November 11, 2019
Some students and alumni of "Penn Law" are not happy about becoming students and alumni of "Carey Law"
November 08, 2019
November 04, 2019
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.
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.)
October 28, 2019
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 23, 2019
...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 16, 2019
The law schools at the University of Georgia and Georgia State are doing well. Kudos to them!