Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More Judge Kozinski creepiness

Professor Nancy Rapoport (UNLV) recounts her experience.

December 12, 2017 in Legal Profession | Permalink

Signs of the times: George Washington Law reduces incoming class size...

...to reverse U.S. News ranking slide.  Proof once again that a ranking website runs U.S. legal education.

December 12, 2017 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

Monday, December 11, 2017

Farewell Judge Kozinski

Now that the dam has broken,  can it be long now?  I had heard of his reputation for, shall we say, "inappropriate" behavior from former clerks on the 9th Circuit (for other judges) before.  But now we have six women reporting very similar stories.   It's a shame, though, that Trump will likely replace him with an inferior judge.

December 11, 2017 in Legal Profession | Permalink

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Law school applications up about 15% nationwide compared to last year

Blog Emperor Caron summarizes the latest LSAC data.  I've heard from former students and colleagues at some state flagships that their applications are up even more.  Of course, applications fell by more than a third since 2010, and I doubt we will get back to those numbers, but it seems clear that things are stabilizing and even looking up for law school enrollments.

December 7, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why academic freedom?

Once again into the fray.  A brief excerpt from the paper:

The main threats to academic freedom in the natural sciences in the capitalist democracies come from powerful business interests that disfavor, for profit-seeking reasons, certain discoveries:   for example, concerning the human contribution to climate change, to take the most important example in the present, but also findings about the inefficacy of particular pharmaceuticals and medical treatments.   Businesses have a strong interest in the correct natural scientific understanding of the causal order of nature, to be sure, since the extraction of profit from nature requires it.  At the same time, businesses also have strong interests in concealing certain scientific results that might impede popular acceptance of their business practices and consumption of their products.  Academic freedom is a crucial bulwark in favor of discovering truths about the natural world even in the relatively free capitalist societies.


In the human sciences, the issues are usually different:  it is, shall we say, rare for international corporations to get exercised about the latest developments in the history of early modern Europe or philosophy of the social sciences.  The threats to academic freedom in the human sciences come less from the business sector, and more often from political and religious interest groups whose normative commitments are threatened by the findings of the human sciences.   In the United States, for example, external pressure is frequently brought upon universities who try to employ critics of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.[1]   But the pressure to violate academic freedom comes from within the universities too.   Indeed, some humanists have concocted a whole new metaphysics of “silencing” and “marginalizing” and “violence” to describe the expression of ideas that are offensive and insulting to certain minority groups.  For these academic insiders, Marcusian “indiscriminate” toleration in academic discourse is not acceptable, since the expression of ideas that might be hurtful to individuals based on group membership—in particular, membership in groups that have been victims of historical practices of subordination (e.g., African-Americans in the United States, though more recently, transgender individuals)—is alleged to “silence” members of that group and do “violence” to them.   

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December 5, 2017 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Monday, December 4, 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.  Feel free to e-mail me with news of additions to this list.


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


*Joshua Blank (tax) from a professor of practice position at New York University to the University of California, Irvine.


 *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.


*Samuel Bray (remedies, property, constitutional law) from the University of California, Los Angeles to the University of Notre Dame.


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


 *Orin Kerr (criminal procedure, computer crime law) from George Washington University to the University of Southern California (effective January 2018).  


*Jill Wieber Lens (torts, products liability, remedies) from Baylor University to the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville (effective January 2018).


*Curtis Milhaupt (Japanese law, East Asian legal system comparative corporate governance) from  Columbia University to Stanford University (effective January 2018).


 *Frank Partnoy (corporate, securities) from the University of San Diego to the University of California, Berkeley.


*James Ryan (education law) from Harvard University Education School back to University of Virginia (to become President of the University).


*Rose Cuison Villazor (immigration law, equal protection, critical race theory) from the University of California, Davis to Rutgers University. 

December 4, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Stanford Business school claimed to be awarding only "need-based financial aid"...

...but they weren't.  Several law schools, including Stanford, make the same claim, and I suspect an analysis of the real data would show something similar.  Ever since we were fortunate to be able to award Rubinstein Scholarships to incoming students, I've been amused to discover how often Yale and Harvard find those students to be especially "needy." 

December 4, 2017 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Law review articles influencing the Supreme Court

Articles by Matt Tokson (Utah), Will Baude (Chicago), and James Stern (William & Mary) were influencing the Justices yesterday when Carpenter was argued at SCOTUS; my colleague Lior Strahilevitz has the details

November 30, 2017 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Republican Education Bill Would Boost Profits for Private Student Lenders and Raise Financing Costs for Students (Michael Simkovic)

House Republicans recently voted along party lines in favor of a tax bill that specifically targeted higher education institutions and students for tax hikes, while providing large tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals.  The Wall Street Journal reports that House Republicans are proposing an additional higher education bill that would make the terms of federal student loans less flexible and less generous and limit federal student loan availability.  Specifically, the bill would eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness and reduce the availability of flexible repayment plans for all borrowers. It would also cap maximum borrowing from the federal government at a lower level.

These measures, if enacted, would be a boon to private student lenders like Sallie Mae, who would be able to both increase their prices and increase their market share as federal student loans become less competitive and less available.  Consequently, expected financing costs for students will likely increase, to the detriment of both students and educational institutions.

According to a study by the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Education, loans to graduate and professional students are the most profitable in the government's portfolio--even after income based repayment and debt forgiveness.  Capping loans to these attractive borrowers may reduce the overall profitability of federal student lending, and pave the way for arguments for more cuts to federal lending in the future. 

The bill reportedly will also reduce regulation of for-profit college sales and marketing, and provide greater funding for 2-year degrees and apprenticeship programs.  Labor economists who have studied 2-year degrees and apprenticeship programs typically find that these programs provide relatively low benefits (in terms of increased earnings and employment) compared to 4-year college degrees and graduate degrees, even after accounting for differences in the costs of these programs and differences in student populations.  Thus, increasing funding for apprenticeships while reducing funding for 4-year degrees and advanced degrees is likely to impede economic growth.

These educational priorities, may however, provide Republicans with political advantages.  Political scientists and pollsters have found that as education levels increase--after controlling for income, race, sex, and age--individuals become more likely to identify as Democrats and less likely to identify as Republicans.  The association is particularly pronounced among scientists and others with graduate degrees.  

November 29, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Science, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

New York Bar results from July 2017 exam

Blog Emperor Caron collects the results.  Syracuse continues its outstanding performance, noted last year.  And St. John's sees a big improvement.

November 28, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Langdell, formalism, and realism at Harvard

Here's a video of the session from a couple of weeks ago as part of the HLS bicentennial.  Opening remarks about Langdell are by John Goldberg (Harvard), who is followed by Catherine Wells (Boston College), me, Anthony Sebok (Cardozo), and Henry Smith (Harvard).  For those interested, my remarks on "Langdell, Wissenschaft, Realism" begin at 19:20.  I found Smith's remarks about the role of a firmer law/equity distinction in Langdell's views especially interesting.

November 22, 2017 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?


With luck, some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months; a handful of offers have already been extended this season (2017-18).  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell the Chicago job candidates we work with that they need to find out, and in the interest of having it written down in one place and for the benefit of others too, here it is (not in order of importance):

1.  You will want to get (in writing eventually) the basic salary information, obviously, and the nature of summer research support and the criteria for its award (is it automatic for junior faculty?  contingent on prior publication [if so, how much?]?  awarded competitively (if so, based on what criteria/process)?).   You should also find out how salary raises are determined.  Are they, for example, lock-step for junior faculty?  Fixed by union contract?  (Rutgers faculty, for example, are unionized, a huge advantage and why they are among the best-paid faculty, not just in law, in the country.)  Is it a 'merit' system, and if so is it decanal discretion or is their a faculty committee that reviews your teaching and work each year?

2.  You should ask for a copy of the school's tenure standards and get clear about the expectations and the timeline.  Does any work you have already published count towards meeting the tenure standard?

3.  What research leave policy, if any, does the school have?  A term off after every three full years of teaching is a very good leave policy; some schools have even better policies, most have less generous leave policies.  (If there is a norm, it is a term off after every six years.)  Many schools have a special leave policy for junior faculty, designed to give them some time off prior to the tenure decision.  Find out if the school has such a policy.

4.  One of the most important things to be clear about is not just your teaching load, but what courses you will be teaching precisely.  You should ask whether the school can guarantee a stable set of courses until after the tenure decision.  Preparing new courses is hugely time-consuming, and you also get better at teaching the course the more times you do it.  As a tenure-track faculty member, having a stable package of, say, three courses (plus a seminar) will make a huge difference in terms of your ability to conduct research and write.   In my experience, most schools will commit in writing to a set of courses for the tenure-track years (and do ask for this in writing), but some schools either won't or can't.   In my view, it's a good reason to prefer one school to another that one will give you the courses you want and promise them that they're yours, while another won't--a consideration that overrides lots of other factors, including salary.

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November 21, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (14)

University of Illinois, Chicago exploring possibility of acquiring John Marshall Law School

Story here.  UIC has a medical school, but no law school, while John Marshall is a free-standing law school.  If the acquisition occurred, it would be the only public law school in Chicago, and, assuming there was some tuition discount for state residents, it would put particular pressure on private law schools in the city like DePaul and Chicago-Kent.

November 21, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, November 20, 2017

Schools offering VAPs and Fellowships...

...can post about it here.

November 20, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

Friday, November 17, 2017

Erin Rousseau, MIT: House Republicans Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students (Michael Simkovic)

Following up on my previous post, Republican Tax Hikes Target Education

[U]nder the House’s tax bill, our waivers will be taxed. This means that M.I.T. graduate students would be responsible for paying taxes on an $80,000 annual salary, when we actually earn $33,000 a year. That’s an increase of our tax burden by at least $10,000 annually.

It would make meeting living expenses nearly impossible, barring all but the wealthiest students from pursuing a Ph.D. The students who will be hit hardest — many of whom will almost certainly have to leave academia entirely — are those from communities that are already underrepresented in higher education. . . .

The law would also decimate American competitiveness. . . . 

Graduate students are part of the hidden work force that drives some of the most important scientific and sociological advancements in the country. The American public benefits from it. Every dollar of basic research funded by the National Institutes of Health, for example, leads to a $1.70 output from biotechnology industries. The N.I.H. reports that the average American life span has increased by 30 years, in part, because of a better understanding of human health. I’d say that’s a pretty good return on investment for United States taxpayers."

November 17, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Valparaiso Law School to begin winding down operations (at least in Indiana) due to financial pressures

That seems to be the import of this somewhat cryptic announcement.  Those with more information may post that in the comments; submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.

November 16, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ten law schools will now accept the GRE

Blog Emperor Caron has a round-up.  I hope and expect more will.  This is a particularly good development for JD/PhD students, who in the past had to taken two different standardized tests.

November 16, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Not much new until the end of the week

I was in Boulder for a couple of days last week (hence the quiet here), and will be at Columbia tomorrow, so don't expect much new before Thursday.

November 14, 2017 in Navel-Gazing | Permalink

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Top 40 U.S. law faculties in terms of scholarly excellence, 2017 edition

The poll covering the rest of the top 40 got more than 300 votes (compared to a bit more than 160 for "the top 20"), no doubt because more schools were involved.   The obvious drawback of a poll like this--namely, that people can vote for their own school and try to vote strategically--is counteracted by the Condorcet method (which defeats most strategic voting) and by sufficient participation; in the end, the folks who rank their own school #1 have little effect on their own school, what matters is their relative ordering of everyone else.

I've combined the results of the two polls to produce a "top 40" law faculties in terms of scholarly distinction.  Especially outside the top 20, presenting lists of faculty names seems to have muted the U.S. News effect present from earlier polls even more, as reflected in, e.g., the disappearance of Wisconsin and Arizona State from the top 40 (they are all top 40 in U.S. News), and the significant improvements for San Diego, Brooklyn, and Cardozo.  (I actually think ASU should be in the top 40 for faculty quality, but the poll had it a bit outside.)

In any case, this seems to be a far more plausible "top 40" in terms of scholarly quality of the faculty than we've gotten from prior surveys, let alone from U.S. News.  (Personally, I think Illinois and Hastings are underranked here, but that's another story.)

1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 77–67
3. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 118–32, loses to Harvard University by 127–21
4. New York University  loses to Yale University by 122–28, loses to University of Chicago by 79–60
5. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 121–29, loses to New York University by 73–65
6. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 126–21, loses to Stanford University by 85–56
7. University of California, Berkeley loses to Yale University by 137–15, loses to Columbia University by 113–29
8. University of Pennsylvania loses to Yale University by 140–9, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 74–62
9. University of Virginia loses to Yale University by 138–9, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 75–55
10. University of Michigan loses to Yale University by 140–9, loses to University of Virginia by 69–52
11. Duke University loses to Yale University by 144–6, loses to University of Michigan by 78–49
12. Northwestern University loses to Yale University by 142–8, loses to Duke University by 67–62
13. Georgetown University loses to Yale University by 140–10, loses to Northwestern University by 70–63
14. Cornell University loses to Yale University by 144–5, loses to Georgetown University by 71–63
15. University of California, Los Angeles loses to Yale University by 141–9, loses to Cornell University by 66–61
16. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 144–4, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 74–49
17. Vanderbilt University loses to Yale University by 139–6, loses to University of Texas by 77–41
18. University of Southern California loses to Yale University by 141–6, loses to Vanderbilt University by 67–54
19. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 138–11, loses to University of Southern California by 81–43
20. University of California, Irvine loses to Yale University by 143–6, loses to George Washington University by 70–57
21. University of Minnesota loses to Yale University by 141–7, loses to University of California, Irvine by 62–56
22. Boston University
23. Emory University  loses to Boston University by 142–119
24. Washington University, St. Louis loses to Boston University by 141–125, loses to Emory University by 141–124
25. Fordham University loses to Boston University by 158–91, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 149–108
26. University of Notre Dame Boston University by 159–97, loses to Fordham University by 137–116
27. University of California, Davis loses to Boston University by 170–83, loses to University of Notre Dame by 127–117
28. Boston College loses to Boston University by 174–66, loses to University of California, Davis by 131–118
29. College of Wiliam & Mary loses to Boston University by 180–69, loses to Boston College by 129–115
30. Brooklyn Law School  loses to Boston University by 172–74, loses to College of Wiliam & Mary by 129–114
30. University of San Diego  loses to Boston University by 175–78, loses to Brooklyn Law School by 123–121
32. Cardozo Law School loses to Boston University by 189–55, loses to University of San Diego by 128–118
33. University of Illinois loses to Boston University by 184–60, loses to Brooklyn Law School by 128–107
34. Ohio State University  loses to Boston University by 184–58, loses to University of Illinois by 121–112
35. University of North Carolina loses to Boston University by 183–68, loses to Ohio State University by 121–115
36. Indiana University, Bloomington loses to Boston University by 203–44, loses to University of North Carolina by 123–111
37. University of California, Hastings loses to Boston University by 185–67, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 121–110
37. University of Iowa loses to Boston University) by 192–56, loses to University of California, Hastings by 117–115
39. Florida State University loses to Boston University by 197–47, loses to University of Iowa by 118–112
40. George Mason University loses to Boston University by 188–53, loses to Florida State University by 124–97
Runner-up:  University of Alabama loses to George Mason University by 115–103

November 13, 2017 in Rankings | Permalink