August 17, 2012
NYU's Estreicher: Allow Students to Sit for Bar After Two Years of Law School
This paper argues for a revision of the rules of the New York Court of Appeals to allow students to sit for the bar after two years of law school classes. This revision, reflecting what the rule had been when both Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Associate Justice Benjamin Cardozo attended Columbia Law School, would cut the costs of legal education for many students by 1/3, hence addressing in part the concern that law school debt drives down the availability of public service lawyers. Moreover, such a move would put pressure on law schools to deliver educational services more attuned to the practical needs of their students in order to secure their enrollment for the third year. This is a matter of considerable importance at a time many law schools place fewer than half of their graduates in full-time positions requiring legal training. Although the proposal does not address what law schools do or should do, reducing the law school study requirement for bar eligibility from three to two years may encourage some law schools within New York to embrace a more professional than rather purely academic orientation that should in turn lead to enhanced skills trainingf or students likely to be practising on their own or in small firms not capable of providing sustained training. A better trained solo or small-firm practitioner will better serve the legal needs of Americans of average means.
Thoughts from readers? Signed comments only: full name and e-mail address required.
UPDATE: The paper is here.
August 16, 2012
More on OUP Journals and Westlaw
I see Dan Filler, independently, picked up the story about the removal of most OUP journals from Westlaw. As it happens, I was corresponding with Rhodri Jackson at OUP about this issue, and was invited to share the following information and explanation:
The central fact of Daniel Sokol's piece, that we have pulled some journals from Westlaw, is correct. This happened as of August 1, 2012, and was announced here:
There are some things we would correct or add to in Daniel's post. Firstly, European Journal of International Law, Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases, and Industrial Law Journal remain in Westlaw.
Secondly, many of the journals Daniel lists were never in Westlaw in the first place, and many are not in Westlaw OR Lexis now. I’ve listed the actual titles removed from Westlaw at the bottom of this email. All our titles remain in the LJI (Legal Journals Index).
Thirdly, re the W&L rankings, whilst Daniel is correct that the W&L rankings are based on Westlaw, it is unlikely removal from Westlaw will have any discernible impact on a journal’s ranking. Citations to journals are pulled from Westlaw – so OUP journals would only fall in those rankings if they received a significant proportion of their citations from one of the removed titles. W&L will still pull citations to OUP journals in other publications in Westlaw’s databases.
More generally, it’s never quite as straightforward as us taking a decision that affects all our journals. We have standard policies but the final decision on appropriate licensing is taken on a journal by journal basis.
Hopefully that helps clarify. As to why - we took the decision to take journals out of Westlaw because we have agreed a preferred licensing partnership deal with Lexis Nexis. We continually evaluate which services are the best fit for our titles, and at present Lexis’ global reach and commitment to working with us to disseminate our content (including new journals) stands out. Usage of the journals within Westlaw was very low, and runs somewhat counter to the dire warnings regarding discoverability which Daniel makes.
We’re very keen to ensure that all our journals are discoverable and citable, and we do appreciate that some scholars and practitioners use Westlaw and the JLR. We are working with Lexis to make our journals as visible and easy to find within their database as possible. It’s also worth noting that the primary method of delivery for all our journals is of course through our own site http://www.oxfordjournals.org/subject/law/index.html. We have licensing agreements with multiple providers including Lexis, Westlaw, Hein, and EBSCO, but usage of the journals at all of those venues is dwarfed by that at Oxford.
I hope that helps clarify, but if you have follow up questions we'll be happy to answer
Titles Removed from Westlaw as of 1 August 2012
British Journal of Criminology
Human Rights Law Review
International Journal of Constitutional Law
International Journal of Law and
International Journal of Law, Policy and
International Journal of Refugee Law
Journal of Competition Law & Economics
Journal of Conflict and Security Law
Journal of Environmental Law
Journal of International Criminal Justice
Journal of International Dispute Settlement
Journal of International Economic Law
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Journal of Refugee Studies
Law, Probability and Risk
Medical Law Review
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
Statute Law Review
This is useful information, and it's certainly right that the effect on any kind of "citation" rankings will be minimal. On the other hand, this move is not without costs for US-based legal scholars, who overwhelmingly do their research on-line and some of whom (I'm one of them) never use Lexis anymore (I don't even know my Lexis password, it's been so many years!). Scholarship that isn't in the Westlaw database is going to be missed by some non-trivial number of researchers. That's unfortunate indeed, and may well give some pause about submitting to these journals. (As a sidenote, the W&L journal rankings are pretty worthless, I'm surprised to learn anyone is looking at them.)
Thoughts from readers? Comments must have a full name in the signature line and a valid e-mail address, or they won't see the light of day.
OUP Journals Dump Westlaw
Danny Sokol reports on this news. This will have some (limited) implications for citation counts generated using Westlaw. On the other hand, Oxford University Press journals will still be available on Lexis - and notwithstanding concerns from Paul Horwitz over at Prawfs, it's really pretty simple to search there too. Compared to the effort required in many other disciplines - to say nothing of research in the stone age of the 1980's and earlier - this is a minor annoyance. Apparently, Westlaw doesn't think OUP journals are worth the money. If this gives Lexis a crucial edge...I say, kudos to Lexis.
August 15, 2012
Penn State Receives Accreditation Warning From Middle States
We learned yesterday that, on August 6, the Executive Committee of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education acted "to warn the institution [Penn State] that its accreditation is in jeopardy based on information contained in the institutionally commissioned Report of the Special Investigative Counsel." Although it seems utterly unimaginable that Middle States will actually strip Penn State's accreditation, this is very serious business - since the school would then become ineligible for federal research or student aid money.
The letter from Middle States is here.
August 14, 2012
More on the Saint Louis Decanal Crisis
It even made it to the pages of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, and includes a striking comment from Interim Dean Keefe:
"One of the biggest problems is this ridiculous concern from law schools about how they've been rated by U.S. News and World Report," he said. "Since when has a weekly news magazine become the Quran of law schools?"
There's an answer, of course: namely, that newspapers and even local TV stations report movements in the rankings as though they are news, with the result that prospective students and alumni then assume that the rankings mean something. One can agree with the Interim Dean that this is a crazy state of affairs, but even he should note that stories about this crisis mention the U.S. News ranking as pertinent "information." Interim Dean Keefe does have the advantage that if the law school's rank declines further, he'll be back in full-time practice. But his successor will have to live with the consequences.
August 13, 2012
Why Tolerate Religion?
August 10, 2012
SLU, Another Update--the Faculty Perspective
A faculty member at SLU writes: "The theme of yesterday's emergency faculty meeting was one of sadness and dispiritment, especially as we learned how [University President] Biondi's theft of funds from the Law School (including perhaps a noted alum's estate-gift to the Law School) will impact the funding of student activities in this year and years forward. For example, it looks like there may not be funds available for student travel (e.g. moot court), student-coordinated and student-oriented legal conferences, and also the research activities of our very strong faculty."
The more I hear, the more it seems Biondi is another Silber, i.e., an autocrat, but with even less of a sense of academic values than Silber had.
Declining Enrollments and Credentials at Law Schools
A very useful (and sobering) analysis of what's been going on since 2010; some excerpts:
ENROLLMENT IN DECLINE – Between 2010 and 2011, 141 law schools had a decline in enrollment (of which 63 had a decline of 10% or more), 30 had an increase in enrollment (of which 6 had an increase of 10% or more), and 26 had flat enrollment (within +/- 1% of 2010 enrollment). This means over 70% of schools had a decline in enrollment and that nearly one-third had a decline in enrollment of 10% or more....
ENROLLMENT AND PROFILES IN DECLINE – Most significantly, 75 schools (roughly 38%) saw declines in enrollment and in their LSAT/GPA profiles, of which 37 schools saw declines in enrollment of greater than 10% and saw declines in their LSAT/GPA profiles....Four of the schools are ranked in the top-50, while the other 33 schools are relatively evenly divided between the second-50, the third-45 and the alphabetical schools....
FORECAST FOR 2012-- Given that LSAC has estimated a decline of roughly 14.4% in the number of applicants for fall 2012, from 78500 to roughly 67000, and given that the decline has been greatest among those with higher LSAT scores, one should anticipate further declines in enrollment and further erosion of entering class LSAT/GPA profiles for fall 2012....
IMPACT FELT ACROSS THE RANKINGS CONTINUUM, BUT WORSE FOR LOWER-RANKED SCHOOLS...-Among the top 100 schools, 55 schools (over one-half) had a decline in profile, while 67 (two-thirds) had a decline in enrollment, with 27 experiencing a decline in enrollment of 10% or more....Overall enrollment was down roughly 6%.
Across the bottom 97 schools then, 56 saw a decline in profile while 74 (more than three-quarters) saw a decline in enrollment, of which 36 (nearly 40%) saw a decline in enrollment of 10% or more. Notably 40 schools saw a decline in enrollment and a decline in profile, of which 22 saw a decline in enrollment of 10% or more and a decline in profile. Overall, enrollment was down nearly 10%.
Name Your Favorite Indy Bookstore!
I'm trying to create a useful list of the best independent bookstores in America here. Who better than a bunch of law professors to offer up great suggestions?
Posted by Dan Filler on August 10, 2012 | Permalink
August 9, 2012
More on the crisis at SLU
A faculty member there writes: "We're going into an emergency faculty meeting today, and don't know what the result will be, but here's the latest,including the new 'dean's' insults towards our outgoing dean (who was beloved and admired by many)." The link suggests that the President had planned to fire the outgoing Dean. The new Interim Dean, a practitioner, self-describes himself as "nuttier than a fruitcake." A natural choice!
UPDATE: A reader writes:
You missed the new dean's key qualification: "Keefe, a 1978 graduate of the law school, and a personal injury attorney in Belleville, Ill. says it's 'not in his DNA' to say no to a Jesuit priest." Sounds like the President got his perfect candidate.
ANOTHER: This story gets worse, and in a way that suggests the University President is, indeed, the source of the problem. This article reports that the President has chosen not only a non-academic "yes man' to be Interim Dean, a man who self-describes as a "nut," but one who plans to keep practicing law--in other words, he will be a part-time Interim Dean. SLU, as faculty will know, has done a lot of good hiring the last few years, and I expect a lot of the younger faculty, as well as the well-known senior faculty, will be heading out the door. This actually seems worse than the DePaul situation of a couple of years ago. About the only thing that may save SLU at this point is the tight market for faculty hires due to the general economic situation. Even so....