Paul L. Caron
Dean


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

NY Times: More Private Colleges Cut Tuition As Discount Rate Hits All-Time High Of 52%

Following up on my previous post, Private College Tuition Discount Rate Hits All-Time High Of 52%: New York Times, More Private Colleges Are Cutting Tuition, but Don’t Expect to Pay Less:

[A] small but rising number of mostly private liberal arts colleges ... are cutting their tuition prices. But what they’re actually doing is reducing their advertised rates, which only the wealthiest students usually pay. At the same time, the colleges are also reducing the heavy discounts they offer to everyone else. The result is a new sticker price that more closely reflects what students already pay.

Institutions are making the change out of economic necessity: As college costs have soared, expensive smaller schools risk being bypassed as applicants seek more affordable options.

NY Times

The colleges hope the truth in advertising will attract more applicants, including transfer students, and increase retention rates.

Continue reading

August 21, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

University Of Florida Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Florida Logo (2017)University of Florida Levin College of Law seeks to hire multiple professors, across an array of fields, over the next several years as part of the university’s quest to become a top five public research institution. The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, FL, is currently the eighth best public research institution in the nation and the flagship university of the third largest state. In addition to seeking candidates for tenured and non-tenure-track positions, advertised separately, the Levin College of Law seeks highly qualified candidates for tenure-track positions.

The Appointments Committee welcomes applications from tenure-track candidates in all areas of law. Successful candidates will have a publication record, strong scholarly potential, a commitment to excellence in teaching, and enthusiasm for creating an inclusive environment for all students. Candidates must also have a JD, PhD, or equivalent degree in a related field. In reviewing applications, the Appointments Committee will consider long-term teaching needs in large enrollment classes, environmental law, health law, tax, and law and technology.

Continue reading

August 21, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Impact Of The U.S. News Rankings On The Cost Of Law School

Following up on my previous post, Symposium: Uncomfortable Conversations About Legal Education — Student Debt, Diversity, And More:  Law.com, Cracking the Case of Law School Cost:

2020 US News Law SchoolHere’s the million-dollar question on my mind today: How do you make a law degree more affordable?

That was the focus on a day-long session I attended last week on bringing down the cost of a legal education held at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. It was an interesting—and at times frustrating—discussion, so I’m going to devote this newsletter to parsing some of the ideas that emerged. ...

The U.S. News rankings loomed large in the day’s conversation, and Law School Transparency Executive Director Kyle McEntee tackled it head on with a talk about how the rankings can be improved and their influence curbed. He proposed a change to the rankings formula that would do away with the expenditure-per-student metric, which rewards schools for spending money. In its place, he proposed an alternative measure that would divide the total amount of J.D. revenue a school receives annually by the number of long-term, fulltime bar passage required or J.D. advantage jobs its graduates land. This would essentially reward schools for keeping tuition low while also sending graduates on to good legal jobs.

McEntee also made news when he announced that in 2020 Law School Transparency will launch its own law school certification system, which is intended to create some competition for U.S. News in terms of evaluating the quality of law schools. It will award badges to law schools that meet its criteria in different areas, such as affordability and diversity and inclusion. The badges will offer schools alternative benchmarks that don’t hinge solely on the U.S. News formula, McEntee said. Law schools can then use the LST badges in their marketing materials and websites as a signifier of quality, along the lines of LEED certification for energy efficient construction. He said law deans are hungry for alternatives to the U.S. News rankings because they feel very constrained by those rankings’ narrow definition of what makes a good law school and the perverse incentives they create, such as the need to devote funds to merit scholarships at the expense of need-based ones. ...

[Q]uite a few legal educators associate efforts to reduce student costs with also reducing the quality of legal education. That’s a pretty serious obstacle to overcome. The way I see it, faculty and the various stakeholders involved in legal education need to buy into the idea that law school can cost less while also serving as the gatekeeper into the profession if there is ever to be progress made.

August 21, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Women Are Less Likely To Get Tenure The More They Coauthor

Heather Sarsons (Chicago; "This paper is intentionally solo-authored."), Gender Differences in Recognition for Group Work:

How is credit for group work allocated when individual contributions are not perfectly observed? Do demographic traits like gender influence the allocation of credit? Using data from academic economists’ CVs, I test whether coauthored and solo-authored publications matter differently for tenure for men and women. Because coauthors are listed alphabetically in economics, coauthored papers do not provide specific information about each contributor’s skills or ability. Solo-authored papers, on the other hand, provide a relatively clear signal of ability. I find that men are tenured at roughly the same rate regardless of whether they coauthor or solo-author. Women, however, become less likely to receive tenure the more they coauthor. The result is most pronounced for women coauthoring with men and less pronounced among women who coauthor with other women. I contrast economics with sociology, a discipline in which coauthors are listed in order of contribution, and find that when contributions are made clear, men and women receive equal credit for coauthored papers.

Gender 1

Continue reading

August 21, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Nonprofit AccessLex Institute Announces New Resources For Pre-Law Students

Nonprofit AccessLex Institute Announces New Suite of Resources for Pre-Law Students:

AccessLexAccessLex Institute, the largest charitable organization dedicated to legal education, has released a new online suite of resources created expressly for aspiring law students. Designed by a team of JDs, financial aid experts, law school admissions professionals and experienced pre-law advisors, MAX Pre-Law by AccessLex® offers interactive lessons, webinars, worksheets and checklists, as well as one-on-one financial strategy coaching from accredited financial counselors to answer student’s most pressing questions about law school – all free to anyone interested in pursuing a legal education.

MAX Pre-Law builds on the success of AccessLex Institute’s MAX by AccessLex® program, the comprehensive financial education program created to maximize the financial capability and capacity of law students. Launched in 2017, MAX is currently being used by over 15,000 students at more than 150 ABA-approved law schools across the country.

Continue reading

August 21, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of Calgary Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Position Description:

Calgary (2019)The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law is in the midst of a sustained period of growth and renewal. In its Strategic plan – Energy.Innovation.Impact. – UCalgary Law set itself the dual goals of enhancing its international eminence in the areas of energy, environmental and natural resources law and continuing its position of national leadership in the area of experiential learning. Since 2011, we have made twenty three new Faculty appointments, and we are looking to make further appointments to begin in 2019 and in years to follow.

The Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary invites applications for a tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor in the area of tax law. The anticipated start date is July 1, 2020.

Continue reading

August 21, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A New Growth Vision For Legal Education, Part III: The Path Forward — Being Both Human And Digital

Following up on my previous posts:

Hilary G. Escajeda (Denver), Legal Education: A New Growth Vision. Part III — The Path Forward: Being Both Human And Digital, 97 Neb. L. Rev. 1020 (2019):

In the decades ahead, innovative and status quo-breaking law schools will leverage and combine multidisciplinary, multigenerational human expertise with digital platform and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to create vibrant legal education ecosystems. These combinations will deliver market-valued knowledge and skill transfer and development services that are high-quality, cost-effective, omnichannel, pedagogically sound, data-validated, personalized, on-demand or just-in-time, and multi-format (e.g., hybrid, HyFlex, digitalfirst, digital-live, etc.).

Continue reading

August 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

2019 World Law School Rankings

QS RankingsQuacquarelli Symonds has released the 2019 World Law School Rankings as part of its World University Rankings. The methodology is 50% academic reputation, 30% employer reputation, 15% h-index per faculty member, and 5% citations per paper.  The rankings consist of 300 law schools, 150 in the United States.  Here are the U.S. law schools in the Top 50, along with each school's position in the latest SSRN Top 750 Law School Faculty Rankings -- Total Downloads):

1. Harvard (#1 in SSRN)
4. Yale (#6)
5. Stanford (#2)
8. UC-Berkeley (#4)
9. Columbia (#5)
10. NYU (#3)
11. Chicago (#7)
17. Georgetown (#9)
23. UCLA (#15)
27. Michigan (#12)
30. Pennsylvania (#11)
33. Duke (#18)
35. Cornell (#27)
50. Northwestern (#14)

August 20, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Student Evaluations Are Unreliable And Biased Against Female Professors

London School of Economics and Public Policy, Student Evaluations of Teaching Are Not Only Unreliable, They Are Significantly Biased Against Female Instructors:

A series of studies across countries and disciplines in higher education confirm that student evaluations of teaching (SET) are significantly correlated with instructor gender, with students regularly rating female instructors lower than male peers. Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark [Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness] argue the findings warrant serious attention in light of increasing pressure on universities to measure teaching effectiveness. Given the unreliability of the metric and the harmful impact these evaluations can have, universities should think carefully on the role of such evaluations in decision-making.

LSE1

Continue reading

August 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sons Of BOSS Rocks Out UC-Irvine

Sons of BossLast Friday, the UC-Irvine Graduate Tax Program hosted a welcome reception for its inaugural class of LL.M. students. The reception featured a special performance by “Sons of BOSS.” (Tax cognoscenti know that the Son of BOSS is a successor to BOSS (Bond and Option Sales Strategy) tax shelter.)

The leader of the band is Omri Marian (UC-Irvine). The other band members are: Frank Rork (Senior Director, Tax, Edwards Lifesciences), Michael Strasser (Senior Manger, Global Supply Chain Strategy, Edwards Lifesciences), Neil Richmond (International Tax Services, EY) and Joseph Cruz (EY). The band played numerous songs for UCI students and faculty, including, of course,  Taxman by the Beatles.

For video of the band's performance, see below the fold:

Continue reading

August 20, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Law Degree Held Against Defendant In Tax Scam

Peter J. Reilly (Forbes), Law Degree Held Against Defendant In Tax Scam:

Anthony Charles Dwight Box was at what I consider the end of the line in tax litigation — appealing his sentence from prison — when he heard from the Eleventh Circuit last month. It was not good news. The Circuit Court approved the 36 month sentence handed down by Judge Federico Moreno of the Southern District of Florida.

Judge Moreno had made an upward adjustment from the 24 to 30-month sentence called for by the guidelines because Mr. Box's legal education should have made him know better, a conviction in 1989 and failure to make any restitution.

Continue reading

August 19, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, New Cases, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weisbach: Graduation Remarks To The Class of 2019 — Democracy Needs Lawyers To Defend It

David Weisbach (Chicago), Graduation Remarks to the Class of 2019: Democracy Needs to be Defended, and Lawyers Are Key to Defending It:

WeisbachGraduation speeches are supposed to be nonpolitical yet inspirational, summarizing a life lesson in seven minutes. I wrote one, focusing on the career choices you will face over the next 30 to 40 years. It was nonpolitical and attempted to be inspirational. But I woke up this morning and I couldn’t do it. As important as career choices are, it isn’t what I want to talk about.

Instead, this morning I scribbled some notes about what I really want to say. And it is not nonpolitical, or inoffensive to all, so I apologize in advance. I can see Dean Miles shifting nervously in his seat.

This is what I want to say: the world needs you. It needs great lawyers like never before. I’m 55 years old. I’ve lived through the Cold War, the civil rights movement, Watergate, the Bork and Thomas confirmation hearings, Bush versus Gore, 9/11, the Great Recession. I’ve never felt as scared as I do now. Maybe it’s an illusion, that the current moment always seems worse than the past because we know we made it through the past but we don’t know about the future. But I don’t think that’s it. Today feels different. I wake up every day a little bit terrified.

Like no time in my life, the world needs people like you. I’ve never been more proud to be a law professor than today, because my job is to help create the young lawyers, you, that our country and the world need.

Why does the world need you? You’ll have your own list and mine is surely incomplete. And you’ll likely disagree with some of this.

Continue reading

August 19, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

ABA Profile Of The Legal Profession

ABA Profile of the Legal Profession (2019) (98 pages):

No matter where we went to law school or when we graduated, lawyers across the country are aware of the extraordinary transformation of the legal profession. In this report, for the first time, the American Bar Association has compiled a comprehensive look at these changes and provided a vivid picture of the legal profession as it exists today.

August 19, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Ohio State University Seeks To Trademark 'The'

Chronicle of Higher Education, Its Eyes on New Merchandise, Ohio State Looks to Trademark a Single Word: ‘THE’:

Ohio StateAmerican universities boast a storied history of trademark claims — from threatening mom-and-pop bakeries to cashing in on Cinderella upsets — and the Ohio State University last week continued that tradition when it filed an application for a word central to Buckeye pride. It’s also one of the most common words in the English language:“THE.

”Discovered, and subsequently publicized, on Tuesday night by Josh Gerben, a trademark lawyer, the application claims use of the three-letter word “without claim to any particular font style, size, or color.” 

In response to questions from The Chronicle, a university spokesman wrote that the trademark “would apply for usage of ‘The’ in ways that clearly signify association with Ohio State and its brand, like for example a scarlet and gray T-shirt with ‘The’ on the front.” ...

UM

BWW

Continue reading

August 19, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Don't Give Up On Vermont Law School

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Connecticut Law Tribune editorial, Don't Give Up on Vermont Law School:

Vermont Law School Logo (2017)We in Connecticut have a special interest in Vermont Law School because so many alumni live and practice here, and the school has done a great job in educating a generation of committed environmental lawyers. Vermont Law School, an independent school and the only law school in Vermont, has been at the forefront of environmental law education and advocacy since its founding in 1972, and modest beginnings in an old schoolhouse in the sleepy little town of South Royalton.

But today, VLS is floundering, up to its neck in debt brought on by the sagging enrollment caused by the Great Recession and struggling to stay afloat with a totally inadequate endowment. Applications, admissions and enrollment are up, but the improvements are recent and follow too many years of financial losses. ...

Continue reading

August 18, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Morals And Mentors: What The First American Law Schools Can Teach Us About Developing Law Students' Professional Identity

Benjamin V. Madison (Regent) & Larry O. Natt Gantt, II (Regent), Morals and Mentors: What the First American Law Schools Can Teach Us About Developing Law Students' Professional Identity, 31 Regent U. L. Rev. 161 (2019):

This article examines what the first American law schools can teach current legal educators about how best to develop law students’ professional identity. Drawing upon the seminal reports of Educating Lawyers and Best Practices for Legal Education, the article underscores legal educators’ responsibility to cultivate our students’ professional identity and instill in them the key normative values of the profession. Turning to the lessons we can learn from early American law schools, the article then discusses how legal educators in America, from colonial times through the late nineteenth century, sought to teach aspiring lawyers both legal analysis and the study of — and reflection on — ethical and moral principles underlying the law.

Continue reading

August 18, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Judge Tosses Another Whistleblower Suit Against For-Profit Law School Chain

Law.com, Judge Tosses Another Whistleblower Suit Against For-Profit Law School Chain:

InfiLaw (2017)For-profit law school operator InfiLaw Corp. has dodged a third whistleblower lawsuit claiming it defrauded the federal government and deceived students.

A federal judge in Florida on Monday dismissed a qui tam suit brought by two former employees of the now-closed Arizona Summit Law School that claimed, among other things, that InfiLaw administrators conspired with bar preparation outfit BarBri to make sure that the Phoenix law school was in compliance with a rule that no more than 90% of it funds were derived from federal student loans.

In a 58-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the Middle District of Florida ruled that many of the plaintiffs’ claims of wrongdoing by InfiLaw and its three law schools were barred in court because they had already been disclosed in the media through articles and blog posts critical of the schools’ practices. Moreover, Howard found the allegations brought by Paula Lorona and Reid Potter to be too vague to overcome the defendants’ motions to dismiss. ...

Continue reading

August 17, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Online Degrees Can Advance Worker Careers In A Shifting Economy

EdSurge, How Online Degrees Can Advance Worker Careers in a Shifting Economy:

If you’re wondering why online learning is booming, take a look at the latest U.S. Department of Labor data showing heightened demand for skilled workers. Those with an undergraduate or advanced degree now represent about 40 percent of the nation’s workforce, while those with just a high school diploma have slipped in the last 25 years from more than a third to about a quarter of American workers.

Online

Continue reading

August 17, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

How Trump Is Saving Law Schools And Hurting Business Schools

Bloomberg, Trump Is Driving Women Into Law School:

A few short years ago, law schools were falling out of favor with young Americans looking for a route to affluence, influence, or both. Business schools, on the other hand, were attracting more students than ever.

