Friday, March 18, 2016

More on the new bar passage requirements

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A couple of philosophically-minded papers related to Nietzsche...

...with material perhaps of use to others with general interests in moral and political theory.  "Moralities are a Sign-Language of the Affects" offers an interpretation and defense of Nietzsche's moral psychology, with special attention to the relationship between moral judgment and emotional response, and some of the empirical evidence in support of Nietzsche's kind of view.  (This paper was published two years ago, but the PDF can now be made available on-line.)  "The Death of God and the Death of Morality" offers an interpretation of the moral import of Nietzsche's claim that "God is dead," focusing in particular on its import for moral egalitarianism and the basis of equality problem (in virtue of what are all humans morally equal?).

March 17, 2016 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

US 2016 rankings: a few remarkable "facts", plus reputation scores

Once again, Columbia Law School reports the best student-faculty ratio in the nation, clocking in at an incredible 6.1 to 1, compared to Yale's sorry 7.8/1, Stanford's 7.3/1, Chicago's 8.6/1 and Penn's 10/1--even though all those schools are smaller than Columbia.  Remarkable!

Equally remarkable are the 96.5% of NYU grads who were reported as employed at graduation!  Columbia managed only 95.7%, Chicago 93.6%, and Stanford 90.9%.  Of course, this is nothing compared to UVA's 98.3% employed at graduation! 

The academic reputation scores are gradually forming new clusters reflecting the "overall" U.S. news rank, and not anything else that's discernible.  In the academic reputation survey, 67% of those surveyed responded; meanwhile, the response rate to the lawyer/judge poll (always low), has apparently collapsed since (a) they don't report it, but (b) US is now using three years worth of surveys [instead of two] and averaging them!

The top 25 in academic reputation (US News score, most recent scholarly impact rank [2015])

1.  Harvard University (4.8) (2)

1.  Stanford University (4.8) (5)

1.  Yale University (4.8) (1)

4.  Columbia University (4.6) (7)

4.  University of Chicago (4.6) (3)

6.  New York University (4.5) (4)

6.  University of California, Berkeley (4.5) (9)

8.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.4) (15)

8.  University of Pennsylvania (4.4) (11)

10. University of Virginia (4.3) (17) 

11. Cornell University (4.2) (13)

11. Duke University (4.2) (8)

11. Northwestern University (4.2) (12)

14. Georgetown University (4.1) (15)

15. University of Texas, Austin (4.0) (20)

16. University of California, Los Angeles (3.9) (13)

16. Vanderbilt University (3.9) (9)

18. Emory University (3.5) (27)

18. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (3.5) (19)

18. Washington University, St. Louis (3.5) (21)

21. Boston University (3.4) (21)

21. University of Notre Dame (3.4) (25)

21. University of Southern California (3.4) (39)

21. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (3.4) (33)

21. University of Wisconsin, Madison (3.4) (not in the top 40)

The top 25 in lawyer/judge reputation

1.  Harvard University (4.8)

1.  Stanford University (4.8)

3.  University of Chicago (4.7)

3.  Yale University (4.7)

5.  Columbia University (4.6)

6.  New York University (4.5)

6.  University of California, Berkeley (4.5)

6.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.5)

6.  University of Virginia (4.5)

10. Duke University (4.4)

10. Northwestern University (4.4)

10. University of Pennsylvania (4.4)

Continue reading

March 16, 2016 | Permalink

Prawfs entry-level hiring thread is now open

If you've accepted a tenure-track job in a law school for next year, enter your information here.

March 16, 2016 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Statistician Hans Rosling: The Press Does Not Understand the World (Michael Simkovic)

Statistician and data visualization expert Hans Rosling recently took the media to task for misleading readers and viewers using unrepresentative anecdotes and ignoring contradictory data.

Rosling says "You can't trust the news outlets if you want to understand the world.  You have to be educated and then research basic facts."

While journalists often depict the developing world as full of "wars, conflicts, chaos" Rosling says "That is wrong.  [The press] is completely wrong.. . . You can chose to only show my shoe, which is very ugly, but that is only a small part of me. . . . News outlets only care about a small part but [they] call it the world."

Rosling complains that the slow but steady march of progress is not considered news.

Rosling is famous for his data visualizations, especially this video briefly illustrating 200 years of global progress toward health and prosperity.  It's optimism for the data-driven set (and is a big hit in my business law classes).


March 16, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science, Television, Weblogs | Permalink

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Law Schools Unfairly Ranked by U.S. News


I've occasionally commented in the past about particular schools that clearly had artificially low overall ranks in U.S. News, and readers e-mail me periodically asking about various schools in this regard.   Since the overall rank in U.S. News is a meaningless nonsense number, permit me to make one very general comment:   it seems to me that all the law schools dumped into what U.S. News calls the "second" tier--indeed, all the law schools ranked ordinally beyond the top 25 or 30  based on irrelevant and trivial differences-- are unfairly ranked and represented.  This isn't because all these schools have as good faculties or as successful graduates as schools ranked higher--though many of them, in fact, do--but because the metric which puts them into these lower ranks is a self-reinforcing one, and one that assumes, falsely and perniciously, that the mission of all law schools is the same.  Some missions, to be sure, are the same at some generic level:  e.g., pretty much all law schools look to train lawyers and produce legal scholarship.  U.S. News has no meaningful measure of the latter, so that part of the shared mission isn't even part of the exercise.  The only "measures" of the former are the fictional employment statistics that schools self-report and bar exam results.  The latter may be only slightly more probative, except that the way U.S. News incorporates them into the ranking penalizes schools in states with relatively easy bar exams.  So with respect to the way in which the missions of law schools are the same, U.S. News employs no pertinent measures. 

But schools differ quite a bit in how they discharge the two generic missions, namely, producing scholarship and training lawyers.  Some schools focus much of their scholasrhip on the needs of the local or state bar.  Some schools produce lots of DAs, and not many "big firm" lawyers.    Some schools emphasize skills training and state law.  Some schools emphasize theory and national and transnational legal issues.   Some schools value only interdisciplinary scholarship.  And so on.  U.S. News conveys no information at all about how well or poorly different schools discharge these functions.  But by ordinally ranking some 150 schools based on incompetently done surveys, irrelevant differences and fictional data, and dumping the remainder into a "second tier", U.S. News conveys no actual information, it simply rewards fraud in data reporting and gratuitously insults hard-working legal educators and scholars and their students and graduates.

March 15, 2016 in Rankings | Permalink

ABA Council recommends 75% bar passage rate, paid externships

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‚Äôs 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 15, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Harvard Law to abandon "Royall Shield" as symbol of the school

Announcement here.

March 15, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, March 14, 2016

Former Suffolk Dean Camille Nelson to be new Dean at American

American's announcement here.

(Thanks to Blog Emperor Caron for the pointer.)

March 14, 2016 in Faculty News | Permalink

Berkeley law grads, apparently having learned nothing about due process during their legal education, call for ex-Dean Choudhry to be fired from his tenured faculty position

This is really disgraceful for a bunch of alleged adults and lawyers, to call for the firing of a tenured faculty member based on a university investigation and a complaint, the latter of which is obviously not an adequate basis on which to base any conclusions.  I agree that the university investigation should have been sufficient to remove him from his role as the Dean, but the demand that he be fired from Berkeley "in any capacity" is shocking.  (The letter states:  "As long as Choudhry remains at Boalt or the University of California in any capacity, we cannot in good conscience contribute financially to Berkeley Law or to the University."  Ordinarily, everyone would recognize the inappropriateness of alumni making financial threats unless tenured faculty are fired.)

As a law professor in the UC system wrote to me:

Keep in mind we do not know what actually happened.  The Title IX proceeding gives the respondent no procedural rights.  He is not allowed to examine witnesses or to hear their testimony.  Sujit's admission is to violating a policy that did not require a finding that he knew or should have known his conduct was offensive.  The process and findings are confidential because the process is intended to err on the side of the complainant, and to permit quick remediation of the situation.

Was there an offense adequate for the revocation of tenure?  Perhaps, but right now, we have no idea, and the Berkeley law graduates should be embarrassed by their contempt for process and fairness.

ANOTHER:  And now the Chancellor of the UC System, a politician not an academic, has ordered Berkeley to begin proceedings that could lead to dismissal of the former Dean from his tenured faculty position.  At least there will be a process of some kind.

March 14, 2016 in Faculty News, Legal Profession | Permalink