In Schools for Misrule, I had positive things to say about the “reading law” or apprenticeship alternative to law schools, and the New York Times “Room for Debate” feature now runs a roundtable on that question with contributors that include Brian Tamanaha, David Lat, and Erwin Chemerinsky. Much deeper disruption than that may lay ahead: “Within ten years, MOOCs [massive open online courses] could replace traditional law school classes altogether, except at a few elite law schools” [Philip Schrag via TaxProf] And are law schools pro-cyclical? The state of Florida saw a steeper boom and deeper bust in legal services than the rest of the country; it doesn’t seem to have helped that five new law schools have opened lately in the state, or that many Florida law schools succeed in placing fewer than half of their grads in paying positions for which bar passage is required. [TaxProf]
“Some of the least-qualified graduates of the University of Texas School of Law in recent years have high-level connections in the Legislature, which may explain how they got into the prestigious law school in the first place.” [Jon Cassidy, Watchdog] Five years ago, the University of Illinois was hit with a damaging scandal over the admission of less-qualified applicants at the behest of the politically connected.
Martin Odemena, formerly a student at the Massachusetts School of Law, says he couldn’t transfer to another school because of the unfair grade in the Contracts course and “is seeking more than $100,000 in damages for the lost legal career.” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
“I can say that because I’m a lawyer,” President Obama told the Tumblr crowd last week. [American Interest]
Once again, a law professor has stepped up to inform us that we need to join much of Europe in attaching legal penalties to hurtful speech. This time one patient refutation comes from Michael Moynihan [Daily Beast] The idea is about as fresh and new as sleeve garters, notes Jonathan Rauch [Volokh/WaPo] Further rebuttal from Ken at Popehat and Scott Greenfield.
Again and again, as legal challenges to ObamaCare made their way forward, leading law professors dismissed as frivolous or inconsequential arguments that wound up convincing many or most Justices on the Supreme Court. David Hyman via Stephen Bainbridge:
Almost without exception, law professors dismissed the possibility that PPACA might be unconstitutional — but something went wrong on the way to the courthouse. What explains the epic failure of law professors to accurately predict how Article III judges would handle the case? After considering three possible defenses/justifications, this essay identifies five factors that help explain the erroneous predictions of our nation’s elite law professors, who were badly wrong,
but never in doubt.
Related: NYU Prof. Jonathan Haidt, who has written powerfully about the lack of ideological diversity in academia, has this page of resources on the subject. And don’t forget my book Schools for Misrule.
More: Nick Rosenkranz at Volokh back in April.
This time the critical coverage, by Adam Liptak, triggers a fair amount of pushback from legal academics defending the student-edited review format. My two cents last year here.
Eugene Volokh, often quoted in this space, isn’t enthusiastic about the idea of finishing law school in two years (earlier), but wonders about shortening the undergrad component. Some other views: Paul Caron/TaxProf reaction roundup, Orin Kerr, Hans Bader, Andrew Sullivan readers, Mystal (Kaplan survey). Yale’s Bruce Ackerman defends the three-year curriculum (more) leading to responses rounded up at TaxProf. What would happen to clinics? [Althouse, Schrag]
A Cincinnati couple has gone through 17 years of contentious litigation. “Their divorce case file had more than 1,400 entries in it. Many had to do with a back-and-forth custody dispute over their children, now ages 17 and 20.” Both husband and wife are law professors. [Cincinnati Enquirer via Daily Mail]