Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Should law schools be penalized for admitting students from wealthy families who are not motivated to work? (Michael Simkovic)
Scott F. Norberg argues for a law school accreditation standard tied to student employment outcomes. The proposal is interesting, and may have some advantages over a standard tied to bar passage rates, for example because it does not give state bars--who can make the bar exam more or less challenging and have incentives to strengthen barriers to entry--excessive control over access to legal education. However, there are several potential concerns.
Employment is systematically higher among certain demographic groups across education levels for reasons that have little to do with value added by law school. An employment-outcomes based standard could encourage law schools to focus on admitting groups with higher expected employment.
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Some of my thoughts on the ultra-high net worth wealth tax debate, and its implications for innovation and economic growth, are available here. For thoughts on the adminstrability and constitutionality of ultra high net worth taxes, see here.
Friday, February 15, 2019
...regardless of whether or not scholarly writing is part of their duties. Following up on yesterday, a colleague elsewhere writes: "I saw your post on US News’s new impact rankings. I wrote to Bob Morse earlier this week to ask for clarification about whether to include clinical, LRW, and library faculty if they are tenure/tenure-track but do not have full (or any) scholarship requirements. He wrote back to say that they are all included: US News is using the bright line of tenure/tenure-track regardless of tenure classification or scholarly requirements."
Thursday, February 14, 2019
...basically on the model I used to do and Greg Sisk (St. Thomas) has continued now for several years, but with a couple of differences/unknowns. I guess they didn't want to be left behind by the new "gold standard"!
First, the similarities: they will examine only a five-year window (2014-2018, no doubt because Sisk just did 2013-2017); and they will collect data on citations to the median and mean faculty member, as Sisk did. But now the differences: they appear to be planning on including tenure-track faculty, not just tenured faculty, even though tenure-track faculty have much lower citation rates; they are using Hein instead of Westlaw; and they are also going to count publications (how is a bit unclear). Also unclear is whether they plan to combine productivity with impact measures: given Bob Morse's affection for meaningless aggregations of apples and oranges, I fear that's what they may do. But we'll see.
USNews.com does not plan on incorporating the impact/productivity ranking into this year's law school rankings, but I bet money they will incorporate it going forward, which is consistent with changes they've made to their overall Business and Medical School rankings, incorporating more "objective" data, although not impact metrics. Obviously USNews.com knows it has been repeatedly burned by misleading self-reporting by schools that it never carefully audits, so switching to non-manipulable metrics no doubt seems preferable. And since their academic reputation surveys are now just echo chambers of recent overall rankings, adding in an impact/productivity component would be a slight corrective to that. (Contrast, e.g., Stanford's academic reputation in U.S. News [tied with Yale and Harvard] with its scholarly impact performance.)
Schools that have their clinical faculty on the tenure-stream, even if there are not publication expectations, may be in particular trouble here. Sisk's policy, which was mine, was to exclude clinical faculty, since at many schools, even those where they have tenure, their responsibilties do not include scholarship. But USNews.com is asking for all tenured and tenure-track faculty, regardless of primary role or function.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Monday, February 11, 2019
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.
Friday, February 8, 2019
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Saturday, February 2, 2019
One of the leading constitutional lawyers of his generation, Professor Van Alstyne taught from 1965 to 2004 at Duke University, and then from 2004 to 2012 at the College of William & Mary, where he was also emeritus. The William & Mary memorial notice is here and the Duke memorial notice is here.