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Schools for Misrule

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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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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I’m honored to announce that I’ll be giving a talk in the Frank G. Raichle Lecture Series, part of the pre-law program at Canisius College in western New York. Details here in a press release from the college. Previous speakers in this lecture series include an extraordinary list of legal notables including Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justices O’Connor, Scalia, Ginsburg, and White, among many others such as Alex Kozinski, Harry Edwards, John Langbein, and Randall Kennedy.

Earlier on the same day (October 30) I’ll be addressing the Buffalo Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society.

In Ann Arbor on Wednesday

by Walter Olson on September 23, 2013

I’ll be speaking at lunchtime Wednesday, Sept. 25 to the University of Michigan Law School’s Federalist Society chapter, on my book Schools for Misrule. Details here.

Speaking in Baltimore Thursday

by Walter Olson on September 16, 2013

I’m speaking in downtown Baltimore this Thursday at 12 noon about my most recent book, Schools for Misrule. I’ve given versions of this talk many times around the country but I think this marks the first time I’ve done so in my own state of Maryland. It’s free and lunch is served, but you’ll need to RSVP to the Federalist Society Baltimore Lawyers’ Chapter. Details here.

I’m back from a speaking swing through Nebraska. At the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln, I spoke about food and drink paternalism as exemplified by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiatives in New York, with Prof. Steven Willborn providing a counterpoint from a more liberal perspective. At Creighton University Law School in Omaha, I spoke (as I often do) on the ideological state of the law schools, drawing on my 2011 book Schools for Misrule, with commentary from Profs. Ralph Whitten and Sara Stadler.

Both events were well attended but I was especially pleased at the strong turnout for the talk in Lincoln on food and the nanny state, a new speech I hadn’t tried out before on a general audience. Here’s a description:

The public is increasingly in revolt against “nanny state” interventions, from Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to limit soda sizes in New York, to efforts to ban Happy Meals in San Francisco. Some thinkers dismiss concern about paternalism as merely trivial and personal, not on a par with issues acknowledged as “serious” such as police abuse, free speech, surveillance, and the proper functioning of the legal system. Left unchecked, however, the project of paternalism quickly generates very serious problems in each of those other areas: it gives police and enforcers great arbitrary power, hands a special government megaphone to some speakers while stifling others, funnels uncomfortably personal information into government hands, and fuels abusive litigation. No matter what you think of potato chips, if your interests are in liberty and good government, you should be paying attention.

I’m next scheduled to speak on the food police Sept. 23 at a Heritage Foundation panel discussion with Baylen Linnekin, Nita Ghei, and J. Justin Wilson, hosted by Daren Bakst. Details here. More on my fall speaking schedule here.

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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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May 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 26, 2013

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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]

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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Stephen Bainbridge has some speculations about whether university law clinics can be successfully divorced from politicized cause-mongering, and along the way, kind comments for my book Schools for Misrule. More: Ann Althouse.

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on October 25, 2012

  • U. Miami: “Law School Email Draws Fire Amid Hotly Contested Retention Election for 3 Top Florida Judges” [ABA Journal, earlier on election]
  • Janet Jenkins sues Liberty U. School of Law, charging assistance to custody-nappers; school describes suit as baseless [ABA Journal, earlier on Miller-Jenkins custody case]
  • “Maybe a lawprof is not what you want in a politician. And yet, Bill Clinton was a lawprof. So was Hillary Clinton. And there are different types of lawprofs. They don’t all listen, give ground, and offer complex caveats!” [Ann Althouse]
  • “Former law student became a chronic litigant” [Boston Globe]
  • Andrew Morriss on Tamanaha’s Failing Law Schools [Liberty Law]
  • “Institute for Humane Studies Webcast on the Pros and Cons of Law School” [Ilya Somin]
  • Fred Rodell knew: reasons not to write law review articles [Matthew Salzwedel, Lawyerist] What a rising law professor should put in a book review [Pierre Schlag via Prof. Bainbridge]
  • Bradley C.S. Watson on law school progressivism [National Review, pay site, mentions Schools for Misrule]

The Associated Press covers the pending lawsuit against the University of Iowa by Teresa Wagner, who believes she was shot down for a job teaching legal writing because of her outspokenly conservative views (earlier here, here, and here). A federal trial starts Monday in Davenport, Iowa.

One sentence misses the mark slightly in conveying my views. As I should have taken pains to make clear, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, as a decision, is by no means sacrosanct in legal academia; law professors both right and left, young and old, criticize it often for its reasoning, as a political blunder, and on other grounds. What is a good bit less common — and especially rare among younger academics aiming for tenure offers at law schools with no religious affiliation — is a passionate stand against abortion in itself, like Ms. Wagner’s.

The university, for its part, disclaims political bias and apparently intends to argue that Ms. Wagner did not perform as well at the interview stage as her lawyers contend. As I told the AP, while I have no doubt that political bias is rife — in 2007, Iowa’s law faculty is recorded as having had 46 registered Democrats and only one registered Republican — I have severe doubts that the courts will improve matters by peering over the hiring committees’ shoulders. (& TaxProf with links; Des Moines Register “Juice”; Prof. Bainbridge)

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AALS letting its biases show

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2012

You mean there might be than one legitimate point of view on vote-integrity legislation? Hans von Spakovsky spots some ideological assumptions going unquestioned at the Association of American Law Schools, and mentions the larger pattern as sketched out in Schools for Misrule [National Review]

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Point of Law has been continuing its discussion of racial preference and diversity hiring at law schools in the wake of the Elizabeth Warren brouhaha. I’ve now concluded my contribution with a second post (first one here). Excerpt from my new post:

…were competing approaches to diversity permitted, newcomers would be more likely to find an institution that suits their own desired experience: some would seek a pledge that advancement would be race- and sex-blind, others an assurance of encountering colleagues from backgrounds very different from their own.

Of course that’s not the world we live in. In our actual world, all law schools must conform to a prescribed format. Accreditation officials will haul up any institution that tries to be race-blind, and HLS will scramble to claim hiring credit for Prof. Warren’s vague family lore of Cherokee ancestry.

Should outsiders care? One reason to care might be if the prevalence of identity politics tends to reinforce the problem (assuming it is a problem) of ideological imbalance in the legal academy. In Schools for Misrule I conclude that it does, though only as one of many contributing factors….

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In the light of the ongoing controversy over Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren’s ill-documented claims of Native American status, Point of Law — the website I launched and ran back when I was at the Manhattan Institute — has begun a featured discussion on the effects on legal academia of the ongoing pressure to hire by race (and sex and several other categories). Following an introduction by James Copland, I’ve kicked off the discussion with an opening post (“Better Scholarship Through Diversity?”). There’s plenty on the subject, of course, in my book Schools for Misrule from last year. Other participants in the discussion will include Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and, most likely disagreeing with us, Gerald Torres of the University of Texas.

Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on May 16, 2012

  • Yale lawprof Peter Schuck reviews Schools for Misrule [American Lawyer last November, alas behind subscription paywall]
  • Look at bright side: Prof. Warren “did not list herself with the AALS as the rightful Empress of France” [Popehat; Seth Mandel, Commentary]
  • Jeffrey O’Connell, greatly admired and influential torts scholar at the University of Virginia, retires from teaching [via Robinette]
  • New Brian Tamanaha book on law schools stirs wide interest [Orin Kerr, Scott Greenfield, Chron of Higher Ed via TaxProf, Bill Henderson]
  • In recent criminal law and procedure cases, high-level academic opinion did sway Supreme Court [Jack Chin, Prawfs]
  • “75 Years of Law Professors as Pundits” [Kyle Graham; and thanks for Schools For Misrule reference)
  • Kindle version of Charles Reich’s “Greening of America” omits super-embarrassing stuff. It’s 80% shorter [Ann Althouse]

As noted earlier, last week U.N. Human Rights Council rapporteur James Anaya (who also happens to be a lawprof at the University of Arizona) declared the U.S. to be trampling the aboriginal land rights of Indian tribes. I have a new Daily Caller piece pointing out (as I detail at more length in Schools for Misrule) that the U.N.’s involvement with American law school projects is nothing new: “Now the plaintiff’s counsel [in the Western Shoshone claim] of a few years back re-surfaces as the official instrument of a U.N. body, a revolving-door arrangement that is actually quite typical of the international human rights establishment, where a rather small band of crusading law professors, ‘civil society’ activists and Guardian readers around the world seem to take turns investigating each others’, or as the case may be their own, countries for putative human rights violations.” (& Julian Ku, Opinio Juris)

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