Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Northwestern's Steven Calabresi has not covered himself in glory...

...with this bizarre opinion pieceThese twitter responses are representative, and his colleague Steven Lubet has written at greater length about this.

November 12, 2019 in Faculty News, Law Professors Saying Dumb Things | Permalink

Monday, November 11, 2019

Some students and alumni of "Penn Law" are not happy about becoming students and alumni of "Carey Law"

They have a point.  The University of Maryland already has a "Carey Law School," making losing the connection to Penn a particularly bad idea.   Why not "Penn Law-Carey"?

November 11, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

Lateral hires with tenure or on tenure-track, 2019-20

These are non-clinical appointments that will take effect in 2020 (except where noted); I will move the list to the front at various intervals as new additions come in.   (Recent additions are in bold.)  Last year's list is here.  Feel free to e-mail me with news of additions to this list.


*Mario Biagioli (intellectual property, history of intellectual property, science and technology studies) from the University of California, Davis (Law and Science & Technology Studies) to the University of California, Los Angeles (joint in Law and Communications).


*William Wilson Bratton (corporate law) from the University of Pennsylvania (where he will become emeritus) to the University of Miami.


*Kimberly Clausing (public finance, tax, international trade) from Reed College (Economics) to the University of California, Los Angeles.


*Raff Donelson (criminal procedure & law, jurisprudence) from Louisiana State University to Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law (untenured lateral).


*Ali Rod Khadem (Islamic law, business law) from Deakin University to Suffolk University (untenured lateral).


*Derek Muller (election law) from Pepperdine University to the University of Iowa.


*Christopher Odinet (consumer finance, commercial law, property) from the University of Oklahoma to the University of Iowa.


*Alexander Pearl (water law, natural resources law, Federal Indian law) from Texas Tech University to the University of Oklahoma.


*Tracy Hresko Pearl (criminal law, torts, law & technology) from Texas Tech University to the University of Oklahoma.


*Elizabeth Pollman (corporate law) from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles to the University of Pennsylvania (effective January 2020).


*Mark Schultz (intellectual property) from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale to the University of Akron (effective Jan. 2020).


*Nicholas Stephanopoulos (election law & voting rights) from the University of Chicago to Harvard University (effective January 2020).


*Karen Tani (legal history) from the University of California, Berkeley to the University of Pennsylvania.


*Stacey Tovino (health law, bioethics) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to the University of Oklahoma.


*Ann Tweedy (Federal Indian Law) from practice (previously Hamline University) to the University of South Dakota (untenured lateral) (effective January 2020).

November 11, 2019 in Faculty News | Permalink

Friday, November 8, 2019

$125 million gift to Penn Law...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Measuring law faculty scholarly impact by citations

Professor Gregory Sisk (St. Thomas) comments.

UPDATE:  And more thoughts from my colleagues Adam Chilton and Jonathan Masur.

November 7, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?


With luck, some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months; a handful of offers have already been extended this season (2019-20).  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell the Chicago job candidates we work with that they need to find out, and in the interest of having it written down in one place and for the benefit of others too, here it is (not in order of importance):

1.  You will want to get (in writing eventually) the basic salary information, obviously, and the nature of summer research support and the criteria for its award (is it automatic for junior faculty?  contingent on prior publication [if so, how much?]?  awarded competitively (if so, based on what criteria/process)?).   You should also find out how salary raises are determined.  Are they, for example, lock-step for junior faculty?  Fixed by union contract?  (Rutgers faculty, for example, are unionized, a huge advantage and why they are among the best-paid faculty, not just in law, in the country.)  Is it a 'merit' system, and if so is it decanal discretion or is their a faculty committee that reviews your teaching and work each year?

2.  You should ask for a copy of the school's tenure standards and get clear about the expectations and the timeline.  Does any work you have already published count towards meeting the tenure standard?

3.  What research leave policy, if any, does the school have?  A term off after every three full years of teaching is a very good leave policy; some schools have even better policies, most have less generous leave policies.  (If there is a norm, it is a term off after every six years.)  Many schools have a special leave policy for junior faculty, designed to give them some time off prior to the tenure decision.  Find out if the school has such a policy.

4.  One of the most important things to be clear about is not just your teaching load, but what courses you will be teaching precisely.  You should ask whether the school can guarantee a stable set of courses until after the tenure decision.  Preparing new courses is hugely time-consuming, and you also get better at teaching the course the more times you do it.  As a tenure-track faculty member, having a stable package of, say, three courses (plus a seminar) will make a huge difference in terms of your ability to conduct research and write.   In my experience, most schools will commit in writing to a set of courses for the tenure-track years (and do ask for this in writing), but some schools either won't or can't.   In my view, it's a good reason to prefer one school to another that one will give you the courses you want and promise them that they're yours, while another won't--a consideration that overrides lots of other factors, including salary.

Continue reading

November 5, 2019 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (14)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Toronto Law keeping "blacklist" of alums who criticize school?

This is not a good look, although perhaps this incident is sui generis.  It is true that the University of Toronto charges more law school tuition than any other law school in Canada, and has for awhile, but this was part of a (mostly successful) effort to make Toronto faculty salaries competitive with the top 15ish U.S. law schools for both recruitment and retention purposes.


November 4, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Nominee for 9th Circuit Lawrence VanDyke deemed "unqualified" by ABA...

...based on interviews with dozens of lawyers and judges who had worked with him and found him “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice,” and who also described a "lack of humility," and an "'entitlement' temperament."  That certainly well describes his reaction to being called out for his idiotic apologia for Intelligent Design creationism fifteen years ago.

October 31, 2019 in Legal Profession | Permalink

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Society for Empirical Legal Studies (SELS) objects to use of HeinOnLine citation data to measure "scholarly impact"

Their letter to USNEWS.com editor Robert Morse is here.  I agree with a lot of this; herewith a few comments, sometimes expanding on the points made in the SELS letter, sometimes disagreeing.

The SELS letter states that while "no ranking system is perfect, one strength of the existing ranking approach--as U.S. News officials themselves have argued--is that it provides several accurate metrics for consumers to evaluate for themselves."   This did make me laugh, although I understand the good intentions behind the statement.  In fact, as we all know, USNEWS.com has regularly provided consumers with misinformation, since it never audits the self-reported data schools submit, whether about expenditures or job placement.  

The letter continues: 

Unlike other indicators like graduation rate and bar-passage rate, however, HeinOnline’s current citation system does not appear to accurately capture what it represents to. HeinOnline’s metric would purportedly measure a faculty member’s “scholarly impact.” But the method suffers from a variety of systemic measurement flaws so significant that they undermine its validity as a measure of scholarly impact—and with it, the validity of any metric incorporating it. Making the HeinOnline data part of the Best Law Schools ranking would therefore deviate from your longstanding practice of offering readers accurate information.

A small point:  while U.S. News college rankings incorporate graduation rates, the law school rankings do not.  The main concern of the SELS letter is that USNEWS.com may add the Hein impact data to the overall ranking formula.   I hereby predict with confidence that USNEWS.com will do exactly that within the next two years.  The trend in all their professional school rankings in the last few years has been to try to add "objective" indicia; citation data is the best candidate in the case of law schools.

Of course, the Hein data has exactly the problems that the SELS letter notes (and we have discussed previously):   books and book chapters are invisible, and partly because of that, and partly because Hein is a database of only law-related journals, interdisciplinary scholarship will get less weight in the "scholarly impact" measure.   Of course, it might reasonably be said that "scholarly impact" for a law school should be reflected in law publications, not, e.g., in impact in philosophy or economics journals.  (The two examples given--a highly-cited article co-authored by Lucian Bebchuk [Harvard] in a non-law journal and the highly cited historian Samuel Moyn [Yale] whose citations derive primarily from books--are apt, but probably not typical.  Bebchuk will surely do extremely well by a Hein-only measure even if that one article is excluded, while Moyn won't; but does anyone think that would have factored into Yale's hiring decision?)

But the real question about adding the Hein data is a comparative one.  Right now the USNEWS.com ranking of law schools measures [sic] the scholarly quality of faculties through an academic reputation survey, that has become simply an echo chamber:  if a school's overall USNEWS.com rank increases, the reputation score increases; and vice versa.   The Hein data--or any scholarly impact data--would make the measurement of scholarly quality independent of the reputation echo chamber.   (In USNEWS.com, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale typically tie at #1 in academic reputation; while Chicago, Columbia, and sometimes NYU come in at #4; contrast that with what scholarly impact data reveals.  The differences with impact data become even more dramatic further down the academic reputation hierarchy.)

So if the choice is between academic reputation data and no measure of scholarly impact, versus adding the Hein impact data, I'd vote for the latter.  (I agree with the SELS letter that Google Scholar would be a better metric, but USNEWS.com policy is not to do anything that requires real work on their part, and using Google Scholar would be time- and labor-intensive.)

Continue reading

October 29, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Law blogging with impact: the case of voting rights

Our current Bigelow Fellow Travis Crum blogged about how to protect voting rights after SCOTUS's decision in Shelby County (the Wall Street Journal even noted his contributions in 2014).  Now the House Judiciary Committee has voted out a law essentially adopting Crum's proposals!  Impressive!


October 28, 2019 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

$50 million gift to Pepperdine Law from Los Angeles real estate developer Rick Caruso...

...for whom the Law School will now be named.  Additionally, Mr. Caruso has committed to help the Law School raise another $50 million over the next ten years (he presumably has the right contacts to make that happen!).

This is definitely in the category of "Wow!" gifts to law schools.

October 23, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, October 21, 2019

Blast from the past: the "ludicrous hyperbole watch"

Back in 2005 (it was named originally for former NYU Law Dean John Sexton, the king of ludicrous hyperbole in promoting his school).

October 21, 2019 in Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch | Permalink

Friday, October 18, 2019

Dickerson (UIC John Marshall) on negotiating a first job offer in legal academia

This is more detailed than advice I have posted here in the past (and which Dean Dickerson references at several points) and seems to me generally sensible.  I would particularly urge candidates to look at pp. 42-43 where Dean Dickerson reports her own preferences and attitudes regarding negotiating with many faculty candidates; I expect they are fairly widely shared by Deans.

October 18, 2019 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Reducing student debt?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blast from the past: when "The National Jurist" went off the rails...

...back in 2013.  I gather they're still around, but I've not read them since.

October 15, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Monday, October 14, 2019

Accused Dan Markel hitman convicted...

...but jury deadlocks on his ex-girlfriend and accused intermediary in the murder-for-hire plot.   One interesting detail reported here is that Mr. Garcia, convicted of the murder, had a run-in with Charlie Adelson about two weeks before the murder over Adelson's involvement with his ex-girlfriend.

October 14, 2019 in Faculty News | Permalink