February 13, 2019

$3 million to support first-generation law students at U of Georgia

February 11, 2019

Professors Chilton, Masur and Rozema respond on raising tenure standards and the costs

MOVING TO FRONT FROM FEBRUARY 6--MANY INTERESTING COMMENTS, BELOW; OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME

We’re grateful to Brian Leiter and Michael Simkovic for blogging about our article “Rethinking Law School Tenure Standards.” We agree with both of them that there are costs to raising tenure standards. The goal of the project is not to claim that those costs are unimportant. In fact, after acknowledging some of the costs of applying stricter tenure standards, we end the paper’s introduction by saying “[w]e thus caution against jumping to conclusions about whether tenure standards should be increased, and we hope future work builds on what we have started here to better understand how the legal academy’s personnel decisions can be improved.”

Instead, the goal of the project is to provide new evidence that can help faculties set tenure standards in a more informed way. So even granting Michael’s argument that the costs of increasing tenure standards are high, the results in the paper should still be helpful to law schools.

We’ll highlight just three results that we think are important. First, the results show that pre-tenure research records are highly predictive of post-tenure research records. This illustrates that it is possible to tenure scholars that will be influential in the future with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Second, the results show that there are fantastic scholars across a wide range of law schools. For instance, roughly 30 percent of professors at law schools ranked 50-100 have more citations than all but the top 30 percent of professors in the same tenure cohort at the top 20 law schools. Not everyone is moveable, of course, but there is a lot of talent available in the lateral market. Third, the results illustrate that modest increases in denial rates could result in large increases in law schools’ academic impact. It’s reasonable to think that denying more people tenure is not worth the trade-off, but schools should know how big the potential benefits are when making those decisions.

That said, Michael is right that we only focus on estimating the costs and benefits of applying stricter tenure standards on academic impact, and we don’t claim to be performing a full cost-benefit analysis of the effects of raising tenure standards. But a lot of the costs he described wouldn’t arise or are not as high as he makes it seem.

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February 11, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (12)

February 08, 2019

$20 million gift for health law at University of Florida

February 01, 2019

On the costs of denying tenure

I agree with Prof. Simkovic that there are costs to denying tenure if only one or two law schools have serious tenure reviews--so that's our collective action problem in law schools.  In almost all other fields, elite departments deny tenure at much higher rates than in law, where 95% get tenure according to Professors Chilton et al.  By contrast, in other fields, rates of tenure appear to hover around 25%, maybe a bit higher.  Somehow all these other fields have pulled this off; the interesting question is what's holding law back?  I speculated about this many years ago (2004, so bear that in mind).  I'm opening comments for thoughts from readers and further responses from Prof. Simkovic and other academics.  (Comments are moderated, and may take awhile to appear, so be patient.)


February 1, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (7)

Raising tenure standards is no free lunch (Michael Simkovic)

Brian Leiter and Paul Caron both recently noted a study by Adam Chilton, Jonathan Masur, and Kyle Rozema which argues that law schools can increase average faculty productivity by making it harder for tenure track faculty to get tenure.  While this seems plausible, denying tenure more often is no free lunch. 

A highly regarded study by Ron Ehrenberg (published in the Review of Economics and Statistics) found that professors place a high monetary value on tenure, and a university that unilaterally eliminated tenure would either have to pay more in salary and bonus or suffer a loss in faculty quality. After controlling for faculty quality, university rank, and cost of living, university economics departments that are less likely to offer faculty tenure must pay untenured faculty more, in part to compensate for increased risk.  Reduced tenure rates is associated with higher productivity, but it is costly.

It's easy to understand why.  A promising candidate with offers from otherwise comparable universities A and B would be unlikely to take an offer from A knowing that A denies tenure 70 percent of the time while B only denies tenure 10 percent of the time. 

Faculty who are untenured and at an institution with high tenure denial rates would also have strong incentives to spend their most productive years avoiding publishing anything that might upset private sector employers who could give them a soft landing in the event that they are denied tenure.  Quantitative measures of faculty "productivity" based on number of citations and publications don't capture the harmful qualitative shift this would produce in faculty research, particularly in an area like law.

There are numerous other advantages to tenure (and disadvantages to weakening it), which I've discussed here and here, including protecting intelletual freedom, encouraging faculty to share rather than hoard knowledge, promoting investment in specialized skills, aligning faculty and institutional incentives, increasing the rigor of teaching and improving outcomes for students (compared to use of adjuncts).  

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February 1, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

January 31, 2019

Deny tenure more often, raise scholarly impact

That's the conclusion of a study by three colleagues of mine, Adam Chilton (just tenured, easy case!), Jonathan Masur, and Kyle Rozema (our Behavioral L&E Fellow).  I've not looked at the details of the study, but I wonder how much the results are affectedd by Harvard's historical pattern (changed in recent years) of hiring and then tenuring everyone based on good grades in law school, which results in more "dead wood" there than elsewhere.   Even if Harvard has some effect on the findings, I think their basic point is correct:  law schools, especially those maintaining a high scholarly profile, should be more demanding about tenure.


January 31, 2019 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

January 30, 2019

$15 million gift to Albany Law School from anonymous donor

Wow!

(Thanks to Chris Colton for the pointer.)


January 30, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 29, 2019

USA Today "hit piece" on law schools

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) comments.


January 29, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 24, 2019

UVA Law's Class of 1990: They're Happy!

Good for them, and good for UVA!   Of course, there may be some self-selection going on:  happy types may choose UVA over other top law schools!


January 24, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

January 21, 2019

Rostron & Levit's guide to submitting to law reviews, updated again

They asked me to share the announcement, which I'm happy to do:

We  just updated our charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Spring 2019 submission season covering the 203 main journals of each law school. 

We have created hyperlinks for each law review to take you directly to the law review’s submissions page. Again the chart includes as much information as possible about what law reviews are not accepting submissions right now and what months they say they'll resume accepting submissions. 

There has been some change in law review preferences from a year ago, with the upticks going to Scholastica and to law reviews’ own emails.  Now 78 schools prefer or require Scholastica as the exclusive avenue for submissions (compared to 62 last year), 42 law journals prefer direct emails, and 41 law reviews prefer or require submission through ExpressO (compared to again 62 last year), with 33 accepting articles submitted through either ExpressO or Scholastica. Six schools now have their own online web portals (compared to thirteen last year).

The first chart contains information about each journal’s preferences about methods for submitting articles (e.g., e-mail, ExpressO, Scholastica, or regular mail), as well as special formatting requirements and how to request an expedited review.  The second chart contains rankings information from U.S. News and World Report as well as data from Washington & Lee’s law review website.

Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews and Journals:  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1019029 

Professors Rostron and Levit welcome feedback, as always.

 


January 21, 2019 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink