Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Best American judges of the 20th century?

The earlier poll got nearly 200 responses, though since Professor Kerr (Berkeley) linked to it from his popular Twitter account, the responses probably came from more than just the regular blog readers.  Of the write-ins (some of whom were not eligible, like Roger Taney [!]), the only one that got traction, rightly so, was Robert Jackson, who should have been on the original list.  In any case, here are the top 15 from the poll:

1. Louis Brandeis  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Learned Hand  loses to Louis Brandeis by 54–51
3. Benjamin Cardozo  loses to Louis Brandeis by 59–45, loses to Learned Hand by 57–54
4. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  loses to Louis Brandeis by 55–47, loses to Benjamin Cardozo by 60–52
5. William Brennan  loses to Louis Brandeis by 57–45, loses to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. by 52–49
6. Henry Friendly  loses to Louis Brandeis by 53–33, loses to William Brennan by 48–37
7. Thurgood Marshall  loses to Louis Brandeis by 60–32, loses to Henry Friendly by 42–33
8. Earl Warren  loses to Louis Brandeis by 52–39, loses to Thurgood Marshall by 48–41
9. John Marshall Harlan II  loses to Louis Brandeis by 51–23, loses to Henry Friendly by 39–29
10. Richard Posner  loses to Louis Brandeis by 60–36, loses to John Marshall Harlan II by 45–31
11. Ruth Bader Ginsburg  loses to Louis Brandeis by 68–28, loses to Richard Posner by 50–39
12. Hugo Black  loses to Louis Brandeis by 58–32, loses to Richard Posner by 47–41
13. Roger Traynor  loses to Louis Brandeis by 40–20, loses to Hugo Black by 33–25
14. Robert Jackson (write-in)  loses to Louis Brandeis by 51–36, loses to Roger Traynor by 35–29
15. Felix Frankfurter  loses to Louis Brandeis by 64–24, loses to Robert Jackson (write-in) by 45–34

I suspect politics dominated quality in some of these results, but at least a lot of clearly skilled jurists made the list.  I was surprised Brandeis came out on top, rather than Hand or Cardozo, but so it goes with online polls!  Thoughts from readers welcome; submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.




February 21, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, February 17, 2023

Who were the best American judges of the 20th-century?

Here's a poll with I hope most of the likely choices for the "top 10".  You can write-in others.  Only judges no longer serving were eligible.  Have fun!

February 17, 2023 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Another law school faces demands for compensation from descendants after removing the name of slaveholding namesake

This time it's the University of Richmond, with the descendant estimating they are owed $3.6 billion!  No lawsuit filed yet.

February 15, 2023 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

We're about 2/3rds of the way through the law school application season...

...and total applicants are down just slightly from last year, about 3.5% according to LSAC data--but that's off 12% from two years ago.  If we continue to see slippage the next couple of years that will almost certainly start to have an adverse effect on the job market for new law teachers.


February 14, 2023 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Friday, February 10, 2023

In Memoriam: Lauren Edelman (1955-2023)

A lawyer/sociologist, Professor Edelman was a leading law & society scholar, with a particular interest in workplace issues.  She taught at Wisconsin for a decade and then, since 1996, at Berkeley.  A brief Berkeley memorial notice is here.

(Thanks to Anita Bernstein for the pointer.)

February 10, 2023 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Blast from the past: What an "Ad Hominem" argument is and isn't

Back in 2011, and still relevant given how "ad hominem" is routinely misused.

February 9, 2023 in Deja vu all over again (reposting of earlier items of interest) | Permalink

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

ABA House of Delegates rejects proposal to eliminate LSAT (or other admissions test) requirement for law school admissions

Here.  The proposal was driven by a desire to promote "diversity," but as critics point out, it might not have that effect.  (See for example.)

February 7, 2023 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Sunday, February 5, 2023

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?


With luck, some of you seeking law teaching jobs will have gotten offers of tenure-track positions.  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell the Chicago job candidates we work with that they need to find out, and in the interest of having it written down in one place and for the benefit of others too, here it is (not in order of importance):

1.  You will want to get (in writing eventually) the basic salary information, obviously, and the nature of summer research support and the criteria for its award (is it automatic for junior faculty?  contingent on prior publication [if so, how much?]?  awarded competitively (if so, based on what criteria/process)?).   You should also find out how salary raises are determined.  Are they, for example, lock-step for junior faculty?  Fixed by union contract?  (Rutgers faculty, for example, are unionized, a huge advantage and why they are among the best-paid faculty, not just in law, in the country.)  Is it a 'merit' system, and if so is it decanal discretion or is their a faculty committee that reviews your teaching and work each year?

2.  You should ask for a copy of the school's tenure standards and get clear about the expectations and the timeline.  Does any work you have already published count towards meeting the tenure standard?

3.  What research leave policy, if any, does the school have?  A term off after every three full years of teaching is a very good leave policy; some schools have even better policies, most have less generous leave policies.  (If there is a norm, it is a term off after every six years.)  Many schools have a special leave policy for junior faculty, designed to give them some time off prior to the tenure decision.  Find out if the school has such a policy.

4.  One of the most important things to be clear about is not just your teaching load, but what courses you will be teaching precisely.  You should ask whether the school can guarantee a stable set of courses until after the tenure decision.  Preparing new courses is hugely time-consuming, and you also get better at teaching the course the more times you do it.  As a tenure-track faculty member, having a stable package of, say, three courses (plus a seminar) will make a huge difference in terms of your ability to conduct research and write.   In my experience, most schools will commit in writing to a set of courses for the tenure-track years (and do ask for this in writing), but some schools either won't or can't.   In my view, it's a good reason to prefer one school to another that one will give you the courses you want and promise them that they're yours, while another won't--a consideration that overrides lots of other factors, including salary.

Continue reading

February 5, 2023 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (14)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

In Memoriam: Michael J. Kelly (1938-2023)

Professor Kelly, an expert in legal ethics and the legal profession, was also a longtime Dean of the law school at the University of Maryland.  The Maryland memorial notice is here.

(Thanks to Robert Condlin for the pointer.)

January 31, 2023 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Monday, January 30, 2023

40 law schools are now "boycotting" the USNews.com rankings...

...according to Blog Emperor Caron, who has been keeping track.  Most of those joined after USNews.com announced it would utilize only public data and its own survey data.  According to the Blog Emperor, 53 schools have officially declined to join the boycott, while the rest are either hedging or not telling!

January 30, 2023 in Rankings | Permalink