One incidental impact of a Trump presidency: mainstream law professors would develop a sudden, strange new respect for constitutional law concepts such as separation of powers and federalism, which tend to serve as checks on the power and ambition of the President and his backers. [Paul Horwitz, PrawfsBlawg]
- Fear of regulators drives many campuses to restrict speech [Greg Lukianoff of FIRE interviewed by Caleb Brown, Cato podcast] New UCLA Title IX policy requires faculty to inform on “possible” sex harassment, and Prof. Bainbridge objects;
- Tributes to my much admired colleague, the late Cato Institute education scholar Andrew Coulson [Neal McCluskey and Jason Bedrick, Adam Schaeffer, Nick Gillespie/Reason]
- “Total Law School Enrollment at Lowest Point Since 1977; 1L Class Size Lowest Since 1973” [Derek Muller]
- New Jersey: “Elizabeth Public Schools Spend More on Attorneys than Textbooks, Heat or Electricity” [WPIX (autoplays)]
- “I began to see the social sciences as tribal moral communities, becoming ever more committed to social justice, and ever less hospitable to dissenting views.” Jonathan Haidt interviewed by John Leo [Minding the Campus]
- Furor continues over U.S. Department of Education funding of “facilitated communication” with profoundly disabled persons [David Auerbach, Slate]
- “Rhode Island: Children Under 10 Shall Not Be Left Home Alone, Even Briefly” [Lenore Skenazy]
A proposed change in the law school accreditation standards that would lift the ban on students receiving academic credit for paid externships has drawn a lot of comment—and much of the comment is in opposition to lifting the ban.
Under the current standards, law students are barred from receiving both credit and pay for an externship. But the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved for notice and comment a proposal that would eliminate the ban.
Comments on the proposal are here; for a student-eye recounting of the possible advantages of the proposal, scroll (h/t Ilya Somin) to the fifth letter in the series, by Peter Donohue, editor in chief of the George Mason Civil Rights Law Journal.
It is somewhat surprising (in a good way) to find the ABA inviting such a shakeup of the way things are done in legal academia, and less surprising to find many faculty resisting.
Just as other licensed professionals typically have an incentive to resist competition from alternative providers — lawyers to resist the incursions of paralegals, physicians those of RNs and pharmacists, and so forth — so professional educators have an incentive to resist competition from on-the-job training. That helps explain why the organized providers of government-licensed education are so keen to draw and enforce boundaries in this area: nothing for which the student gets paid should count toward obligatory time spent in education. And yet some employers would bid significant sums for the work efforts of lawyers in training, and that compensation in turn could make a dent in the typically high cost of obtaining a law degree. “Any proposed changes will come back to the council for final consideration in March.”
- To what extent should law schools pursue missions other than that of training lawyers to practice competently? [Ken at Popehat]
- Survivors of woman slain in terror attack seek $200 million from county of San Bernardino [Courthouse News] A pertinent 2001 Elizabeth Cabraser quote about terrorism and litigation: “If we sue each other, the terrorists win. We need to be united.”
- Self-driving car revolution is coming quickly, but there might still be time for feds to mess it up [Randal O’Toole]
- “NYT throws hissy-fit, sues over use of thumbnails in critical book” [Rebecca Tushnet via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- New laws from Brussels could endanger thousands of historic guns in British museums [Telegraph]
- Drawing on the organization’s entire moral authority, i.e. none at all, United Nations panel calls for U.S. to pay slavery reparations [Independent, Vice]
- Aviary Attorney: “The hottest bird lawyering game to come out of 1840s France!” [Steampowered via Lowering the Bar]
A dismissed law professor has won her bid to a hearing before a human rights tribunal on her claim that expecting her to submit work to peer-reviewed journals, which she had failed to do in her 11 years at the University of British Columbia, “is contrary to indigenous oral traditions.” [National Post]
My tell-all interview at Fault Lines gets into why I don’t hate lawyers (really), my various books, my views on Cato and other think tanks, law and economics, the lack of any real reckoning for the Great Tobacco Robbery, why law schools might actually serve as a counterweight to campus pressure for ideological uniformity, my writing outside law, and much, much more. I’m interviewed by Scott Greenfield, well known to our readers for his criminal law blogging; Fault Lines is a recently launched criminal justice website that’s part of Lee Pacchia’s Mimesis Law.
There have been many flattering reactions already, scroll down from the interview to this comment from Margaret Little which made me particularly happy:
Overlawyered made an enormous contribution to understanding where lawyers were taking the legal system over the past several decades and it continues to fill a vacuum in the discourse about law. For too long that discourse was plaintiffs vs. defense lawyers, with both sides vulnerable to attack for self-interest. Worse, the defense bar, which has an economic interest in the expansion of liability, is often silent or even complicit in the game. While Overlawyered’s postings were made with much-appreciated wit and style, the sheer comprehensiveness of the empirical data, and the mind-boggling attention to detail in its analysis makes it a gold mine for research and a landmark accomplishment. Well done! Don’t quit!
Paul Horwitz finds Richard Posner’s new book, Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary, full (inevitably) of provocative ideas and high-quality digressions. About the recommendations, Horwitz is less convinced: the book “wants to turn law schools into a device for the large-scale industrial cloning of Richard Posner himself.”
Plus: Noteworthy interview with Harvard lawprof Duncan Kennedy, of Critical Legal Studies fame [Tor Krever, Carl Lisberger and Max Utzschneider, Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left] And: “Why Are There So Few Conservative/Libertarian Law Profs, Even Though They Are More Productive Than Liberal Law Profs?” [Paul Caron/TaxProf, Jonathan Adler on James Cleith Phillips, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy/SSRN]
American University, in Washington, D.C., according to this document from last month, “is undertaking an ambitious plan to modernize the general education experience” with the assistance of a task force whose Nov. 30 report “outlines a dramatically different approach to liberal arts education,” one that includes “sustained attention to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
The draft of “Reimagining General Education: Toward a New AU Core Curriculum” envisages the following changes:
* All first-years would be obliged in their second semester to take a one- or three-credit course in oppression studies. Sample content: “Students will explore how historical violence, such as the early slave trade and genocidal conquests, shape the contemporary experiences of marginalized groups and struggles for human rights. Class materials will consider how entrenched systems of inequality marginalize some groups and privilege others.” (The draft text describes this as a three-credit course, but at another point says that whether it will be for one or three credits is yet to be determined.)
* “If budget allows,” “all students living on campus” will be housed with the cohort of students with whom they have taken the series of mandatory courses culminating in the oppression course. They will live under upper-class “mentors” and it is envisaged that “student support teams” will emerge from each cohort under the supervision of the mentors.
I wonder whether they will wind up calling these mentored support teams “block committees for the Defense of the Revolution.”
FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) reminds us, citing a University of Delaware episode, that dormitory mentoring in oppression studies goes back a while. Meanwhile — more or less unrelatedly, except that at a higher level it is most certainly related — per this University of Louisville law faculty anecdote, a colleague who told students on the final day of class to “think for yourselves” and that multiple political viewpoints should feel welcome at the school was promptly hauled to account [Russell L. Weaver, Courier-Journal] (& Robby Soave, Reason)
In 2014 the faculty of the Louis D. Brandeis Law School at the University of Louisville voted to commit the institution to “social justice,” and now plans are afoot to rebrand the public institution as the “nation’s first compassionate law school.” If everyone could settle on the same definitions of social justice and compassion, and maybe also agree that those values should trump others, the schools’ direction might look more neutral and scholarly, and less nakedly political. [Luke Milligan, Louisville Courier-Journal] U of L is hardly the first school to go down this path; as I note in my book Schools for Misrule, a number of law schools including some Top 30 institutions have veered off in the same direction in recent years, even before this year’s campus protests furnished considerable new momentum. But see: a second U of L lawprof dismisses the concerns as overblown, and points out that the school’s adoption of the word came in the context of a city-wide campaign in which various leading Louisville businesses and civic institutions had been prevailed on to declare themselves “compassionate.” [Caron/TaxProf]
P.S. If law schools want to jump into explicitly promoting social justice, John McGinnis has a modest proposal for how they might do that.