Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Blast from the past: law school rankings in the 1970s


November 13, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Northwestern's Steven Calabresi has not covered himself in glory...

...with this bizarre opinion pieceThese twitter responses are representative, and his colleague Steven Lubet has written at greater length about this.

November 12, 2019 in Faculty News, Law Professors Saying Dumb Things | Permalink

Monday, November 11, 2019

Some students and alumni of "Penn Law" are not happy about becoming students and alumni of "Carey Law"

They have a point.  The University of Maryland already has a "Carey Law School," making losing the connection to Penn a particularly bad idea.   Why not "Penn Law-Carey"?

November 11, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

Friday, November 8, 2019

$125 million gift to Penn Law...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Measuring law faculty scholarly impact by citations

Professor Gregory Sisk (St. Thomas) comments.

UPDATE:  And more thoughts from my colleagues Adam Chilton and Jonathan Masur.

November 7, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

Monday, November 4, 2019

Toronto Law keeping "blacklist" of alums who criticize school?

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.


November 4, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Nominee for 9th Circuit Lawrence VanDyke deemed "unqualified" by ABA...

...based on interviews with dozens of lawyers and judges who had worked with him and found him “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice,” and who also described a "lack of humility," and an "'entitlement' temperament."  That certainly well describes his reaction to being called out for his idiotic apologia for Intelligent Design creationism fifteen years ago.

October 31, 2019 in Legal Profession | Permalink

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Society for Empirical Legal Studies (SELS) objects to use of HeinOnLine citation data to measure "scholarly impact"

Their letter to 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, 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 may add the Hein impact data to the overall ranking formula.   I hereby predict with confidence that 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 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 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, 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 policy is not to do anything that requires real work on their part, and using Google Scholar would be time- and labor-intensive.)

Continue reading

October 29, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Law blogging with impact: the case of voting rights

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 28, 2019 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

$50 million gift to Pepperdine Law from Los Angeles real estate developer Rick Caruso...

...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 23, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink