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law schools

October 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 31, 2014

  • “Government Is the Biggest Threat to Innovation, Say Silicon Valley Insiders” [Tuccille, Reason]
  • Acrimonious split between Overlawyered favorite Geoffrey Fieger and long-time law partner Ven Johnson [L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press]
  • Case against deference: “Now More Than Ever, Courts Should Police Administrative Agencies” [Ilya Shapiro on Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; boundary between "interpretive" and "legislative" agency rules]
  • “The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?” [George Leef, Minding the Campus] Ideological diversity at law schools [Prof. Bainbridge and followup]
  • Familiar (to economists) but needed case against state auto dealership protection laws [Matt Yglesias, Vox; our tag]
  • Trial lawyers dump millions into attempt to defeat Illinois high court justice Lloyd Karmeier [Chamber-backed Madison County Record, Southern Illinoisan]
  • A genuinely liberal regime would leave accreditation room for small Massachusetts college that expects students to obey Biblical conduct standards [Andrew Sullivan, more]

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Why I don’t want tenure

by Walter Olson on October 17, 2014

Lawprof Kyle Graham explains. Reaction: Orin Kerr, PrawfsBlawg, and commenters.

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This is big:

As members of the faculty of Harvard Law School, we write to voice our strong objections to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures imposed by the central university administration…

Amid the clamor to provide fuller remedies to complainants who file sexual assault and harassment charges, the university is preparing to trample the interests of others:

Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation.

Among the problems: overly broad definitions of misconduct in situations like that of mutual incapacitation by alcohol, and procedures that deny “any adequate opportunity to discover the facts charged and to confront witnesses and present a defense at an adversary hearing.”

Had Harvard arrived at these rules as a result of purely internal deliberations, it would be one thing. But in practice it’s yielding to strong-arm pressure from the combined efforts of the Obama Department of Justice and Education Department Office for Civil Rights (for more details, see my article for Commentary last year.)  Like hundreds of other colleges and universities over the past year, Harvard responded to this pressure by meekly folding its hand:

The university’s sexual harassment policy departs dramatically from [existing] legal principles, jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.

We recognize that large amounts of federal funding may ultimately be at stake. But Harvard University is positioned as well as any academic institution in the country to stand up for principle in the face of funding threats.

It’s especially gratifying to see that the letter’s 28 signers include prominent scholars associated over the years variously with feminist, liberal, and left-leaning causes, such as Nancy Gertner, Charles Ogletree, Charles Nesson, Janet Halley, and Elizabeth Bartholet, along with perhaps more expected names like longtime contrarian Alan Dershowitz. A turning point? Let’s hope so. The letter is here (h/t Eugene Volokh; & further Boston Globe coverage). [cross-posted from Cato at Liberty]

Also: “the danger of holding an innocent person responsible is real.” [Judith Shulevitz, New Republic, quoting Prof. Halley]

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Pitching a civil-Gideon entitlement as salvation to economically insecure faculty and administrators in legal academia [Edward Rubin via Caron, TaxProf]

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on September 29, 2014

  • “Is Legal Scholarship Politically Biased?” [Chilton-Posner study] [Caron, Josh Blackman, Will Baude]
  • “Suffolk offers to buy out its whole law faculty” [Bainbridge]
  • Another injury lawyer, Thomas Kline of Kline & Specter, gets a law school named after himself after $50 million donation to Drexel [Philadelphia Inquirer via Caron]
  • Bonus quote from Kline partner and senatorial scion Shanin Specter: “I don’t think there are any lawyers in Philadelphia bringing claims that they know are not meritorious.” (So that’s a relief.) Meanwhile, grateful Drexel law dean praises Kline’s law firm as the one you should consider calling if, “unfortunately, someone in your family faced catastrophic injuries.” [same; compare encomium of Michigan State dean to Geoffrey Fieger upon Fieger's $4 million donation to MSU in 2002]
  • So many fellow academics upset with U. of Chicago’s Brian Leiter and his frequent talk of legal action hasn’t helped [Chronicle of Higher Ed, Jonathan Adler, Leigh Johnson, Above the Law]
  • A law school study group with its own nondisclosure agreement [Patrice, AtL, Lowering the Bar]
  • Assuming we don’t abolish them: “Three Ideas to Improve Law Reviews (as Institutions)” [Dave Hoffman, ConcurOp]
  • Last year I spoke on varied subjects at law schools including Michigan, Buffalo, Chicago, Vermont, Baltimore, Nebraska, and Duquesne. Why not invite me to speak to your roundtable, class or Federalist Society Chapter? Contact editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com.

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]

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“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.

July 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 15, 2014

  • “Cato Went 10-1 at Supreme Court This Term” [Ilya Shapiro; on merits cases] Yesterday I spoke to a private policy gathering in Annapolis, Md. with a retrospective on the Supreme Court term, especially its lessons for state government. If you’re looking for a speaker on Court issues, I or one of my colleagues at Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies may fit the bill;
  • “CrossFit Sues ‘Competitor’ For Revealing Its Injury Rates” [DeadSpin]
  • New Jersey court rules for casino in unshuffled baccarat deck case [Elie Mystal/Above the Law, earlier]
  • Family rescued from 1000 miles offshore plans to sue over nonworking satellite cell phone [ABC 10 News]
  • Tartly worded response to third-party-subpoena demand in Sherrod/Breitbart case [attorney Robert Driscoll]
  • Legal academia: Prof. Bainbridge takes on law-and, empirical legal studies crowds [Bainbridge, TaxProf and reactions] George Leef on reforming law schools [Pope Center]
  • “Uber Agrees to End Surge Pricing During NY Emergencies, And Why That Means You’ll Never Find a Ride” [Gary Leff; Peter Van Doren, Cato]

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]

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“I can say that because I’m a lawyer,” President Obama told the Tumblr crowd last week. [American Interest]

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June 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 12, 2014

  • John McGinnis: As information technology disrupts the legal profession, will lawyers’ clout decline? [City Journal]
  • Law schools, especially of the more leftward persuasion, collecting millions of dollars in cy pres lawsuit diversions [Derek Muller]
  • Who’s still defending embattled medical examiner Steven Hayne? Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, for one [Radley Balko, earlier here, here, here]
  • Life in America will become more drab if Campaign for Safe Cosmetics gets its way [Jeffrey Tucker via @cathyreisenwitz, earlier on "CPSIA for soap"]
  • LSAT settled with DoJ demands re: disabled accommodation back in 2002 and again just now, and the differences between the two settlements tell a story [Daniel Fisher, earlier] Some prospective students will be losers [Derek Muller]
  • “‘Swoop and Squat': Staged car accidents, insurance fraud rise in L.A.” [Los Angeles Times]
  • Toughen duty for California psychiatrists to inform on dangerous patients? Awaiting backfire in three, two, one… [Scott Greenfield]

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on May 22, 2014

  • Under DoJ gun, LSAT agrees to end flagging of test scores taken with disabled accommodation, cough up more than $7 million [Justice press release, Caron/TaxProf roundup coverage]
  • “Things law school trustees probably should not do: subpoena their own school’s students for criticizing them” [@petersterne; Danielle Tcholakian, DNAInfo]
  • Should law students graduate without studying the First Amendment? And other thoughts from Justice Scalia’s William & Mary commencement speech [text via Will Baude]
  • “Rank ordering the likelihood of law school reforms” [Prof. Bainbridge] ABA moves forward with law school accreditation changes; tenure, among other institutions, likely to remain sacrosanct [Caron/TaxProf, Fortune]
  • Paul Horwitz reviews James R. Hackney Jr. book on contemporary legal academy [Journal of Legal Education via Prawfs]
  • Alex Acosta dean case: should conservative legal academics steer clear of Florida? [Bainbridge]
  • Orin Kerr vs. Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow on curricular reform [Volokh Conspiracy]

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on February 19, 2014

  • No shock there: “Law Profs Oppose ABA Proposal to Eliminate Tenure as Accreditation Requirement” [NLJ via Paul Caron/TaxProf, related]
  • Teresa Wagner hiring suit against U. of Iowa law school on appeal to Eighth Circuit [Daily Iowan, quotes me; Caron; earlier]
  • Scalia: “truly appalling” most students at elite law schools not asked to read Federalist Papers [Chicago Sun-Times] Do “wacky” offerings at such schools necessarily sound so wacky? [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]
  • Canada’s first evangelical law school wins approval, backed by civil libertarians, over objections centering on its no-nonmarital-sex pledge [Vancouver Sun, MacLean's, related, earlier]
  • “Self-Interest and Sinecure: Why Law School Can’t be ‘Fixed’ From Within” [David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), via Caron]
  • “Intellectual Diversity and the Legal Academy,” conference by Harvard Federalist Society now online [Harvard JLPP]
  • Tonight (Wed.) at 7:30 I’m scheduled to join Al-Jazeera America’s “The Stream,” hosted by Lisa Fletcher with Wajahat Ali, to discuss the state of law schools, with Profs. Paul Campos (Colorado) and Gillian Hadfield (USC). Tune in!

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.

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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.

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on November 18, 2013

  • “California AG files claim against school that hired its own students to boost employment numbers” — not a story about a law school, but it might have been [John Steele]
  • Hardly anyone took the constitutional challenge to ObamaCare seriously, at least it seems not at Yale [David Bernstein, Volokh; and speaking of law school ideology my book Schools for Misrule makes a great holiday gift]
  • Clinical legal education: “shift from service clinics to impact clinics is partly driven by clinicians’ search for status within the academy” [Margaret Drew and Andrew Morriss, SSRN]
  • Shorten law school to two years? [NYT "DealBook" on Obama comments, Jim Dedman, Abnormal Use] “UVM, Vermont Law School consider joint degree” [Burlington Free Press]
  • As “Old Media” shrinks, shouldn’t the number of law reviews do so too? [Gerard Magliocca]
  • Lighter regulation of UK law schools, and more pathways to practice? [John Flood]
  • Cleveland State law profs say “Satanic” $666 pay hike was retaliation for union activities [TaxProf]

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NYT on law reviews

by Walter Olson on October 22, 2013

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.

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on October 8, 2013

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