Paul L. Caron
Dean





Tuesday, November 22, 2022

One-Third Of The Way Through The Fall 2023 Law School Admissions Season: Applicants Are Down -7.5%, With Biggest Decline (-21%) In The 165-169 LSAT Band

We are now 33% of the way through Fall 2023 law school admissions season. The number of law school applicants reported by LSAC is down -7.5% compared to last year at this time:

LSAC 1

129 of the 198 law schools are experiencing a decrease in applications. Applications are down -20% or more at 26 law schools:

LSAC 2

Applicants are down the most in the Northwest (-17.0%), Midsouth (-14.9%), and Northeast (-13.2%); and are up in Other (+22.2%):

LSAC 3

Applicants' LSAT scores are down -8.5% in the 170-180 band, -13.8% in the 160-169 band, -8.8% in the 150-159 band, and -1.3% in the 120-149 band:

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November 22, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Cleveland State Removes John Marshall's Name, Rebrands As CSU College Of Law

Following up on my previous posts (links below): Lee Fisher (Dean, Cleveland State), Law School Name Change: Cleveland State University (CSU) College of Law:

CSU Law (2022) (White)Below is a message from Cleveland State University President Laura Bloomberg announcing that earlier today, the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees voted to remove the name “Cleveland-Marshall” from the College of Law. Our college will now be known as the CSU College of Law.

As President Bloomberg notes, the Board reached its decision following an extensive and comprehensive process that included review by a special University ad hoc committee of the Law School Name Committee Report that I submitted to the University earlier this year. The University ad hoc committee unanimously recommended the removal of the name “Marshall,” and in September President Bloomberg submitted that recommendation to the Board with her endorsement. I also voiced my support of the recommendation.

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November 22, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, November 21, 2022

Legal Ed News Roundup

Antitrust Implications Of The U.S. News Law School Rankings Boycott

Daniel A. Crane (Michigan), Antitrust Concerns on Firing U.S. News & World Report:

Yale Notice & CommentMy view on the merits is that the USNWR rankings scheme is bad for legal education, for many of the reasons articulated by Deans Gerken, Manning, and Chemerinksy. It’s not that rankings are necessarily bad—giving students, employers, and others information on law schools is important. The problem is that USNWR places weight on arbitrary and manipulable factors, which in turn pressure schools to allocate resources in ways that are detrimental to legal education, equity, and ultimately society at large. So sign me up for the project of breaking USNWR’s spell.

Ever since yesterday’s announcements, folks have been asking me whether there is a potential antitrust problem with any of this. ...

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November 21, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Michigan Is Seventh T14 Law School To Refuse To Participate In The U.S. News Rankings

Mark D. West (Dean, Michigan), Michigan Law Will Not Participate in U.S. News Rankings:

Michigan Law Logo (2021)After talking with students, faculty, alumni, and staff, I have decided that it no longer makes sense for Michigan Law to participate in the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings process. As a public institution, serving the public interest has always been central to our mission. Over time, I increasingly have come to believe that the U.S. News law school rankings no longer serve the public interest. Although we have had sustained discussion for years within the Quad about parting ways with the rankings, it would have been difficult for us to take this step alone. I applaud Yale Law School (and Dean Heather Gerken, Michigan Law, ’94) for being first mover and share the concerns expressed by Yale and other schools that have withdrawn.

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November 21, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Why Law Schools Outside The T14 (Like UCLA, Wash U, George Mason, Boston University, Pepperdine) May Refuse To Join The U.S. News Rankings Boycott

David Lat (Original Jurisdiction), Yale And Harvard Law To U.S. News: Drop Dead:

US News (2023)In the world beyond YLS and HLS, some have criticized the schools’ withdrawal as threatening the rankings system, which these critics argue has utility for schools beyond the super-elite. The top-14, top-6, and top-3 schools barely change, so one could argue that the U.S. News rankings offered little informational value as to those schools. The entire so-called “T14” could secede, and not much would change; the old advice of “if you get into a T14 school, go” would still apply.

But beyond the T14, some schools have made dramatic jumps over the years, as reflected in their U.S. News rank—e.g., George Mason/Scalia Law or Pepperdine Law, former fourth-tier schools that are now #30 and #52, respectively. If YLS and HLS end up killing the law-school rankings, with U.S. News either leaving the space or making the ranks much more imprecise, how can these other schools demonstrate their progress? And how can law-school applicants make informed decisions when choosing between non-T14 schools?

New York Times, As More Top Law Schools Boycott Rankings, Others Say They Can’t Afford to Leave:

Some law schools — especially those just below the Top 14 — said that despite their qualms about the rankings and the tests, it could be hard to abandon them.

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November 21, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

U.S. News Law School Rankings, ABA Optional LSAT, And Harvard Affirmative Action Supreme Court Case

US News (2023)Wall Street Journal Editorial, Yale and Harvard Law Unrank Themselves:

Yale and Harvard law schools said this week they will no longer participate in the annual law-school rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. Readers may see no one to root for in a showdown between elite schools and the higher-ed ratings complex, but there’s a point to be made about what appears to be a flight from merit and transparency at these schools. ...

Dean Gerken gave away the game when she wrote: “Today, 20% of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs. While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses.”

This sounds like cover for a desire by Yale to be free to admit students with lower test scores in service to diversity, but without taking a hit to its exclusive reputation. Yale has long been No. 1 in the U.S. News rankings.

The LSAT isn’t perfect, but it is a good predictor of success in law school, particularly as grade inflation has rendered GPAs far less meaningful. The LSAT’s influence is also an equalizer. For the price of a prep book, a low- or middle-income applicant can use an excellent score to compete with thousands of affluent applicants with polished resumes or connections. Yet progressives have long hoped to kill the LSAT along with high-school standardized testing.

The timing here is notable given the Supreme Court may soon strike down the use of racial preferences in college admissions. The Yale and Harvard announcements look like attempts to adapt in advance. This is a reminder to the Justices that college administrators will find a way to skirt any three-pronged diversity test they might devise, or some other putative judicial compromise.

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November 21, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Tim Keller: Forgive — Why Should I And How Can I?

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), Tim Keller on Forgiveness:

ForgiveMy past two newsletters have examined the topic of forgiveness [Pandemic Forgiveness and The Incomprehensible Witness Of Forgiveness]. ... I thought the topic merited one more engagement, so I reached out to my friend, Tim Keller. ...

Tim’s latest book, out just this month, is Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? [blogged here]. It explores the power of forgiveness and how we can practice it in our lives.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation.

John Inazu: What prompted you to write this book now?

Tim Keller: Two reasons. First, as a pastor I’ve spent decades teaching and counseling about this subject. It is one of the main resources that Christianity provides. But secondly, it seems that forgiveness is “fading” in our society. Some on the Left says that forgiveness is a way for oppressors to stay in power so we shouldn’t grant it to them. Others on the Right are now complaining that we cannot go into the public square with compassion—rather, we should be tougher, less forgiving. But social relationships cannot be sustained without forgiveness. Marriages, families, friendships—they all require forgiveness in one way or another. ...

JI: We know that forgiveness does not always require a Christian or even a theological framework. For example, Nelson Mandela did not base his forgiveness on religious commitments. But your new book argues that the Bible teaches “human forgiveness must be based on an experience of divine forgiveness” and “we must consciously base our forgiveness of others on God’s forgiveness of us.” How do you account for the Mandelas of the world? 

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November 20, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WSJ: Ten Books To Read On Faith In The Modern World

Wall Street Journal Bookshelf, 10 Books to Read on Faith in the Modern World:

A set of recent books—as seen through the eyes of Wall Street Journal reviewers—as fascinating, thought-provoking and various as the shades of contemporary belief.

I have blogged five of these ten books:

WSJ Books

After Disbelief: On Disenchantment, Disappointment, Eternity, and Joy
By Anthony T. Kronman | Yale

America’s Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911
By Mark A. Noll | Oxford

God, Grades, and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success
By Ilana M. Horwitz | Oxford

How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
By David DeSteno | Simon & Schuster

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November 20, 2022 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Christian Colleges And Universities Support Senate-Passed Bipartisan Respect For Marriage Act With Protections For Both LGBTQ Rights And Religious Freedom

Carl H. Esbeck (Missouri), Everything You Need to Know About the Respect for Marriage Act:

CCU Logo 0This week, the Senate advanced the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA). The law tries to balance the unquestionable goodness of traditional marriage with America’s changing views on same-sex relationships. Some conservatives will undoubtedly treat the act as a loss. But others will take the view that, in a morally pluralistic society, a few concessions yield a win for the common good. I’m one of them.

The history of RMA goes back to late June, when the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overruled its predecessor Roe v. Wade. Buried in a concurring opinion by justice Clarence Thomas was his suggestion that the court make a clean sweep of things by reconsidering the 2015 Obergefell decision finding a constitutional right to gay marriage. That comment unsettled the tens of thousands of Americans who had entered same-sex unions, which in conservative states are dependent on Obergefell remaining good law.

In response, the US House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, or H.R. 8404. But it failed to safeguard religious liberty for churches, universities, and other institutions that believe in traditional marriage.

Rather than just say no to RMA, a small collective of faith groups moved quickly in the Senate to see if the act could be brought into balance. A few senators from both parties who were keen on doing just that helped. After adding in a measure of religious liberty protections, the Senate substitute of the House bill passed the higher chamber earlier this week, 62–37.

In order of significance, here’s what you need to know about the Respect for Marriage Act:

Section 6(b) of RMA recognizes that religious nonprofits and their personnel have a statutory right to decline any involvement with a marriage solemnization or celebration—including a same-sex one. This federal right would preempt any state or local law to the contrary. It means clergy can refuse to officiate a gay wedding. A church can decline to be the venue for these unions. A Christian college can deny use of its chapel for the same reason, and a Christian summer camp can refuse use of its lake and nearby pavilion, as well. ...

All in all, RMA is a modest but good day’s work. It shows that religious liberty champions and LGBT advocates can work together for the common good. It says to the original House bill, “If a bill is about us, it has to be with us.” And it shows that Congress can still legislate, not just be a gaggle of egos who go to Washington to perform but never fix.

Daily Citizen, Christian Groups Clash Over Religious Freedom Provisions in the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’:

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November 20, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Saturday, November 19, 2022

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Legal Ed Council Votes 15-1 To Make LSAT Optional Beginning With Fall 2026 1L Class

ABA Press Release, ABA Panel Takes First Step to Revise the Requirement for Law School Admission Tests:

ABA Legal Ed (2022)Statement of Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education:

Today, the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a change in ABA standards affecting the language of requiring law schools to have a ‘valid and reliable’ test. The council amended the recommendation of its Strategic Review Committee and proposed a revised standard to eliminate the requirement for each applicant for the 2025-26 admissions cycle for the 2026-27 entering class. The proposed revision now goes to the ABA House of Delegates (HOD). Under ABA rules and procedures, the HOD, as the policy-making body is known, has a maximum of two opportunities to review a proposed change; it can concur, reject or return with recommendations. But final approval to change ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools rests with the council, which serves as an independent arm of the ABA for the accreditation of the nation’s law schools. The next HOD meeting is in February 2023 in New Orleans.

Wall Street Journal, Law School Accrediting Panel Votes to Make LSAT Optional:

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November 19, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

The U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Like The Hotel California: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave

Robert Morse (Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News), U.S. News Best Law Schools Rankings Will Continue to Inform Prospective Students:

US News (2023)U.S. News & World Report will continue to rank all fully accredited law schools, regardless of whether schools agree to submit their data.

