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March 14, 2007

Rabkin from Cornell to George Mason

Jeremy Rabkin (international and constitutional law), Professor of Government at Cornell University, has accepted a senior offer from the law school at George Mason University.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 14, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

Two Senior Appointments at Maryland: Ertman, Graber

The University of Maryland Law School (which is in Baltimore) has made two senior appointments:  Martha Ertman (contracts, commercial law, family law) from the University of Utah and Mark Graber (constitutional law and history) from the Department of Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 14, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 13, 2007

Top 25 Law Schools Based on...

...the number of graduates who made LawDragon's list of the top 500 lawyers and judges in America.  A somewhat odd list (though not that much odder than U.S. News).

UPDATE:  Doug Melamed, a partner at Wilmer Cutler in Washington, DC, writes:

Even if the LawDragon list were a good measure, the rankings would be meaningful only if they were expressed in terms of the number of listed lawyers as a percentage of living alumni of the law school.  (Alumni who are currently practicing law would be the best denominator, but I doubt that those numbers are available.)  Yale, for example, would be well ahead of Harvard, and Columbia would fall several notches.

That must surely be right.  Harvard, Georgetown, and Texas are among the largest law schools in the country (graduating, respectively, 550, 600, and 450 new lawyers per year); Yale and Chicago among the smallest (graduating roughly 200 or fewer lawyers per year).

AND ANOTHER:  Ted Seto, the tax scholar at Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), has a different view:

I'm not as certain as you are about the superiority of per capita measures. It depends on what you're trying to measure. A per graduate measure tells you something about the average quality of graduates. An overall measure, by contrast, tells you something about the impact a school has on the legal community. Both are relevant. Average quality
matters. But size matters as well. The University of Texas, for example, would not be nearly as well-known or influential if it were the size of my parent institution, Loyola Marymount University, even if all of its per capita indicators remained identical. Is it really the case that a small school with one Nobel laureate is "better" than a school ten times
the size with "only" nine?

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 13, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

Falaschetti from Montana State to Florida State

Dino Falaschetti, an economist at Montana State University, has accepted a tenured offer from the law school at Florida State University, which has a growing contingent of scholars doing economically-informed empirical legal studies.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 12, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

More on the Ciolli/Cohen "Discussion" Board: Penn and Yale Law Deans Speak Out

A follow-up story in The Washington Post to the earlier item on the "law school" discussion board run by Anthony Ciolli, a law student at Penn, and Jarret Cohen, an insurance salesman:

The deans at two top law schools have admonished the operators of an Internet message board that hosts chats containing personal attacks against female students and racist and homophobic remarks. Letters written by the deans at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania law schools, were issued after an article in The Washington Post aired the debate over AutoAdmit, a message board that was created as a forum to exchange advice on law schools and firms....

In an open letter to the "Yale Law School Community," Dean Harold Koh noted that AutoAdmit contained numerous "false and hurtful assertions" by anonymous posters, and that some included names and personal information of Yale students.

Some chats contained claims that women had sexually transmitted diseases. One Yale student, The Post reported, believed that the chat content, which was accessible in a Google search, contributed to her inability to find a summer job.

"Such anonymous, personal attacks on individuals are despicable," Koh wrote. "These malicious attacks, as well as racist, sexist and homophobic speech, have no place in the Yale Law School community."

The Penn law school dean, Michael A. Fitts, and the associate dean, Gary Clinton, posted a letter on the site Thursday, stating that while they understood the right to engage in spirited debate, "we all have a moral and professional obligation to engage in that debate in a responsible manner."

They said that though the university thought it had no basis to act against Ciolli, the derogatory comments could serve as a basis for defamation suits and "may increasingly become the subject of concern by bar admissions committees."

Meanwhile, ReputationDefender, which is representing several women who were targeted on AutoAdmit, has engaged a law firm to explore civil and criminal claims on the women's behalf, ReputationDefender chief executive Michael Fertik said.

Apparently, Google has withdrawn its ads from the site and the site's current service provider is withdrawing its services, since the site's content violates its policies.

UPDATE:  Still more commentary here (with many links).

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 12, 2007 in Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

March 10, 2007

Most Downloaded Law Faculties for 2006

A new ranking here, complete with multiple caveats.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 10, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

March 9, 2007

More Legal Historians for Minnesota

In addition to hiring legal historian Thomas Gallanis from Washington & Lee, the University of Minnesota Law School has now made two other appointments of tenured legal historians:  Susanna Blumenthal, who is currently Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Michigan; and Barbara Welke, who is currently a tenured History Professor at Minnesota, who will now be one-quarter in the Law School. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 9, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 8, 2007

Bassett from Florida State to Alabama

Debra Bassett (civil procedure) at Florida State University has accepted a senior offer from the law school at the University of Alabama. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 8, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 7, 2007

Washington Post Runs Expose of "Law School" Chat Room Run by Penn Law Student

We had occasion to remark on this notorious site two years ago; today, the Washington Post ran a front-page story here.  An excerpt:

The woman [a Yale Law student] and two others interviewed by The Washington Post learned from friends that they were the subject of derogatory chats on a widely read message board on AutoAdmit, run by a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania and a 23-year-old insurance agent. The women spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution online.

The law-school board...contains hundreds of chats posted by anonymous users that feature derisive statements about women, gays, blacks, Asians and Jews. In scores of messages, the users disparage individuals by name or other personally identifying information. Some of the messages included false claims about sexual activity and diseases. To the targets' dismay, the comments bubble up through the Internet into the public domain via Google's powerful search engine....

"For many people the Internet has become a scarlet letter, an albatross," said Michael Fertik, ReputationDefender's chief executive. The company is launching a campaign to get AutoAdmit to cleanse its site and encourage law schools to adopt a professional conduct code for students....

The chats sometimes include photos taken from women's Facebook pages, and in the Yale student's case, one person threatened to sexually violate her. Another participant claimed to be the student, making it appear that she was taking part in the discussion.

"I didn't understand what I'd done to deserve it," said the student. "I also felt kind of scared because it was someone in my community who was threatening physical and sexual violence and I didn't know who."

The woman e-mailed the site's administrators and asked them to remove the material. She said she received no response....

One chat thread included a sexual joke about a female Holocaust victim.

In another comment, a user said a particular woman had no right to ask that the threads be removed. "If we want to objectify, criticize and [expletive] on [expletive] like her, we should be able to...."

Another Yale law student learned a month ago that her photographs were posted in an AutoAdmit chat that included her name and graphic discussion about her breasts. She was also featured in a separate contest site -- with links posted on AutoAdmit chats -- to select the "hottest" female law student at "Top 14" law schools, which nearly crashed because of heavy traffic. Eventually her photos and comments about her and other contestants were posted on more than a dozen chat threads, many of which were accessible through Google searches.

"I felt completely objectified," that woman said. It was, she said, "as if they're stealing part of my character from me." The woman, a Fulbright scholar who graduated summa cum laude, said she now fears going to the gym because people on the site encouraged classmates to take cellphone pictures of her....

[Jarrett Cohen and Anthony Ciolli, the site's owners] said that some of the women who complain of being ridiculed on AutoAdmit invite attention by, for example, posting their photographs on other social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace....

One woman e-mailed the University of Pennsylvania Law School associate dean, Gary Clinton, in February to ask for his help in persuading Ciolli remove the offensive threads. Clinton told her that since he became aware of AutoAdmit two years ago, he has had "numerous conversations about it" with Penn officials. "I've learned that there appears to be little legal recourse that we have as an institution," he wrote. He said he has had several conversations with Ciolli and has "pointed out time and again how hurtful these ad hominem attacks can be to individuals, and have asked him to delete threads." The effort, he noted, "has been largely unsuccessful."

Several of the women who were recent victims of harassment and threats of sexual violence on the Ciolli/Cohen discussion board have retained the services of ReputationDefender, which is taking legal action and  launching a campaign aimed at Mr. Ciolli, the Penn law student.  They have posted an open letter to Mr. Ciolli here:

For years, the website AutoAdmit.com / Xoxohth.com, owned by you and Jarrett Cohen, has been home to many pages of abusive, explicit and defamatory content about otherwise private citizens. As you are aware, commentary on this site is often overtly racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and perpetuated without the consent and often without the knowledge of the private individuals attacked....

I regret that you have not responded to the many very kind entreaties from women who have been victimized on your site. Some comments harmful to reputations have been up on your site for years. Some victims have contacted you and pleaded with you multiple times. Instead of responding to these kind requests, in many cases you or others from the AutoAdmit / Xoxohth community have posted these women's entreaties to the website to be mocked by members of the community who hide behind a shield of anonymity. It would take so little effort for you to remove these threads, as evidenced by your rapid removal of other threads.

They also have issued an open letter to Dean Fitts of the University of Pennsylvania Law School urging him to "take swift and measured action to address the hurtful actions and inactions of Mr. Ciolli" and noting that "Mr. Ciolli has failed to live up to the standard of professionalism expected of members of the bar or of a university community." 

ReputationDefender has also compiled a "gallery of horrors" from the Ciolli/Cohen board.  (This is a useful indicator that the preceding is not unrepresentative.)

There is blog commentary on this story here, here , here and here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 7, 2007 in Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

Gordley from Berkeley to Tulane

James Gordley, one of the country's leading authorities in comparative law and contracts at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, has accepted a Chair at Tulane Law School, to start next fall.  That's a huge coup for Tulane!

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 7, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack