Thursday, November 30, 2023
Harvard Law Review on-line pulls article expressing "incorrect" views about Israel/Palestine conflict
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
These are non-clinical appointments that will take effect in summer or fall 2024 (except where noted); (recent additions will be in bold.) Last year's list is here.
*Bethany Berger (property, American Indian law, conflicts of law) from the University of Connecticut to the University of Iowa.
*Jenny Carroll (criminal law & procedure) from the University of Alabama to Texas A&M University.
*Harlan Cohen (international trade, international law) from the University of Georgia to Fordham University (effective January 2024).
*James Coleman (energy law) from Southern Methodist University to the University of Minnesota.
*William Dodge (international business transactions, international litigation & arbitration, contracts) from the University of California, Davis to George Washington University.
*Kristin Hickman (tax, administrative law, legislation/statutory interpretation) from the University of Minnesota to the University of Texas, Austin (effective January 2024). (Professor Hickman has decided to stay at Minnesota.)
*Sophia Moreau (moral & political philosophy, antidiscrimination law, torts) from the University of Toronto to New York University.
*Alex Nunn (evidence) from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville to Texas A&M University (effective January 2024).
*Mariana Pargendler (corporate, contracts, comparative law, law & economics) from FGV Law School (São Paulo, Brazil) to Harvard University.
*K-Sue Park (property, legal history, Critical Race Theory) from Georgetown University to the University of California, Los Angeles (effective January 2024).
*Laura Pedraza-Fariña (intellectual property, international organizations) from Northwestern University to the University of California, Los Angeles (effective January 2024).
*Kate Shaw (constitutional law, administrative law, legislation) from Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University to the University of Pennsylvania.
*Adam Steinman (civil procedure) from the University of Alabama to Texas A&M University.
*Eugene Volokh (constitutional law [esp. First Amendment]) from the University of California, Los Angeles (where he will become emeritus) to the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
*Ahmed White (labor & employment law, criminal law, Critical Legal Studies) from the University of Colorado, Boulder to the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
*Keith Whittington (constitutional law & history) from the Department of Politics, Princeton University to Yale University (law school).
*Angela Zhang (Chinese law, law & economics) from the University of Hong Kong to the University of Southern California.
Monday, November 27, 2023
This won't have any benefits for legal education (and certainly won't make it more "practical"), although it will be a windfall for those who teach in these areas. There may be schools whose student body and local legal markets mean that it would make sense for them to require more "experiential" courses and clinics; but not all schools are the same, and there is no justification for imposing this on all American law schools. Yet another reason the ABA should be stripped of its regulatory authority.
Monday, November 20, 2023
The letter is here, and is still accepting signatures. I quite agree that it is outrageous the extent to which private employers (and even some universities) are willing to sanction lawful political speech by students, and am sympathetic to the ultimate recommendations (but less sympathetic to other parts of the letter). But law professor readers should take a look and decide for themselves.
Thursday, November 16, 2023
Universities slash spending on education, science, healthcare, and physical facilities; increase spending on bureaucracy, social services and entertainment (Michael Simkovic)
Real pay has declined steeply for law professors over the last 10 years, down by around 24 percent, while employment of law professors has stagnated.* This cannot be not explained away by changes in professor age or seniority or by a shift toward clinical or other support staff. Pay cuts vary by school, and appear to be worse toward the bottom, with some schools possibly even having small increases in real pay.
The decline in pay appears to be due at least in part to a steep decline in the number of applicants to law school, with the steepest declines coming from male students and white students. This decline in interest in law school is not explained by demographics; the number of recent college graduates has increased during this period, including whites and males.
Although professor pay is sharply down for law professors, it is also down across all fields tracked by BLS OES data, with very steep declines in law, criminology, social work, and hard-science fields.
This raises an intriguing question: where did all of the money go? Are colleges and universities facing declining revenues or increasing costs that have forced them to make cuts across the board? And how have those cuts been implemented? Are universities prioritizing some areas of spending over others? Are those the right areas of spending for the long-term health of colleges and universities? Are they prudent business decisions? Do they suggest the right set of values? Could they reflect poor leadership, agency costs or ideologically-driven decision making?
The analysis below attempts to begin to answer some of these questions, and perhaps shed light on others, using data from the BLS OES database. The end product of the analysis is the change in compensation spending, in real 2022 billions of dollars, in each of several occupational categories at colleges and universities between 2013 and 2022. Details of the method are explained below.**
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Students sue NYU alleging administrators and professors tolerated or encouraged anti-Semitic harassment (Michael Simkovic)
More universities will likely face similar lawsuits and negative press coverage in the coming weeks and months. Attorneys for plaintiffs at the law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres have said that they plan to file suit against Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, MIT, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania and UC-Berkeley.
Plaintiffs attorneys' have said that they intend to emphasize an alleged double standard at universities in their treatment of complaints of harassment from Jewish students compared to complaints of harassment from students from other minority groups.
During her long and varied career, Professor Hirshman was a labor lawyer, a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, a philosophy professor at Brandeis, and a wide-ranging feminist theorist and activist. There is an evocative memorial from Katha Pollitt in The Nation.
Monday, November 13, 2023
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Ohio Court finds College legally liable for supporting libelous statements made by student protestors (Michael Simkovic)
In Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin Coll., 2022-Ohio-1079, ¶ 24, 187 N.E.3d 629, 642, appeal not allowed, 2022-Ohio-2953, ¶ 24, 167 Ohio St. 3d 1497, 193 N.E.3d 575, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by a trial court that granted roughly $30 million in damages and attorney’s fees to a bakery that sued Oberlin College.
This case raises serious concerns for colleges and universities that take an active role in supporting student protests on campus. It suggests that statements made or actions taken by student groups could legally be attributed to a college or university under certain circumstances. This could prove very financially costly for universities.
In the Oberlin case, one or more college employees attended protests and allegedly helped distribute flyers containing defamatory statements and allegedly helped obtain media coverage for those statements. The decision did not, however, turn on this. The court emphasized that college email lists were used to distribute defamatory statements about the target of a protest and that college buildings were used to display flyers containing defamatory statements, and that college officials had the power to stop this from happening.
The college also encouraged a boycott of a targeted business, which increased the damages awarded to plaintiffs. The college was aware of student harassment directed at the target of the protests and did nothing to stop it.
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
University leaders have gotten into the habit of commenting on world affairs on behalf of their universities. This is often an attempt to reassure students who may be stressed or distressed by world affairs. Mass media and political activists can grab people’s attention by exposing them to distressing stimuli.
But official university positions can create problems for universities: such positions potentially infringe on the academic or intellectual freedom of those within the university with opposing viewpoints; they can alienate potential students, faculty or donors; they can distract administrators from running their institutions. They can distract students from studying, and distract faculty from teaching and doing research. They can turn people against each other.
Universities have also sometimes encouraged the formation of student groups that engage in political activism on or off campus or promote certain religious, ethnic, or other identity-based associations. While this can foster a spirit of camaraderie, it can also be distracting, encourage conflict, and prevent cooperation. Data from the American Time Use Survey shows that more time spent on political activity is associated with less time spent studying or working and lower incomes.
There are other ways of reducing stress, increasing focus, and encouraging teamwork. One is intramural athletics. Physical activity is healthy, especially for mostly sedentary lawyers, law students, and professors. Physical activity also reduces anxiety and protects against depression. And it promotes mindfulness. People who play sports go on to earn more money than similar people who don't (see also here).
Athleticism encourages healthy habits—eating healthy, getting enough sleep on a regular schedule, avoiding drinking or smoking or recreational drug use. The leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, obesity-related illnesses, car accidents, and other illnesses that are exacerbated by unhealthy habits—not the acts of violence that the media (and some law school deans and university presidents) focus on. Whatever threat someone might be ruminating about, odds are good that their own diet and exercise habits are statistically more dangerous. Playing sports reduces obesity.
Participation in athletics may be more effective at promoting understanding and friendships than other approaches. Playing sports encourages bonding with teammates, and respect for opponents. Working out and training teaches people discipline, time management, and the importance of enduring pain in order to grow and improve—skills that are important for later success. Athleticism can also make it easier for law graduates to socialize with and form connections with clients.
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Professors’ pay is down across fields, but law professors have taken bigger cuts than most (Michael Simkovic)
My previous posts have documented a very large 24 percent decline in real pay for law professors over the last decade, from 2013 to 2022 (see also here and here). Some readers have asked whether professors in other fields are also seeing their pay decline. The answer, unfortunately, is yes. However, the decline in pay for law professors is among the most severe in higher education.
Declines in average real pay for professors in different fields range from a low of 7 percent to a high of 27 percent over the decade. Large fields that have fared better than law include the humanities, communications, economics, business, philosophy, the creative arts, nursing and other healthcare, mathematics, computer science and engineering.
The only fields with bigger declines in pay than law are social work, criminology, and environmental science.
Monday, November 6, 2023
A leading figure (probably the leading figure of his generation) in the fields of administrative and environmental law, Professor Stewart began his career at Harvard Law School, moving to NYU in 1992, where he spent the remainder of his career. There is a memorial notice here.
Friday, November 3, 2023
...and asking them to do what exactly? I'm not really sure. Many of the disturbing campus incidents (e.g., at Cornell) do not involve the law school; at others (e.g., Berkeley), the First Amendment protects most of this speech, so there is nothing for the law school to do. Harvard and NYU both had law students involved in notorious incidents. In the latter case, the student expressed a lawful but offensive opinion, and she has already lost a job offer; in the former case, the student may be criminally liable for assault and battery. Most of the top law schools have not had any anti-semitic or racist incidents. If the point of the letter is to signal to students that the private market will punish them for otherwise lawful speech that is offensive or expresses incorrect views, then it certainly does that. All these law schools were already under a legal obligation to provide a learning environment free of unlawful discrimination, and as far as I can see, they are all fully committed to that.
One interesting thing about the letter is that many of the firms now concerned about anti-semitism were firms that would not hire or promote Jews to partnership only fifty or sixty years ago. Times do change, and sometimes for the better!
Elite law firms pledge not to hire law students who demonstrate poor judgment and behave unprofessionally (Michael Simkovic)
For a discussion of how law schools can help prepare students to behave in a way that will help them succeed in the corporate world, see here.
UPDATE, Nov. 5: For a fascinating discussion of Hamas's perspective, and how western secularists can misunderstand it, see here.
Thursday, November 2, 2023
On average, real pay for law professors has plummeted in the last 10 years by 24 percent.* A large decline in real terms is also apparent in data from the Society of American Law Teachers. However, pay has gone down by more at some law schools than others. A few law schools, especially the most elite and best funded institutions, may have even seen real increases in pay.
How can you tell if pay at your law school is keeping up with the cost of living?
An individual high-skilled worker will typically see nominal increases in pay from year to year. The pay increase is observed by the individual as a single pay increase or raise. But there are really two components to this pay increase:
- A cost of living adjustment, holding constant experience and productivity
- A raise to reflect increased experience and productivity of the individual worker
We’re interested in (1), the cost of living adjustment. In particular, we want to know whether it is larger or smaller than a measure of inflation or growth in the cost of living.*
However, to get at (1) the cost of living adjustment, we have to subtract out (2) the raise due to increased experience, from individual pay increases.
This means that we need an estimate of how much pay should go up or down with experience.
I’ve created a spreadsheet, here which provides such an estimate. Inputs are highlighted in yellow.
My spreadsheet enables users to enter an end year (for example, 2022) and a start year, input their age at the end year, and their actual nominal salaries in the start year and the end year. It also lets users choose between cost of living adjustments based on either the average wage index or the Case Shiller Housing Index.
The spreadsheet then calculates how much of a pay increase the user would have to receive between the start year and the end year to stay even with cost of living, assuming that the user was also getting the expected increase in pay due to increased experience and productivity.
This expected increase in pay is expressed both as a percentage pay increase and as an expected compensation in the end year.
If compensation in the end year is lower than this amount, this indicates that pay at your school may not be keeping up with costs of living. Or it could mean that you are receiving lower than average productivity increases. If other members of your faculty also have experienced slower than expected pay growth, that provides stronger evidence that overall faculty compensation is growing slower than the cost of living.
What this means is, to get the most out of this spreadsheet, you’ll need to share it with your colleagues and have a conversation about the results that you’re getting.
Users might want to customize the spreadsheet to use an index of local housing prices rather than a national index.
More details on how I estimated the expected wage increase from experience is explained below.
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
The unbelievable ordeal that lawprof Alex Sinha (Hofstra) and his family have endured is described in detail here. It has some resonance with this recent CHE story about a Berkeley professor stalking a UC Davis professor (sometimes in person!).
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
His Los Angeles Times opinion piece is accessible here. Although I do not believe university administrators are in the business of "moral leadership," it is clearly within their responsibility to insure a campus environment free of religious, ethnic and racial discrimination and prejudice.