April 08, 2014
Law profs face off over discrimination against gay people, and the Supreme Court declines cert
The Supreme Court has denied the petition for certiorari in the much watched case of Elane Photography v. Willock, which began when a commercial wedding photography company in New Mexico refused to sell its services to a same-sex couple. Last August, the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously found that the company's conduct violated the state public accommodations statute and that the company was not entitled to a special First Amendment exemption from that law. The Supreme Court has now declined to review the First Amendment portion of that ruling.
The plaintiff, Vanessa Willock, was represented throughout the appellate stages of the case by Tobias Barrington Wolff (Penn). Eugene Volokh (UCLA) and Dale Carpenter (Minnesota) joined with the Cato Institute in filing an amicus brief on the First Amendment issues before the New Mexico Supreme Court and again in support of the company's certiorari petition. (It's just like the 1960s, when you could count on libertarians to be friends of discrimination!) Thankfully, for the plaintiff and for fairness, Professor Wolff prevailed.
April 07, 2014
Lawyers, law professors and depression
A bracing series of posts by Charlotte Law's Brian Clarke: this is the third in the series, with links back to the earlier ones.
March 26, 2014
What is REALLY going on at Denver (contrary to ATL's fabrications)
In typically irresponsible fashion, ATL yesterday posted factually inaccurate rumors about Denver (which they are slowly correcting). Here is what a tenured colleague at Denver wrote to me:
The truth is that we are reducing our tenure and tenure-track faculty by 10 over multiple years. This is consistent with a long-term plan to shrink the size of the school that began in 2007, prior to the economic downturn. At that point we had 380 students. Our ultimate goal was and is approximately 250 students. The school needs *at most* one person to retire or take a buyout this year to meet our budget for 2014-2015. In subsequent years the faculty who will be offered the option of buyouts will be exclusively tenured faculty who have held their positions for a minimum number of years. The buyouts will NOT include tenure-track faculty who are not yet tenured. That is, the ATL story is simply wrong when it says that untenured tenure-track faculty are being asked to leave. None has been asked to do so. In fact, Denver Law has recommended 4 tenure-track faculty for tenure this year. While tenure is not official until the summer, it is common knowledge that the Dean has recently assured those four faculty members that the planned buyouts will not affect their tenure process. Finally, ATL's unattributed claim that the Denver Law faculty is "quite displeased" with direction of the school is simply false. Of course there are outliers in every institution, but the overall faculty climate is collegial and the vast majority of faculty are pleased with Dean Katz's leadership during a difficult time for all law schools. Of course, it is never ideal for ATL to report facts that are patently false, particularly with respect to untenured faculty, and one would hope that they care enough about their credibility to print a correction.
I've heard the same about Dean Katz from other faculty at Denver as well. (I hope Blog Emperor Caron will learn a lesson from this incident, namely, not to reprint nonsense from ATL without independent verification.)
March 21, 2014
More signs of the times
Appalachian cutting faculty. In addition, I recently spoke to a colleague at another law school--a strong, regional school but with a faculty with a national scholarly reputation--who reported the teaching load has been raised from 10 hours per year per faculty member to 12 hours. Twenty years ago, 12 hours was the norm at most law schools, except for the very top ones. Over the last twenty years, 10 hours/3 courses became increasingly common. For a school of this caliber to make the move back to 12 suggests that other schools are following or will soon follow suit.
March 18, 2014
Buffalo offers retirement incentives to faculty over 55...
...and eight accept, bringing the size of the full-time faculty from 48 down to 40. The school is also shrinking its class size slightly. Seems like sensible responses to the current economic climate for legal education.
March 15, 2014
U of Florida Dean Search Fails
March 05, 2014
Case Western Dean Lawrence Mitchell, who had been on leave, resigns
February 24, 2014
In Memoriam: Theodore Eisenberg (1947-2014)
I am sorry to report the startling and unhappy news that Professor Eisenberg, a longtime member of the Cornell faculty and a pioneer in "empirical legal studies," has passed away. The Cornell memorial notice is here.
February 13, 2014
Former Georgetown Dean Judith Areen named new Executive Director of AALS
I think that is a very welcome development, and wish Dean Areen good luck in her new role.
February 07, 2014
Albany Law offering "buy-outs" to 8 senior faculty...
...according to this story. I continue to hear, though, that there is no financial emergency at Albany, and that there are other sources of conflict between the Dean and some faculty. If someone from Albany would like to weigh in "for the record" (and with their name attached), I will be glad to post. Please send me an e-mail.