Paul L. Caron

Saturday, January 11, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Muller: Law Schools With The Worst Debt-to-Income Ratios Among Recent Graduates

Following up on my recent posts:

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Are Poor Debt-to-Income Ratios Among Law School Graduates a Sign of Institutional Challenges?:

I recently blogged about debt-to-income ratios among recent law school graduates from Department of Education data disclosures. ... I suggested a “good” ratio would be less than 1.0 (i.e., total debt is less than total entry-level salary), which is a good rule of thumb for college. ...

I wanted to look at the other end—what do particularly poor debt-to-income ratios tell us? Actually, quite a lot. I noticed that several of the schools with the worst ratios had faced what I identify as “adverse situations.” First (identified in the chart as *), schools that have faced multiple years of sub-75% ultimate bar passage rates, which places them at accreditation risk under the ABA’s new ultimate bar passage requirement. Second (**), schools that have lost their ABA accreditation recently and become state-accredited. Third (***), schools that have closed.

I sorted the chart by the worst debt-to-income ratios, those schools with such ratios of 3.0 or higher (i.e., median reported debt is at least three times the median reported income).

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January 11, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Denver Law School Settles Another Pay Discrimination Suit By Female Faculty

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Karen Sloan (, University of Denver Law Settles Another Pay Discrimination Suit by Female Faculty:

GoelThe University of Denver Sturm College of Law has agreed to increase the compensation of an associate professor who sued in June, claiming she was underpaid compared with her male and nonminority faculty colleagues, the professor’s lawyer said Thursday.

The university is boosting plaintiff Rashmi Goel’s annual pay; giving her an annual stipend for her work with the law school’s Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place & Law; compensating her for back pay and emotional distress; and paying her attorney fees, said Goel’s attorney, Charlotte Sweeney of the Denver firm Sweeney & Bechtold. ...

She alleged that she was the lowest paid of the school’s 12 associate professors, despite having been on the faculty since 2002, and earned more than $30,000 less than the average salary among that cohort. Ten of those professors are male or non-Asian. Goel, who is Asian, earns between $40,000 and $50,000 less annually than other associate professors with comparable experience, according to her complaint. ...

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January 10, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Paul Weiss Tax Partner, Still Going Strong At Age 107

American Lawyer, At 107, Paul Weiss Partner Mordie Rochlin Says Hard Work Makes for a Long Life:

Paul WeissPaul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison partner Mordie Rochlin, one of the oldest men in the United States, is convinced that the only reason he made it to the age of 107 is that he never left the firm that he retired from decades ago.

“Without the firm, I would have probably shriveled up somewhere in a nursing home and have long been put away,” he said as chairman Brad Karp and other guests listened intently.

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

WSJ: Making It As A Young Lawyer In Boston On $50,000/Year

Wall Street Journal, Starting Out: Boston on $50K a Year:

FalveyHow far does a $50K salary go when you’re starting out? ... Here is the story of Catherine Falvey ...
Salary: $52,000
Occupation: Research director for the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Where do you live? How much do you pay for rent?
I live in a two-bedroom apartment in South Boston, colloquially known as Southie. I always wanted to come back to Boston after going to college [at Elon University in North Carolina], having grown up around the city. I came back in 2015 to go to Suffolk University Law School.

My parents own an apartment here, so my roommate and I contribute half of the mortgage each month. We pay about $500 each, which is incredibly low compared to rent in the area. I have friends who each pay $1,400 in a $2,800 two-bedroom apartment, and pay $3,600 for a three-bedroom. Living in a property my parents own is the only way I can afford where I live. ...

strong>Did you find it difficult to find a job after law school?
My first job after law school was at a small real-estate law firm. It wasn’t my first choice and it wasn’t the area of law I was interested in, but I took it because I was afraid of not having an income. I worked there for 11 months before I got my current job in cannabis law.

I didn’t expect to make six figures right off the bat, but I thought that [my law degree] would bump my pay grade up a little bit, to maybe $60,000 or $70,000. The idea that a law-school grad is immediately going to have a massively successful job is unrealistic, at least in this city. ...

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January 10, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Gonzaga Seeks To Hire A Lateral Business Law Professor

Gonzaga LogoGONZAGA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, Spokane, WA seeks to hire a lateral tenure-track or tenured faculty member in Business Law as Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor, depending on qualifications, to begin Fall 2020. The person will also serve as the Director of Gonzaga Law's new Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce, which builds on the legacy of the Commercial Law Center.

Essential Functions
Plan, evaluate, and revise curricula, course content, course materials, and methods of instruction for law students; supervise and advise students enrolled in self-directed legal research and writing projects; teach courses in the law school in the area of business law; engage with student advisees to plan their law school curriculum; engage in professional development and scholarship, administrative duties, and public service as required; and in the role of Director of the Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce, develop and maintain an innovative, robust program based on socially responsible corporate governance, in line with Gonzaga University's mission to provide a humanist education and prepare students to serve the common good, and promote the Center's programming to local, national, and international audiences. The development of the Center can include, but is not limited to, finding and writing grant proposals, working with the director of the Executive J.D. program, overseeing a speaker series, hosting national/international conferences, and engaging in impact litigation, policy work, and/or other forms of advocacy

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

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Upending Bankruptcy ‘Myths,’ Judge Erases $220,000 Student Loan Debt

Wall Street Journal, Upending Bankruptcy ‘Myths,’ Judge Erases $220,000 Student Loan Debt:

Rosenberg 3A bankruptcy judge excused a U.S. Navy veteran with a law degree from repaying more than $220,000 in student loan debt, the latest court ruling to lower the barriers to discharging educational debt.

Judge Cecelia G. Morris of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., discharged the law school graduate’s unpaid student loans even though he isn’t disabled or unemployable, saying that satisfying his law school debt in full would impose an undue hardship.

In her ruling, Judge Morris said most bankruptcy professionals and laypeople “believe it impossible to discharge student loans.” She said she would not perpetuate those “myths” and would apply a legal test developed in 1987 “as it was originally intended.”

The standard, known as the Brunner test, requires borrowers seeking bankruptcy relief from their student debt to show they cannot maintain a minimal standard of living, their circumstances are likely to continue for a significant period and they have made good-faith efforts at repayment.

The judge’s ruling comes as some judges, experts and politicians re-evaluate the legal hurdles preventing borrowers in difficult financial straits from using bankruptcy to eliminate student loan debt.

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January 9, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Kuehn: Refuting The False Trope On Clinical Courses And Bar Passage

Kuehn (2019)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Refuting the False Trope on Clinical Courses and Bar Passage, by Robert Kuehn (Associate Dean for Clinical Education, Washington University):

It has been observed that “the fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” Until recently, this could be said about the possible influence of enrollment in clinical courses on a student’s likelihood of passing the bar examination. While there was a shortage of empirical studies on any possible relationship, there have been plenty of opinions on how taking those courses might be harmful, opinions often reflected in graduation restrictions on clinical courses and requirements for bar subject-matter courses.

But, there are now significantly more facts to refute those opinions. Two recent, large-scale studies have both found no relationship between the number of law clinic or externship courses or credits a law graduate took and her likelihood of passing the bar exam.

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January 9, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Changes To U.S. News Law School Rankings Met With Skepticism

Karen Sloan (, Changes to US News Law School Rankings Met With Skepticism:

2020 US News Law SchoolU.S. News & World Report is adding as many as five new categories to its suite of law school specialty rankings this year, an expansion that’s getting a cold reception from legal academics. ...

[U.S. News Chief Data Strategist Bob Morse] revealed that the latest rankings survey, which is now out in the field, for the first time asks reviewers to rank law schools on their constitutional law, criminal law, business corporations, and contracts programs. That joins nine existing specialty rankings, including intellectual property, clinical training, and tax law. U.S. News sends the survey to four people at each law school and for the specialty rankings, respondents are asked to rate each school’s programs on a scale of 1 to 5. ...

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January 9, 2020 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

New England Law School Dean Receives $5.3m Retirement Payout ($4m Deferred Comp, $1.3m For Unused Sabbaticals)

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Boston Globe, New England Law Dean Will Leave With More Than $5 Million:

O'BrienDuring his long tenure at New England Law, John F. O’Brien has been among the highest paid law school deans in the country. When he turns over leadership of the school later this year to former Republican senator Scott Brown, O’Brien will also walk away with one of the most lucrative retirements in academia, worth at least $5.3 million.

O’Brien, 69, who has been dean of the Boston law school since 1988, is on target to receive an exit package more commonly negotiated by the presidents of top-tier private colleges or complex flagship state universities — rather than the head administrator of a 700-student law school with a local reputation and middling rankings, experts said.

O’Brien’s retirement package, which includes more than $4 million in deferred compensation and $1.3 million for unused sabbaticals, was reported in the school’s most recent nonprofit filings and was awarded even as New England Law has faced multiple years of operating deficits, anemic returns on its endowment, and falling enrollment. ...

Law school spokeswoman Jennifer Kelly said in a statement that O’Brien, who has been at the law school for 35 years, including as an associate dean, is leaving the law school in far better shape than when he arrived. “The compensation amounts for President John O’Brien listed in the school’s public filings represent accumulated retirement benefits reflective of 35 years of dedicated service to our law school,” Kelly said. “Upon his retirement, President O’Brien will be leaving the school in a solid financial position, having raised the school’s once negligible endowment to more than $85 million while keeping the school debt-free.” ...

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January 8, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Top 10 Legal Education Stories Of 2019

Karen Sloan (, Better Bar Scores, Big Donations, ABA Crackdown: Legal Education in 2019:

[W]e’ve rounded up our top 10 legal education stories of 2019. ...

1. Bar Exam Turnaround—Flagging bar pass rates have plagued legal education for the better part of a decade, but 2019 pass rates—on the whole—were up for both the February and July administrations. The average score on the Multistate Bar Exam, which is the 200-question multiple-choice portion of the test, increased 1.2 points in February and 1.6 points in July. Pass rates rose in most jurisdictions. California’s July pass rate, for example, went from 40.7% in 2018 to 50.1% in 2019. New York’s pass rate rose 2 percentage points to 65%. And Florida’s pass rate increase 7 percentage points to land at 74% in July.

2. Major Gifts, New Names—2019 might just go down as legal education’s year of donor drama. The University of Alabama returned $21 million to donor Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and stripped his name from the school in June after a public spat over—depending on who you believe—abortion rights or donor meddling. Then law students and alumni at the University of Pennsylvania staged a mutiny when administrators sought to change the school’s nickname to Carey Law after receiving $125 million from the W.P. Carey Foundation in November. (Long term, the school will be known as Penn Carey Law). Things have gone smoother at Pepperdine University, after the law school changed its name to Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law in October after receiving a $50 million gift.

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

UC-Hastings Seeks To Hire A Tax Clinic Director

Clinic Director and Visiting Assistant Professor, UC Hastings Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic:

UC-Hastings Logo 3The University of California, Hastings College of the Law (“UC Hastings Law”), located in downtown San Francisco, seeks applicants for the position of Visiting Assistant Professor to serve as Clinic Director for the newly-formed, UC Hastings Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (“the “Clinic”). This is a full-time, non-tenure track faculty position (lecturer) intended to support those interested in law school academic careers. Assuming successful renewal of the IRS grant, the Clinic Director position will be a two-year appointment, with possible extensions for subsequent years.

The Clinic will give free legal assistance to low-income taxpayers with active tax controversies with the Internal Revenue Service and provide education and outreach to taxpayers who speak English as a second language. Clients will be represented by students earning course credit for their enrollment in the Clinic, volunteer pro bono attorneys, and the Clinic Director. The Clinic Director will manage all aspects of the Clinic’s operations, including (but not limited to) conducting client intake, teaching students the relevant law and lawyering skills necessary for effective representation, placing clients with pro bono attorneys, and ensuring compliance with IRS grant requirements.

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January 8, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Caruso Law School Seeks To Hire Assistant Dean For Career Development

Pepperdine-campus-caruso-logo (010720)Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso Law is seeking to hire an Assistant Dean for Career Development. The Assistant Dean for Career Development envisions, creates, implements, and supports innovative strategies for the development and enhancement of career opportunities for Pepperdine Caruso Law students and alumni. With vision and leadership, the Assistant Dean supervises and works closely with our high-performing Career Development Office (CDO) staff, who counsel and advise students and alumni in their career planning and job search goals.

For more information or to apply, see here and below the fold:

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January 8, 2020 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goldburn Maynard Leaves Louisville Law School For Indiana Business School

Barton: The Law School Crash

Following up on my previous post, Ben Barton (Tennessee), Fixing Law Schools (NYU Press 2019): Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Law School Crash, by Ben Barton (Tennessee): 

What’s worse than a decade of financial turmoil? Not learning from it. ...

2009-10 was the high point for LSAT administrations, at 171,514. That figure fell to 101,689 just five years later.


According to ABA data, the last time that fewer students entered American law schools than in 2017 was 1974, when there were far fewer law schools. ...

Fewer applicants and fewer students also mean more competition for the students that remain. This is especially so given that many law schools have attempted to keep the LSAT and GPA averages for their entering class roughly the same, in an effort to maintain the overall quality of their entering classes, or to rise in the U.S. News law-school rankings, or both. As a result, the percentage of students paying full freight has plummeted. In 1999-2000 roughly 58 percent of law students paid full price. In 2018-19 just 29 percent did. ...

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

ABA 509 Report Data: 27% Of Law Students Lost Their Conditional Scholarships

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

Another portion of merit aid comes in the form of conditional scholarships. Generally, these require the student perform at a certain standard other than good academic standing. There's no universal ABA regulation on this — schools are free to set the condition as high or low as they want, so long as the conditions are clearly laid out in offer letters.

Unfortunately, many students don't quite grasp the complexity of conditional offers. As we all know, law school grading is very different from what most non-STEM undergraduates are used to. The dreaded curve makes your law school grades unpredictable at best.

83 law schools reported that at least 1 member of their incoming 2018 class had conditional scholarships. Of those, 12 reported that not a single student entering with a conditional scholarship had it reduced or eliminated. 2,492 students had their scholarships reduced or eliminated, an overall rate of 27% of those who received them. Overall, 6.5% of all law students starting in 2018 had their scholarship reduced or eliminated.

At 7 universities, over 50% of those students entering with a conditional scholarship had it reduced or eliminated.

Spivey 8A

Fortunately, the national average loss rate has been going down.

Spivey 8B

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January 7, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Class Of 2019 Law Grads Contributed $111 Million Of Pro Bono Legal Services

2019 AALS Law Student Pro Bono Hours Survey Report:

AALS (2018)The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) for the fourth year measured how much law schools contribute to the delivery of much-needed legal services through clinics, other experiential courses, and pro bono activities of law students.

