November 20, 2013
More on the dental school analogy...
...from the WSJ law blog, including an interesting little quiz.
UPDATE: A colleague elsewhere writes, regarding some of the earlier quotes about dental schools in the WSJ item:
Of course, none of the quotes were:
“Dentals schools are just trying to steal money from their students”
“Dental professors are useless and lack any relevance in the real world”
“Dental professors don’t teach students how to be dentists”
A marked difference from today [in the case of law schools].
I guess dental schools back then lacked charlatans and opportunists to fan the flames of misplaced resentment. (This professor asked not to be identified since, as he put it, "ordinarily I don't mind commenting publicly, but this is one area where I'd prefer not--I don't need the hassle from the haters," adding that the "squelching of dissent is remarkable," which is no doubt true (vide yesterday's post about on-line harassment). After years of on-line harassment, I, fortunately, am indifferent to it!
November 18, 2013
The Dental School Analogy
Dean Gershon (Mississippi) calls our attention to the mid-80s crisis in dental education, in which some of the schools that closed were at major private research universities. (For more on dental school closings, see also this article.) Dean Gershon writes:
What is interesting is that among the universities choosing to shut down their dental programs were prestigious schools like Georgetown and Emory. My understanding is that those universities determined that their dental schools no longer attracted the types of students they wanted to have at their institutions. Like law schools, the greatest decline in dental school applications occurred at the top end of standardized scores and undergraduate GPA’s. Emory and Georgetown were concerned that the students in their dental schools would not reflect the high credentials of students in their other programs, so they decided that it was better to close the doors, than to allow the dental school to “dumb down” the university.
The assumption seems to be that it will most likely be fourth-tier schools that will close, if law schools close. Based on what happened to dental schools in an almost identical atmosphere, I am not sure that assumption is correct.
A few thoughts on these striking observations. First, I am inclined to think that the most vulnerable schools are free-standing ones of relatively recent vintage, and those also happen to be overwhelmingly 4th-tier--but their "4th tier" status is not the primary explanation of their vulnerability, but rather one that just exacerbates their vulnerability to enrollment (and thus revenue) declines. Second, there were some five dozen dental schools in the United States when schools began closing; I do not know where Georgetown's and Emory's were in the dental school hierarchy at the time, but that would probably be relevant to thinking about the import of the analogy. Third, law schools, like medical schools, tend to have cross-disciplinary impact, in a way that dental schools (and veterinary schools) did not and do not (as best I can tell). For a research university to close a law school is to lose an academic unit that, in all likelihood, interacts with political science, economics, philosophy, history, and/or medicine. The number of leading research universities (excluding those with a STEM focus) without a law school is miniscule: Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Brown. Rightly or wrongly (mostly the former, but not always!), research universities have come to see a law school as a major part of their academic identity. (UC Irvine spent years trying to get a law school, and during the same time period, UC Riverside and UC San Diego were also exploring options to start one.)
It is striking that many (indeed, most) of the leading dental schools that remain are located at state research universities (far more so than with law, probably for the reasons noted already). But this also suggests something which I expect in the case of law: we will not see any state flagships closing their law schools (though many will no doubt contract a bit or a lot, depending on local economic conditions).
More on the decline in LSAT takers and law school finances...
November 16, 2013
And still more signs of the times...
November 14, 2013
Big reduction in sticker price tuition at Ohio Northern
Another sign of the times.
ADDENDUM: And another approach: freezing tuition at St. Thomas in Minnesota.
November 13, 2013
Autoadmit Redux: Cyber-misogyny and racism...
...are (alas) alive and well. (This catalogue of abuse even features as one of the perpetrators one of the notorious Campos trolls.)
November 09, 2013
Michigan's Undergraduate Career Services Center compiles a useful list of testimonials by students happy to have gone to law school......and who went to a wide variety of law schools. Good to have a little reality-check on the insane cyber-ranting by individuals, many of whom are no doubt victims of circumstances and genuinely aggrieved, but who seem tragically confused about the causes of their suffering.
November 07, 2013
Trends in LSAT-taker, applications to law schools, and enrollments over 45 years
This is illuminating. Of crucial significance about the recent drop (on all three fronts) is that there are more ABA-approved law schools now than there were just a dozen years ago.
UPDATE: Here's a list of ABA-approved law schools by year of approval--we've seen an increase of roughly 10% in the total number of law schools in just the last dozen years.
November 04, 2013
Ideology and Supreme Court Clerkships
My colleague Geoffrey Stone comments on the ideological clerkship hiring patterns of the conservative Justices. My anecodtal impression is that Justices Alito and Thomas, in particular, do not hire anyone without Federalist Society credentials, though I am happy to be corrected by someone with more information.
UPDATE: A colleage North Carolina writes: "Dana Remus clerked for Sam Alito a few years back, and she
is neither a Federalist Society member nor someone who identifies as a political conservative."