July 22, 2016

Revenge porn law introduced in Congress

An important milestone; law professor Mary Anne Franks (Miami), the primary author of the bill, is quoted in the article.

(Thanks to Jason Walta for the pointer.)

UPDATE:  An op-ed by Prof. Franks about the law.  If there is, in fact, a successful First Amendment challenge to the law, it would just be a further indication of how wrong U.S. free speech doctrine is in important respects.


July 22, 2016 in Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

July 20, 2016

Obligations of law faculty to disclose research supported by those with a stake in the findings?

Prof. Jeff Sovern (St. John's) writes:

I have been wondering about the extent of law professors’ ethical obligations to disclose when their research has been supported by a grant from a group with a stake in the findings, and because you are the de facto moderator of the law professor village square, I wondered if you would consider posting the item below to your blog and seeking comment. I apologize for its length.

 

A grant that results in the publication of a law review article or similar publication should be acknowledged in the article, but what about later work in the same general area that espouses a policy position consistent with what the grantor would have wanted? That issue is germane to a 2013 article in The Nation, The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street which criticized academics (notably, George Mason’s Todd Zywicki) for failing to disclose in papers, congressional testimony, speeches, op-eds, etc. compensated work for the financial industry.  The AALS has been rather vague on this subject, but here’s what it said in its Statement of Good Practices by Law Professors in the Discharge of Their Ethical and Professional Responsibilities: “Sponsored or remunerated research should always be acknowledged with full disclosure of the interests of the parties. If views expressed in an article were also espoused in the course of representation of a client or in consulting, this should be acknowledged.” It’s not at all clear to me that the conduct described in The Nation article violated that policy.

 

My own concern is more personal.  My law school (St. John’s) accepted a grant from an organization with ties to a particular industry.  My co-authors and I conducted a survey financed by this grant (we had to purchase a software license, compensate those who completed the survey, and so on) and published a law review article about our findings.  We had complete control over the survey and what we wrote about our findings and the grantor did not comment on them; in all respects, its behavior was exemplary.  We acknowledged the funder in the article.  Later, I wrote some op-eds about our work, and acknowledged the grantor again.  Still later, I wrote op-eds about the broader subject, giving no more than a sentence to our research, or not mentioning it at all. Do I have an obligation in the later op-eds to mention the grantor?  Would readers want to know that my law school accepted money from the grantor which supported my research?  If your answer is no, do you see anything wrong with the conduct described in The Nation article?  If you answer is yes, would it be different if the funder were not associated with a particular industry or point of view?

 

Perhaps the AALS would consider updating and elaborating on its statement.  It might be a good project for professors specializing in professional responsibility. When the AALS re-evaluates a school for membership every seven years, does it inquire into compliance with this aspect of its Statement of Good Practices?  Should it? 

Good questions, I've opened it for comments.  (Submit your comment only once, comments are moderated, and may take awhile to appear.)


July 20, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 19, 2016

Hiring committees can announce themselves...

...and their curricular priorities here.


July 19, 2016 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

July 18, 2016

A first sign of trouble with the new Elsevier-owned SSRN

July 12, 2016

Cooter & Ulen's famous Law & Econ text is now available for free download...

...from Berkeley.

(Thanks to Dean Rowan for the pointer.)


July 12, 2016 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice | Permalink

June 30, 2016

One benefit of Elsevier taking over SSRN...

...you can now search the full text of papers on SSRN.


June 30, 2016 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

The "Chicago-Style" article

Finally, a clear explanation of what most of my colleagues are doing!


June 30, 2016 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

June 24, 2016

Why The New York Times Should Correct Remaining Factual Errors in Its Law School Coverage

Last week I wrote an open letter to New York Times reporter Noam Scheiber discussing problems with his law school coverage and his reliance on low quality sources such as internet blogs and "experts" who lack relevant expertise rather than peer reviewed labor economics research.  By email, Scheiber insisted that there was nothing wrong with his coverage, but he'd be happy to hear of any specific factual problems I could identify.  

I identified 6 clear factual errors and multiple misleading statements.  I also reinterviewed his lead source, John Acosta and found important discrepancies between how Scheiber depicted Acosta as someone who was suckered into un-repayable debt, while Acosta describes his own situation as hopeful and law school as a worthwhile and carefully researched investment.  New York Times Dealbook reporter and U.C. Berkeley Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon weighed in, citing my research and supporting my points.

Scheiber posted a response to his facebook page, after running it by his editors at the New York Times.  The New York Times agreed to correct the most minor of the six errors I identified. They also "tweaked" two sentences so that the language was less definitive.

Scheiber's response includes some good points (many students from Valparaiso might be below the 25th percentile of law school graduates) as well as strained interpretations of the language of his original article: "fewer" did not actually mean "fewer"'; "Harvardesque" did not actually mean "similar to Harvard."  Scheiber describes my presentation of data that contradicts his factual claims as "strange", "bizarre", "odd", "overly-literal" and (on Twitter) "gripes."   Interestingly, Scheiber thinks that "most law school graduates who pass the bar are going to have at least a few hundred thousand dollars in assets like 401k and home equity by the time they work for 20 years."  This level of savings would make them far more financially secure than the vast majority of the U.S. population.

My response to Scheiber is below.  I explain why The New York Times has an obligation to its readers to correct the remaining uncorrected factual errors in Scheiber's story.

Scheiber embedded his response in my explanation of the 6 clear factual errors in his story, and I in turn embedded my response within his response.  To ease readability, I have color coded Scheiber's response in orange, and my new response in blue.  Scheiber's response is indented once, and my new response is indented twice.  The least indented black text at the beginning of each thread is from the list of 6 clear factual errors, and can be skipped (scroll down until you see orange or blue text) by those who have followed the discussion thus far.

UPDATE: June 25, 2016:  Yesterday, The New York Times posted an additional minor correction to its discussion of taxation of debt forgiveness, stating that debt forgiveness would "probably" be treated as taxable income.  This is an improvement over the original, but could still mislead or confuse readers.  It also leaves many of the most important errors uncorrected.  

Scheiber  tells me that the "tweaks" to the language which he communicated to me in his facebook post from Tuesday 6/21 actually happened on Friday evening 6/17.   This would make them coincide with the timing of my open letter, but before my more detailed explanation of 6 clear factual errors. Scheiber tells me that these "tweaks" were not made in response to my letter, although he has not specified when on Friday evening the changes were made. They appear to have been made after I sent him the letter. 

 

Continue reading


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

June 09, 2016

Journalism researcher: To correct misinformation, essential to monitor and respond immediately (Michael Simkovic)

Scholars Strategy Network's No Jargon: 13: The Misinformation Age
https://overcast.fm/+Feqoo83GI

Professor Brian Southwell explains why people tend to believe false information and discusses strategies for correcting the public perception of misinformation. Southwell is a professor of Mass Communication at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


June 9, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

June 07, 2016

Cravath raises starting salaries to 180K (12.5% hike)

This is the first hike in first-year associate salaries in nearly a decade.  All the major New York firms will have to follow suit, and one can expect that the leading firms in all other markets will also raise their salaries as well.

ADDENDUM:  The amusing typo in the original headline ("startling" to "starting") has been fixed!


June 7, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink