Posts Tagged ‘law schools’

February 3 roundup

  • 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]

“I myself escaped by a bare whisker from attending law school…”

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!

Whole thing here.

New Richard Posner book on law schools and the judiciary

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]

New AU student? Report for your oppression training

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)

Law school embraces social-justice theme

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.

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

  • “There is nothing in the Constitution that …even hints that the president’s power expands because Congress won’t pass the legislation he advocates.” [David Bernstein interview with Josh Blackman about Bernstein’s new book “Lawless,” on Obama administration vs. constitutional limits more from Bernstein on book]
  • “Will the Supreme Court End Affirmative Action? A Preview of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin on the Eve of Oral Argument” [Cato event Dec. 7 with Andrew Grossman, John Paul Schnapper-Casteras, Gail Heriot, Richard Lempert, and Wallace Hall, moderated by Ilya Shapiro]
  • Theme of this year’s Federalist Society lawyers’ convention was Congress, videos of related panels [originalist views of Congress, Congressional dysfunction, deference and delegation, prospects for getting legislative branch to reclaim lawmaking power]
  • Certiorari petition asks SCOTUS to review dischargeability of law school debts in bankruptcy [BNA; Tetzlaff v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp.]
  • At Cato’s Constitution Day, panels looked back at an eventful SCOTUS term [Cato Policy Report]
  • Common law vs. statutes: Richard Epstein on Spokeo v. Robins oral argument [Hoover] Must plaintiffs show they actually suffered harm? [Daniel Fisher]
  • No, the Constitution doesn’t let feds cancel Redskins trademark as offensive [Kristian Stout, Truth on the Market; Ilya Shapiro]

Schools roundup

  • “A legal challenge at Scotland’s top civil court failed earlier this year, but the No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group has secured a hearing at the Supreme Court in London in March.” [Scotsman, earlier on named person scheme]
  • “The auditors found students in two schools who carried contraband salt shakers” [WSJ editorial on 4.5% drop in participation in school lunch program]
  • Teachers’ union AFT spends tens of millions a year on politics, policy, influence [RiShawn Biddle]
  • “A Short, Sad History of Zero-Tolerance School Policies” [Nick Gillespie, Reason]
  • Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary is a new Richard Posner book forthcoming from Harvard University Press [Paul Caron, TaxProf] Shouldn’t the program offerings at the Association of American Law Schools include at least as much range of diversity of thought as, for example, the panels at the Federalist Society convention? [John McGinnis, Liberty and Law] Heterodox Academy is a new website and project with its goal to “increase viewpoint diversity in the academy, with a special focus on the social sciences.” [Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz] More: Jonathan Adler on a widely noted Arthur Brooks op-ed on ideological imbalance in the academy. And don’t forget my book;
  • “Judge Tosses Concussions Lawsuit Against Illinois Prep Group” [Insurance Journal]
  • In case you were wondering, yes, law school trade associations did support that “law school’s a bargain, there’s no real economic crisis for grads” research [Outside the Law School Scam]

New survey of lawyers’ ideological views

Paul Caron at TaxProf summarizes (with table) a landmark survey of “The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers” [SSRN] by Adam Bonica (Stanford), Adam S. Chilton (Chicago) & Maya Sen (Harvard).

The study has a wealth of findings regarding lawyers’ ideological leanings by state, by practice area (energy, mergers and acquisitions, and litigation defense are relatively conservative; civil rights, employment, and personal injury are relatively liberal, as one might predict, but are outflanked on the left by entertainment law). Grads of all top law schools lean left, but those of Berkeley, Stanford, and Chicago more so than Yale, Harvard, and Columbia.

Some of Tyler Cowen’s observations from the survey:

We learn also that female attorneys are considerably more liberal than male attorneys, but the number of years of work predicts a conservative pull. Being a law firm partner also predicts views which are more conservative than average. If you consider “Big Law” attorneys, while they are overall to the Left, they are more conservative on average than the cities they live in, such as NYC or Los Angeles. Lawyers in Washington, D.C. are especially left-leaning. … Public defenders are far more left-leaning than prosecutors, though prosecutors are still more left-leaning than lawyers as a whole.

And Ira Stoll:

The authors point out that lawyers not only control the judicial branch of government, but that they are also overrepresented in Congress and among the presidents. The leftward tilt among the press and academia is a common complaint among conservatives. Conservatives sometimes complain about trial lawyers or the tort bar, too. But one doesn’t often hear talk about the overall leftward tilt of the legal profession, a trend highlighted by this paper.

Meanwhile, the practice area that exceeds all others in its leftward lean? Legal academics. (More on that in my recent book Schools for Misrule.) Related to which, Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz writes of being one of three openly right-of-center members on the 120-member Georgetown Law faculty: “The consensus seems to be that three is plenty — and perhaps even one or two too many.” [“Intellectual Diversity in the Legal Academy,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy last year, via Scott Douglas Gerber, Chronicle of Higher Education]