Monday, March 19, 2018
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
"Academic Freedom and the Obligations of University Administrators" especially regarding faculty speech
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MARCH 12: UPDATED
A different wrinkle on this issue is presented by the new allegations that Prof. Amy Wax (Penn) has disparaged the academic performance of African-American students at her law school. Here academic freedom affords her no protection: any identifiable group of students at a school has a right not to be openly disparaged for its competence by faculty or administrators at their institution, and the Administration should both correct the record and would be within rights, in my view, to take disciplinary action against Prof. Wax (I do not think this is an offense justifying termination, but lesser disciplinary steps would be warranted). Think of it in Pickering terms: faculty disparagement of some identifiable portion of the student body interferes with the school's core functions, including helping members of the disparaged group find suitable employment upon completion of their education. (Contrary to the letter from the Penn alumni and students, it is not clear to me that Prof. Wax's statements violate the "anonymous grading policy," if the Penn one is like that at most schools: exams are marked without knowing the student's identity, but after the grades are turned in, the professor learns how each student performed. On the other hand, students have a reasonable expectation and entitlement, perhaps even protected by FERPA [I'm less sure about that], not to have their academic performance disclosed to third parties by the faculty member.)
UPDATE: Is Prof. Wax the Ann Coulter of the legal academy? Her colleague Tobias Wolff comments.
ANOTHER: Penn's Dean Ruger has removed Prof. Wax from teaching required 1L classes. As a punitive measure, that seems rather mild, given the breach of professional obligations involved, but perhaps he is taking other actions as well. A good line from Dean Ruger's statement:
Our first-year students are just that – students – not faceless data points or research subjects to be conscripted in the service of their professor’s musings about race in society.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
MOVING TO FRONT, SINCE IT IS THAT TIME OF YEAR (BLOG EMPEROR CARON: I'M LOOKING AT YOU!)
When the new rankings come out shortly, may I suggest that you not post the overall ranking. You all know the overall rank assigned to a school by U.S. News is meaningless, often perniciously so. It combines too many factors, in an inexplicable formula, and much of the underlying data isn't reliable, and some of it (e.g., expenditures on secretarial salaries and electriciy) isn't even relevant. You all know this. So don't report it. The fact that this garbage appears in what used to be a major 'news' magazine doesn't change the fact that it is garbage.
Instead, let me suggest that if you want to blog about the rankings when they come out, write about some of the underlying data that speaks for itself: the reputational scores, for example, or the bar passage rates, or the numerical credentials of the students. Those have limitations too--the median of 500 is not really comparable to the median of 200; the reputation scores are not based on presenting evaluators with any information about the schools being evaluated; and so on--but one can at least say clearly what the limitations are, and one is not hostage either to the dishonesty of the schools "reporting" the data or the sheer idiocy of the U.S. News ranking formula.
APRIL 9, 2009 ADDENDUM: I should also note that, to my knowledge, U.S. News has done nothing to address the methodological problems raised last year.
UPDATE (MARCH 5, 2013): The Dean of a flagship state law school writes, "Your post on US News Rankings is much appreciated. Schools like mine do not play the game, and truly try to keep our tuition low. We spend our money on our students and their education. The hypocrisy of the 'legal education reformers' astounds me. They will be the first to denigrate the education we offer here, since we are not a top 100 school. Thanks for the good message, even if not enough schools listen."
UPDATE (MARCH 10, 2014): Lawyer Bobby Cheren writes: "How about referring to them as the 'USNews.com' rankings from now on, as the magazine is essentially defunct?" Apt point!
AND REMEMBER: Changes in ranking do not mean anything in reality changed: it means only that some law schools lied/fudged in their data reporting/massaging more than their competitors.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
...by trying to prevent Christina Hoff Sommers from speaking. There are many things one could say about Dr. Sommers, but she is not, contrary to the students, a "fascist," and she has arguments that one can argue with. That law students, in particular, should behave this way is appalling.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
We did a related poll nearly a decade ago, and I've taken pointers from that one in constituting the list of candidates here (though this one covers a shorter time span). I also consulted lists of the most cited legal scholars and the most cited articles in compiling the list. For living faculty, only those 60 or older in 2018 were included. Have fun! Some figures straddle the pre- and post-1945 period, but you may consider the impact of their pre-1945 work on American legal thought since then.
SINS OF OMISSION from the poll include Thomas Merrill, Martin Redish, Martha Fineman, and Janet Halley, among others that have been called to my attention. Others complain that there are too many choices!
UPDATE: A number of readers complained that more than 100 choices was too many, and is clearly discouraging people from participating, so I've shut it down. I may try again, perhaps breaking this into more discreet areas of legal scholarship or even more discreet time periods. Thanks to all who voted, and thanks to those who sent feedback.
Friday, March 2, 2018
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Friday, February 23, 2018