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February 28, 2020

Fellowships for Aspiring Law Professors

The Blog Emperor has updated his useful list.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 28, 2020 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

February 27, 2020

The meaningless "Primary Research Group" survey of "law faculty and staff"

This "survey" has been making the rounds, despite being obviously meaningless:  it is based on a survey of 96 "faculty and staff" in the U.S. and Canada.  Only 96! There are some 8,000 law faculty in the United States alone, and I would guess that the 16 law schools in Canada have another 800-1,000 academic staff as well.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 27, 2020 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 25, 2020

Regarding memorial notices

It is not possible to record the passing of every member of the legal academic community.  I try only to post memorial notices for faculty who are likely to be nationally known for their work.  I'm sure I sometimes make mistakes of omission, for which my apologies.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 25, 2020 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

February 24, 2020

Concordia Law in Idaho to become part of Concordia University in Minnesota...

...after the original parent campus in Oregon closes.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 24, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 21, 2020

"What makes the San Diego originalism conference so good"...

...as described by my colleague Will Baude also explains exactly what makes the AALS annual meetings so worthless from an intellectual point of view.   The annual Analytic Legal Philosophy conferences used to be good in this way too for the first ten years or so, although not so much anymore unfortunately.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 21, 2020 in Jurisprudence, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 18, 2020

In Memoriam: Francis McGovern (1945-2020)

A longtime member of the Duke law faculty, he was also a regular visiting professor of law at the University of California, Hastings.   He was an expert on products liability and mass tort litigation, and served as the court-appointed "special master" in many major tort cases involving opioids, silicone implants asbetos, lead paint and others.  I will add links to memorial notices when they appear.

(Thanks to Scott Dodson for the information.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 18, 2020 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

February 17, 2020

Technology and lawyer's work

Article here, including interesting obserevations from Dean Jennifer Mnookin (UCLA).

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 17, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

February 13, 2020

Novartis demands a 15% discount from its outside law firms unless they put more women and minority lawyers to work on Novartis legal matters (Michael Simkovic)

Bloomberg reports that Novartis AG, a Swiss Pharmaceutical firm with a Market Capitalization in excess of 220 billion USD and U.S. headquarters in Boston, is demanding that its U.S.-based outside law firms ensure that at least 30 percent of associate billable hours on Novartis matters are completed by associates who are female or members of racial minority groups or LGBTQ+ groups, and that at least 20 percent of partner billable hours are completed by partners who are members of such minority groups.  Any firm that does not meet these diversity targets will face demands from Novartis for an across the board 15 percent write down on its legal bill. The announcement of the policy is available here.

Under the new policy, above the 70 percent cap on straight-white-male associate hours, such non-minority associates would have to bill at least 4000 hours per year to be as financially valuable to Novartis's law firms as women or minorities billing 2000 hours per year on Novartis matters.

Novartis's policy represents a creative approach by Corporate Counsel to both cut costs and promote diversity.  Recent research suggests that much of the difference in employment outcomes between male and female law firm associates is attributable to men billing more hours, bringing in more revenue, and having greater aspirations to make partner.  The research could not rule out the possibility that law firms provided female associates fewer opportunities to bill hours. 

Affirmative action is generally legal under Swiss law.  The U.S. has historically been more permissive of affirmative action by private employers than by public employers or universities, but the legality of the policy above could potentially be challenged under more recent case law which imposes more limits on affirmative action and was decided under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which also applies to private employers.

However, standing and evidentiary issues could make a legal challenge to the new policy unlikely. Law firms are unlikely to sue a major client.  A suit would therefore have to be brought by an associate who was dismissed or denied a promotion or bonus at one of Novartis’s outside law firms.  The plaintiff would have to prove that he did not get enough work at the law firm specifically because of Novartis’s policy and that this led to adverse outcomes at his law firm.  The law firm and Novartis would both have incentives to point to other potential reason for the plaintiff's dismissal or lower pay.

Were policies similar to Novartis's diversity policy to become widespread among corporate clients, straight-white-men intent on career advancement at law firms could potentially claim LGBTQ+ status--which includes those who report that they are bisexual, asexual or questioning their sexuality. Evidentiary issues and basic privacy concerns would make it difficult for private employers to challenge such claims.  (However, courts have historically considered the factual truth of LGBTQ+ claims in asylum cases by requiring evidence of stereotypically effeminate behavior.  Social scientists say such behavior has little relation to LGBTQ+ status.  Courts have also asked asylum seekers to tell their "coming out" stories).

Widespread adoption of aggressive diversity targets could also raise questions about how much of one's ancestry would have to originate with individuals who were racial or ethnic minorities to claim minority status, and what kind of proof of such status would be required (i.e., self-report, an expert genealogy report, genetic testing, community involvement, or physical features stereotypically associated with racial minorities). Controversies related to similar issues have been raised to criticize Harvard law professor, Massachusetts Senator, and Democratic Presidential primary candidate Elizabeth Warren for claiming Native American ancestry based on family oral tradition and a small amount of Native American DNA. 

Issues of racial identity and passing were memorialized in a novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author Philip Roth, about a light skinned black man who passes for Jewish in the 1950s, only to see his career derailed in the 1990s by false accusations of racism brought by students who he calls out for repeatedly skipping his class. 

Aggressive diversity targets would also raise questions about whether Portuguese or white Spanish or Brazilian or Sephardic Jewish ancestry would entitle an individual to claim hispanic or latino status.

The Novartis Group General Counsel is Shannon T. Klinger, a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and former attorney at Mayer Brown.  The U.S. General Counsel of Novartis AG is Elizabeth G. McGee, a graduate of Fordham Law School and a former attorney at Mayer Brown.

Posted by Michael Simkovic on February 13, 2020 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic | Permalink

February 12, 2020

Law review EICs at the top 16 law schools are all currently women

A conference in their honor was recently held in Washington, DC.  (Top 16, by the way, is a far more sensible demarcation than "top 14," which designates nothing of significance in the real world.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 12, 2020 in Legal Profession, Rankings | Permalink

February 11, 2020

Blog Emperor links to "the College Fix" regarding his pet issue du jour

Here.  (The College Fix is part of the right-wing media-sphere devoted to attacking universities.)   Here's the relevant part of my exchange with the student author, Troy Sargent, of the College Fix piece now deemed newsworthy.

Mr. Sargent:  I am a reporter with the College Fix and appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.  What do you think of the underrepresentation of Christians in law? Are you aware of any other statistics regarding the religious beliefs of professors in other disciplines? Do you think this qualifies as "disparate impact"?


BL:  Christian believers are overrepresented in the legal academy compared not only to other academic disciplines but compared to law professors in, for example, England, which even has an established Church.   For data on the former, see this.


Mr. Sargent:  What do you think of the below comparison Lindgren makes?


"For example, while 24 percent of law professors say that they “don’t believe in God” and another 18 percent “don’t know whether God exists,”among those in the general population who have graduate and professional degrees, only 5.4 percent do not believe in God and 10.4 percent do not know whether God exists."


BL:   Again, this is a nonsensical comparison that shows nothing:  law professors are not hired from "the general population who have graduate and professional degrees," they are hired from a limited number of elite law schools (see:  http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2009job_teaching.shtml), and many have PhDs in a handful of disciplines:  Economics, Philosophy, History, Political Science, a couple of others.  The "general population who have graduate and professional degrees" includes people with only Master's degrees, MBAs and degrees in public policy, public health, theology; it also includes many graduates of the country's  hundreds of sectarian religious institutions.


In the last ten years, we've brought several dozen faculty candidates to campus to consider them for jobs; I can think of only one where I knew what the candidate's religious beliefs were.  Otherwise, we have no idea, because a candidate's religious beliefs are irrelevant to their competence to teach and write about securities regulation, administrative law, evidence, civil procedure etc. etc.  The only discrimination based on religious belief in law faculty hiring I'm aware of is the open discrimination by some religiously affiliated law schools against non-believers and/or those who have the wrong sectarian religious beliefs.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 11, 2020 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink