? Who’s going to make decisions based on science and what we know about public health?’ It really feels like we’re at sea.”

The university publishes only self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff and students three times per week. On Monday, the most recent day for which numbers were available, there were 220 new student cases, for a total of 1,142 since the beginning of the semester on Aug. 18. There were three new employee cases, bringing the total to 16 this term.

As of Wednesday, Iowa City -- where the university is located -- was the fourth-worst U.S. metro hot spot for new coronavirus cases, relative to population, over the last two weeks, according to this New York Times database. (Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University, was the second hottest spot.)

Unlike many states, Iowa did not issue a stay-at-home order during the pandemic and has not issued a mask mandate. 

Iowa Gazette, University of Iowa leadership Condemns Faculty Planned Sickout:

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September 3, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Applicants Sitting For Online Georgia Bar Exam Must Sign Liability Waiver Releasing Any Potential Claims Against ExamSoft And Bar

Following up on my previous posts:

Applicants planning to sit for the October 5-6 online Georgia bar exam must sign a liability waiver releasing any claims they may have against ExamSoft, the Georgia bar, and the state of Georgia. The applicants also must certify that they have the "experience and expertise" necessary to take the exam.

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September 3, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Few, The Proud, The July 2020 Multistate Bar Exam Survivors: Average Score Hits All-Time High, 88% Fewer Takers


NCBE, July 2020 MBE Mean Score Increases:

The national Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) mean scaled score for July 2020 was 146.1, an increase of about 5 points from the July 2019 mean of 141.1. In July 2020 5,678 examinees in 23 jurisdictions sat for the MBE. The small number of examinees and jurisdictions in July 2020 (compared to the 45,334 examinees in 54 jurisdictions who tested in July 2019) was a result of the use of alternative test dates in many jurisdictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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September 3, 2020 in Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Randall Kennedy: How Racist Are Universities, Really?

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  How Racist Are Universities, Really?,  by Randall Kennedy (Harvard):

It is no surprise that universities have become targets of the activism erupting in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. University police forces have been implicated in racist malfeasance. Universities oversee labor forces which reflect the class and racial divisions partitioning society at large. Universities are the site of cultural battles over iconography (Calhoun College at Yale, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, Washington and Lee), and the propriety of taking race into account in admissions. At a time when racial reckonings have visited the NFL and Nascar, The New York Times and Vogue, Minneapolis and Mississippi, it was inevitable that they would visit campuses, too. ...

These and similar protests are part of an international eruption of outrage against racism and an insistence that positive change — real change — be pursued immediately. That dissent is splendid in many respects, displaying creativity, persistence, and bravery in demanding the redress of long-neglected racial wrongs. After all, according to virtually every indicator of well-being imaginable — life expectancy, wealth, income, access to education and health care, risk of victimization by violent criminality, likelihood of being arrested or incarcerated — a distinct, adverse gap separates Blacks from whites. The dissidents and their allies have refused to allow business to proceed as usual. They have pushed racial inequity to the front of popular consciousness. They have crammed into a couple of months more public education about matters of race than has taken place in years. They have been the heroes of the George Floyd moment.

But being on the side of anti-racism is no inoculation against error. An allegation of systemic racism leveled against a university is a serious charge. If the allegation is substantiated, it ought to occasion protest and rectification commensurate with the wrong. If an allegation is flimsy or baseless, however, it ought to be recognized as such. Engaging in the urgent work of anti-racist activism should entail avoidance of mistaken charges that cause wrongful injury, exacerbate confusion, and sow distrust that ultimately weakens the struggle.

One might wonder about the need to voice such an obvious observation. The fact is that this moment of laudable protest has been shadowed by a rise in complacency and opportunism. Some charges of racism are simply untenable. Some complainants are careless about fact-finding and analysis. And some propose coercive policies that would disastrously inhibit academic freedom. ...

The evasiveness, if not mendacity, of administrators is a large part of the problem. They often pander to protestors, issuing faux mea culpas that any but the most gullible observers recognize as mere public relations ruses aimed at pacification. ...

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September 3, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)