A few law schools recently announced that they will no longer participate in the data collection process for the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings. We respect each institution’s decision to choose whether or not to submit their data to U.S. News.

However, U.S. News has a responsibility to prospective students to provide comparative information that allows them to assess these institutions. U.S. News will therefore continue to rank the nearly 200 accredited law schools in the United States.

The U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings are designed for students seeking to make the best decision for their legal education. We will continue to pursue our journalistic mission of ensuring that students can rely on the best and most accurate information, using the rankings as one factor in their law school search.

Wall Street Journal, Georgetown, Columbia Join Schools Withdrawing From U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings:

“We believe that that’s a vote against accountability, it’s a vote against transparency, it’s a vote against equity, it’s a vote against students,” Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News & World Report, said of schools pulling out of the rankings.

In an interview Friday, shortly before Columbia announced its plan to withdraw, he said U.S. News will continue to compile its rankings with or without the schools’ cooperation. Much of the information it uses comes from publicly available sources; a share of the score is also based on peer reviews by lawyers and school administrators.

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November 19, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

With Stanford, Columbia And Georgetown, 6 Of The T14 Refuse To Participate In The U.S. News Law School Rankings

Jenny S. Martinez (Dean, Stanford), Stanford Law School Will Not Participate in US News Law School Ranking:

Stanford Law (2022)Stanford Law School has made the decision to withdraw from the US News law school ranking. US News and other rankings have long been a topic of conversation and internal study by our faculty at SLS. We know that well-formulated rankings, along with other publicly available data, can provide a valuable service to prospective students. In the spirit of providing useful information to prospective students and improving the ability of law schools to do their best for students, we have been one of a number of law schools who have approached US News over time with concrete suggestions to improve its ranking methodology, to no avail.

Stanford Law has stood near the very top of the rankings for many years, and we are lucky to be in a position where the rankings do not significantly affect our decisions.  However, we agree with many of the points that other schools have presented about how the rankings methodology distorts incentives in ways that are harmful to legal education as a whole. For example, the US News ranking methodology inappropriately discourages public service by treating students whose schools provide fellowships to support such work much the same as it treats students who are unemployed. In a world where interdisciplinary expertise is increasingly important, it also treats students pursuing another advanced degree, such as an MBA or PhD, as unemployed. The ways in which it weights per-student expenditures and measures debt, including excluding schools’ public service loan repayment programs, further distorts incentives in ways that act against students’ interests. Stanford Law School is proud to be one of the few law schools that offers exclusively need-based financial aid, and believes more schools across all tiers of legal education would be able to emphasize need-based financial aid, admit students from all walks of life, and keep expenditures down if the rankings methodology were different.

By joining with the other schools that have chosen to withdraw from participation in the US News rankings this year, we hope to increase the chances that the methodology is seriously overhauled, not only to reduce perverse incentives but to provide clearer and more relevant information that prospective students would find genuinely useful in making decisions about which law schools best match their interests and needs. In the meantime, we will be compiling data that we hope will be considerably more transparent and usable than the information that US News provides and will better help applicants determine whether SLS meets their educational and career aspirations. 

Gillian Lester (Dean. Columbia), Columbia Law Will Not Participate in U.S. News Rankings:

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November 19, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Friday, November 18, 2022

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Next Week’s Tax Workshop

Tax Workshops (Big)Monday, November 21: Susan Morse (Texas; Google Scholar) will present Out of Time? APA Challenges to Old Tax Guidance and the Six-Year Default Limitations Period as part of the UC-Irvine Tax Policy Colloquium:

The government has just begun to raise the six-year limitations period under 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a) to defend against administrative procedure challenges to old tax guidance. This defense should work. The tradeoff between accuracy and repose in these cases is solved by the six-year limitations period of 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a), which begins to run when guidance issues for such administrative procedure claims. One complication in tax is that most opportunities to raise administrative procedure claims arise in deficiency or refund cases, where the pre-litigation tax procedure can be lengthy and outside the control of the plaintiff. But the solution is not to hold the limitations period open indefinitely. That would give no weight to the value of repose. Instead, the right solution is to temper the effect of the limitations period with appropriate adjustments, including equitable tolling and estoppel and administrative practices, such as waiving the limitations period with respect to tax returns filed within six years of the issuance of challenged guidance.

If you would like to attend, please contact Natascha Ryan Fastabend

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November 18, 2022 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

The Dan Markel Murder Case: Katie Magbanua Flips On Charlie Adelson

Tallahassee Democrat, Dan Markel Murder: Katherine Magbanua Turns State Witness As Charlie Adelson Nears Trial:

Magbanua AdelsonConvicted Dan Markel murderer Katherine Magbanua is being brought to Tallahassee from prison to give a statement to prosecutors who are seeking a conviction against Markel’s ex-brother-in-law next year. ...

An order signed by Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler says Magbanua is to be transported on or before Nov. 28-30 to the State Attorney's Office for a proffer. The order indicates Magbanua, who's serving a life sentence in Marion County, will be housed as a state witness in the Leon County Jail. ...

Details about what Magbanua could divulge about her involvement with Markel’s former brother-in-law Charlie Adelson and the suspected murder-for-hire plot that killed the acclaimed law professor are unknown. ...

[I]t could be a watershed moment for the prosecution in a case that has captivated Tallahassee for years.

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November 18, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, November 17, 2022

UC-Berkeley Is The Third Top 10 Law School To Refuse To Participate In The U.S. News Rankings

Erwin Chemerinsky (UC-Berkeley), Berkeley Law Will Not Participate in the US News Rankings:

UC Berkeley (2016)After careful consideration, Berkeley Law has decided not to continue to participate in the US News ranking of law schools. Although rankings are inevitable and inevitably have some arbitrary features, there are aspects of the US News rankings that are profoundly inconsistent with our values and public mission.

Berkeley Law is a public school, with a deep commitment to increasing access to justice, training attorneys who will work to improve society in a variety of ways, and to empowering the next generation of leaders and thinkers, many of whom will come from communities who historically were not part of the legal profession. We are also committed to excellence: in our programs, scholarship, financial support, research, and certainly among our students. We take pride in producing attorneys who are highly skilled, highly sought after, and dedicated to public service and pro bono. This is who we are.

Rankings have the meaning that we give them as a community. I do not want to pretend they do not. And rankings will exist with or without our participation. The question becomes, then, do we think that there is a benefit to participation in the US News process that outweighs the costs? The answer, we feel, is no.

We want to be specific about the basis for this assertion. It is not about railing against rankings or complaining that they “hurt” us in some way. However, there are specific issues that we have struggled with for years, and raised with leadership at US News to no avail. These are:

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November 17, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

What War Did To The Academy, What The Academy Did To War: A 20-Year Retrospective On The Effects Of The Post-9/11 Wars

Deborah N. Pearlstein (Cardozo), What War Did to the Academy, What the Academy Did to War: A 20-Year Retrospective on the Effects of the Post-9/11 Wars, 54 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 171 (2022):

The history of the legal academy’s impact on the way states fight wars is hardly one of unmixed glory. It was a law professor moonlighting for President Lincoln who authored “Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field” during the Civil War, a code still recognized worldwide today for having laid critical groundwork for the modern law of war. It was likewise a law professor whose work came to serve as both theoretical and practical justification for the sweeping powers of the Nazi state. So it should perhaps be unsurprising that, two decades of engagement with the post-9/11 wars, academics’ influence on U.S. legal policy reveals an equally mixed picture. Many law professors labored to challenge government policies in defense of human rights and the rule of law, representing clients inside government and out. Others played critical roles in justifying or legitimating legally and morally suspect state behavior. But what is perhaps most striking about this record, on which this Symposium invites us to reflect, is the extent to which scholars today continue to debate which effect was which. Among the more challenging critiques levied against those who advocated government compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law has been the worry that such efforts, however well intentioned, in fact functioned to legitimate many of the most problematic U.S. policies of the era.

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November 17, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Is It Possible To Find Meaning In BigLaw?

Tom Sharbaugh (Penn State), Is It Possible to Find Meaning in BigLaw?:

Servants of the DamnedAfter reading the recently published Servants to the Damned (2022) by investigative reporter David Enrich, which chronicles the role of large law firms in today’s political polarization and wealth disparities, I revisited some earlier psychology materials to consider whether a lawyer could find meaning while pursuing a career in Big Law.

Servants offered two questions in the context of trying to understand a Big Law team’s sanctions-worthy, abusive discovery maneuvers on behalf of its Big Pharma client in a product liability case filed by the parents of a brain-damaged child: “Am I proud of the work I’m doing?” and “Am I the person I want to be?” ...

In my own experience, both within a large law firm and talking to partners at other large firms, participation in pro bono projects is very popular among the lawyers in Big Law.  With a depressing eye on “what do I get for this?”, the associates in most firms have successfully lobbied to have their pro bono hours count towards their annual billable hour targets.  (As you would expect, firms had to limit how many pro bono hours would count as “billable” after a few associates decided to work 2,200 billable hours (and claim an extra bonus) based almost solely on their pro bono activities.) ...

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November 17, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Taxonomizing Professional Identity Formation: The Soul Of Legal Education

Harmony Decosimo (Suffolk; Google Scholar), Taxonomizing Professional Identity Formation: The Soul of Legal Education, 67 St. Louis U. L.J. __ (2023):

Following the ABA’s recent mandate requiring law schools to provide students with opportunities for “professional identity formation,” this is the first article to taxonomize the field of professional identity formation advanced or employed in U.S. law schools. By organizing this muddled field into three dominant approaches and examining the primary and sometimes unspoken goals of each, this article unveils the potential pitfalls in this project, including the possibility of coercion, indoctrination, impotence, or waste. Ultimately, this article paves the way for more honest, open, and fruitful dialogue and debate as law schools strategically plan how best to engage in the professional identity formation of future lawyers.

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November 17, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Harvard Joins Yale In No Longer Participating In The U.S. News Law School Rankings

John Manning (Dean, Harvard), Decision to Withdraw from the U.S. News & World Report Process:

Harvard Law School Logo (2021)I write today to share with you that Harvard Law School will no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, effective this year. (Yale Law School announced a similar decision earlier today). We at HLS have made this decision because it has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect. This decision was not made lightly and only after considerable deliberation over the past several months.

Done well, such rankings could convey accurate, relevant information about universities, colleges, and graduate and professional schools that may help students and families make informed choices about which schools best meet their needs. However, rankings can also emphasize characteristics that potentially mislead those who rely on them and can create perverse incentives that influence schools’ decisions in ways that undercut student choice and harm the interests of potential students.

Over several years now, a number of schools — including Harvard Law School — have brought to the attention of U.S. News, either directly or through the U.S. News Law Deans Advisory Board, the concerns that have motivated us to end our participation in the U.S. News process. In particular, we have raised concerns about aspects of the U.S. News ranking methodology (also highlighted by our colleagues at Yale) that work against law schools’ commitments to enhancing the socioeconomic diversity of our classes; to allocating financial aid to students based on need; and, through loan repayment and public interest fellowships, to supporting graduates interested in careers serving the public interest.

