April 06, 2017

More on Judge Gorsuch, plagiarism, and Oxford

Leslie Green, who holds one of the two statutory (i.e., university-wide) Chairs in Philosophy of Law at Oxford, has now expanded on his thoughts about the Gorsuch plagiarism case and the claims of John Finnis (who held a personal chair in legal philosophy, but is now emeritus).  (Earlier posts here and here.)


April 6, 2017 in Jurisprudence, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | 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 31, 2017

Bureau of Labor Statistics: another strong year for legal employment and incomes

Details here.


March 31, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 14, 2017

University of Florida embarrasses itself...

...by promoting random movement in the "overall" US News rank as meaningful, rather than noise.  This only came to my attention because their PR office actually sent it to me!  They should do some research about whom they send this stuff too!  What's especially unfortunate about press releases like this is that it legitimizes the US News metrics, which can only come back to haunt schools when the "overall" nonsense number moves in the opposite direction for no discernible (or, in any case, meaningful) reason.

UPDATE:  More superficial reporting, treating random movements as having meaning, or as worthy of note.  95% of movement in the US News "overall" rank is attributable to schools puffing, fudging or lying more than their peers in how they report the data to US News (or the reverse, for schools that drop); US News, recalls, audits none of the self-reported data.


March 14, 2017 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

March 09, 2017

Harvard Law to join U of Arizona in accepting GRE, as well as LSAT, for admissions purposes

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

February 21, 2017

Other successful strategies for improving bar performance?

Following up on yesterday's post about Syracuse Law's successful reforms that dramatically improved the bar pass rate of its graduates, I wonder if other schools have similar stories to share?   Signed comments only--full name and valid e-mail address; post your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear (I have a busy day).


February 21, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 20, 2017

How Syracuse Law made its graduates into stars of the New York Bar exam

We noted awhile back Syracuse's impressive results on the July 2016 New York bar exam--a pass rate of 89%, fourth highest in the state, behind only Columbia, Cornell, and NYU, and ahead of Fordham, Cardozo, Brooklyn, Buffalo and others.   I recently visited Syracuse, and talked with Professor Christian Day about the changes they made to achieve these results.  He kindly gave me a written version to share; I'm sure this will be of interest to many schools.  Professor Day writes: 

In the later 1990s and early 2000s Syracuse had a terrible bar pass rate. One year it was dead last among the 15 New York law schools.  A faculty ad hoc committee was created and it developed a program over several years. 

 

Under Dean Hannah Arterian’s leadership the faculty adopted 1L and upper-class curves.  The curves are centered on a low B (2.9-3.0) and approximately 8% of the 1L class is dismissed.  Before the implementation of the curve, most of the students who were dismissed were re-admitted and placed on probation.  But only 10% of that group passed the bar for the first time.   With the new curve, a much smaller group of students is re-admitted and placed on probation.  The Structured Curriculum, described below, and a comprehensive bar success program, which includes a staff member dedicated to the bar success effort have provided a foundation for achievement.  We also inaugurated a comprehensive third year bar prep program.   That program was mandatory for those on probation and voluntary for the balance of the student body.

 

A consultant worked with the College and confirmed that bar exam success was correlated to 1L class rank AND the number of so-called “bar courses” students had taken. Syracuse had a 90% pass rate for students in the upper 75-80% of the 1L class who had taken most of the bar courses for grade.  Students who failed the exam took around four of those courses, often on a pass/fail basis.  The faculty adopted the Structured Curriculum that requires all students on probation and those below a 2.50 average at the conclusion of the first year to take the following courses for grade:  Commercial Transactions, New York Civil Procedure, Business Associations, Constitutional Criminal Procedure—Investigation and Adjudication, Wills and Trusts, Family Law, Evidence, and Foundational Skills for Professional Licensing  (a bar prep course taught by faculty or staff that emphasizes exam prep and writing).

 

The efforts have borne fruit. In 2014 Syracuse and St. John’s tied for fourth place among the New York law schools.  In 2016, with the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam, Syracuse was again in fourth place behind NYU, Columbia and Cornell. 


February 20, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

February 07, 2017

ABA votes to reject change to bar passage requirement for law schools

The proposal would have required that 75% of graduates taking the bar pass within two years of graduation.  I suspect in a Trump Administration, there will be less danger of the ABA losing its accreditation role, but I can imagine a more aggressive Education Department in the future wondering what the explanation could be for rejecting such a standard. 

More details here.


February 7, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 04, 2017

Judge Gorsuch should speak out in defense of judicial independence in light of Trump's latest disgraceful behavior

Excellent point by my colleague Eric Posner.


February 4, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink