May 01, 2014
Texas A&M Law School (formerly Texas Wesleyan) names L&E scholar Andrew Morriss as new Dean
Press release here. That's a major hiring coup, which surely would not have been possible without Texas A&M taking over Texas Wesleyan. Morriss, most recently, held a Chair at the University of Alabama, and before that was at the University of Illinois.
ATL's approach to ranking law schools: decide what the result should be, then adjust the criteria accordingly
I wish I were making this up, but here it is:
“The top 15 or so are roughly the same schools as you would find in U.S. News and elsewhere,” explains Brian Dalton, research director for Above the Law. “Yale, Harvard and Stanford are the top three as they would be under any credible ranking scheme…"
Note that when U.S. News.com surveyed lawyers and judges last fall (with a 32% respones rate, an all-time high for these surveys), here were "the top three":
1. Harvard University (4.8)
1. Stanford University (4.8)
3. Columbia University (4.7)
3. University of Chicago (4.7)
3. Yale University (4.7)
But, heck, what do lawyers and judges know.
And here are the "top three" schools based on scholarly impact in the study by Greg Sisk (St. Thomas) and colleagues in 2012:
1. Yale University
2. Harvard University
3. University of Chicago
And the "top three" according to The National Law Journal based on big firm placement:
1. Columbia University
2. University of Chicago
3. New York University
And the "top three" in the business law areas:
1. Harvard University
2. Columbia University
3. New York University
But, of course, any "credible" ranking must replicate U.S. News.com....
If they really aren't about to go under, they surely deserve to if this is really their approach.
April 30, 2014
I don't get to agree with Justice Alito that often...
...but I can happily agree with this observation (from this profile):
The U.S. News and World Report rankings of law schools are an abomination. The legal profession and the country would be better off if they were eliminated. I gather that all these rankings are one of these things that keeps U.S. News and World Report in the black—unlike Newsweek.
(Thanks to Ronald Collins for the pointer.)
April 28, 2014
U of Arizona Dean Marc Miller profiled
April 22, 2014
Signs of the times: Moody's Downgrades Vermont Law's bond status again
UPDATE: More credit rating news from the National Law Journal.
April 18, 2014
Not the kind of law school trustee who builds good will
At NYU, but the Law School is defending the students.
April 17, 2014
Miami's Franks and Maryland's Citron on criminalizing "revenge porn"
Signs of the times, Oregon edition
A dispute at Oregon about whether to eliminate faculty raises, in order to use the money in other ways (appraently, to bolster the school's falling US New.com rank by funding more jobs for grads) has burst into public. I'm sure similarly unpleasant fights over scarce resources are going on at other schools. Although some sites linking to this are using it as an opportunity to attack Prof. Illig, there is no doubt he articulates concerns that many others probably share. (University of Oregon is chronically underfunded, and its salaries also lag that of other AAU schools, so that's part of the background here.)
April 16, 2014
Outgoing NYU President (and former Law Dean) Sexton continues to take a public relations beating
Chemerinsky & Menkel-Meadow opine in yesterday's NY Times...
...that things aren't as awful as the various charlatans and other law-school haters claim, and, predictably (given the social psychology), the charlatans and haters go crazy. I won't link to the hysterical reactions (they are easy enough to find with Google), but they boil down to one complaint: Chemerinsky & Menkel-Meadow cited NALP data without treating it as bogus (e.g., that JD Advantage jobs are really jobs [actually many of them are, but never mind]). That's true, they linked to the NALP data, but they didn't spend the rest of their piece debunking that data based on speculation, skepticism, and occasionally other actual evidence. This has certainly been a standing problem in the debate about American legal education, as when serious data analysis showed that legal education was a sound economic investment for the vast majority of students, and critics refused to believe that was true, though without any contrary evidence or analysis. So we can all agree that we should be more careful about how we present data and its import.
That being said, my main disagreement with Chemerinsky & Menkel-Meadow is about the necessity of three years of legal education, as I've said before: two years could work, and work very well for many students. In reality, the biggest obstacle to reducing costs in legal education, however, is unnoted in their op-ed: it remains the lax tenure standards and the unwillingness of universities to terminate tenured faculty for cause, i.e., when they manifestly do not do their job.
Imagine, for example, a law school that pays a six figure salary (closing in on 200K) to someone with almost no legal experience and an M.A. in literature who teaches the same couple of substantive courses year in and year out, courses in which he has no experience, whose teaching evaluations are consistently below average, who hasn't written any serious legal scholarship in years, who is regarded as a joke by his colleagues at his own school and in the academy at large, and who mostly spends his time insulting, defaming, and blackmailing colleagues who do their jobs. It endangers the institution of tenure when universities do not initiate proceedings to terminate malevolent charlatans like this. Many law schools, as we've noted before, are offering financial inducements to "buy out" senior faculty, most of whom are not charlatans. Real cost reduction, however, will require universities to move against the charlatans and the de facto retired in their midst, even those who have tried to insulate themselves from termination for cause by setting up frivolous retaliation claims.
UPDATE: More thoughts on reforming legal education from Michael Madison (Pitt).