In fall of 2019, 105 law schools reported that 19,885 law students in the class of 2019* contributed 4,384,871.31 hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of 220.5 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $25.43 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students’ time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $111.5 million. The schools represent approximately 57 percent of students in American Bar Association accredited law schools in the class of 2019.

In the same survey, 103 schools reported that 60,272 law students in all class years (1L-3L) during the academic year 2018-19 contributed 4,688,156.38 hours in legal services, an average of approximately 77.7 hours per student. Using the Independent Sector value of volunteer time, the value of these services is estimated to be in excess of $119.2 million. ...

The following schools contributed information for the survey:

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January 7, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 10 Legal Education Posts Of 2019

Why Does It Take So Damn Long To Grade Law School Finals?

Karen Sloan (, Why Does It Take So Damn Long to Grade Law School Finals?:

Lucky law students will find out their grades in a few weeks, but most will be on pins and needles for a month or more as they await their results. What’s more, they’ll return to campus for the start of the spring semester without knowing how they fared during the previous one.

So what gives? Why does it take so darn long for law professors to grade their final exams? We reached out to some professors to find out the truth. It turns out that—despite what some students may think—most law professors don’t jet off for a tropical vacation the minute finals wrap, leaving their exams behind. There’s a confluence of reasons, they say, for why it may take professors weeks to turn in final grades, ranging from the sheer length of law school finals and the meticulousness with which professors approach grading to the timing of the holidays at the end of the fall semester. They also say that the professors themselves—not teaching assistants—do all the grading. ...

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January 7, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 6, 2020

ABA 509 Report Data: 73% Of Law Students Receive Scholarships (Up From 49% In 2012)

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

Scholarship assistance has become the norm for law schools. Large sticker prices are often discounted by merit-based aid; less often, need-based aid is also a factor.

The increase in applicants could have allowed schools to decrease their utilization of scholarships as a way of attracting students – if economic factors were the only things at play. However, the discount rate continued to increase at all ABA schools. In 2019 73.3%, of law school students were receiving a scholarship of some kind. Let that sink in. Almost three quarters of all US law students were not paying the advertised sticker price to receive their legal education.

Spivey 7

We wonder if the legal education pipeline has become entirely dependent on using scholarships as a way of attracting students. From our work with both law schools and central universities, we know that declining law school revenue is an enormous concern. Most law schools are already operating in the red. Excepting a handful of programs with enormous endowments, that's clearly not a sustainable practice. ...

While ABA data is not granular enough to determine exactly how generous schools are, we can make general inferences from the available data.

There are 48 law schools where at least 90% of the class receives scholarship assistance of any amount. There are 5 schools where 100% of the class receives scholarship assistance: Concordia Law School, Pennsylvania State Dickinson, Liberty University, St. Thomas University of Minnesota, and Widener University of Delaware. That's right, not a single student at those schools pays sticker price to attend. Overall, there are only 18 schools where less than half the student population receives financial aid.

Of course, the raw percentage of students receiving scholarships can be deceiving if most of them are receiving small amounts. If we define generosity by looking at how many students at a given school receive a full scholarship or more, then our top five performers are Pennsylvania State- Dickinson (76%), Pennsylvania State-University Park (55%), Northeastern University (44%), Wayne State University (39%), and the University of Nevada- Las Vegas (39%).

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January 6, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pepperdine Welcomes Visiting Professors Mike Paulsen And Bobby Dexter

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law is thrilled to have Mike Paulsen (St. Thomas) and Bobby Dexter (Chapman) with us this semester as visiting professors.

Mike is our Straus Distinguished Visiting Professor this semester (following Dorothy Brown (Emory), who was our Straus Distinguished Visiting Professor last Spring). Mike will be teaching Constitutional Structure and a Constitutional Law Seminar. His most recent publication is To End a (Republican) Presidency, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 689 (2018).

Bobby will be teaching Federal Income Taxation of Individuals and Federal Income Taxation of Business Entities. His most recent publication is Federal Income Taxation In Focus (Aspen/Wolters Kluwer Law & Business) (2018).


January 6, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Economics Profession Turns Attention To Its ‘Race Problem’

Wall Street Journal, Economics Profession Turns Attention to its ‘Race Problem’:

FrancisEconomics professor Dania Francis researches topics such as racial and socioeconomic disparities and student-achievement gaps. But she recalls a moment during her graduate studies when a professor discouraged her from pursuing those interests.

“Don’t be the black person that studies black issues,” Ms. Francis recalled the person saying. “Study something legitimate first, so that people can understand you’re a legitimate scholar and then go on to do [race-related research] once you’ve made a name for yourself.”

For Ms. Francis, the advice represented one of the many challenges the economics field has with race issues, from a lack of minorities entering the profession and the career hurdles they face to how it approaches race-related topics.

“You can encourage as many [people of color] to enter the field as you want, but if when they get there they perceive hostility or they feel undervalued, they’re not going to stay,” Ms. Francis said. The economics field needs to consider: “What are the structures in economics that are discouraging minorities from being in those spaces and at those tables?”

The profession is grappling with such questions amid a larger conversation about how to bring more racial and gender diversity to the field. The American Economic Association’s annual conference, which begins Friday in San Diego, includes a panel titled How Can Economics Solve Its Race Problem? It follows a similarly titled panel on gender at last year’s gathering.

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January 6, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Saturday, January 4, 2020

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA 509 Report Data: Acceptance Rates Fall (To 45%), Yields Increase (To 32%)

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

Thanks to increasing applicants, law schools were able to be pickier about who they admitted to their class. The average acceptance rate nationally declined to 45.1% from 46.1%, and yield increased from 29.9% to 31.6%.

115 schools saw a decline in their acceptance rate, with 35 schools showing an acceptance rate of less than 30%.

Law School Acceptance Rate
1. YALE 8.2%
2. STANFORD  9.7%
3. HARVARD 12.5%
5. VIRGINIA 14.7%
6. COLUMBIA 15.9%
7. MICHIGAN 16.6%
8. TEXAS 17.5%
9. USC 17.7%
11. CHICAGO 18.6%
12. DUKE 18.9%
13. GEORGETOWN 19.5%
14. UC-BERKELEY 19.7%
15. FLORIDA 20.7%
16. GEORGIA 20.77%
17. UC-IRVINE 20.81%
18. GEORGE MASON 20.9%
19. CORNELL 21.3%
21. VANDERBILT 21.9%
22. UCLA 22.4%
24. NOTRE DAME 24.1%
26. ARIZONA 26.3%
27. UNLV 27.2%
28. FORDHAM 27.3%
32. TEXAS A&M 28.7%
34. ARIZONA STATE 29.41%
35. PEPPERDINE 29.81%

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January 4, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

More Than Half Of Harvard Law Students Experience Mild To Severe Depression And Anxiety; Over One-Third Are Problem Drinkers

Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law School Dean Releases Student Well-Being Working Group Report:

Harvard Law School (2016)More than half of Harvard Law School students who responded to a 2017 mental health survey reported experiencing mild to severe depression and anxiety, according to a report released Friday by a Law School working group of faculty, staff, and students. ...

The group reported that 35 percent of Law School respondents to the survey screened positive for mild depression, 15.6 percent for moderate depression, 5.8 percent for moderately severe depression, and 3.6 percent for severe depression. The survey also found 15.1 percent of Law School respondents screened positive for moderate anxiety and 9.1 percent screened positive for severe anxiety. ...

Just over 40 percent of respondents reported that “they do not feel rested when they wake up for the majority of days in a week,” and 80.9 percent reported that they do not meet the American Heart Association guidelines for exercise. 37.5 percent screened positive for problematic drinking.

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

Friday, January 3, 2020

ABA 509 Report Data: 19 Law Schools Increased Their 25th, 50th, And 75th LSAT And GPA

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

The increase in applicants last year was good for the stats of 2019's incoming class. 98 law schools reported an increase in their median LSAT, and 145 reported increases in their median GPA. 73 schools were able to increase both measures. 19 schools were able to increase all six LSAT/GPA measures: medians, 25ths, and 75ths. They, and the changes in these factors, are listed below.

Spivey 5

Overall, the average median LSAT at law schools went up from 155.9 to 156.4, an increase of half a point. Average median GPA went from 3.43 to 3.47. This has very real implications for both applicants and law schools.

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

Incoming AALS President Darby Dickerson: Legal Education Is On The Upswing

Karen Sloan (, Incoming AALS President: Legal Education Is On an Upswing:

DarbyWill the mood be jovial in the hallways of the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington during the Association of American Law School’s annual meeting, which kicks of Jan. 2? After all, improved bar pass rates and an uptick in applicants in 2019 are reasons for optimism. Or will the somber atmosphere of years past prevail given that law schools continue to close down and the actual number of new students this fall dipped slightly?

The AALS’ annual meeting, which is the largest gathering of law professors in the country with about 2,400 attendees expected this year, is a good place to take the pulse of legal education.

Ahead of the meeting, caught up with incoming association president Darby Dickerson, who is dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law School. ... Her answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Please Join Us At The Pepperdine Caruso AALS Reception (Friday, Jan. 3)


Unnamed (1)

Dear Friends,

After 50 years as Pepperdine School of Law, we are about to begin a new decade with a new name in honor of the historic $50 million gift from alumnus Rick Caruso and his wife Tina.

I know you have many commitments while you are at the AALS Annual Meeting, but I hope you will find the time to stop by our reception, our first as Pepperdine Caruso School of Law.

Please join me and other Pepperdine Caruso Law faculty for hors d’oeuvres and a hosted bar.

Friday, January 3rd, 2020
6:30-8:30 PM
Taylor Room, Mezzanine Level
Washington Marriott Wardman Park

January 2, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA 509 Report Data: Applications

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

It's also worth noting the small decline in applications last cycle defied the overall increase in applicants.

Spivey 4

88 schools saw an increase in the number of applicants, while 112 saw a decline in the number of applicants.

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January 2, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog 2019 Data

2019 was TaxProf Blog's biggest year to-date, with 19.4 million pages views:

TaxProf Blog 2019My top demographic is ages 25-34:

TaxProf Blog 2019 (Demographics)

10% of my readers come from outside the United States — the top 3 foreign countries are Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia:

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January 2, 2020 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

ABA 509 Report Data: The Top 50 Reduced Entering Class Size (-1%), The Non-Top 50 Increased (+3%)

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

[T]here seems to be something of a split in class size changes by USNWR rank.

Spivey 3

The top 50 ranked law schools actually accounted for a decline in 352 incoming students—while all other schools added 264.

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January 1, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two Perspectives On Law School Transparency

Elizabeth Olson (Bloomberg Law), Law School Transparency Still Fighting Status Quo After a Decade:

LST (2019)In 2009, after their first year [at Vanderbilt] law school, [Kyle McEntee and Patrick Lynch] formed a nonprofit consumer advocacy and education group, Law School Transparency. Ten years later, McEntee still helms the North Carolina-based organization, funded by grants and small donations, that has become a key part of a bigger shift in how consumers weigh the benefits versus the substantial costs of law school. ...

As LST got underway, law schools were beginning to confront significant fallout from the Great Recession, which made jobs scarcer and applicants leery of the costs of a J.D. Then bar passage rates tumbled and questions arose about what law schools were doing to ensure their graduates became licensed attorneys.

McEntee kept busy. He spearheaded efforts to bar schools from practices that admitted students without a clear chance to become an attorney. He’s spoken at law school campuses, developed student loan data, created a podcast series, and posted data on individual schools’ job placement on the LST website.

Over the decade, he’s chosen to forego conventional legal employment, and the solid paycheck that comes with it, and remains committed to LST. ...

LST has not been without its critics over the last ten years. Brian Leiter, the University of Chicago law professor who blogs at “Law School Reports,” concedes that LST “collects a lot of good data,” but said the advocacy group “has a fantasy about its impact on law schools. Deans don’t really pay attention.”

But Scott Norberg, former deputy managing director of the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, credits McEntee with pressing institutional gatekeepers for more detailed information about graduate job outcomes. ...

Recently, the organization has focused on accreditation and the bar exam. ...

Michael Simkovic (USC), “Law School Transparency” Is Misleading Its Customers About the Cost of Law School and Overcharging For Data That Are Available For Free:

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January 1, 2020 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Fall 2020 Law School Applicants Down 1%, But Surge 11% In The Highest LSAT Bands (165+) As 2019 Draws To A Close

As we close the books on 2019, we are 41% of the way through the Fall 2020 law school admissions season. Law school applicants are down 1.0%, and applications are up 1.6%:

2019 Admissions Data

There is an 11% surge in LSAT scores in the highest three bands (165-180), and steep declines in the middle three bands (150-164): -4.4% and lowest three bands (<140-149): -12.7%:

LSAT Last Year Current Year Change
< 140 962 747 -22.3%
140-144 1,398 1,373 -1.8%
145-149 2,875 2,448 -14.9%
150-154 4,165 3,890 -6.6%
155-159 4,783 4,569 -4.5%
160-164 4,555 4,450 -2.3%
165-169 3,453 3,903 13.0%
170-174 1,864 1,990 6.8%
175-180 474 536 13.1%

Update:  Scott Boone (John Marshall-Atlanta) notes that the dispersal of scores was affected by LSAC's decision to allow July test-takers (the first to use the new digital format) to cancel their scores after getting them. Roughly 50% of the July test-takers cancelled their scores. See more here.

Here is the application breakdown by region:

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December 31, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Illinois Law Prof Will Not Teach Scheduled Spring Classes And Instead Will Go On 'University-Sanctioned Leave' In Continuing Fallout From Sexual Misconduct

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  NPR Illinois, UI Prof. Jay Kesan To Go On 'University-Sanctioned Leave' In 2020:

KesanA University of Illinois law professor previously accused of sexual misconduct and slated to return to teach in January will instead go on "university-sanctioned leave."

That’s according to an email sent this week to College of Law faculty and students on behalf of the college’s dean, Vikram Amar, and reviewed by NPR Illinois. The email says Jay Kesan, faculty at the U of I’s flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign, will not teach two courses he had previously been scheduled to begin in January 2020. Instead, on January 1, he will go on leave “during which he will not be teaching” the email says.

The university said in a statement that it will not comment on this “ongoing personnel matter.” Kesan did not return several requests for comment via email and phone. A university spokesperson did not answer questions as to whether Kesan would be paid while on leave or allowed to go on campus before the publication of this story.

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December 31, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA 509 Report Data: Non-LSAT (GRE) Applicants Up 20%

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

As many of you undoubtedly know, the GRE is being accepted at a growing number of US law schools.  Last cycle ended with 2,354 non-LSAT applicants, an increase of about 20% over the prior cycle. It's reasonable to conclude that the bulk of this growth came from those using a GRE score to apply.

56 law schools reported accepting at least one non-LSAT applicant for their fall 2019 entering class. Here are the top ten in percentage of their incoming class made up of non-LSAT students:

Spivey 2

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December 31, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 30, 2019

ABA 509 Report Data: Applicants Up 3%, Matriculants Down 0.25%

Following up on my previous posts on the ABA's release of the 509 reports for every law school (links below): Mike Spivey, An In-Depth Analysis of the 2019 Law School Admissions & Entering Class Data:

Let's start by talking about the total application pool.  The 2018-2019 cycle ended with a total of 62,543 applicants. That was a growth of about 3.25% from the prior year, and represented legal education's best year since the 2011-2012 cycle. However, overall matriculants to law school in Fall 2019 were actually down very slightly, by about a quarter of a percent.

Spivey 1

Applicant volume has recovered significantly since the depths of the financial crisis bottoming out. Since the 2014-2015 cycle, there has been an increase of about 9,000 applicants, an almost 17% growth in the applicant pool. Despite this growth, the matriculant population has barely changed. In Fall 2019 there were only about 1,200 more first year law students than the nadir in 2014-2015, an increase of about 3.3%. Growth in student population simply has not tracked growth in applicant volume.

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December 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professor’s Repeated Use Of N-Bomb In Torts Class Sparks Backlash At Stanford

Stanford Daily, Professor’s Use of Racial Slur in Lecture Sparks Backlash at Law School:

Proctor 2History professor Robert Proctor drew backlash after repeatedly saying the N-word — when quoting from advertisements — in a guest lecture for Stanford Law School (SLS) professor John Donohue’s torts law class shortly before Thanksgiving Break.

Proctor “should understand the harm caused by using the N-word and how the word is used to oppress and marginalize,” stated a letter to members of the law school community from groups including the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). “Professor Proctor’s use of the N-word did not have pedagogical value — repeating this word was not germane to the subject of the presentation (the tort liability of the tobacco industry).”

The letter said that 44 of 60 students present during the class signed a letter expressing “shock and disappointment” to SLS Associate Dean of Student Affairs Jory Steele. ...

In an email to students in the class, [Donohue] apologized "for any hurt caused by Dr. Proctor's reference to the racist history" of tobacco industry advertising. ... Another faculty member said that "criticisms of comments similar in nature to those made by Dr. Proctor give enormous fuel to the Fox News crowd that helped elect Donald Trump," Donohue wrote. ...

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December 30, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ivy League Level Jealousy: How A Law Professor Views The Tenth Commandment

Christian Science Monitor, Jealousy at Ivy League Level: How a Law Professor Views Tenth Commandment:

SkeelOf all the things thou shalt not covet under the Tenth Commandment, thy brother’s bankruptcy theory may be the least of your temptations. But in the marketplace of ideas, the success of others — if not handled well — can get a scholar off his spiritual game, says David Skeel. Mr. Skeel, professor of corporations and bankruptcy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, describes the moral stumbling blocks of life at the highest levels of a profession he’s inhabited for the past 30 years, and for which he trains the next generation.

Unbridled ambition can blunt the joy of the work, Mr. Skeel believes. He helps keep his own competitiveness in check by trying to distinguish the passion for excellence from the quest for professional stature.

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December 29, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

SMU Sued For Severing Ties With United Methodist Church Following Decision To Strengthen Ban On Gay Marriage And LGBTQ Clergy

Inside Higher Ed, SMU Sued for Severing Ties With Church:

SMUA regional branch of the United Methodist Church filed suit against Southern Methodist University for amending its governance documents to separate itself from control by the church.

According to the lawsuit, filed last week in the court of Dallas County, Southern Methodist filed an amendment to its articles of incorporation in November deleting language stating that SMU was “to be forever owned, maintained and controlled by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church.”

The decision by SMU to amend its article of incorporation and bylaws follows a February vote by the Methodist church’s controlling body to strengthen its prohibitions on performing same-sex marriage and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy. SMU’s president, R. Gerald Turner, responded to the vote by reaffirming the university’s nondiscrimination policies and inclusive values and emphasizing the institution’s independence from church governance.

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December 29, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Stephen Bainbridge's Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Statement

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), I Submit Herewith My "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" Statement For My Merit Raise at UCLAW:

BainbridgeAs regular readers know, I'm up for a merit raise at UCLAW this year and am now required to submit a statement of how I contribute to the University's goals in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I have just emailed the statement to the administration. It reads as follows:

Although I am aware and respectful of the many dimensions within which a university properly seeks a diverse faculty and student body, I have long been particularly concerned with the lack of intellectual diversity at the law school. ...

At UCLA, we know that the campus as a whole leans substantially to the left. ...

Because conservative students and students of faith often feel alienated and estranged in an environment that is so relentlessly liberal and secular, I have made particular efforts to reach out to and support such students. I have served as a mentor for leaders of The Federalist Society and Christian Law Students Association. I have given talks to both organizations. I taught a Perspectives on law and Lawyering seminar devoted to Catholic Social Thought and the Law, which gave students—whether Catholic or not—an opportunity to consider how their faith (or lack thereof) related to the law and an opportunity to learn about a coherent body of Christian scholarship that might inform their lives as lawyers. I have also tried to lead by example, such as by serving as a volunteer with the Good Shepherd Catholic Church’s St. Vincent de Paul chapter, which raises funds for distribution to poor persons who are in danger of losing their home due to inability to make rent or mortgage payments.

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December 29, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Has The Master’s Degree Bubble Burst?

Inside Higher Ed, Has the Master’s Degree Bubble Burst?:

The explosion of new master’s degree programs in recent years hasn’t corresponded with a surge in students, analysis by the research and technology services company EAB suggests.

Megan Adams, managing director of research at EAB, said many colleges have overestimated the popularity of new degree programs. They may anticipate awarding hundreds of degrees per year, but the true number is often a single digit, she said. ...

“In 2014, what were bullish projections of over a million master’s degree conferrals annually by 2024 steadily dropped to a projected 840,000 master’s degree conferrals by 2029. That’s almost 200,000 fewer master’s degrees conferred,” wrote Adams in a recent blog post in which she argues that the master’s degree market is a bubble that has “already burst.”


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December 28, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

As usual, I end the year with my choices for the best legal education articles of 2019.  Please feel free to mention additional 2019 articles in the comments.  I have also added a new feature this year: Some Thoughts at Year's End in which I survey the progress of legal education reform since 2007.

Best Legal Education Articles of 2019

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December 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Scott Fruehwald, Weekly Legal Ed Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Suggests Raising Grades To Attract More Women To STEM Courses

Inside Higher Ed, Grading for STEM Equity:

StemHarsher grading policies in science, technology, engineering and math courses disproportionately affect women — because women value good grades significantly more than men do, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research [Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors]. ...

Using administrative data coupled with thousands of students’ course evaluations from the University of Kentucky from the fall of 2012, the study’s authors determined that students spent one hour more per week studying for a STEM course than for a non-STEM course, on average. At the same time, they earned lower grades in STEM courses.

The STEM classes in the sample were almost twice as large as their non-STEM counterparts and associated with grades that were 0.3 points lower. They were also associated with a 40 percent more study time.

Women in the sample had higher grades in both STEM and non-STEM courses than men. But they were significantly underrepresented in STEM. ...

Noting that professors generally all have different grading policies, the study proposes that curving all courses around a B grade would increase overall STEM participation by 7.2 percent overall and women’s participation, in particular, by 11.3 percent. "As women are willing to study more than men, this restriction on grading policies results in more women pursuing the sciences and more men pursuing the non-sciences."

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December 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Syracuse Launches Nation's First Online Joint JD/MBA Degree

Syracuse University College of Law and Martin J. Whitman School of Management Launch Nation’s First Online Joint JD/MBA Degree:

Syracuse JD MBASyracuse University College of Law announces the launch of the nation’s first online joint JD/MBA degree program, in partnership with Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management. The new joint degree combines the College of Law’s ground-breaking, ABA-accredited JDinteractive program with the Whitman School’s highly ranked MBA@Syracuse program.

“As we’ve learned from decades of success with our joint residential JD/MBA with the Whitman School, there is strong demand for a joint law and business education,” says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “JDinteractive attracts many students whose careers, credentials, and ambitions are a natural fit for a dual law and business curriculum. It makes sense to partner with our colleagues at the Whitman School to make this curriculum available online.”

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

Christmas Turns The World Upside Down: God's Power Is Made Perfect In Our Weakness

New York Times op-ed:  Christmas Turns the World Upside Down, by Peter Wehner:

Those of us of the Christian faith believe that Christmas Day represents the moment of God’s incarnation, when this broken world became his home. But it was not an entrance characterized by privilege, comfort, public celebration or self-glorification; it was marked instead by lowliness, obscurity, humility, fragility. ...

That could be said not just about Jesus’ birth but also his entire life, which was in many respects an inversion of what the world, including much of the Christian world, prizes. ...

The paradox is that Christianity changed the world despite Jesus’ declaration that his kingdom was not of this world. His disciples did not have notable worldly status or influence. Jesus’ energies and affections were primarily aimed toward social outcasts, the downtrodden and “unclean,” strangers and aliens, prostitutes and the powerless. The people Jesus clashed with and who eventually crucified him were religious authorities and those who wielded political power. The humble will be exalted, Jesus said, and the last shall be first. True greatness is shown through serving others and sacrifice.

All of this calls to mind an account in II Corinthians, one I have been intrigued by for nearly as long as I have been a Christian. In his epistle, Paul is describing a “thorn in my flesh” that was tormenting him. (We don’t know specifically what it was.) Three times he beseeched the Lord to remove it, according to the apostle, to which Jesus replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul went on to add, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What does it mean for God’s power to be made perfect in weakness?

It’s a statement as much about us as it is about God. Most of us know that we often grow in times of weakness rather than strength, when we face hardship rather than experience success. ...

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