Paul L. Caron

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pepperdine's Michael Helfand To Co-Teach New Religious Liberty Clinic At Yale

Michael Helfand, Associate Dean for Faculty and Research, Interim Director of the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics, and Professor of Law at Pepperdine Law School, will be co-teaching a new Religious Liberty Clinic at Yale Law School this spring:

Helfand 3National Review, Yale Law School Establishes Religious-Liberty Clinic:

I’m very pleased to learn that Yale law school has established a for-course-credit Free Exercise Clinic, under the direction of Professor Kate Stith. Michael Helfand, a visiting professor from Pepperdine law school, will also lead the course.

From Yale’s course catalog for the spring 2020 semester:

Free Exercise Clinic: Seminar (30143) and Fieldwork (30144). 2 units for seminar, 1 unit for fieldwork (3 units total). The seminar and the fieldwork must be taken simultaneously. The freedom to practice one’s religion has been a cherished and controverted right since the Founding. Indeed, religious beliefs matter enormously to their adherents, yet are often invisible or unintelligible to others. This duality is especially salient today, in our religiously diverse society. Although the federal constitution and many other laws offer protection for individuals and groups of faith, majoritarian policymakers and government actors sometimes fail to consider – and occasionally target – religious minorities and their interests. This clinic will provide an opportunity for students to defend the free exercise of politically vulnerable religious minorities. Students will learn about and advocate for the rights of inmates seeking religious accommodations, houses of worship challenging zoning decisions, and employees facing discrimination at work.

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

Sunday, October 6, 2019

My Last Visit Home

Salem 3My wife and I returned to my boyhood home of Salem, Massachusetts for the funeral on Friday of Claire Dionne, who was my late father's companion for 14 years after my mother's death until his death in 2007.  We stayed in touch with Claire over these twelve years, and she often visited us (with my Aunt Carol) in California (at first during my summers teaching in San Diego, and later in Malibu). 

It struck me that this was likely my last trip to Salem, as there is nothing there to draw me back.  As we drove past my childhood haunts, I couldn't help but think about my 3,309-mile, 62-year journey from Salem to Malibu and the enormous role luck and providence have played in my life.  I would not change a thing: the gut-wrenching lows and the thankfully more frequent euphoric highs, and everything in between, have molded me into the person I am today.  But I wish my parents could have lived to see the man I have become — still deeply flawed, but much different than the person they last saw at age 34 and age 49.

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October 6, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, September 27, 2019

Inauguration Of Pepperdine University President Jim Gash

Gash 2This has been quite a week at Pepperdine as we celebrate the Inauguration of Jim Gash, former Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and External Relations and Professor of Law at Pepperdine Law School, as President of Pepperdine University. Jim is one of my dearest friends, and I am thrilled for him, for Joline, and for Pepperdine. Here are the remarks I delivered at Wednesday's ceremony:

On behalf of the deans of Pepperdine’s five schools, I want to congratulate Jim Gash on becoming our eighth president. All presidents bring unique backgrounds and experiences to the position, and Jim is the first to come to the presidency as a faculty member and administrator at one of the five schools.

In his twenty years at the School of Law, Jim made enormous contributions to our rise in prominence. Jim joined an unranked law school, and he leaves behind a school poised to take its place among the nation’s top fifty law schools.

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September 27, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Virtual Tour Of Pepperdine Law School

Thursday, September 12, 2019

September 11th At Pepperdine

Yesterday was a very special day at Pepperdine. In the morning, we held a solemn ceremony at our Waves of Flags for the 12th consecutive year featuring a display of 2,887 American flags for each American life lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and 90 international flags representing the home countries of those from abroad who also were killed:

September 11

In the afternoon, I hosted a conversation with Justice Gorsuch about his new book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It, with two of his former law clerks, David Feder and Tobi Young, following an honor guard of four of our student veterans (Capt Lindsey Kirchoff, US Air Force; CPT Austin McNaul, US Army; CPT Daniel Schmidt, US Army; and Col (Ret.) Mark Seilhamer, USMC)), a singing of the National Anthem by 3L Marcy Kuo, and an invocation by Eric Wilson, Associate University Chaplain.

Gorsuch Event (091119)

In the evening, my wife and I hosted the weekly Dean's Bible Study:

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September 12, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Moneyball, Astroball, And Pepperball

Moneyball AstroballOn Friday, the deans of Pepperdine's five schools gave short 10-minute talks at the Provost's faculty orientation program for the 34 new faculty on campus. I talked about what I had learned in my first year as dean and how that influenced my just-concluded second year. I share those thoughts here in the hope that some may find them of interest.

When I ran for dean, I promised that if chosen I would do everything in my power to help Pepperdine become the nation's premier faith-based law school by combining excellence and faith in a community that is welcoming to everyone. I pledged that we would strive to (1) maximize our students’ return on investment; (2) pursue ambitious and accountable excellence in everything we do; and (3) build a community in which all students, faculty, and staff are loved, nurtured, and challenged to grow professionally, personally, and spiritually.

In our first year, we implemented a plan with the help of our university to (1) reduce JD enrollment to improve student credentials (LSAT, UGPA) and outcomes (bar passage, jobs), and (2) offset the JD tuition revenue shortfall by reducing expenses and increasing fundraising and non-JD revenue. The plan has worked far better and far faster than we had ever imagined, as reflected in our rise in the U.S. News law school rankings from #72 to #51 (the largest increase of any Top 100 law school).

I began my deanship with a zeal for Moneyball — I had written an article on the application of Moneyball principles in law schools (What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Texas L. Rev. 1483 (2004)), and we eagerly set out to use analytics in creating a comprehensive system to measure faculty contributions to the law school in teaching, scholarship, mission, and service. In fulfilling the promise to pursue ambitious and accountable excellence, we used differential raises, bonuses, and teaching loads to reward superior performance. The decisions were difficult, and frankly morale suffered.

In my second year as dean, I was heavily influenced by Astroball. The Houston Astros general manager had used the data-driven Moneyball approach to dramatically improve the team, but fell short of a World Series championship. He then discovered the work of Kate Bezrukova, a SUNY-Buffalo business school professor whose research had studied various industries and concluded that in each one, the companies with greater employee cohesion performed better. Her insight was that demographic differences among employees ("fault lines") adversely affect performance. The GM hired her to examine whether team cohesion mattered in baseball – the conclusion was that it did, and it could account for an additional six wins per season.

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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Dean's Bible Study Kicks Off At Pepperdine Law

The Dean's Bible Study kicked off last week at Pepperdine Law School (the study is student-led and hosted at a dean's home). I spoke about five influences on my faith journey: my kids (Jayne and Reed), Abraham, Isaac, Jim Gash, and Alexander Hamilton.


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August 25, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, August 12, 2019

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)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

More On A Dean's Perspective On Diversity, Socioeconomics, The LSAT, And The U.S. News Law School Rankings

My talk last week at SEALS on A Dean's Perspective On Diversity, Socioeconomics, The LSAT, And The U.S. News Law School Rankings focused on the tension faced by deans and faculty as they try to increase the diversity of their student bodies in the light of the great weight U.S. News places on median LSATs and UGPAs in its law school rankings methodology — 22.5% of the total ranking. Several folks asked for copies of this chart of the racial and ethnic composition of the 2017-2018 law school applicant pool from LSAC data:

2017-18 Applicants  LSAT  Race

The chart shows that Caucasian and Asian applicants are over-represented (compared to their share of the applicant pool) in the top 160-180 LSAT band (Caucasians comprise 57% of total applicants, and 68% of the top LSAT band; Asians: 10%, 15%), and African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos are under-represented in the top LSAT band (African-Americans: 13%, 3%; Hispanic/Latinos: 12%, 7%). In terms of raw numbers, only 590 African-Americans in the applicant pool scored at least 160 on the LSAT. African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos are over-represented in the bottom 120-149 LSAT band (African-American: 13%, 27%; Hispanic/Latinos: 12%, 17%).

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August 6, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Caron Presents A Dean's Perspective On Diversity, Socioeconomics, The LSAT, And The U.S. News Law School Rankings Today At SEALS

One of the Legal Ed panels today at the 2019 SEALS Annual Conference in Boca Raton, Florida:

SEALs Logo (2013)Building Bridges: Socioeconomics, the LSAT and U.S. News and World Report Rankings
This panel explores methodologies and programs that will help students from low income and diverse backgrounds have opportunities available to them to attend law school. AALS President Wendy Perdue of the University of Richmond has said: “As our society struggles with this problem of deep polarization, lawyers and law schools have an important role to play. Lawyers, are, after all, in the dispute resolution business. Resolving conflict is central to what we do. And today, perhaps more than ever before, the skills that we as lawyers have, and we as law professors teach, are of critical importance.” In order to resolve these conflicts, we need to make sure that all communities have access to engage in these important conversations. The Before the J.D. Study shows that African American and Hispanic students think about going to law school before going to high school and college. In addition, the study highlights that over 60% of students report the most important advice about going to graduate or professional school comes from a family member or relative. Many students from low-income backgrounds do not have family members who are lawyers and are at a disadvantage in getting advice about going to law school because they may not be encouraged by these close family members or friends. There is still a small percentage of African American and Latino/a attorneys Nationwide 5% of lawyers are African American and 5% are of Hispanic origin. These percentages have remained consistent for almost the past ten years. So many students from these racial and ethnic backgrounds also can’t readily turn to family members or friends for inspiration and advice about going to law school. The ABA reports that the entering class for 2017 has an aggregate African American enrollment of 8.6% and 13.2% for Hispanics. Meanwhile, African Americans consist of approximately 13% and Hispanics approximately 18% of the overall U.S. population. These two racial groups, along with Asian Americans, are on target to be a majority of the U.S. population in the next 30 years. Given the growth trends in these demographic groups, there will be an insufficient percent of lawyers from these groups to meet their (and society’s) legal needs in the next few years. Moreover, some scholars have argued that there is a strong tie between socioeconomics and law schools admissions. There has recently been a very passionate Twitter discussion of this issue on Lawprofblawg. Some believe that the LSAT and U.S. News privileges those from middle- and upper middle-class backgrounds. Others point out the LSAT’s strength in providing an accurate assessment of core skills required for success in law school and that an admission process that correctly uses the LSAT as one factor in a multi-factor holistic admission process is fairest to applicants. Recently, U.S. News attempted to reduce economic privilege in its rankings of undergraduate schools by injecting socio economic factors. The formula now includes indicators meant to measure "social mobility" and drops an acceptance rate measure that benefited schools that turned the most students away. A recent Politico article reported that U.S. News will change its methodology at the college level. This panel consists of experts who examine these issues in terms of the LSAT, U.S. News & World Report law school rankings, and socioeconomic and diversity issues.

  • Leonard Baynes (Dean, Houston), Pre-Law Pipeline Program: We’ve Got The Power
  • Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine), A Dean's Perspective on Diversity, Socioeconomics, the LSAT, and the U.S. News Law School Rankings
  • Victor Quintanilla (Professor & Co-Director, Center for Law, Society & Culture, Indiana), Initial Results on Relationship Between the LSAT, USNWR, SES, and Demographics From the Productive Mindset Intervention Study
  • Robert Morse (Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News), Building Bridges: Socioeconomics, the LSAT and U.S. News and World Report Rankings  
  • Kellye Testy (President & CEO, LSAC; former Dean, University of Washington), Adversity and Admission: Tackling “Opportunity to Learn”

July 31, 2019 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Blog Must Go On For This Law Dean, The Blog Must Go On for This Law Dean:

Caron Headshot Cropped (2019)Pepperdine University Law Dean Paul Caron reflects on his two years of running a law school while also publishing his widely read TaxProf Blog, which chronicles legal education's biggest stories.

Paul Caron—legal education’s so-called Blog Emperor—took the reins at Pepperdine University School of Law in 2017, and his two years as dean have been a remarkable ride.

Things got off to a rough start in the spring of 2018 when the school was removed from the U.S. News & World Report rankings after Pepperdine discovered a mistake in the data it submitted that artificially increased its ranking and reported it to the publication. (Pepperdine returned to the ranking this year, moving up from its previous No. 72 to No. 51).

The challenges didn’t end there. In November, a Pepperdine law student was present at a nearby music venue when an armed man opened fire, killing 12. The law student was unharmed but the massacre, in which a Pepperdine undergraduate died, shook the Malibu, California, campus. A day later, the so-called Woolsey Fire tore through the area and came close to leveling the campus. The law school was spared, but closed for more than two weeks in the aftermath.

Through it all, Caron maintained his role as the town crier of legal education with his TaxProf Blog, which aggregates news about tax law and law schools. The 15-year-old blog is a must-read for legal educators and has become an important tool to raise Pepperdine’s profile and stature in the academy. Caron posts stories about events and initiatives at Pepperdine, not to mention plenty of photos of its seaside campus. caught up with Caron this week to discuss juggling the blog with his dean duties and why he hasn’t given TaxProf Blog up. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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July 18, 2019 in About This Blog, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed, Pepperdine Tax, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (6)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Suit Stipend Project Helps First Gen Pepperdine Law Students Dress For Success

First Gen Initiatives Suit Stipend Project Success:

First GenThe Pepperdine Law’s First Gen Initiatives is pleased to announce the success of its inaugural Suit Stipend Project. Pepperdine Law pledged five $200 stipends for rising second-year and third-year students who found it a challenge to purchase suits for their professional interviews. When First Gen Initiatives received eight applications for the five stipends, private donors stepped forward to cover the additional three stipends so that each student who applied was able to receive a stipend.

The Suit Stipend Project was part of the newly created First Gen Initiatives program, which Pepperdine Law plans to continue into the future. First Gen Initiatives thanks the Pepperdine Law community for recognizing the importance of this project and rising to meet the needs of our students.  We appreciate you!


July 7, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The 4th Of July At Pepperdine

Pepperdine University | Human Resources

The 4th of July: Faith and Freedom
As we approach the 4th of July, I invite you to reflect on our Independence Day holiday through the lens of Pepperdine – and our commitment to faith and freedom. 

For Christians, our deepest identity lies not in country, but in Christ. We may pledge allegiance to the United States of America, but our true allegiance is to the One who created us. We are legally citizens of the United States, “[b]ut our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:13-14). We are sons and daughters of God, not sons and daughters of Uncle Sam. 

As Americans, we will pause on Thursday to remember with gratitude our forebears who declared the nation's independence from a despotic King and shed their blood in a fight for freedom. As Christians, we pause each day to remember our dependence on the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) who shed His blood for our freedom in Him. Although America is not our eternal home, we remain ever grateful to those who came before and left us a country that safeguards everyone's freedom to practice his or her individual faith.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13

Paul Caron
Dean, School of Law

Forward:  To Understand America — Read The Bible, by Michael Helfand (Pepperdine):

What role should the bible play in American politics? This question remains at the center of debates over hot-button social issues—such as abortion and same-sex marriage—where traditional and progressive values continue to clash. As these debates persist, how should American Jews leverage their unique values and texts to develop their own responses to these pressing social and political challenges?

Somewhat counter-intuitively, this is the foundational question raised by a new edited sourcebook, Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States. ... [T]he anthology collects important historical texts in which religious and political leaders incorporated the values, messages and narratives of the bible into their vision of American liberty, community and politics. That this sourcebook bears on contemporary political deliberation may seem odd given that the collected texts themselves date primarily from the 17th through the mid-19th century. Yet in highlighting how generations of prominent American historical figures placed the bible front and center when they spoke and wrote, this anthology invariably asks the reader to evaluate the role of Jewish text and values within the context of political debate and deliberation. ...

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July 4, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 28, 2019

Pepperdine Law Professors Make Waves In Washington, D.C.

D.C.Pepperdine Law Professors Make Waves in Washington, D.C.:

Last year, two Professors of Law at Pepperdine were tapped to hold influential positions in the United States government, a testament to our faculty’s commitment to scholarship and service. Babette Boliek was appointed by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to serve as its 2018-19 Chief Economist. Donald “Trey” Childress began serving as the Counselor on International Law in the Office of the Legal Advisor in the U.S. State Department.

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June 28, 2019 in Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

My Two Year Anniversary

Yesterday marked my two year anniversary as dean of Pepperdine Law School. It has been an absolute joy and privilege to serve in this role. My love for this university and its people has only grown since my first day on the job. My second year was marked by wild swings from gut-wrenching lows to joyful highs.

Our community was scarred by the November 7 death of Seaver College freshman Alaina Housley in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill, followed the next day by the Woolsey fire that caused massive destruction in Malibu but spared the Pepperdine campus. 


Pepperdine was closed for seventeen days, and when we reopened on November 26 I was at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute having emergency surgery for detached retinas in both of my eyes. As I wrote two days later, Pepperdine Law Rises From The Ashes: Better, Stronger, United.

For the second year in a row, we made great progress on our strategic priorities as we:

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June 2, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pepperdine Law School Seeks To Fill Two Development Positions

PEPPERDINE CAMPUS WITH LOGO (2019)Pepperdine Law is seeking to fill two development positions due to the  departure of Associate Dean Jim Gash to become President of Pepperdine University and Director of Development Ben Gifford to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney. This is an exciting time to join the leadership team at Pepperdine Law and build on our success over the past two years in raising over $20 million in new endowment gifts  (the most in any two-year period in our law school's 50-year history) as we continue our rise:

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Director of Development, School of Law:

The Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Director of Development will have primary responsibility for developing, organizing, leading, and implementing a comprehensive fundraising program and strategies for the School of Law and plays an important front-line fundraising role. As a major gift officer, this position will be expected to personally raise major gifts in support of the dean’s fundraising priorities, focusing on donors with a capacity of $25,000 to $1M+. In addition, the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Director of Development will mentor and supervise the Director, Law Associates, the annual giving officer at the School of Law whose primary focus is on gifts of $1K to $25K.

Director, Law Associates:

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April 24, 2019 in Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dorothy Brown: Goodbye, But Not Farewell


Dorothy Brown headed back to Emory yesterday after completing her stint at Pepperdine as our Straus Distinguished Visiting Professor. She left behind one old friend and countless new ones. She regaled our students in Federal Income Tax and Tax Policy, which she co-taught (cough) with a frazzled dean. I will have three lasting memories of Dorothy's time here: (1) the great tax workshop series we put together, with seven outstanding speakers and wonderful post-presentation lunches; (2) the wonderful Critical Tax Conference we co-hosted, particularly Dorothy's fiery keynote address, The Life of a Tax Crit: When Keeping It Real Can Go Really Really Wrong; and (3) most importantly, the relationships Dorothy developed in her four months here, particularly with the students and staff (perhaps never before has a Straus Distinguished Visiting Professor (certainly not me) taken several staff people out for meals and given them gifts on her departure). We hope Dorothy will be back in Malibu in the future, initially as part of our Spring 2020 tax workshop series.

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April 24, 2019 in Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed, Pepperdine Tax, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2020 U.S. News Dispute Resolution Rankings

6a00d8341c4eab53ef0240a490199b200b-250wiThe new 2020 U.S. News Dispute Resolution Rankings include the dispute resolution programs at 92 law schools (the faculty survey had a 54% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank Score School
1 4.5 Ohio State
2 4.4 Pepperdine
3 4.3 Harvard
3 4.3 Missouri (Columbia)
5 4.1 Mitchell Hamline
5 4.1 UNLV
7 4.0 Oregon
8 3.9 Cardozo
8 3.9 Marquette
10 3.8 Arizona State
10 3.8 Northwestern
10 3.8 UC-Hastings
13 3.7 Maryland
13 3.7 Texas A&M
15 3.5 Quinnipiac
16 3.4 Suffolk
17 3.3 Columbia
17 3.3 Georgetown
17 3.3 Stanford
17 3.3 UC-Davis
21 3.2 Creighton
21 3.2 Fordham
21 3.2 Texas Tech
24 3.1 Florida
24 3.1 Lewis & Clark
24 3.1 Michigan
24 3.1 Nebraska
24 3.1 Texas
24 3.1 USC
24 3.1 Washington Univ.
31 3.0 South Texas
31 3.0 Stetson
31 3.0 UC-Berkeley
31 3.0 Willamette
35 2.9 Baltimore
35 2.9 Chicago-Kent
35 2.9 Kansas
35 2.9 Pace
35 2.9 Penn State (Dickinson)
35 2.9 Pennsylvania
35 2.9 St. John's
35 2.9 UCLA
35 2.9 Univ. of Washington
44 2.8 Arkansas (Little Rock)
44 2.8 Georgia State
44 2.8 Houston
44 2.8 Michigan State
44 2.8 Northeastern
44 2.8 NYU
44 2.8 William & Mary

As I blogged last fall, U.S. News has dramatically changed their ranking of the nine law school specialty programs:

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March 14, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2020 U.S. News Tax Rankings

6a00d8341c4eab53ef0240a490199b200b-250wiAs I blogged last fall, U.S. News has dramatically changed their ranking of nine law school specialty programs:

Law school specialty rankings ... are based solely on peer assessments by law school faculty who teach in that specialty area. The peer assessment surveys for the specialty law school area rankings were conducted in fall 2018 and early 2019 by U.S. News.

This year for the first time, law school faculty members who teach in each specialty area rated the other law schools in that specialty area on a 5-point scale. Those schools with the highest average scores among those raters who rated them appear in the rankings and are ranked in descending order based on their average peer score they received in that specialty area. In all the previous law school specialty rankings, the law school raters chose their top 15 in a specialty area. This new methodology produced a significantly larger number of schools that were ranked in each specialty area – in some cases five or six times more. ... [A]ll programs that received 10 or more ratings are numerically ranked in that specialty. Schools with less than 10 ratings in a specialty aren't listed. [The response rate of the tax faculty survey was 50%.].

The new 2020 U.S. News Tax Rankings include the tax programs at 175 law schools. Here are the Top 50:

Rank Score School
1 4.9 NYU
2 4.5 Georgetown
3 4.4 Florida
4 4.2 Northwestern
5 4.1 Virginia
6 4.0 Columbia
6 4.0 Stanford
8 3.9 Harvard
8 3.9 UC-Irvine
8 3.9 UCLA
11 3.8 Chicago
11 3.8 Michigan
11 3.8 Pennsylvania
14 3.7 Boston College
14 3.7 Boston University
14 3.7 Duke
14 3.7 Loyola-L.A.
14 3.7 USC
14 3.7 Texas
20 3.6 Indiana (Maurer)
20 3.6 Yale
22 3.5 San Diego
23 3.4 UC-Berkeley
24 3.2 Miami
25 3.1 Temple
25 3.1 UC-Hastings
25 3.1 Minnesota
25 3.1 North Carolina
25 3.1 Pittsburgh
25 3.1 Univ. of Washington
25 3.1 Villanova
32 3.0 Florida State
32 3.0 Fordham
32 3.0 George Washington
32 3.0 Pepperdine
32 3.0 UC-Davis
37 2.9 BYU
37 2.9 Alabama
37 2.9 Georgia
37 2.9 Houston
37 2.9 Washington & Lee
37 2.9 Washington Univ.
43 2.8 Arizona State
43 2.8 Georgia State
43 2.8 Notre Dame
46 2.7 Brooklyn
46 2.7 Emory
46 2.7 Ohio State
46 2.7 Tulane
46 2.7 Illinois
46 2.7 Iowa
46 2.7 William & Mary

Among the law schools in the tax rankings last year, ranked last year Here are the biggest upward moves:

  • +13:  Stanford (#6)
  • +8:  Chicago (#11), Penn (#11)
  • +6:  Columbia (#6)
  • +5:  Duke (#14)

Here are the biggest downward moves:

  • -30:  Denver (55)
  • -8:  Univ. of Washington (#25)
  • -7:  Boston University (#14)
  • -6:  Loyola-L.A. (#14), San Diego (#22)
  • -5:  Yale (#20)

Here are the rankings of law schools with graduate tax programs:

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March 13, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed, Pepperdine Tax, Tax, Tax Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Pepperdine’s Place In The 2020 U.S. News Law School Rankings

U.S. News Law (2019)By now many of you have seen the news that Pepperdine Law has risen to #51 in the 2020 U.S. News Law School Rankings. Our rise is especially gratifying in light of the decision by U.S. News last year to remove us from the rankings when we self-reported a single data reporting error one week before the publication date (for more details, see the links at the bottom of this post).

We have improved our ranking from #72 in 2017 to (unofficially) #62 in 2018 and #51 in 2019. This 21-point increase in our ranking over the past two years is the largest increase of any law school among the Top 100 law schools as ranked by U.S. News. We are in the second year of our plan to reduce the size of the student body by 20% to increase the quality of all aspects of our academic program.

We do not chase rankings at Pepperdine Law. Every decision we make is guided by a single question: what is in the best interest of our students? Often those decisions produce a rankings benefit as well, and we gladly reap those results. I am proud that our rankings rise is driven by the increasing selectivity of our incoming 1L class, the improved outcomes achieved by our graduates, the additional resources we have been able to deploy to improve our students’ educational experience, and our growing reputation among legal academics, lawyers, and judges.

Pepperdine Law also was recognized by U.S. News for excellence in several specialty programs in rankings voted on by faculty in those fields, including rankings of #2 in dispute resolution, #32 in tax law, and #33 in clinical training.

This news is especially meaningful to us following the Woolsey Fire last August which caused massive destruction in Malibu and threatened Pepperdine. Thanks to great planning by our university and the heroic efforts of firefighters on the ground and in the air, not a single building on campus was lost (for more, see the links at the bottom of this post).

Fire High Res 5 (No Ocean)

I have a confession to make. Our annual law school dinner is ordinarily held each year in early March. But after last year’s rankings hiccup, I decided to move this year’s dinner to March 30 so it would take place after the release of the new law school rankings. I was so confident about the direction of our law school that we decided that the theme of this year’s dinner would be that Pepperdine Law is “on the rise.” As I wrote when we re-opened the law school after being closed for 17 days after the fire (and following my emergency surgery for detached retinas in both of my eyes), Pepperdine Law Rises From The Ashes: Better, Stronger, United.


Prior TaxProf Blog coverage of Pepperdine's 2019 U.S. News ranking: 

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage of the impact of the Woolsey Fire on Pepperdine:

Update, Latest US News Law School Ranking Offers Few Surprises:

Back on the list this year is Pepperdine University School of Law, which nearly cracked the top 50, coming in at No. 51. U.S. News left Pepperdine off the rankings last year after the school flagged a mistake in the figures it had reported to U.S. News pertaining to the median LSAT score of its newest class. (U.S. News provides each school an early copy of the list to check the accuracy of the data.) School administrators predicted that Pepperdine would have claimed the 62nd position had the correct LSAT number been factored in. The school’s last official ranking was No. 72.

Pepperdine law dean Paul Caron said he believes his widely read TaxProfBlog has helped spread the word about the law school and raise awareness of its strengths. That exposure, coupled with the stronger credentials and employment outcomes that the school has achieved due to smaller class sizes, has bolstered its ranking, he said.

“Our law school dinner is ordinarily held each year in early March,” Caron said. “But after last year’s rankings hiccup, I decided to move this year’s dinner to March 30 so it would take place after the release of the new law school rankings. I was so confident about the direction of our law school that we decided that the theme of this year’s dinner would be that Pepperdine Law is ‘on the rise.’ I am glad I was right, or it would have been a very awkward dinner!”

The Recorder, Stanford Holds Steady, USC Jumps 2 Spots In Latest US News Law School Ranking:

This year's list is unusually stable compared with previous years. But Pepperdine University School of Law nearly cracked the top 50 after the school was omitted from the list last year after flagging a mistake in the figures it reported pertaining to the median LSAT score of its newest class.

Above the Law, This Law School Had A Great Year — At Least According To The Latest U.S. News Rankings:

After a big snafu last year, the law school's back on track.

According to the leaked U.S. News Law School Rankings for 2020, what school’s ranking increased the most?

Hint: Due to some misreporting, the school was unranked in the 2019 rankings, but the 2020 list puts them up 21 spots from where they were in 2018.

Answer: Pepperdine. You can find out all about last years rankings misadventure for the school here, and read all about this year’s rankings here.

Above the Law, The LEAKED 2020 U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Here:

Way to go, Pepperdine! After a rankings hiccup last year that landed the school among the unranked thanks to some misreporting, the school has soared.

March 12, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

2019 Religious Law School Rankings

Most Devout Law Schools

The Most Devout Law Schools (preLaw Winter 2019):

We gathered detailed information from the religiously-affiliated schools and from other sources. From that data, we compiled a ranking based on: percentage and activity of students who belong to the faith; percentage and activity of faculty who belong to the faith; number of religion-focused courses and other ways the school incorporates the faith into the curricula; religion-related journals, centers and clinics; religious services and clergy at the law school; mission of the law school.

Most Devout Christian Law Schools:

  1. Liberty
  2. Regent
  3. Trinity
  4. BYU
  5. Pepperdine
  6. Baylor
  7. Faulkner
  8. Belmont
  9. Campbell
  10. Concordia

Here is the description of Pepperdine's #5 ranking:

At Pepperdine, social events and official ceremonies begin with prayer. That’s a significant part of the school’s culture. “It is not unusual that business meetings will likewise be convened with a request to God for prudence, understanding and guidance,” the school’s website notes. “Many of Pepperdine’s professors and administrators take the time to spiritually encourage and pray with students and others who need the care that those who profess faith are called to give.” Pepperdine is affiliated with Churches of Christ, but students of all faiths are welcome.

Most Devout Catholic Law Schools:

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February 17, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Law School Diversity Rankings


Most Diverse Law Schools (preLaw Winter 2019):

Diversity has increased significantly since the early 1980s, and progress continues. In an effort to track that, The National Jurist has assessed and graded law schools for diversity every other year since 2013.

This year, 60 law schools made our honor roll, which is determined by evaluating the percentage of minority faculty members [30%] and the percentage of students in five racial groups and comparing those to national averages [70%].

This year, 20 law schools received an A+

Top 20

12 law schools received an A grade (ranked 21-32)

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February 11, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Princeton Review's Best 165 Law Schools (2019 Edition)

Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has published the 2019 edition of The Best 165 Law Schools (press release) (FAQs) (methodology):

The Princeton Review tallied its lists based on its surveys of 17,700 students attending the 165 law schools [an average of 107 per school] in 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18. The 80-question survey asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their experiences. Some ranking list tallies also factored in school-reported data.

Best Professors:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning how good their professors are as teachers and how accessible they are outside the classroom.

  1. Virginia
  2. Duke
  3. Chicago
  4. Stanford
  5. Washington & Lee
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Pepperdine
  8. Boston College
  9. Vanderbilt
  10. Boston University

Best Quality of Life:  Based on student answers to survey questions on: whether there is a strong sense of community at the school, whether differing opinions are tolerated in the classroom, the location of the school, the quality of social life at the school, the school's research resources (library, computer and database resources).

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November 27, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pepperdine Disaster Relief Clinic Helps California Fire Victims

PDRPepperdine Legal Clinics Aid California Fire Victims:

The Pepperdine School of Law instituted the Disaster Relief Clinic this semester in response to the need of the hundreds of individuals affected by the local Thomas fires, as well as the Texas hurricanes. Through this program, law students are able to provide pro-bono legal services to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

The School of Law’s Clinical Education Program includes 10 separate clinics this semester. ... “When teaching students, we also manifest our mission to the world and try to contribute to our communities and our neighbors and serve people who need it,” Director of Clinical Education and Associate Clinical Professor of Law Jeffrey Baker said. ... “Generally, the legal clinics are our teaching law firm inside the law school. So we actually practice real law for real clients…and students work under faculty supervision to get experience practicing law,” Baker said.

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February 23, 2018 in Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 24, 2017

C.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton

MCH2I repeatedly (perhaps excessively) extol the genius of Hamilton (see links below). I often tell people that the play changed my life and led me to seek the deanship of Pepperdine law school.  

Part of the explanation, of course, is the artistic majesty of the play. Like Michelle Obama, I think it is the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life. Like Oskar Eustis, I believe that Lin-Manuel Miranda is the William Shakespeare of our time. But Hamilton also transformed my life like nothing else has since I read C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity twenty-one years ago. 

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July 24, 2017 in Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pepperdine University Seeks To Hire Tenure-Track And Visiting Undergraduate Business Law Professors

PepperdineAssistant Professor of Business Law

The business administration division of Pepperdine University seeks a candidate with a terminal degree in law for a tenure-track position in business law. Candidates are expected to complete all requirements for the JD before the date of appointment, which is August 1, 2017. A documented research interest in law is required and teaching experience is preferred. The expected courses taught would be undergraduate classes in business law and international business. The flexibility to teach occasionally in another field is preferred.

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July 21, 2016 in Legal Ed News, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

L.A. Times: Pepperdine's Surf Chapel

SurfCool front page story in the L.A. Times:  At Pepperdine's Surf Chapel, Prayers Come in Waves:

On such a gray, nippy morning, most self-respecting college students would pull the covers over their heads and languish for a couple of extra hours in the sack.

But Asa Miller drove 30 miles from Simi Valley to greet the dawn at Zuma Beach.

After spending six years in the Navy, Miller sometimes feels at sea as a 24-year-old freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu. That's why he heads to Surf Chapel, a weekly convocation on the sand, to help him get his bearings — by combining a little bit of God and a little bit of wave action.

"Surf Chapel is a chance to refocus the soul and mind," Miller said. "Being by the beach in the morning gives me perspective, reminding me of my place." ...

Surf Chapel is spearheaded by Rob Shearer, an assistant professor who teaches undergraduate students the decidedly secular topics of business statistics and quantitative decision-making.

Each Wednesday morning, he carries his surfboard and his New American Standard Bible and wades into the sacred realm of the outdoors, where he expounds the merits of religious belief and community building. ...

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March 29, 2015 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pepperdine Tragedy

AdamsonTerry Jill Adamson, Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Pepperdine, and her family were involved in a horrific hot air balloon accident this morning in Switzerland. From the Malibu Times:

Grant Adamson, descendant of Malibu’s first family, was killed early Tuesday morning when a hot air balloon carrying him and his family crashed near the western Swiss town of Montbovon, according to multiple news reports. Adamson’s wife Terry, 55, and his daughters, 24 and 20, reportedly sustained life-threatening injuries.

Police in the state of Fribourg say Adamson, 55, died at the scene when the balloon fell 165 feet after crashing into an electric power line while attempting to land at 8:35 a.m., after a two-hour flight from the town of Chateau-d’Oex, according to the Associated Press. Terry Adamson and the two daughters were evacuated to the hospital by helicopter.

August 6, 2013 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink | Comments (2)