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March 27, 2008

Koehler from UT Business School to Arizona State

J.J. Koehler, a professor in the Business School at the University of Texas at Austin, who has done fascinating and important work on how juries make sense (or nonsense!) of probablistic evidence, has accepted a joint appointment in the College of Law and Business School at Arizona State University.  He joins other leading scholars at ASU working at the intersection of law, science, and evidence, including David Kaye and Michael Saks.  The ASU press release is here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 27, 2008 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 26, 2008

"In Praise of Realism (and Against 'Nonsense' Jurisprudence)"

I've posted on SSRN a draft of my Dunbar Lecture in Law and Philosophy, titled as above, which I will deliver tomorrow at the University of Mississippi.  The Lecture is sponsored by the Law School and Department of Philosophy.  When they kindly invited me to deliver the lecture, I was told that past Dunbar Lecturers had included Richard Epstein, Stanley Fish and, as it happens, one of the subjects of my Lecture, Ronald Dworkin.  The abstract follows:

Ronald Dworkin describes an approach to how courts should decide cases that he associates with Judge Richard Posner as a Chicago School of "anti-theoretical, no-nonsense jurisprudence." Since Professor Dworkin takes his own view of adjudication to be diametrically opposed to that of the Chicago School, it might seem fair, then, to describe Dworkin's own theory as an instance of "pro-theoretical, nonsense jurisprudence." That characterization is not one, needless to say, that Professor Dworkin welcomes. Dworkin describes his preferred approach to jurisprudential questions, to be sure, as theoretical, in opposition to what he calls the practical orientation of the Chicago School. But while there is a real dispute between Dworkin and Posner, it is not one illuminated by the contrast between theory and practice. It is, rather a dispute about the kind of theory that is relevant and illuminating when it comes to law and adjudication. And the fault line marked by this dispute is profound indeed, one that extends far beyond Dworkin and Posner and has a venerable and ancient history. I shall describe it, instead, as a dispute between Moralists and Realists, between those whose starting point is a theory of how things (morally) ought to be versus those who begin with a theory of how things really are. The Lecture endeavors to show that our contemporaries, Ronald Dworkin and Richard Posner, are reenacting a version of the dispute between the paradigmatic philosophical moralist Plato and the paradigmatic historical realist Thucydides.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 26, 2008 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

Fellowships for Aspiring Law Teachers--Updated

Blog Emperor Caron has updated his helpful compilation (with links) of fellowships for those interested in getting into law teaching.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 26, 2008 in Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

Frederic White from the Deanship at Golden Gate to the Deanship at Texas Wesleyan

The TWU press release is here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 26, 2008 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 25, 2008

Three Senior Hires for Chapman: Bazyler from Whittier, Redding from Villanova, Tehranian from Utah

The law school at Chapman University has made three senior hires this year:  Michael Bazyler (comparative and international law; Holocaust studies) from Whittier Law School; Richard Redding (law and psychology, criminal law, mental health law) from Villanova University; and John Tehranian (entertainment law, intellectual property, media law, Cyberlaw) from the University of Utah.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 25, 2008 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

George and Nichol from William & Mary Back to North Carolina

Glenn George (employment discrimination) and Gene Nichol (constitutional law) at the College of William & Mary have accepted offers to re-join the law faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Nichol was Dean prior to becoming President of William & Mary, a position from which he abruptly resigned several weeks ago.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 25, 2008 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 24, 2008

Washington & Lee's Radical Transformation of the 3rd Year of Law School

Most talk about 'curricular reform' in legal education is usually quite modest--a few more clinical offerings here, a new course in the first year there.  Washington & Lee, by contrast, has adopted a really quite radical revision of the curriculum.  The details of the new third year at Washington & Lee are here.  A brief excerpt to give a flavor of how dramatic a change this is:

The new third year curriculum will be entirely experiential, comprised of law practice simulations, real-client experiences, the development of professionalism, and development of law practice skills.

Each semester will begin with a two week immersion course in practice skills, one focusing on office and transactional practice skills, the other on litigation and conflict resolution skills. 

All students will participate in a year-long professionalism program that will include the participation of practicing lawyers and judges and assist students in the development of professionalism in all its aspects, including legal ethics, civility in practice, civic engagement and leadership, and pro bono service. 

The core intellectual experiences in the third year will be presented entirely through a mix of practicum courses that simulate legal practice environments, legal clinics, and internships....

Students will not study law from books or sit in classrooms engaging in dialogue with a professor at a podium.  The demanding intellectual content of the third year will instead be presented in realistic settings that simulate actual client experiences, requiring students to exercise professional judgment, work in teams, solve problems, counsel clients, negotiate solutions, serve as advocates and counselors—the full complement of professional activity that engages practicing lawyers as they apply legal theory and legal doctrines to the real-world issues of serving clients ethically and honorably within the highest traditions of the profession.

One law professor at another school, who called the proposal to my attention, wrote to me with some reasonable concerns about this curricular change:

If 100% practice is the way to run the third year, isn't the obvious answer to make a J.D. program a two year affair?  Also, it creates horrible choices for students, who have only the 2L year in which to take electives.  If Jurisprudence conflicts on the schedule with Evidence, you have to take one or the other, but you can't take both.  (W & L has a small faculty and on small faculties many electives are offered only one time per academic year, and in some cases only every other academic year.)  Similarly, even if the conflict is between Jurisprudence and Partnership Tax, it forces choices on students that they should not face.  And, you also have to ask about how a practical curriculum will (must?) affect faculty hiring choices -- are traditional hiring criteria the appropriate standards for faculty for the 3L year?  I'm guessing "no," on the theory that J.D./D. Phil. isn't likely able (or very much interested) in teaching a civil practice clinic or a practicum on drafting wills. . .  Maybe there's some merit to this "reform" that I'm just not seeing, but it seems like a very risky, "all in" kind of move.

It is clearly very risky:  if it succeeds, it will transform Washington & Lee into a leader in legal education, to which the top firms will flock for new hires; if it fails--because, for example, good students and faculty choose to go elsewhere--Washington & Lee may never recover as a top 30-35 law school with a quasi-national status.  The risk, put simply, is that within the legal academy, interdisciplinary scholarship is the coin of prestige in the realm, which is why one finds schools like Stanford, under Dean Larry Kramer, touting initiatives like more JD/PhD programs, and why elite law schools hire almost exclusively interdisciplinary scholars.  Washington & Lee is, as my correspondent noted, going to have to do very different faculty hiring in order to staff this ambitious new program.  If it succeeds, students and ultimately employers will be the beneficiaries, and other schools will no doubt follow suit.  But in the short term there is a real risk that Washington & Lee's reputation among legal academics may take a real hit.

Signed comments strongly preferred, as always.  I am curious to hear what others--faculty, practitioners, and students--think about this initiative.  (Post only once:  comments may take awhile to appear.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 24, 2008 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

March 23, 2008

Whittier Back from the Brink of the ABA Accreditation Abyss!


Posted by Brian Leiter on March 23, 2008 in Legal Profession | Permalink | TrackBack

March 22, 2008

Three Dean Finalists at Temple: Berman, Epps, and Pritchett

Here.  The three finalists are:  Paul Schiff Berman from the University of Connecticut; JoAnne Epps from Temple; and Wendell E. Pritchett, who is on leave from the University of Pennsylvania while working in the Philadelphia Mayer's office.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 22, 2008 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

March 21, 2008

Nash from Tulane to Emory

Jonathan Nash (environmental law) at Tulane University has accepted a senior offer from the law school at Emory University.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 21, 2008 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack