Tuesday, July 16, 2019

It's good the AALS has created a new website about careers in law teaching...

...but not so good that they simply pilfered Prof. Lawsky's data (without even crediting her by name).  Professor Lawksy comments here.

UPDATE:  This morning (July 17), James Greif, Director of Communications for the AALS wrote me, and gave me permission to share his message:

I noticed your post about our website “Becoming a Law Teacher” and wanted to let you know that not including Professor Lawsky’s name along with her data was an oversight on our part. We have reached out to her and are in the process of correcting the error on our site, per her updated post. Not recognizing her work was not our intention and proper attributions will be up shortly.

Thank you for your attention to this issue and your coverage of legal education issues on your blog.

ANOTHER:  It turns out there is other pilfered material on the new AALS law teaching website.  I have alerted them to it.  This may all be inadvertent, but it is still disgraceful for a professional organization.

July 16, 2019 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

Saturday, July 13, 2019

In Memoriam: James A. Henderson, Jr. (1938-2019)

A leading authority in the fields of torts and products liability, Professor Henderson taught for nearly thirty years at Cornell Law School.  The Cornell memorial notice is here.

(Thanks to Anita Bernstein for the pointer.)

July 13, 2019 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Why we need to read scholarship for ourselves and cannot rely on citation counts alone (Michael Simkovic)

Citation counts and other metrics can be a useful starting point for identifying scholarship and scholars that seem promising.  Such measures are quantitative, sortable, and rankable.  Metrics are quick and easy compared to the time-consuming effort of reading scholarship and forming an opinion of its merit based on expert knowledge of the underlying subject matter.  Some scholars argue that metrics should play a larger role in tenure and lateral hiring decisions—perhaps larger than qualitative assessments.  Metrics appear to be “objective” because they are external to an individual reader (although they are in fact subjective—they reflect many choices about what to cite). 

For the past two years, I’ve served on USC’s appointments committee, and I’ve read many academic articles.  My sense is that on average, scholars who are more highly cited tend to be qualitatively strong as well.  However, citations are a noisy signal of quality—some highly-cited work by highly-cited scholars is deeply flawed.  Conversely, some good work slips through the cracks.

While I wish to avoid embarrassing any particular individual—and will therefore avoid using names—I feel that it is necessary to provide illustrative examples.  I use these examples only because I encountered them recently, not because I have reason to believe they are the most egregious.

One extremely highly cited scholar at a reputable institution claimed that unrestricted e-cigarette marketing would improve public health.  The article did not acknowledge any potential downsides.[1]  

I've observed other scientifically questionable claims in the environmental and health law space.  A well-cited article advocating for more state and local environmental regulation and less federal oversight claimed that most environmental problems are local or state-specific.

I asked an expert on environmental science—a well-credentialed environmental engineer for the state of Vermont—about this claim and she wrote that it is:

“Unlikely. Groundwater, surface water, and contaminated air does not stop at state boundaries.”

It is therefore difficult to address issues like air or water quality purely at the state or local level; spillovers are incredibly common, especially along borders.  Air quality in China can reportedly affect the West Coast of the United States.  Similarly, many migratory animals have habitats that extend across state and even national lines. 

Continue reading

July 10, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic | Permalink

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

It's time to end life tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court

Monday, 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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thomas Jefferson Law School loses ABA accreditation

Unless the decision is reversed on appeal, the school is unlikely to survive.

June 11, 2019 in Legal Profession | Permalink

Thursday, June 6, 2019

2019 entry-level hiring report, the results (CORRECTED & UPDATED, 6/6/19)

Courtesy of Professor Lawksy of Northwestern, as always.  I was surprised that there weren't more total hires this year, given how the market began.  It no doubt helped that there were fewer candidates, even though the total number of hires barely budged.

We can compare the results by school to the number of alumni in the first FAR, which is increasingly the only one that matters; here is the percentage succcess rate of candidates by school of graduation:

Yale University (60%)

Stanford University (58%)

University of Chicago (56%)

University of Michigan (50%)

University of Virginia (50%)

Northwestern University (40%)

Harvard University (39%)

Cornell University (33%) (only 3 candidates on market)

New York University (28%)

University of California, Berkeley (18%) [note:  there are Berkeley hires not yet reflected in the Lawsky data]

Columbia University (13%)

University of California, Los Angeles (13%)

University of Pennsylvania (13%)

As a point of personal privilege, I'll note this understates our success rate, since one Chicago graduate got a tenure-track offer from us, but decided to take a tenure-track job at Stanford's Graduate School of Business instead; if he were counted (he was not in Prof. Lawsky's tally), our success rate would be 60% (he was not in the first FAR).   (Of course, other law schools may also have had graduates who turned down tenure-track jobs for tenure-track jobs in other fields.)

(I didn't have data on the number of Vanderbilt and Georgetown graduates on the market, so they are not included here.)

ADDENDUM:   Here's the comparable data from a few years ago.

June 6, 2019 | Permalink

Monday, June 3, 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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Seminars on my realist jurisprudence at the EHESS in Paris in June

I'll be giving a series of seminars (in English) on my realist jurisprudence at the EHESS in Paris in June; the syllabus/plan for the seminars is here: Download Leiter Seminar Syllabus EHESS June 2019

The seminars are open to interested faculty and graduate students in and around Paris; you should contact Prof. Otto Pfersmann if you want to attend for more details about the times and location (I believe each seminar is from 16:00-18:00 on the Tuesdays noted).

May 29, 2019 in Jurisprudence | Permalink