March 28, 2016

Professor Choudhry's lawyers challenge University of California President's treatment of the former Berkeley Dean

They have shared the letter sent to President Napolitano:  Download 2016-03-18 Letter to President Napolitano

The letter makes a number of very good points.  President Napolitano has handled this very badly and unfairly.

March 28, 2016 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 24, 2016

Jury Rejects Fraud Claim by 9 to 3 in Alaburda v. Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Michael Simkovic)

Details were reported in the San Diego Union Tribune, by CBS news,  by the Times of San Diego, by Fox 5 and by the Seattle Times

CBS News reported as follows:

"Alaburda filed her lawsuit in 2011, seeking $125,000 in damages on claims of false advertising and misrepresentations by TJSL and an order preventing it from misleading students. Jurors awarded her nothing. . . . 


Michael Sullivan, the attorney for the law school, said the jury verdict showed that TJSL does its best to provide accurate information on its graduates . . . Sullivan told the jury that Alaburda, 37, did not suffer any damages and that she went to TJSL because it was the only law school where she got accepted.
Once there, the plaintiff was awarded a $20,000 scholarship to help with tuition, making her total debt $32,000 after three years, Sullivan said. Alaburda decided not to work during her first two years of law school and within two months of graduating, had two job offers in the legal field, the attorney said.
Sullivan said the process of gathering employment data for graduates is "difficult'' and a "challenge'' for the school, but said there was "not a pattern of mistakes'' by TJSL. . . .


Eventually, Alaburda got a $60,000 job offer from a San Bernardino law firm and took a $70,000-a-year job with a legal publisher . . ."

March 24, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Weblogs | Permalink

March 18, 2016

More on the new bar passage requirements

March 15, 2016

ABA Council recommends 75% bar passage rate, paid externships

Significant actions!   There are a couple of dozen (maybe more) law schools right now that might run afoul of the 75% bar passage rate requirement.  My guess is the main effect of this change will be that these schools will focus more and more on bar prep rather than other aspects of legal education.

CLARIFICATION:  A useful correspondence with Prof. William Gallagher (Golden Gate) made me realize that my reference to "other aspects of legal education" was ambiguous.  I was not thinking in particular of, say, interdisciplinary courses (though those would be affected by a shift in focus), but primarily the traditional doctrinal courses, where it seems to me there’s still a big difference between teaching them with an eye to the bar versus teaching them to explore policy, argument, underlying principle etc.  The pressure to do less of the latter may be substantial at some schools in the wake of this change.  That may help some graduates pass the bar, which is good, but it may also deprive them and others of other useful learning experiences.

March 15, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Harvard Law to abandon "Royall Shield" as symbol of the school

Announcement here.

March 15, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 14, 2016

Berkeley law grads, apparently having learned nothing about due process during their legal education, call for ex-Dean Choudhry to be fired from his tenured faculty position

This is really disgraceful for a bunch of alleged adults and lawyers, to call for the firing of a tenured faculty member based on a university investigation and a complaint, the latter of which is obviously not an adequate basis on which to base any conclusions.  I agree that the university investigation should have been sufficient to remove him from his role as the Dean, but the demand that he be fired from Berkeley "in any capacity" is shocking.  (The letter states:  "As long as Choudhry remains at Boalt or the University of California in any capacity, we cannot in good conscience contribute financially to Berkeley Law or to the University."  Ordinarily, everyone would recognize the inappropriateness of alumni making financial threats unless tenured faculty are fired.)

As a law professor in the UC system wrote to me:

Keep in mind we do not know what actually happened.  The Title IX proceeding gives the respondent no procedural rights.  He is not allowed to examine witnesses or to hear their testimony.  Sujit's admission is to violating a policy that did not require a finding that he knew or should have known his conduct was offensive.  The process and findings are confidential because the process is intended to err on the side of the complainant, and to permit quick remediation of the situation.

Was there an offense adequate for the revocation of tenure?  Perhaps, but right now, we have no idea, and the Berkeley law graduates should be embarrassed by their contempt for process and fairness.

ANOTHER:  And now the Chancellor of the UC System, a politician not an academic, has ordered Berkeley to begin proceedings that could lead to dismissal of the former Dean from his tenured faculty position.  At least there will be a process of some kind.

March 14, 2016 in Faculty News, Legal Profession | Permalink

March 09, 2016

Latest LSAC data: applicants up 2.2% over last year

"As of 03/04/16, there are 279,020 applications submitted by 42,981 applicants for the 2016–2017 academic year. Applicants are up 2.2% and applications are up 1.8% from 2015–2016."

March 9, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

March 08, 2016

Where the 100 biggest law firms hire their new associates from

The National Law Journal's annual list, without much difference from past iterations.  Chicago has been sending a slightly higher percentage of the class into clerkships, which given the tightness of the results, matters.  Yale's relatively weak showing is no doubt due to a large number of students clerking and/or pursuing academia in one form or another (JD/PhDs, postdocs etc.).  NLJ does not, of course, look at hiring at high-powered boutiques, like Susman Godfrey or Bartlit Beck. 

March 8, 2016 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

March 05, 2016

Which College Majors Benefit Most and Least from Law School? (Michael Simkovic)

That’s the question Frank McIntyre and I try to answer in Value of a law degree by College Major. Economics seems to be the “best” major for aspiring law students, with both high base earnings with a bachelor’s degree and a large boost to earning with a law degree. History and philosophy/religion get a similarly large boost from a law degree but start at a lower undergraduate base and, among those with law degrees, typically end up earning substantially less than economics majors.

The abstract and a figure are below:

We estimate the increase in earnings from a law degree relative to a bachelor’s degree for graduates who majored in different fields in college. Students with humanities and social sciences majors comprise approximately 47 percent of law degree holders compared to 23 percent of terminal bachelor’s. Law degree earnings premiums are highest for humanities and social sciences majors and lowest for STEM majors. On the other hand, among those with law degrees, overall earnings are highest for STEM and Business Majors. This effect is fairly small at the low end of the earnings distribution, but quite large at the top end. The median annual law degree earnings premium ranges from approximately $29,000 for STEM majors to $45,000 for humanities majors.

These results raise an intriguing question: should law schools offer larger scholarships to those whose majors suggest they will likely benefit less from their law degrees? Conversely, should law schools charge more to those who will likely benefit the most?

Figure 3: ACS Mean Earnings for Professional Degree Holders (Narrow) by Selected Field of Study* (2014 USD Thousands)


ACSdegfig 3 revised

  • Includes degree fields with more than 700 professional degree holders in sample.

COMMENT FROM BRIAN LEITER:   The lumping of philosophy majors together with religion invariably pulls down the performance of philosophy majors!

March 5, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science, Student Advice | Permalink

March 03, 2016

Columbia's Katherine Franke replies to Milbank re: student event funding at Harvard Law

Professor Franke has replied to Milbank partner Thomas Arena's letter concerning funding of student events at Harvard (the subject of this open letter); she kindly gave me permission to share her response:   Download KF Response to Milbank

March 3, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink