November 27, 2023
This won't have any benefits for legal education (and certainly won't make it more "practical"), although it will be a windfall for those who teach in these areas. There may be schools whose student body and local legal markets mean that it would make sense for them to require more "experiential" courses and clinics; but not all schools are the same, and there is no justification for imposing this on all American law schools. Yet another reason the ABA should be stripped of its regulatory authority.
October 22, 2023
The Kalven Report, whose lead author was a leading First Amendment scholar at Chicago, has once again come to the fore, in the wake of the Hamas butchery in Israel and the ensuing Israeli attack on Gaza. (Anyone who cares what I think about all this can see my other blog, or the letter I signed. But I am not a Dean or university administrator.)
I have written periodically about the Kalven Report, which I view as a central component of academic freedom in universities. Universities are not political associations, they are institutions whose core purpose is the production and dissemination of knowledge. That's it. The duty of administrators of universities is to facilitate the production and dissemination of knowledge. The idea that university administrators should offer their views about the political issues of the day or the atrocities of the day, is as absurd as the idea that we should expect to hear from the head of the local electricity company. No one is appointed a senior administrator at a University based on the acuity of their moral or political judgment. Seriously, who cares what those folks think?
September 27, 2023
Some apt remarks by law professor Holger Spamann (Harvard):
Replications aren't good for the replicator’s career. Replications take as much time as original research. But replications offer none of the rewards in terms of developing and publicizing one’s own ideas or gathering citations. It also risks upsetting the original researchers, which isn't fun unless you enjoy annoying other people (which I don't; otherwise, I could have earned a lot more money as a litigator). So why do I do it?
Because I want to stand on the shoulders of giants, not on a giant pile of manure. I can’t help it: I care about truth. That’s why I became an academic. What’s the point theorizing about a factoid that is likely just an error or randomness, intentional or not?
September 15, 2023
As I've noted before (also here), most of Penn's case against Amy Wax involves trying to punish her for her lawful extramural speech, and is thus a flagrant violation of the University's contractual commitment to her academic freedom.
But the student newspaper now reports that Professor Wax has once again invited Jared Taylor--an actual white supremacist, with no scholarly or intellectual merit--to speak in her class on conservative political and legal thought. Whether this invitation is protected by academic freedom depends on whether scholarly experts in conservative political and legal thought would deem this an appropriate invitation (I very much doubt they would). Academic freedom, recall, imposes significant limits on classroom conduct and choices, namely, those that are imposed by the standards of the discipline in question. You can't invite a geocentric crank to lecture in your astronomy class, and it's arguable you can't invite a racist crank to lecture in any class, even one on "conservative political and legal thought." Here Penn may be within its rights to act.
September 05, 2023
Article on whether U.S. legal system is ready for "the challenges of AI to human values" includes citations that appear to have been made up by Chat GPT (link fixed)
September 04, 2023
Those interested in law teaching with strong qualifications can apply here. Bigelow Fellows are fully immersed into the intellectual culture of the Law School and receive excellent mentoring. The Bigelow is the most powerful credential on the law teaching market, and Bigelows are in demand every year. Every Bigelow in the last twenty years has received one or more tenure-track job offers. Recent placements include Harvard, Chicago, Penn, Berkeley, Stanford (twice), Virginia, and Georgetown, among other leading law schools. You can see a full list of Bigelow alumni here.
August 03, 2023
In the past, most recommendations were over the phone or via email, and were less formal than a letter of reference, which usually came later in the process, when a school was serious about a particular candidate. That started to change a bit a few years ago, but now some schools, which require candidates to apply online, are asking recommenders for letters now (before the FAR is even out!). (The case brought to my attention is the University of Utah.) This is an unhappy development for recommenders, but they need to be aware!
March 11, 2023
UPDATE: The Stanford President and Dean Martinez in the law school have now issued an appropriate apology for this fiasco, including an acknowledgment (unlike in Dean Martinez's letter to the SLS community) that Dean Steinbach's conduct was inappropriate.
=======original post follows==========
The video online gives a sense of the chaos and heckling which disrupted the event. F.I.R.E. offers a summary of the events, as well as a transcript of the peculiar and inappropriate remarks of Dean Steinbach, the DEI Associate Dean at the Law School.
Stanford is a private university, so the Law School could, of course, adopt the rule that they will not permit Republican-appointed judges to speak on campus, and they will not permit a student chapter of the Federalist Society. They do not do that, I assume for a mix of reasons of principle and prudence. Moreover, they have a free speech policy that specifically prohibits disrupting speakers invited to campus.
SLS Dean Martinez's letter to the community is posted below the fold. I do not think it is a particularly good response (it is in the "mistakes were made, but we have good intentions" genre), but readers will judge for themselves. A better response would have been simpler:
On March 9, students disrupted a speech by a federal judge invited by a student group. This violates law school policies, and a disciplinary investigation has commenced, and students found to have participated in the violation will be subject to the appropriate disciplinary procedures. We apologize to Judge Duncan for the disruption of the event, and administrative staff will receive training about how to manage situations like this to insure that an invited speaker may address students.
Dean Martinez's actual email in response to these events is below the fold: