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January 31, 2010

New Study of Scholarly Productivity by Schools Outside the U.S. News "Top 50"

Here.  Since there are utterly meaningless fluctuations in and out of the U.S. News top 50--for familiar reasons--it would make more sense to expand the pool of schools studied a bit to reflect that.  Still, this study nicely confirms what one would suspect--e.g., San Diego and Florida State are tops--and provides some very useful perspective on the scholarly seriousness and ambition of schools that are 'demoted' by U.S. News to tiers three and four.  The strong showing of the relatively new law school at the University of Nevada is another striking, and quite reasonable, result.  So kudos to the folks at Roger Williams for compiling this data.

UPDATE:  Michael Yelnosky (Roger Williams) writes:

I found a slight error in the calculations, and the website will be modified to reflect the corrections.  Florida's score should be 7.01, which moves it from a tie with Roger Williams at #11 to #11 alone.  And Pitt's score should be 6.42, which moves it from #15 to a tie for #14.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 31, 2010 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

January 29, 2010

UC San Diego Thinking About "Acquiring" Cal Western

Story here.   Now that tuition at the UC law schools is so high, even without any state support, Cal Western tuition would  still be competitive.  But would renaming California Western School of Law the University of California, San Diego Law School really change the school's competitive position? 

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 29, 2010 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

Don't forget to vote in the poll about ways of improving the AALS Annual Meeting!


Posted by Brian Leiter on January 29, 2010 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 28, 2010

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

I have posted a significantly revised and expanded version of this paper that first went on-line two years ago.  The abstract of the new version:

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 that includes Thucydides and Plato, Nietzsche and Kant, Marx and Hegel, up to Geuss and Rawls in the present. 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 essay 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. The paper concludes by connecting the Posner-Dworkin dispute with recent "realist" critiques of Rawlsian political philosophy, trying to clarify the grounds for skepticism about the practical relevance of such theorizing.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 28, 2010 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

Chicago's Weisbach Turns Down Yale, To Remain at Chicago

I am particularly pleased to report that my colleague David Weisbach, a leading tax scholar and Director of the Law & Economics Program here at the University of Chicago Law School, has turned downed the senior offer from Yale Law School.  Over the last decade, we are now 3 for 4 in warding off raids by Yale.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 28, 2010 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

January 26, 2010

Improving the AALS Annual Meetings: Some Observations, and a Poll

So last week, I think we pretty clearly established that there is widespread disapproval of, even anger about, the outrageously high registration fee for the AALS Annual Meeting.  But what about the substance of the meeting itself?  What could be done to improve its quality?

As mentioned previously, I had not attended the AALS Annual Meeting in at least a decade prior to going to the New Orleans meeting earlier this month.  I participated in one session ("Legal Positivism:  For and Against"), and attended portions of three others:  on cyber-harassment and the "character and fitnesss" component of bar admission (alas, I only made it towards the end of this session); on the European Court of Human Rights and its religious liberty jurisprudence; and on the "interpretation"/"construction" distinction in constitutional law.  Overall, the quality of the sessions seemed to me higher than I recall being typical in the past.

With respect to the panel I was on (with Mark Greenberg [UCLA] and Jeremy Waldron [NYU/Oxford]--Les Green could not make it, though his paper was read by the organizer, Scott Shapiro [Yale]), which appears to have been well-received, the first thing to note is that all the speakers had prepared, written remarks.  This contributed to a quite substantive discussion, though my main regret is that there was not more time to engage with Greenberg's remarks (and correct his mistakes about Hart!!!) and not more time for members of the audience to pose questions.  This leads to a first thought:  given that these sessions typically have only 1 hour and 45 minutes, it would be better to have fewer speakers--I'd say not more than two, though with the expectation that the two speakers have prepared remarks, and not 'shoot from the hip.'

The constitutional law panel was also quite substantive overall.  Laura Cisneros (Texas Southern/Golden Gate), for example, had written remarks, a substantive and scholarly discussion of Keith Whittington's views (alas, Professor Whittington was unable to make it).  Rick Hills (NYU) spoke from notes, but had several discreet and interesting argumentative points to make as well.  Larry Solum (Illinois) engaged some of these points in reply, so there was an actual dialectical engagement here.  (You can get a feel for some of the issues discussed here, and do see the further comments by me, Hills, and Larry Solum that follow.)  Brett Scharffs (BYU), organizer of the panel on the European Court of Human Rights, gave an excellent set of introductory remarks that were extremely informative about the Court, its history and docket, and the central issues, interpretive and substantive, in its religious liberty jurisprudence.  This was a good example of another useful service that a session can perform, namely, educating those outside a field or specialty about the basics.

OK, enough by way of my own observations.  Herewith the poll:  readers may rank order changes that they think would improve the scholarly value of the AALS Annual Meeting.  No doubt I've omitted some pertinent choices; I'll run an open thread on this after the results of this poll are in.  And if you think the AALS Annual Meetings are already fine as they are, then there's a way to register that opinion too! 

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 26, 2010 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

January 25, 2010

More on Possible Changes in Law School Accreditation Rules

Roger Dennis, the Dean at Drexel, comments.  I think his hypotheses about some of the competing interests at play here are plausible ones. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 25, 2010 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 22, 2010

Spitzer from USC to Texas

Matthew L. Spitzer, holder of the Packard Trustee Chair in Law at the University of Southern California, and also Professor of Law and Social Science at the California Institute of Technology, has accepted a senior offer from the law school at the University of Texas at Austin.  He is a leading scholar in law and economics, mass media and telecommunications law, and administrative law, among other areas.  He was also Dean of the law school at the University of Southern California from 2000-2006.  That's certainly a major pick-up for Texas, and continues a good run that UT has had on lateral hires the last two years, including two other law and economics scholars, Ronen Avraham and Abraham Wickelgren, both from Northwestern Uninversity, as well as Ronald Mann (commercial law) from Columbia Law School and Robert Bone (civil procedure, intellectual property) from Boston University, among several others.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 22, 2010 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

January 21, 2010

Tenure and Promotion Timelines at 41 Law Schools

Readers thinking about careers in law teaching might find this information useful and interesting.

UPDATE:  I'm told by a colleague at Rutgers-Camden that the information about that school at the linked site is not accurate.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 21, 2010 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | TrackBack

January 20, 2010

What about the fees for other AALS Meetings?

Ann Laquer Estin (Iowa) writes, raising an issue noted by others:

Thanks for taking up the AALS registration fee issue.  What about the comparably huge fees for the AALS midyear meetings?  Call me an idealist, but I think those more substantive conferences are especially important to make readily available to faculty at all levels.  I have passed on those meetings more than once, sometimes with real regret, because the total costs seemed so enormous.  (Years ago, I got in touch with Carl Monk to make this point, but his response was just that the meetings cost a lot to put on.)

 Thoughts from readers?  Examples welcome, as well as insight into what could justify the costs.  Submit your comment only once; signed comments very strongly preferred.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 20, 2010 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack