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law schools

As much as any other institution, the Ford Foundation has shaped the modern American law school, having provided key backing for developments such as clinical legal education, public interest law, identity-based legal studies, and transnational law. Whether you agree or disagree with Ford’s ideological thrust — and as a libertarian, I regularly disagree — it’s a pretty remarkable set of accomplishments. I give an overview and brief history in this new article for the Capital Research Center’s Foundation Watch, adapted from my book Schools for Misrule. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty; welcome readers from George Leef, NRO)

More: some essays on Ford’s crucial support during the formative period of public interest litigation [Steven Schindler, more, Scott Kohler]

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on June 3, 2013

  • Law-school leftism is no longer a progressive force, argues Brian Tamanaha [Stanford Law and Policy Review, more] Paul Campos responds to critics of Tamanaha [UCLA Law Review via Caron]
  • Related: “Cleaning (one’s inbox) is its own reward: nice podcast re: law school reform that I took to gym (via @WalterOlson)” [@DavidLat]
  • Good news for law students? “Student Loans May Now Be Discharged More Easily In Bankruptcy in the 9th Circuit” [Karen Oakes, Bankruptcy Law Network] “Only if the law students don’t want to become lawyers.” [@moiracathleen]
  • No love lost: Mark Tushnet vs. Richard Epstein on Epstein’s new book Design for Liberty (PDFs)
  • “People’s Electric Law School”: George Conk recalls Rutgers-Newark’s salad days as a committed-Left law school at a state university [Fordham Urban Law Journal via Steele] Thoughts from Elizabeth Warren ’76 [Rutgers via @LegInsurrection]
  • “Assignment: defend the opponent’s viewpoint….” A dying art in the ideologized law school? [John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum]
  • John Murtagh hasn’t forgotten what Columbia prof/NYU “scholar in residence” Kathy Boudin did [NY Post]

Watch what you say about lawyers” is an old theme around here, but in light of developments at Wake Forest it might need to be extended to law students as well. [Above the Law, more]

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on April 14, 2013

  • “If a law school held a conference on intellectual diversity and the panels really were intellectually diverse …You can bet your last nickel it was sponsored by the Federalist Society.” [Bainbridge, Nick Rosenkranz and more, Harvard Gazette; my 2011 book Schools for Misrule]
  • Washington Law Review takes one step to counter another problem addressed in Schools for Misrule, lawprofs’ conflicts of interest [Bainbridge]
  • BC dean: law schools should adopt residency model from medical education [Vincent Rougeau, ABA Legal Rebels via Paul Caron/TaxProf]
  • Missouri police union head, under fire for Facebook comments, is also constitutional law prof [Mike Riggs]
  • Some say drive for slave reparations is defunct, but U.Va. conference confirms many legal academics still haven’t given up on it [Alfred Brophy via Bainbridge]
  • “Academy’s Heavyweights Opine on Law Schools’ Problems” [WSJ via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Board of Regents to Investigate $5.5 Million in Forgivable Loans to University of Texas Law Profs” [Caron]

After 22 years in prison for political murder, Kathy Boudin is now NYU Law “scholar in residence” [NYPost; relevant section of Schools for Misrule recounting cases of Bernardine Dohrn, Angela Davis, Lynne Stewart, etc.]

From Twitter: “She is probably more conservative than the rest of the faculty.” [@MartelPlieiades] “Outrageous sexism: If a man had served 22 years in prison for political murder, he’d be NYU Law’s Dean.” [@Sam_Schulman]

Update: PowerLine has now reprinted the pertinent section of Schools for Misrule.

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In the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Ivey DeJesus trumpets the views of a “leading legal expert,” specifically “one of the country’s leading church and state scholars” who says, contrary to a state lawmaker’s assertions, that there’s no constitutional problem with reopening lapsed statutes of limitations so as to enable child-abuse lawsuits by now-grown-up complainants. Prof. Marci Hamilton is indeed a well-known church-state scholar, and there is indeed precedent for the (perhaps strange) idea that courts will not necessarily strike down retroactive legislation as unconstitutional so long as its impacts are civil rather than criminal. But it’s not until paragraph 18 that DeJesus, after introducing the expert at length by way of her academic affiliations, bothers to add a perhaps equally relevant element of her biography: she has “represented scores of victims in the Philadelphia Archdiocese clergy sex abuse case.” Why bring that up?

Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on March 15, 2013

  • Harold Lasswell and Myres McDougal’s influential article on legal education figures prominently in Schools for Misrule; Henry Manne says their scheme of actual classroom pedagogy did less well [Bainbridge]
  • Deanship of local plaintiff’s attorney at St. Louis U. is short, colorful [NLJ]
  • GW lawprof trips, falls at Denver Law event, now in court [Above the Law]
  • Law reviews requiring authors to sign indemnity clauses. Reason for alarm? [Dan Markel, Prawfs]
  • Out-of-touch law academy, vol. 18: Duke prof dismisses floodgates arguments on principle [Ted Frank]
  • “Should Law Reviews Consider Race When Selecting Articles?” (and do they?) [Josh Blackman]
  • Insurance is an undercovered topic in the law school curriculum, so Randy Maniloff decides to do an intervention [Coverage Opinions, PDF, lead article]

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A letter to the ABA signed by 67 big names in legal education [Caron/TaxProf] comes to conclusions about the economic organization of law schools very similar to those I reached two years ago in the relevant section of Schools for Misrule (not claiming any particular prescience on my part, others had made a similar case before and the signs were clear enough to anyone who would look). Their recommendations:

Legal education cannot continue on the current trajectory. As members of a profession committed to serving the public good, we must find ways to alter the economics of legal education. Possible changes include reducing the undergraduate education required for admission to three years; awarding the basic professional degree after two years, while leaving the third year as a elective or an internship; providing some training through apprenticeship; reducing expensive accreditation requirements to allow greater diversity among law schools; building on the burgeoning promises of internet-distance education; changing the economic relationship between law schools and universities; altering the influence of current ranking formulas; and modifying the federal student loan program. As legal educators, it is our responsibility to grapple with these issues before our institutions are reshaped in ways beyond our control.

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Teresa Wagner had sued the University of Iowa’s law school alleging bias against her as an ideological conservative, but a jury ruled against her on most counts, and now the judge in the case has denied her retrial motion and granted the university’s motion to dismiss the remaining count. [AP via Adler; court opinion; comments by lawprofs Herbert Hovenkamp of U of I and David Bernstein of George Mason; earlier on this case, on which I was quoted in the press a number of times.]

  • California Supreme Court: fee shift in disabled-rights claim can go to winning defendant, not just plaintiff [Jankey v. Song Koo Lee, Bagenstos/Disability Law]
  • That’s Olsen with an “e”: “Lawmaker wants to protect cities from frivolous lawsuits over A.D.A.” [California Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen; L.A. Times] “Gas stations confront disabled-access lawsuits” [Orange County Register] Serial ADA filer hits New Orleans [Louisiana Record] ADA drive-by suits in Colorado and elsewhere [Kevin Funnell]
  • And this lawyer follows a see-no-evil policy regarding ADA filing mills: “I refuse to pass judgment on other attorneys here.” [Julia Campins]
  • Child care center could not turn away applicant with nut allergy because Iowa disabled-rights law said to have expanded its coverage of categories when the U.S. Congress expanded ADA, though Iowa lawmakers enacted no such expansion [Disability Law]
  • Feds join in LSAT accommodation suit [Recorder]
  • Official in San Francisco’s mayoral Office on Disability files disability-bias claim [KGO]
  • “Testing employees for legally prescribed medications must be done carefully” [Jon Hyman]

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A press release from George Washington University Prof. John Banzhaf describes his latest stunt as follows: “Undergrads Required To Lobby For Obama Policy.” In this case, it’s more for a policy identified with Michael Bloomberg — limits on the size of sweetened drinks — which students were asked to promote in letters to their own lawmakers. I’ve got a write-up at Cato at Liberty, where I list some of the other occasions on which Overlawyered readers have met the gadfly professor. (& Katherine Mangu-Ward, Center for Consumer Freedom) Update: many reactions, including another press release from Prof. Banzhaf.

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The celebrated legal philosopher has died at age 81. Despite our myriad disagreements there was much to honor in his life and accomplishments, which I sum up briefly at Cato at Liberty. Randy Barnett recalls Dworkin’s graciousness as a professor and impressive debate style. An Ann Althouse commenter notes a 1996 article of Dworkin’s (first page only available) that conservatives might actually like. Stephen Griffin on Dworkin’s most important ideas; Michael Carlson; Tyler Cowen.

Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on February 8, 2013

  • Universities’ prestige game: will “zombie law schools” drag down the rest? [Gerard Magliocca]
  • Law as undergraduate degree works in advanced countries like Germany and Britain, could work here too [Bainbridge]
  • It’s a capitalist plot! Steve Diamond of Santa Clara assails Brian Tamanaha’s critique of law schools as too redolent of Hayek, Cato [SSRN, background, more]
  • “That’s pretty good reason to speak up: Thomas Breaks 5-year Silence During #SCOTUS Arguments to Mock Yale” [@DavidMastio]
  • Dean who took huge pay packet for dismal results is also immediate past president of ABA law school panel [Campos]
  • Does the California experience undercut arguments for relaxing accreditation? [Matt Bodie]
  • “What Do Law Professors Think About the Critiques of the Law Schools?” [Orin Kerr]

As recently as 2004 law school applications numbered nearly 100,000, and three years ago the figure stood around the mid-80s. Now it’s plunged to a projected 53,000-54,000, with an especially sharp recent dropoff among the most sought-after students with the highest scores. Time for rethinking the model of an ever-expanding legal academia fed by unquenchable demand for lawyers and unlimited federal student loans [TaxProf] Incidentally, those who attended or watched our Cato seminar earlier this month on “Failing Law Schools” were among the first to hear the new numbers.

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My colleague Neal McCluskey on last week’s Cato panel:

When it comes to taking on higher education, I thought I was as hard bitten as any Law and Order cop. I thought I’d seen all the worst things that went on in the ivory tower. Until, that is, I started investigating the very schools that produce the prosecutorial side of the justice biz: law schools.

…[A]ll the major carnage of higher education, only worse. Worse tuition hyper-inflation. Deceptive advertising that rivals the most odious of any openly for-profit university.

Read the whole thing here at SeeThruEdu.com.

January 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 20, 2013

  • I’m in today’s NYT Book Review reviewing “Foundation,” Peter Ackroyd’s new book on English history up to the Tudors [NYT]
  • Stanford Law School launches religious liberty clinic [Karen Sloan, NLJ] AALS panel on “The Freedom of the Church” [Rick Garnett, Prawfs]
  • Party in breach, nasssty thief, we hates it forever: lawyer parses Hobbit’s Bilbo-dwarves contract [James Daily, Wired]
  • To pay for roads, vehicle-mile fees > gas tax, but either > general sales tax, argues Randal O’Toole [Cato at Liberty]
  • Steven Teles on the high cost of opaque, complex and indirect government action [New America via Reihan Salam]
  • I’ve given a blurb to Mark White’s forthcoming nudging-back book on behavioral economics, “The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism” [Amazon]
  • “Internet-Use Disorder: The Newest Disability?” [Jon Hyman]

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Here’s the video of our Wednesday event at which author Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.) discussed his book Failing Law Schools. Neal McCluskey (Cato) and Paul Campos (Colorado) commented, and I moderated. We’ve had lots of appreciative comments from those who’ve watched, and I wholeheartedly endorse the book, which is persuasive in both its analysis and its recommendations.

More: After the panel, Megan McArdle of Newsweek/Daily Beast interviewed Prof. Campos on the latest bad numbers for law schools. Other comments include Paul Caron/TaxProf, Stephen Diamond of Santa Clara University (disapproving of Cato and the panelists) and Constitutional Daily here, here and here (differing sharply with Diamond).

And: Cato Daily Podcast (audio) with Prof. Tamanaha.

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R.I.P. Jeffrey O’Connell

by Walter Olson on January 11, 2013

The “father of no-fault,” who died on Sunday at age 84, was an eminent torts professor at the University of Virginia, a public-spirited advocate of reform over many decades, and a renowned teacher. A valued friend and mentor, he was one of the most personally gracious and generous academics I’ve ever known. The New York Times has a good obituary. Just last year New Hampshire enacted an “early offers” statute encouraging prompt settlement of medical malpractice disputes partly inspired by Prof. O’Connell’s work. More: University of Virginia, Christopher Robinette/TortsProf.

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