January 31, 2008
Three Finalists for MSU Law Deanship
Story here; the three finalists to be Dean at the Michigan State University College of Law are: Frederic White, the current Dean of the law school at Golden Gate University; Suellyn Scarnecchia, current Dean of the law school at the University of New Mexico; and Joan Howarth, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
January 30, 2008
The Day of Reckoning Gets a Bit Closer for the AutoAdmit Sociopaths and Misogynists
Not surprisingly, a court has granted the motion of the plaintiffs in the AutoAdmit lawsuit for expedited discovery, including permission"to subpoena the Internet service-providers responsible for the posters’ IP addresses in order to identify them," as well as to depose Jarret Cohen, the insurance salesman who owns the Autoadmit cesspool, and Anthony Ciolli, the former Penn law student, who used to be an administrator of it. The plaintiffs will also seek to depose someone named Ryan Mariner, who is alleged to have pertinent information. (I don't know who Mr. Mariner is.) The WSJ Law Blog has the story and a link to the brief in support of the motion for expedited discovery.
As the brief notes at p. 16, "plaintiffs can easily demonstrate far more than 'some probability of success on the merits'" and so the only real issue is identifying the defendants. (Anyone with doubts on that score need only read this latest brief.) Since the plaintiffs are almost guaranteed to prevail on most or all of the libel, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress claims, the strategic question will be what to do once they have identified some of the defendants. If their identities become public, their careers as lawyers or law students are finished, which means their ultimate ability to compensate the plaintiffs for their grotesque wrongdoing may be extremely limited. To the extent the plaintiffs want cash compensation that may create an incentive to settle in conjunction with a confidentiality agreement; needless to say, it is in the interests of the defendants to settle once identified, since they will be dropped by their employers even faster than Anthony Ciolli if their identities become public.
Mr. Ciolli, of course, has been trying to whitewash his involvement in the site, although the brief tells a rather different (and, based on the evidence I have, far more accurate) story. On page 5, we learn, for example, that when one of the plaintiffs, Doe I, discovered that she was the victim of per se libel and threats of sexual violence on Autoadmit, she "sent several email messages to the site administrators, asking them to remove the offensive messages about her. Anthony Ciolli sent DOE I a response stating that the messages would not be removed." (If you want to see how profoundly revealing this is about Mr. Ciolli and his character, take a look at p. 4 of the brief to get the full flavor of the postings Mr. Ciolli declined to remove.)
So, too, at page 10 of the brief, we learn that Doe II--after being subjected to per se libel and threats of sexual violence at least as bad if not worse than what Doe I had to endure--"wrote to the site administrators multiple times, asking them to remove the offensive messages about her. In her requests, Doe II told them explicitly of the harm she was experiencing because of the harassing, threatening and defamatory postings, including that she had been forced to seek psychological counseling. The only response that Doe II received was a threat to post her requests on the AutoAdmit site."
January 29, 2008
Two Insiders for Finalists in UVA Deanship Search
Story here. The finalists are Paul Mahoney (corporate law) and Rip Verkerke (employment and labor law). Both obvious and excellent choices from within the ranks, and both will, for reasons recently noted, have their work cut out for them.
January 28, 2008
Which top school do law students think is most overrated in US News?
A reader sent me the results of a poll being conducted on a genuine pre-law chat board (in other words, not Autoadmit) about which school is "most overrated," referring to its US News rank. (No over- or under-ratings occur, of course, in responsible rankings.)
21.5% of the 200 students who voted on this site picked Penn, which was ranked 6th in US News (with reputation scores that had it either 9th or 10th). Penn clearly has many strengths, and has been served very well during Mike Fitts's tenure as Dean, but ranking the school ahead of Michigan, Berkeley et al., or tying it with Chicago, seems quite out of whack with other pertinent indicators of excellence, such as Supreme Court clerkships, placement in law teaching, scholarly impact of the faculty, and so on. Penn's US News rank is obviously driven by per capita expenditures, the one data point the magazine does not print, and about which some other observers have raised questions.
15% of the students voted for Cornell, which was ranked 13th. No idea why students are picking on that result! Similarly surprising: 13.5% of the students picked Georgetown, which ranked 14th, as "overrated."
9.5% named NYU (at 4th) and 9% named Michigan (at 8th) as most overrated.
Duke (at 10th) was picked by 5.5%, and all the other top schools garnered less than 5% of the votes, with Stanford (at #2 in US News, tied with Harvard) getting only 1% of the votes for "overrated."
January 27, 2008
McCain and Clinton Exposed
Revealing portraits of the two front-runners, here and here. (The latter is mostly about Bill, but since Hillary's main claim to pertinent "experience" grows out of her marriage to the former President, it is surely relevant about what her actual policies are likely to be.) Of course, neither may be front-runners for long, given the increasing support for Romney in Florida, and Clinton's trouncing in South Carolina and now, it appears, Senator Kennedy's expected endorsement of Obama.
January 25, 2008
Klarman from Virginia to Harvard
Michael Klarman (legal history, constitutional law) at the University of Virginia has accepted the senior offer from Harvard Law School. (The HLS press release is here.) He is the fifth former member of the UVA law faculty to migrate north in the last (roughly) seven years; the others are Jack Goldsmith, Daryl Levinson, William Stuntz, and George Triantis. It is really a testimony to UVA's excellent eye for faculty talent that so many scholars who began as junior or relatively junior faculty at UVA have moved over the last decade to Harvard, Chicago (Case, Levmore, Malani, Roin), Stanford (Karlan), and Columbia (Long, the Scotts, Wu)--though that doesn't make their cumulative losses to UVA any easier to bear one suspects.
Australian Economist Quiggin on Sunstein, the Internet, and Democracy
An interestingly different perspective here.
January 24, 2008
Law Dragon Magazine Names 9 Law Profs Among the Nation's "500 Leading Lawyers"
Complete lists here, including a description of what may be loosely described as the "methodology." Those recognized this year: Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard), Jack Goldsmith (Harvard), Neal Katyal (Georgetown), Kenneth Klee (UCLA), Harold Koh (Yale), Mark Lemley (Stanford), Geoffrey Stone (Chicago), Jonathan Turley (George Washington), and Elizabeth Warren (Harvard). Judge Richard Posner, who still teaches part-time at Chicago, also made the list, unsurprisingly. Among the profs, civil liberties and "war on terror" issues seem to be a theme in the choices.
UPDATE: I missed Klee the first time around, because he was listed with his law firm, not with UCLA, where he is also a professor. By contrast, Law Dragon Magazine lists Michael Ratner with Columbia University, where he is an adjunct professor, not a full-time member of the faculty. His primary association is in practice, with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
ANOTHER: A Dean at Columbia writes: "Michael Ratner has taught here in the past as a lecturer in law [not adjunct professor], but not since spring 2003."
January 23, 2008
Misleading or Informing with Data about Graduates in Law Teaching?
Columbia Law School ranks third among law schools in the number of it's [sic] J.D. alumni in teaching positions at American law schools.
This is particularly striking, since after I called attention to Michigan's puffery, they revised the page to read:
Michigan ranks in the top 4 for the number of alumni teaching in U.S. law schools, and in the top 3 for tenure- and tenure-track positions.
Assuming both schools are using the same database (supplied by the AALS), then what it means is that if one looks at all those listed in the AALS directory--meaning clinical professors, legal writing instructors, various deans without academic positions, lecturers of various kinds, as well as emeritus faculty and regular tenure-stream academic faculty--Columbia has the third highest number of alumni listed, and Michigan has the fourth highest. (Harvard is #1, and Yale is #2.) When you look only at tenured and tenure-track faculty, then Michigan is #3 in total number of tenured and tenure-track faculty, while Harvard remains #1 and Yale #2. This, of course, reflects those who graduated law schools from the 1940s onwards.
These results aren't surprising when one remembers that for much of the post-WWII period, Columbia was one of the top three law schools (up until the late 1960s, roughly), while Michigan was one of the top five (up until the 1980s, roughly). Stanford emerged as a powerhouse in the 1960s (in part through raids on Columbia), while Chicago, long one of the top five or six, moved into the super elite ranks with the rise of law and economics, in which it played the pivotal role, in the 1970s.
In addition, of course, Columbia and Michigan are nearly twice the size of Chicago and Stanford, meaning that they have graduated nearly twice as many students. (Harvard is more than twice the size of Yale.) As soon as you take that into account, you get the more familiar picture noted previously, and confirmed in more recent studies, in which Yale dominates (relative to its size) the market for law teachers, followed by Harvard, Chicago, and Stanford, and then a drop-off before the next cluster of schools, namely, Columbia, Michigan, NYU, Berkeley, and Virginia.
Given the history, and the size differentials, the stats that Columbia and Michigan emphasize are not at all surprising. This data is not, in short, wrong, but it is, arguably, a bit misleading to prospective students who have a strong interest in teaching careers.
January 22, 2008
So How Does NYU Recruit Hard-to-Get Faculty (esp. from a certain school in Morningside Heights)?
Columbia University, in a never-ending search for a larger campus, has long had an outpost for faculty housing at 455 Central Park West — 53 apartments in an 26-story tower attached to the French Renaissance chateau at West 106th Street.
So it was something of a surprise when a foundation associated with New York University bought a large condominium in the complex. The unit, which cost $5.2 million, is built into one of the huge turrets of the chateau....The duplex apartment has a round living and dining room with 37-foot high ceilings and Central Park views, along with three more conventional bedrooms....
Columbia paid $45.4 million for the 53 apartments in 2004, or an average of about $860,000 per unit, a move that helped save the once-struggling development.
And Catherine M. Sharkey, a Columbia law professor, lived in a 2,000-square-foot two-bedroom on the second floor of the tower building.
But last June, the New York University School of Law announced that it had recruited Ms. Sharkey, an expert in product liability law and empirical legal studies, from Columbia. A month later the New York University School of Law Foundation signed a contract to buy the nearly 4,000-square-foot apartment in the same complex for use by Ms. Sharkey.
The property records show that the foundation spent $4.2 million two weeks ago to buy an 80 percent interest in the turreted apartment. The foundation had $155 million in assets at the end of 2006 and it is dedicated to supporting N.Y.U.’s law school, including the hiring and retention of faculty members.
Ms. Sharkey and her partner, Ina Bort, who practices commercial and maternity law in New York, bought the remaining 20 percent interest in the apartment for $1.05 million, but the foundation provided them with a mortgage to cover $650,000 of their share of the purchase price for up to 30 years (unless Ms. Sharkey leaves the university before then).
John Beckman, an N.Y.U. spokesman, said that the university and its law school provide housing for a “very large percentage” of faculty members, but he could not recall the purchase of such an expensive apartment for other faculty members.
In recent years, the foundation paid $3.5 million for an apartment at 99 Jane Street in Greenwich Village and $2.35 million for a condo on Pacific Street in Brooklyn. In 2005, records show the foundation sold a faculty member a half interest in a 20-foot-wide house on West 12th Street for $1.6 million. It provided an $800,000 mortgage.
Mr. Beckman said the law school foundation generally charges rent to faculty members for the use of apartments it owns, which remain the property of the law school foundation....
Somehow I think the appearance of this story in The New York Times is going to result in more than a few visits to the offices of Dean Revesz at NYU. ("If Professor Sharkey got X, surely I am worth X+!")