July 31, 2007
Burrows, Caulfield Elected to Royal Society of Canada
Law professors John Burrows, an expert on Aboriginal legal issues at the University of Victoria, and Timothy Caulfield, a specialist in health law at the University of Alberta, are the two law faculty among the newly elected Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada. Also elected was criminologist Serge Brochu at the University of Montreal. The RSC press release is here.
July 29, 2007
More on Suspicious Discrepancies in Employment Stats Reported to US News vs. the ABA
From famed U.S. News sleuth Tom Bell (Chapman).
July 27, 2007
All Hail the Emperor!
Blog Emperor Paul Caron is 50 years old today.
Happy Birthday Paul!
Like many rulers of vast empires, he has chosen to celebrate his birthday with an act of extraordinary magnanimity: he will forego his 50% of the revenue on the blog empire in 2008, turning it over to us, his minions!
All hail Blog Emperor Caron!
(Some bit of the preceding, I confess, is not true.)
July 26, 2007
How to Move From Teaching Law Outside a Law School to a Law School Position?
Reader Rob Frieden writes:
I am interested in starting a thread on lateral entry into a law school by non law professors. I am a law professor "without portfolio" in the College of Communications at Penn State University.
I have a J.D from UVa (1980). My research agenda has brought me increasingly in league with legal scholars, typically with an interdisciplinary perspective.
I would appreciate hearing from readers what they think would constitute the best strategy for securing a visiting or lateral appointment. Is the AALS FAR worth pursuing for someone with 50 publications and an interest in something beyond an entry level appointment? Are their other ways to hear about actual vacancies in addition to scanning the Chronicle on Higher Education and this blog for leads?
Thanks to you and your colleagues for offering insights.
I usually advise law professors looking to make lateral moves not to use FAR, but one primary reason is that it advertises to all their colleagues their interest in leaving, which can be awkward, especially if other opportunities do not arise. Ordinarily, law professors looking to make lateral moves are better served by writing directly to hiring chairs at particular schools. Someone outside law schools can take the same approach, but might also consider using FAR, though noting in the comments that one is interested in a tenured, not tenure-track, post. That strikes me as an efficient way to make one's interest known to a wide audience. But comments are open for others who have advice. Post only once, as comments may take awhile to appear.
July 25, 2007
The Case of Professor Churchill
Now that the University of Colorado Board of Regents has voted to fire Professor Churchill--a sanction recommended by only one of the five members of the Committee that prepared the report on Professor Churchill's research misconduct--some readers may be interested in my earlier remarks on the subject. A number of law professors have played important roles in this process, including Colorado's Marianne Wesson, who chaired the investigative Committee; her colleague Paul Campos, who, disgracefully, called early on for Professor Churchill to be fired for his offensive speech; and Robert Clinton, a distinguished Federal Indian Law Scholar at Arizona State, who also served on the Committee. Those who have actually read the report (they are clearly few and far between, judging from the commentary) will realize that the punishment is so clearly disproporionate to the actual scholarly offenses that Professor Churchill's prospects in court--where he will argue that his offensive speech is the real reason the university is punishing him, in violation of the First Amendment--are likely to be good.
UPDATE: A reader calls my attention to a statement on the case by another leading Indian law scholar, Robert A. Williams of the University of Arizona.
ONE MORE: Here is a copy of the amended complaint filed today in state court in Denver against the University by Churchill. I have not had an opportunity to read it, so can not illuminate its contents.
"Judges Behaving Badly" in the Clerkship Hiring Process
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the details.
July 24, 2007
Misbehavior by Law Students and Its Consequences for Bar Admission
Interesting essay by Steven Lubet (Northwestern); an excerpt:
Two days after the massacre at Virginia Tech, an anonymous post on the despicable AutoAdmit Web site (previously best known for repulsive comments about women and minorities) raised the possibilty of a replay at a San Francisco law school. The post was headed "Just decided not to do a murder-suicide copycat at Hastings Law." Hastings College of the Law dean Nell Newton recognized that it was probably a "sick joke," but she obviously had to take it seriously, which meant evacuating the school and canceling classes for the day. The Federal Bureau of Investigation subsequently determined that the poster, who had used the pseudonym Trustafarian, was a first-year law student at the Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley. The following week, Boalt dean Christopher Edley, Jr., announced that the law school would seek to expel Trustafarian (the school did not release his real name), due to "the intrinsic wrongness of the act . . . and the disruption, turmoil, and emotional toll" that it caused.
Dean Edley accurately described Trustafarian's post as an "astounding instance of . . . reckless disregard for the welfare of others," but let's assume that it did not actually violate any laws (as of this writing, no charges have been filed). Like it or not, sick jokes are covered by the Constitution...so Trustafarian is sure to argue that he cannot be disciplined by a state-operated law school or kept out of the bar, if he manages to make it that far....
The First Amendment makes no ready distinction between nudity and creepy-though-not-quite-threatening rants. In both disciplinary and bar admission proceedings, however, the inquiry is not limited by the familiar "clear and present danger" standard. As many courts have held, the ultimate issue is not the expressive nature of the applicant's speech, but rather its predictive value. In other words, does the aspiring lawyer's questioned behavior raise a strong and reliable inference of future misconduct? If so, admission can be denied. If not, welcome to the bar (but try not to do it again).
The best known example...is the case of racist and anti-Semitic cult leader Matthew Hale, who was refused admission to the Illinois bar because his "publicly displayed views" were "diametrically opposed" to the legal profession's obligation to equality and nondiscrimination....
That precedent spells big trouble for Trustafarian, who has not exactly shown himself to be a pillar of fiduciary trust and confidence. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to wield the Hale rule too broadly. Hale had made a career out of virulent racism, leading an organization that was committed to subjugation of the "mud people." His repeated pronouncements meant something, and it was impossible to dismiss them as merely rash or ill-considered. Trustafarian, as far as we know at this point, apparently committed a single appalling and outrageous act, which he can attempt to characterize as an aberrant instance of Web-induced dementia. That might conceivably cause the authorities to give him another chance--perhaps following several years of enforced hiatus--although I wouldn't bet on it.
The other interesting case growing out of the Autoadmit fiasco will be that of recent Penn Law graduate Anthony Ciolli, who as administrator of the site for several years, regularly rebuffed, often quite rudely and cruelly, requests to remove slanderous and harassing material from the website, and even defended (bizarrely*) on free speech grounds the decision of he and site owner Jarret Cohen to permit this material to stay on-line. That conduct already cost him a job with a law firm, but will it cost him Bar Admission? That remains to be seen.
*It is a bizarre defense because (1) the First Amendment does not license defamatory speech or certain kinds of threatening and harassing speech, (2) the constitutional protection for free speech, in any case, has no application to a private entity's decision to remove material from its site, which means (3) the only relevant "free speech" argument would have to appeal to some moral ideal of freedom of speech; but there is no moral argument for free speech in which defamation and threats of criminal and sexual violence have a principled claim on freedom of expression. (Indeed, I'm skeptical that there's any moral argument for free speech which would encompass the vulgar harassment and juvenile insults that are the trademark of Autoadmit.)
More Employment Stats Differences
If the new U.S. News approach to employment statistics had been used for last Spring's ranking, a number of schools outside the top ranks would have also had rather big differences between the scores they reported then and what they would have to report under the new method:
July 20, 2007
New Guggenheim Fellowship in Constitutional Studies
Mary Dudziak (USC) has the details, as well as advice on the application process.
July 19, 2007
Google Ads on SSRN--and Some Odd (shall we say) Juxtapositions
Michael Fischl, the labor law scholar at the University of Connecticut, writes with the following strange SSRN experience (I vote for cry!):
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at the experience I am having with SSRN, but I thought it would interest you and perhaps other legal academics as well. About a week ago, I posted an essay on SSRN about last year's union campaign among the custodial staff at the U of Miami. (It's part of a forthcoming "teaching from the left" symposium in NYU Review of Law & Social Change; it focuses on the role of faculty during the campaign and, in particular, on the controversy surrounding the decision of some faculty to hold classes off campus during the strike.) I was taken completely by surprise, though, when I went to check my posted abstract and saw Google ads along the right-hand margin. I hadn't heard that SSRN was doing that and am embarrassed to admit that I hadn't noticed the practice before; no doubt others have noticed and critiqued, but I've somehow missed all that.
But my surprise gave way to utter shock when I read the particular ads that appeared and saw that two of them were from firms selling anti-union services! Here is what appeared when I first checked:
Center for Union Facts
Facts That Union Leaders Don't Want You To Know. (followed by a link)
Educate Workers on Unions
Stay Union-Free Custom video, web, e-learning (followed by a link)
The line-up of ads seems to change, perhaps on a per-view basis; if you’d like, you can see for yourself what’s up there now by checking
I wrote the folks at SSRN and received a cordial & not unsympathetic note from Michael Jensen, who said it was the first time they’d run into this particular problem and that they’d look into it. (He noted that they already police against ads for e.g. term-paper outsourcing, but wondered whether excluding ads like mine however "disturbing" they might be – might not "violate the space we are creating.") Anyway, the last time I checked I was still providing an advertising vehicle for anti-union firms, and this is not exactly an ideal speech situation.
On the one hand, I am sympathetic to the efforts of the SSRN folks to find ways to fund their service that don’t require a per-download charge; obviously we all benefit from that. On the other hand, the vice revealed by my own experience seems to lie in permitting ads to be linked to the content of particular papers (as opposed, say, to ads directed toward academics general, or to a particular field of academics e.g., from publishers). I’d have no problem with a content-based link to other scholarship, of course, but commercial content-based links seem to force a choice between "grin and bear it" and censorship, bad choices both, with no corresponding scholarly benefit.
Perhaps others have already given this situation more thought & have good ideas for what to do about it; my sense, from Michael Jensen’s response to me, is that the SSRN folks might listen to thoughtful input.
Comments are open; post only one. Non-anonymous suggestions are more likely to appear.
ADDENDUM: I note that my own SSRN paper "Why Tolerate Religion?" has only one slightly odd Google Ad: for "Buddha Ringtones"! But why a paper on evolutionary biology and law attracts the Google Ads it does is really quite hard to figure.