May 07, 2017

What is the most productive way to use a sabbatical? (Michael Simkovic)

Every 6 to 7 years, some professors are offered one semester or one year without teaching or administrative duties.  Some use the opportunity to start an ambitious research project, like a book.  Others upgrade their skills by taking courses toward another advanced degree.  Some work in government or for a large corporation, gaining new insights into their areas of interest.  Still others visit another institution, for example where important research collaborators or resources are located.

Since sabbaticals are rare events—perhaps occurring 4 times in a career or less—any individual faculty member will have relatively limited personal experience to draw upon and will instead rely on the collective wisdom of his or her peers.

What do you think are some of the best ways to spend a sabbatical and why? 

Comments are moderated.  Please provide your real name.  


May 7, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (6)

April 28, 2017

Four law professors win Carnegie fellowships in 2017 (Michael Simkovic)

 Winners of Carnegie Fellowships for 2017 include:

  • Katerina Linos (U.C. Berkeley)

  • Polly Price (Emory)

  • Emily Ryo (USC)
  • Mila Versteeg (University of Virginia)

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program provides fellowships advancing research in the social sciences and humanities.  35 winners are selected from among hundreds of candidates.


April 28, 2017 in Faculty News, Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic | Permalink

April 26, 2017

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may monitor Student Loan Servicers more closely (Michael Simkovic)

Kathleen Engel (Suffolk), Jonathan Glater (U.C. Irvine), and 13 more legal scholars and economists who study higher education and consumer finance have submitted a comment letter supporting a recent proposal by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor student loan servicers more closely.  The scholars have also suggested that anonymized versions of the resulting data should be shared with researchers who can help analyze it.

Although the federal government originates and holds most student loans, it contracts with non-profits, state agencies, and private lenders to service those loans--that is, to interact with borrowers, send statements, and collect payments. The scholars expressed concerns that some servicers might not be adequately informing borrowers of the various repayment plans available to them, and could thereby be driving up defaults or financing costs for borrowers. 


April 26, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 23, 2017

How sustainable is elite law firms' competitive advantage? (Michael Simkovic)

Elisabeth de Fontenay at Duke argues that elite law firms' expertise in sophisticated corporate transactions is self-sustaining and resistant to competition.  This is in part because firms with that do the lions share of negotiation and drafting for specific kinds of transactions create, manage and retain private information about the current market for terms.


April 23, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 18, 2017

The 10 most cited health law scholars, 2010-2014 (Michael Simkovic)

Mark Hall and Glenn Cohen have extended Brian Leiter's approach to ranking faculty by scholarly citations (based on Sisk data) to the field of health law.

According to Hall and Cohen, the most cited health law scholars in 2010-2014 (inclusive) are:

Rank Name School Citations Approx. Age in 2017
1 Larry Gostin Georgetown 510     67
2 Mark A. Hall Wake Forest 480     62
3 David A. Hyman Georgetown 360     56
4 I. Glenn Cohen Harvard 320     39
5 John A. Robertson Texas 310     74
6 Mark Rothstein Louisville 300     68
6 Michelle M. Mello Stanford 300     46
6 Frank Pasquale Maryland 300     43
9 Lars Noah Florida 280     52
10 George J. Annas Boston U 270     72

 

The full ranking is available here.


April 18, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Rankings, Weblogs | Permalink

April 02, 2017

New York Times Reporter Elizabeth Olson Claims That Professors Earning Less than First Year Associates are Paid like Law Firm Partners (Michael Simkovic)

New York Times reporter Elizabeth Olson recently complained that the Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law was suspended after attempting to slash faculty compensation (“Cincinnati Law Dean Is Put on Leave After Proposing Ways to Cut Budget”).  According to Olson, “law schools like Cincinnati [pay hefty] six-figure professor salaries that are meant to match partner-level wages.” 

Olson goes on to cite the compensation of the current and former Dean of the law school.  This makes about as much sense as citing newspaper executive compensation in a discussion about reducing pay for beat reporters.

Data from 2015—the latest readily publicly available—shows that law professors at Cincinnati earned total compensation averaging $133,000.  A few professors earned less than six figures. Only one faculty member—a former dean and one of the most senior members of the faculty—earned more than $180,000.  Including only Full Professors—the most senior, accomplished faculty members who have obtained tenure and typically have between seven and forty years of work experience—brings average total compensation to $154,000 per year.

As Olson herself reported less than a year ago, first year associates at large law firms earn base salaries of $180,000 per year, not counting substantial bonuses and excellent benefits.  With a few years of experience, elite law firm associates’ total compensation including bonus can exceed $300,000.  Law firm partners at the largest 200 firms can earn hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year according to the American Lawyer, and often receive large pensions after retirement.

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April 2, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch, Weblogs | Permalink

March 16, 2017

Hemel & Herzig in the NY Times on efforts to repeal Obamacare (Michael Simkovic)

Daniel Hemel and David Herzig argue in the New York Times that a Republican plan to replace a tax penalty paid by the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act with a penalty paid directly to insurance companies after a gap in coverage could thwart Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare using budgetary reconciliation procedures.


March 16, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Weblogs | Permalink

March 01, 2017

Daniel Schwarcz (Minnesota) and Colleen Chien (Santa Clara) win American Law Institute Young Scholars Medal (Michael Simkovic)

The press release is here.  The award is highly selective.  The ALI--publisher of the influential Restatements of Law and co-creator of the Uniform Commercial Code--selects two out of thousands of eligible "young scholars" every two years for work that has the potential to change the law for the better.  

Congratulations to Dan and Colleen!

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March 1, 2017 in Faculty News, Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 19, 2017

Established datasets, proxies, and customized data collection: The case of international LLMs (Michael Simkovic)

How should researchers make tradeoffs between the costs of data collection, the speed of the analysis, the precision of the measurements, reproducibility by other researchers, and broader context about the meaning of the data: how we might compare one group or one course of action to another, how we might understand historical trends, and the like?

Must we always measure the precise group of interest, with zero tolerance for over-inclusion or under-inclusion?  Or might one or a series of proxy groups be sufficient, or even preferable for some purposes?  What if the proxies have substantial overlap with the groups of interest and biases introduced by use of proxy groups are reasonably well understood?  How close must the proxy group be to the group of interest?

These are important questions raised by a group of legal profession researchers which includes several of the principal investigators of the widely used After the JD dataset. 

Professors Carole Silver, Ethan Michelson, Robert Nelson, Nancy Reichman, Rebecca Sandefur, and Joyce Sterling (hereinafter, Silver et al.) recently wrote a three-part response (Parts 1, 2, and 3) to my two-part blog post from December about International LLM students who remain in the United States (Part 1) and International LLM students who return to their home countries (Part 2).  The bulk of Silver et al.’s critique appears in Part 2 of their post, and focuses mainly on Part 1 of my LLM post.

My post, which I described as “a very preliminarily, quick analysis intended primarily to satisfy my own curiosity” used U.S. Census data from the American Community Survey and two proxy groups for international LLM (“Masters of Law”) graduates to make inferences about the financial benefits of LLM degrees to international students who remain in the U.S.  Silver et al. agree with several of the limitations of this analysis that I noted in paragraphs 5 through 8 of Part 1 of my post.  They also note that historically, many LLMs have returned to their home countries and argue that the benefits of LLM programs to returning students may be greater than the benefits to those who remain in the United States.  (While I am skeptical of this last claim—especially if we focus exclusively on pecuniary benefits—it seems likely that both groups benefit).

Silver et al. have also helpfully made several additional points about limitations in my proxy approach and ways in which proxies could over-count or under-count foreign LLMs.  The most important of these limitations can be addressed with a few modifications to the LLM proxy group approach.[1]  Those interested in the technical details are encouraged to read footnote 1 below.

Returning to broader questions about the use of proxy groups, my view is that proxy groups can be helpful and potentially necessary for certain kinds of analysis.

Suppose that we wish to know the temperature in New York’s Central Park before we take a stroll, but we only have temperature readings for LaGuardia and Newark airport.  While neither of those proxies will tell us the precise temperature in Central Park, they will usually be sufficiently close that we can ascertain with a reasonable degree of certainty whether we should bring our winter coats, wear sweaters, or proceed with short sleeves.  Indeed, readings from Boston or Philadelphia will probably suffice, particularly if we’re aware of the direction and magnitude of typical temperature differences relative to Central Park.

Should we refuse to venture out until we can obtain a temperature reading from Central Park itself?

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January 19, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

January 04, 2017

Jay Clayton to head Securities & Exchange Commission

President-elect Trump intends to nominate Sullivan & Cromwell partner Jay Clayton to head the Securities and Exchange Commission according to reports by the Financial Times and other newspapers.  Clayton has extensive expertise in M&A, capital markets, and financial regulation.

Clayton is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvannia Law School, where he taught a class on "M&A Through the Business Cycle" from 2009 to 2015.


January 4, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink