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March 31, 2020

New "Emergency Relief Fund" for law students, funded by Access Lex, administered by law schools (Michael Simkovic)

The Access Lex Institute is providing $5 million in total to fund an emergency relief fund for students at each of 200 law schools.  Each law school will receive $25,000.  Law schools will be responsible for administering the funds to assist students in need.  

The press release describes the purpose of the funds as follows:

"Beyond the concerns around adapting to online learning, completion of hands-on legal clinics, and the potential for delays in the bar exam, this crisis has exacerbated financial pressures on law students . . . It is imperative that we act on our mission to positively impact the lives of law students in a tangible way when they need the support most" 

Access Lex will provide more details about the program later this week. 

The funds should be particularly helpful to law schools with small class sizes and limited resources.  JD class sizes at law schools range from more than 500 students per year to less than 50.

Posted by Michael Simkovic on March 31, 2020 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic | Permalink

March 30, 2020

Would triage plans for the use of ventilators (etc.) that favored those who were younger and healthier violate civil rights law?

I'm curious to hear what informed readers make of this story.   Comments may take awhile to appear (as they are moderated when I have time), please submit your comment only once.  Thanks.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 30, 2020 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (7)

March 26, 2020


Here I am mostly continuing with my usual coverage of law school-related news.  At my other blog on philosophy and the academy more generally, I am doing a lot of posts about the coronavirus, for anyone who is interested (the link will take you to the posts specifically about coronavirus matter).  Good luck to all readers during this challenging time!

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 26, 2020 | Permalink

March 25, 2020

Pass/fail grading?

Some law schools (including some that didn't have real grades to start with) have switched officially to pass/fail as classes move online; others have not.   Law professor Jonathan Adler (Case Western) argues against switching to P/F, while Noah Zatz (UCLA) argues in favor.  My own view is that it probably depends on the school and the course, and that there is no "one size fits all" answer.  (An example:  I can imagine a school switching a course to P/F for all students if the instructor falls ill for several weeks; or a school might allow students afflicted with illness or caregiving responsibilities to switch to P/F as needed.)  I will note that the economic fallout from the pandemic will almost certainly affect law firm hiring significantly, meaning that actual grades will be more important for students than before (again, how important will depend on the school, but we know from the Great Recession of 2008 that all schools will be affected, even if to differing degrees).    Mandatory P/F may hurt some students if they are competing against students from schools that continued to grade.

UPDATE:  I'm told that many students at Harvard Law School objected when the Dean announced they were switching to P/F.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 25, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 21, 2020

Another online guide to using Zoom...

...from law professor Josh Blackman (South Texas).

(Thanks to Paul Horwitz for the pointer.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 21, 2020 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

March 20, 2020

Teaching online

A short video guide from law professor Seth Oranburg (Duquesne).

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 20, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 19, 2020

UCLA chapter of NLG is an embarrassment to the NLG

The UCLA Federalist Society had the temerity to invite Professor Doriane Lambert Coleman from Duke Law School, a former competitive female athlete who has written carefully and thoughtfully about the complex issues raised by the participation of trans women in female sports (see, e.g., this article).  The UCLA Law School chapter of the NLG decided to disrupt the event, apparently wholly unaware of the NLG's traditional staunch support for academic freedom, most famously during the Mcarthy era, but continuing to the present.   As the former faculty advisor to the NLG chapter at the University of Texas, I decided to point out their betrayal of NLG principles on Twitter; I was then derided as a "neoliberal white man" by these law students (and then subjected to a bizarre defamatory outburst by one Stephano Medina, who also turns out to be a UCLA 3L and not, as I had thought, a creepy teenage boy in his mother's basement).  What an embarrassment.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 19, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 18, 2020

All U.S. law schools have now moved to online instruction...

...so reports Blog Emperor Caron.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 18, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

March 17, 2020

New USNews.com "program" rankings for law schools

USNews.com "program" rankings for law schools have usually been even more worthless than the "overall" rankings of law schools, mostly tracking how well schools market a "program" than the actual quality of faculty or offerings.  (Tax is the classic example.)   This year they added four new categories:  "Business and Corporate Law", "Contracts and Commercial Law," "Criminal Law" and "Constitutional Law."  Although there were some halo effects from school names, the results are actually more sensible than one might have expected.  Here's the top ten in each of these categories (outside the top 10-15, the lists mostly just track a school's overall U.S. News rank it seems to me).

Business and Corporate Law

1 Columbia University (NY) 4.8
1 Harvard University (MA) 4.8
3 New York University 4.7
4 University of California--Berkeley 4.6
5 Stanford University (CA) 4.5
6 University of Pennsylvania Carey 4.4
7 University of Chicago (IL) 4.3
8 Georgetown University (DC) 4.2
8 University of California--Los Angeles 4.2
8 University of Virginia 4.2
8 Yale University (CT) 4.2

NYU should have been tied with Columbia and Harvard at #1, but that's minor.  Not quite sure, however, how evaluators would be interpreting "business law" apart from corporate.  I suspect many were including some of what might also belong under commercial law.

Constitutional Law

1 Yale University (CT) 4.9
2 Harvard University (MA) 4.8
3 Stanford University (CA) 4.7
4 University of Chicago (IL) 4.6
5 Columbia University (NY) 4.5
5 New York University 4.5
7 University of California--Berkeley 4.4
7 University of Virginia 4.4
9 Duke University (NC) 4.3
9 Georgetown University (DC) 4.3

This one is a little quirkier.  NYU and Chicago are both plainly stronger than Stanford in constitutional law, which should be in the top ten, but not the top five.  The rest of the top ten is fairly plausible, although I wouldn't take the precise ordinal ranking very seriously.   University of San Diego came in at #28 (score of 3.3), some indicator that evaluators were actually thinking about the faculties and not just the "brand name," although #28 still seems low for USD.

Contracts/Commercial Law

1 Columbia University (NY) 4.7
1 University of Chicago (IL) 4.7
3 Harvard University (MA) 4.6
3 New York University 4.6
3 University of California--Berkeley 4.6
6 Stanford University (CA) 4.5
6 University of Pennsylvania Carey 4.5
8 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 4.4
8 University of Texas--Austin 4.4
8 Yale University (CT) 4.4

Criminal Law

1 New York University 4.5
1 Stanford University (CA) 4.5
3 Harvard University (MA) 4.4
3 University of California--Berkeley 4.4
5 Georgetown University (DC) 4.3
6 Columbia University (NY) 4.2
6 University of Pennsylvania Carey 4.2
6 University of Virginia 4.2
6 Yale University (CT) 4.2
10 Duke University (NC) 4.1
10 University of California--Los Angeles 4.1
10 University of Chicago (IL) 4.1
10 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 4.1
10 Vanderbilt University (TN) 4.1

This one is also a bit quirkier, although NYU should certainly be #1.   But Penn should have been in the top three at least as well.   And it's clear that evaluators were taking this to mean both criminal law and procedurejudging from the results.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 17, 2020 in Rankings | Permalink

March 14, 2020

92% of law school have moved to remote teaching due to coronavirus

Blog Emperor Caron has the details.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 14, 2020 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink