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September 17, 2010

Forbes Law School Ranking: Already Falling Apart

A Dean elsewhere forwards to me the latest communication from the sadly clueless Forbes editors trying to prepare a law school ranking; they have already met with significant unwillingness to cooperate from law schools, and rightly so given the idiotic methodology:

Thank you very much for your cooperation [sic--this was sent to a Dean who was not cooperating!] on Forbes’ law school ranking. After speaking with several schools and hearing their concerns about the ranking methodology, the team working on this project is re-evaluating that method. We appreciate the questions and comments you’ve raised and are taking them into account as we pin down our approach to ranking law schools.


We’ve decided that we won’t use the alumni survey in our ranking, so there is no need for you to contact your alumni and ask them to complete the survey. If you already did so, your work won’t go to waste, as we will likely use that data to support a story attached to the ranking. It will not be used in any way for the actual ranking, and again, do not worry about contacting your alumni with the Forbes survey if you haven’t yet done so. We no longer need this information from them.


I am leaving Forbes after today, so if you have questions or concerns about the ranking, please contact Kurt Badenhausen, at kbadenhausen@forbes.com and 212-620-1850 with questions. As the methodology is pinned down over the next few weeks, he will reach out to you with what he needs. Thank you again!


Best regards,

Natalie Doss

Among the initial "ideas" was to deploy a measure that US News correctly rejected a dozen years ago, namely, average salaries of graduates which, among peer schools, track geography, not anything else.   It would help if there were more law school rankings using sensible metrics, but so far, this looks to be a disaster in the making.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 17, 2010 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

September 15, 2010

Some Sensible Advice for Law Teaching Job Candidates


Posted by Brian Leiter on September 15, 2010 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | TrackBack

September 14, 2010

A Thicker Account of the Windsor Kerfuffle

On Friday I reported the news that a failed finalist for the University of Windsor law deanship is now claiming discrimination.  I'm sure we'll never get to the bottom of things, but there is a bit more to report.  First, Emily Carasco's formal complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is here.

Second, it turns out that Professor Carasco has had an ongoing contentious relationship with her home institution.  In particular, in the late 1980's, she battled the university over pay imbalances for women faculty.  She documented this fight in A Case of Double Jeopardy: Race and Gender, published in a 1992 issue of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law.  (She may not have won many friends on the Windsor faculty by implying that her application for Associate Dean, in 1990, was unjustly rejected because she fought for racial and gender justice.  And that the faculty is filled with liberals who don't recognize their own bias.)  In 1998-99 she applied for promotion to full professor.  Her application was opposed by the Faculty of Law.  Upon appeal to the University Committee on Promotion, the decision was reversed and her application was granted.  In 2007, she successfully convinced a divided faculty to end its practice of cancelling classes for the Jewish High Holidays - arguing that although the faculty couldn't end the statutory preference for Christian holidays, it oughtn't give preference to Judaism over other religions.  (In this particular battle, she was strongly opposed by Professor Richard Moon - the person she alleges tanked her deanship battle by pointing to prior claims of plagiarism.)

Emily Carasco might be at the vanguard of progressive change at University of Windsor.  But at this point in history, she seems to be crosswise with her own faculty.  After all, the law faculty as a whole  - not simply Professor Moon - voted down her candidacy.  [See update below.] In most cases, that is, and should be, determinitive.  Windsor might benefit from a dean with Carasco's outlook on the world, but it appears that Carasco won't be the one to take take them to the promised land.

Update: A reader points out that Carasco never came to a vote before the faculty as a whole, but was instead voted down  by the search committee.

Posted by Dan Filler on September 14, 2010 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

September 13, 2010

Top 70 Law Faculties in Scholarly Impact--a New Study

Greg Sisk and colleagues at the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis) have produced an expanded scholarly impact study, using the methodology of the study I released earlier this year, which ranked only the top 25.  I have not reviewed the underlying data, but I have consulted with them at various intervals, and my impression is they have been extremely methodical and careful.  Professor Sisk and his colleagues certainly welcome feedback and questions.

Their results confirm, happily, that I correctly identified the top 25 in scholarly impact.  I just reprint here for ease of reference the schools ranked 26th through 40th (the weighted score is in the far right column):




Ohio State



Boston University



Washington University



George Mason









Washington & Lee









North Carolina






U. of St. Thomas (MN)





















San Diego



Case Western









Arizona State



William & Mary



As I have written, scholarly impact measures have limitations, but they are one useful measure of the scholarly output and distinction of a law faculty.  One virtue of a scholarly impact measure is that it is a way for relatively new schools that have done good hiring--like St. Thomas, Chapman, and Nevada--to measure what they have accomplished.  It is also useful for flagging more 'regional' law schools with unusually strong scholarly profiles.

Kudos to Professor Sisk and his colleagues for undertaking this exercise.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 13, 2010 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

September 12, 2010

Are you at a school doing rookie hiring this year?

MOVING TO FRONT FROM AUGUST 31, 2010 (with new update)

The Placement Committee at the University of Chicago Law School--myselfDouglas Baird, and Lisa Bernstein--is ready to provide you with information about our dozen-or-so alumni candidates (both JD and SJD alums), as well as our two excellent Bigelows on the market (Anthony Casey, who is also a Chicago grad, and Anthony Niblett).   For the Bigelows, it makes most sense to touch base with Professor Baird, who has worked closely with both of them.  On the Chicago alums, you may contact any of us (Professors Baird and Bernstein are references for some of our alums), though please also feel free to start with me, as I am  Co-Chair (with Professor Bernstein) of this year's Committee.   Where appropriate, I can direct you to other Committee members and colleagues for more information on the candidates.

We have Chicago grads on the teaching market this year in a rich array of areas--commercial law, bankruptcy, antitrust, property, constitutional law, remedies, intellectual property, law and social science, law and economics, comparative constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, legislation, education law, civil procedure, and administrative law, among other areas.  We will try to offer candid and informative guidance about the strengths of these candidates.  

In addition, it's a strong year for Law and Philosophy candidates, some of whom I am a reference for (such as Michael Sevel and Kevin Toh) and others of whom I know through their work (such as Matthew Lister).  Please feel free to contact me about these candidates as well.

UPDATE:  Dr. Sevel has accepted a VAP at the University of Miami Law School for 2011-12, and so has withdrawn from this year's market in order to concentrate on his writing while at the European University Institute in Florence (being on the job market from Europe is not simple!).  He will be on the market next fall.  Thanks to those who inquired, and hopefully you will have an opportunity to meet him next year.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 12, 2010 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

September 10, 2010

Failed Law Dean Candidate at Windsor Claims Discrimination

There's a dust-up at the University of Windsor law school - a Canadian institution located walking distance from United States.  The basic storyline is familiar: the faculty conducts a dean search, the committee identifies two finalists, and in the end, nobody is hired.  But one of the finalists - Windsor faculty member Emily Carasco - is calling foul.  According to the National Post, Carasco's complaint to to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleges that:

Prof. [Richard] Moon “sabotaged” her candidacy in a “personal attack,” with “overblown, hearsay-based allegations of plagiarism,” which the school used as a “convenient pretext” to reject her candidacy with “indecent haste.” All of this, she alleges, was motivated by racism and sexism, and the school’s refusal to accept a woman of colour as a leader. She claims the school found her “threatening” because of her intentions to “do more than pay lip service to equity” by addressing the “distinct contrast” between the diverse student population and the “white male leadership.”

The Post article offers more details regarding the plagiarism claims. Carasco is asking the Tribunal to appoint her dean for a five year, renewable term.

Posted by Dan Filler on September 10, 2010 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

September 9, 2010

Texas's Sanford Levinson Receives "Lifetime Achievement" Award from the Law & Courts Section of the American Political Science Association

Story here.   It is very unusual for a law professor to receive this award, but certainly very fitting for my esteemed former colleague to be so honored.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 9, 2010 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

Tamanaha, Formalism, and Realism Redux

Brian Tamanaha (Wash U/St. Louis) has chosen to respond to a 30-page review essay examining in detail the arguments of his book Beyond the Formalism-Realism Divide with a blog posting.   I do not think a blog is a suitable forum for a serious scholarly dispute, and so will keep my reply brief, and below the fold.  Anyone genuinely interested in the issues, my actual criticisms, and my actual views, should look at my essay.

1.  Contrary to Tamanaha, I am not a "prime example" of someone who defends historical claims about the formalist age. (He misrepresented me that way in the book, and I corrected that misrepresentation in the review essay, so it's really a bit scandalous to repeat the misrepresentation here. Indeed, Tamanaha even quotes the same passage that he used in the book, failing, again, to note that I am characterizing a theory of adjudication, whose interest or plausibility does not turn on its historical pedigree.) The historical claims are, indeed, irrelevant for philosophical purposes, and Tamanaha does not show otherwise (indeed, I take it he actually concedes the point). I am primarily interested in formalism and realism as philosophical theories about law and adjudication, as I indicated quite clearly in my review essay. (Unlike formalism, however, I have also defended at length historical claims about what the American Realists thought, and here I do contest Tamanah's historical claims, which trade on sloppy characterizations of Realism.)

2. I do not (as Tamanaha says) "opine[] that the conventional story about the formalist age withstands [his] challenge." To the contrary, as I state, even in the abstract of the paper, Tamanaha makes a prima facie case against anyone who wants to claim that Natural Law Formalism and Vulgar Formalism were prevalent in the 19th-century. Tamanaha does not shed any light, however, on whether philosophically interesting forms of formalism, what I call Sophisticated Formalism, were or were not prevalent in the 19th-century. There are also evidential questions Tamanaha neglects that would be necessary to address in order to persuausively establish his thesis that there was no formalist age, but that doesn’t mean the “conventional story” withstands Tamanaha's criticisms as they stand: he has shifted the burden of proof on this historical thesis (that’s what it means to say he made a prima facie case).

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 9, 2010 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

Regarding the Misconduct by the Academic Job Seeker: An Update

I am glad to be able to report that after Tuesday's posting, P contacted V, acknowledged responsibility and apologized for her misconduct.  P has also notified her Dean of these events.  Since the matter is now within the purview of P's home institution, I will not be posting anything further about this unfortunate incident.  My thanks to the commenters on Tuesday's thread for their helpful feedback, which I imagine encouraged P to take the right steps.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 9, 2010 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

DePaul College of Law: Still Administratively Dysfunctional

Sad to say.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 9, 2010 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack