November 07, 2013
Judge Posner is 9th most influential scholar of all time...
...once citation rates are normalized across disciplines. Marx is #1.
ADDENDUM: And Chicago is the only law school in the world to have two faculty in the "top 100" for philosophy! (You have to enter "philosophy" in the area space to see the results. Nussbaum clocks in at 26th, yours truly at 76th [how I ended up slightly ahead of Saul Kripke does, shall we say, raise some questions about the metric!])
October 31, 2013
Another 10%+ decline in LSAT takers compared to last year
Blog Emperor Caron has links to the latest news. (He also includes links to a chart about which majors do best on the LSAT--because they lump Philosophy with Theology, I'm sure that depresses the result for Philosophy majors, since those two majors are VERY different.) [UPDATE: Professor Filler's post and mine crossed paths in cyber-time!]
A couple of thoughts on this:
1. People who don't get a JD still have to do something professionally. What are they doing instead? Getting an MBA? Just entering the workforce in some other capacity? Entering PhD programs? We don't really know yet, and given the Simkovic & McIntyre research, it is likely that at least some of those not going to law school are making serious mistakes economically (if not professionally or personally).
2. The likelihood that the 10%+ decline in LSAT takers will translate in to 10% fewer applicants is, of course, very high. One things that means for those thinking about law teaching is that next year on the law teaching market will be as tight as this year, and this year is very tight indeed. An uptick in applicants this year would have increased the likelihood of law schools waivering on whether to hire to jump into the market, but this newest development probably means that schools uncertain about tuition revenue and their budgets will err on the side of not hiring.
3. While some schools are undergoing major contractions (e.g., the recent New England story), the reality is that lots of teaching positions for which schools have genuine needs are going unfilled currently due to budgetary uncertainties (schools are relying on adjuncts, short-term visitors, existing faculty teaching overloads or teaching outside their areas, etc.). When the situation stabilizes in the next year or two (barring another economic collapse, of course), I expect we will see a dramatic uptick in academic hiring as schools try to meet the unfilled needs.
UPDATE: I can not vouch that this comment is an accurate summary of Dean (soon-to-be President) Syverud's remarks, but the analysis sounds credible, and more-or-less consistent with what I've heard (though I can not vouch for the 175 number, below):
LSAC provided a graph showing that we have had similar cycles since the mid-1960s. This one is a bit more dramatic because we came off all-time highs in hiring and applicants in 2007.
The Dean of Wash U Law School, Kent Syverud, gave a very compelling speech. He says 175 of 202 law schools are operating at a substantial deficit, and the pain is being felt across the board, not just at so-called "marginal" law schools. Applicant numbers, by LSAT score, support that comment.
He also says law schools will cut costs in the following ways (any errors in this summary or mine):
- Private universities may shut down associated law schools, as they did dental schools in an earlier era;
- Schools have let hiring of new faculty grind to a halt [BL COMMENT: there were about 70 law schools at this year's hiring convention, less than half the number from two years ago; not all which attended will necessarily hire];
- Schools will not replace, with a tenure-track faculty member, any faculty member who successfully moves laterally or retires;
- Schools will cut tenured faculty via buy-outs, etc., and use instead much more affordable adjuncts; Skills teachers could be especially hard-hit even at a time when the ABA and the profession are emphasizing skill development;
- Schools will cut staff;
- Schools will consolidate law libraries into main campus libraries;
- Schools will merge (like Texas Wesleyan); or
- Schools will sell out (like Charleston.
October 30, 2013
Another random website cooks up another off-kilter ranking...
...and while this new one is not as off-kilter as the absurd National Jurist effort noted earlier this year, it is still ill-conceived and worthless. Most remarkably, it includes a factor that U.S. News correctly discarded years ago: namely, median starting salaries without any adjustment for differences in cost-of-living. What that means is: any schools whose graduates primarily go to high cost-of-living cities which pay the highest salaries (namely, New York, DC, San Francisco, and LA) get a huge boost. (It gets even weirder than that, since it appears the real driving force here is the median public interest salaries, but with no indication how many graduates are actually in the pool.) Anyway, it's quite an achievement to rank schools based on factors that even U.S. News realized were not meaningful or comparable! On top of that, 50% of the score is based on "student quality," but that turns out to mean not student quality, but acceptance rate (25%) and median LSAT (25%). GPA? Major? PhDs in the incoming class? That has nothing to do with student quality in this never-never land (at least U.S. News considers GPA). Acceptance rate is, of course, a function of local competition: so, e.g., Stanford's only local competition is Berkeley, while Yale, Harvard, Columbia, NYU and Penn are all battling it out in the Northeast corridor.
I would have let this meaningless excercise pass in silence, but since the Blog Emperor, in keeping with his unfortunate policy of linking to anything without regard for its content, has put it in circulation, I thought I should point out the obvious deficiencies, so as to save others the trouble of having to look at the "methodology" [sic] and the rather childish effort at rationalizing it.
As always, the Internet remains the "nonsense and misinformation superhighway"!
October 28, 2013
The 50 Best Law Faculties--the U.S. News "Effect" Isn't What It Was (though it's still there)
So with 310 votes in our last poll, the results seem to actually reflect some attempt to answer the different question: namely, which schools have the "best faculties" in terms of scholarly distinction, compared to last time when we just asked for reader opinions of the "best schools." (I should emphasize that beyond the top 40-50, I wonder about a lot of the results (e.g., there were plenty of schools in the 50s, 60s etc. that seem to me [a moderately informed observer] as on a par with some of those in the top 50).
Harvard University (Not defeated in any contest vs. another choice)
Yale University (Not defeated in any contest vs. another choice)
|3. Stanford University, loses to Harvard University by 212–59|
|4. University of Chicago, loses to Stanford University by 148–121|
|5. Columbia University, loses to University of Chicago by 162–103|
|6. New York University, loses to Columbia University by 150–107|
|7. University of California, Berkeley, loses to New York University by 197–63|
|8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 160–96|
|9. University of Pennsylvania, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 130–115|
|10. University of Virginia, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 119–118|
|11. Duke University, loses to University of Virginia by 187–64|
|12. Northwestern University, loses to Duke University by 130–121|
|13. Cornell University, loses to Northwestern University by 142–102|
|14. Georgetown University, loses to Cornell University by 137–107|
|15. University of California, Los Angeles, loses to Georgetown University by 143–100|
|16. University of Texas, Austin, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 136–113|
|17. Vanderbilt University, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 170–66|
|18. University of Southern California, loses to Vanderbilt University by 124–87|
|19. Washington University, St. Louis, loses to University of Southern California by 144–68|
|20. George Washington University, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 114–95|
|21. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul, loses to George Washington University by 109–92|
|22. Boston University, loses to University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul by 112–82|
|23. Emory University, loses to Boston University by 102–90|
|24. University of Notre Dame, loses to Emory University by 103–93|
|25. University of California, Irvine, loses to University of Notre Dame by 95–93|
|26. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, loses to University of California, Irvine by 95–82|
|27. Fordham University, loses to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign by 93–90|
|28. University of Wisconsin, Madison, loses to Fordham University by 92–87|
|29. Boston College, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 91–83|
|30. College of William & Mary, loses to Boston College by 86–82|
|31. University of California, Davis, loses to College of William & Mary by 91–87|
|32. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, loses to University of California, Davis by 86–82|
|33. University of Iowa, loses to University of California, Davis by 91–77|
|34. Indiana University, Bloomington, loses to University of Iowa by 80–76|
|35. Washington & Lee University, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 83–66|
|36. George Mason University, loses to Washington & Lee University by 80–76|
|37. University of Alabama, loses to George Mason University by 78–73|
|38. Ohio State University, loses to George Mason University by 79–76|
|39. Florida State University, loses to Ohio State University by 78–73|
|40. University of San Diego, loses to Florida State University by 82–69|
|41. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University, loses to University of San Diego by 83–78|
|42. Arizona State University, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 84–67|
|43. University of California, Hastings, loses to Arizona State University by 82–75|
|44. University of Washington, Seattle, loses to University of California, Hastings by 74–72|
|45. University of Arizona, loses to University of Washington, Seattle by 72–70|
|46. University of Colorado, Boulder, loses to University of Arizona by 79–59|
|47. University of Georgia, loses to University of Colorado, Boulder by 68–66|
|48. Brigham Young University, loses to University of Georgia by 81–47|
|49. Brooklyn Law School, loses to Brigham Young University by 69–67|
|50. Wake Forest University, loses to Brooklyn Law School by 68–67|
Harvard tied Yale, and, indeed, led Yale during large stretches of the voting. San Diego and Florida State, quite correctly, out-performed their US News rank by a substantial margin. UC Irvine, again correctly, made the top 25, despite not being ranked at all by US News. On the other hand, some results do seem to reflect the pernicious hold of US News. It's surely not plausible any longer that Columbia has a better faculty than NYU, or that Wash U/St. Louis has a stronger faculty than George Washington, Minnesota, or BU, or that Arizona State's faculty is stronger than Arizona's (though both are underranked, in my view). Colorado may be a special case: the faculty is ranked unreasonably low here, but one suspects this may be due to the notoriety of their albatross.
As the vote patterns make clear, the differences in ordinal rank do not always reflect substantial differences in votes. So we might regroup them in clusters, also creating more ties, with the number of votes separating the school from the next highest ranked one in parentheses:
1. Harvard University (0)
1. Yale University (0)
3. Stanford University (153)
4. University of Chicago (27)
5. Columbia University (59)
6. New York University (43)
7. University of California, Berkeley (134)
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (64)
9. University of Pennsylvania (15)
9. University of Virginia (1)
11. Duke University (123)
11. Northwestern University (9)
13. Cornell University (40)
14. Georgetown University (30)
15. University of California, Los Angeles (43)
16. University of Texas, Austin (23)
17. Vanderbilt University (104)
18. University of Southern California (37)
19. Washington University, St. Louis (76)
20. George Washington University (19)
21. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul (17)
22. Boston University (20)
23. Emory University (12)
24. University of Notre Dame (10)
24. University of California, Irvine (2)
26. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (13)
26. Fordham University (3)
28. University of Wisconsin, Madison (5)
29. Boston College (8)
29. College of William & Mary (4)
29. University of California, Davis (4)
29. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (4)
33. University of Iowa (14)
34. Indiana University, Bloomington (4)
35. Washington & Lee University (17)
36. George Mason University (4)
37. University of Alabama (5)
38. Ohio State University (3)
39. Florida State University (5)
40. University of San Diego (13)
41. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University (5)
42. Arizona State University (17)
43. University of California, Hastings (7)
43. University of Washington, Seattle (2)
43. University of Arizona (2)
46. University of Colorado, Boulder (20)
46. University of Georgia (2)
48. Brigham Young University (34)
48. Brooklyn Law School (2)
48. Wake Forest University (1)
51. University of Florida, Gainesville (4)
52. Chicago-Kent College of Law (5)
53. American University (5)
54. University of Maryland, Baltimore (5)
October 25, 2013
Who is no longer applying to law school?Story here (and follow the links).
October 23, 2013
Rank the 50 best law faculties in the U.S.It's the time of year for our annual Condorcet poll about law schools--but this years, I want to emphasize that the question is about the best law faculties, in terms of the scholarly quality of their work. Here's the poll: have fun! (We've included every school that is either "top 50" in U.S. News or by one of the measures of faculty quality that I've used in the past.) Any attempt to rally votes will result in that school being dropped from the final results! And rank at least 20 schools!
October 14, 2013
U.S. News "asking" for expenditures information but has not decided whether to use it in the rankingsAccording to IHE. Just to be clear, then: U.S. News will waste thousands of hours of time of administrative staff around the country compiling data they would not otherwise need to compile, but may not use any of it. Classy.
October 11, 2013
More on the mischief caused by expenditures data in U.S. NewsHere (and follow the links).
October 09, 2013
U.S. News will still ask for expenditures data, even though the ABA will no longer collect it
We noted the ABA's change in policy during the summer, but now a Dean elsewhere writes:
This is well said, and I agree with all of it. The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education ought to formally condemn this move by U.S. News.
I thought you'd be interested to know that law school deans this week were informed that the US News law schools survey is now open for law schools to submit their data. Looking at the data entry form, Questions 91-102 regarding expenditures are exactly the same as last year. That is, US News has decided to continue to collect expenditure information and use such information in its rankings of law schools. This despite the many cogent criticisms over many years of the use of this factor in the rankings; the fact that the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, as reported in July 2013, no longer requires law schools to submit this information annually (and therefore that independent check on what law schools report to US News no longer exists, thereby increasing the incentive for law schools to manipulate their data in reporting to US News); and the fact that the Draft Report of the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education criticizes the continued use of such information in the rankings (p. 9 of the Report, Section B.3) and under its Specific Recommendations (Section VIII., p. 32, Section G.3) calls for US News to stop doing so.
While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see US News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt. US News' decision to continue doing so is inexplicable and inexcusable and I sincerely hope that deans, journalists, and the ABA will specifically and loudly call upon US News to explain its decision and work to educate prospective students and the legal community at large about this issue.
October 08, 2013
"Enduring Hierarchies in American Legal Education"
Now we know the truth! From page 65:
Established Elite: Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Michigan, NYU [but see the footnote], Penn, Stanford, Virginia, Yale
Rising Elite: Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Minnesota, Northwestern, Texas, UCLA, USC
Declining Elite: BU, Case Western, Indiana/Bloomington, Iowa, North Carolina, Wisconsin
Regional Elite: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Buffalo, BYU, UC Davis, UC Hastings, Cardozo, Cincinnati, Colorado, Connecticut, Emory, Florida, Fordham, George Washington, Georgia, Illinois, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers/Newark, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Wash U/St. Louis, Washington/Seattle, Utah, Washington & Lee, William & Mary, Vanderbilt
"Rising Regional," "Regional" and "Local" law schools are listed in appendices. You'll have to read the article to see all the different kinds of data, stretching over almost a century, that went into these categorizations.
ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, as a marker of current faculty quality these categories break down pretty quickly in reliability--but that's not what they're being presented as, in any case.