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]
“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]
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.
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?
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.