January 11, 2021
December 23, 2020
Derek Muller (Iowa) documents the trend. Non-JD students (mostly LLM students, but also some undergradutes [especially at Arizona], as well as non-degree candidates) have the virtue of generating revenue while being invisible in the U.S. News rankings.
October 27, 2020
Richard Stewart, a leading scholar of administrative and environmental law at Harvard, moved to NYU in the early 1990s. He lived in a 4,000 square foot town house in Greenwich Village, a few blocks from NYU's law school. This was rented to him by the University at an undisclosed price, but no doubt well below market rates which even a law professor could not ordinarily afford in that area. As part of the deal, he had the option to sell the property, with some of the gain going to NYU, and some to Professor Stewart. He exercised that option a few years ago, netting over eight million dollars. Eight million divided by the 25 years he taught at NYU up to that time works out to an additional $320,000 per year of service, on top of his salary. (The article notes that another NYU law faculty member, recruited from Chicago in the early 1990s, lives in a similar townhouse, but without the option to profit from a sale.)
October 23, 2020
The results of the last poll are here, and basically regurgitate US News (or the "halo effect" of school name) with a couple of exceptions. But there was also more mischief this time. As one reader reported (by examining the detailed breakdown of votes):
I’m reaching out because I was looking at the raw balloting data on the website and I noticed something curious. There are 66 voters in your survey who rank UC Davis as one of the top 10 law schools and UC Hastings as one of the bottom 8 law schools. Interestingly, only 5 voters rank UCLA as one of the top 10 law schools and UC Hastings as one of the bottom 8 law schools and only 2 voters rank UC Irvine as one of the top 10 law schools and UC Hastings as one of the bottom 8 law schools. Whoever these pro-Davis, anti-Hastings voters are, they appear to be a large percentage of the respondents and to have a material impact on Hastings’ rank. It is possible my read of the data is incorrect, but this is what jumps out at me once I load your spreadsheet into Stata.
Conversely, no voters rank Hastings in the top 10 and Davis in the bottom 8.
There were other, shall we say, peculiar patterns in the voting. If someone wants to undertake a serious and informed survey about law faculty quality, get in touch, and I'll offer guidance about how to do it. I don't have the time myself, but am happy to be an advisor and to publicize the results.
October 20, 2020
It's time for our annual Condorcet poll of the best scholarly faculties in U.S. law schools. Please note the instructions: "Rank order the law schools below in terms of the scholarly strength of the faculty (consider only scholarly strength in your best judgment, not current U.S. News rank!)." If you don't have informed opinions about the scholarly strength of different law faculties, then you should not participate.
I listed 58 schools that might have some claim to being in the top 40 for scholarly accomplishment. Have fun! Note that the more schools you rank, the more impact your vote will have on the results.
(Any faculty found mobilizing votes on social media will have their school eliminated from the results!)
October 19, 2020
Blast from the past: an open letter to Bob Morse at US News about steps to take to prevent the "gaming" of the rnakings
October 09, 2020
You can guess the answer, but I recently came across this systematic study by law professor Eric Segall (Georgia State) and a political scientist. Faculty at the top ten law schools graduated from the following law schools (I'm going off a graph in the paper that is a little hard to read): Yale (more than 190); Harvard (a bit less than 190); Chicago (more than 40); Columbia (more than 30); Virginia (not quite 30); Stanford (about 25); Berkeley and NYU (a bit more than 20); Michigan (not quite 20); Penn (fewer than 10). Bear in mind that Harvard graduates more than 2 1/2 times as many students each year as Yale, Chicago, or Stanford. If we normalize for the size of the typical Harvard class, then the figures would be something like this (with rounding to nearest ten): Yale (480); Harvard (190); Chicago (110); Columbia (60); Stanford (60); Berkeley and Virginia (50); Michigan and NYU (30); Penn (20).
September 15, 2020
...as measured by the number of faculty from the 2006-07 academic year that were subsequently hired by a top 18 law school (i.e., Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Yale). This is a propos the discussion I had with Orin Kerr noted the other day. I excluded here top 25ish law schools, which are regularly schools that the top 18 try to raid. I happened to have a 2006-07 AALS Directory handy, which is why I chose that year to study. I list below the schools that had at least two faculty who moved on; please e-mail me with additions or corrections:
1. Florida State University (5) (Craig to USC, Galle to Georgetown, Klick to Penn, Rossi to Vanderbilt, Ruhl to Vanderbilt)
2. Brooklyn Law School (4) (Cheng to Vanderbilt, Hunter to Georgetown, Schwartz to Berkeley, Serkin to Vanderbilt)
2. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University (4) (Beebe to NYU, Crane to Michigan, Lemos to Duke, Stack to Vanderbilt)
2. University of San Diego (4) (Law to Virginia, Partnoy to Berkeley, Prakash to Virginia, Rodriguez to Northwestern)
5. Fordham University (3) (Fisch to Penn, Katyal to Berkeley, Treanor to Georgetown)
6. New York Law School (2) (Gordon-Reed to Harvard, Rostain to Georgetown)
6. University of Alabama (2) (Geis to Virginia, Pardo to Georgetown)
6. University of Arizona (2) (Adelman to Texas, Marcus to UCLA)
6. University of Colorado, Boulder (2) (Bowen to Virginia [now Dean at GW], Ohm to Georgetown)
6. University of Connecticut, Hartford (2) (Baker to Penn, Mason to Virginia)
September 09, 2020
As part of the very enjoyable discussion on "The Legal Academy," Orin Kerr (Berkeley) asked me about how a school can hire strong scholarly faculty. I made a variety of observations related to this topic. A school must constitute a good hiring committee, meaning one with faculty who are engaged in scholarship and have good judgment about scholarship. Schools like Florida State and San Diego (two examples I gave) have, historically, done very strong rookie hiring (better than their peers), in part because Deans have invested serious faculty with good judgment with a decisive role in hiring at those schools. While "objective" metrics (like citations or place of publication) can be useful proxies, there is, as I said, "no substitute for reading" (as long as those reading satisfy the prior desiderata!).
Finally, there's the question of how to use recommendations from faculty elsewhere (no committee can read everything, so recommendations are often used to figure out which candidates deserve further scrutiny). Everyone who has done hiring has their own list of reliable and unreliable references, and everyone of course gives different weight to references based on their opinion of the recommender (if they have one). I gave the example of a recommendation from a professor at San Diego (an expert I respected in the candidate's area) that ultimately led to Texas hiring someone when I was chairing appointments there. I also gave the example of the Yale recommender who "never met a candidate he didn't love": such recommendations are useless, of course. I remarked that my own approach was not to credit or give weight to references from faculty I wouldn't hire, i.e., those I don't respect on the intellectual merits.