December 01, 2016

U.S. LLM Programs Probably Benefit International Students (Part 2): Students who return home (Michael Simkovic)

In part 1 of this 2 part post, I noted that U.S. LLM programs may provide substantial financial benefits to students who remain in the United States, even if they do not necessarily pass a U.S. bar exam.  But what about the LLM graduates who return to their countries of origin?

While good data is hard to come by, it is easy to imagine how studying U.S. law might benefit lawyers working outside of the United States and hard to imagine how international programs could continue to attract applicants if returning lawyers did not speak favorably of their studies abroad. Indeed, some countries explicitly encourage students to study abroad and return home. U.S. higher educational institutions often have far better resources than those available in international students’ countries of origin.

Many efforts to “harmonize” and “modernize” corporate, commercial, and regulatory law have historically been efforts to adopt a more U.S.-like approach. For example, the Uniform Commercial Code is greatly admired and appreciated by international bankers and lawyers who have grappled with other countries’ fragmented and inconsistent approaches to secured credit. The U.S. Bankruptcy code is thought to be more conducive to entrepreneurship and consumer finance than the approach in many foreign jurisdictions. Many securities are issued under U.S. law. Many international transactions explicitly choose New York law. U.S. anti-trust law can extend to companies based outside of the United States. U.S. tax law helps drive many international transactions.

Derek Muller recently noted evidence suggesting lower first-time bar passage rates for international students taking the bar exam compared to graduates of ABA approved 3-year JD programs. Although his headline is provocative, Muller is careful to avoid overstating the significance of this finding. Lower bar passage rates are expected, considering that for many LLMs, English is a second language, while for most ABA-approved-JD graduates, English is a first language. On the bar exam, LLMs compete without accommodation on a timed exam with a large essay component with students who either speak English as a first language or have had many more years to immerse themselves in the English language. It can take years for immigrants to become roughly substitutable for U.S.-born workers.

But as noted in my previous post, from a consumer protection perspective, the relevant comparison is not U.S.-born-citizens versus immigrants or foreigners. It’s immigrants or foreigners with more U.S. education versus immigrants or foreigners with less U.S. education.

1-year degrees appear to provide benefits. It seems likely that a 3-year degree would provide international students even more benefits than a 1-year degree. But a 3-year degree would also cost more and take more time to complete, and might be unappealing to those planning to return home.

The U.S. has a history of using English-literacy tests to exclude immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe while permitting immigration from Northern Europe. Today, historians generally view these policies as discriminatory. It would be unfortunate if the ABA were to take a parallel approach today to deny access to U.S. legal education to lawyers from non-common-law countries on ill-considered consumer protection grounds. Many of those international students intend to return home rather than practice law in the United States. Some of those international students may face even lower odds of passing the bar exam in their countries of origin than in the United States, language barriers notwithstanding.

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December 1, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 30, 2016

Girlfriend of accused hitman in Markel case indicted for first-degree murder

It seems clear the prosecutors expect either her or Garcia, the accused hitman, to cooperate, so that they can indict some of the Adelsons as well.  Meanwhile, I wonder what patients of the Adelsons' dental practice think?  I think I would have switched dentists some time back in this sordid affair.

November 30, 2016 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 29, 2016

A tangle of lawsuits at Brooklyn Law School

U.S. LLM Programs Probably Benefit International Students (Part 1): Students Who Stay in the U.S. (Michael Simkovic)

At a conference I recently attended, some law professors and administrators seemed willing to assume the worst about LLM and international JD programs.[1] They seemed to think that LLM programs provide revenue to law schools but do little to help students. This stoked my curiosity about international law programs. It seems likely, as conference attendees suggested, that LLM admissions are less exclusive than JD admissions at comparable institutions. But lower selectivity does not imply that LLM programs fail to help their students.

Immigrants are generally at a disadvantage relative to those born in the United States because of language, culture, and legal issues. But comparing immigrants to U.S.-born individuals tells us nothing about the benefits of U.S. education for immigrants. Instead, we can either compare immigrants to those from their countries who stay home, or compare immigrants to each other by education level.

Decades of peer reviewed labor economics research indicates that additional education boosts earnings. Moreover, Immigration to the United States can often dramatically boost earnings for immigrants over the long term. Are foreign LLM programs or international JDs exceptions to widely observed trends regarding benefits of education and immigration?

While data is limited, the unsurprising answer appears to be: Probably not.

Using U.S. Census data (ACS), I found (in a very preliminarily, quick analysis intended primarily to satisfy my own curiosity) that an LLM might boost long term annual earnings by as much as $25,000 on average compared to a bachelor’s degree (depending on unobserved selection effects, the causal boost could be lower since these are cross-tabbed means by race sex and education level). The earnings boost from a JD for immigrants might be around two or two and a half times as high as the boost from an LLM.

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November 29, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 25, 2016

Law schools ranked by average indebtedness of graduates

The listing also includes the percentage of graduates with debt--the differences here between schools are sometimes striking.

November 25, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

November 22, 2016

July 2016 California bar exam "carnage"

That's the Blog Emperor's characterization of the latest results, though California still has many graduates of non-ABA-accredited law schools taking the California bar and passing at very low rates (1 out of 4 or less).

November 22, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

November 21, 2016

Interesting 7th Circuit opinion on CDA 230

The Court reverses a lower court decision dismissing the plaintiff's defamation claim against Gawker Media pertaining to comments on one of its websites--see the discussion that starts at p. 13.  Here's the crucial bit:

A company can, however, be liable for creating and posting, inducing another to post, or otherwise actively partici-pating in the posting of a defamatory statement in a forum that that company maintains. See Chi. Lawyers’ Comm., 519 F.3d at 671; see also Fair Hous. Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.Com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157, 1166–67 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) (concluding that a website was not a "passive transmitter of information provided by others" but instead helped develop the information by "requiring subscribers to provide the information as a condition of accessing its ser-vice, and by providing a limited set of pre-populated an-swers"); FTC v. Accusearch Inc., 570 F.3d 1187, 1199–1200 (10th Cir. 2009) (concluding that a website developed the in-formation by "solicit[ing] requests" for the information and then "pa[ying] researchers to obtain it").


Huon argues that the Act is inapplicable here because Gawker’s comments forum was not a mere passive conduit for disseminating defamatory statements. Rather, Gawker itself was an information content provider, insofar as the Gawker Defendants: (1) "encouraged and invited" users to defame Huon, through selecting and urging the most defa-mation-prone commenters to "post more comments and con-tinue to escalate the dialogue"; (2) "edited," "shaped," and "choreographed" the content of the comments that it re-ceived; (3) "selected" for publication every comment that appeared beneath the Jezebel article; and (4) employed indi-viduals who authored at least some of the comments them-selves.

I wonder what role worries about this issue played in the decision awhile back of Above the Law (also a defendant at an earlier stage in this litigation) to eliminate its comment sections?



November 21, 2016 in Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 17, 2016

Bureaucratic resistance to executive misconduct

Interesting points by my colleague Jennifer Nou.

November 17, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 16, 2016

Letter from attorneys opposing Bannon appointment to White House

It's a good letter, I've just signed, I hope others will too.

UPDATE:  If you want to know more about Bannon's reactionary and bizarre worldview, see this.

November 16, 2016 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

10% of law school enrollment is now non-JD students...

...more than double what it used to be twenty years ago, while only 30% of non-JD graduates pass the bar on the first try.

November 16, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink