December 02, 2021
Mr. Lazarus (whose earlier and widely noted remarks on the "Trap House Affair" are here) kindly shared his recent assessment of developments since (including the lawsuit noted previously): Download 12.1.2021 Trap House update (003). An excerpt:
I write this update to assess several significant new developments. Of these, the most noted but not necessarily the most significant is Dean Heather Gerken’s Statement of November 17, her third formal pronouncement on the affair. While she broke new ground in publicly admitting serious errors that did not adequately “conform to our values,” she did not resolve the most critical issue, namely, whether she will remove the two Law School administrators who committed the egregious violations of due process and academic freedom acknowledged in the statement. Only with that further step will Dean Gerken’s mea culpas lead to meaningful change in the life of the Law School....
December 01, 2021
Former Temple Business School Dean convicted of wire fraud for "cooking the books" in data reported to USNews.com
Story here. I was struck by this quote from the prosecutor:
“The hope is that this case sends a message to other college and university administrators that there are real consequences to making representations that students and applicants rely on,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark B. Dubnoff said. “So many people turn to these rankings … to help them make informed decisions of where to go to college, graduate school, and it’s important that people are honest and fully truthful with the representations they make.”
You'll note who is missing in this sermon from the prosecutor: the editors of USNews.com, who don't audit the self-reported data, and who then stir it into a stew of arbitrarily weighted factors to produce a ranking that misleads students and applicants, leading them to make misinformed decisions. I guess the wire fraud statutes don't cover this kind of "fraud" on the public.
November 18, 2021
UIC's John Marshall Law School should lose its accreditation if it continues with this "witch hunt" against a faculty member
Professor Andy Koppelman (Northwestern) comments at CHE (do read the full account):
In January the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Law disgraced itself with its foolish persecution of Jason Kilborn, a professor who was accused of racism for asking students to address an ordinary hypothetical, of a kind they are likely to encounter in normal legal practice. That episode has now ballooned into calls for his firing, with an ill-informed Rev. Jesse Jackson leading protests against him. And the university, while it refuses to fire Kilborn, is continuing to punish him for things it knows he didn’t do.
The trouble started when, in a “Civil Procedure” exam, Kilborn asked whether a hypothetical company, sued for discrimination, must disclose evidence to the plaintiff. In the test’s scenario, a former employee told the company’s lawyer “that she quit her job at Employer after she attended a meeting in which other managers expressed their anger at Plaintiff, calling her a ‘n____’ and ‘b____’ (profane expressions for African Americans and women) and vowed to get rid of her.” The exam did not spell out those words, which appeared exactly as you just read them. (This was just one of the test’s 50 questions.)
November 11, 2021
Simon Lazarus YLS '67 on "Where Yale Law School Has Gone Off the Rails, and What is Needed to Get It Back on Track"
Mr. Lazarus is a 1967 graduate of Yale Law School and a distinguished lawyer who served as associate director of President Jimmy Carter’s White House Domestic Policy Staff, and since then with private and public-interest law firms in Washington, D.C. He kindly gave permission to share with readers his penetrating analysis of Yale's mishandling of the "Trap House Affair" and how to now make things right: Download 11.9.2021 memo on the Trap House Affair. Do read the whole memo, but here is an excerpt to give the flavor:
What now is most baffling is the YLS administration’s defiant, defensive crouch response to the widening public criticism – batting away the smoking-gun-studded factual record, as “partial facts” in a “charged media environment,” and attempting to deflect criticism by announcing an “assessment” by Deputy Dean Ian Ayres, “to help us move forward.” Refusing to address publicly available facts, and trivializing, as media hype, outrage from a Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post columnist, a Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor, and distinguished academics – will not stem this tide. Nor will Dean Gerken’s passing the buck to a subordinate.
September 13, 2021
Sensible analysis, as usual, from law professor Randall Kennedy (Harvard); an excerpt:
I am skeptical of some of the claims of hurt. I suspect that some of them are the product of learned strategic ripostes. It is now well known that in certain settings, particularly those that strive to be socially enlightened (like colleges and universities), you can effectively challenge speech to which you object by claiming not only that it is socially abhorrent (racist, sexist, transphobic, etc., etc., etc.) but that it makes you feel insulted, offended, or endangered.
June 03, 2021
In my other academic field, philosophy, it is quite common (indeed probably the norm) for faculty to make lateral moves later in their careers, rather than earlier: faculty in their 50s and 60s frequently take tenured positions at peer or stronger departments. When I started in law teaching in the early 1990s, this was very clearly not the case: most lateral moves occurred 5-15 years into a teaching career, with lateral moves by faculty in their 50s, let alone 60s, almost unheard of, except for administrative appointments. Yet just in the last couple of years, we've seen multiple lateral moves to peer or stronger schools by faculty age 55 and older. For example:
Lateral faculty moving in their late 50s: Curtis Bradley from Duke to Chicago; Robin Kundis Craig from Utah to Southern California; Mitu Gulati from Duke to Virginia; Ran Hirschl from Toronto to Texas; Nancy Kim from Cal Western to Chicago-Kent; Kimberly Krawiec from Duke to Virginia.
Lateral faculty moving in their 60s or older: Naomi Cahn from George Washington to Virginia; Herbert Hovenkamp from Iowa to Penn; Lawrence Solum from Georgetown to Virginia; Gerald Torres from Cornell to Yale.
I may have missed some from the last two years that are also in these brackets, but this is fairly representative.
What explains this change in hiring practices? I have a couple of hypotheses:
1. As academic law as an interdisciplinary and scholarly field has matured, there is more appreciation for cumulative scholarly achievement over the long haul, with the result that more faculty with sustained achievement over decades are finding themselves in demand.
2. The scholarly impact rankings that I started and Greg Sisk and colleagues at St. Thomas have continued--and which US News.com will now produce (and eventually incorporate into their rankings, I predict)--have probably enhanced the value of adding senior faculty with substantial scholarly profiles to a law faculty. It may just be a coincidence that, for example, Virginia, which underperformed in the various impact studies, has hired a large number of high cited scholars in their 50s and 60s in recent years.
May 27, 2021
April 07, 2021
The irresponsible complaint about Professor Tom Smith's blog post criticizing the Chinese government has now been forwarded to the University "for review." This is a disgrace and a direct attack on the academic freedom of every professor at USD, who are now on notice that if students file a frivolous complaint it will lead to an investigation and "review" (and possible sanction?). What a shame that Dean Schapiro should have torpedoed his own Deanship so soon after taking office with this spineless behavior. The faculty should demand his resignation.
April 05, 2021
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MARCH 18--APOLOGIES FOR THE DELAY IN APPROVING COMMENTS; MORE WELCOME
Blog Emperor Caron excerpts the relevant parts of the decision. To put it simply: if Professor Male turns down an offer from Harvard for an extra 40k in salary, Professor Female (in the same department, doing the same general kind of work, who previously had been paid the same as Professor Male) may have an equal pay claim even if she never got a Harvard offer. Thoughts from experts on these issues? Do I misunderstand the potential import of the decision? Submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.
March 15, 2021
The big increase in applicants to law schools this year (and the big increase in high-end LSAT scores)
Informative piece at the ABA Journal. This bodes very well for the law teaching market in 2021-22, as does the impending end of the pandemic. I wouldn't be surprised if next academic year more than 100 new tenure-track faculty were hired, a figure we haven't seen in a decade.