November 20, 2007
Controversy at Queen's in Canada: Switching from the "LL.B." to the "J.D."
The University of Toronto made the move in 2001, and now Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario is thinking of following suit, but not without controversy:
JD. As in Juris Doctor. That's the law degree introduced by U.S. schools in the 1960s to certify that graduates had successfully earned both a law degree and an undergraduate degree in another discipline.
In a bid to rectify the discrepancy, Dean Flanagan sent an e-mail to Queen's University law school alumni on Friday afternoon to advise them that the Dean's Council of eight alumni lawyers had agreed to support a recent student referendum in favour of switching the school's law degree to a JD designation.
Within hours of the e-mail, some furious alumni were dashing off scalding retorts. Apparently, the irate lawyers believed they were privately replying to Prof. Flanagan. But instead, some e-mail writers hit the "reply to all" button and about 3,000 former graduates of the university found themselves on the receiving end of furious messages, many blasting the "Americanization" of the school.
"Never has the importance of remaining distinct from the U.S. legal market been of more value," wrote Robert Amsterdam, a Queen's alumnus and prominent litigator practising in London.
Gerald Thomas, a barrister practising in Kobe, Japan, warned the move would "draw us closer to a country that is increasingly at odds with the global community."
November 19, 2007
On an Alleged "Contradiction" Between Justice Scalia's Originalism and His Opposition to Considering Foreign Law
A philosophical discussion, with reference to a recent paper alleging the contradiction, here.
UC Irvine Law School: The Fundraising Challenge
The Los Angeles Times reports.
November 17, 2007
Revised Listing of Most Cited Legal Scholars by Specialty, 2000-2007
A corrected version of the study is here. There may be a few more corrections made before Thanksgiving, but I am now fairly confident that the top 10 and top 20 lists are accurate. For those who think they spot an error, please note that (1) the listings are limited to tenure-stream faculty (so, e.g., emeritus faculty are excluded); (2) the database used was Westlaw JLR; (3) any current search results need to be discounted roughly 6%; (4) citations are for the period 1/1/2000 to the present (meaning early July, when the initial searches were done).
The listing of "the top 15" schools by percentage of faculty on the lists will be revised and back on-line early next week.
Thanks to all those who have sent feedback already.
November 15, 2007
Most Cited Law Faculty by Specialty for the Period 2000-2007
Based on the July 2007 study of scholarly impact, we've compiled a new listing of the most cited legal scholars by specialty. 18 different fields are covered, from "Business Law" to "Evidence" to "Legal History" to "Wills, Trusts, & Estates." If you spot what appear to be surprising omissions of scholars in some specialty, please let me know, and we may post a revised version in a couple of weeks. (Please remember that the citation totals are from early July of this year!)
ADDENDUM: Joe Hodnicki (Cincinnati) runs some additional analysis of the results.
UPDATE: Thanks to all who have supplied feedback. There will be a dozen or so corrections/additions by early next week--mostly to the "runner-up" categories, though probably not exclusively (e.g., several folks have pointed out the surprising absence of Lucian Bebchuk [Harvard] and Roberta Romano [Yale] from the Business Law list--I am also surprised, and as soon as I am back in the office, will check the underlying data to see what's going on).
ONE MORE: Bebchuk and Romano were, indeed, wrongly omitted from the top 20 (indeed, the top 10) in Business Law--a transcription error, alas. Happily, we haven't found any other transcription error as significant as this one. Most of the likely additions next week will be to the runner-up categories, though Susan Bandes (DePaul) will make the top 20 in Criminal Law & Procedure, J. Thomas McCarthy (San Francisco) the top 10 in Intellectual Property, Jordan Paust (Houston) in International Law, and Karl Klare (Northeastern) in Labor & Employment Law.
The Blockbuster Legal Ethics Article of the Year?
MOVING TO FRONT--SEE NEW UPDATE
-----originally posted Nov. 9------
This is not my field at all, but it seems to me that this new article by William Simon (Columbia) is bound to generate considerable discussion. Here is Professor Simon's abstract:
Clients demand bad legal advice when legal advice can favorably influence third-party conduct or attitudes even when it is wrong. Lawyers supply bad legal advice most readily when they are substantially immunized from accountability to the people it is intended to influence. Both demand and supply conditions for a flourishing market are in place in several quarters of the legal system. The resulting practices, however, are in tension with basic professional and academic values. I demonstrate these tensions through critiques of the work of academic professional responsibility consultants in such matters as Enron, Lincoln Savings & Loan, and a heretofore undiscussed aggregate litigation settlement. I also suggest reforms to reduce the incentives and pressures for bad advice that now prevail.
And here is how one of my colleagues summarized the import of the piece:
I bring to your attention an article written by Bill Simon, published at SSRN, that meticulously analyzes ethics opinions written by Geoffrey Hazard [emeritus, Yale; now UC Hastings], Charles Wolfram [emeritus, Cornell], Roy Simon [Hofstra], and Bruce Green [Fordham] and concludes that these opinions are clearly wrong on the law. Bill concludes that these experts “played important roles as enablers of pernicious practices.” He chronicles an alliance of underground practices between litigators and their academic consultants “designed to immunize each other from accountability.” The ethics opinions are included in an appendix.
UPDATE: More thoughts on Professor Simon's article from another legal ethics expert.
ANOTHER (NOV. 15): Professor Simon replies to critics.
Far Right Talkshow Host Bill O'Reilly Trying to Get UVA Law Student Expelled
Why Most Associates at Big Firms Don't Last
Sensible article here.
November 14, 2007
The Fake Social Security Crisis
A bit off topic, but with behavioral law and economics all the rage these days, some attention surely might be given to the amazing amount of misinformation and irrationality surrounding the public discussion of social security:
[Barack] Obama is no enemy of Social Security. But like most of the country, he is misinformed on this issue. So he is going after his opponent, Hillary Clinton, for saying "if we just get our fiscal house in order that we can solve the problem of Social Security."
Obama told [Tim] Russert: "Now, we've got 78 million baby boomers that are going to be retiring, and every expert that looks at this problem says 'There's going to be a gap, and we're going to have more money going out than we have coming in unless we make some adjustments now.'"
In fact, there is not the least bit of urgency regarding Social Security, and it would be best to take the issue off the table entirely until we have at least a few years of public education....
In fact, the first cohort of baby boomers (those born in 1946) will begin retiring in just a couple of months, since many people take their Social Security at age 62 (with a correspondingly reduced benefit). Our Y2K moment is upon us, and nothing will happen - because the baby boomers' retirement has already been financed.
Back in 1983, when Social Security really was running out of money, with just a few months of payments on hand, Congress raised the payroll tax substantially. This was done deliberately in order to pile up a surplus to finance the baby boomers' retirement. And so it did: that accumulated surplus stands at more than two trillion dollars today, and is increasing at a rate of $190 billion annually.
As a result of this surplus, all the baby boomers' will have retired before Social Security runs into a projected shortfall in 2041. That is according to the Social Security's (mostly Republican-appointed) Trustees. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Social Security can pay all promised benefits even longer, until 2046. By either date, most baby boomers will be dead, and almost all of the rest retired, before there is a problem....
Even accepting that there could be a shortfall after 2046, it is not much to lose sleep about. The projected shortfall over Social Security's whole 75-year planning period is less than what we fixed in each of the decades of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
In fact, even if nothing were ever done to close the projected gap - and that is a wildly implausible scenario - Social Security would, after 2046 still have enough money to pay, indefinitely, a bigger benefit than it does today. That's in real terms, adjusted for inflation. Of course, this benefit would be less than what seniors in the distant future would be entitled to, so we will eventually make some adjustments. But there's no hurry.
The fact that a major Democratic presidential candidate could attack the front-runner in 2007, for not proposing a solution to a problem that is so relatively small and uncertain and nearly four decades away, is testimony to the power and durability of well-financed right-wing propaganda -- especially when there is no matching effort on the other side. The right spent more than two decades, and millions of dollars, discrediting Social Security with nothing more than verbal and accounting tricks - they never even bothered to make their own projections to compete with Social Security's Trustees. Some of the money that altered public opinion came straight from Wall Street financial firms who stood to make a fortune from privatization.
These efforts should be regarded as one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in modern history. These people managed to convince tens of millions of Americans that they are never going to see their Social Security benefits, an event about as probable as the United States disappearing from the political map.
Law Review Tables of Contents and Links to Articles
Here, courtesy of Solove.