Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chicago Alumni & Fellows on the Teaching Market, 2017-18

MOVING TO THE FRONT FOR THE LAST TIME

This post is for schools who expect to be hiring this year.

In order to protect the privacy of our candidates, please e-mail me at bleiter@uchicago.edu to get a copy of the narrative profiles of our candidates, including hyperlinks to their homepages.  All these candidates will be in the first FAR distribution.

We have an excellent group of nine candidates this year (three JD alumni, one SJD alumna, four Bigelow Fellows, and one Dickerson Fellow), who cover many curricular areas, including labor law, employment law, ERISA, civil rights, property, family law, criminal law, immigration law, criminal procedure, civil procedure, professional responsibility, contracts, comparative law, administrative law, legislation, financial regulation, empirical legal studies, business associations, corporate law & securities regulation, corporate finance, antitrust, international law, human rights, alternative dispute resolution, international business transactions, and conflicts, among other areas.

Our candidates include former federal appellate clerks; Law Review editors; JD/PhDs and LLM/SJDs; and accomplished practitioners as well as scholars.  All have publications and writing samples. 

If when you e-mail, you tell me a bit about your hiring needs, I can supply some more information about all these candidates, since we have vetted them all at some point in the recent past.

September 19, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, September 18, 2017

Are law degrees as valuable to minorities? (Michael Simkovic)

Frank McIntyre & Michael Simkovic, Are law degrees as valuable to minorities? International Review of Law & Economics (forthcoming 2017) (ssrn download):

"Individuals who complete law school typically receive a large boost to their earnings compared to what they would likely have earned with a terminal bachelor’s degree.  (Simkovic & McIntyre, 2014)  The law earnings premium has exceeded the cost of law school by a wide margin, even toward the bottom of the earnings distribution, and even for graduates who enter the labor force during a recession or with an unusually large cohort of fellow law graduates. (McIntyre & Simkovic, 2017)

 

But is the value of a law degree predictably different depending on one’s race or ethnicity? Estimates by race or ethnicity could help prospective law students and law schools better predict variability in the potential financial benefits of law school, and could help inform outreach, admissions, academic support, and financial aid policies.

 

This article investigates differences in the law earnings premium by race and ethnicity.  Compared to bachelor’s degree holders, a higher proportion of law graduates are white.  

 

Studies of the returns to education at the college level or below have come to different conclusions about differences in benefits by race.  Several studies have found lower earnings among black and Hispanic law graduates compared to non-Hispanic whites.  The reasons for these differences are not fully understood and are hotly debated. . . .

 

Whatever the cause, among those with law degrees, there are differences in average earnings between different race or ethnic groups. However, the same pattern is present among bachelor’s degree holders. [Prior to this study it was] unknown whether there are similar differences in earnings premiums (i.e., the boost to earnings from the law degree), measured either on a percentage or dollar basis. . . .

 

[T]he National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study found that long-term bar passage rates were substantially lower for minorities than for whites.[1]  Thus a study of all law degree holders including those who did not pass a bar examination [such as this one using Census data] may find larger racial gaps in earnings [than previous studies that look only at bar-passers].  

 

We find evidence that white graduates have a somewhat higher percentage boost in earnings compared to minorities, but when translated into dollar terms the law earnings premium is substantially higher for white graduates than for minorities.  At the median and including law graduates who are not practicing law, the annual boost to earnings from a law degree is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics.  The law earnings premium is also higher for whites than for minorities at the 75th percentile, the 25th percentile and the mean, and for samples that are exclusively male or female. . . .  

 

Figure 4 for blog post

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September 18, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Science | Permalink

Friday, September 15, 2017

Lateral hires with tenure or on tenure-track, 2017-18

These are non-clinical appointments that will take effect in 2018 (except where noted); 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.

 

 *Richard Albert (constitutional law, comparative constitutional law) from Boston College to the University of Texas, Austin (effective January 2018).

 

 *Binyamin Blum (legal history, evidence, criminal procedure) from Hebrew University, Jerusalem to the University of California Hastings (effective spring 2018) (untenured lateral). 

 

*William Boyd (environmental law, energy law) from the University of Colorado, Boulder to the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

*Robert Jackson, Jr. (corporate law) from Columbia University to New York University (though he will be on leave initially while serving on the SEC).

 

Continue reading

September 15, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

UNC's Civil Rights Center stripped of its ability to litigate cases

Shameful.  As a result, it will shut down entirely.

CORRECTION:  The Center will not, contrary to the NLJ headline, shut down entirely, but it has been stripped of one of its previous academic functions.  (Thanks to several readers who wrote to me about this.)

September 13, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Judge Posner talks to the NY Times about his sudden retirement

Lots of gems, as one might expect.  On his approach to judging and some of his critics:

 

“I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions,” Judge Posner said. “A case is just a dispute. The first thing you do is ask yourself — forget about the law — what is a sensible resolution of this dispute?”

 

The next thing, he said, was to see if a recent Supreme Court precedent or some other legal obstacle stood in the way of ruling in favor of that sensible resolution. “And the answer is that’s actually rarely the case,” he said. “When you have a Supreme Court case or something similar, they’re often extremely easy to get around.”

 

I asked him about his critics, and he said they fell into two camps....

 

He said he had less sympathy for the second camp. “There are others who are just, you know, reactionary beasts,” he said. “They’re reactionary beasts because they want to manipulate the statutes and the Constitution in their own way.” 

And on his immediate reason for retiring:

He had become concerned with the plight of litigants who represented themselves in civil cases, often filing handwritten appeals. Their grievances were real, he said, but the legal system was treating them impatiently, dismissing their cases over technical matters.

“These were almost always people of poor education and often of quite low level of intelligence,” he said. “I gradually began to realize that this wasn’t right, what we were doing.”

 

In the Seventh Circuit, Judge Posner said, staff lawyers rather than judges assessed appeals from such litigants, and the court generally rubber-stamped the lawyers’ recommendations.

 

Judge Posner offered to help. “I wanted to review all the staff attorney memos before they went to the panel of judges,” he said. “I’d sit down with the staff attorney, go over his memo. I’d make whatever editorial suggestions — or editorial commands — that I thought necessary. It would be good education for staff attorneys, and it would be very good” for the litigants without lawyers.

 

“I had the approval of the director of the staff attorney program,” Judge Posner said, “but the judges, my colleagues, all 11 of them, turned it down and refused to give me any significant role. I was very frustrated by that.”

 

His new book, he said, would have added to the tension: “If I were still on the court, it would be particularly awkward because, implicitly or explicitly, I’m criticizing the other judges.”

 

Judge Posner said he hoped to work with groups concerned with prisoners’ rights, with a law school clinic and with law firms, to bring attention and aid to people too poor to afford lawyers.

September 12, 2017 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Saturday, September 9, 2017

New American Foundation fires a prominent researcher who criticized one of its largest donors (Michael Simkovic)

The powerful Washington D.C. think tank New America Foundation, which has ties to the technology, finance, and aerospace industries, recently fired a researcher within days after the researcher praised the European Union for fining Google for antitrust violations.  Google and its CEO are among the largest donors to New America Foundation, as well as other think tanks.  The head of New America Foundation claims the firing was for a lack of collegiality, but declined to discuss specifics.  

The firing echoes similar incidents at other think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institute, where researchers have been fired shortly after offending other important donors or political patrons.

As the Economist magazine explains:

[Think tanks suffer from] a fundamental flaw. Unlike other institutions designed to promote free inquiry, such as universities or some publications, think-tanks do not enjoy large endowments, researcher tenure or subscription revenue to insulate thinkers from paymasters. And thinking costs a lot.

The New America Foundation has played a prominent role in efforts to privatize student loans by making the terms of federal student loans less attractive and making the loans less widely available.

September 9, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Science, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

University of Chicago Law School, Dickerson Fellowship for 2018-19

The University of Chicago Law School invites applications for the Earl B. Dickerson Fellowship, with an appointment at the rank of Instructor, for a twelve-month term to begin on July 1 or August 1, 2018. The Dickerson Fellowship is named after the first African-American graduate of the Law School, from the class of 1920. The Law School seeks candidates who demonstrate the promise of distinguished legal scholarship and law teaching and ideally have relevant practice experience that will qualify them to act as teachers and mentors of students. Among other considerations, we value candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives who will enrich and improve the student experience and the Law School's culture. The Dickerson Fellow will teach one or more courses per year and will be expected to publish high-quality scholarship and contribute to the intellectual life of the Law School. A J.D. is required. Candidates must apply online at the University of Chicago Academic Career Opportunities website, http://tinyurl.com/y94upx29, and upload a current curriculum vitae, law school transcript, and reference contact information. Applications will be considered until the position is filled or until June 30, 2018, whichever comes first.

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination at http://www.uchicago.edu/about/non_discrimination_statement/.

Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-0287 or email ACOppAdministrator@uchicago.edu with their request.

September 6, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, September 4, 2017

"Legal Positivism about the Artifact Law: A Retrospective Assessment," the final version...

...is now on SSRN.

September 4, 2017 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Friday, September 1, 2017

Judge Posner to retire from the 7th Circuit

We are looking forward to seeing more of him around the Law School!

For the story of his appointment by President Reagan and confirmation in 1981, see pages 1614-1615 of this article.  President Reagan, who probably would be expelled for insufficient "conservativism" (whatever that is anymore) from today's Republican Party, surely did not know the legal force of nature he had unleashed when he appointed Posner.

On Judge Posner's jurisprudential significance, readers might also find this essay relevant.

And back in 2005, Judge Posner was a guest-blogger at my philosophy blog!

Dick Posner has always embodied the intellectual ideal of academic life at the University of Chicago:  always willing to engage all views, unforgiving in argument, and never confusing intellectual warfare with personal animosity.  It will be nice to see more of him.

 

September 1, 2017 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hiring committees and their curricular priorities can be announced...

In Memoriam: J. Dickson Phillips, Jr. (1922-2017)

Before becoming a distinguished and influential federal judge, Phillips served on the law faculty at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was also Dean.  There is a lovely memorial notice for Judge Phillips here.

(Thanks to Mitch Berman, who clerked for Judge Phillips, for the pointer.)

August 30, 2017 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Monday, August 28, 2017

Eight lateral moves that made people "stop and take note" in 2016-17

 Here are eight lateral moves from the 2016-17 list that, judging from my in-box and what I've heard other ways, made members of the academic community stop and take notice:

  

*Richard R.W. Brooks (contracts, business organizations, law & economics, law & social norms) from Columbia University to New York University.  Brooks only moved to Columbia from Yale a couple of years ago, but he's now joined a long list of faculty who have decamped downtown over the last dozen years from Morningside Heights:  Jose Alvarez, Cynthia Estlund, Scott Hemphill, Samuel Issacharoff, Trevor Morrison (who moved to become Dean), Catherine Sharkey, and Jeremy Waldron.  No faculty member has moved from NYU to Columbia in over 25 years, which is a remarkable transformation in the relative academic position of the two schools from a generation ago.  (Columbia has done plenty of lateral recruitment of its own, to be sure, poaching faculty from Yale, Chicago, and Virginia, among other places.  Interestingly, Columbia graduates continue to dominate NYU graduates in the job market for new lawyers, though that gap has narrowed from a generation ago.)

 

*Eleanor Brown (property, immigration and migration law, law & development) from George Washington University to Pennsylvania State University, University Park.  A scholar of migration and the role of property rights in migrant success, she takes up a joint appointment with both the law school and the school of international affairs, both of which will now be led by Hari Osofky, recruited from the University of Minnesota to be Dean of both.  It's always a good sign when a school is able to recruit established scholars from currently higher-ranked institutions.

 

*Erwin Chemerinsky (constitutional law, civil procedure) from the University of California, Irvine to the University of California, Berkeley (to become Dean).  One of the most influential (and most-cited) public law scholars in the United States, his move to Berkeley would have made news even if he weren't also becoming Dean.

 

*Brett Frischmann (intellectual property, Cyberlaw) from Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University to Villanova University.  A leading scholar in these areas, Frischmann was recruited by Villanova with a new endowed University professorship.  A big pick-up for Villanova.

 

*Herbert Hovenkamp (antitrust, intellectual property, legal history) from the University of Iowa to the University of Pennsylvania.  The leading figure in antitrust in the United States, he spent roughly the last thirty years at the University of Iowa, turning down offers from Columbia and Chicago during that time.  But now he's joining Penn as a Penn-Integrates-Knowledge (PIK) University Professor, with appointments in the Law School and the Wharton School.  That's the second really eye-catching senior appointment for Penn recently; the year before, Penn recruited Beth Simmons, the eminent human rights scholar, from Harvard, also with a PIK University Professorship, and appointments in both the Law School and Political Science department.

Continue reading

August 28, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Friday, August 25, 2017

Todd Henderson (Chicago): Lawyers make better CEOs in industries with high litigation risk (and worse CEOs elsewhere) (Michael Simkovic)

Professor Henderson finds that: "CEOs with legal expertise are effective at managing litigation risk by, in part, setting more risk-averse firm policies. Second, these actions enhance value only when firms operate in an environment with high litigation risk or high compliance requirements. Otherwise, these actions could actually hurt the firm."

The full article is here.  A summary in the Harvard Business Review is here.

August 25, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Professional Advice, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

Monday, August 21, 2017

Should the government raid university endowments? (Michael Simkovic)

Vanderbilt Tax Professor Herwig Schlunk wants the federal government to tax university endowments, preferably out of existence.  He writes:  “In the best of all possible worlds, the federal government could and probably should . . . confiscate[e] all private university endowments . . .”

Toward that end, Schlunk recycles arguments that were discredited years ago.

Professor Schlunk is famous for asserting that law school is a bad investment.  Schlunk’s bold claim—based on back of the envelope calculations and highly unscientific website surveys—was popularized by the Wall Street Journal and echoed by sympathetic media outlets.  Peer reviewed research by labor economist Frank McIntyre and me—using high quality nationally representative government data and well-established econometric techniques—subsequently demonstrated that Schlunk was mistaken. (See here and here).

This post critiques Schlunk’s recent work on endowments for misuse of discount rates, overlooking the importance of educational quality, mismeasuring student earnings and higher education expenditures, selectively targeting higher education, supporting policies that undermine economic growth, and overlooking stark differences between popular votes and political power.

Misuse of discount rates

To arrive at his headline-grabbing law school result, Schlunk relied on some spectacularly unrealistic assumptions.  As Frank McIntyre and I explained four years ago:

“Professor Schlunk’s analysis assumes astronomical discount rates, low earnings growth rates, and zero inflation for thirty-five years. None of these assumptions are empirically or theoretically justifiable.

 

Most studies [of higher education] by economists have generally used a discount rate between 2.5% and 3%. . . . Compared with the 3% discount rates applied in labor market studies by economists and suggested by the real (net-inflation) costs of financing a law degree . . .  Professor Schlunk applies real discount rates of between 8% and 27%. 

 

If Professor Schlunk had used comparable assumptions about discount rates to evaluate the value of a college degree compared to a high school diploma, he would have reached the conclusion that few should go to college. Indeed, given a 30% nominal discount rate, whether it makes financial sense to complete high school might be debatable.”

 

Undeterred, Professor Schlunk once again relies on unrealistically high discount rates and overlooks differences in completion rates, this time to argue that private non-profit universities provide little value when compared to leanly funded, politically vulnerable public universities.  Based on this analysis, he concludes that the federal government should tax universities more heavily than it already does.  Higher discount rates mean that future cash flows have a lower present value.  Thus the value of a lifetime of higher earnings from higher quality education is diminished by choosing a higher discount rate.

Schlunk’s justification for using such high discount rates is that higher education “puts me in mind of income streams I confronted when advising investors in the private equity sector [where] discount rates of as high as 30% were generally applied.”[1]

For the record, peer reviewed research generally finds that private equity returns net of fees are close to or less than those that can be found in the stock market—not remotely close to the 30 percent returns assumed by Schlunk.  (In addition, discount rates are supposed to reflect the weighted average cost of capital, NOT the (higher) returns to equity).[2]  If P.E. investors were applying high discount rates to cash flow projections, this likely means that investors believed that P.E. cash flow projections were over-optimistic.

Overlooking college completion rates

In his latest critique of higher education, Schlunk also overlooks large differences in completion rates.  Four-year completion rates for bachelor’s degrees are almost twice as high at private non-profit universities as at their more leanly funded public counterparts. If one accepts Schlunk’s assumptions of extremely high discount rates, even a modest delay in completion would have a dramatic impact on value.

Overlooking effects of increased educational expenditures and educational quality

Peer reviewed studies that control for differences in student characteristics consistently find that higher expenditures per student lead to significant increases in student earnings and likely contribute to higher completion rates.  (For brief reviews of the literature, see The Knowledge Tax and Populist Outrage, Reckless Empirics; See also here). 

Professor Schlunk overlooks these studies.  

Mis-measuring student earnings and educational expenditures

Schlunk overestimates the difference in expenditures and resources at elite public and private universities, which leads him to over-estimate the earnings premiums necessary for more resource-intensive private education to be worthwhile.  Schlunk assumes incorrectly that all students at elite flagship state universities pay low in-state tuition, when many students at these institutions pay much higher out-of-state or international student tuition.  He overlooks the extent to which expenditures per student at elite public universities exceed in-state tuition because of state subsidies and cross-subsidies from out-of-state students.  He overlooks the extent to which differences in financial aid affect net-tuition—and therefore educational resources and expenditures—at different universities.

The elite public universities that Schlunk presents as controls that he sees as similar to private universities, but without endowments, actually have larger endowments than many private universities.  

Continue reading

August 21, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch, Of Academic Interest, Religion, Science, Student Advice | Permalink