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May 2, 2012

In Memoriam: Ann Richardson

Professor Ann Bishop Richardson, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law died on April 17.  She joined UDC in 1994 and taught for a number of years in the school's Public Entitlements clinic.    Richardson was 71.

Posted by Dan Filler on May 2, 2012 in Memorial Notices | Permalink | TrackBack

May 1, 2012

Hastings Takes Dramatic Steps to Boost Its US News Ranking

MOVING TO FRONT FROM EARLIER TODAY--SEE THE UPDATE

Though, remarkably, that isn't mentioned until the very end (and merely in passing) in this story about the decision to cut the student body by 20%.  Hastings, like many large publics, suffers from the per capita expenditures measure in U.S. News, which is the tail that wags the ranking dog.  This kind of move, especially when instructional spending remains unaffected, is literally guaranteed to improve its ranking dramatically once its full effect is incorporated in the data reported to U.S. News.

UPDATE:  Evan Lee, a longtime professor of law at Hastings and the Associate Dean for Research, writes:

I understand that our class size cut looks completely U.S. News driven, but in fact it’s not.  Since the late 1990s, Hastings developed an unusual seriousness about pedagogy that I think was largely a reaction to the pointless cruelty of some 65-Club members in the β€˜60s and β€˜70s.  Nobody here thought we could really do a first-rate job of teaching 425 students per class.  In particular, we have one faculty member who had two kids graduate from Hastings and he was really bitter about the lack of attention they got here.  Just about everyone on the faculty felt guilty about the situation.

The second big driver was the fact that our graduates were having to wait so long to get jobs.  This does play back into U.S. News, of course, but we were getting a huge volume of complaints from students and grads.  So some of it was just squeaky wheel politics.

The third big driver was that an outside management consulting firm told us we were very fat on the fiscal operations side, personnel-wise.  We needed to consolidate a lot of positions in that part of the operation, and this gave us an opportunity to reduce revenues somewhat. 

And, of course, U.S. News was a driver.  You and others have proved that it has a small-school bias.  But our internal calculations actually show only a modest ceteris paribus increase – maybe 6 to 8 overall ranking slots over 3 years.  There were much cheaper ways of increasing our rankings

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 1, 2012 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

California Bar May Mandate Certain "Skills Training" for New Lawyers...

...which would have nationwide ramifications for law schools.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 1, 2012 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

Right-Wing Crazy Obsession Du Jour: Elizabeth Warren Claimed to be Native American

The usual suspects are on the case, but I can't figure out why.  I assume she self-identified in the AALS Directories as Native American because she is (it was news to me, I should add).  Is someone denying that?  It's hard to tell. 

Perhaps, though, the implication is that she got hired for affirmative action reasons, and not because of her work.  (UPDATE:  Here's some right-wing crazies making that argument.) That strikes me as dubious for two reasons

(1) First, there is no pressure to hire Native Americans for affirmative action reasons, except, perhaps, at some law schools in states with large Native American presences (I have this only anecdotally about Arizona and New Mexico).  For affirmative action purposes, all law schools care about are African-Americans and Latinos, and even in those two categories, law school commitment to affirmative action usually varies by region of the country.  On the other hand, because the AALS aggressively polices the racial and ethnic diversity of law faculties, law schools are careful to make sure anyone who could count as an under-represented minority is so-listed (thus, I can recall a faculty member who was the proverbial "Jewish kid from New York" but with some South American ancestry being listed as "Hispanic," though no one would have ever so identified him).

(2) Second, her record of scholarship in bankruptcy is clearly sufficient to get her appointed at Harvard.  She is, after all, one of the three most-cited scholars in the bankruptcy/commercial law field, and she is the only woman in the top ten.  (I could imagine being the top woman in the field might have played more of a role than her being Native American, which surely was irrelevant.)  The other scholars in her field cited as often or more than her--Bob Scott at Columbia, Alan Schwartz at Yale, and Douglas Baird at Chicago--are all obviously appointable at Harvard, despite their lack of Native American ancestry. 

So the bottom line--as it usually is with right-wing craziness--is that this is all silly.

UPDATE:  Still more here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 1, 2012 in Faculty News, Law Professors Saying Dumb Things, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

Law professors: not so "irrelevant" to the Bench after all

Take that, C.J. Roberts!

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 1, 2012 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack