September 26, 2016
The Midwest was hit slightly harder by the downturn in applications than other parts of the country, but still this chart shows where we are from the 2010 peak, and also that many schools are recovering a bit. (2010, it is important to remember, was the peak for applications and enrollments.)
September 22, 2016
Tennessee Law Prof. Glenn Reynolds--aka, "InstaIgnorance" as I used to call him back in the day--has Twitter account suspended after encouraging motorists to run down protesters in Charlotte
Several readers have flagged this story for me. Reynolds is a benighted soul, alas. A criminal law colleague calls to my attention:
TN Code § 39-12-102 (2015)
(a) Whoever, by means of oral, written or electronic communication, directly or through another, intentionally commands, requests or hires another to commit a criminal offense, or attempts to command, request or hire another to commit a criminal offense, with the intent that the criminal offense be committed, is guilty of the offense of solicitation.
(b) It is no defense that the solicitation was unsuccessful and the offense solicited was not committed. It is no defense that the person solicited could not be guilty of the offense solicited, due to insanity, minority, or other lack of criminal responsibility or incapacity. It is no defense that the person solicited was unaware of the criminal nature of the conduct solicited. It is no defense that the person solicited is unable to commit the offense solicited because of the lack of capacity, status, or characteristic needed to commit the offense solicited, so long as the person soliciting or the person solicited believes that either or both have such capacity, status, or characteristic.
I doubt there will be a prosecution, but who knows? His real mens rea is more likely "dumb and insensitive" than "malicious."
UPDATE: Lawyer Jason Walta writes:
I'm kind of bemused by the seemingly shocked response of the chancellor and law dean. Have these people never met Glenn Reyonolds? Were they previously unaware that he's on faculty there?
The fact of the matter is that this stuff is Reynolds's entire métier, stretching back to when he called for vigilante executions of "looters" during Katrina or lauded William "Gosh I didn't mean to shoot my wife in the head" Burroughs as some kind of Second Amendment hero.
September 14, 2016
The decision not to arrest or indict Dan Markel's former brother-in-law and his girlfriend in connection with his murder-for-hire
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPTEMBER 9: SOME INTERESTING COMMENTS, MORE WELCOME
The latest from the local Florida newspaper. I'm curious to hear what my readers with relevant expertise think: is there really not a very good circumstantial case here? And without it, how will the motives of the killers awaiting trial be established?
Submit comments only once, they may take awhile to appear.
ADDENDUM: One wonders if the Markel family will bring a civil action against the Adelson family (though probably not against the mother of their grandchildren, who seems the least implicated in all this given the circumstantial evidence).
ANOTHER: Here's the full police account of the evidence implicating Charlie Adelson. It's extremely damning, and also suggests that the Adelson parents knew about this too. Why haven't Garcia or Rivera flipped? One possibility is they haven't been offered enough of a deal to make it worthwhile. Garcia also has a very strong reason not to flip, namely, that the person who was the go-between for Adelson and Garcia is the mother of Garcia's children: she goes down with Adelson if Garcia flips. Rivera may not know as much, and in any case, is already serving time in federal prison on drug charges. And for some insight into Wendi Adelson, see the section on "Changes of Children's Names," and the gratuitous insult that she inflicted on the Markel family. All of which reminds me of the now horrible irony in retrospect of this post. What a nightmare.
9/10 UPDATE: More on the tension between the police and the state prosecutor, plus talk of getting the feds involved in a prosecution effort.
August 31, 2016
An article surveying the back-and-forth. If the ABA's accreditation power were revoked, then, as I understand it, law students would not be able to access federal loans for education at ABA-approved schools. This would be so disruptive for thousands of students that it's hard to imagine the Dept. of Education taking that step. I suppose they are looking for signs that, e.g., the ABA will enforce its own bar passage requirements for accreditation.
August 17, 2016
New York Times journalist Elizabeth Olson recently reported that the law school graduating class of 2015--which was very close to the size of the class of 1996--had about the same number of private sector jobs 9 months after graduation as the class of 1996. That's a pretty good outcome considering that the economy-wide employment population ratio in February 2016 was 3.6 points lower than in February 1997. Olson puts a negative spin on the non-story.
UPDATE: Casey Sullivan at Bloomberg provides more balanced coverage, noting the smaller class size at the outset of his story and focusing on overall earnings rather than job counts in one segment of the market.
For previous coverage, see
Timing Law School (forthcoming in JELS)
August 15, 2016
“Glass Half Full” author concedes problems with estimates of solo practitioner incomes and headcounts (updated 8/18)
Professor Benjamin H. Barton recently responded to critiques of his estimates of solo practitioner incomes. Barton does not answer the specific questions that I posed about his use of IRS data, but he generally concedes that the IRS data is problematic.
- Barton wrote:
“Is it possible that the IRS data undersells the earnings of solo practitioners? Yes, for the reasons I state above and for some of the reasons that you and Professor Diamond point out.”
- Barton wrote:
“Do I think that the IRS data are off by a factor of 3.5 or even 2? No.”
I encourage Professor Barton to present a revised estimate that he thinks is more accurate. Several studies that he cites for support suggest that his solo income estimates are off by a factor of approximately 2 to 3 (see below for details).
- Barton defends his use of IRS data on three grounds, each of which is problematic:
a. “The IRS data on lawyer earnings is the longest running data I could find and thus the best dataset for a discussion of long term trends.”
Professor Barton overlooked the U.S. Census Bureau’s Decennial Census, which has data on Lawyer’s incomes since 1950 (which reports 1949 incomes).[i] The IRS data presented by Barton starts 18 years later, in 1967.
When considering long term trends in occupational incomes, it’s important to consider changes in the race and sex of members of the occupation. Across occupations, women and minorities generally earn less than white men. Race and sex variables are available in Census Household data, but not public-use IRS data.
b. The IRS data “separates lawyer earnings into solo practitioners and law firm partners”
Professor Barton acknowledges that his data misses incorporated self-employed lawyers, and that this group likely has higher incomes than those that he captures.[ii]
This means that Professor Barton’s IRS data is much less useful for identifying small and solo practitioners in 2013 than it was in 1970. This is because the proportion of solo and small attorneys who incorporated has likely increased dramatically. In 1970, 5 percent of full-time self-employed lawyers were incorporated. By 2014, the share increased to more than 50 percent.[iii]. Barton is missing many solo and small time practitioners. If trends toward incorporation continue, his data will become less useful every passing year. The IRS data has different biases at different points in time, making trends potentially unreliable.
August 11, 2016
Benjamin H. Barton Responds to Critics of Solo Practitioner Income Estimates: "IRS and Census Data Not that Far Apart Upon Closer Inspection"
The following is a response from Professor Benjamin H. Barton to critiques and questions about his use of IRS data to estimate solo practitioner incomes. It has not been edited or altered from the form in which Professor Barton submitted it.
IRS and Census Data Not that Far Apart Upon Closer Inspection
On July 25th Professor Stephen Diamond criticized my use of IRS income statistics to discuss the earnings of solo practitioners on his blog. I responded to Professor Diamond in the comments. On July 26, 2016 Professor Michael Simkovic published a number of critiques here. Two days later Professor Simkovic followed up with a second post asking me a series of questions and challenging me to respond to both of his posts. Here I accept Professor Simkovic’s invitation.
Below I explain more about the IRS data and how I use it, but I will not bury the lede. The data that Professors Simkovic and Diamond use to criticize my work, ACS data for lawyers who are in the category of “self-employed, not incorporated,” is not appropriate data for defining the earnings of solo practitioners. That Census category likely includes two very different types of self-employed lawyers – solo practitioners (the lowest paid lawyers in private practice) and law firm partners (the highest paid lawyers in private practice). The Census Department does not make it easy to figure out exactly which lawyers are counted in the category of “self-employed, not incorporated,” but combining this definition with this one and looking at the ACS form itself it seems pretty clear that partners in law firms are included in this category.[i]
Because the ACS data includes an indeterminate number of partners and solos, the average earnings in that category ($165-200,000) are a misleading proxy for the earnings of American solo practitioners. If there was a data category of “professional baseball players” that included minor league (low paid) and major league (highly paid) baseball players, and there was no way to tell how many of each were in the sample, you could not use the average earnings of “all professional baseball players” as a proxy for minor league salaries, since some members of the sample earn much, much more than other members of the sample.
The ACS data is inappropriate, but is the IRS data better? I use the IRS data in my book, Glass Half Full – The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford 2015) and in later work to talk about several trends in the market for legal services. Here is an updated version of a chart I first created for the book:
Some news sources claim that I think solo practitioners are "tax cheats." The estimate that small business owners underreport their revenue and over-claim on expenses comes from the Internal Revenue Service and the Government Accountability Office, not my imagination. It’s inappropriate to say that I’m claiming that solo attorneys are tax cheats. I'm simply explaining the IRS's position on biases in IRS data--something that anyone who uses this data should be sure to note.
At least one source has claimed that ACS income data include business revenue rather than business net income or profits, citing Professor Barton as its source. This claim is incorrect.
The Census defines Self-employment income as follows:
"self-employment income includes net money income (gross receipts minus expenses) from one’s own business, professional enterprise, or partnership. Gross receipts include the value of all goods sold and services rendered. Expenses include costs of goods purchased, rent, heat, light, power, depreciation charges, wages and salaries paid, business taxes (not personal income taxes), etc.” See pg. 80
Perhaps the journalist misunderstood Professor Barton. I've requested corrections.
August 10, 2016
An ominous development for the new law school at UNT. Initially, a public law school in Dallas seemed like a good idea--a "first," until Texas A&M acquired Texas Wesleyan, also in Dallas/Ft. Worth. A&M has made a big investment in the school and the faculty, and A&M is a much stronger school "brand" in Texas than UNT.
August 05, 2016
The latest data from LSAC here. For 2015-16, LSATs taken were up a bit more than 4% from the prior year, while applications were up about 1%. So what does this latest data on June test-takers mean? Probably that this year will be like last in terms of volume of applications. Stability in the applicant pool is, of course, enough for schools to plan their budgets into the future and do faculty hiring.