This year, the number of applicants to U.S. law schools is up an estimated 3.2%, after rising 8.1% last year. Graduate business schools in the U.S. saw a 6.6% decline in applications last year, and indications are that applications are down again this year as well.

What changed? Donald Trump became president, silly!

Continue reading

August 16, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Jim Maule's Reflections On 40 Years Of Teaching Tax Law

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Overhaul The Bar Exam? Two Major Studies Focus On The Test's Future

National Law Journal, Overhaul the Bar Exam? Two Major Studies Focus on the Test's Future:

[T]he lawyer licensing exam could look much different in another 10 years. Two large-scale studies are underway to examine the knowledge and skills new lawyers need to succeed and how well—or not—the existing bar exam assesses those competencies. Those findings could prompt changes in not only what is tested, but the format of the exam as well.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners is midway through a three-year project examining every aspect of the test—an initiative dubbed the Testing Task Force. The task force recently concluded its first phase, which involved 30 listening sessions in which it gathered input from more than 400 people on the bar exam and its future. The second phase, looking at lawyer tasks and skills, gets underway in August.

Continue reading

August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Popular Discontent Is Reshaping Higher Education Law

Ben Trachtenberg (Missouri), The People v. Their Universities: How Popular Discontent Is Reshaping Higher Education Law, 106 Ky. L.J. ___ (2020):

Surveys taken since 2015 reveal that Americans exhibit stark partisan divisions in their opinions about colleges and universities, with recent shifts in attitudes driving changes to higher education law. In recent years, Democrats have become slightly more positive about higher education. Concurrently, Republicans have become extremely more negative, and a majority of Republicans now tells pollsters that colleges and universities have an overall negative effect on the country.

Continue reading

August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Dayton Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

DaytonThe University of Dayton School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position and a Full Professor with tenure position to begin in August 2020.

Applicants for the Assistant Professor position must have a J.D. or the equivalent international law degree. We welcome applications from candidates across all areas of law. Areas of particular interest include secured transactions, business organizations, constitutional law, family law, wills and trusts, tax, conflicts of law, contracts, and property. Applications must be received by January 1, 2020. Applications should include a cover letter and CV and must be submitted through the University of Dayton's electronic employment site.

Applicants for the Full Professor position must have tenure at a United States or International law school, a J.D. or the equivalent international law degree, a record of outstanding scholarship and publication in the fields of commercial or constitutional law, and excellent teaching evaluations. Applications must be received by September 12, 2019. Applications should include a cover letter, CV, and a sample of recent teaching evaluations. Applications must be submitted through the University of Dayton’s electronic employment site.

Continue reading

August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Revolt Of The Feminist Law Profs

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs:

In the fall of 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued informal, non-binding guidance on how colleges should treat claims of sexual assault and harassment in a document now referred to as the Dear Colleague letter. It was accompanied by public claims of an ongoing crisis of sexual violence on universities made by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. In 2014, [Jeannie Suk] Gersen and three of her colleagues — Elizabeth Bartholet, Janet Halley, and Nancy Gertner — led a contingent of their peers in calling out the system of investigation and adjudication that emerged during the Obama years as “so unfair as to be truly shocking.” The four were joined by 24 of their Harvard Law colleagues in an open letter published in The Boston Globe decrying Obama’s Title IX recommendations as “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”

In a statement called “Fairness for All Students Under Title IX,” jointly authored with Halley, Bartholet, and Gertner, Gersen noted that at many colleges, investigators are trained to start by believing the complainant. Many schools would “improperly house the functions of investigation and adjudication” in the same office, with “strong incentives” to keep the schools in the Office for Civil Rights’ “good graces.” “Some schools,” they wrote, “allow appeals only on very narrow grounds such as new evidence or procedural error, providing no meaningful check on the initial decisionmaker.” The evidentiary threshold required was the lowest one, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, meaning anything greater than 50 percent certainty should yield a finding of wrongdoing. ...

Continue reading

August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Social Media And Professional Norms For Lawyers, Judges, And Law Professors

Agnieszka McPeak (Duquesne), The Internet Made Me Do It: Reconciling Social Media and Professional Norms for Lawyers, Judges, and Law Professors, 55 Idaho L. Rev. 205 (2019):

Social media platforms operate under their own social order. Design decisions and policies set by platforms steer user behavior. Additionally, members of online communities set informal expectations that form a unique set of norms. These social media norms—like oversharing, disinhibition, and anonymity—become common online, even though similar conduct might be shunned in the real world.

For lawyers, judges, and law professors, a different set of norms apply to both their online and offline conduct. Legal ethics rules, codes of judicial conduct, workplace policies, and general professionalism expectations dictate behavior for legal professionals. Collectively, these professional norms set a higher bar—one that fundamentally clashes with ever-evolving social media norms. This conflict between social media and professional norms must be reconciled in order for lawyers, judges, and law professors to avoid online missteps.

Continue reading

August 15, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

George Washington To Reduce Enrollment By 20% To Increase Quality

Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘Better, Not Bigger’: As Private Colleges Hunger for Students, One University Slims Down:

George Washington University LogoAs several private colleges have been trying to increase, or simply maintain, their enrollment amid a slackening in the number of traditional-age students in much of the country, George Washington University is doing just the opposite. In an announcement last week, its president, Thomas J. LeBlanc, declared a new mantra: “Better, not bigger.”

After a period of enrollment growth that LeBlanc said had “stretched our facilities, our services, our staff and our faculty,” George Washington will cut its undergraduate student body by 20 percent over the next five years. The move effectively reverses undergraduate growth of the past five years.

“Our intention is to continue to improve everything we do at GW by being even more focused on quality and less focused on quantity,” LeBlanc wrote last week, following an annual retreat with the Board of Trustees.

Continue reading

August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Cincinnati Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Cincinnati Logo (2019)The University of Cincinnati College of Law invites applications from entry-level candidates for the tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Law. We welcome candidates across all areas of law, although subject areas of particular interest include business law, health law, intellectual property, property, and tax. Applicants must possess a J.D. or equivalent degree and outstanding academic credentials and have demonstrated potential for outstanding teaching and scholarship. Relevant experience in private practice, government service, or a judicial clerkship is strongly preferred. We welcome applications from persons who would add to the diversity of our academic community and engage with the broader community. Questions about the hiring process should be directed to Professor Felix Chang, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee. Candidates must also apply online via the UC recruitment system to be considered an applicant.

Continue reading

August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fostering And Assessing Law Student Teamwork And Team Leadership Skills

Neil W. Hamilton (St. Thomas), Fostering and Assessing Law Student Teamwork and Team Leadership Skills, 47 Hofstra L. Rev. ___ (2019):

Skills of teamwork and team leadership are foundational for many types of law practice, but how much instruction, supervised experience, assessment, and guided reflection on these two skills did each reader as a law student receive? Law schools’ formal curricula, in the author’s experience, historically have not given much attention to the development of these skills. There also has been little legal scholarship on how most effectively to foster law students’ growth toward later stages of teamwork and team leadership. Legal education must do better.

Continue reading

August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN Logo (2018)SSRN has updated its monthly ranking of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  This ranking includes downloads from two 30- and 35-page papers by 12 tax professors on the new tax legislation that garnered a lot of media attention (including the New York Times and Washington Post) and generated a massive amount of downloads (the papers are the most downloaded tax papers of all-time by over 200%).  See Brian Leiter (Chicago), 11 Tax Profs Blow Up The SSRN Download Rankings. (For some reason, Mitchell Kane (NYU) — the twelfth academic co-author of the two papers — is not included in the SSRN download rankings (although the downloads are included on his individual author page)).  Here is the new list (through August 1, 2019) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

    All-Time   Recent
Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)  184,986 Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) 12,878
Dan Shaviro (NYU) 118,783 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 10,565
David Gamage (Indiana-Bl.) 114,647 David Gamage (Indiana-Bl.) 8,640
Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 113,015 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)  8,555
Lily Batchelder (NYU) 111,898 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 8,305
Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) 108,497 Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) 7,627
Cliff Fleming (BYU) 103,607 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 7,290
8 David Kamin (NYU) 100,506 David Kamin (NYU) 7,073
9 Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) 100,501 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 7,024
10  Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 99,652 Cliff Fleming (BYU) 6,803
11  Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 98,391 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham)  6,735
12  Michael Simkovic (USC) 43,223 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 2,663
13  D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 37,181 Michael Simkovic (USC) 2,650
14  Paul Caron (Pepperdine) 35,672 Bridget Crawford (Pace) 2,591
15  Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 31,925 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 2,495
16  Richard Ainsworth (BU) 27,900 Kyle Rozema (Chicago) 2,493
17  Ed Kleinbard (USC) 25,959 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 2,335
18  Vic Fleischer (UC-Irvine) 25,557 Ruth Mason (Virginia) 2,221
19  Jim Hines (Michigan) 24,586 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 2,051
20  Gladriel Shobe (BYU) 24,043 Jacob Goldin (Stanford) 1,976
21  Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.) 23,574 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 1,856
22  Richard Kaplan (Illinois) 23,450 Hugh Ault (Boston College) 1,849
23  Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 23,022 Joe Bankman (Stanford) 1,716
24  Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 22,713 Yariv Brauner (Florida) 1,635
25  Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.) 22,295 George Yin (Virginia) 1,558

Continue reading

August 14, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sander: Are Law Schools Engines Of Inequality?

Richard H. Sander (UCLA), Are Law Schools Engines of Inequality?, 48 J.L. & Educ. 243 (2019):

In Robin Hood in Reverse, Professor Aaron Taylor examined an important problem: how the cycle of rising law school tuition and expanding merit scholarships damages the pipeline of opportunity for aspiring lawyers and reinforces the social "eliteness" of legal education. Taylor directs the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), which gathers data on the experiences of thousands of law students each year, and he is in a good position to shed light on the important problems he examines. He advanced some bold claims which deserve careful consideration. Professor Taylor has generously shared with me the LSSSE data he used in his analysis. Working with these and other data, I evaluate Taylor's arguments and analyze what we can reliably say about how law school scholarship programs have evolved and how they function today.

My main conclusions are these:

(1) Taylor views the powers that be in legal education as seeking to maintain the legal profession as a preserve for socially privileged whites; he sees the reliance on the LS AT as a central mechanism for replicating the social exclusiveness of the profession. In contrast, I see law schools as increasingly focused on the rankings arms race, which has produced a variety of specific behaviors unhealthy for the legal academy as a whole.

(2) Taylor treats "race" and "class" almost interchangeably; in his view, law school policies are unfair to racial minorities and low-SES students in very similar ways. As I show, however, law school policies break out in dramatically different ways depending on whether we use a "race" lens or a "class" lens. We cannot understand these policies without recognizing this distinction.

(3) Although Taylor's conclusions are sweeping, his LSSSE data cover only the past few years, and his quantitative analysis relies primarily on crosstabulations. I bring in historical data from the 1990s and use regression analysis to isolate how specific factors operate when we control for other relevant variables. Both of these steps greatly enhance our understanding of the underlying patterns.

(4) Many of Taylor's conclusions go beyond what his data actually show. And it is striking how many gaps exist in the LSSSE data, compared to other databases on legal education generated in the 1990s and early 2000s. I try to distinguish (a) what we can reasonably infer from contemporary data from (b) what we can only make guesses about, pending the development of better sources.

In the final section of the paper, I build on these insights to attempt a general diagnosis of what ails our current policies, and to suggest steps we might take to fix things.

Continue reading

August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Learning To Love Pro Bono: A Practical Recipe For Engaging Law Students

Alissa Gomez (Houston), Learning to Love Pro Bono: A Practical Recipe for Engaging Law Students:

In April 2019, our Lawyering Skills & Strategies Department at the University of Houston Law Center brought together law students, faculty, practitioners, and UH law librarians, to help low-income clients across Texas using the virtual legal advice platform provided by the ABA’s Free Legal Answers website. Launched in September 2016, Free Legal Answers allows members of the public who income-qualify to post civil legal questions to a secure website and have those questions answered by a licensed attorney in their state. Pairing law students with practitioners, faculty, and law librarians, we were able to answer several real-time client questions, in the span of less than three hours, on issues ranging from family law and landlord-tenant to consumer disputes. The experience brought legal research and writing to life for our law students, and helped remind everyone about the importance of pro bono service to our profession.

Continue reading

August 14, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Game Theory Model Of Law Faculties: Turnover Helps Curb Antisocial Faculty Behavior

Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State), Cooperation and Turnover in Law Faculties: A Game-Theoretic Model and Empirical Study, 102 Marq. L. Rev. 1 (2018):

A standard account of group cooperation would predict that group stability would bring about greater cooperation, because repeat-play games would allow for sanctions and rewards. In an academic unit such as a department or a law faculty, one might thus expect that faculty stability would bring about greater cooperation.

However, academic units are not like most other groups. Tenured professors face only limited sanctions for failing to cooperate, for engaging in unproductive conflict, or for shirking. This article argues counter-intuitively that within limits, some level of faculty turnover may enhance cooperation. Certainly, excessive and persistent loss of faculty is demoralizing, and reduces the number of individuals among which administrative work can be spread. But for less dire losses, faculty turnover may play the disciplining role that academic units are deprived of by the tenure system.

Continue reading

August 13, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Co-Authoring Legal Scholarship With Students

Richard A. Bales (Ohio Northern) & Stephen F. Befort (Minnesota), Running the Race Together: Co-Authoring Legal Scholarship with Students, 27 Persp. 4 (2019):

The two co-authors of this essay collectively have co-authored more than seventy law review articles or other scholarly publications with students. The vast majority of these are published in law reviews other than those at our home institutions. We’re not legal writing professors, but we are professors who work a lot with students to improve their writing. One of the ways we do that is by encouraging them to publish the papers they write for our courses and by working with them one-on-one to polish their drafts. We’ve learned some key lessons from that experience about improving student writing that we think might be helpful to any law school professors who work with students to improve their writing including LRW professors, law school writing specialists, and doctrinal professors.

This essay describes how we co-author with students; the myriad benefits such co-authoring offers to us, our students, the academy, and the bar generally; and a few speed bumps we have run into along the way.

Continue reading

August 13, 2019 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Southwestern Law School Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Southwestern Law SchoolSouthwestern Law School invites applications for entry-level and experienced faculty positions for the 2020-21 academic year. Curricular needs are most pressing in the areas of Torts, Corporate Law/Entrepreneurship, Tax, and Criminal Law. Applications from members of underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged. Interested persons should send resume, references, subject area and scholarship agenda via email to Senior Associate Dean Doreen Heyer, Chair, Faculty Recruitment Committee, Southwestern Law School, 3050 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010.

August 13, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax News, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Faculty Have A 'Sweet Racket? Or Do They Work 60 Hours/Week For Less Pay Than They Could Get Elsewhere?

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Who’ll Take a Pay Cut for Free College?, by Joseph Epstein (Northwestern):

Democratic candidates for president, in their impressive expansiveness, are promising free college. ... If government is going to pay for college, at least it ought to try to bring down the cost. I taught at a university for 30 years and have a few suggestions. Start at the top: I would reduce the salaries of university presidents by, say, 90%. ...

Which brings us to the faculty.  Faculty jobs in American universities have risen well in excess of any visible improvement in the quality of university teachers: $200,000-a-year-or-more professorships are now not uncommon. When I began teaching in my mid-30s, an older friend, long resident at the same university, said to me, “Welcome to the racket.” What he meant is that I would be getting a full-time salary for what was essentially a six-month job, and without ever having to put in an eight-hour day. At the tonier universities, professors in the humanities and social sciences might teach as few as three or four courses a year, the remainder of their time supposedly devoted to research. Like the man said, a sweet racket.

Under free higher education, perhaps it would make sense to pay university teachers by the hour, with raises in the wage awarded by seniority. Surely they could not complain. After all, the two most common comments (some would say the two biggest lies) about university teaching are, “I learn so much from my students” and “It’s so inspiring, I’d do it for nothing.” A strict hourly wage for teachers, as free university education may require, would nicely test the validity of that second proposition.

Inside Higher Ed, ‘A Sweet Racket’? Yeah, Right:

Continue reading

August 13, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

New Paper Makes Case For Paying More Attention To Pre-tenured Faculty Emotions

Inside Higher Ed, New Paper Makes Case For Paying More Attention To Pre-tenured Faculty Emotions:

Academics might be known for their intellect, but they have emotions, too -- and those emotions matter, according to a new paper on the pretenure faculty experience [The Emotions of Pretenure Faculty: Implications for Teaching and Research Success].

The mixed-method study, published in The Review of Higher Education, looked at assistant professors’ emotions regarding teaching and research, including their frequency, precursors and relationships with perceived success. It found that teaching was much more associated with positive emotions. Research, meanwhile, was associated with more negative feelings.

Why do faculty emotions matter? There’s a divide between qualitative research that consistently identifies certain factors — namely clear expectations for promotion and tenure, collegiality and balance between work and home — as important to faculty success, the paper says, and other quantitative research suggesting that those factors actually have limited influence.

Might understanding faculty members’ emotions help bridge that gap? Perhaps.

Continue reading

August 13, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Grades Can Hinder Learning. What Should Professors Use Instead?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Grades Can Hinder Learning. What Should Professors Use Instead?:

Grades are among education’s most recognizable symbols, up there with chalkboards and graduation gowns. Plenty of instructors use them for years without ever wondering why.

But let’s take a moment and ask. Why grade? To give students feedback, a professor might say. To measure learning. To motivate. 

Here’s the problem: Decades of research undercuts these assumptions. ... [S]tudies have found that [grades] reduce students’ interest in what they’re learning. They make students more risk-averse, less curious, and more prone to focus on their performance instead of the task at hand. Grades tempt students to cut corners, including by cheating. They position students and professors as adversaries. They make it harder for students to think for themselves. ...

Continue reading

August 12, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

AALS Tax Section Call For Papers Due Aug. 15: New Voices In Tax Law & Policy

AALS (2018)The AALS Section on Taxation has issued a Call for Papers to be presented at a works-in-progress session at the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The works-in-progress session is tentatively scheduled for Friday, January 3, 2020. This program will provide speakers the opportunity to present their work and receive feedback from commentators in the field.

Eligibility: Scholars teaching at AALS member schools or non-member fee-paid schools with seven or fewer years of full-time teaching experience as of the submission deadline are eligible to submit papers. For co-authored papers, all authors must satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Due date: 5 p.m. PDT, Thursday, August 15, 2019.

Continue reading

August 12, 2019 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

Haben Girma, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law (Aug. 6, 2019):

HabenThe incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first Deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.

Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn't see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.

Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.

Haben takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection.

Wall Street Journal, Haben Girma Is a Trailblazer for the Deaf and Blind:

Continue reading

August 12, 2019 in Book Club, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome, Pepperdine Law School Class Of 2022

Launch Week Class of 2022 (2)

Welcome to the members of the Pepperdine Law School Class of 2022 who begin their legal education today in a week-long introduction to law school and professional formation, as well as the over 300 students pursuing joint, LL.M., and masters degrees and certificates, including our LL.M. and certificate programs in Entertainment, Media, and Sports and our online masters in Legal Studies and Dispute Resolution and our new online LL.M. in Dispute Resolution.

This is my third year as Dean, and I am thrilled that you have decided to join our very special law school community. You will learn and study on our spectacularly beautiful campus in Malibu with easy access to Los Angeles, one of the world's most vibrant cities for young professionals. You will experience the faculty and staff's faith-fueled commitment to you and to your success that manifests itself in various ways, large and small, in daily life here. My fervent wish is that you will love your time at Pepperdine as I have since joining the faculty in 2013, and that you will leave here with a deep sense of your professional and personal calling in law and in life.

This is an especially exciting time at Pepperdine Law, as we are celebrating our 50th anniversary. In March, we rose to #51 in the U.S. News law school rankings, and we are well positioned to continue our ascent this year.  After 20 years on the Pepperdine Law faculty, Jim Gash became President of Pepperdine University 12 days ago. 

August 12, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Accusing Harvard Law Review Of Discrimination Against White Men

Following up on my previous posts:

Harvard Crimson, Lawsuit Alleging Harvard Law Review Discriminates Against White Men Dismissed:

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday that was brought against the Harvard Law Review in October alleging the legal journal violates federal anti-discrimination laws in its member and article selection policies [Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences v. Harvard Law Review Ass'n, No. 18-12105 (D. MA Aug. 8, 2019)].

The suit — which was filed by the Texas-based anti-affirmative action group Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences — also implicated the University, Harvard Law School, and the United States Department of Education.

The Law Review staff selection process accepts 48 second and third-year law students each year in a three-pronged process. Twenty of the 48 students are chosen based solely on their performance in a writing competition, 10 are selected based jointly on the writing competition and HLS grades, and 18 are selected through “a holistic but anonymous review that takes into account all available information,” according to its website.

Continue reading

August 12, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Dad, Did You Achieve All Your Life Goals?

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Dad, Did You Achieve All Your Life Goals?, by Warren Kozak:

I don’t often get a question that stops me in my tracks. But on a recent vacation, my daughter and I had the rare opportunity to sit down and talk in a relaxed setting. We’re at very different stages in our lives. She is 21, going into her senior year of college with the whole world in front of her. I’m 68—most of my friends are retiring.

She turned to me at dinner and asked if I had met the goals I set for myself when I was her age. ...

After sleeping on it, I told her the next morning that I was surprised to find what I consider my greatest accomplishments today are not even remotely close to what I might have imagined back then.

Continue reading

August 11, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Making Big Law Partner Is Like 'Winning A Pie-Eating Contest In Which The Prize Is More Pie'

Wall Street Journal, Being a Law Firm Partner Was Once a Job for Life. That Culture Is All but Dead.:

WSJ1Being named a partner once meant joining a band of lawyers who jointly tended to longtime clients and took home comfortable, and roughly equal, paychecks. Job security was virtually guaranteed and partners rarely jumped ship.

That model, and the culture that grew up around it, is all but dead. Law firms are now often partnerships in name only. Full-time chief executives, some without law degrees, have replaced the senior partner running human resources and accounting. Law firm names have trended toward the shorter and snappier, more befitting a tote bag than a law library.

Many firms have expanded rapidly to mirror the growth of their corporate clients, with hundreds of partners spread around the world. The largest, Dentons, recently hit 10,000 lawyers in 78 countries, around a third of them partners. ...

In the new paradigm, lawyers are expendable, and partners may jump to a competitor for the right amount of money, taking as many clients as possible with them on the way out.

WSJ2Junior lawyers always worked long hours for years before being promoted, but that meant a kind of lifetime tenure. Today, making partner can take more than a decade and still requires scraping for new business. Becoming a partner, the industry saying goes, is like winning a pie-eating contest only to find the prize is more pie.

“If you get partners in their private moments to talk about ambitions for their children, I would be very surprised if many would articulate partnership in a large law firm,” said Elliott Portnoy, Dentons’s global chief executive. ...

No firm embodies the changes more than Kirkland, which was founded in Chicago in 1909. ... Over the past decade, Kirkland has become known for making high-price offers to rising stars at competitors, for $10 million a year or more in some cases. It has embraced the two-tiered partner system, made up of a junior class paid a set salary and an inner circle of equity partners, who split the firm’s profits.

Continue reading

August 11, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Federal Court Approves Sale Of Western State Law School To Westcliff University

Westcliff University Press Release, Approval—Acquisition of Western State College of Law:

Western State Logo (2019)A federal court in Ohio has approved acquisition of Western State College of Law by Westcliff University. Dr. Anthony Lee, President and CEO of Westcliff, said in response to the court’s approval, “We are delighted to welcome Western State into our family. We knew it would take a lot of work by many dedicated people, and today is the culmination of those efforts and a reason for celebration.”

The court order ends months of uncertainty and distress for the students, faculty, and staff of the 50-year-old Irvine-based law school. Western State was a campus of Argosy University, which was owned by Dream Center Education Holdings, LLC. Western State became the unfortunate victim of the financial problems of its parent, which entered receivership in January.

“The law school had been successful with very experienced management, faculty and staff,” said Lee, “We would not have become involved except for that. Westcliff is fully committed to helping Western State recover from its entanglement in the receivership and begin enrolling new students as soon as possible.”

Continue reading

August 11, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 10, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

LatCrit/SALT Annual Faculty Development Workshop

LatCrit GraphicWe are writing to invite you the LatCrit, Inc./SALT Annual Faculty Development Workshop (FDW), which will take place on October 17, 2019. The FDW will be held the day before the 2019 LatCrit Biennial Conference The Dispossessed Majority: Resisting the Second Redemption in América Posfascista (Postfascist America) in Atlanta, Georgia.

The FDW is designed for those who are planning to enter or who have recently joined the legal academy. The day-long workshop includes sessions on topics facing prospective, junior, and pre-tenured faculty, while providing generous opportunities to network and form mentoring relationships with established faculty. The FDW is an invaluable learning and professional development opportunity!

Registration for the FDW is free for attendees of the LatCrit conference. Please see the attached flyer for more information. Additionally, please feel free to e-mail Professor Ron Hochbaum at rhochbaum@luc.edu with any questions.

Continue reading

August 10, 2019 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Has College Gotten Too Easy?

The Atlantic, Has College Gotten Too Easy?:

AtlanticWhen Jeff Denning, an economist at Brigham Young University, started looking closely at the data on college-completion rates, he was a bit perplexed by what, exactly, was driving this uptick. He and some of his BYU colleagues noticed that a range of indicators from those two decades pointed in the direction of lower, not higher, graduation rates: More historically underrepresented groups of students (who tend to have lower graduation rates) were enrolling, students appeared to be studying less and spending more time working outside of school, and student-to-faculty ratios weren’t decreasing. “We started thinking, What could possibly explain this increase?” Denning told me. “Because we were stuck with not being able to explain anything.”

Stuck, that is, until they started looking at what was happening with students’ GPAs. Despite the aforementioned trends among the college-going population, students were, on average, earning higher grades in their first year of college. “[GPAs are] going up, and as best we can tell, there’s not a good reason that they’re going up, in terms of student behavior or preparation or anything like that,” Denning said.

If grades are improving but there’s no reason to think that students have become better students, an interesting possibility is raised: The unassuming, academic way Denning puts it in a recent paper (co-authored with his BYU colleague Eric Eide and Merrill Warnick, an incoming Stanford doctoral student) is that “standards for degree receipt” may have changed. A less measured way of saying what that implies: College may have gotten easier.

Jeffrey T. Denning, Eric R. Eide & Merrill Warnick (BYU), Why Have College Completion Rates Increased?:

College completion rates declined from the 1970s to the 1990s. We document that this trend has reversed—since the 1990s, college completion rates have increased.

Figure 2

Continue reading

August 10, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)