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November 16, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Yale Law School Will No Longer Participate In 'Profoundly Flawed' U.S. News Rankings

Yale Law Today, Dean Gerken: Why Yale Law School Is Leaving the U.S. News & World Report Rankings:

Yale Law Logo (2020)For three decades, U.S. News & World Report, a for-profit magazine, has ranked the educational quality of law schools across the country. Since the very beginning, Yale Law School has taken the top spot every year. Yet, that distinction is not one that we advertise or use as a lodestar to chart our course. In fact, in recent years, we have invested significant energy and capital in important initiatives that make our law school a better place but perversely work to lower our scores. That’s because the U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed — they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession. We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession. As a result, we will no longer participate.

It’s entirely understandable that many schools feel compelled to adhere to a commercial magazine’s preferences, as the rankings are taken seriously by applicants, employers, and alumni. But rankings are useful only when they follow sound methodology and confine their metrics to what the data can reasonably capture — factors I’ve described in my own research on election administration. Over the years, however, U.S. News has refused to meet those conditions despite repeated calls from law school deans to change. Instead, the magazine continues to take data — much of it supplied by the law schools solely to U.S. News — and applies a misguided formula that discourages law schools from doing what is best for legal education. While I sincerely believe that U.S. News operates with the best of intentions, it faces a nearly impossible task, ranking 192 law schools with a small set of one-size-fits-all metrics that cannot provide an accurate picture of such varied institutions. Its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress.

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November 16, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Survey: Many Law Schools Won't Abandon LSAT If ABA Votes On Friday To Give Schools That Option

Reuters, Many Law Schools Won't Abandon LSAT Even If They Can, Test-Prep Survey Finds:

A new survey suggests that a significant number of law schools will continue to use the Law School Admission Test even if the American Bar Association, which accredits them, no longer requires it.

Half of the 82 law school admissions offices surveyed by test prep company Kaplan Inc this fall said they are either “very likely” or “somewhat” likely to continue requiring a standardized admissions exam even if the ABA drops its testing mandate, according to the survey released Tuesday. Kaplan provides LSAT prep courses and has a financial interest in schools continuing to require the test.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is slated to vote on eliminating the admission test requirement Friday. ...

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November 16, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Miranda Perry Fleischer Named Richard And Kay Woltman Professor In Finance At San Diego

USD School of Law Announces Four New Professorships:

Fleischer (2022)Miranda Perry Fleischer will become the Richard and Kay Woltman Professor in Finance. A renowned scholar whose research bridges tax and philosophy, Professor Fleischer heads the USD School of Law Tax Speaker Series. She was previously named a University Professor for the 2020-2021 academic year, the highest faculty honor given at USD.

Her recent publications include:

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November 16, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink

Elite Law School Bias In Judicial Clerkship Hiring

Sasha Volokh (Emory; Google Scholar), Some Thoughts on Elite-Law-School Bias in Clerkship Hiring:

Does the bias exist? Is it a good thing? What does it mean for law students at lower-ranked schools? What does [it] mean about me?

The Washington Post just had a big article on October 30 about racial and gender diversity among Supreme Court clerks, and followed it up with a smaller piece on November 1 about elite law-school hiring patterns for Supreme Court clerks.

When talking about clerk hiring, a few questions might be interesting: (1) Is there an elite-school hiring pattern for federal clerks at the highest level? (2) If yes, is that elite-school hiring pattern justifiable? (3) If the answer to (1) is yes, can law students at non-elite schools still get good clerkships? (4) If the answers to (1) and (2) are yes, and if I'm a professor at a non-elite school, am I a trustworthy law clerk advisor and recommender? Stay tuned for my four answers: yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Washington Post, Historically Diverse Supreme Court Hears Disproportionately From White Lawyers:

WaPo 1B

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November 16, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Front-Line Faculty And Systemic Burnout: Why More Faculty Should Attend To Law Students' Mental Health And The Inequities Caused By Faculty Who Opt Out

Katie Pryal (North Carolina; Google Scholar), Front-Line Faculty and Systemic Burnout: Why More Faculty Should Attend to Law Students' Mental Health and the Inequities Caused by Faculty Who Opt Out, 27 Legal Writing ___ (2023):

Law schools are facing a population shock event, which is a far-reaching traumatic event that has affected a large group of people—in our case, the pandemic. And although law students have long struggled with their mental health, depression and anxiety among law students have become a crisis, with more than eight out of ten law students having been depressed and/or anxious during the pandemic. A consequence of the pandemic population shock event is that law students are experiencing "systemic burnout," which is difficult to perceive and treat because of its prevalence in the population. This large-scale the mental health problem requires a large-scale solution: at the institutional level, law schools must address the systemic burnout our students face—and the depression and anxiety that almost inevitably follow.

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November 15, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Linda Mullenix Settles Second Equal Pay Lawsuit Against University Of Texas Law School

Law360, U. Of Texas Settles Second Gender Pay Suit With Law Prof:

MullenixA settlement has been reached between the University of Texas and a law professor who has twice sued the school over alleged sex-based pay disparities.

Linda Mullenix and the university filed a joint notice on Wednesday that the parties have resolved their dispute, and U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra formally dismissed the case on Thursday.

Bloomberg Law, University of Texas Settles Female Law Professor’s Pay Bias Suit:

Mullenix sued in December 2019, alleging she was being paid $134,000 less than fellow class action scholar Robert Bone, despite their comparable experience. Judge David Alan Ezra ruled June 10 that a trial was necessary on Mullenix’s claim under the Equal Pay Act but that a jury couldn’t find in Mullenix’s favor on her pay-based sex bias claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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November 15, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Renaming UC-Hastings Law School Sparks $1.7 Billion Legal Fight That Shows How Hard It Is To Ditch Donors’ Names

Chronicle of Philanthropy, Renaming Calif.’s Hastings Law School Sparks $1.7 Billion Legal Fight That Shows How Hard It Is to Ditch Donors’ Names:

UC Hastings (2022)Six descendants of Serranus Clinton Hastings, California’s first chief justice, and a group that says it represents alumni are suing the state of California over its decision to rename a nearly 150-year-old law school. The University of California Hastings College of the Law will become U.C. College of the Law, San Francisco, in 2023 in accordance with a law state legislators passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on September 23, 2022.

The lawsuit also targets David Faigman, the school’s dean and chancellor, along with all of its trustees — who voted for this change after learning about Serranus Hastings’s role in the slaughter of Native Americans in the mid-19th century. Rebranding is one way that the school is actively seeking reconciliation with the Yuki people, whose communities were harmed at that time. It filed a motion to dismiss the suit on November 2, 2022.

The lawsuit cites an 1878 agreement with the state of California to create and fund the law school, which promised Hastings’ heirs $100,000, plus interest, should the school ever “cease to exist.” One hundred forty-four years later, that would amount to $1.7 billion, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported. The lawsuit also disputes the evidence about Hastings’ ties to the slaughter of Indigenous people and says this change would waste tax dollars.

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November 15, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, November 14, 2022

Legal Ed News Roundup

Pepperdine Caruso Law Fundraising After Our Naming Gift

30for30After receiving our $50 million naming gift three years ago, deans of schools that had received similar gifts warned me of the tendency for other alumni and friends to feel that their financial support may no longer be needed. During a road trip in Texas with Rebecca Malzahn, our Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Director of Development, we brainstormed ways to keep our alumni and friends energized about the law school. I had just watched one of the ESPN 30 for 30 sports documentaries, so we decided to do a 50 For 50 campaign to commemorate our $50 million naming gift and our 50-year anniversary. We hoped 50 alumni and friends would each donate $50,000 for student scholarships, raising a total of $2.5 million:

My wife Courtney and I were the first to contribute, and we exceeded our goal and raised $3.5 million from 55 donors. After several celebration events had to be postponed due to Covid-19, we were finally able to gather recently and thank our wonderful partners at a dedication event and unveiled a plaque with each donor's name to be displayed at the law school

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November 14, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Call For Papers: 9th Annual Michigan Junior Scholars’ Conference

Michigan Law School has issued a Call for Papers for its 9th Annual Junior Scholars' Conference:

Michigan Law Logo (2021)The University of Michigan Law School is pleased to invite junior scholars to attend the 9th Annual Junior Scholars Conference, which will take place in person on April 21-22, 2023, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The Conference provides junior scholars with a platform to present and discuss their work with peers and receive feedback from prominent members of the Michigan Law faculty. The Conference aims to promote fruitful collaboration between participants and to encourage their integration into a community of legal scholars. The Junior Scholars Conference is intended for academics in both law and related disciplines. Applications from graduate students, SJD/PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, teaching fellows, and assistant professors (pre-tenure), who have not held an academic position for more than four years, are welcome.

Submission: To apply to the Conference, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words reflecting the unpublished work that you wish to present and a copy of your CV through the online submission form by January 9, 2023.

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November 14, 2022 in Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Inazu: The Incomprehensible Witness Of Forgiveness

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), The Incomprehensible Witness of Forgiveness (Part Two):

Emanuel MovieSeven years ago, I wrote about the extraordinary acts of forgiveness extended by family members of the black churchgoers massacred by Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina on June 15, 2015. I titled that piece, like this one, “The Incomprehensible Witness of Forgiveness.” What struck me then—and now—is how offensive the idea of forgiveness sounds to so many.

In 2015, I was responding in part to New York Times columnist Roxane Gay, who insisted that some acts like the Charleston massacre are “beyond forgiving” and that she personally was “done forgiving.” Curiously, Gay still expressed “deep respect” for those family members who forgave, all of whom acted out of their Christian commitments. But as I wrote in response to her essay:

If forgiveness really merits condemnation or skepticism, then why not focus on those who gave it instead of deflecting, deconstructing, or downplaying their acts? The scandal of forgiveness does not lie with the media or the narrative—it lies with the very nature of Christian forgiveness: “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” And when Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus replied, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

If the kind of forgiveness commanded by Jesus is indeed incomprehensible, it should be unsurprising that many people will reject it as misguided or even immoral. The challenge for those whose faith commands forgiveness—Christian or otherwise—is to show why it matters.

Last week, my post about “pandemic forgiveness” engaged with Emily Oster’s Atlantic article, “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty.” I also reflected on the nature of forgiveness by drawing upon many of the same sources I referenced in my earlier piece on Charleston. While I wasn’t sure what pandemic reconciliation would look like on a social level, I suggested that we might look first to our individual relationships with friends and family whose pandemic choices created relational rifts.

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November 13, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WaPo: A $100 Million Campaign Aims To Fix Jesus’ Brand From Followers’ Damage

Washington Post, A $100 Million Campaign Aims to Fix Jesus’ Brand From Followers’ Damage:

A $100 million effort launched this year is blanketing cities and the web, aiming to redeem Jesus’ brand from the damage done by some of his followers.

Billboards with messages like “Jesus let his hair down, too” and “Jesus went all in, too,” have been posted in major markets like New York City and Las Vegas. And ads featuring black-and-white online videos about Jesus as a rebel, an activist or a host of a dinner party have been viewed more than 300 million times, according to orgnizers.

The He Gets Us campaign, funded by the Signatry, a Christian foundation based in Kansas, will expand in the next few months, with an updated website, an online store where people can get free gear if they forgive someone or welcome a stranger, and an outreach program for churches, all leading up to a Super Bowl ad.

Jon Lee, one of the chief architects of the campaign, said organizers hope to start a movement of people who want to tell a better story about Jesus and act like him.

“Our goal is to give voice to the pent-up energy of like-minded Jesus followers, those who are in the pews and the ones that aren’t, who are ready to reclaim the name of Jesus from those who abuse it to judge, harm and divide people,” said Lee, a principal at Lerma, a cross-cultural advertising agency based in Dallas.

Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, a branding firm based in Grand Haven, Mich., said the movement hopes to bridge the gap between the story of Jesus and the public perception of his followers. The campaign has done extensive market research and found that, while many Americans like Jesus, they are skeptical of his followers. ..

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November 13, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Yeshiva University Announces New LGBTQ Club While Continuing Its Legal Battle With The Existing One

Inside Higher Ed, Yeshiva University Announces New LGBTQ Club While Continuing its Legal Battle With the Existing One:

Yeshiva Pride LogoA recent move by the Yeshiva University administration has revealed fractures among students, faculty and staff members regarding what LGBTQ inclusion on campus should look like and who has the right to decide. Administrators at the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution announced plans two weeks ago to create a new LGBTQ support club, sanctioned by the university and its rabbis. At the same time, the university continues to refuse to recognize the existing LGBTQ club formed by students, the YU Pride Alliance. The two have been mired in a messy and ongoing lawsuit for over a year.

The new club, which currently has no students and has yet to be formed, would be called Kol Yisrael Areivim, a Hebrew phrase meaning “all Jews are responsible for one another.” The announcement says the club will be a place for LGBTQ students to “gather, share their experiences, host events, and support one another while benefiting from the full resources of the Yeshiva community—all within the framework of Halacha [Jewish law]—as all other student clubs.”

“We are eager to support and facilitate the religious growth and personal life journeys of all of our students to lead authentic Torah lives, and we hope that this Torah-based initiative with a new student club tailored to Yeshiva’s undergraduate LGBTQ students will provide them with meaningful support to do so,” Rabbi Ari Berman, the university’s president, said in the announcement. ...

Reactions to the announcement ranged from celebration to outrage to head scratching.

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November 13, 2022 in Faith, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Saturday, November 12, 2022

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Leiter: The End Of The LSAT Is Coming — What Will U.S. News Do?

Brian Leiter (Chicago; Google Scholar), The End of the LSAT Is Coming:

It seems like the writing is on the wall. ... If [U.S. News] decide[s] to just increase the weight on GPA, then expect a boom in communications and education majors among prospective law students seeking the highest possible GPA!

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

November 12, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Lawyers Who Had to Pay Off Their Student Debt Think You Should, Too

Law.com, Readers' Poll Results: Lawyers Who Had to Pay Off Their Student Debt Think You Should, Too:

When it comes to lawyers’ views on President Joe Biden’s (now-endangered) student loan forgiveness plan, the dividing line between supporters and detractors is clear: those who have already paid their dues are not keen on letting others off the hook.

On Thursday, the pendulum swung in their favor when a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas struck down the plan as unconstitutional. The Biden administration immediately appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where the matter is now pending, leaving the program’s fate in question for the time being.

In a recent Law.com readers’ poll, the percentage of respondents who said they have no remaining law school debt aligned very closely with the percentage of respondents who said they disagreed with Biden’s plan. ...

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November 12, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Friday, November 11, 2022

Veterans Day At Pepperdine

Light to Unite Illuminates Phillips Theme Tower in Purple:

Pepperdine Tower (Veterans Day)Join the Pepperdine community tonight, November 11, at sunset, to witness as the Phillips Theme Tower is illuminated in purple in commemoration of Veterans Day and the 240th anniversary of our nation’s Purple Heart award.

In an initiative led by the National Flag Foundation and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Pepperdine University was identified as the sole California representative of Light to Unite, a nationwide effort to demonstrate support for our country’s military heroes. Across the United States, Light to Unite has planned displays at buildings such as One World Trade Center in New York City, the Willis Tower in Chicago, and the Koppers Building in Pittsburgh.

Attend the lighting in person as Pepperdine’s 125-foot landmark is lit up for one of the few times in its history.

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November 11, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Next Week’s Tax Workshops

Next Week's Tax Workshops - linkedinMonday, November 14: Michael Doran (Virginia; Google Scholar) will present The Great American Retirement Fraud as part of the Loyola-L.A. Tax Policy Colloquium. If you would like to attend, please RSVP here.

Tuesday, November 15: Alan Feld (Boston University), Jacob Nielsen (Ropes & Gray), & Theodore Sims (Boston University) will present Green, or Greed? A Fresh Perspective on the Valuation of Conservation Easements, 76 Tax L. Rev. __ (2022), as part of the Boston College Tax Policy Collaborative. If you would like to attend, please contact Jim Repetti.

Tuesday, November 15: Goldburn Maynard (Indiana-Kelley Business School; Google Scholar) will present the following papers as part of the NYU Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium:

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November 11, 2022 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

California Bar Exam Pass Rate For First-Time Takers From ABA-Accredited In-State Law Schools Falls 8 Percentage Points

California Bar (2021)The California Bar has released the results of the July 2022 bar exam. The overall pass rate was 52.4%, down 0.6 percentage point from last year's exam. For California ABA-accredited law schools, the pass rate for first time test-takers was 73%, down 8 percentage points from 2021.

School Type

First-Timers

Repeaters

California ABA

73%

26%

Out-of-State ABA

69%

23%

California Accredited (not ABA)

30%

12%

Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility

11%

5%

Unaccredited: Correspondence

25%

8%

Unaccredited Distance-Learning

12%

9%

All Others

0%

0%

All Applicants

62%

17%

The July 2022 pass rate on the General Bar Exam was slightly lower than the July 2021 pass rate of 53 percent.

Performance on the July 2022 bar exam varied nationally, with some states seeing a higher pass rate, and others experiencing a decline. Here are a few highlights:

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November 11, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

An Empirical Analysis Of Racial Bias In The UBE: A Law School’s First-Time Bar Pass Rate Decreases As Its Percentage Of Students Of Color Increases

Scott Devito (Ave Maria; Google Scholar), Kelsey Hample (Furman; Google Scholar) & Erin Lain (Drake; Google Scholar), Examining the Bar Exam: An Empirical Analysis of Racial Bias in the Uniform Bar Examination, 55 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 597 (2022):

The legal profession is one of the least diverse in the United States. Given continuing issues of racism in our society, the central position the justice system occupies in our society, and the vital role lawyers play in that system, it is incumbent upon those in the profession to identify and remedy the causes of this lack of diversity. This Article seeks to understand how the bar examination, the final hurdle to entry into the profession, contributes to this lack of diversity. Using publicly available data, we analyze whether the ethnic makeup of a law school’s entering class correlates to the school’s first-time bar pass rates on the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). We find that the higher the proportion of Black and Hispanic students in a law school’s entering class, the lower the first-time bar passage rate for that school, in its UBE jurisdictions, three years later.

Figure 1

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November 11, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Law School Premier League And Championship League Rankings

Bill Henderson (Indiana) notes that Jae Um, in her bracketing exercise for The American Lawyer, arrays the 2022 AmLaw 100 based on the structure of the English football league system: the Top 22 firms in the Premier League (Wachtell to Goodwin) and the next 23 firms in the Championship League (Sidley to Shearman), all hoping to be promoted to Premier League. So of course I thought of which law schools would be in the Premier League and which would be in the Championship League, according to U.S. News:   

Law School Premier League:

1. Yale
2. Stanford
3. Chicago
4. Columbia
4. Harvard
6. Penn
7. NYU
8. Virginia
9. UC-Berkeley
10. Michigan
11. Duke
12. Cornell
13. Northwestern
14. Georgetown
15. UCLA
16. Washington University
17. Boston University
17. Texas
17. Vanderbilt
20. USC
21. Florida
21. Minnesota

Law School Championship League:

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November 10, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Spencer: Making The Path To A Law Degree More Accessible For Everyone

Bloomberg Law Op-Ed:  Making the Path to a Law Degree More Accessible for Everyone, by A. Benjamin Spencer (Dean, William & Mary; Google Scholar):

Bloomberg Law (2021)As the cost of higher education—and associated student loan debt—continue to mount, consumers and observers rightly voice concern about its value.

Legal education is no exception. Indeed, Justice Neil Gorsuch recently wondered, “Does it really require seven years of collegiate education to become a competent lawyer?”

The answer to that question clearly is no.

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November 10, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Law Schools Will Face An Enrollment Cliff In 2029

Law.com, The Enrollment Cliff of 2025—What Will It Do to Law Schools?:

The enrollment cliff or demographic cliff of 2025 will effect the entering freshman classes at undergraduate institutions nationwide. In 2007 we had an economic downturn that resulted in low birth rates. It is predicted that this low birth rate combined with a trend away from college over trade schools will lead to a 15-20% smaller incoming freshman class in 2025. ...

The enrollment cliff will hit law schools in 2028-9 and will hit smaller and lower ranked law schools, particularly hard. Less students applying to law schools will result in less competition to get into law schools and a shift of demographics getting into some more elite schools. Therefore, some law schools will admit classes too small to sustain the school. This is great news for students. ...

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November 10, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

NY Times: John Jay Osborn Jr., Author Of ‘The Paper Chase,’ Dies At 77

New York Times, John Jay Osborn Jr., Author of ‘The Paper Chase,’ Dies at 77:

Paper Chase 2John Jay Osborn Jr., who while attending Harvard Law School wrote “The Paper Chase,” a 1971 novel following the tense relationship between an earnest student and his imperious contract law professor that was made into a feature film and then a television series, died on Oct. 19 at his home in San Francisco. He was 77. ...

“The Paper Chase,” Mr. Osborn’s best-known book, tells the story of two antagonists: Kingsfield, an austere, curmudgeonly Harvard elder, and Hart, an industrious first-year student from the Midwest who is trying to survive the cutthroat intellectual world of an elite law school. ...

Although Mr. Osborn said that Kingsfield was a composite of several of his law professors, Martha Minow, a former dean of the law school, said in an email, “I do know that some now long-gone law professors here vied over who was the real model for Kingsfield.”

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November 9, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries | Permalink

Professors Will Stay On Twitter After Elon Musk's Purchase—At Least For Now

Inside Higher Ed, Professors Will Stay On Twitter After Elon Musk's Purchase—At Least For Now:

Elon Musk TwitterElon Musk took control of Twitter on Oct. 27, prompting many academics who tweet to ask whether the moment calls for choosing a different social media platform. The billionaire owner and self-described “free-speech absolutist” has, among other controversies, floated the idea of reversing the ban on former president Donald Trump. That has left many in academe concerned that toxic content and disinformation about social, medical and political issues could accelerate in the Twitterverse.

“Anything Twitter does which makes it a space where people are more likely to experience hate speech or threats of violence will erode its status as an essential gathering place” for higher ed, said Tanya Golash-Boza, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced, who has 15,800 followers. “I have long considered leaving Twitter—mostly because I go back and forth with regard to whether or not spending time on Twitter is fruitful or enjoyable.”

Few think that the 16-year-old Twitter will remain the same in the wake of recent changes. Many have already fled, and the platform’s political center of gravity has recently shifted right, according to an investigation by The Economist.

AcademicTwitter community members are now weighing the nontrivial opportunity costs of leaving. They are also making plans in case an ongoing affiliation with the company feels intolerable. But few are fleeing the digital gathering space in which they have invested so much—at least not yet. ...

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November 9, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink