Friday, July 20, 2018
There are economies of size in legal education. Larger law schools can support a more highly specialized faculty, offer students a wider range of course offerings, amortize fixed costs over a larger number of students, and negotiate better terms with their vendors. As some law schools have shrunk to below efficient scale, mergers may offer an opportunity to quickly increase size and improve quality without increasing local capacity beyond sustainable levels. As Stephen Bainbridge has previously noted, many industries respond to declining markets with a wave of mergers. Law schools could follow suit.
Thus far, there have been mergers between (1) Mitchell and Hamline and (2) the two campuses of Rutgers (Camden and Newark).
Cornell has put together a Google map showing all of the ABA-approved law schools in the country.
The map is a bit out of date--U.C. Irvine is missing, and Mitchell and Hamline are still separate law schools. Nevertheless, the map is useful for thinking about which law schools could potentially pool their resources because:
1) They are geographically proximate
2) They serve a reasonably similar profile of students
3) They are organizationally similar (public vs. private; standalone vs part of a university; secular vs. religious)
The map only shows 1 (it would be nice to have color coding for other info), but those who are familiar with law schools can fill in the blank information. In areas like Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and the Greater New York City area, which have a high density law schools in close proximity to one another, to my mind there are possibilities that suggest themselves.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
A big moment for the legal education landscape in Chicago if this goes through and if the new UIC John Marshall Law School offers state resident tuition discounting comparable to that at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. While Urbana-Champaign won't be much affected, there will be considerable pressure on the private law schools in Chicago, namely, Chicago-Kent, DePaul, and Loyola-Chicago. (Northern Illinois, another public law school in the far suburbs of Chicago, won't be helped either.) The real pressure will be on DePaul, which has suffered from years of mismanagement and turmoil, and is the lowest rank of the three in the USNews.com rankings (#128 most recently; Loyola-Chicago and Chicago-Kent are solidly in the top 100).
One unknown is how much of the John Marshall law faculty will be taken on board by UIC; in terms of scholarly prominence, it is clearly weaker than the faculties at Chicago-Kent, DePaul, and Loyola-Chicago.
The trouble at Vermont Law School isn't due to "unsustainable" debt levels for students--but it might be because of unsustainable tuition discounting and underinvestment in outreach (Michael Simkovic)
Vermont Law School recently stripped many of its tenured faculty of tenure. A recent article in Forbes by Mark Cohen, a lecturer at Northwestern, claims that Vermont's financial problems are a sign that tuition is too high and student debt is unsustainable.
The data doesn't support his contention. When student debt levels are unsustainable, student default rates are high. But at Vermont--and at most law schools--default rates are low. Vermont Law School's 3-year cohort default rates over the last 3 years available (classes of 2012-2014) are between 0.3 and 1.2 percent, while the national average cohort default default rate across educational institutions is close to 11.5 percent. Nor are Vermont graduates defaulting in large numbers on their Perkins loans. The 2016 default rate, the most recent available, was 3.5 percent for Vermont, versus an average across all educational institutions of around 11.5 percent. Perkins loans are not eligible for Income Based Repayment, so Vermont's relatively strong performance is likely not due too a disproportionately large share of its graduates enrolling in IBR. (Not all Vermont grads will practice law in Vermont, but lawyers in Vermont are actually paid reasonably well--around 120,000 on average according to the BLS).
Vermont Law School's problem is not that tuition is so high that student debt levels are unsustainable relative to students' post graduation income and other financial resources. Rather, Vermont's problem seems to be that there are too few students, and because of aggressive tuition discounting intended to attract them, the students who matriculate are paying too little to make the school financially healthy. Vermont Law School's 2016 529 shows that around 90 percent of incoming students received some scholarship, and half of students receive half tuition scholarships or better.
Vermont Law School could try to respond by offering even more scholarship, but its competitors have deeper pockets, and can outspend Vermont until it runs out of room to maneuver. Escalating a price war that Vermont will surely lose would be foolish. Degrading the quality of its education by relying on more lecturers and adjuncts risks causing a death spiral in which quality, enrollments, reputation, and revenue per student all continue to drop.
To be successful and sustainable in the long run, Vermont may need to find a way to attract students--not just from Vermont, but from across the region--other than offering a cut-rate price. Rather than compete on price, Vermont should find a better way to reach out to those students who are most likely to find Vermont's offerings appealing.
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.
*Kerry Abrams (immigration law, family law) from the University of Virginia to Duke University (to become Dean).
*Robert Ahdieh (international trade, financial regulation, federalism) from Emory University to Texas A&M University (to become Dean).
*Richard Albert (constitutional law, comparative constitutional law) from Boston College to the University of Texas, Austin (effective January 2018).
*Hilary Allen (financial regulation, corporate) from Suffolk University to American University.
*Albertina Antognini (family law, property) from the University of Kentucky to the University of Arizona (untenured lateral).
*Olufunmilayo Arewa (intellectual property, international trade, entrepreneurship, law & technology) from the University of California, Irvine to Temple University.
*Lisa Avalos (criminal law) from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville to Louisiana State University (untenured lateral)
*Mario Barnes (constitutional law, criminal law, national security law, race & the law) from the University of California, Irvine to the University of Washington (to become Dean).
*Joshua Blank (tax) from a professor of practice position at New York University to the University of California, Irvine.
*Khaled A. Beydoun (constitutional law, civil rights, torts) from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law to the University of of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
*Binyamin Blum (legal history, evidence, criminal procedure) from Hebrew University, Jerusalem to the University of California Hastings (effective spring 2018) (untenured lateral).
*Jeremy Bock (intellectual property, civil procedure) from the University of Memphis to Tulane University (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.
*Emily Bremer (administrative law, legislation, civil procedure) from the University of Wyoming to the University of Notre Dame (untenured lateral).
*Jennifer Chacon (immimgration law, constitutional law, criminal law & procedure) from the University of California, Irvine to the University of California, Los Angeles.
*Anupam Chander (law & technology, international trade) from the University of California, Davis to Georgetown University.
*Stewart Chang (family law, comparative law) from Whittier Law School to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
*Jessica Clarke (sexual orientation, gender & law; employment discrimination; constitutional law) from the University of Minnesota to Vanderbilt University.
*Frank Rudy Cooper (criminal procedure, civil rights, race, gender & law) from Suffolk University to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
*Seth Davis (administrative law, federal courts, federal Indian law, fiduciary law) from the University of California, Irvine to the University of California, Berkeley.
*Diane Desierto (public and private international law) from the University of Hawaii to the University of Notre Dame (School of International Affairs).
*Melissa J. Durkee (international law, transnational law, corporate) from the University of Washington, Seattle to the University of Georgia.
*Atiba Ellis (election law, civil rights, race & the law) from West Virginia University to Marquette University.
*Victor Fleischer (tax, corporate law) from the University of San Diego to the University of California, Irvine.
*David Franklyn (intellectual property, law & technology) from the University of San Francisco to Golden Gate University.
*Nuno Garoupa (law and economics, comparative law) from Texas A&M University to George Mason University.
*Brandon Garrett (criminal procedure, civil rights) from the University of Virginia to Duke University.
*Andrew Gold (private law theory, fiduciary law, corporate) from DePaul University to Brooklyn Law School.
*Philip Hackney (tax) from Louisiana State University to the University of Pittsburgh.
*Gillian Hadfield (law & economics, contracts, institutional design, regulation of markets) from the University of Southern California to the University of Toronto.
*Victoria Haneman (trusts & estates; tax) from Concordia University (Idaho) to Creighton University (untenured lateral).
*Christopher Holman (intellectual property, law & biotechnology) from the University of Missouri, Kansas City to Drake University.
*Robert Jackson, Jr. (corporate law) from Columbia University to New York University (though he will be on leave initially while serving on the SEC).
*Dalié Jiménez (bankruptcy, consumer law) from the University of Connecticut to the University of California, Irvine.
*Eric Johnson (torts, science and law, intellectual property) from the University of North Dakota to the University of Oklahoma (untenured lateral).
*Kit Johnson (immigration) from the University of North Dakota to the University of Oklahoma (untenured lateral).
*Kristin Johnson (financial markets, corporate) from Seton Hall University to Tulane University.
*Michael Kang (election law) from Emory University to Northwestern University.
*Orin Kerr (criminal procedure, computer crime law) from George Washington University to the University of Southern California (effective January 2018).
*Robert Knowles (civil procedure, national security law) from Valparaiso University to the University of Baltimore (untenured lateral).
*Eugene Kontorovich (constitutional law, federal courts, public international law) from Northwestern University to George Mason University.
*Rebecca Kysar (tax) from Brooklyn Law School to Fordham University.
*Jill Wieber Lens (torts, products liability, remedies) from Baylor University to the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville (effective January 2018).
*Sheldon Bernard Lyke, (property, trusts & estates, critical race theory) from Whittier Law School to Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law (untenured lateral)
*Suzette Malveaux (civil procedure, civil rights, complex litigation) from Catholic University to the University of Colorado, Boulder.
*David Marcus (civil procedure, administrative law, complex litigation) from the University of Arizon to the University of California, Los Angeles.
*Margaret Sova McCabe (food & agriculture law) from the University of New Hampshire to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (to become Dean).
*Khrista McCarden (tax) from Pepperdine University to Tulane University (untenured lateral).
*Jeremy R. McClane (corporate, securities, commercial law) from the University of Connecticut to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (untenured lateral).
*Justin McCrary (law & economics, empirical legal studies, corporate) from the University of California, Berkeley to Columbia University.
*Agnieszka McPeak (torts, law & technology, privacy) from the University of Toledo to Duquesne University (untenured lateral).
*Curtis Milhaupt (Japanese law, East Asian legal system comparative corporate governance) from Columbia University to Stanford University (effective January 2018).
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
New York Times contributors get an unpleasant surprise when they try to write about higher education without bashing it (Michael Simkovic)
Ellen Shell, a journalism professor at Boston University, recently wrote an article for the New York Times arguing that while higher education confers vitally important advantages in the labor market, education alone is not enough to overcome the disadvantages of childhood poverty and to promote greater equality. The purpose of Shell’s article was apparently to advocate for more comprehensive efforts to overcome poverty, above and beyond greater investment in higher education.
In the hands of editors at the New York Times, the title of Professor Shell’s Op Ed became "College May Not Be Worth It Anymore."
Several readers who contacted me about this article assumed that Professor Shell was an elitist who believed that the poor did not deserve to be as well educated as her own children. Apparently so did the author of the study she cited. He says that to the extent that Professor Shell may have intended to downplay the benefits of education to poor children, she misunderstood his work.
I contacted Professor Shell to ask about the discrepancy between the contents of her article and its title, and whether New York Times editors had changed her title.
She wrote back that she was surprised by the title, that it did not match the contents of her article, that it must have come from the editor, and that it did not endear her to the administration at her university.
I knew to ask Professor Shell before jumping to conclusions because I have also been surprised to find that New York Times editors attached inapposite, critical titles to my work. And I have repeatedly heard similar complaints from other professors who have written Op Eds for the New York Times and from sources who have been misquoted by the New York Times and had their professional reputations damaged as a result.
Most readers of newspapers assume that the writer listed in the byline of a newspaper article or Op Ed is responsible not only for the text of an article, essay or Op Ed, but also for the lead or title that appears at the top.
At the New York Times, that is not the case.
Editors choose the titles of Op Eds or articles. Because many readers only read the lead or title, and not the full article, this gives senior management at media companies an enormous amount of power. This power comes without public scrutiny, since usually only the name of the “author” (and not the editor) appears in the byline of the article.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Friday, July 13, 2018
Colleges and universities typically pay educated professionals a fraction of what similar individuals earn in the private sector (typically around 60 to 80 cents on the dollar) in return for greater job security and academic freedom. In recent years, some law schools have effectively reneged on this bargain, slashing compensation, de-prioritizing research support and/or accepting outside funding that compromises academic freedom, and terminating even some tenured faculty members.
Recent reports suggest that Vermont Law School has taken this to the extreme.
According to the ABA Journal, Vermont Law School recently stripped tenure from 14 of its 19 tenured professors. This was done without a formal declaration of financial exigency, and according to faculty members and the AAUP, apparently without the consent of faculty members typically required for such decisions.
Professors were reportedly offered severance equal to 6 months salary and health benefits, but only if they agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement and full release of all legal claims. This package is no more generous than severance pay routinely offered to long-serving (but untenured) employees of for-profit corporations.
Thursday, July 12, 2018
We write today as Yale Law students, alumni, and educators ashamed of our alma mater. Within an hour of Donald Trump’s announcement that he would nominate Brett Kavanaugh, YLS ‘90, to the Supreme Court, the law school published a press release boasting of its alumnus’s accomplishment. The school’s post included quotes from Yale Law School professors about Judge Kavanaugh’s intellect, influence and mentorship of their students.
Yet the press release's focus on the nominee's professionalism, pedigree, and service to Yale Law School obscures the true stakes of his nomination and raises a disturbing question: Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?
Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination presents an emergency — for democratic life, for our safety and freedom, for the future of our country. His nomination is not an interesting intellectual exercise to be debated amongst classmates and scholars in seminar. Support for Judge Kavanaugh is not apolitical. It is a political choice about the meaning of the constitution and our vision of democracy, a choice with real consequences for real people.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
(Part I is here.)
The FAR form offers space for listing three references, though many candidates will have more than three--in that event, you need to make a decision about which three to highlight in the space provided ("the big three"). (Note that in the comment section you can add more: e.g., "Additional references include [give names, affiliations, e.g., 'Brian Leiter (Chicago)']... Full contact details available on CV.") Here are some considerations:
First, highlight faculty recommenders that know your work well and some of whom, at least, work in your main areas. In my view, it's more important that they know your work well than that they be famous, names everyone will recognize. Of course, there can be close cases: if a very junior faculty member knows your work well, but a much more prominent senior figure in your field knows your work well enough to recommend you, you might want to highlight the senior person. But these are judgment calls.
Second, if you're currently in (or have held) a VAP or Fellowship at a school other than the one where you got your JD, it's customary to have at least one faculty member from that school listed--if you have no references from the VAP/Fellowship school, hiring schools might wonder what transpired during your time there!
Third, if you have a PhD in a cognate field, list at least your dissertation chair in the comments, but not as one of the "big three" references, unless it is someone that law faculty will recognize. The "big three" should, ideally, be law faculty.
Fourth, do not list any judges your clerked for as one of the "big three," unless you lack three suitable faculty recommenders. There is space elsewhere on the FAR form to list your clerkships, and hiring schools will assume the judge will be available as a reference. "The big three" should provide new information about references ideally.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
One of the key parts of the FAR form are the two columns (left and right) for subject areas the candidate is interested in. The left column is far and away the more important: these are the five primary areas of teaching and research interest, though not all five have to be areas of research interest. You must list five, and any of these five are fair game for teaching questions at interviews: what casebook do you like and why? which parts of the subject do you view as essential to teach (which do you ignore or give less time to)? and so on. It is customary, though not essential, to include one core 1L subject in the list (e.g., torts, contracts, criminal law, civil procedure, property); a candidate specializing in all areas of tax and corporate already covers so many essential classes, that are always in demand, that having a 1L class in the left column won't matter. The right column is courses that one would be willing to teach if asked; you don't need to be prepared to answer detailed teaching questions about these.
In the ideal case, the courses in the left column fit together as some kind of intelligible package: intelligible with regard to their connections to each and/or your scholarship and/or your experience. Someone whose left column includes tax, land use, federal courts, and criminal law will have a lot of explaining to do! Public law and private law clusters are common: e.g., administrative law, legislation, environmental law, constitutional law, federal courts (public); or contracts, business associations, secured transactions, corporate finance (private); or torts, insurance, products liability (private). Criminal law, for FAR purposes, has several categories, ranging from substantive to procedure as well as the "criminal justice system," which is suitable for those doing, e.g., empirical work on various aspects of the criminal justice system.
The order of courses in the left column doesn't matter much, so don't waste time over-strategizing: be who you are actually are, and not someone else. I recall a candidate several years ago who was advised by folks elsewhere not to list professional responsibility first, even though that was clearly the candidate's main area of research. That was foolish advice, which we corrected! And the candidate did quite well, as schools really do hire in PR. But don't list a 1L course first unless it's really your main area of research and teaching interest!
Signed comments from faculty with hiring experience welcome: full name and valid e-mail address (the latter will not appear); post the comment only once, it may take awhile to appear. (I can not answer questions from job seekers here.)
Monday, June 25, 2018
Friday, June 22, 2018
This story is certainly indicative of the depths of the decline in law school applicants especially in the Midwest. That the flagship law school, long one of the top twenty in the United States, should still be facing these difficulties is sobering. And, of course, since USNews.com runs American legal education, the school faces a stark choice: lower admissions standards (and scholarship offers) to take more paying students with lesser numerical credentials, and the school's USNews.com rank will drop; if the school's USNews.com rank drops, some number of out-of-state students who might have paid to go there, won't, and the cycle will continue. Some clever state AG needs to find a way to take Bob Morse & co. to court for consumer fraud, and end this misery for everyone.
UPDATE: There's a comment from Bill McGeveran over at the Blog Emperor's post about this story that deserves notice:
First, of the 11 public law schools in the top 30, the only ones to get a lower percentage of their revenue from state support are Berkeley, Michigan, and Virginia -- all with endowments 2 to 4 times larger than ours. The so-called "subsidy" is actually bringing us into line with our peers.
Second, our applicant numbers, yield, and class size have all increased significantly for the entering classes of 2017 and 2018, without any sacrifice in the credentials of our incoming students.
All law schools need to be conscious of costs today, and we're no exception. But there's no dire crisis at Minnesota, even if that's a less interesting news story.