Friday, September 29, 2017
How should a Dean who understands academic freedom respond to public controversy about faculty writing?
So we know from the unhappy example of Dean Ferruolo throwing a faculty member under the bus what not to do: you don't publish a statement on the homepage of the school singling out a faculty member's work, declare that not only do you, as Dean, disagree with it, but suggest that these are pariah views in "our law school community", and imply that the offending views may implicate "racial discrimination" and persecution of the "vulnerable" and "marginalized." Making an obligatory reference to academic freedom in passing does not undo the damage that this decanal misconduct causes.
The job of administrators is not to share their opinions about the views of members of the faculty, but to administer a university environment in which faculty and students may express points of view that do not otherwise violate anti-discrimination, sexual harassment or other laws. (The silly op-ed did not violate any applicable law obviously). So one obvious, and preferable, option would have been for the Dean to make no public statement at all. He could have met with concerned student groups, and educated them about academic freedom and reaffirmed institutional policies about equal opportunity. If a Dean makes any public statement in the context of such a controversy, it should not include any comment on a faculty member's views; it would suffice, for example, to simply reaffirm the institution's commitment to equal opportunity for all students and the like.
The Kalven Report got it exactly right fifty years ago, and all administrators ought to read and think about it. The university sponsors critics, it is not itself a critic or advocate (except for that narrow range of issues central to the university's function). A Dean, or other university administrator, forfeits his academic freedom upon becoming Dean--in part, because Deaning is not a scholarly enterprise but an administrative one, and academic freedom exists only to protect the scholarly pursuit of truth. As an administrator, the Dean's job is to protect academic freedom and protect an environment in which faculty and students can express their views in the appropriate fora, such as the classroom, scholarship, and sometimes in the public sphere. In order to preserve a community of open and vigorous debate, the Dean must not lend his authority to one side or the other. That there is an uproar about a faculty member's scholarship or op-ed does not mean the Dean must speak out, except perhaps to educate people about what a university is and what academic freedom is and why it matters.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
...with only 55 new applicants for faculty positions. Altogether, there are fewer than 500 candidates seeking law teaching positions this year, one of the lowest totals I can recall. There are some indications that hiring is up this year--or at least interviewing--but it's too early to say for sure.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
AG Sessions invited to talk about "free speech" (but not kneeling NFL players!) at Georgetown Law...
...but only to friends of Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett, with pre-screened questions. Other Georgetown law faculty and students aren't happy.
UPDATE: Various folks have sent me Prof. Barnett's lengthy explanation of the event and what actually transpired; it is below the fold for those who are interested:
Monday, September 25, 2017
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPTEMBER 21--UPDATED
Jonah Gelbach, a law & economics and empirical scholar at Penn, has now taken the time to set out in detail the problems with the silly op-ed. You can safely ignore the self-serving preface from the empty Jonathan Haidt, and just go straight to Gelbach's patient discussion. In the broader scope of things, it was surely not a good use of Professor Gelbach's time to have to write this in response to an opinion piece so slight, but given the controversy that has been generated, we should all be grateful that he did it.
I have no doubt that this won't stop Heather MacDonald and others from making absurd claims about Professor Wax's great wisdom and expertise, but at least those of us actually invested in the scholarly enterprise can learn something from Prof. Gelbach's analysis.
(Thanks to Jonathan Klick for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Haidt, given his great commitment to the free exchange of ideas and arguments, decided to edit out one part of Prof. Gelbach's original response to the Wax & Alexander op-ed, after Prof. Wax objected--apparently to Prof. Gelbach's devastating scrutiny of their lack of empirical evidence. In any case, Prof. Gelbach kindly offered to let me make available his actual, uncensored response, which is here: Download Facts v. Wax Part I.A - The Uncut Version. It begins with an explanation of what Haidt did and of his efforts to find out if there was, I fact, evidence for some of the curious claims in the op-ed.
It is often assumed that the only way to become a lawyer is to attend an ABA-approved law school. That is true in some states and, indeed, the ABA has at times expressed the view that it should be true in all states. But it is not the case in large jurisdictions such as New York or California, nor is it the case in the majority of jurisdictions. Claims that ABA-approved law school have a monopoly on entry into the legal profession are exaggerations. Rather, the most popular—and probably most likely—way to become a lawyer is to graduate from an ABA-approved institution.
In leading jurisdictions such as New York, California, and Virginia, an individual who wishes to become a lawyer may sit for the bar examination with between zero and 1 years of law school and between 3 and 4 years of apprenticeship and study under the supervision of a licensed attorney (this is also known as “law office study” or “reading for the bar”). In California, graduates of non-ABA-approved law schools are eligible to sit for the bar examination. This includes schools with extremely low-cost, technology-driven approaches to teaching, such as online and correspondence schools.
In fact, non-ABA law school graduates are eligible to sit for the bar examination in most jurisdictions (31 in total as of 2017) according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.** This includes extremely large and important jurisdictions such as California, Florida, New York, Texas and Washington D.C. Graduates of online and correspondence law schools are eligible to sit for the bar examination in 4 jurisdictions.
Very few people choose the apprenticeship route, and only a minority opt for non-ABA law schools. Among those who do, relatively few successfully complete their courses of study or pass the bar examination. But those who do will have the same license to practice law as someone who graduates from an ABA-approved law school and successfully passes the bar examination.
Why then do so many prospective lawyers choose ABA-approved law schools?
The most likely explanation is that prospective lawyers choose ABA-approved law schools because those law schools provide a valuable and worthwhile service that supports a higher price point than other options.*
Many employers value legal education. That’s why they typically pay law school graduates tens of thousands of dollars more per year than they pay similar bachelor’s degree holders, even in occupations other than the practice of law. When law school graduating class sizes increase, and a lower proportion of graduates practice law, graduates don’t typically see a noticeable decline in their earnings premium.
In other words, the benefits of law school are versatile. Graduates of ABA-approved law schools also seem to be much more likely to complete their studies and pass the bar examination than students attending more lightly regulated and lower cost alternatives.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
...for his abject failure of leadership in one of his central duties as head of an academic institution: to defend freedom of speech and inquiry by faculty and students on both scholarly matters and matters of public concern. It is not his role to express his own opinions about positions defended by his faculty, either in their scholarship or in their contributions to public debate. If he wants to express his own opinions, he should step down from the Deanship and rejoin the faculty. But as Dean, his job is to defend freedom of speech and inquiry, even when it is unpopular. He has failed.
USD Law professor Tom Smith has more, including a response from many of Larry Alexander's colleagues to the Dean's inappropriate public statement.
The op-ed by Larry and Penn law professor Amy Wax that has generated all the controversy was rather feeble, confusing correlation and causation in ways that were, by my lights, embarrassing and strange. The piece has been subjected to sensible criticism from colleagues of Professor Wax. I make my opinion known about the merits only so we can be clear that mine is an objection based on a crucial principle: the job of academic administrators is to administer a university environment, which includes protecting the space for scholarly and political debate. An administrator can only do that if he or she does not enter that space and take sides against members of the faculty or the student body. Here is how the University of Chicago's 1967 Kalven Report (authored by famed First Amendment scholar Harry Kalven) puts it:
The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society. A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions. By design and effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.
The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.....To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry, and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community....
Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues o fthe day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness.
The Dean speaks for that community, and the way Dean Ferruolo has spoken has now endangered the community he was charged with shepherding.
Up until this point, I had thought Dean Ferruolo had done rather well by USD, but he has failed, and failed mightily, here. His choices are clear: apologize for his failure in this instance, or resign.
Readers may be interested in my discussion of these issues in a column last Spring at CHE.
UPDATE: See also the discussion of the op-ed by Penn's Jonah Gelbach.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
...after a good six-year run. A lot of good appointments made during his tenure, including Emily Kadens and Matt Spitzer from Texas, Deborah Tuerkheimer from DePaul, and David Schwartz from Chicago-Kent, among others. (Longtime readers will recall that Rodriguez was a transformative Dean at San Diego in the 1990s and early 2000s.)
MOVING TO THE FRONT FOR THE LAST TIME
This post is for schools who expect to be hiring this year.
In order to protect the privacy of our candidates, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of the narrative profiles of our candidates, including hyperlinks to their homepages. All these candidates will be in the first FAR distribution.
We have an excellent group of nine candidates this year (three JD alumni, one SJD alumna, four Bigelow Fellows, and one Dickerson Fellow), who cover many curricular areas, including labor law, employment law, ERISA, civil rights, property, family law, criminal law, immigration law, criminal procedure, civil procedure, professional responsibility, contracts, comparative law, administrative law, legislation, financial regulation, empirical legal studies, business associations, corporate law & securities regulation, corporate finance, antitrust, international law, human rights, alternative dispute resolution, international business transactions, and conflicts, among other areas.
Our candidates include former federal appellate clerks; Law Review editors; JD/PhDs and LLM/SJDs; and accomplished practitioners as well as scholars. All have publications and writing samples.
If when you e-mail, you tell me a bit about your hiring needs, I can supply some more information about all these candidates, since we have vetted them all at some point in the recent past.
Monday, September 18, 2017
"Individuals who complete law school typically receive a large boost to their earnings compared to what they would likely have earned with a terminal bachelor’s degree. (Simkovic & McIntyre, 2014) The law earnings premium has exceeded the cost of law school by a wide margin, even toward the bottom of the earnings distribution, and even for graduates who enter the labor force during a recession or with an unusually large cohort of fellow law graduates. (McIntyre & Simkovic, 2017)
But is the value of a law degree predictably different depending on one’s race or ethnicity? Estimates by race or ethnicity could help prospective law students and law schools better predict variability in the potential financial benefits of law school, and could help inform outreach, admissions, academic support, and financial aid policies.
This article investigates differences in the law earnings premium by race and ethnicity. Compared to bachelor’s degree holders, a higher proportion of law graduates are white.
Studies of the returns to education at the college level or below have come to different conclusions about differences in benefits by race. Several studies have found lower earnings among black and Hispanic law graduates compared to non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these differences are not fully understood and are hotly debated. . . .
Whatever the cause, among those with law degrees, there are differences in average earnings between different race or ethnic groups. However, the same pattern is present among bachelor’s degree holders. [Prior to this study it was] unknown whether there are similar differences in earnings premiums (i.e., the boost to earnings from the law degree), measured either on a percentage or dollar basis. . . .
[T]he National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study found that long-term bar passage rates were substantially lower for minorities than for whites. Thus a study of all law degree holders including those who did not pass a bar examination [such as this one using Census data] may find larger racial gaps in earnings [than previous studies that look only at bar-passers].
We find evidence that white graduates have a somewhat higher percentage boost in earnings compared to minorities, but when translated into dollar terms the law earnings premium is substantially higher for white graduates than for minorities. At the median and including law graduates who are not practicing law, the annual boost to earnings from a law degree is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics. The law earnings premium is also higher for whites than for minorities at the 75th percentile, the 25th percentile and the mean, and for samples that are exclusively male or female. . . .