October 30, 2015

LSAT takers up 7.4% in Sept/Oct compared to last year...

...the first increase in six years (link now fixed).  (Recall that June also saw an increase.)  While enrollments will not return to 2010 highs (a good thing!), it's clear that we are arriving at a "new normal" for enrollments.  This is already being felt in the hiring market for new law teachers, which is much more active this year than last.

October 30, 2015 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

October 28, 2015

N.Y. Times is Mistaken: Law Student Loans are Safe and Profitable for the Government (Michael Simkovic)

This weekend, The New York Times Editorial Board  published a sensationalist lead editorial, “The Law School Debt Crisis,”  claiming that law student borrowing is harmful to taxpayers.  The New York Times is mistaken.

The Times cited Florida Coastal School of Law, a for-profit institution, as its prime example of law schools “vacuuming up hordes of young people, charging them outrageously high tuition and, after many of the students fail to become lawyers, sticking taxpayers with the tab for their loan defaults.”  Florida Coastal seems like an easy target—even a Federal Court which dismissed a fraud suit against Florida Coastal described it as having “some of the lowest admissions standards of accredited or provisionally accredited law schools in the nation.” The Times has repeatedly criticized for-profit colleges, which it deems “predatory” based on their unusually high student loan default rates. (See opinion, upshot, news and news again). 

If the Editorial Board's accusations were true—if the “majority of law schools” really were running “a scam” in which they load down their students with “crushing amounts of debt” which “they can’t repay”—Florida Coastal and other law schools should have among the highest default rates of any institutions of higher education in the country.

They don’t and they aren’t.


For the cohort entering repayment in 2012—the most recent year of data available*—the national 3-year cohort default rate on federal student loans was 11.8 percent.  The comparable figure for Florida Coastal was only 1.1 percent—more than 10 times lower.

This isn’t a one-time fluke.  In 2010 and 2011, Flordida Coastal's 3-year Default rates  were 1.6 and 5.2 percent, respectively, compared to much higher national rates of 13.7 and 14.7 percent.

Other measures tracked by the Department of Education, like repayment rates, also show law school borrowers performing as well or better than most.

We see the same pattern across law schools and going back decades for which data is available.**  Even low ranked law schools with allegedly “outrageously high” tuition generally have much lower student loan default rates than either the national average, or the average for institutions that grant bachelor’s or advanced degrees. 


Law students not only have higher debts than most student loan borrowers; as professional students, they also pay higher interest rates on government loans than undergraduates.  

Law students rarely default because the financial benefits they receive from attending law school are usually far greater than the costs.*** Law school typically boosts annual earnings by around $30,000 (median) to $60,000 per year (mean) compared to a bachelor’s degree.****  Even at the 25th percentile, toward the low end of the distribution, the annual boost to earnings is around $20,000 per year—more than enough to repay typical law school loans over the course of a career.

Taxpayers also benefit.  For every extra dollar a law graduate earns, the federal government receives an extra 30 to 40 cents in payroll and income taxes.  The federal government charges far more in taxes than most law schools charge in tuition.

But the government isn’t paying for most law graduates’ education.  In fact, loans to law students are among the most profitable in the federal government’s student loan portfolio, thanks to high interest rates and low default rates.  Many law graduates are such good credit risks, and are overcharged so much by the government, that private lenders have offered to refinance law graduate loans for substantially lower interest rates. 

There are cases in which particular individuals have unusually bad outcomes and struggle to repay their loans.  Thankfully, these situations are relatively rare among law graduates. 

Incomes for law graduates may seem low when they first graduate, but typically climb rapidly over the next several decades.  Education loans exist precisely so that borrowed money can be repaid later in life, when employment is more stable and incomes are usually higher. 



The New York Times is right that many law school graduates—around 40 percent—do not practice law. But law graduates do not have to practice law or earn spectacular salaries to benefit financially from their degrees and repay their loans over their careers.  They need only earn roughly $10,000 per year more than they would have earned without a law degree. The overwhelming majority of law graduates, including those not practicing law, receive substantially larger boosts to their earnings.

Thanks to income based repayment programs with debt forgiveness and progressive taxation, the overwhelming majority of successful law school graduates can offset the risks of investment in education for those rare unfortunate individuals who do not benefit as much from their educations.

It would be a mistake to let the small tail of defaults wag the much larger dog of public benefits.

Scaling back access to federal student loans to law students will not benefit taxpayers.  To the contrary, the loss of revenue would mean larger deficits for the government, and eventually higher taxes for the rest of us. 

Continue reading

October 28, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

October 23, 2015

$100 million naming gift for the law school at Northwestern University

Wow!  The Pritzkers are Chicago billionaires, heir to the Hyatt Hotel chain fortune.  There is also a Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

(Sorry for not posting this sooner, I was on the road.)

October 23, 2015 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

October 08, 2015

SSRN Downloads over the last year, October 1 edition

The top ten:

1.  Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (34,636 downloads, 34 new papers)

2.  Mark Lemley (Stanford) (17,511 downloads, 10 new papers)

3.  Daniel Solove (George Washington) (17,219 downloads, 1 new paper)

4.  Dan Kahan (Yale) (17,114 downloads, 4 new papers)

5.  Orin Kerr (George Washington) (14,368 downloads, 6 new papers)

6.  Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard) (13,657 downloads, 1 new paper)

7.  Brian Leiter (Chicago) (11,955 downloads, 10 new papers)

8.  Bernard Black (Northwestern) (10,674 downloads, 2 new papers)

9.  Kent Roach (Toronto) (9,109 downloads, 11 new papers)

10. Eric Posner (Chicago) (8,671 downloads, 8 new papers)

October 8, 2015 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

September 16, 2015

Top 40 law faculties in scholarly impact, 2015


Gregory Sisk & colleagues have updated their scholarly impact ratings (last edition), looking at mean and median citations to tenured faculty scholarship for the years 2010-2014 inclusive, using 2015-16 faculty rosters as the benchmark.  (Sisk et al. rank 70 faculties; I print the top 40, below.)  The weighted score represents the sum of the mean citations for the tenured faculty times 2, plus the faculty median.  Where the median is low relative to the immediate competition that's an indicator that a few highly cited faculty are carrying the school; in other cases, where the median is quite high, it's an indicator of more across the boards scholarly output.  By noting age, one can see that some faculties are heavily dependent on their most senior members for their citations.  Ties reflect the normalized weighted scores.

Citations to faculty scholarship is, of course, only one metric of scholarly distinction.  Some schools that experts would reasonably assess as top 20 (like Southern California) underperform by this measure.  Still, the metric is a useful check on uninformed opinions, and tracks rather well the actual scholarly output of different schools.

In the fall, I hope to put together new lists of the most-cited scholars by specialty utilizing the Sisk data.

Detailed Scholarly Impact Ranking of Law Faculties, 2015-16

(based on citations for the period 2010 through 2014)


Law   School

Weighted   Score

Mean,   Median

10   Most Cited (Tenured) Scholars

(* indicates 70 or older in 2015)


Yale University


638,   490

*B.   Ackerman, A. Amar, I. Ayres, J. Balkin, W. Eskridge, D. Kahan, H. Koh, J.   Macey, R. Post, R. Siegel


Harvard   University


520,   344

R.   Fallon, J. Goldsmith, L. Kaplow, L. Lessig, M. Minow, S. Shavell, C.   Sunstein, *L. Tribe, *M. Tushnet, A. Vermeule


University of Chicago


468,   364

D. Baird,   O. Ben-Shahar, T. Ginsburg, B. Leiter, S. Levmore, R. McAdams, M. Nussbaum,   E. Posner, G. Stone, D. Strauss


New York   University


397,   329

R. Barkow, S. Choi, *R. Epstein, B. Friedman,   S. Issacharoff, *A. Miller, G. Miller, R. Pildes, *R. Stewart, J. Waldron


Stanford   University


369,   275

*L. Friedman, *P. Goldstein, *R. Gordon, P.   Karlan, M. Lemley, M. McConnell, M. Polinsky, D. Rhode, D. Sklansky, A. Sykes


University of   California, Irvine


392,   210

D. Burk, J. Chacón, E. Chemerinsky, C. Fisk, B.   Garth, R. Hasen, C. Leslie, C. Menkel-Meadow, A. Reese, G. Shaffer


Columbia   University


348,   249

R. Briffault, *J. Coffee, K. Crenshaw, R. Gilson,   *K. Greenawalt, T. Merrill, *H. Monaghan, *J. Raz, *R. Scott, *P. Strauss


Duke University


312,   286

M. Adler,   J. Boyle, C. Bradley, J. Cox, M. Gulati, L. Helfer, H.J. Powell, A. Rai, S.   Schwarcz, E. Young


Vanderbilt   University


303,   206

L. Bressman, C. Guthrie, N. King, J.   Rossi, E. Rubin, J.B. Ruhl, S. Sherry, C. Slobogin, R. Thomas W.K. Viscusi


University of   California, Berkeley


300,   208

*R. Cooter, S. Davidoff Solomon, D. Farber, *M.   Feeley, I. Haney Lopez, P. Menell, R. Merges, P. Samuelson, J. Yoo, *F. Zimring


University of Pennsylvania


289,   202

T. Baker M. Berman, S. Bibas, W. Bratton, S.   Burbank, J. Fisch, G. Parchomovsky, D. Roberts, P. Robinson, E. Rock, D.   Skeel, C. Yoo


Northwestern   University


277,   202

R. Allen,   B. Black, S. Calabresi, D. Dana, S. Diamond, A.   Koppelman, J. McGinnis, J. Pfander, *M. Redish, D. Rodriguez, D. Schwartz


Cornell   University


273,   202

G.   Alexander, J. Blume, *K. Clermont, M. Dorf, V. Hans, M. Heise, E. Peñalver,   J. Rachlinski, S. Schwab, L. Stout


University of   California, Los Angeles


272,   189

S.   Bainbridge, D. Carbado, K. Crenshaw, J. Kang, R. Korobkin, H. Motomura, N.   Netanel, K. Raustiala, J. Salzman, E. Volokh, A. Winkler


Georgetown   University


239,   158

R. Barnett, J. Cohen, D. Cole, L. Gostin, N.   Katyal, D. Langevoort, D. Luban, L. Solum, R. Tushnet, R. West


University of Michigan,   Ann Arbor


230,   180

R. Avi-Yonah, S. Bagenstos, D. Crane, R.   Eisenberg, S. Gross, J. Litman, C. MacKinnon, A. Pritchard, C. Schneider, B.   Simma


University of Virginia


231,   146

D. Brown, J. Duffy, B. Garrett, J.   Jeffries, D. Laycock, C. Nelson, S. Prakash, F. Schauer, A. Spencer, *G.E.   White


George   Washington University


226,   148

M. Abramowicz, N. Cahn, B. Clark, R. Glicksman,   O. Kerr, W. Kovavic, *R. Pierce, J. Rosen, M. Selmi, D. Solove


University of   Minnesota, Twin Cities


203,   158

J. Carbone, T. Cotter, R.A. Duff, R. Frase, K.   Hickman, C. Hill, B. Karkkainen, A. Klass, H. Kritzer, B. McDonnell, R.   Painter, M. Tonry


University of   Texas, Austin


199,   156

R. Bone, R. Chesney, F. Cross, D. Jinks, *S.   Levinson, T. McGarity, *L. Sager, C. Silver, W. Wagner, *J. Westbrook


George Mason   University


196,   145

D. Bernstein, H. Butler, D. Ginsburg, M. Greve,   B. Kobayashi, N. Lund, A. Mossoff, I. Soomin, J. Wright, T. Zywicki


Washington   University, St. Louis


193,   147

S. Appleton, L. Epstein, P. Joy, P. Kim, D.   Law, S. Legomsky, *D. Mandelker, N. Richards, H. Sale, B. Tamanaha


Boston   University


192,   148

J. Beermann, S. Dogan, J. Fleming, *T. Frankel,   W. Gordon, K. Hylton, G. Lawson, T. Maclin, L. McClain, M. Meurer


University of   California, Davis


191,   137

A. Bhagwat, A. Chander, G. Chin, W. Dodge, A.   Harris, D. Horton, K. Johnson, P. Lee, M. Sunder, D. Ventry, R. Villazor


Case Western   Reserve University


171,   137

J. Adler, C. Burke Robertson, G. Dent, *P.   Gianelli, B. Hill, S. Hoffman, K. McMunigal, L. Mitchell, C. Nard, M. Scharf


University of   Notre Dame


161,   146

R. Alford, A. Bellia, *J. Finnis, N. Garnett, R.   Garnett, M. McKenna, J. Nagle, N. Newton, M. O’Connell, J. Tidmarsh


University of   Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


169,   129

V. Amar, P. Heald, D. Hyman, J. Kesan, K. Lash,   R. Lawless, J. Mazzone, *M. Moore, J. Robbennolt, S. Thomas, R. Wilson


Emory University


161,   138

R. Ahdieh, J. Bailey, M. Dudziak, M. fineman, T.   Holbrook, M. Kang, J. Nash, *M. Perry, R. Schapiro, J. Witte, *B. Woodhouse


Cardozo Law   School/Yeshiva University


154,   134

B. Frischmann, M. Gilles, M. Hamilton, M. Herz,   A. Reinert, M. Rosenfeld, B. Scheck, A. Sebok, A. Stein, S. Sterk, E.   Zelinsky


University of Arizona


160,   121

J. Anaya, D. Bambauer, K. Engel, *R. Glennon, D.   Marcus, T. Massaro, M. Miller, *C. Rose, W. Sjostrom, R. Williams


University of Colorado,   Boulder


154,   129

A. Gruber, M. Hart, P. Huang, S. Moss, *C.   Mueller, H. Norton, P. Schlag, A. Schmitz, P. Weiser, *C. Wilkinson


Ohio State   University


160,   114

M. Alexander, D. Berman, G. Caldeira, M.   Chamallas, S. Cole, R. Colker, J. Dressler, D. Merritt, P. Shane, D. Tokaji


University of North   Carolina, Chapel Hill


150,   131

A. Brophy, J. Conley, V. Flatt, M. Gerhardt, T.   Hazen, M. Jacoby, W. Marshall, R. Mosteller, G. Nichol, M. Papandrea, G.   Polsky, J. Wegner


Brooklyn Law   School


150,   121

W. Araiza, M. Baer, A. Bernstein, D. Brakman   Reiser, I. Capers, M. Garrison, E. Janger, *R. Karmel, E. Schneider, L.   Solan, N. Tebbe, *A. Twerski


Indiana   University, Bloomingon


141,   132

H. Buxbaum, F. Cate, K. Dau-Schmidtz, C. Geyh, M.   Grossberg, W. Henderson, M. Janis, D. Johnsen, L. Lederman, A. Parrish


University of Utah



R. Adler, A. Anghie, P. Cassell, R.   Craig, L. Davies, A. Guiora, F. Hessick, C. Hessick, C. Peterson, *A. Reitze


Fordham   University


145,   118

J. Brudney, N. Davidson, H. Erichson, M.   Flaherty, S. Foster, J. Gordon, B. Green, S. Griffith, C. Huntington, T. Lee,   E. Leib, R. Pearce, B. Zipursky


University of   San Diego


159,   81

*L. Alexander, D. Dripps, V. Fleischer,   O. Lobel, D. McGowan, F. Partnoy, M. Ramsey, M. Rappaport, T. Sichelman, S.   Smith


Florida State   University


140,   115

F. Abbott, K. Alces, R. Atkinson, S. Hsu, S.   Johnson, W. Logan, D. Markell, E. Ryan, M. Seidenfeld, N. Stern, F. Tesón, M.   Utset



Arizona State   University


142,   109

*K. Abbott,   D. Bodansky, R. Clinton, *I. Ellman, A. Fellmeth, J. Hodge, E. Luna, G.   Marchant, *J. Murphy, M. Saks, R. Tsosie


University of   Southern California


142,   109

J. Barnett, R. Brown, S. Estrich, A.   Gross, A. Guzman, G. Hadfield, G. Keating, E. Kleinbard, E. McCaffery, R.   Rasmussen, D. Simon


University of   St. Thomas (Minn.)


147,   99

T. Berg, T. Collet, R. Delahunty, *N. Hamilton,   L. Johnson, J. Nichols, M. Paulsen, G. Sisk, S. Stabile, R. Vischer

September 16, 2015 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

August 06, 2015

Florida State's Dean Weidner to step down this summer

Story here.  He truly has been a transformative Dean, firmly establishing Florida State as a national player in legal scholarship.

August 6, 2015 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

June 08, 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

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

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

May 12, 2015

Corporate Practice Commentator: Top 10 Articles of 2014

The announcement in full:

The Top 10 Corporate and Securities Articles of 2014


The Corporate Practice Commentator is pleased to announce the results of its twenty-first annual poll to select the ten best corporate and securities articles.  Teachers in corporate and securities law were asked to select the best corporate and securities articles from a list of articles published and indexed in legal journals during 2014.   More than 525 articles were on this year’s list.  Because of the vagaries of publication, indexing, and mailing, some articles published in 2014 have a 2013 date, and not all articles containing a 2014 date were published and indexed in time to be included in this year’s list.


The articles, listed in alphabetical order of the initial author, are:


Bainbridge, Stephen M. (UCLA) and M. Todd Henderson (Chicago).  Boards-R-Us: Reconceptualizing Corporate Boards. 66 Stan. L. Rev. 1051-1119 (2014).


Fisch, Jill E. and Tess Wilkinson-Ryan (both Penn).  Why Do Retail Investors Make Costly Mistakes? An Experiment on Mutual Fund Choice. 162 U. Pa. L. Rev. 605-647 (2014).


Fried, Jesse M. (Harvard). Insider Trading via the Corporation. 162 U. Pa. L. Rev. 801-839 (2014).


Hamermesh, Lawrence A. (Widener-Delaware). Director Nominations. 39 Del. J. Corp. L. 117-159 (2014).


Hansmann, Henry (Yale) and Mariana Pargendler (Vargas Law School, Sao Paulo).  The Evolution of Shareholder Voting Rights: Separation of Ownership and Consumption. 123 Yale L.J. 948-1013 (2014).


Morley, John (Yale). The Separation of Funds and Managers: A Theory of Investment Fund Structure and Regulation. 123 Yale L.J. 1228-1287 (2014).


Roe, Mark J. (Harvard). Structural Corporate Degradation Due to Too-Big-to-Fail Finance. 162 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1419-1464 (2014).


Roe, Mark J. (Harvard) and Frederick Tung (BU). Breaking Bankruptcy Priority: How Rent-Seeking Upends the Creditors' Bargain. 99 Va. L. Rev. 1235-1290 (2013).


Strine Jr., Leo E. (CJ Delaware Supreme Court). Can We Do Better by Ordinary Investors? A Pragmatic Reaction to the Dueling Ideological Mythologists of Corporate Law. 114 Colum. L. Rev. 449-502 (2014).


Subramanian, Guhan (Harvard). Delaware's Choice. 39 Del. J. Corp. L. 1-53 (2014).

May 12, 2015 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink