Wednesday, July 8, 2015

LSAC now reporting (as of July 3) that total applicants are down only 2% since last year

Monday, July 6, 2015

UC Davis's Vikram Amar to be the new Dean at the University of Illinois

I'll post a link to a news release when one is available.  Perhaps now that Illinois has appointed a distinguished Dean from the outside, those U.S. News evaluators who have been punishing Illinois in the reputational surveys will consider giving the school a more generous score?

UPDATE:  The Illinois announcement.

July 6, 2015 in Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, June 29, 2015

Judge Posner on the same-sex marriage decision

This line from his commentary was particularly funny:

The chief justice criticizes the majority for “order[ing] the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?” We’re pretty sure we’re not any of the above. And most of us are not convinced that what’s good enough for the Bushmen, the Carthaginians, and the Aztecs should be good enough for us. Ah, the millennia! Ah, the wisdom of ages! How arrogant it would be to think we knew more than the Aztecs—we who don’t even know how to cut a person’s heart out of his chest while’s he still alive, a maneuver they were experts at.

June 29, 2015 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Friday, June 26, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage

The full majority and dissenting opinions are here.  A few quick observations:

1.  In finding an unenumerated right of same-sex couples to marry under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Constitution, the Supreme Court really for the first time since 1973 has found such a new right.  (Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case rendering homosexual sodomy statutes unconstitutional, was decided on the basis of a "liberty interest" protected by the Due Process clause.  If one treats that as part of the pantheon of "unenumerated rights" cases, it still gives a vivid sense of how rare such "discovery" of unenumerated rights has become.)

2.  The dissents, especially by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, complain that the majority has, in effect, exercised a quasi-legislative power, rather than a judicial one.   I believe that is correct, but it is rich with irony coming from the conservative wing of the super-legislature, which has often exercised the same power for venal, rather than laudatory, ends.

3. This part of Justice Scalia's dissent is especially entertaining:

Judges are selected precisely for their skill as lawyers; whether they reflect the policy views of a particular constituency is not (or should not be) relevant.  Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section  Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South- westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved  by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

It's good to see that mindless identity politics has arrived at the Supreme Court in the hands of a conservative Catholic from Brooklyn!  But the most amusing aspect of this is the first sentence, and its parenthetical "or should not be":  that parenthetical is there because even Justice Scalia knows that judges are not chosen for their legal skill but for their moral and political views.  Everyone doing the selecting knows this.

June 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lateral hires with tenure, 2014-15


These are appointments with tenure that will begin in 2015; I will move this to the front at various intervals during the year; recent additions are bolded.


*Owen Anderson (oil & gas law, natural resources) from the University of Oklahoma, Norman to the University of Texas, Austin.


*Jennifer Bard (health law, constitutional law) from Texas Tech University to the University of Cincinnati (to become Dean). 


*Ben Barros (property) from Widener University to the University of Toledo  (to become Dean).


*Ann Bartow (intellectual property) from Pace University to the University of New Hampshire.


*Thomas Brennan (tax, empirical legal studies) from Northwestern University to Harvard University.


*Christopher Buccafusco (intellectual property, behavioral/experimental law & economics) from Chicago-Kent College of Law to Cardozo Law School.


*Aaron Bruhl (legislation, statutory interpretation, federal courts) from the University of Houston to the College of William & Mary.


*Irene Calboli (intellectual property, international trade, comparative law) from Marquette University to Texas A&M University.


*Joshua Cohen (political philosophy) resigned from Stanford University (where he taught in Law, Philosophy & Political Science) in October 2014 to join Apple University.  He will now also be part-time at the University of California, Berkeley.


*Matthew Diller (administrative law, social welfare law & policy) from Cardozo Law School to Fordham University (as Dean).


*Marcella David (international law, foreign relations law) from the University of Iowa to Florida A&M University (as Provost).


*William Dodge (international law, international transactions, international dispute resolution) from the University of California, Hastings to the University of California, Davis.


*Susan Fortney (legal ethics, legal professions, legal malpractice, bioethics, torts) from Hofstra University to Texas A&M University.


*Brian Galle (tax) from Boston College to Georgetown University.


*Nuno Garoupa (law & economics, comparative law) from the University of Illinois to Texas A&M University.


*Elizabeth Garrett (legislation, administrative law) from the University of Southern California to Cornell University (to become President).


*Andrew Guzman (international law and trade, law & economics) from the University of California, Berkeley to the University of Southern California (as Dean).


*C. Scott Hemphill (antitrust, intellectual property, law & economics) from Columbia University to New York University.


*Robert Jerry II (insurance law, dispute resolution, health law & finance) from the University of Florida, Gainesville to the University of Missouri, Columbia.


*Christian Johnson (tax) from the University of Utah to Widener University-Harrisburg (to become Dean).


*Sonia Katyal (intellectual property, civil rights, privacy, property, law & sexuality) from Fordham University to the University of California, Berkeley.


*Daniel Katz (empirical legal studies, computational legal studies, criminal procedure) from Michigan State University to Chicago-Kent College of Law.


*Paul Kirgis (alternative dispute resolution, evidence) from St. John's University to the University of Montana (to become Dean).


*Charlotte Ku (international law) from the University of Illinois to Texas A&M University.


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


*Erik Luna (criminal law & procedure) from Washington & Lee University to Arizona State University.


*Glynn S. Lunney, Jr.  (intellectual property, law & economics) from Tulane University to Texas A&M University.


*Timothy Lytton (regulatory law and policy, administrative law, torts) from Albany Law School to Georgia State University.


*Bruce Markell (bankruptcy) from Florida State University to Northwestern University.


*Andrei Marmor (legal philosophy) from the University of Southern California to Cornell University.


*Andrea Matwyshyn (law & technology, cyberlaw, privacy) from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (untenured) to Northeastern University.


*Paul McGreal (constitutional law, law & religion, business ethics) from the University of Dayton to Creighton University (as Dean).


*Ajay Mehrotra (tax, legal history) from Indiana University, Bloomington to Northwestern University and the American Bar Foundation.


*Tim Meyer (international law--incl. international economic, environmental and energy law; law & economics) from the University of Georgia to Vanderbilt University. 

*Douglas NeJaime (family law, law & sexuality, constitutional law) from the University of California, Irvine to the University of California, Los Angeles.


*Paul Ohm (law & technology, computer law, privacy, intellectual property) from the University of Colorado, Boulder to Georgetown University.


*Dave Owen (environmental law, natural resources, water law, administrative law) from the University of Maine to the University of California, Hastings.


*Mary-Rose Papandrea (constitutional law, media law, national security law) from Boston College to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


*Dylan Penningroth (legal history) from Northwestern University (History Dept.) and American Bar Foundation to the University of California, Berkeley.


*Jennifer Rosato Perea (family law, bioethics, legal ethics, civil procedure) from Northern Illinois University (where she was Dean) to DePaul University (to become Dean).


*Scott Pryor (bankruptcy, contracts, UCC) from Regent University to Campbell University.


*Srividhya Ragavan (intellectual property, international trade, contracts) from the University of Oklahoma, Norman to Texas A&M University.


*Laura Rosenbury (feminist legal theory, family law, employment discrimination) from Washington University, St. Louis to the University of Florida, Gainesville (to become Dean).


*Erin Ryan (environmental law, natural resources law) from Lewis & Clark College to Florida State University.


*James Salzman (environmental law) from Duke University to the University of California, Los Angeles (Law) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (Environmental Science & Management). 


*Michael Schill (property, real estate law, urban policy) from University of Chicago to the University of Oregon (as President).


*David Schwartz (patents, intellectual property, empirical legal studies) from Chicago-Kent College of Law to Northwestern University.


*Jessica Silbey (intellectual property, law & culture) from Suffolk University to Northeastern University.


*Kenneth Simons (torts, criminal law, law & philosophy) from Boston University to the University of California, Irvine.


*Alexander Somek (EU law, comparative constitutional law, legal theory) from the University of Iowa to the University of Vienna.


*Alec Stone Sweet (comparative constitutional law and politics, international law & courts) from Yale University to the National University of Singapore.


*Alan O. Sykes, Jr. (international trade, law & economics) from New York University back to Stanford University.


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


*Steve Vladeck (federal courts, national security law, constitutional law) from American University to the University of Texas, Austin (effective 2016).


*Melanie Wilson (criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence) from the University of Kansas to the University of Tennessee (as Dean).


*Peter Yu (intellectual property, communications law and policy, and comparative and international law) from Drake University to Texas A&M University.


*Kathryn Zeiler (torts, health law, law & economics, empirical legal studies) from Georgetown University to Boston University. 

June 24, 2015 in Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, June 22, 2015

ABA Task Force on Financing Legal Education Advocates Disclosure, Experimentation and More Empirical Research (Michael Simkovic)

The ABA Task Force on Financing Legal Education’s report  was released last week.  I was among the people who testified before the Task Force last summer, and the report cites both my presentation and my research with Frank McIntyre on The Economic Value of a Law Degree.  Consistent with our research, the report notes that challenges facing legal education are similar to challenges facing higher education more generally, and notes extremely low student loan default rates for law school borrowers.  

The report is forthright about the limitations of existing data and careful in its recommendations—most of which relate to:

  • disseminating existing information more clearly (especially about student loan repayment options),
  • gathering better information going forward (especially about tuition and scholarships), and
  • structuring “experiments” in legal education (e.g., relaxation of accreditation rules) as field experiments that facilitate causal inference by trained social science researchers.  

The report notes that legal education appears to be responding to market forces.  After declines in applicants, law schools reduced capacity and offered more scholarships.  Actual tuition increases have been lower than widely publicized increases in sticker tuition because of increased use of scholarships (tuition-discounting), although net-tuition has still increased faster than inflation as measured by CPI-U.

The ABA Task Force on Financing Legal Education report urges the legal profession to support federal student loan forgiveness programs that encourage public service.  

Some student loan forgiveness programs have been criticized by politically powerful, media savvy, and well-funded think tanks, which claim that these programs will be costly for taxpayers.  (I am skeptical of many of the think tank estimates for empirical and mathematical reasons, but that is a discussion for another day).  Loan forgiveness programs may be revisited in upcoming budget negotiations.  Many are expecting reduced funding for higher education to help fund increased military spending. 

The Task Force on Financing Legal Education’s report is a major improvement over last year’s report from another Task Force assembled by the ABA, The Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.  This year’s report is both better researched and more cautious in its claims and recommendations.

June 22, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Science | Permalink

ABA Task Force on Financing Legal Education Final Report

Here.  The two most concrete proposals are to mandate enhanced financial counseling for prospective students, to be sure they understand federal loan programs and their options; and to mandate greater disclosure of law school finances, including tuition discounting.  I was also pleased to see on p. 22 that evidence triumphed over anecdote and ideology when, citing the work of Simkovic and McIntyre, the Report notes that, "Despite the cost, the best available evidence suggests a significant lifetime income premium for those with a law degree compared to those with a bachelor’s degree."

June 22, 2015 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

Thursday, June 18, 2015

SALT salary survey, 2014-15

Here.  Schools with the highest salaries tend not to participate in this survey, but it does give a realistic sense of what's going on at most law schools in the U.S.

June 18, 2015 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Student Loans Are Better Than the Alternative (Michael Simkovic)

A number of recent analyses purporting to show the negative effects of student loans compare group A, which has student loans and a bachelor’s degree to group B, which has the same level of education but no student loans (see here for an example).  Not surprisingly, the studies find that the folks who have a college degree but no student loans are doing better on a variety of measures.  Unfortunately, many of the studies improperly conclude that student loans are causing the bad outcomes.

The problem is that the likely alternative to student loans and a college degree for people who need to borrow to afford college is not a free college degree.  The likely alternative is no college degree and no student loans—i.e., lower earnings, and eventually, a lower net worth. 

Among those who will eventually graduate from college, those who will graduate with no student loans are very different from those who will graduate with student loans.  These differences are present before they even set foot on campus.

Why do some people graduate from college with no debt?

1)   Their parents are rich and pay for college—and most likely provide additional financial support after college 

2)   Their parents are not rich but are extremely devoted to their children’s education and find a way to pay for college—and most likely provide additional support after college

3)   The students are exceptionally talented academically, athletically, or artistically and obtain large scholarships

4)   The students are unusually hard working and market savvy and find a way to earn a lot of money while in college

5)   The students live in a wealthy city or state that generously funds public services such as higher education, and probably also funds other public investments (Note that most public colleges are not generously funded and have lower completion rates than resource-rich private colleges).

These “student loan studies” are not studies of the effects of student loans.  They are studies that find that people who are more talented, harder working, come from wealthier and more supportive families, and live in richer communities with more enlightened governments are more successful.  This is neither surprising, nor is it relevant to student loan policy.

Eliminating student loans won’t magically give everyone rich, devoted parents, boost students’ intellectual, athletic, or artistic abilities, or turn the least developed and most mismanaged parts of the U.S. into centers of economic activity and paragons of efficient public administration. 

Criticisms of student loans seem to be motivated by an idealized conception of public, taxpayer funded higher education.  In practice, these systems are too often characterized by weak, underfunded institutions, misguided political interference (for an example of left-wing interference, see here; for right wing interference, see here, here, and here) and micro-management (here and here) by political leaders , price controls (here and here, and here), disruptive budgetary uncertainty (herehere and here), and resulting shortages (here, here, herehere, and here). 

This does not mean that we should abandon the goal of a well-funded public higher education system where academic freedom is protected, but it would be imprudent to put all of our eggs in a single basket, particularly one that political leaders frequently raid to close budget gaps.

Scaling back student loans will undermine investment in higher education, to our collective detriment.  Without access to credit, students from modest backgrounds will too often be trapped in the under-resourced institutions that our tax-adverse political systems is willing to support (or denied access altogether because of enrollment caps) instead of at least having the option to pursue the higher quality education that is ultimately in their best interests.

June 18, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Science, Student Advice, Weblogs | Permalink

Risk Based Student Loans in Bloomberg (Michael Simkovic)

Here.  For earlier coverage, see here.  For the original paper, see here.

June 18, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science, Student Advice, Weblogs | Permalink