February 02, 2017

I'm not sure we should hold high school antics against nominees to the federal bench...

...but founding the "Fascism Forever Club" does raise questions about one's judgment, even allowing for age!

(Thanks to Michael Swanson for the pointer.)

ADDENDUM:  It appears Judge Gorsuch attended a high school run by quite liberal Jesuits (unlike the late Justice Scalia who went to a famously conservative Jesuit high school in New York).   I imagine his liberal teachers tended to deride conservatives as "fascists," ergo the conservative students decided to "zing" them back!

ANOTHER:  This story confirms that it was, indeed, a joke (and not even an actual club).


February 2, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 31, 2017

Supreme Court clerks by school, 1882-2017, 2005-2017 (UPDATED & CORRECTED)

Brad Hillis called this data compilation he did to my attention; I haven't verified its accuracy, but the recent (2005-17) data looks roughly right.  Readers can weigh in at Wikipedia to correct the data if need be.  Neither list is adjusted for class size.

Here are the twenty law schools that have produced the most Supreme Court clerks since 1882:

Rank/ Law School/ # clerks / % of all clerks

1) Harvard 607 27%

2) Yale 396 18%

3) Chicago 156 7%

4) Stanford 137 6%

5) Columbia 135 6%

6) Virginia 110 5%

7) Michigan 87 4%

8) Georgetown 61 3%

9) Berkeley 59 3%

10) NYU 54 2%

11) Penn 48

12) Northwestern 42

13) Texas 35

14) GW 26

15) Duke 21

16) UCLA 19

17) Notre Dame-17

18) BYU 13

19) Indiana 11

19) Minnesota-11

And here is Mr. Hillis's list of the top 20 law schools which have produced the most clerks since 2005 through 2017 (again, note that Harvard is more than twice the size of Yale, Stanford, and Chicago; that Virginia, Columbia, and NYU are about twice the size of the latter; etc.):

 

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January 31, 2017 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

January 27, 2017

Startling development: Harvard Law students think they are more important than they really are!

Some want to play an "indispensable" role in the search for a new Dean.  I'm sure student feedback on candidates will receive some weight, but that's about it.  Were I a betting man (I am not), I would bet on  John Goldberg or John Manning--both current HLS faculty--to be chosen as the new Dean.


January 27, 2017 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 23, 2017

The increasingly ugly demise of Charlotte Law School

A local news outlet records the details.  Charlotte is now betting on an Education Department under Besty DeVos being more favorable to them!


January 23, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 19, 2017

Latest LSAC data: applicants down 4.2% from January 2016 (UPDATED!)

UPDATED:  MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY

Here's the report:

As of 1/6/17, there are 134,007 applications submitted by 21,711 applicants for the 2017–2018 academic year. Applicants are down 4.2% and applications are down 2.2% from 2016–2017.

Last year at this time, we had 40% of the preliminary final applicant count.

Although there has been a trend towards increasingly later applications, this figure does suggest that we are going to see a slight, but not negligible, decline in applicants this cycle.

UPDATE:  But now LSAC reports that LSAT-takers in December were up nearly 8% from the prior year!  The likely explanation though, is a scheduling change, which led more applicants to skip the early fall LSAT in favor of the December one.  But that would also account for the decline in applicants noted in the 1/6/17 report.  So my guess now is that we won't be seeing any decline in the applicant pool this year, so we really are at "the new normal."


January 19, 2017 in Legal Profession | Permalink

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 17, 2017

Science at work: the "most influential" people in legal education

Blog Emperor Caron reports.  Thanks to the many Deans and law faculty who have been regular readers and correspondents over the years!


January 17, 2017 in Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 16, 2017

U of Washington/Tacoma to delay opening new law school

This is probably wise, absent clear evidence of unusually strong and growing demand for legal services in the Pacific Northwest.


January 16, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | 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

Should Venture Capitalists Compete with Law Firm Partners and Judges? (Michael Simkovic)

A partner in a prominent San-Francisco-Bay-area venture capital firm recently told me, “The tech sector is eating the world.  The menu is full of inefficient legacy industries.” 

The thesis of USC Professor Gillian Hadfield’s new book, Rules for a Flat World, is that the legal profession should be near the top of the menu.  Hadfield argues that law is overly complicated, expensive and inefficient.  This is because lawyers have monopolized the practice of law, locking out more efficient, technologically empowered, venture-capital backed competitors.  These competitors—software engineers backed by venture capital money, perhaps in cooperation with lawyers and paralegals—could hopefully improve quality, reduce costs, and generally run circles around overly conservative law firms and inefficiently subscale solo practitioners.

This book will engage venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, established legal technology companies, individuals interested in regulation of the legal profession, and more broadly, those who study privatization and deregulation.

She raises important questions about which regulations of the legal profession protect consumers or serve other legitimate public policy goals and which might be merely protectionist.  She targets prohibitions on practice of law within a corporation and prohibitions on profit-sharing with non-lawyers.  Without such regulations, it would be easier for non-lawyers to invest in and make high level decisions for legal services providers.  Non-lawyers might place more trust in technology than lawyers and might be more open to new business models.

Hadfield’s analysis focuses on the aspects of law that are an economic service (she describes it as “economic infrastructure”). Hadfield is primarily focused on commercial and corporate law.  Hadfield notes that while criminal law may be more salient in popular culture, since the time of Hammurabi, most law has been about money, property rights, risk allocation, and supporting business activity.

Hadfield argues that if companies such as Westlaw, Lexis and Legal Zoom could hire lawyers to provide customer support directly to end-users, these companies could improve the appeal of their offerings and more easily compete with small and solo-practitioners.  Moreover, these companies would have economies of scale and efficiencies that solo practitioners cannot readily match.  Because of these efficiencies and expansion of the legal market to under-served populations, lawyers working for incorporated legal services providers would not necessarily earn less than solo practitioners currently earn, although lawyer-employees would have substantially less autonomy than lawyer-owners.   

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January 4, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Web/Tech | Permalink