Friday, October 23, 2015

$100 million naming gift for the law school at Northwestern University

Wow!  The Pritzkers are Chicago billionaires, heir to the Hyatt Hotel chain fortune.  There is also a Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

(Sorry for not posting this sooner, I was on the road.)

October 23, 2015 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How Long After "Meat Market" Before Candidates Hear from Schools?


A rookie job seeker writes:

A question about the law teaching market, which I suspect will be of interest to a number of candidates who read your Law School Reports blog:  When can we expect to hear from hiring committees we spoke with at AALS?  Do the better schools tend to wait longer to make their calls?  And do schools tend to notify candidates that they *won't* be inviting them for a job talk, or do you only hear from them if they're interested?

If you think this is a worthwhile topic, perhaps you could open a post for comments so that hiring committee members could say what their procedure is.

My impression is that schools will contact the candidates they are most interested in within the first two weeks after the AALS hiring convention, and, more often than not, within the first week.  Schools will often have some candidates "on hold" beyond this period of time:  e.g., because they are reading more work by the candidate, or collecting references, or waiting to see how they fare with their top choices.  So it is quite possible to get call-backs beyond the two-week window.  Schools tend to be much slower in notifying candidates they are no longer in contention (you might not hear for a month or more). 

Schools higher in the "food chain" in general do move at a somewhat more, shall we say, "leisurely" pace, and schools lower in the "food chain" are more likely to have tiers of candidates they remain interested in, on the theory that they are likely to lose their first-round choices.

Those, to repeat, are my impressions, based on a decent amount of anecdotal evidence.  But I invite others to post their impressions and/or information about their school's practices.  No anonymous postings.  Post only once, comments are moderated and may take awhile to appear.

October 21, 2015 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (16)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Federal Court dismisses another suit alleging misleading law school employment statistics (Michael Simkovic)

The Wall Street Journal reports that a Federal District Court recently dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Florida Coastal School of Law defrauded its students through misleading employment statistics.  (hat tip Paul Caron)  As noted in the Journal, this is the latest in a long string of victories for defendant law schools in these cases.  

The legal issues and relevant facts of many of the suits against law schools are substantially similar because of standardized data collection techniques and methods of disclosure.  Although courts thus far have either denied class certification or dismissed these fraud suits on the merits, the language of opinions has tended to be somewhat more sympathetic toward plaintiffs when the defendant law school admitted students with lower undergraduate GPAs and standardized test scores.  (For example, compare the decision in Brooklyn to the decision in New York Law School (especially the more plaintiff-friendly appellate opinion)).

Given Florida Coastal's admissions standards--described by the Court as among "the lowest . . .of accredited law schools . . . in the nation"--Florida Coastal may have been among plaintiffs' attorneys best chances for success. Failure in this case does not bode well for future lawsuits against law schools based on similar legal theories and fact patterns.  

The Florida Court explained that Florida Coastal students were college-educated and therefore sufficiently sophisticated that they were unlikely to be misled, but rather would have reasonably understood the limits of the data disclosures or requested additional clarifying information.  

The Court's detailed reasoning follows:

Continue reading

October 16, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Jurisprudence, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, October 12, 2015

Light blogging for a bit...

...regular blogging will resume in less than two weeks.

October 12, 2015 | Permalink

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Growing Support for Bankruptcy Relief for Student Debtors (Michael Simkovic)

Student loans are more difficult to discharge in bankruptcy than most consumer or business debts.  Discharge is only available if repayment “would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents.”   11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8).

These restrictions on discharge are controversial. Supporters note the possibility of strategic filings by student debtors with low assets and high expected future incomes and the danger of such defaults driving up the costs of credit.  Skeptics argue that such concerns are empirically unsupported and that bankruptcy discharge provides an important mechanism for spreading the risks of investments in higher education. 

In policy circles, momentum seems to be building for at least some relaxation of the restrictions on student loan discharge.  The Department of Education recently released a report supporting discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy.   The report argues that federal student loans should be treated differently from private loans because federal loans are not underwritten and because income based repayment with debt forgiveness is available for federal loans.  Adam Levitin made similar arguments in the Wall Street Journal several months ago. 

Access Group announced its support for discharge of student loans after a 7 year waiting period, as long as the loans are not already eligible for income based repayment with debt forgiveness after at most 25 years.  The proposal also calls for restricting discharge for those who have previously discharged student loans in bankruptcy.

Access Group’s proposal appears to leave open the possibility of private student loans retaining current protection against discharge in bankruptcy by offering income-based repayment terms similar to those available from the federal government.

October 8, 2015 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Weblogs | Permalink

UC Irvine's Lawsky on the entry-level hiring market in law schools

SSRN Downloads over the last year, October 1 edition

The top ten:

1.  Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (34,636 downloads, 34 new papers)

2.  Mark Lemley (Stanford) (17,511 downloads, 10 new papers)

3.  Daniel Solove (George Washington) (17,219 downloads, 1 new paper)

4.  Dan Kahan (Yale) (17,114 downloads, 4 new papers)

5.  Orin Kerr (George Washington) (14,368 downloads, 6 new papers)

6.  Lucian Bebchuk (Harvard) (13,657 downloads, 1 new paper)

7.  Brian Leiter (Chicago) (11,955 downloads, 10 new papers)

8.  Bernard Black (Northwestern) (10,674 downloads, 2 new papers)

9.  Kent Roach (Toronto) (9,109 downloads, 11 new papers)

10. Eric Posner (Chicago) (8,671 downloads, 8 new papers)

October 8, 2015 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Another ignorant apologist for gun carnage exposed

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Credibility of empirical legal scholarship

My colleague Omri Ben-Shahar asked me to share the following (I wonder if other empirical scholars will follow suit?):

Testing legal ideas by looking at data is a welcome growing trend in legal scholarship, but it is also known to carry risks of according authority to dubious and poorly tested claims. Many consumers of published empirical scholarships are not trained in empirical sciences to read the reported results critically—results that often pass only lax peer review (if at all). The enterprise is not helped by studies showing that more than a few empirical results cannot be replicated, or that there is a publication bias in favor of “surprising” results, or that empirical papers often conform suspiciously to their authors’ ideology or previously published predictions. Empirical legal scholarship is understandably in search for ways to enhance its credibility. 


A new paper by myself and Adam Chilton offers a new strategy to achieve credibility — circulating the paper before the results are known to the authors. We are writing a paper for a Journal of Legal Studies conference on Contracting Over Privacy  which will be held in Chicago on October 16-17. Our paper seeks to test the effectiveness of privacy disclosures on websites — specifically, whether requiring websites’ privacy notices to adhere to some commonly advocated “Best Practices” in their design and presentation style has any measurable effect and whether it leads people to behave more cautiously and to reveal less personal information. But we have a credibility problem. I (Ben-Shahar) recently published a co-authored book (More Than You Wanted To Know) arguing that mandated disclosures are useless and that attempts to improve them by using various best practices would be futile. Can I be trusted as an author of empirical work that merely confirms my predictions in the book?


To overcome this credibility problem, we are writing and circulating the paper before running the experiment and before knowing what the results are. The circulated draft describes the experiment and has (for now empty) boxes and charts for the results, which will be filled once the experiment is run. To strap ourselves to the mast before the data sirens sing, and to make sure that we cannot back out if the results turn out to embarrassingly refute our prior predictions, we are advance-posting the paper on SSRN with everything but the results in it. A subsequent revision will then include the results, but coming in the heels of the advance posted version it would appear more credible. Pending IRB approval, the experiment will be run next week, and the results will be reported at the conference next weekend.

October 7, 2015 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tom Miles to be the new Dean at Chicago

I am delighted to report that my esteemed colleague Tom Miles has been appointed the new Dean of the University of Chicago Law School, effective November 1.  From the announcement sent out today by President Zimmer and Provost Isaacs:

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas J. Miles, Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics and Walter Mander Research Scholar, as the next dean of the Law School. His appointment, which begins November 1, 2015, follows a national search, led by a faculty committee chaired by Randal Picker, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

Tom’s deep experience at the Law School, along with his outstanding record as a teacher, colleague and legal scholar, make him an excellent choice to continue and expand the Law School’s legacy of intellectual leadership and interdisciplinary focus. A leading scholar of criminal justice and judicial behavior, Miles has served in several leadership roles at the Law School during his time on the faculty, including chairing the appointments committee and the accreditation review committee. He is widely published in both economics and legal journals, and he has brought his expertise to bear on such varied topics as immigration, mail fraud, wiretapping, judicial ideology, and the Voting Rights Act. He is an accomplished educator and a recipient of the Graduating Students Award for Teaching Excellence.

Miles joined the Law School faculty in 2005 after a year at the Law School as an Olin Fellow in Law and Economics. Miles received a BA from Tufts University, a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago, and a JD from Harvard Law School. Immediately before joining the Law School faculty, he was a law clerk to the Honorable Jay S. Bybee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From 2005 to 2013, Miles was an editor of the Journal of Legal Studies.

Miles succeeds Michael H. Schill, who became the president of the University of Oregon on July 1. We would like to express our gratitude to Geoffrey R. Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor, who has been serving as interim dean during the search.

Please join us in congratulating Tom on his appointment.

October 6, 2015 in Faculty News | Permalink