October 31, 2006
St. Mary's Law Dean Not Renewed
Story here; an excerpt:
After an eight-year tenure marked by aggressive and sometimes unpopular change, St. Mary's University law school dean Bill Piatt will return to teaching, as the university declined to renew his contract Monday.
Charles Cotrell, the university's president, said Piatt's departure as dean is in the law school's best interests, but he did not say specifically why....
Piatt said he didn't understand Cotrell's decision.
"There is no justifiable reason for this, in my view," Piatt said.
Cotrell praised Piatt's leadership, defined by the struggle to raise passage rates on the state bar exam and polish the school's diminished reputation in the law community. Cotrell noted a $1.6 million renovation of the school's courtroom, a new evening law degree program and stronger ties with alumni.
But some faculty and alumni said they were not impressed with Piatt's record and were glad to see him go.
"We have gone through many years of a demoralizing atmosphere," said law professor Amy Kastely. "The issue of loyalty to Piatt has been the most significant factor in his decisions regarding staff and faculty."
Kastely said 12 faculty and 32 staff members, many of them minorities, have left since 1998, when Piatt came to St. Mary's from Texas Tech University.
At the time, Cotrell billed Piatt as a bridge builder who would heal resentment caused by the ouster of his outspoken predecessor, Barbara Aldave. Bar passage rates fell under Aldave, but social justice programs and minority enrollment flourished, causing a rift among faculty over which issue should get the spotlight.
Unfortunately, Kastely said, Piatt stirred up more trouble by pushing out faculty who disagreed with him.
Piatt denied that, saying professors left for other opportunities.
He said any ill will was likely caused by his efforts to improve teaching and dismal bar passage rates....
"I have never been shy about asking people to do more for the students," Piatt said.
Nick Sisoian, president of the student bar association, agreed.
"He always had the best interests of the students in mind," he said. "We see him on a daily basis, and he seems to knows just about everybody's name and what class they are in."
Claude Ducloux, a 1977 graduate of the law school, also defended Piatt's efforts.
"I think Piatt has worked tirelessly to raise bar passage rates, often at odds with faculty members," he said.
Progress has been uneven, but after 2003, passage rates climbed from the 50 percent and 60 percent range to the 70 percent and 80 percent range. Many feel the school is on an upswing.
"I think Piatt will leave with the law school much stronger and more competitive than when he began," said Vincent Johnson, a law professor.
Nena Gutierrez Byrd, president of St. Mary's Hispanic Law Alumni Association, said she wishes Piatt well, but worried about sliding minority enrollment during his tenure.
"We need to make sure the law school upholds its reputation as a first-class institution for Latinos, because it has sold itself as such," Byrd said.
October 30, 2006
Top Faculties in Philosophy of Law
One of the things that has been occupying a lot of my time of late has been the bi-ennial survey of hundreds of philosophers for the Philosophical Gourmet Report; happily, the PGR for 2006-08 is now done, has been delivered to Blackwell, and will appear on-line in about two weeks. (It will also be previewed in the November 5 "Education Life" section of The New York Times.) One component of that evaluation exercise is an evaluation of philosophy faculties in more than two dozen different sub-specialties, including Philosophy of Law. The results for Philosophy of Law for 2006-08 are previewed here. Bear in mind that the evaluators were presented with lists of philosophy, not law, faculties--though in many cases law faculty working in jurisprudential fields are cross-appointed to the philosophy faculties as well. (For those who are interested, a preview of the top 15 U.S. faculties overall is here; and a preview of the top 20 faculties throughout the English-speaking world in all aspects of value theory [from ethics to philosophy of law to philosophy of art] is here.)
October 25, 2006
1 Out of Every 12 Living Alumni of Yale Law School is a Law Professor!
UPDATE: Avery Katz at Columbia Law School writes:
It sounds astounding when you say it that way [i.e., 1 out of every 12 living alumni...]. But as my colleague Scott Hemphill and I quickly worked out using back-of-the-envelope calculations, it's actually pretty plausible. Estimate the total number of AALS faculty as 168 member schools x 50 profs/school = 8400. Estimate the total number of Yale alums as 200/yr x 60 years - 12,000. [Balkin and Levinson report there are about 12,000 living alums, so we are close enough. Maybe there are 240/year when you count LLM's.] With about 1000 Yale grads in teaching, this suggests that about 1 out of 8 law teachers is a Yale grad. Sounds plausible when you look at it that way, no? And probably the average is higher in recent years, as the fraction of new law teachers with Yale degrees rises. (Larry Solum reports that 26/148 entry-level hires last year had a Yale degree, or about 1/5.7 -- though the previous year it was only 21/153 = 1/7.3.
Using the same method of estimation, suppose the total number of living Harvard alums are 700x60=42,000, and suppose that 1/6 law teachers is a Harvard grad [here the trend is probably downwards]. This yields a fraction of 8400/(6*42,000) = 3.33% of Harvard alums a law teacher.
There are foreign law teachers, too, so these counts are probably a bit low.
October 24, 2006
Kritzer from Wisconsin to William Mitchell
Herbert Kritzer, a leading law-and-society scholar in the Law School and Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has accepted a senior offer from the William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota; he will retire from Wisconsin at the end of this year, and then take up the William Mitchell post. That is certainly a major hiring coup for William Mitchell.
October 23, 2006
"Beleaguered MSU Law Dean Takes Paid Leave"
Story here; an excerpt:
Terence Blackburn, the Michigan State University College of Law dean who came under fire from faculty members in the spring, has gone on paid administrative leave through the end of the academic year.
In April, a group of law professors demanded Blackburn's dismissal, saying his performance has been "unsatisfactory and that the specific deficiencies are serious and irremediable."
MSU officials disagreed, saying they were committed to resolving the group's complaints.
Blackburn kept his post, which he has held since 2000.
On Friday, Blackburn said the conflict with the faculty didn't have a "direct impact" on his decision to go on leave, but he granted that it had "added to all the rest of the intense periods" of the past year.
"It's time for me to take a small break," he said, adding that he will use the time for international projects and writing.
Blackburn said he does not intend to look for another position.
"This is not a resignation," he said. "This is a leave."
The law college is up for accreditation this year.
(Thanks to Jack Rooney for the pointer.)
October 19, 2006
Apologies for the Dearth of Postings Lately...
...but proofing this, copy-editing this, and processing the data for this--in addition to teaching, research & writing, and the lively intellectual interchange with colleagues and students here at Chicago--has left me rather short of time for the blog. I hope to have more law school news next week.
October 18, 2006
Legal Philosophy Journals
A reader writes:
I am wondering whether you can address the issue of legal philosophy journals - what journals are out there; how, if at all, are they ranked; what is the academic politics involved etc. I believe that is an issue that has not been discussed.
I am an informed, though far from neutral, observer on this topic. I'll acccept non-anonymous comments, below.
Two high-visibility, and highly selective, philosophy journals publish work in legal philosophy: Ethics and Philosophy & Public Affairs. I think those two are probably the most prestigious fora for work in philosophy of law, but they don't publish a lot of it, and many quite important papers appear elsewhere. Historically, PPA was very much an "insider's" journal, with even bad work by the editors or friends of the editors, being published. I gather the current editor, Charles Beitz, has improved the editorial practices to make them more impartial and responsible.
There are then four journals with some visbility that publish primarily work in legal philosophy (and sometimes cognate topics): Legal Theory (which I edit with Larry Alexander and Jules Coleman), Law & Philosophy, Ratio Juris, and Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence. In addition, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (OJLS) publishes a fair bit of work in legal philosophy. Ratio Juris is, in my judgment, the weakest of these five. Unsurprisingly, I view Legal Theory as the best, though OJLS is usually just as good when it comes to publishing work in legal philosophy. But Law & Philosophy has been around longer, and still publishes a lot of good work. (As some objective evidence in support of my non-objective opinion, let me note that on several occasions articles that Legal Theory rejected appeared in one of these other journals (except OJLS))
More recently, USC has created an on-line journal, The Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy, which has also been publishing some legal philosophy. It's too soon to say whether this journal will perform competitively with Legal Theory and Law and Philosophy, but as the title of the journal suggests, they also run quite a lot of work in moral and political philosophy so far.
Please post comments only once; they may take awhile to appear. No anonymous comments on this thread.
October 16, 2006
The First Ranking (1975) of All US Law Schools?
William Henderson has the details.
October 14, 2006
Former Houston Dean Nancy Rapoport to Nevada
The press release from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is here.
October 12, 2006
"Fraud and Mistake"
UT's Tarlton Law Library, under the splendid leadership of Roy Mersky, has produced for a number of years "oral history" interviews with senior faculty. I was recently reading the delightful interview with Hans Baade, the eminent comparativist, who recounted his first meeting with torts icon Page Keeton, who was Dean at UT for 25 years (and who hired Baade). Professor Baade recalled:
Page and I met each other in the summer of 1954, at the University of North Carolina where I went to summer school. He was one of the summer school teachers and he was teaching a course called "Fraud and Mistake." I met him in the elevator and he stretched out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Page Keeton. I'm teaching Fraud and Mistake, and that's a fraud by me to teach and a mistake by you to study."