May 28, 2015
SSRN Downloads: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
1. Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (28,599 downloads, 24 new papers)
2. Dan Kahan (Yale) (18,796 downloads, 5 new papers)
3. Daniel Solove (George Washington) (18,503 downloads, 2 new papers)
4. Mark Lemley (Stanford) (14,973 downloads, 8 new papers)
5. Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard) (13,940 downloads, 0 new papers)
6. Orin Kerr (George Washington) (12,254 downloads, 4 new papers)
7. Brian Leiter (Chicago) (12,097 downloads, 9 new papers)
8. Bernard Black (Northwestern) (10,561 downloads, 5 new papers)
9. Jeremy Waldron (NYU) (8,214 downloads, 6 new papers)
10. Tim Wu (Columbia) (8,158 downloads, 2 new papers)
And given how close to the top ten, I should note that my colleague Eric Posner had 8,065 downloads and six new papers in the last 12 months.
As the cases of Solove and Bebchuk show, "oldies but goodies" can keep the downloads pouring in!
May 26, 2015
In Memoriam: Daniel Meltzer (1951-2015)
The Harvard memorial notice is here.
May 25, 2015
Charleston Law School will enroll students this fall...
...while undertaking additional cost-cutting measures. It appears the School enjoys some strong support in the local Charleston community.
May 20, 2015
Lawsky's rookie hiring data for 2014-15
Here. Prof. Lawsky counts only tenure-track hires, whether academic or clinical; she reports a total of 70 new hires this year, slightly down from last year. (It's lower if one substracts the tenure-track clinical hires, though I have not counted carefully.) The relatively small number of Yale JDs hired (only 6) is striking, though we don't know how many graduates of each school were on the market, though based on past years I would be surprised if there weren't several dozen Yale candidates seeking, meaning the vast majority failed to land positions. 21 of the 70 hires had Harvard JDs (though several of those were coming off Fellowships, like the Bigelow), while another 27 came from just five schools (Stanford, Yale, Chicago, Berkeley, and NYU).
May 19, 2015
A curious sign of the times: Charleston Law students, acting as "creditors," seek to put school into receivership
Story here. Is this possible?
May 14, 2015
Another sign of the times: financial crisis at Pace Law School (UPDATED)
According to a faculty member, the Law School ran nearly a five million dollar deficit this year, and the Dean has pledged to cut $2.1 million of that next year, with a combination of moves: the elimination of all sabbaticals, all research stipends, a 5% salary cut for senior staff, and a 10% salary cut for all faculty. To make matters worse, the Dean, according to one source, "forbade anyone from speaking to the press about this. The materials he passed out carried two watermarks, one large across the text, and another secret one (or so he said), with each faculty member's name so he will know who the leak is, he said." Since everyone familiar with legal education knows that many law schools are struggling with financial problems, it's mysterious (and counter-productive) for a Dean to make such a threat.
Pace faculty are concerned that there has been no attempt to buy out faculty (as other schools have done) and fear a further salary cut is in the offing before long. The elimination of sabbaticals also has a number of Pace faculty perplexed, since with a reduction in its class size, Pace has excess teaching capacity, so it's not like sabbaticals require hiring adjuncts or visitors, so they do not add to costs.
UPDATE: Prof. Alexander Greenawalt (Pace) writes:
I have not polled my peers but I believe that most of my colleagues would agree that there are serious inaccuracies in the report you received. Of course I’m not thrilled to have my salary cut, but the truth is that we are part of a university that is continuing to support us, and I still have a great job at a great law school. The main thrust of the dean’s remarks was that he is implementing budget cuts that will reduce our deficit without compromising the quality of the education we provide our students. On that score, I believe he succeeded. We are not the first law school to experience a faculty salary cut, and I don’t think this is a sign that we are a sinking ship.
As to the specific allegations, the document in question is an internal memorandum written by my some of my faculty colleagues identifying possible budget cuts, several of which have not been adopted. I think it’s obvious that any law school would treat this as a confidential document. I doubt that my colleagues who authored it wanted it made public, and I think the dean would have been well within his rights to limit our access to it, for example by making it available for review only in hard copy in the dean’s suite. Instead he decided to distribute individual copies, while taking measures to discourage (without prohibiting) public disclosure. I haven’t picked up my copy yet, so I can’t tell you what it looks like or what watermarks it might have. Perhaps he should have handled this distribution differently, but my honest belief is that he was acting out of a desire to be transparent rather than punitive.
In particular, I want to emphasize that there were no threats of any kind. David did not forbid communications with the press, and indeed when asked about this he was quite clear that we were free to do what we wanted. He did ask that we not leak the document to the press, and I think that’s a reasonable request. Certainly, he did not specify any consequences if we did.
Regarding sabbaticals, David [the Dean] was clear that they will still be available for important scholarly projects.
I can’t speak for my anonymous faculty colleague, and certainly I am not accusing that person of dishonesty, but obviously we have very different recollections!
I thank Prof. Greenawalt for contacting me about this. My source stands by the original account. I think some of these issues may be matters of interpretation. I do not think Pace is a "sinking ship" at all; it has an unusually strong faculty for a regional law school, and, as I noted originally, is facing the same issues that most American law schools are now facing.
New Deans at Suffolk and Cardozo Law Schools
May 13, 2015
On legislative intent
I strongly recommend this review (and the book).
May 12, 2015
Should student loans be dischargeable in bankruptcy? (Michael Simkovic)
In the Wall Street Journal, Professor Adam Levitin of Georgetown argues yes for private student loans and no for federal student loans, since the latter have debt forgiveness options already built in. More discussion at credit slips. Those interested in student loan issues may also enjoy Risk Based Student Loans, Philip Schrag's work on Income Based Repayment (here and here), or Rafael Pardo's work on undue hardship discharge, and a related empirical study by Jason Iuliano. Jake Brooks also has an interesting new article coming out on student loan debt forgiveness as a pseudo-income-tax for funding higher education.
The classic argument against discharge of student loans in bankruptcy is Thomas Jackson in the first edition of The Logic and Limits of Bankruptcy Law. Jackson wrote:
As a general rule, college and graduate students have few current assets but large future income streams. Using bankruptcy is relatively painless to them, as they have few assets to lose, and obtaining a discharge offers a substantial benefit, as it frees up the future income stream from the substantial obligation of repaying a student loan.
Law students are more likely than college students to retain competitive scholarships (Michael Simkovic)
Critics of competitive scholarships tied to GPA or class rank claim that these scholarships are especially troubling when used by law schools, because the mandatory grading curve means that more law students are likely to lose their scholarships than undergraduates. However, as I noted in my last post, the data actually shows that law students are more likely to retain their competitive scholarships than are undergraduates.
The remaining critiques of competitive scholarships are not strong. According to one critique, if competitive scholarships are disproportionately used by law schools who admit students with low LSAT scores and GPA and are not used by the elite law schools, this suggests something suspicious about these scholarships. Lower ranked law schools serve different student populations with spottier academic preparation who are at greater risk of failing the bar exam and may have worse study habits. Some policies and practices that are helpful to motivate this population and encourage greater study effort may not be necessary for higher ranked law schools, whose students are already highly motivated and can pass the bar exam and learn challenging material without much effort.
Another argument is that after law school critics and The New York Times attacked law school competitive scholarships, and the ABA responded by requiring disclosure of this practice, the number of law schools using competitive scholarships declined. Critics claim that the disclosure caused law schools to stop using competitive scholarships, thereby proving the scholarships were unethical all along.
But perhaps law schools were simply attempting to avoid criticism, whether merited or not. In other words, perhaps the criticism caused both the mandatory disclosure and the reduction in the use of competitive scholarships. If The New York Times quoted an impressive sounding source claiming that those who typically tie their left shoe before their right were liars and thieves, and the Justice Department disclosed an annual list of everyone who tied their left shoe first, we might find that the percent of people who tie their left shoe first would drop, notwithstanding the fact that which shoe you tie first has absolutely nothing to do with ethics. Or, as Matt Bruckner suggests, perhaps some other factor, such as changes in relative market power or law school budgets help explain the shift in financial aid policy and neither the criticism nor the disclosure had much to do with it. Without more sophisticated methods of causal inference, its premature to make strong causal claims.