Friday, June 12, 2015

Government Overcharging for Student Loans (Michael Simkovic)

The Department of Education has been overcharging low-risk professional school students for federal student loans (relative to the market rate) while keeping rates low for undergraduates who are far more likely to default. (For previous  coverage, see here, here and here).

Bloomberg BNA's Bankruptcy Reporter describes the predictable consequences of this politically driven mispricing: Professional graduates are refinancing into less expensive private loans and removing themselves from the government's risk pool. 

There is a simple solution that will shut down what Bloomberg describes as an "exodus of top borrowers" while preserving student lending profits for the benefit of taxpayers.   The government should charge low risk graduate students less.

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Update, June 13, 2015:  Jordan Weissmann at Slate covers the story.  

June 12, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice, Weblogs | Permalink

Monday, June 8, 2015

SSRN Downloads, Redux: "Top 10" U.S. law professors for "all time"

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) was cranky at me last month, so herewith the "all time" ten most downloaded U.S. law professors on SSRN:

1.  Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard) (230,377 downloads, 172 papers)

2.  Daniel Solove (George Washington) (229,918 downloads, 41 papers)*

3.  Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (205,141 downloads, 189 papers)

4.  Mark Lemley (Stanford) (161,607 downloads, 141 papers)

5.  Bernard Black (Northwestern) (161,459 downloads, 138 papers)

6.  Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) (111,432 downloads, 95 papers)

7.  Brian Leiter (Chicago) (103,669 downloads, 59 papers)

8.  Dan Kahan (Yale) (95,120 downloads, 54 papers)

9.  Eric Posner (Chicago) (92,878 downloads, 122 papers)

10. Orin Kerr (George Washington) (89,492 downloads, 49 papers)

 

*A single paper accounts for nearly two-thirds of Prof. Solove's downloads!

 

June 8, 2015 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Evidence scholar Jennifer Mnookin named Dean at UCLA

I'm sure that's going to prove a fabulous choice.  Congrats to Prof. Mnookin and UCLA!

June 4, 2015 in Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, June 1, 2015

UVA Law Dean Mahoney to step down in 2016 after 8 years at the helm

He had a very good tenure, not just based on objective indicia (like fundraising, where he did fabulously well), but based also on what I have heard again and again from faculty there.

June 1, 2015 in Faculty News | Permalink

Thursday, May 28, 2015

SSRN Downloads: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Haven't looked at SSRN downloads in a couple of years, but here's the top ten US law professors by downloads in the last 12 months as of May 1:

1.  Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (28,599 downloads, 24 new papers)

2.  Dan Kahan (Yale) (18,796 downloads, 5 new papers)

3.  Daniel Solove (George Washington) (18,503 downloads, 2 new papers)

4.  Mark Lemley (Stanford) (14,973 downloads, 8 new papers)

5.  Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard) (13,940 downloads, 0 new papers)

6.  Orin Kerr (George Washington) (12,254 downloads, 4 new papers)

7.  Brian Leiter (Chicago) (12,097 downloads, 9 new papers)

8.  Bernard Black (Northwestern) (10,561 downloads, 5 new papers)

9.  Jeremy Waldron (NYU) (8,214 downloads, 6 new papers)

10. Tim Wu (Columbia) (8,158 downloads, 2 new papers)

And given how close to the top ten, I should note that my colleague Eric Posner had 8,065 downloads and six new papers in the last 12 months.

As the cases of Solove and Bebchuk show, "oldies but goodies" can keep the downloads pouring in!

 

May 28, 2015 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In Memoriam: Daniel Meltzer (1951-2015)

The Harvard memorial notice is here.

May 26, 2015 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Monday, May 25, 2015

Charleston Law School will enroll students this fall...

...while undertaking additional cost-cutting measures.  It appears the School enjoys some strong support in the local Charleston community.

May 25, 2015 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lawsky's rookie hiring data for 2014-15

Here.  Prof. Lawsky counts only tenure-track hires, whether academic or clinical; she reports a total of 70 new hires this year, slightly down from last year.  (It's lower if one substracts the tenure-track clinical hires, though I have not counted carefully.)  The relatively small number of Yale JDs hired (only 6) is striking, though we don't know how many graduates of each school were on the market, though based on past years I would be surprised if there weren't several dozen Yale candidates seeking, meaning the vast majority failed to land positions.  21 of the 70 hires had Harvard JDs (though several of those were coming off Fellowships, like the Bigelow), while another 27 came from just five schools (Stanford, Yale, Chicago, Berkeley, and NYU).

May 20, 2015 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A curious sign of the times: Charleston Law students, acting as "creditors," seek to put school into receivership

Story here.  Is this possible?

May 19, 2015 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Another sign of the times: financial crisis at Pace Law School (UPDATED)

According to a faculty member, the Law School ran nearly a five million dollar deficit this year, and the Dean has pledged to cut $2.1 million of that next year, with a combination of moves:  the elimination of all sabbaticals, all research stipends, a 5% salary cut for senior staff, and a 10% salary cut for all faculty.  To make matters worse, the Dean, according to one source, "forbade anyone from speaking to the press about this. The materials he passed out carried two watermarks, one large across the text, and another secret one (or so he said), with each faculty member's name so he will know who the leak is, he said."  Since everyone familiar with legal education knows that many law schools are struggling with financial problems, it's mysterious (and counter-productive) for a Dean to make such a threat.

Pace faculty are concerned that there has been no attempt to buy out faculty (as other schools have done) and fear a further salary cut is in the offing before long.  The elimination of sabbaticals also has a number of Pace faculty perplexed, since with a reduction in its class size, Pace has excess teaching capacity, so it's not like sabbaticals require hiring adjuncts or visitors, so they do not add to costs.

UPDATE:  Prof. Alexander Greenawalt (Pace) writes:

I have not polled my peers but I believe that most of my colleagues would agree that there are serious inaccuracies in the report you received.  Of course I’m not thrilled to have my salary cut, but the truth is that we are part of a university that is continuing to support us, and I still have a great job at a great law school.  The main thrust of the dean’s remarks was that he is implementing budget cuts that will reduce our deficit without compromising the quality of the education we provide our students.  On that score, I believe he succeeded.  We are not the first law school to experience a faculty salary cut, and I don’t think this is a sign that we are a sinking ship. 

 

As to the specific allegations, the document in question is an internal memorandum written by my some of my faculty colleagues identifying possible budget cuts, several of which have not been adopted.  I think it’s obvious that any law school would treat this as a confidential document.  I doubt that my colleagues who authored it wanted it made public, and I think the dean would have been well within his rights to limit our access to it, for example by making it available for review only in hard copy in the dean’s suite.   Instead he decided to distribute individual copies, while taking measures to discourage (without prohibiting) public disclosure.  I haven’t picked up my copy yet, so I can’t tell you what it looks like or what watermarks it might have.  Perhaps he should have handled this distribution differently, but my honest belief is that he was acting out of a desire to be transparent rather than punitive.

 

In particular, I want to emphasize that there were no threats of any kind.  David did not forbid communications with the press, and indeed when asked about this he was quite clear that we were free to do what we wanted.  He did ask that we not leak the document to the press, and I think that’s a reasonable request.  Certainly, he did not specify any consequences if we did.

 

Regarding sabbaticals, David [the Dean] was clear that they will still be available for important scholarly projects.

 

I can’t speak for my anonymous faculty colleague, and certainly I am not accusing that person of dishonesty, but obviously we have very different recollections!

I thank Prof. Greenawalt for contacting me about this.  My source stands by the original account.  I think some of these issues may be matters of interpretation.   I do not think Pace is a "sinking ship" at all; it has an unusually strong faculty for a regional law school, and, as I noted originally, is facing the same issues that most American law schools are now facing.

May 14, 2015 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink