March 14, 2013
Law graduates' debtStartling figures courtesy of Tamanaha.
"Why Tolerate Religion?" in the Harvard Law Review (March 2013)A nice short notice: "Why Tolerate Religion? is a readable book that exposes several tenuous assumptions underlying the predominant justifications for religious exemptions. At the same time, it provides a fresh and intuitive framework for analyzing conscience-based objections to facially neutral laws that should appeal to legal practitioners, jurists, and philosophers alike."
Fisher Named Dean at ConnecticutTimothy Fisher, a partner at McCarter and English, has been named the new dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law. He replaces Jeremy Paul who left this past summer to head up Northeastern Law.
March 13, 2013
More on U.S. News academic reputation scores...over the long haulHere. (It doesn't incorporate the newest results, but the author tells me he will add them to the analysis.)
"The Boundaries of the Moral (and Legal) Community"This was a 2011 Meador Lecture at the University of Alabama. A number of readers gave me helpful comments on a draft that was on SSRN, and are acknowledged in the footnotes. Many thanks!
Court dismisses lawsuit by "conservative" job applicant against Iowa Law
(Thanks to Todd Pettys for the pointer.)
March 12, 2013
NLJ article on new U.S. News rankings
Here. It has two interesting bits of information: first, that U.S. News used the more fine-grained job data now available to give more weight to actual, full-time law jobs, but Bob Morse won't disclose the new weightings so that schools can't "game the rankings" (a remarkable admission, about twenty years too late in coming!); and second, schools that saw major improvements in their overall U.S. News rank due to this more sensible weighting of employment outcomes were precisely many of those moderately priced flagship state law schools that I pointed out awhile back were still very much worth considering by prospective students.
UPDATE: Scott Altman (Southern California) writes:
I agree with your comment that US news was wise to rely on more fine-grained data. But I do not think they did so in a way that benefits consumers. The employment figure that they disclose – full-time, permanent jobs that require or benefit from a JD – was said to get full weight in their rankings. But these figures did not discount the full-time, permanent JD required jobs that law schools funded.
Most schools, of course, do not report any full-time permanent jobs that are law school funded. But some schools report many such jobs. GW, for example, reported that 80 of its graduates were employed in full-time permanent positions funded by the school. US News includes these 80 jobs in GW’s fully-weighted employment statistic. Virginia reported 64 such students. The University of Chicago reported 24.
I am unsure whether these law-school-funded jobs are genuinely full-time, permanent, JD required positions – though I have my doubts. I am quite sure that they are not the kind of job that should be lumped for consumer purposes with permanent jobs not funded by the schools. By displaying statistics that include these jobs, US News does a disservice. By refusing to disclose the role these jobs play in rankings, US News only exacerbates the infirmities of its rankings with nontransparency.
In the case of Chicago, the jobs are all public interest-related, and are part of a major push Dean Schill has made since taking over here in January 2010 to increase public interest work by Chicago graduates (Dean Schill also established the most generous LRAP in the country, and has expanded our public interest clinics). I know several of these students in these p;ositions, and these are both legit jobs and the first choice for the students involved, but they wouldn't have been able to do it without the Law School's public service commitment. Obviously, I do not know about the other schools.
ANOTHER: Dean Paul Mahoney at Virginia kindly shared with me (and gave me permission to post) an e-mail he sent to Professor Altman, which confirms that UVA's approach is similar to Chicago's:
I saw a statement of yours on Brian’s blog in which you questioned whether students receiving Virginia’s public interest fellowships are in full-time, long-term legal jobs. For the record, our fellowships provide funding for full-time jobs for at least a year in government or public interest organizations. Recent fellows have worked in federal agencies, on Capitol Hill legal staffs, in prosecutors’ and public defenders’ offices, and in public interest organizations. As Brian said of Chicago’s program, these are “legit jobs” and in many cases are exactly the job the student came to law school to pursue. I hear often from former fellowship recipients who are grateful that UVA helped them get a foot in the door of an organization that otherwise would probably not have made an entry-level hire. Like Chicago, we have made a significant investment in encouraging public interest employment, including a redesigned loan forgiveness program and increased funding for summer public interest fellowships.
U.S. News Reputation Surveys 2013 (surveys done fall 2012)
Here are the academic reputation results (with about a two-thirds response rate) for the top 30 (further out of the top 30, the weirder the results get):
1. Harvard University (4.8)
1. Stanford University (4.8)
1. Yale University (4.8)
4. Columbia University (4.6)
4. University of Chicago (4.6)
6. New York University (4.4)
6. University of California, Berkeley (4.4)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.4)
6. University of Virginia (4.4)
10. University of Pennsylvania (4.3)
11. Cornell University (4.2)
11. Duke University (4.2)
13. Northwestern University (4.1)
13. Georgetown University (4.1)
13. University of Texas, Austin (4.1)
16. University of California, Los Angeles (3.9)
17. Vanderbilt University (3.8)
18. University of Southern California (3.6)
18. Washington University, St. Louis (3.6)
20. Emory University (3.5)
20. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul (3.5)
20. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.5)
23. Boston University (3.4)
23. George Washington University (3.4)
23. University of California, Davis (3.4)
23. University of Notre Dame (3.4)
23. University of Wisconsin, Madison (3.4)
28. Boston College (3.3)
28. Indiana University, Bloomington (3.3)
28. University of Iowa (3.3)
28. Washington & Lee University (3.3)
One interesting general result is the way that the reputational "gaps" between schools have hardened. Two interesting particular results, and both fair ones, in my view: Notre Dame, which has made dramatic improvements in faculty quality in the last twenty years, is now solidly in the top 25 in academic reputation; and UC Davis, which has also improved significantly in the last generation, is also now solidly top 25.
The lawyer/judge repuation surveyr response rate fell to 9% this year, the lowest ever--no doubt reflecting the irrelevance of the US New sresults to employer recruiting. U.S. News has been averaging results in this category voer two years in these surveys for awhile now, in order to take account of the low response rate:
1. Harvard University (4.8)
2. Stanford University (4.7)
2. University of Chicago (4.7)
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.7)
2. Yale University (4.7)
6. Columbia University (4.6)
6. New York University (4.6)
6. University of Pennsylvania (4.6)
6. University of Virginia (4.6)
10. Cornell University (4.5)
10. Duke University (4.5)
10. Georgetown University (4.5)
13. Northwestern University (4.4)
13. University of California, Berkeley (4.4)
15. University of Texas, Austin (4.3)
16. Vanderbilt University (4.2)
17. University of California, Los Angeles (4.1)
17. University of Southern California (4.1)
19. College of William & Mary (4.0)
19. Indiana University, Bloomington (4.0)
19. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (4.0)
19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hll (4.0)
19. University of Notre Dame (4.0)
19. Washington & Lee University (4.0)
19. Washington University, St. Louis (4.0)
26. Emory University (3.9)
26. George Washington University (3.9)
26. University of Florida, Gainesville (3.9)
26. University of Washington (3.9)
30. Boston University (3.8)
30. University of California, Hastings (3.8)
30. Wake Forest University (3.8)
These results are very Northeast-centric, due to the way U.S. News surveys law firms. But the most striking result here is that Columbia and NYU tied, probably the first time ever, in this category. Another striking result is that UCLA and USC tred in reptuation as well among practitioners, again, I believe, for the first time.
Some other observations: Florida State came in 48th overall given the U.S. News formula, while Florida came in 46th, though I think it is now common knowledge among academics that FSU has the stronger faculty. The University of Illinois, which suffered a severe reputational penalty last year for its fraudulent data reporting, sunk even further to 47th overall, and reputational scores outside the top 30 among both academics and practitioners. In terms of faculty quality, it is now pretty clearly the most underranked law school in U.S. News, but it may also offer a cautionary note to schools that cheat in the reporting.
Letter from law faculty to ABA Task Force on legal education
Here. It's basically a precis of the arguments from Tamanaha's book. It's a somewhat eclectic group of signatories (even including the person memorably described by Paul Horwitz as "essentially a journalist moonlighting as a law professor," but that's the nature of these letters, one often doesn't know who else is signing--Dick Posner told me Paul Carrington, former Dean at Duke, sent it to him, and he thought Carrington was one of the authors, which may be.) Besides Judge Posner, notable signatories include my former colleague Gerald Torres, a past President of the AALS, Richard Epstein, Lawrence Friedman, Geoffrey Hazard, and Dean Dan Rodriguez from Northwestern (who will be President of the AALS this coming year). It's pretty sensible, and hopefully the ABA will follow the main theme of the advice, which is less regulation, and thus more diversity, in legal education.
ADDENDUM: As one of the more notable signatories wrote me, "The presence of one person’s name on the statement about the costs of legal education almost caused me to ask that mine be removed." But the issue is, obviously, more important than one individual.