March 15, 2016
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 09, 2016
March 05, 2016
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)
- 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 03, 2016
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
February 25, 2016
His diatribe is amusing, though for the record I think that anyone who runs a regression on what Rawls thinks should be fired! (Also, Steve, no one is interested anymore in what
Dworkin said--that's just a UCLA thing!)
February 23, 2016
Thomas Arena, a partner at Milbank, sent a letter to several faculty signatories of the open letter noted the other day (including me), and kindly gave me permission to share the response with readers of the blog:
Your open letter, relying on allegations in press reports, erroneously suggests that Milbank sought to “censor or influence the viewpoints being expressed at student-run events” and that Milbank threatened to terminate its five-year pledge to Harvard Law School. As Harvard Law School has publicly stated, the allegations are not accurate.
Here is what did happen. In 2012, Milbank agreed to establish the Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund at the Law School. The Fund called for Milbank to make a substantial gift, spread out over five years, to broadly support the school’s student journals and organizations.
The Office of the Dean of Students at the Law School administered the Fund through an application process open to all student organizations and journals, and the Dean of the Law School and the Dean of Students had sole discretion to determine how to allocate monies from the Fund. Milbank had no input whatsoever into the selection of student organizations or journals to receive grants from the Fund.
For the current school year, Harvard awarded grants from the Fund to dozens of student organizations. Although Milbank was pleased to support student-run organizations and journals at the Law School, the awarding of grants from the Fund by Harvard was never intended to constitute or imply an endorsement of the viewpoints expressed by any particular organization or journal. Milbank is a diverse organization, comprised of partners and employees with varying points of views on many issues. We are extremely proud of that diversity in opinions. Consistent with that diversity, while individuals at the firm are free to express their political views, the firm does not take political positions or endorse particular political views.
In October 2015, a Harvard student organization used a grant from the Fund to sponsor an event entitled, “The Palestinian Exception to Free Speech.” We became aware of the event when the sponsoring student organization posted a Facebook page to promote it. The Facebook page contained a controversial image and included statements accusing governments of violating international law and other persons and institutions of engaging in wrongful or harmful conduct. The sponsoring group, without consulting the firm, also included a statement that the event “is brought to you by the generous support of Milbank LLP,” which created a false impression, among many who viewed it, that the firm endorsed the views expressed by the group. At the request of the Law School, the sponsoring student organization removed the statement relating to Milbank from its Facebook page about the event.
February 22, 2016
The New York Times and American Lawyer have both reported on the decision of the distinguished New York law firm Milbank Tweed to pull funding for speakers invited by student groups at Harvard Law School after one group invited a speaker of which, apparently, the firm disapproves. This sets a very unfortunate precedent, and I would encourage other law professors to join me as a signatory to this open letter. Law schools depend on generous support from alumni, whether as individuals or as partnerships or otherwise, but that support should be offered in a way consistent with the academic and pedagogical mission of a law school and be viewpoint-neutral.
Provocative piece from Bloomberg News, prompted by a recent paper by Lynn LoPucki (UCLA). We've certainly seen this already in some sub-fields: e.g., first-generation law & economics scholars were almost all JDs, while the current generation are almost all JD/PhDs. The rise in expectations for scholarly writing from junior faculty candidates over the last twenty years has strongly favored those with PhDs, who, of course, have a lot of writing in hand. And some of this is simply attributable to the revolution in legal scholarship wrought by Richard Posner in the 1970s, which finally finished off the Langedellian paradigm of legal scholarship.
Although I'm quoted saying that the rise of JD/PhDs will continue, that's a descriptive not normative statement. I think different schools have different missions. And the relevance of the JD/PhD varies by field. We have ten current junior faculty, only four of whom are JD/PhDs. Our Dean is a JD/PhD, our two most recent tenures were one JD/PhD and one JD (who had even been a partner in a major law firm). We placed three Chicago candidates at "top" law schools this year, two were JD/PhDs, one a "mere" JD. I think my prediction is an accurate one--and at other top schools it's already come true--but it will be another twenty-five years before it is realized at the top law schools generally.