Thursday, May 26, 2016

Finally, an arrest in the murder of Florida State law professor Dan Markel (moving to front--updated)

Initial news item, more details coming later today.

UPDATE:  So the police are investigating this as a "murder for hire," and indicate more arrests are expected.  No details yet on who would have hired the killer.  You can see the police press conference here.  The original link, above, is being updated.

May 26, 2016 in Faculty News | Permalink

15 Most-Cited Faculty in Law & Economics (incl. behavioral law & economics), 2010-2014 (inclusive)

This is a list of leading scholars who deploy the tools of law & economics, or law & behavioral economics, across a range of subjects, drawing, once again, on the data from the 2015 Sisk study

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Eric Posner

University of Chicago

2470

51

2

Steven Shavell

Harvard University

1340

70

3

Ian Ayres

Yale University

1310

57

4

Louis Kaplow

Harvard University

1150

60

5

Robert Cooter

University of California, Berkeley

1000

71

6

Russell Korobkin

University of California, Los Angeles

  750

48

7

Christine Jolls

Yale University

  690

49

8

Einer Elhauge

Harvard University

  680

55

9

A. Mitchell Polinsky

Stanford University

  570

69

 

George Priest

Yale University

  570

63

11

Saul Levmore

University of Chicago

  550

63

12

Michael Abramowicz

George Washington University

  510

44

 

W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt University

  510

66

14

Lewis Kornhauser

New York University

  490

66

15

Gillian Hadfield

University of Southern California

  410

55

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Cass Sunstein

Harvard University

5480

62

 

Richard Epstein

New York University, University of Chicago

2680

73

 

Mark Lemley

Stanford University

2400

50

 

Lucian Bebchuk

Harvard University

1130

61

 

Robert Scott

Columbia University

  970

72

May 26, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ten Most-Cited Faculty in Commercial Law (including contracts and bankruptcy), 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study: 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Robert E. Scott

Columbia University

970

72

2

Steven Schwarcz

Duke University

760

67

3

Douglas Baird

University of Chicago

640

63

4

Alan Schwartz

Yale University

590

76

5

Oren Bar-Gill

Harvard University

540

41

6

Adam Levitin

Georgetown University

500

40

7

Omri Ben-Shahar

University of Chicago

460

54

8

Lynn LoPucki

University of California, Los Angeles

420

72

 

Ronald J. Mann

Columbia University

420

55

10

Jay Westbrook

University of Texas, Austin

380

73

   

Runner-up for the top ten

   
 

Richard Craswell

Stanford University

370

62

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Eric Posner

University of Chicago

2470

51

 

Geoffrey Miller

New York University

1150

66

 

David Skeel

University of Pennsylvania

  740

55

 

Todd Zywicki

George Mason University

  490

50

 

Clayton Gillette

New York University

  390

66

 

May 25, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

20 Most-Cited Administrative and/or Environmental Law Faculty, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study, though this category is admittedbly slightly more artificial than some of the others.   Some of the faculty below work in administrative law, but do no work in environmental; some work in both; and some work in other areas of regulatory law, like telecommunications, which overlap with administrative law.  Administrative law scholars with a significant constitutional dimension to their work were included in a prior ranking.  

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Richard Stewart

New York University

880

76

2

Jody Freeman

Harvard University

780

52

 

Richard J. Pierce, Jr.

George Washington University

780

73

4

Richard Revesz

New York University

720

58

5

J.B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt University

700

58

6

Gary Lawson

Boston University

690

58

7

Peter Strauss

Columbia University

670

76

8

Jonathan Adler

Case Western Reserve University

600

47

 

Richard Lazarus

Harvard University

600

62

10

Robin Kundis Craig

University of Utah

510

52

11

Lisa Bressman

Vanderbilt University

500

50

 

Douglas Kysar

Yale University

500

43

13

Thomas McGarity

University of Texas, Austin

490

67

14

James Salzman

University of California, Los Angeles (part-time)

480

52

15

A. Dan Tarlock

Chicago-Kent College of Law

470

76

 

Christopher Yoo

University of Pennsylvania

470

52

17

Orly Lobel

University of San Diego

460

43

18

Jim Rossi

Vanderbilt University

450

51

19

Sidney Shapiro

Wake Forest University

440

69

20

Mark Seidenfeld

Florida State University

430

62

   

Runners up for the top 20

   
 

Holly Doremus        

    

Cary Coglianese

University of California, Berkeley

 

University of Pennsylvania

420

 

410

56

 

52

 

Robert Percival

University of Maryland

410

55

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in administrative or environmental law

   
 

Cass Sunstein

Harvard University

   
 

Daniel Farber

University of California, Berkeley

1660

62

 

Thomas Merrill

Columbia University

1590

67

 

Adrian Vermeule

Harvard University

1360

48

 

Edward Rubin

Vanderbilt University

  910

68

 

Carol Rose

University of Arizona

  710

76

 

May 24, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lateral hires with tenure or on tenure-track, 2015-16

These are non-clinical appointments that will take effect in 2016; I will move the list to the front at various intervals as new additions come in.   Recent additions are in bold. Last year's list is here.   

 

*Edward Afield (tax) from Ava Maria School of Law to Georgia State University.

 

*Lisa Alexander (corporate, contracts, housing & urban development law) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison to Texas A&M University.

 

*James Anaya (international human rights) from the University of Arizona to the University of Colorado, Boulder (to become Dean).

 

*Craig Boise (tax, international tax, corporate tax) from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University to Syracuse University (to become Dean).

 

*Zack Buck (health law) from Mercer University to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (untenured lateral).

 

*Michael Cahill (criminal law) from Brooklyn Law School to Rutgers University (as Co-Dean).

 

*Dale Carpenter (constitutional law) from the University of Minnesota to Southern Methodist University.

 

*James Coleman (energy law) from the University of Calgary to Southern Methodist University (untenured lateral).

 

*Nicolas Cornell (contracts, law & philosophy) from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to the University of Michigan (law) (untenured lateral) (starting in fal 2017).

 

*Eric Dannenmaier (environmental law) from Indiana University, Indianapolis to Northern Illinois University (to become Dean). 

Continue reading

May 23, 2016 in Faculty News | Permalink

Ten Most-Cited Evidence Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

 Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study: 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Ronald J. Allen

Northwestern University

420

68

2

David Faigman

University of California, Hastings

370

59

3

Richard Friedman

University of Michigan

300

65

 

D. Michael Risinger

Seton Hall University

300

71

5

Paul Gianelli

Case Western Reserve University

250

71

 

Robert Mosteller

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

250

68

 

Christopher Mueller

University of Colorado, Boulder

250

73

8

George Fisher

Stanford University

240

55

9

Laird Kirkpatrick

George Washington University

230

73

 

Jennifer Mnookin

University of California, Los Angeles

230

49

   

Runner-up for the top ten

   
 

David Kaye

Pennsylvania State University

220

69

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

   
 

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia

1720

70

 

Brian Leiter

University of Chicago

  450

53

 

David Bernstein

George Mason University

  440

49

 

Michael Saks

Arizona State University

  380

69

 

Alex Stein

Brooklyn Law School

  270

59

May 23, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Twenty Most-Cited Constitutional & Public Law Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, this draws on the data from the 2015 Sisk study.  I have included here some scholars whose work straddles constitutional and administrative law (e.g., Sunstein, Vermeule), but I will do a separate listing that will include administrative law scholars with little or no general constitutional law work in their profile.  As with all these listings, only non-emeritus faculty at U.S. law schools are included. 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Cass Sunstein

Harvard University

5480

62

2

Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California, Irvine

2940

63

3

William Eskridge, Jr.

Yale University

2180

65

4

Mark Tushnet

Harvard University

1880

71

5

Akhil Amar

Yale University

1790

58

6

Laurence Tribe

Harvard University

1680

75

7

Bruce Ackerman

Yale University

1730

73

8

Jack Balkin

Yale University

1710

59

9

Richard Fallon

Harvard University

1510

64

10

Robert Post

Yale University

1390

69

11

Adrian Vermeule

Harvard University

1360

48

12

Eugene Volokh

University of California, Los Angeles

1210*

48

13

Sanford Levinson

University of Texas, Austin

1190

75

14

Michael McConnell

Stanford University

1180

61

15

Michael Dorf

Cornell University

1140

52

16

Martin Redish

Northwestern University

1110

71

17

Barry Friedman

New York University

1040

58

18

Richard Pildes

New York University

  940

58

19

Steven Calabresi

Northwestern University

  910

58

20

David Cole

Georgetown University

  900

58

   

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in constitutional and public law

   
 

Richard Epstein

New York University, University of Chicago

2680

73

 

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia

1720

70

 

Daniel Farber

University of California, Berkeley

1660

66

 

Reva Siegel

Yale University

1340

60

 

John Yoo

University of California, Berkeley

1250

49

*Adjusted downwards by 5% (to arrive at 1210) to reflect cites to blog posts unrelated to his scholarship (many blog posts were in fact related, those were not excluded).

May 22, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Friday, May 20, 2016

Ten Most-Cited Tax Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

 Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study: 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

David Weisbach

University of Chicago

420

53

2

Michael Graetz

Columbia University

410

72

3

Reuven Avi-Yonah

University of Michigan

360

59

4

Daniel Shaviro

New York University

350

59

5

Lawrence Zelenak

Duke University

310

58

6

Leandra Lederman

Indiana University, Bloomington

300

50

7

Edward Zelinsky

Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University

280

66

8

Victor Fleischer

University of San Diego

270

45

9

Edward McCaffery

University of Southern California

260

58

10

Joseph Bankman

Stanford University

230

61

 

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

     
 

Louis Kaplow

Harvard University

1150

60

 

Brian Galle

Georgetown University

  380

44

 

Kristin Hickman

University of Minnesota

  360

46

 

Mark Gergen

University of California, Berkeley

  280

60

 

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Ten Most-Cited Law & Philosophy Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study:

LAW & PHILOSOPHY

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Jeremy Waldron

New York University

1330

63

2

Martha Nussbaum

University of Chicago

1120

69

3

Joseph Raz

Columbia University (part-time)

  850

77

4

Michael Moore

University of Illinois

  490

73

5

Brian Leiter

University of Chicago

  450*

53

6

R.A. Duff

University of Minnesota (part-time)

  430

71 (est.)

7

John Finnis

University of Notre Dame

  420

76

8

Seana Shiffrin

University of California, Los Angeles

  320

47

9

Scott Shapiro

Yale University

  310

50

10

Brian Bix

University of Minnesota

  260

54

 

 

Other highly-cited scholars who work

partly in this area

   
 

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia

1650

70

 

David Luban

Georgetown University

  930

67

 

Lawrence Solum

Georgetown University

  900

62

 

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego

  780

73

 

Kent Greenawalt

Columbia University

  660

80

* Raw count was adjusted downward by 15% (to arrive at 450) to reflect the percentage of citations to my blogs unrelated to my scholarly work.

 

May 20, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ten Most-Cited Legal History Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study:

 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Lawrence Friedman

Stanford University

1160

86

2

Michael Klarman

Harvard University

  810

57

3

G. Edward White

University of Virginia

  560

75

4

James Whitman

Yale University

  480

59

5

Stuart Banner

University of California, Los Angeles

  390

53

 

William Nelson

New York University

  390

76

7

Phillip Hamburger

Columbia University

  370

59

8

Christopher Tomlins

University of California, Berkeley

  310

63

 

John Witt

Yale University

  310

44

10

Mary Dudziak

Emory University

  270

59
 

Other highly-cited scholars who work partly in this area

     
 

Reva Siegel

Yale University

1340

60

 

Herbert Hovenkamp

University of Iowa

1070

68

 

Robert W. Gordon

Stanford University

  520

75

 

David Bernstein

George Mason University

  440

49

 

May 19, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Twenty Most-Cited Corporate Law & Securities Regulation Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study:

 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

John Coffee, Jr.

Columbia University

1470

72

2

Lucian Bebchuk

Harvard University

1130

61

3

Stephen Bainbridge

University of California, Los Angeles

1010

58

4

Reinier Kraakman

Harvard University

  820

67

5

Stephen Choi

New York University

  780

50

6

Donald Langevoort

Georgetown University

  770

65

7

Ronald Gilson

Columbia University

  760

70

8

Lynn Stout

Cornell University

  750

59

9

Roberta Romano

Yale University

  730

64

10

Henry Hansmann

Yale University

  720

71

11

Bernard Black

Northwestern University

  630

63

12

James Cox

Duke University

  620

73

13

Mark Roe

Harvard University

  600

65

14

Jill Fisch

University of Pennsylvania

  580

56

 

Thomas Hazen

University of North Carolilna, Chapel Hill

  580

69

16

William Wilson Bratton

University of Pennsylvania

  550

65

17

Marcel Kahan

New York University

  520

54

18

Steven Davidoff Solomon

University of California, Berkeley

  490

45

19

Jeffrey Gordon

Columbia University

  480

66

 

Robert Thompson

Georgetown University

  480

67

 

Other high-cited scholars who work partly in this area

     
 

Jonathan Macey

Yale University

1260

61

 

David Skeel

University of Pennsylvania

  740

55

May 19, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Twenty Most-Cited Criminal Law & Procedure Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014 (inclusive)

Once again, drawing on the data from the 2015 Sisk study: 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Age in 2016

1

Orin Kerr

George Washington University

1200

45

2

Paul Robinson

University of Pennsylvania

  790

68

3

Rachel Barkow

New York University

  780

45

4

Christopher Slobogin

Vanderbilt University

  750

65

5

Stephanos Bibas

University of Pennsylvania

  730

47

6

Brandon Garrett

University of Virginia

  640

41

7

Joshua Dressler

Ohio State University

  610

69

8

Michael Tonry

University of Minnesota

  590

71

9

Carol Steiker

Harvard University

  580

58

10

George Fletcher

Columbia University

  560

77

11

Stephen Schulhofer

New York University

  550

74

12

Nancy King

Vanderbilt University

  510

58

13

Samuel Gross

University of Michigan

  500

70

 

Ronald Wright

Wake Forest University

  500

57

15

Franklin Zimring

University of California, Berkeley

  480

74

16

David Sklansky

Stanford University

  470

57

17

Richard McAdams

University of Chicago

  460

56

18

Susan Bandes

DePaul University

  440

65

 

Jeffrey Fagan

Columbia University

  440

70

 

Marc Miller

University of Arizona

  440

57

 

Other highly-cited cholars who work partly in this area

 

   
 

Dan Kahan

Yale University

1110

53

 

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego

  780

73

 

Kent Greenawalt

Columbia University

  660

80

 

Gabriel (Jack) Chin

University of California, Davis

  630

52

 

Michael S. Moore

University of Illinois

  490

73

May 18, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Ten Most-Cited Law Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014

This is based on the data collected and published in 2015 by Professor Sisk and colleagues.  I'll be posting additional data about most cited faculty in various areas of scholarship.  But to start, here's the ten most-cited faculty in the academic literature for the years 2010 through 2014 inclusive:

 

Rank

Name

School

Citations

Area(s)

Age in 2016

1

Cass Sunstein

Harvard University

5480

Constitutional, Administrative, Environmental, Behavioral Law & Economics

62

2

Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California, Irvine

2940

Constitutional, Civil Procedure

63

3

Richard Epstein

New York University, University of Chicago

2680

Constitutional, Torts, Law & Economics

73

4

Eric Posner

University of Chicago

2470

Law & Economics, International, Commercial Law, Contracts

51

5

Mark Lemley

Stanford University

2400

Intellectual Property

50

6

William Eskridge, Jr.

Yale University

2180

Constitutional, Legislation

65

7

Mark Tushnet

Harvard University

1880

Constitutional, Legal History

71

8

Akhil Amar

Yale University

1790

Constitutional

58

9

Bruce Ackerman

Yale University

1730

Constitutional

73 

10

Lawrence Lessig

Harvard University

1720

Constitutional, Intellectul Property, Cyberlaw

55

 

 

 

May 18, 2016 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Elsevier acquires SSRN

News release.  I hope this works out (being a big SSRN user myself). Elsevier, alas, has a terrible reputation in various academic communities.

UPDATE:  For some concerns, see this post.  I'm opening this for comments from readers, in law or other fields.

May 17, 2016 in Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, May 13, 2016

The travails of the University of Minnesota Law School...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sarah Lawsky's entry-level hiring report for 2015-16--plus the percentage of successful job seekers from each school

Professor Lawsky (currently UC Irvine, moving this fall to Northwestern) has produced her annual, informative report on rookie hiring this year.  As she notes, it reflects only those who accepted tenure-track jobs, not tenure-track offers.  (This matters for Chicago this year, since two alumni turned down tenure-track offers for personal reasons; as I noted earlier, 75% of our JD and LLM candidates on the market received tenure-track offers.)

Here are the statistics based on the percentage of JD, LLM and SJD (or Law PhD) seekers from each school who accepted a tenure-track position this year (I excluded clinical and LRW jobs, since that market operates differently from the market for "doctrinal" faculty--there were 80 of the latter, as I had estimated--a 20% uptick from recent years, but still about half of the pre-recession numbers); only schools that placed at least two candidates and which had at least nine job seekers* are listed:

1.  University of Chicago (58%: 7 of 12)

2.  Yale University (50%:  21 of 42)

3.  Stanford University (42%:  8 of 19)

4.  Columbia University (29%:  6 of 21)

5.  Harvard University (27%:  12 of 45)

6.  New York University (24%:  7 of 29)

7.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (22%:  2 of 9)

8.  University of California, Berkeley (19%:  3 of 16)

9.  University of Virginia (17%:  2 of 12)

UCLA had just five job seekers, but two (40%) got tenure-track jobs.

*I used 9 rather than 10 is the cut-off, since Michigan was just under ten, but still had enough candidates to make the figure somewhat meaningful.

May 11, 2016 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

Monday, May 9, 2016

LSAC's bad behavior

Briefly:  the University of Arizona decided to admit some students using their GRE scores, rather than the LSAT; LSAC, protecting its LSAT monopoly, threatened to oust Arizona from the LSAC system (which includes the application system); nearly 150 law deans protested (rightly); LSAC is backing down, at least for now.   (Blog Emperor Caron, to whom I link, has at the end of his post links to other items about LSAC's bad behavior.)

May 9, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

On the new translation of Alf Ross's "Of Law and Justice" and Hart's misreading of Ross

This is going to be an important event in jurisprudence.  (I touch on some of this, which I learned from Prof. Holtermann, here.)

May 9, 2016 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Sunday, May 8, 2016

"Why Tolerate Religion, Again? A Reply to Michael McConnell"

At SSRN; the abstract:

This essay discusses a lengthy review by Professor Michael McConnell of the Stanford Law School in the Yale Law Journal of my 2013 book WHY TOLERATE RELIGION? (Princeton University Press). I identify two important objections that Prof. McConnell raises, but also identify eight different mistakes or misunderstandings that mar other parts of the review. I conclude by taking Prof. McConnell to task for several rhetorical cheap shots that, together with the other errors, suggests that his essay was more a partisan brief than a scholarly evaluation of the arguments. Most surprisingly, the fact that Professor McConnell, in his lengthy review, never actually responds to my book's central thesis--namely, that the inequality between religious and non-religious claims of conscience is not morally defensible--suggests that there may really be no serious argument on the other side.

May 8, 2016 in Jurisprudence, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pace's law school receives naming gift...

...though the school does not name the amount.  The WSJ blog estimates it is a gift on the order of twenty-five to thirty million dollars, which would, indeed, be substantial.

May 5, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Do Clients Lose When Lawyers Work for a Fixed-Fee? (Michael Simkovic)

Lawyers traditionally bill a specified hourly rate for the time they spend working on a case. This ideally incentivizes lawyers to work hard and improve outcomes for their clients, and it provides clients transparency with respect to lawyer effort.

However, an hourly rate can reduce the predictability of costs for clients. Some clients worry that hourly rates might encourage inefficient over-work. As a result, some have shifted toward fixed-fee arrangements for their legal services, in which lawyers are paid a flat fee for completion of a task, regardless of how much time it takes to complete.

Preliminary results from empirical research that will be presented at this years’ American Law & Economics Association Conference suggest that a fixed-fee approach to compensating lawyers reduces lawyers’ efforts to assist clients and leads to worse outcomes for clients.

Two separate studies by two groups of researchers using similar research designs with different data sets both come to substantially the same conclusions. (Benjamin Schwall, High-Powered Attorney Incentives: A Look at the New Indigent Defense System in South Carolina and Amanda Y. Agan, Matthew Freedman & Emily Owens, Counsel Quality and Client Match Effects).

One potential obstacle in assessing the effects of different billing practices is reverse causation. Better lawyers may normally be able to bill by the hour because they are better and have more power to negotiate, not because billing by the hour makes them better.

The studies control for differences in lawyer quality by looking at the same lawyers (lawyer fixed effects) sometimes as court–appointed attorneys paid a flat fee and sometimes as attorneys billing by the hour. Schwall’s paper exploits changes in how South Carolina compensates its public defenders, while Agan, Freedman & Owen focus on random assignment of criminal defense counsel in Texas. The studies also attempt to control for differences in the type of case and defendant characteristics. The research designs for causal inference appear to be rigorous, and the results seem intuitive and plausible.

While the context of these studies is the criminal justice system, it would be surprising if the conclusions did not also hold true in civil litigation or in transactional practice. A lawyer on a fixed-fee is likely to be more willing to concede important points to bring a case or transaction to a speedy conclusion than one who can bill by the hour and be compensated for his or her extra efforts. Sophisticated clients may be better able to monitor their attorneys than indigent defendants and criminal courts, but clients probably cannot eliminate agency costs (If they could, an hourly rate would make at least as much sense as a fixed-fee).

Assuming the preliminary results of these studies hold, the incentive problems created by fixed fee arrangements may be an opportunity for shrewd business people or plaintiffs lawyers to target counterparties or defendants. If the businessperson pays his own lawyers by the hour to negotiate opposite lawyers on a fixed-fee, the reward could be contracts with lopsided terms in his favor. Plaintiffs’ lawyers may similarly expect civil defense lawyers on fixed-fee arrangements to advocate a swift settlement on terms relatively favorable to plaintiffs.

Lawyers are likely to know which clients use fixed fee arrangements because such clients often have an RFP process in which law firms bid for their work.

May 5, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science | Permalink

In Memoriam: Jeffrey Jackson

Professor Jeffrey Jackson, of the Mississippi College School of Law, passed away on April 26.  He joined the Mississippi College faculty in 1987 and developed a deep expertise in Mississippi law.  He was 59 years old.  His obituary can be downloaded from here

May 5, 2016 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Three-year federal clerkship placement rates

Interesting chart, though note two things about the data:  first, it includes both district and circuit court placement, without distinguishing between them; and second, it includes only clerkships secured before graduation from law school.  With the current turmoil in the clerkship market, securing federal clerkships after graduation is increasingly common.  One thing that leaps out is that being a regional powerhouse is advantageous for clerkship placement.

May 4, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Should professors give more feedback before the final exam? (Michael Simkovic)

New research from Dan Schwarcz and Dion Farganis at Minnesota argues that providing students with practice problems and exercises that are similar to final exams and giving individual feedback prior to the final examination can help improve grades for first year law students.

Schwarcz and Farganis tracked the performance of first year students who were randomly assigned to sections, and as a result took courses with professors who either provided exercises and individual feedback prior to the final examination, or who did not provide feedback.

When the students who studied under feedback professors and the students who studied under no-feedback professors took a separate required class together, the feedback students received higher grades after controlling for several factors that predict grades, such as LSAT scores, undergraduate GPA, gender, race, and country of birth. The increase in grades appears to be larger for students toward the bottom half of the distribution. The paper also attempts to control for variation in instructor ability using student evaluations of teacher clarity.

It’s an interesting paper, and part of a welcome trend toward assessing proposed pedagogical reform through quasi-experimental methods.

The interpretation of these results raises a number of questions which I hope the authors will address more thoroughly as they revise the paper and in future research.

For example, are the differences due to instructor effects rather than feedback effects? Students are randomly assigned to instructors who happen to voluntarily give pre-final exam feedback. These might be instructors who are more conscientious, dedicated, or skilled and who also happen to give pre-exam feedback. Requiring other instructors to give pre-exam feedback—or having the same instructors provide no pre-exam feedback—might not affect student performance.

Controlling for instructor ability based on teaching evaluations is not entirely convincing, even if students are ostensibly evaluating teacher clarity. There is not very strong evidence that teaching evaluations reflect how much students learn. An easier instructor who covers less substance might receive higher teaching evaluations across the board than a rigorous instructor who does more to prepare students for practice. Teaching evaluations might reflect friendliness or liveliness or attractiveness or factors that do not actually affect student learning outcomes but that have consumption value for students.  Indeed, high feedback professors might receive lower teaching evaluations for the same quality of teaching because they might make students work harder and because they might provide negative feedback to some students, leading students to retaliate on teaching evaluations.

These issues could be addressed in future research by asking the same instructor to teach two sections of the same class in different ways and measuring both long term student outcomes and teaching evaluations.

Another question is: are students simply learning how to take law school exams? Or are they actually learning the material better in a way that will provide long-term benefits, either in bar passage rates or in job performance? At the moment, the data is not sufficient to know one way or the other.

A final question is how much providing individualized feedback will cost in faculty time, and whether the putative benefits justify the costs.

It’s a great start, and I look forward to more work from these authors, and from others, using quasi-experimental designs to investigate pedagogical variations.

April 30, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science | Permalink

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Penn, the new legal history powerhouse on the block

In recent years, Penn has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the academic market for legal historians.  Two recent Penn JD/PhDs in History, Karen Tani and Greg Ablavsky, have secured tenure-track jobs in the law schools at, respectively, Berkeley and Stanford.  Another Penn PhD in History (with a Harvard JD), Anne Fleming, is now on tenure-track at Georgetown Law.  This year, one of Penn's Sharswood Fellows, a legal historian trained elsewhere, secured a tenure-track job at Vanderbilt Law.

I asked Sarah Barringer Gordon, the distinguished senior legal historian at the University of Pennsylvania, how Penn has been so successful?  She wrote:

Our program is designed to be small and highly selective, and we invest substantial time in each student, and ensure that we support our students financially as well as intellectually.  We take only those candidates that we are confident we can train in the substantive fields of their interest and in a demanding program that is grounded equally in history and law. We also work hard to help our students enter the field as fully minted scholars, who have presented their work in multiple venues, taught, and published. We have an in-house workshop where both faculty and students who work in legal history present their work at early stages, an annual speaker series that brings in outside scholars, and we are active in the American Society for Legal History, as well as a consortium of schools that hosts an annual conference for early career legal historians. One of us also co-edits Studies in Legal History, the oldest and largest book series dedicated to legal history.  Of course, Penn has benefited from the overall success of the field of legal history, and we consider ourselves part of a broader community of scholars that is remarkably collegial.  Our legal historians on the faculty include Wendell Pritchett, Serena Mayeri, Sophia Lee, Bill Ewald, and yours truly.  We are proud to be among the strong programs in legal history, but are also committed to remaining small, as legal historians are built one at a time.

UPDATE:  Another impressive Penn-connected success story is the legal historian Christopher Beauchamp, a Cambridge-trained historian now on tenure-track at Brooklyn Law School (he does not have a law degree).  He was also a Sharswood Fellow at Penn's Law School, as well as a Fellow in Legal History at NYU's Law School, before securing his tenure-track post at Brooklyn.

April 27, 2016 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Five Law Professors Named 2016 Carnegie Fellows

They are:  Gabriella Blum (Harvard), Curtis Bradley (Duke), Margaret Burnham (Northeastern), Charles Geyh (Indiana), and Nathaniel Persily (Stanford).

April 26, 2016 in Faculty News | Permalink