November 30, 2009
On "Continental" PhilosophySome in the legal academy try to locate their work in what they call "the Continental tradition" as a way mainly of insulating themselves from philosophical scrutiny. Within academic philosophy, there are PhD philosophers who often do the same. That there is no Continental tradition in philosophy, and that those who talk as though there is one are usually engaged in a political effort to capture the field for a particular, and rather narrow, philosophical program are facts that may be relevant to some legal scholars.
November 28, 2009
Non-Gossipy, Non-Trashy Post, Whose Aim is Not to Embarrass Someone or Some Firm, Appears on "Above the Law" for Thanksgiving...
...and the commenters let loose with a torrent of racist abuse. Cyber-cesspool, indeed.
November 23, 2009
Bainbridge Meets the "Comments" Section at "Above the Law"......and has some fun with it.
Is Northwestern Dean Van Zandt the First Adult to Refer to "the top 14" in Public?
Quite possibly! Various readers have sent me e-mails marvelling at the fact that a legal educator, a Dean no less, actually used the category "top 14" in public and without irony. (As one colleague quipped: "Didn't Van Zandt notice that according to U.S. News, Northwestern's reputation is no longer "top 14"!") The category, purportedly based on the overall U.S. News rank of schools, is meant to draw a line between schools at the bottom of the elite law schools (like Northwestern, Cornell, Duke, and Georgetown) and schools with which, in reality, they frequently compete for faculty and students, notably Texas and UCLA (but also often Vanderbilt and USC). Yet, as we noted before,
It's hard to quarrel with the fact that the same 14 schools have been ranked in the top 14 by U.S. News since circa 1994. The question one might have expected someone to ask is: so what? The "top 14" by this measure correlates with nothing of any interest to anyone: it does not correlate with faculty quality, quality of student body, job placement, placement in law teaching, or Supreme Court clerkships. In other words, "top 14" correlates with nothing that would matter to anyone informed about legal education and the legal profession.
And it doesn't even correlate with the same fourteen schools based on reputation as measured by U.S. News!
So far, to my knowledge, Duke, Cornell, and Georgetown have avoided trying to imply that they compete on a different level from UCLA and Texas by appeal to this silly concept whose provenance is discussion boards for college students. (If I've missed others pulling the same stunt, please e-mail me.) The Super Lawyer ranking of law schools was already silly enough without then re-doing it, as the Northwestern Dean did, to exclude schools with far higher per capita representation on the grounds that they weren't in the U.S. News 'top 14.' No doubt UCLA Interim Dean Yeazell and Texas Dean Sager are impressed!
I used to run examples of ludicrous hyperbole by law schools and law school deans; perhaps we need a new category for "can a law school or dean sink any lower in self-promotion"?
November 20, 2009
Sign of the Times: 66% Increase in Applications for Federal ClerkshipsMore here.
November 19, 2009
What the "Super Lawyer" Ranking of Law Schools Would Look Like...
...if the editors had not been drinking theThomas Cooley kool aid that rewards big schools for being, well, big. Amazingly, they produced a list of schools that graduated the most "super lawyers" without making any effort to take account of the fact that, e.g., Harvard has graduated more than twice as many lawyers as Yale over the past thirty years. The list has another peculiarity, which is that it is not a list of "super lawyers" per se but of "super" lawyers in each region of the country, thus any law school that dominates its region (and doesn't get much competition from the elite law schools) fares, shall we say, surprisingly well.
Relatively few schools have changed their class size radically over the past generation, though some got bigger in the 1960s and 1970s, while others scaled back a bit more recently. Still, if we use as a rough control for class size the recent class sizes rounded to the nearest 50, we get a top fifteen for graduating "super lawyers" (total number of super lawyers divided by the recent class size figure) as follows:
1. Harvard University (6.44)
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (5.89)
3. University of Texas, Austin (5.81)
4. Yale University (5.43)
5. University of California, Berkeley (5.25)
6. University of Virginia (5.20)
7. University of Chicago (4.83)
8. University of Minnesota (4.55)
9. Duke University (4.18)
9. Stanford University (4.18)
9. University of Pennsylvania (4.20)
12. Vanderbilt University (4.08)
13. Boston University (3.91)
13. University of California, Los Angeles (3.93)
15. University of Florida, Gainesville (3.81)
Columbia clocks in with a 3.57, NYU with a 3.40, Cornell with a 3.65, Northwestern with a 3.58, Georgetown with a 2.88, SMU with a 3.73, Hastings with a 3.06, Boston College with a 3.64, and George Washington with a 1.78.
Make of this what you will!
UPDATE: A reader points out that Northwestern Law Dean David Van Zandt also produced a "per capita" ranking, though I've no idea how he was calculating the per capita figure given the results he got. More shocking is the entirely self-serving decision to limit his listing to the nonsense "top 14" category, which had the effect of excluding a lot of schools--including peer schools like Texas--that would have ranked ahead of Northwestern. Wow!