Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, August 18, 2014

Legal externships, circa 1940

An amusing story, of special interest to Chicago folks.

(Thanks to Dean Rowan for the pointer.)


August 18, 2014 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Letter from law professors to Chancellor Wise at Illinois re: Salaita case

A good letter.  Signatories include Katherine Franke (Columbia), Michael Dorf (Cornell), Steven Shiffrin (Cornell) and many others.

ADDENDUM:  There's clearly only one defensible side to take on this case if you support academic freedom, tenure and freedom of speech, so it is somewhat depressing that some law professors (not those who signed the above letter, obviously) can't tell night from day.  None of Salaita's tweets incited violence or were racist; many were vulgar, but, you know what, that's tough shit:  he's allowed to be vulgar under the First Amendment.  (He's allowed to be a racist too, by the way--Illinois has had real ones on the faculty in the past.))  Many were tasteless and incendiary, though none are as ugly as the racist sentiments emanating from some prominent Israelis.  If they were, we wouldn't be hearing about this case, I'm sure.  For that's not what this case is about:  it's not about vulugar tweets, or stupid tweets, or tweets wishing misfortune befall his enemies, it's about the third rail of American public life, Israel.  He has been punished for expressing politically verboten views about Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, and doing so not with restraint or caution, but unapologetically and with vulgarity.  And punishing him for that is both unconstitutional and a breach of his contractual rights.  One can recognize that without taking any position on whether Salaita is a "brilliant" scholar (as one petition asserted, which I did not sign for that reason--I have no reason to believe he is or isn't, and it is also wholly irrelevant), or whether his views about Israel are correct or defensible, or whether you'd want to invite him to dinner.  He went through the regular channels for tenured appointment at Illinois, received and accepted an offer from the university, and reasonably relied on that when he moved to Illinois to begin his job.  This case is as clear as they come.

MORE:  There is a copy of the correspondence between Illinois and Salaita here.  You will note that the offer letter says the appoitnment is "subject to approval by the Board of Trustees."  It says nothing about the appointment being subject to unilateral revocation by the Chancellor, which is what happened here.  But that aside, as many department chairs have pointed out to the Chancellor (I've seen some of the letters), this will make the appointments process for all departments going forward incredibly difficult, since what was previously taken to be a pro forma part of the process has proven not to be.

ANOTHER:  Michael Dorf (Cornell) replies to some of the criticisms of his original analysis.  Having spoken with some contracts scholars, there's no doubt that Dorf is right about the promissory estoppel point.  The other rationalization for this violation of Salaita's contractual and constitutional rights in circulation is that his tweets might make his students uncomfortable or might indicate that he would treat students with contrary views unfairly.  Both claims are speculative, and I find it hard to believe anyone takes the first seriously:  do you really forfeit your right to be terminated for cause, and your First Amendment rights, if some of your students might be "uncomfortable"?   If a professor mistreats his students in reality, then the university has an obligation to sanction such conduct and, in an extreme case, initiate the process leading to termination.  The University could even initiate a process for firing Salaita on the grounds that his tweets constitute cause; they should not prevail on that ground, but at least that procedure would be far more defensible than unilateral revocation by the Chancellor, a condition nowhere mentioned in the formal offer letter.

BREAKING NEWS:  The great German writer Heinrich Heine apparently just tweeted this:

My wishes are: a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door; and if God wants to make my happiness complete, he will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees.  Before death I shall, moved in my heart, forgive them all the wrong they did me in their lifetime.  One must, it is true, forgive one's enemies-- but not before they have been hanged.

Word is Chancellor Wise will not be putting his tenured appointment before the Board of Trustees either.  (Political theorist Corey Robin [Brooklyn/CUNY] has a few more quotes in this vein.)

THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED should peruse Salaita's twitter account (he is a prolific tweeter, to put it mildly).  The primary theme of the first 100 or so items is that 300 children in Gaza have been killed, and there can never be a justification for killing children, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity etc..  I didn't even come across any vulgarity!  No doubt the various right-wing bloggers cherry-picked the most incendiary and tasteless stuff, but I would describe the sample I just looked at as more sentimental ("think of the children!") than incendiary.  (There's more on the "controversial" tweets here--the context is telling.)

ANOTHER:  Prof. Michael Rothberg, Chair of English at Illinois, has another good letter on this issue.  It's increasingly clear that the whole discussion has been warped by misrepresentation of Salaita's tweets, first by right-wing hacks like William Jacobson, the clinical professor at Cornell who is an embarrassment to that university, and then by Cary Nelson.


August 16, 2014 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Friday, August 15, 2014

Diane Ravitch has some good questions for Larry Tribe

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another "alliance" between a free-standing law school and a university...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Replying to critics of "Why Tolerate Religion?"

The journal Criminal Law & Philosophy kindly organized a symposium on my book, with essays by F. Boucher (Montreal) & C. Laborde (UCL), F. Schauer (Virginia), C. Brettschneider (Brown) and P. Jones (Newcaslte).  A draft of my reply is here.


August 13, 2014 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Sensible analysis of the legal issues in the Salaita case at Illinois...

...by Michael Dorf (Cornell). 

(Thanks to Stephen Diamond for the pointer.)


August 13, 2014 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A couple of thoughts on FAR forms

It's that time of year when I spend a lot of time looking at draft FAR forms and learning about the sometimes strange advice others in the profession are giving to candidates.  Let me set out a few of my own thoughts, and invite readers to comment:

1.  My rule of thumb is that in a given year about 10% of schools are looking to hire "best athletes" and about 90% are doing curricular-driven hires.  Those are rough estimates--many of the 90% want "best athletes" too, of course, assuming they can plausibly meet the curricular need.  That means the curricular listings on the FAR form are crucial.   Under the new FAR regime, there are two lists of five:  the left-hand list is the most important, signalling both the candidate's primary teaching and research interests.  It is crucial, in my view, to fill all five slots on the left.  It is also crucial, in my view, for candidates not to pretend to be someone they are not.  True story, from a couple of years ago, though I've changed a few identifying details:  we had a candidate, call him Mr. C, who was clearly a specialist in XYZ, a course that all law schools offer, but which they don't often advertise in.  Mr. C was advised by faculty not at Chicago to list XYZ fifth in the left-hand column, or perhaps move it to the right-hand column, and instead list two or three 1L courses at the top of the lefthand column.  I said this was horrible advice, Mr. C followed my advice and listed XYZ at the very top of the left-hand column, followed by areas in which Mr. C was genuinely interested, including one or two bread-and-butter courses.  Mr. C had no trouble getting a job.  My advice:  be who you are, and not someone else.  Strategic decisions about what courses to list stand out like a sore thumb.  The courses in the lefthand column, your writing, your recommenders, your practice experience should, ideally, form a coherent and mutually reinforcing package.

2.  With regard to the right-hand list of courses, I think it is less crucial to have five, and it is reasonable to treat these as "courses you'd be willing to teach if asked," but which you are unlikely to be questioned about at interviews in any detail.

3.  I generally disfavor adding "comments."  My basic attitude is:  you don't list yourself as a reference, don't recommend yourself in the comment sections.  Sometimes factual information can be added to comments:  e.g., specifying what your litigation practice focused on; or listing additional references beyond the "big three."  Comments of the form, "My practice experience complements my research, and will allow me to bring a unique perspective to the classroom" are an embarrassment and should never appear anywhere on a FAR form.

4.  Speaking of the "big three" references:  my general advice is to list them alphabetically, unless it is really important to signal that some really knows you much better.   Do not list the judges you clerked for, schools will assume they are available as references.   If you are in a VAP or Fellowship, at least one academic reference from the VAP/Fellowship school is highly desireable.  

5.  In general, do not list works-in-progress under "publications" since they are not; the exception is for someone who has no other publications, or few publications, or publications a bit unrelated to the candidate's current area.  And in that case, make sure to clearly identify it as a work-in-progress.

6.  Needless to say, don't list any "work-in-progress" you aren't prepared to share.  If it's on the FAR, it's fair game for a school to ask for it.

What do readers think?  Signed comments only, full name and valid e-mail address.


August 12, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lateral hires with tenure 2013-14

MOVING TO FRONT FOR THE LAST TIME (originally posted Oct. 16, 2013)--far more lateral hires than one would have expected given the economic climate.  Late additions bolded.

These faculty haved accepted appointments with tenure that will begin in 2014-15:

*Howard Abrams (tax) from Emory University to the University of San Diego.

 

*Mark L. Adams (labor & employment law) from Valparaiso University to the University of Idaho (as Dean).

 

*Michelle Wilde Anderson (local government, land use) from the University of California, Berkeley to Stanford University.

 

*Anthony Appiah (moral & political philosophy) from Princeton University (Philosophy) to New York University (joint with the Philosophy Department, Law School, and NYU-Abu Dhabi).

 

*Kenneth Ayotte (bankruptcy, law & economics) from Northwestern University to the University of California, Berkeley. [Listed last year, but move is effective in 2014]

 

*Oren Bar-Gill (contracts, law & economics) from New York University to Harvard University.

 

*Mitchell N. Berman (criminal law, constitutional law, jurisprudence) from the University of Texas, Austin to the University of Pennsylvania.

 

*John Borrows (indigenous law, comparative law, human rights) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities back to the University of Victoria.

 

*Mark Brandon (constitutional law) from Vanderbilt University to the University of Alabama (to become Dean).

 

*William Buzbee (environmental law, administrative law) from Emory University to Georgetown University.

 

*Jenny Carroll (criminal procedure) from Seton Hall University to the University of Alabama.

 

*Sujit Choudhry (comparative constitutional law) from New York University to the University of California, Berkeley (to become Dean).

 

*Steve Clowney (property, land use) from the University of Kentucky to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

 

*Andrew Coan (constitutional law, civil procedure) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison to the University of Arizona.

 

*Jennifer Collins (criminal law, family law) from Wake Forest University to Southern Methodist University (to become Dean).


*Jorge Contreras (intellectual property, patents) from American University to the University of Utah.  

 

*Steven Davidoff (corporate law) from Ohio State University to University of California, Berkeley. [move listed last year, but is actually effective in 2014]

 

*Dhammika Dharmapala (tax, corporate law & finance, law & economics) from the University of Illinois to the University of Chicago.

 

*Michael Doran (tax) from Georgetown University back to the University of Virginia.

 

*Justin Driver (constitutional law) from the University of Texas, Austin to the University of Chicago.

 

*Lee Epstein (empirical legal studies, judicial behavior, law & politics) from the University of Southern California to Washington University, St. Louis.

 

*Kimberly Ferzan (criminal law, jurisprudence) from Rutgers University, Camden to the University of Virginia.

 

*Kaaryn Gustafson (law & inequality, poverty law, criminal procedure) from the University of Connecticut to the University of California, Irvine.

 

*Michele B. Goodwin (law & technology, bioethics, constitutional law) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities to the University of California, Irvine.

 

*G. Mitu Gulati (contracts, corporate, law & economics, empirial legal studies) from Duke University to the University of Southern California. (Gulati will stay at Duke)

 

*Emily Hammond (energy law, environmental law, administrative law) from Wake Forest University to George Washington University.

 

*Bernard Harcourt (criminal law, critical theory) from the University of Chicago to Columbia University.

 

*David Hasen (tax) from Santa Clara University to the University of Colorado, Boulder.

 

*Michael Hatfield (tax, legal ethics, wills & estates) from Texas Tech University to the University of Washington, Seattle.

 

*Christine Hurt (corporate law, tax) from the University of Illinois to Brigham Young University.

 

*Darian Ibrahim (corporate) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison to the College of William & Mary.

  

*Charles Jalloh (international human rights, international criminal law) from the University of Pittsburgh to Florida International University.

 

*Cathleen Kaveny (law & religion, ethics) from the University of Notre Dame to Boston College.

 

*Kimberly Krawiec (corporate) from Duke University to the University of Southern California. (Krawiece will stay at Duke)

 

*Andrew Kull (restitution, contracts, constitutional law) from Boston University to the University of Texas, Austin.

 

*Amy Landers (intellectual property) from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law to Drexel University.

 

*Gillian Lester (employment law) from the University of California, Berkeley to Columbia University (as Dean in January 2015).

 

*Jacqueline Lipton (intellectual property, Cyberlaw) from the University of Houston to the University of Akron.

 

*Robert MacCoun (law & psychology) from the University of California, Berkeley to Stanford University.

 

*Patricia McCoy (insurance law, consumer law, regulation of financial services) from the University of Connecticut to Boston College.

 

*Edward R. Morrison (bankruptcy, law & economics, empirical legal studies) from the University of Chicago back to Columbia University.

 

*Andrew Morriss (law & economics, labor & employment law, energy law, environmental law, business regulation) from the University of Alabama to Texas A&M University [formerly Texas Wesleyan Law] (to become Dean)

 

*Samuel Moyn (legal history) from Columbia University (History Dept) to Harvard University (Law School).

 

*Xuan-Thao Nguyen (intellectual property, tax) from Southern Methodist University to Indiana University, Indianapolis.

 

*Saule Omarove (banking law, financial regulation, corporate finance) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to Cornell University.

 

*Eduardo Penalver (property, law & religion) from University of Chicago back to Cornell University (to become Dean).

 

*Wendell Pritchett (land use, legal history, urban policy) from Rutgers University, Camden (where he was Chancellor) back to the University of Pennsylvania.

 

*Intisar A. Rabb (Islamic law) from New York University to Harvard University.

 

*Robert Rhee (corporate law & finance) from the University of Maryland to the University of Florida, Gainesville.

 

*L. Song Richardson (criminal law & procedure) from the University of Iowa to the University of California, Irvine.


*Kalyani Robbins (environmental law) from the University of Akron to Florida International University.

 

*Troy Rule (property, natural resources & energy law, land use, real estate) from the University of Missouri to Arizona State University. 

 

*Gregory Shaffer (international law, international trade) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities to the University of California, Irvine.

 

*Stephen Sheppard (international, environmental, and constitutional law; legal history) from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville to St. Mary's University (to become Dean).

 

*David Sklansky (criminal law & procedure) from the University of California, Berkeley to Stanford University.

 

*A. Benjamin Spencer (civil procedure) from Washington & Lee University to the University of Virginia.

 

*Paul Stancil (civil procedure, antitrust) from the University of Illinois to Brigham Young University.

 

*Nancy Staudt (tax) from the University of Southern California to Washington University, St. Louis (to become Dean).

 

*Adam Steinman (civil procedure, federal courts) from Seton Hall University to the University of Alabama.

 

*Kristen Stilt (Islamic law and society, legal history) from Northwestern University to Harvard University.

 

*David Studdert (health law, empirical legal studies) from the University of Melbourne to Stanford University (joint with the Law School and the Medical School). 

 

*Eric Talley (corporate law, law & economics) from the University of California, Berkeley to Columbia University (in 2015).

 

*Donald Tobin (tax, election law) from Ohio State University to the University of Maryland (to become Dean).

 

*Christopher Tomlins (legal history) from University of California, Irvine to the University of California, Berkeley.

 

*Gerald Torres (environmental law, Federal Indian law, critical race theory) from the University of Texas, Austin to Cornell University.

 

*Deborah Tuerkheimer (criminal law, domestic violence, feminist legal theory) from DePaul University to Northwestern University.

 

*Jeremy Waldron (political & legal philosophy), who had been part-time at Oxford University and part-time at New York University the past two years, will return full-time to NYU.

 

*Robert Weber (corporate law & finance, banking law) from the University of Tulsa to Georgia State University (he is moving to GSU, but it is a lateral tenure-track move, not tenured)

 

I will move this to the front of the blog at various intervals during the year.


August 10, 2014 in Faculty News | Permalink

Friday, August 8, 2014

More signs of the times: Albany Law School exploring "operational alliance"...

...with the State University of New York at Albany (which does not have a law school--there's only one state law school in New York, at Buffalo; there's one other public law school, in the City University of New York system).

UPDATE:  You can get a sense of the extent of the faculty buyouts at Albany from the much-expanded list of emeriti, many rather youthful by current retirement standards.  The new emeriti faculty includes Albany's most nationally eminent scholar, the legal historian Paul Finkelman.


August 8, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summary of proposed changes to ABA regs governing law schools

NLJ has a useful account, but it seems an exaggeration to describe this as a "makeover."  Some (like the pointless increase in required clinical hours for law students) will raise the cost of legal education, but others (no minimum student-faculty ratio, no requirement of private faculty offices [!], greater latitude in granting variances from the other regs) may, at the margins, reduce costs, but only at the margins--the majority of law schools, who want to compete for students and faculty are not going to let their student-faculty ratios go sky-high or stop providing faculty their own offices.  My guess is that, in the end, this is all much ado about nothing, except for the windfall for experiential teachers.   The real changes afoot are being brought on by the declining applicant pool, which is affecting, in differing ways, 90% of the law schools in the country; most are contracting, some are increasing the teaching loads of their faculty, and a handful will probably close, barring a sudden turnaround.

 


August 5, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink