July 19, 2019

International ranking of law journals

A group of Israeli legal scholars undertook this quantitative and qualitative study,resulting in a tiered ranking of journals as A*, A, B, C and unranked.   One could quibble here and there, but it's a reasonably sensible result.

July 19, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

June 17, 2019

AAUP censures Vermont Law School

Rightly so, although what actual effect this will have is unclear.

June 17, 2019 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

June 12, 2019

Daughter of Yale law prof Amy Chua, staunch defender of (now) Justice Kavanaugh,

June 03, 2019

The myth of administrative bloat in Higher Education (Michael Simkovic)

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Professor Philip Hamburger of Columbia calls on the federal government to impose restrictions on access to student loans to discourage universities from hiring more administrators relative to the number of tenured faculty members. 

I sympathize with Professor Hamburger’s desire to strengthen the role of tenured faculty in university governance.  But stripping universities of resources—or giving universities perverse incentives to evade anti-administration regulations by outsourcing or automating managerial tasks when it is costlier and less effective to do so—is not the right way to accomplish such goals.

Hamburger justifies federal interference with colleges’ and universities’ internal personnel decisions on the grounds that there is “administrative bloat” in higher education, and that such “bloat” is wasteful and leads to bad outcomes.  The evidence he presents to support this claim is that there are more administrators in higher education, relative to changes in the numbers of tenured faculty or students, than there used to be.

But the growth of managerial and administrative employees as a share of the workforce is an economy-wide phenomenon, not one that it is unique or unusual for higher education.

As I’ve discussed previously, compared to higher education, many industries in the private sector pay administrators more.  Compared to higher education, many private sector industries also employ more managerial employees as a larger share of the workforce.

There is no evidence of “administrative bloat” in higher education.  To the contrary, colleges and universities dedicate a much lower share of their workforce to managerial occupations than other industries such as real estate and construction, financial services, energy, entertainment, software and technology industries, religious organizations, professional services, and architecture and engineering firms. (OES data here).  

Higher education is about on par with chemical manufacturing, clothing retailers, and freight transportation with respect to its use of managerial employees.

Continue reading

June 3, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

May 18, 2019

ABA's legal education council adopts stricter bar passage standards for law schools

Details here, changes that could affect 10% of law schools that are presently accredited.  What we are sure to see in response to this change is twofold:  first, law schools worried about running afoul of the rule (and that will be more than just 10% of law schools) will increase bar-prep courses in the second and third years, and will invest in extra bar prep for the most at-risk students; and second, these law schools, almost all of which can't afford to shrink their incoming classes because of dependency on tuition revenue, will begin failing out more students after the first and second years.   Unless the ABA monitors and regulates the latter, it will become the default move for at-risk law schools:   they can still get a lot of the tuition revenue, without putting their accreditation at risk.

May 18, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

May 08, 2019

AAUP criticizes Vermont Law School's revocation of faculty tenure

Correctly so, as far as I can see.

May 8, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

May 06, 2019

Open letter of support for Prof. Wojciech Sadurski (Sydney)

Professor Sadurski, a leading legal theorist and scholar of constitutionalism, has been a vigorous and penetrating critic of the reactionary and authoritarian "Law and Justice" party in Poland ("PiS" is the Polish acronym); he has now become the target of both civil and criminal legal actions attempting to silence him.  The open letter is here, and they are accepting additional signatories in the comments.

May 6, 2019 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 29, 2019

$10 million gift for environmental law at Case Western


April 29, 2019 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 11, 2019

"Please reject me: an Open Letter to the Harvard Law Review"

Mark Lemley (Stanford) kindly shared this quite amusing open letter:

                                                    Please Reject Me

                                An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Review

            The Harvard Law Review has rejected my articles in the past.  A lot.  Indeed, they may have rejected me more than anyone else in the legal academy.  I’m 0 for 140 or so at Harvard.

            Several years ago, though, they stopped rejecting me.  I’m not saying they accepted my papers.  They haven’t, and probably they never will.

            No, what I mean is that they just stopped responding at all.  Oh, I get automated notices acknowledging that I’ve submitted a paper, vaguely hinting that they might read it.  And I get acknowledgements when I expedite my article after getting an offer elsewhere.  But it’s been at least seven years since I’ve gotten even an automated rejection, much less contact from a human being. 

            Every law professor knows the automated rejection form.  There are the nice ones, assuring me that they really liked my paper and just “couldn’t come to consensus.”  There is the everpresent “we have carefully considered your paper, but we get so many good submissions that we couldn’t take yours.”  There is the more dispassionate “unfortunately we can’t publish your paper.”  But from Harvard?  Nothing. 

            And they’re not alone.  In the last couple of years more top reviews have been ignoring papers altogether rather than giving us the bad news.

            As an author, this sucks.  Would I like you to accept my paper?  Sure I would.  But even more than that, I’d just like to know.  Did you read it and decide it wasn’t good?  Did you just not get to it in time?  Did you take a look at the title, realize it’s about patent law, and read no further?  [As far as I can tell the Harvard Law Review has never in its history published a patent law article.  Certainly it hasn’t done so in the 31 years I’ve been in law].  Fine.  I’m a big boy; I can take it.  Just tell me, please. 

            Yes, I know you’re busy.  But you’ve already got an automated system; it can’t be that much more work to generate an automated email telling me what I already suspected. 

            For starters, it would be the polite thing to do.  [Think how you’d feel if authors didn’t withdraw their papers when they’d accepted offers elsewhere].

            But you’re not just being rude to me.  You’re being rude to every other law review editor in the country.  We law professors have all submitted our papers to you, and we all harbor the secret hope that maybe this time you’ll publish our paper.  And so we lobby for the longest possible expedite window and wait until the last possible moment to accept our offers, because we haven’t yet heard back from you, and maybe, just maybe, that’s because you’re furiously discussing whether to accept it before the deadline.  You’re not.  Of course you’re not.  But hope springs eternal.  Thus does your unwillingness to reject us gum up the works for everyone else, slowing acceptances and making it harder for reviews to find authors. 

            So please, Harvard Law Review, reject me.  Save the ghosting for parties. 


Mark A. Lemley
William H. Neukom Professor, Stanford Law School
Director, Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Affiliated Professor, Stanford Symbolic Systems Program
partner, Durie Tangri LLP

co-founder, Lex Machina Inc.

April 11, 2019 in Legal Humor, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

April 08, 2019

New multi-year "Originalism Conference" at Yale funded by Rosenkranz Foundation...

...set up by the father of Georgetown constitutional law expert Nicholas Rosenkranz, a Yale Law alum.  The project will be led by Yale Law professor Akhil Amar and regular Yale visiting professor Steven Calabresi, who also teaches at Northwestern.

April 8, 2019 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink