The ABA-accredited, for-profit Phoenix School of Law has named Shirley Mays as its new dean. Mays currently serves as associate dean of academic affairs at Capital Law School. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
In the old days, public law schools were principally funded through the state budget. Over time, many schools have begun to rely more heavily on tuition and fundraising. A couple of state universities have recently acquired private law schools with the understanding that they'd be self-sufficient. But few historically-public law schools have entirely abandoned the state dole. And those that have - think Virginia and perhaps Michigan - are fundraising titans.
Now, however, the folks at Arizona State are suggesting that ASU may drop state funding, relying entirely on tuition, research grants, and private fundraising. Why is this big news? Most obviously, because if ASU can pull off this transition, we may see a flock of other public law schools following suit. There are twin pressures operating here. First, strong state schools like ASU want to compete with affluent private schools - and can only do so if they spend aggressively on salaries and load reductions. But high salaries and light loads don't play well in state capitals - both because they look like "poor value" for taxpayer and because they make law schools look spoiled in comparison to virtually all other higher education programs in a state. (Just look at the law professor salaries at UVa to get a sense of this disparity.)
Second, there is far less public pressure to hold down professional school tuitions at state schools - since the production of new lawyers is not seen as a particularly critical public good. Just look at ASU: in-state tuition for law students is $21K while for undergrads it's $8K. If ASU Law goes off the state budget, tuition will rise - perhaps by 50% - but this is still far less dramatic than a move from $8K to $30K.
Of course, not every public school can make this move. ASU has several things in its favor. It is one of the two dominant law schools in the state - and therefore may have an affluent alumni base. It has little competition in the local market - Phoenix School of Law is its only competitor - and thus has substantial room to hike fees without hurting admissions. And since it's already underfunded, and charges an enhanced tuition, the price spike won't be as dramatic.
We know that the UC schools are moving to market tuition. I suspect that, over the next decade, we'll see a growing movement to privatize public law schools. There are a bunch of other state schools - think Wisconsin, Georgia, UNC, and Temple - that seem like candidates for a switch (politics permitting.) This shift could have fairly serious consequences - particularly for diversity and the percentage of students pursuing public service - though financial aid and LRAP might address this somewhat.
But as these mid-price law schools disappear, watch out for a new market segment: the discount private institution. If InfiLaw can figure out how to deliver an ABA accredited JD for $60K total - ideally, at night - they're going to see a line at the front door. No matter what US News or the rest of us think of them.
Update. ASU Dean Paul Berman offers these comments on the particulars of his institution's transition:
[ASU's] proposed tuition for next year increases by only $1500, and I foresee no increases substantially larger than that over the next five years as we move to self-sufficiency. I note that under this scheme we are likely to still be below $30,000 for in-state students five years from now, which will make our tuition lower than most of our peer institutions are now, let alone where they are likely to be five years from now. So, we intend to remain an affordable law school.... Even these relatively small tuition increases are being counter-balanced by large increases in financial aid....We are also aiming to increase our Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and we have instituted a Post-Graduate Public Interest Fellowship Program, which offers stipends to students to help them enter careers in not-for-profit or government service.
The provost at Christopher Newport University - a Virginia state institution - has announced that in considering faculty candidates, those with U.S. News certified credentials will receive preference. In particular, the university is particularly interested in candidates who received their bachelor's degree from a school ranked among the U.S. News top 99 national liberal arts colleges or top 35 national universities. They're also especially keen on folks with a terminal degree from one of the U.S. News top 69 national universities.
Many - and perhaps most - excellent faculty candidates will fit this bill. But this heuristic would surely exclude some good candidates. Take, for example, a person with a BA from the University of Texas or Wisconsin (both ranked #45), the University of Illinois (#47) or Boston University ((#56). You were valedictorian at the University of Minnesota? Keep moving, buddy. Find yourself another credential.
And what about this terminal degree requirement? Apparently the provost at CNU isn't into fine grain analysis such as "which departments are good" and "which advisors are excellent." Is it really true that a terminal degree from the University of Iowa (#72), University of Indiana (#75), Drexel University (#86), or University of Colorado (#86) is prima facie evidence that a candidate is chopped liver?
So with over 340 votes cast, we now have the official, scientific results. Bear in mind that Fordham, inadvertently omitted, would be somewhere in the top 40 (probably at least the top 35), thus edging out Cardozo. Turns out that the burst of strategic voting for Florida State resulted from a professor discussing "prediction polls" in class, and then alluding to this one, at which point it went viral among the student body, who are apparently well-versed in strategic voting in ESPN polls! The strategic voting notwithstanding, FSU still would have made the top 40. Anyway, the results:
1. Yale University (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University loses to Yale University by 167–98
3. Stanford University loses to Yale University by 227–38, loses to Harvard University by 202–55
4. University of Chicago loses to Yale University by 237–36, loses to Stanford University by 182–64
5. Columbia University loses to Yale University by 241–26, loses to University of Chicago by 136–112
6. New York University loses to Yale University by 242–28, loses to Columbia University by 166–82
7. University of California, Berkeley loses to Yale University by 252–19, loses to New York University by 179–67
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor loses to Yale University by 254–19, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 143–94
9. University of Pennsylvania loses to Yale University by 258–17, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 144–99
10. University of Virginia loses to Yale University by 256–17, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 121–113
11. Duke University loses to Yale University by 261–12, loses to University of Virginia by 177–58
12. Northwestern University loses to Yale University by 258–15, loses to Duke University by 129–98
13. Georgetown University loses to Yale University by 259–13, loses to Northwestern University by 117–109
14. University of Texas, Austin loses to Yale University by 257–18, loses to Georgetown University by 134–93
15. Cornell University loses to Yale University by 260–11, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 113–110
16. University of California, Los Angeles loses to Yale University by 254–11, loses to Cornell University by 132–86
17. Vanderbilt University loses to Yale University by 257–10, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 144–67
18. University of Southern California loses to Yale University by 260–7, loses to Vanderbilt University by 116–87
19. Washington University, St. Louis loses to Yale University by 258–10, loses to University of Southern California by 143–60
20. George Washington University loses to Yale University by 259–9, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 103–94
21. Boston University loses to Yale University by 255–9, loses to George Washington University by 112–78
22. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul loses to Yale University by 254–7, loses to Boston University by 106–80
23. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign loses to Yale University by 247–13, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 91–85
24. Emory University loses to Yale University by 254–6, loses to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign by 99–86
25. Boston College loses to Yale University by 256–5, loses to Emory University by 110–83
26. University of Notre Dame loses to Yale University by 259–8, loses to Boston College by 101–84
27. University of Iowa loses to Yale University by 256–6, loses to University of Notre Dame by 91–88
28. University of Wisconsin, Madison loses to Yale University by 252–8, loses to University of Iowa by 89–87
29. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill loses to Yale University by 254–9, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 91–84
30. College of William & Mary loses to Yale University by 255–7, loses to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by 108–72
31. University of California, Irvine loses to Yale University by 253–7, loses to College of William & Mary by 96–89
32. University of California, Davis loses to Yale University by 253–8, loses to University of California, Irvine by 96–78
33. Indiana University, Bloomington loses to Yale University by 250–11, loses to University of California, Davis by 87–84
34. University of California, Hastings loses to Yale University by 252–9, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 93–78
35. Florida State University loses to Yale University by 237–35, loses to University of California, Hastings by 99–98
36. Ohio State University loses to Yale University by 252–6, loses to Florida State University by 97–94
37. Washington & Lee University loses to Yale University by 256–5, loses to Ohio State University by 88–76
38. George Mason University loses to Yale University by 252–11, loses to Washington & Lee University by 90–87
39. University of Colorado, Boulder loses to Yale University by 246–10, loses to George Mason University by 94–68
40. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University loses to Yale University by 251–5, loses to University of Colorado, Boulder by 85–75
Runners-up for the top 40 include University of Georgia (which loses to Cardozo by 84-77), University of San Diego (which trails Georgia 83-82), and University of Washington (which trails USD 88-81).
The results track, to some extent, U.S. News overall rankings, but not entirely (vide Florida State, San Diego, UC Irvine, among others). The extent to which Columbia continues to crush NYU in these polls is striking. (The results of our March 2009 poll concerning the top 18 law schools is here and shows a similar result on this score, and most others, though there are some modest changes since [e.g., Cornell and Texas switched places]).
I am very sorry to have to report the untimely and sudden death of Professor Nagareda, a gifted teacher (he visited at Texas when I taught there, and the students raved about him) and leading civil procedure scholar, best-known for his work on class actions. There is a memorial notice from Vanderbilt here.
UPDATE: So without about 200 responses, here's what it looks like:
Where should Fordham Law School be ranked among the best law schools in the United States
In the top 10
In the top 15
In the top 20
In the top 25
In the top 30
In the top 35
In the top 40
Outside the top 40
So putting aside the minority (18%) who are obviously mistaken (those votes could easily be explained by faculty from schools near the bottom of the current top 40 in the existing poll worried about being displaced), 82% of respondents put Fordham in the top 40, more than two-thirds put Fordham in the top 35, and more than 50% put Fordham in the top 30. The truth is now known!