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April 9, 2007

Dudziak Wins Guggenheim

Mary Dudziak, Professor of Law and History at the University of Southern California looks to be the only law professor to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in this year's competition.  She won support for a project on "How war made America in the 20th century."

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

April 6, 2007

Georgetown Will No Longer Fund Public Interest Work Supporting Abortion Rights

Story here; an excerpt:

Jenny Woodson is no stranger to controversial causes. It’s just that the first-year law student didn’t expect that, at the most stressful time of her year, she’d be at the center of a divisive case about adherence to religious principles.

Like classmates before her at the Georgetown University Law Center, Woodson accepted an unpaid summer position with an organization that supports abortion rights — Planned Parenthood’s public policy and litigation department. When asked during her job interview if she could secure funding for the work, Woodson said she wasn’t sure. Would a Jesuit institution provide financial support for a student to work there?

Not a problem, Woodson’s interviewer told her. Georgetown had a history of funding similar summer internships. So she expected no trouble when she turned in a 50-word job description to the campus group that provides fellowships to students participating in public interest jobs.

But in late March, Woodson was told that T. Alexander Aleinikoff, dean of the Law Center, had decided that the campus group could not fund her internship. (Georgetown helped Woodson find a nonprofit organization that plans to support her work.)

“It wasn’t a change in policy,” Aleinikoff said. “As we became more involved in the funding and more aware of the project, it was clear that the university could not fund advocacy of abortion rights. There’s a very narrow exception in an area that is central to the core identity of the university.”

Equal Justice Foundation, the student-run group that provides the fellowships, receives some funding from alumni and outside sources. But a growing percentage — this year more than $100,000 — of the money comes from the Law Center, which collects and distributes all donations.

Woodson is upset with what she calls Georgetown’s inconsistencies. She said it is intellectually dishonest for the Law Center to claim its action is motivated by a desire to follow Catholic teachings.

“If Georgetown wants to be a Catholic University it has the freedom to identify as such,” she said. “If the school wants to abide by Catholic doctrine it should do so consistently and prevent all activities the Church disagrees with. This includes prosecutors’ offices that impose the death penalty, gay rights organizations, political candidates and judges that hold positions that disagree with the Catholic church, military law organizations and human rights organizations (the majority of which support reproductive rights, as well).

“When we apply to Georgetown Law, the most you hear about the Jesuit tradition is that [the school] supports students doing work in the public interest,” she added. “If I ever knew that taking part in women’s rights issues would lead to a chilling effect, I don’t know if I would have ever considered coming here....”

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 6, 2007 in Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

Luban to Stay at Georgetown, Declines Stanford Offer

David Luban, a leading figure in legal ethics at Georgetown University, has declined the senior offer from Stanford Law School.  As a faculty member at Georgetown observed to me, after losing Mark Tushnet (constitutional law and history) to Harvard last year, retaining Luban is an especially welcome development.  (Professor Luban has also been doing some interesting blogging lately related to the so-called "war on terror" at Jack Balkin's blog--one recent example.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 6, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

April 5, 2007

Top 40 Law Schools by Student Quality Based on Numerical Credentials

The other Brian Leiter has the details.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 5, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

Harvard's Dershowitz Works to "Disrupt Tenure Bid of Longtime Nemesis" at DePaul

So reports the Chronicle of Higher EducationJoe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog comments.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 5, 2007 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

de Geest from Utrect/Ghent to Wash U/St. Louis

Gerrit de Geest, Professor of Law and Economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Utrecht and Professor of Law at the University of Ghent, has accepted a senior offer from the law school at Washington University in St. Louis.  De Geest is a Past President of the European Association of Law and Economics.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 5, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

April 4, 2007

Racist Epithet Used by Harvard Law Student Thwarts His Academic Ambitions

Curious story here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 4, 2007 in Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

Controversy over Ciolli/Cohen "Discussion" Board Continues: "Autoadmit" Profiled on List of "Unethical" Websites

Here; an excerpt:

AutoAdmit bills itself as "the most prestigious law school admissions discussion board in the world"....  "[P]restigious" isn't the word for AutoAdmit.   "Infamous" is more accurate. "Slimy" may be even better.

The site is the creation of Anthony Ciolli, a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jarret Cohen, a 23-year-old insurance agent....[I]t includes hundreds [in fact, thousands] of anonymous posts that insult women, gays, blacks, Jews and Asians, frequently disparaging individuals by name. Messages are sometimes outright libel, including false claims about sexual activity and STDs, and accusations of unethical activities. To the targets' dismay, the comments bubble up through the Internet into the public domain via Google's powerful search engine. And many potential employers of law school graduates routinely check Google for information on a candidate. Thanks to AutoAdmit, what they will find will sometimes be racist, sexist or   obscene gossip.

Cohen says the site merely provides a forum for free speech. "I want it to be a place where people can express themselves freely, just as if they were to go to a town square and say whatever brilliant or foolish thoughts they have," Cohen said in a recent Washington Post interview. Ciolli was quoted as saying that he "almost never censor[s] content, no matter how abhorrent it may be" because he is a "strong believer in freedom of expression and the marketplace of ideas."

This transparent rationalization for the site's irresponsible management is simultaneously infuriating and hilarious. In the "town square" one must be physically present to be heard, which means that the source of offensive and insulting speech directed at an individual must take responsibility for his or her actions. Not on AutoAdmit, however; those brave warriors of free expression can remain anonymous, because Ciolli and Cohen let them. Nor did the speeches in the town square end up on a web search engine like Google, where they could be seen by anyone in the world with a computer, downloaded, copied, and distributed to humiliate and harm an innocent victim of a verbal attack.

Comparing AutoAdmit to the town square is like comparing the late Anna Nicole Smith to Mother Theresa. What the site really resembles is the walls of a particularly busy public toilet where low-lifes anonymously inscribe filthy graffiti about others. Unlike the operators of most such cesspools of anonymous "free expression," however, these two actually         boast that they never wash the walls, encouraging more and more irresponsible content....   

In mid-February, several frequenters of the site organized a contest on a separate site to name the "hottest" female student at a "Top 14" law school and used AutoAdmit to publicize the contest and the involuntary "entrants." A group of boorish University of Virginia Law students posted dozens of photos of their eight female classmates, which all ended up on AutoAdmit. None of them consented to having their pictures posted.

Then the AutoAdmit's message board was bombarded with salacious comments about the women, often referencing them by name. The Virginia Law Weekly reported that in addition to criticizing the co-eds' physical attributes on the discussion threads, AutoAdmit members continually referred to some of these UVA Law students as "whores," "sluts," and worse. One anonymous AutoAdmit poster wrote about performing sex acts on them, while another told them to "get raped." Naturally, Ciolli and Cohen did nothing. Well, that's unfair: Ciolli commented on the girls himself.

Finally, the "Hottest Female" contest so dominated AutoAdmit and was focusing so much criticism on the site that Ciolli persuaded the organizers to authorize the removal of its posts. But to do so was the decision of the contest's originators, not the AutoAdmit administrators, and the damage to the women who were exhibited and derided cannot be undone. Meanwhile, more anonymous bile pours onto the site daily. The decision to ask the contest to leave was a PR move, not a change in policy. Ciolli told the Washington Post that he thought he deserved a "gold star," even though he encouraged the competition by participating in the on-line assessment  of the female law students.

[Aside to whatever state bar association Ciolli eventually applies to  join: Watch out. This guy is an ethics violation waiting to happen.] 

As I have heard from numerous law students, however, it is well-known that Mr. Ciolli and Mr. Cohen remove threads all the time when it suits them.  Indeed, in one instance, Mr. Ciolli, when confronted by one of his Penn professors, had a disgusting thread about the professor removed within a half hour.  For obvious reasons, Mr. Cohen and especially Mr. Ciolli have been trying to rewrite the history of their moderation policies, with Mr. Ciolli going so far as to proffer a fake "resignation" from the discussion board (that the "resignation" was meaningless is suitably exposed in the comments section here).  One female student who had been harassed and defamed on the discussion board wrote to me reporting that in the wake of the Washington Post story (in which her travails with Autoadmit had not been mentioned) Mr. Ciolli e-mailed her school's Dean of Students

and told her he is unable to do anything about the postings about me because I never gave him my name. However, I e-mailed him a number of times, gave him my name, and gave him direct links to the postings and each time he responded, he was extremely rude, told me not to contact him again, and said there is nothing he can do about the postings.  So, it looks like he is now making misrepresentations to school administrators. I also find it odd that he is responding to the problem one year later.

A group of students at Yale Law School, meanwhile, is compiling a dossier on Mr. Ciolli's unethical conduct for submission to state Bar Character & Fitness Committees.

(Thanks to the various readers/law students who have been forwarding information about Autoadmit the last couple of weeks.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 4, 2007 in Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

Another Ranking "Fiasco" for U.S. News

Not in law, this time; story here.

UNRELATED ADDENDUM:  Is there a worse comments section on what purports to be a serious web site than the comments section at InsiderHigherEd?  Even though they "moderate" comments, there are endless appearances by the same (sometimes anonymous, sometimes not) repeat-player cranks and ignoramuses.  I suppose they do this just to drive up traffic, but the comments sections really are disgraceful given that the quality of the articles on the site is generally reasonably good.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 4, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

April 3, 2007

Guoira from Case Western to Utah

Amos Guiora, who has been Director of the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy in the law school at Case Western Reserve University for the last three years, has accepted a senior offer from the law school at the University of Utah (whose new Dean, Hiram Chodosh, was previously on the Case Western faculty himself).

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 3, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack