Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

July 2014 California bar exam results

Blog Emperor Caron crunches the numbers.

December 31, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

A brief video discussion of "Why Tolerate Religion?" with Prof. Weiler at the EUI

During my October "Italy tour" (when I gave the Fresco Lectures at Genoa, and also gave a seminar at Palermo), I was fortunate to visit the European University Institute for the first time, thanks to Prof. Dennis Patterson.  While there, Joseph Weiler, President of the EUI and editor in chief of the European Journal of International Law, asked to record a short discussion about Why Tolerate Religion?

December 31, 2014 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More on the legal employment market: facts and myths

Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara) comments on a recent story.

December 30, 2014 in Legal Profession | Permalink

Monday, December 29, 2014

Overall law school enrollments in two cities: Chicago, Philadelphia

Blog Emperor Caron reports the trends.

December 29, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Memoriam: Jeremy Blumenthal

Professor Jeremy Blumenthal of Syracuse University School of Law passed away last week.  He was young and still early in a very productive career.  

December 23, 2014 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

More signs of the times: LSU offering retirement incentives to 7 tenured faculty over 65

Story here.

December 23, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Blast from the past: "Why Philosophy Has Been Central to Legal Education"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ABA data on 2014 law school enrollment

Here; an excerpt:

The 204 ABA-approved law schools reported total J.D. enrollment (full-time and part-time students) of 119,775. This is a decrease of 8,935 students (6.9 percent) from 2013 and a 17.5 percent decrease from the historic high total J.D. enrollment in 2010. The 2014 total enrollment is the lowest since 1982, when there were 169 ABA-approved law schools.


Law schools reported that 37,924 full-time and part-time students began their studies in the fall of 2014. This is a decrease of 1,751 students (4.4 percent) from 2013 and a 27.7 percent decrease from the historic high 1L enrollment of 52,488 in 2010. The 2014 1L enrollment is the lowest since 1974, when there were 151 ABA-approved law schools.


Nearly two-thirds of ABA law schools (127) experienced declines in first-year enrollment from the prior year. At 64 law schools, 1L declines exceeded 10 percent. At 25 schools, 1L enrollment declined by more than 20 percent. Twenty-five schools reported entering classes of fewer than 100 students.


At 69 schools, 1L enrollment increased from 2013. At 36 schools, 1L enrollment was up by less than 10 percent, and at 33 schools, enrollment increased by more than 10 percent. At 11 schools, enrollment increased by more than 20 percent. At 28 schools, the number of 1L students stayed within five students above or below last year’s figures.

December 17, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, December 15, 2014

On retinal detachment

Many thanks to colleagues here and elsewhere who got in touch with their good wishes and their own stories about retinal detachment after I posted briefly about mine.   I was lucky, having caught mine early, which I'll describe a bit more, below.  But if you're over 40 and near-sighted (both risk factors), do take a look at the Mayo clinic page so that you know what to watch for by way of symptoms--without prompt treatment, retinal detachment can lead to a complete loss of vision in the affected eye.  By contrast, caught early, the existing treatments are extremely effective.

I knew some of the symptoms precisely because I had read the Mayo clinic page a couple of years ago, when I had some unusual "floaters" in one of my eyes (I forget which one, actually):  they were colored, zig-zag lines, not enough to interfere with my vision, but enough to be noticeable.   Often these kinds of eye floaters are harmless and symptomatic of nothing; this turned out to be the case with mine that time, and they went away after a few days, but I did get them checked out by my opthamologist since sometimes they are the first symptom of a retinal tear. 

The retina is attached to a membrane at the back of the eye by a kind of suction; if the retina develops a tear, fluid gets behind the retina and breaks the "seal" between retina and membrane--that's a detachment.  If the tear is caught early enough, it can be effectively "welded" shut through a laser (it is painless, believe it or not) before any detachment begins.  But if the tear is not sealed soon enough, the retina can begin to detach.  The telltale symptom of detachment is a dark or shadowy spot in one's field of vision, which, in severe cases, can appear like a curtain moving across one's eye.   Here is where I was lucky--I noticed a tiny dark spot in the corner of my right eye (the more near-sighted of my eyes, though I should note I'm not especially myopic) near the bridge of my nose.  At first, I thought it was just a speck of dirt on my glasses--that's how small it was.  But then I realized it was there even when I didn't have my glasses on.  My wife thought there was some kind of little bump in the corner of my eye, and so then I thought that might be what I was seeing.  But the bump disappeared, and the spot did not.  After about a week, I went to my opthamologist, who had to use two different kinds of examining lenses to finally spot the tear and the detachment on the retina.  Fortunately, things had not progressed very far, and that afternoon I was at the retinal surgeon's office not far from Hyde Park. 

I should note I'm very squeamish about my eyes--I don't use contacts, and I hate having my eye pressure checked, so I viewed this affair with some trepidation.  I'm happy to report that the procedures were remarkably easy to undergo.  With some local anesthetic in and around the affected eye, the surgeon injects a gas bubble into the eye--painless, though the eye felt a bit tender aftewards.  The bubble floats up and reattaches the retina to the membrane behind it.  The following day, the surgeon used the laser to seal the tear--86 shots of the laser light were required (some patients require 1,000 or more!).  I was lucky that the tear was high up on the retina (roughly where the small hand is when it's 10:30) and the tear was not very big.  For the first few days, I was not allowed to do any reading that required back-and-forth eye movement--this was to allow the tear to seal and to keep the gas balloon pushing in place against the retina so that it remained attached.  I also couldn't look anyone in the eye--I had to keep my eyes looking downward, at everyone's stomach rather than face.  That was odd, but depending on where the tear is, one might have to keep one eyes looking up the whole time.  I also could only sleep on my left side at night, once again so the gas balloon stayed in place.  Fortunately, the treatment was so effective that after only four days, I was given a reprieve on both reading and looking straight ahead, and two weeks later all limits on reading were removed and I was allowed to roll over at night.  The gas balloon is still there, but gradually shrinking and it will disappear over the next few weeks (the gas balloon is in part of one's field of vision--in my case the bottom since the balloon is at the top of the retina--it's a bit like looking through a glass of water.).  A follow-up visit in a few weeks will determine whether the tear is still sealed and the retina still attached, but my surgeon is optimistic given where we are.

Having a retinal tear or detachment is a risk factor for having another one, alas, so I will have to be vigilant for any symptoms, starting with new eye floaters.  But as these things go, I was lucky; I've heard from many others who had more complicated ordeals, with more dramatic detachments, sometimes multiple surgeries--though all were ultimately successful. 

I hope this information proves helpful to some readers in the future!

ADDENDUM:  I'm opening comments for any other advice or experiences that might be relevant; post your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.

December 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?


With luck (and luck will help more than usual in what is a very tight year on the academic job market), some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months.  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell my Texas and Chicago advisees they need to find out, and in the interest of having it written down in one place and for the benefit of others too, here it is (not in order of importance):

1.  You will want to get (in writing eventually) the basic salary information, obviously, and the nature of summer research support and the criteria for its award (is it automatic for junior faculty?  contingent on prior publication [if so, how much?]?  awarded competitively (if so, based on what criteria/process)?).   You should also find out how salary raises are determined.  Are they, for example, lock-step for junior faculty?  Fixed by union contract?  (Rutgers faculty, for example, are unionized, a huge advantage and why they are among the best-paid faculty, not just in law, in the country.)  Is it a 'merit' system, and if so is it decanal discretion or is their a faculty committee that reviews your teaching and work each year?

2.  You should ask for a copy of the school's tenure standards and get clear about the expectations and the timeline.  Does any work you have already published count towards meeting the tenure standard?

3.  What research leave policy, if any, does the school have?  A term off after every three full years of teaching is a very good leave policy; some schools have even better policies, most have less generous leave policies.  (If there is a norm, it is a term off after every six years.)  Many schools have a special leave policy for junior faculty, designed to give them some time off prior to the tenure decision.  Find out if the school has such a policy.

4.  One of the most important things to be clear about is not just your teaching load, but what courses you will be teaching precisely.  You should ask whether the school can guarantee a stable set of courses until after the tenure decision.  Preparing new courses is hugely time-consuming, and you also get better at teaching the course the more times you do it.  As a tenure-track faculty member, having a stable package of, say, three courses (plus a seminar) will make a huge difference in terms of your ability to conduct research and write.   In my experience, most schools will commit in writing to a set of courses for the tenure-track years (and do ask for this in writing), but some schools either won't or can't.   In my view, it's a good reason to prefer one school to another that one will give you the courses you want and promise them that they're yours, while another won't--a consideration that overrides lots of other factors, including salary. 

5.  You should ask for the school's materials on benefits:  retirement, life insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, and so on.  The biggest, and certainly the most easily discernible differences, are often in the retirement and life insurance categories (sometimes longterm disability insurance too, though unlike life insurance, you're hopefully less likely to utilize this!).  What is the university's contribution to retirement?  At the low end are schools contributing only 5-6% of your base salary to retirement; the more competitive schools will be in the 8% range, and some will be higher.  The big issue on life insurance concerns the amount you are guaranteed irrespective of your health history.  500-600K increasingly seem to be the norm.  And, of course, if your health is perfect, this doesn't matter, but I've worked with plenty of candidates where this was a serious issue.  (Life insurance companies have no incentives to insure faculty beyond the base amount they have to provide, so even health matters that strike you as trivial may disqualify you from more coverage.)  A final benefits issue concerns education/tuition benefits for children.  State schools don't offer these; the wealthier private schools do, and if you have kids or expect to have kids, this is worth looking into.  At the high end is Chicago, which pays up to 75% of Chicago tuition anywhere for each child.  Most of the wealthier private schools will pay 30-50% of the home school tuition for faculty children, wherever they go.  Some will offer a larger benefit if your kids go to that school.  But there are differences, and they don't track your ordinary expectations about prestige (e.g., last time I looked, the Wash U/St. Louis benefit was much better than the benefit at Penn or Cornell).  In any case, get the information.  But remember, university-wide benefits are rarely a subject for negotiation--the law school can't give you a higher benefit.  Of course, if you have a competitive offer, they may be able to compensate for a significant benefits differential.

6.  Finally, once you have an offer, this is a good time to raise issues about the employment prospects for a spouse or partner.  Sometimes you may just want help:  can the Dean help the significant other make relevant professional contacts in the area?  Sometimes you may be hoping for more:  e.g., a position in the law school, or in another university department, for the significant other.  It is certainly fair to explain the situation and ask.  Schools vary in their ability to response effectively to these situations, but many have formal universities policies pertaining at least to spouses who are academics.  Raise the issue, and see if the school can help.  But realize that the school made you the offer, and they may be able to hire you, and that's that.

The last point relates to a more general issue.  If you don't have other offers, you are not in a position to bargain.  Period.  You may certainly ask about things, raise concerns, etc.  But unless you're going to walk away from a tenure-track offer (not a wise thing to do in this market), don't make demands.  And even then, a collegial discussion about issues of concern is far better than demands.  Even if you have other offers, this advice applies:  proceed with caution and respect for the institution.  You can report that School Y is offering you a salary 20K higher, and ask whether the Dean of School X, to whom your talking, has any flexibility on this front.  But remember:  you may end up at School X (because of location, or colleagues in your field, or a better teaching load etc.) and living with that Dean and the other faculty for many years to come.  Don't poison the well by displaying a sense of entitlement and self-importance before you even get through the door.  Remember:  no matter how good you are, you're quite dispensable--in almost every instance, you need the job more than the school needs you.  Approach any 'bargaining' or discussion of the package in that spirit.  A good school has every reason to want you to succeed and to try to help fashion a package of professional duties and support in that spirit.  A good school doesn't need a prima donna.

I invite signed comments from faculty or deans on these issues.  A comment without a full name and e-mail address won't appear.  Post your comment only once; comments are moderated and may take awhile to appear.

Good luck to all job seekers!

December 11, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)