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September 21, 2009

Krugman v. Cochrane Through the Eyes of the Philosophers

Philosophers of science and economics generally take a dimmer view of economics (epecially macroeconomics) than the practitioners, including those in law schools.  The Krugman v. Cochrane dispute about the failure of "Chicago School" macroeconomics in the current financial crisis is an interesting case study of the problems afflicting macroeconomics.  Alexander Rosenberg, a leading philosopher of economics at Duke, comments here on some of the issues.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 21, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 20, 2009

Which law schools have the best faculties in constitutional law and theory?

We haven't had some polling amusement in awhile, so here's a new poll:  rank the top ten law faculties in constitutional law and theory (excluding constitutional criminal procedure).  We've provided 17 choices, and I'm pretty confident no faculty omitted would make it into the top ten, though I'm sure some omitted faculties would make the top 17 (but we'll only report the 'top ten' in the final results).  I've listed the constitutional law faculty, rather than the school names, so that evaluators have to respond to the actual faculty.  No doubt we've missed some faculty here-and-there, but hopefully not too many.  Since, of course, anyone can vote in this poll, I plan to run a similar one just with specialists later in the fall.  It will be interested to see how this utterly unscientific poll compares to the specialist poll down the line.  Have fun!  (And please note that any blog associated with one of these schools that links to the poll will be disqualified!  Even blog polls have some standards.)

UPDATE:  Alas, an error spotted already:  M. Tushnet should have been right after that guy L. Tribe.  Now that is a big omission.  (C. Sunstein is in government service, not teaching, so he was omitted on purpose.)

ANOTHER OMISSION;  S. Prakash, a recent addition, ought to appear between D. Ortiz and J. Ryan on the faculty list that begins with L. BeVier.

SO WITH ABOUT 160 VOTES CAST, here are the results so far:

1.  Harvard   (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)

2.  Yale  (loses to Harvard 65-64).

3.  NYU (loses to Harvard by 99-25 and to Yale by 96-30)
4.  Chicago (loses to Harvard by 102-22 and to NYU by 74-40)
5.  Stanford (loses to Harvard by 100-19 and to Chicago by 59-47)
6.  Columbia (loses to Harvard by 104-18 and to Stanford by 53-49) 
7.  Georgetown (loses to Harvard by 101-19 and to Columbia by 51-45)
8.  Berkeley (loses to Harvard by 104-14 and to Georgetown by 58-37)
9.  Michigan (loses to Harvard by 105-15 and to Berkeley by 48-45) 

10. Texas (loses to Harvard by 106-12 and to Michigan by 46-43)

While it's clear there is a lot of (attempted) strategic voting going on (look at the detailed ballot reporting), the results are not that far off what I'd expect from a group of specialists, except that Georgetown is too high and Texas too low.  But, of course, that may change as the voting continues.  And I wouldn't be surprised if specialists put Virginia in the top 10 (it is currently 11th).

UPDATE:  With over 220 votes cast, the ranking appears to have stabilized as follows:

1. Harvard Law School  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Yale Law School  loses to Harvard Law School by 94–88
3.  New York Unviersity School of Law loses to Harvard Law School by 146–33, and loses to Yale Law School by 142–38
4.  University of Chicago Law School loses to Harvard Law School by 148–30, and loses to NYU School of Law by 106–60
5.  Columbia Law School loses to Harvard Law School by 151–24, and loses to University of Chicago Law School by 81–74
6.  Stanford Law School loses to Harvard Law School by 152–20, and loses to Columbia Law School by 77-72. 
7.  Georgetown University Law School loses to Harvard Law School by 148-23, and loses to Stanford Law School by 77-67.
8.  University of California, Berkeley Law School loses to Harvard Law School by 153-18, and loses to Georgetown University Law School by 79-63. 

9.  University of Texas School of Law loses to Harvard Law School by 156-14, and loses to Berkeley by 72-66. 

10. University of Michigan Law School loses to Harvard Law School by a156-18, and loses to University of Texas School of Law by 69-63.*

Northwestern and Virginia were runners-up for the top ten; given the omission of Sai Prakash and G. Edward White from the UVA list, they might well have made the 'top ten' even in this blog poll.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 20, 2009 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

September 18, 2009

The Blawgosphere Grows by Two

"Persuasive Authorities" and "Computational Legal Studies."

AND YET A THIRD from Stephen Ellmann (New York Law School).  And with that, I'm going to have to declare a moratorium on such announcements, lest I be deluged with requests to do so.  But I may still link to particular posts or blog of special interest to readers of this blog.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 18, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 17, 2009

Canadian Law Schools Ranked Again

Here.  The underlying measures remain the same as in prior years, though we made some adjustments to the scholarly impact measure.  I would like Macleans to also conduct a reputational survey of academics, but they have not had the budget to do it, unfortunately.   I still think this exercise provides some useful information for prospective students, far more so than U.S. News, and the effective presentation of the results by Macleans makes the inputs quite clear and transparent--and none of them, happily, are subject to manipulation or misrepresentation by the schools themselves.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 17, 2009 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

Blogs by Law Professors and Law Librarians

Turns out there are a lot of them, more than I knew.  Here are the law bloggers who've started just in the last six months!  Who is reading all these blogs?   I confess to having not even been aware of most of them.  As these additional stats make clear, blogging has become almost de rigeur at many schools for significant portions of the faculty.  Indeed, more than 5% of law professors in the United States are now blogging, it appears!



Posted by Brian Leiter on September 17, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 16, 2009

"Foundations of Religious Liberty: Toleration or Respect?"

This draft paper may perhaps be of interest to some readers; the abstract:

Should we think of what I will refer to generically as “the law of religious liberty” as grounded in the moral attitude of respect for religion or in the moral attitude of tolerance of religion? I begin by explicating the relevant moral attitudes of “respect” and “toleration.” With regard to the former, I start with a well-known treatment of the idea of “respect” in the Anglophone literature by the moral philosopher Stephen Darwall. With respect to the latter concept, toleration, I shall draw on my own earlier discussion, though now emphasizing the features of toleration that set it apart from one kind of respect. In deciding whether “respect” or “toleration” can plausibly serve as the moral foundation for the law of religious liberty we will need to say something about the nature of religion. I shall propose a fairly precise analysis of what makes a belief and a concomitant set of practices “religious” (again drawing on earlier work). That will then bring us to the central question: should our laws reflect “respect” for religion” or only “toleration”? Martha Nussbaum has recently argued for “respect” as the moral foundation of religious liberty, though, as I will suggest, her account is ambiguous between the two senses of respect that emerge from Darwall’s work. In particular, I shall claim that in one “thin” sense of respect, it is compatible with nothing more than toleration of religion; and that in a “thicker” sense (which Nussbaum appears to want to invoke), it could not form the moral basis of a legal regime since religion is not the kind of belief system that could warrant that attitude. To make the latter case, I examine critically a recent attack on the idea of "respect" for religious belief by Simon Blackburn.

Comments are welcome.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 16, 2009 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

"Legal Peer Review"

The South Carolina Law Review's efforts to enlist law professors for actual peer review of articles (about which we wrote last year) has now yielded a new, multiple-journal peer review initiative, called the "Peer Reviewed Scholarship Marketplace."   If it is to succeed, it will require the participation of law professors, so take a moment, and check it out!


Posted by Brian Leiter on September 16, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 15, 2009

Law School Hiring Thread...

...over at Prawfs.  I'm not sure whether these supply useful information, useless misinformation, or just increase anxiety--or maybe all three.  But in the hopes that it will be more of the first, I post a link.  Good luck to all job seekers.  And remember that chance plays a huge role in this process, and that you will almost never figure out what is going on in the "black box" of a hiring committee, so don't even waste time worrying about it.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 15, 2009 in Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

September 14, 2009

The Civil Procedure Blog...

...has a new look and name.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 14, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

September 11, 2009

Here's Why Law Schools Can't Ignore US News Rankings: Because Journalists Treat it as a Source of Relevant Information about Law Schools

As this story about Northwestern Dean David Van Zandt well-illustrates:

Pride in your product, Van Zandt says, is crucial to a successful business. So as dean of Northwestern University School of Law, he wears something with the school color or a Northwestern logo every day.

The attire makes him instantly recognizable on the school’s Chicago campus.

That’s just a small piece of Van Zandt’s marketing and business plan, which includes seeking advice from lawyers and clients about legal education, and changing the application process to include applicant interviews and establish a preference for candidates who have professional work experience.

It’s his businesslike approach that has brought real change to the top-10 law school.

It’s a tack that’s been successful, if the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings are the measure. Van Zandt was named dean in Sep­tem­ber 1995. A few months later the U.S. News rankings listed North­western at 13, a fall of two highly competitive places. Since 2004, the school has consistently placed in the top 10 (with the exception of a slip in 2006, when it ranked 12th).

Yet, as Tom Bell's analysis makes clear (see also this), Northwestern's overall ranking in U.S. News is attributable primarily to its unusually high reported per capita expenditures, while the school's academic reputation score fell most recently to 15th, its lowest ever.  I'm not sure that means much either, but surely it's more notable than the overall rank, i.e., the "nonsense" number.  But the inescapable message of a story like this, which is not atypical, is that journalists focus on the overall ranking as evidence of something, without either analysis or understanding of what goes into the result. 

Which is why law schools ignore U.S. News at their peril.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 11, 2009 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack