Friday, September 22, 2017

Why law?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

USD Law Dean Stephen Ferruolo should either resign or issue a public apology...

...for his abject failure of leadership in one of his central duties as head of an academic institution:  to defend freedom of speech and inquiry by faculty and students on both scholarly matters and matters of public concern.  It is not his role to express his own opinions about positions defended by his faculty, either in their scholarship or in their contributions to public debate.  If he wants to express his own opinions, he should step down from the Deanship and rejoin the faculty.  But as Dean, his job is to defend freedom of speech and inquiry, even when it is unpopular.  He has failed.

USD Law professor Tom Smith has more, including a response from many of Larry Alexander's colleagues to the Dean's inappropriate public statement.

The op-ed by Larry and Penn law professor Amy Wax that has generated all the controversy was rather feeble, confusing correlation and causation in ways that were, by my lights, embarrassing and strange.  The piece has been subjected to sensible criticism from colleagues of Professor Wax.  I make my opinion known about the merits only so we can be clear that mine is an objection based on a crucial principle:  the job of academic administrators is to administer a university environment, which includes protecting the space for scholarly and political debate.  An administrator can only do that if he or she does not enter that space and take sides against members of the faculty or the student body.  Here is how the University of Chicago's 1967 Kalven Report (authored by famed First Amendment scholar Harry Kalven) puts it:

The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge.  Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society.  A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions.  By design and effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones.  In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.

 

The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student.  The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.....To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry, and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures.  A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community....

 

Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues o fthe day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness.

 

The Dean speaks for that community, and the way Dean Ferruolo has spoken has now endangered the community he was charged with shepherding.

Up until this point, I had thought Dean Ferruolo had done rather well by USD, but he has failed, and failed mightily, here.  His choices are clear:  apologize for his failure in this instance, or resign.

Readers may be interested in my discussion of these issues in a column last Spring at CHE.  

UPDATE:  See also the discussion of the op-ed by Penn's Jonah Gelbach.

September 20, 2017 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Northwestern's Dean, Dan Rodriguez, to step down at end of 2017-18...

...after a good six-year run.  A lot of good appointments made during his tenure, including Emily Kadens and Matt Spitzer from Texas, Deborah Tuerkheimer from DePaul, and David Schwartz from Chicago-Kent, among others.  (Longtime readers will recall that Rodriguez was a transformative  Dean at San Diego in the 1990s and early 2000s.)

September 19, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Chicago Alumni & Fellows on the Teaching Market, 2017-18

MOVING TO THE FRONT FOR THE LAST TIME

This post is for schools who expect to be hiring this year.

In order to protect the privacy of our candidates, please e-mail me at bleiter@uchicago.edu to get a copy of the narrative profiles of our candidates, including hyperlinks to their homepages.  All these candidates will be in the first FAR distribution.

We have an excellent group of nine candidates this year (three JD alumni, one SJD alumna, four Bigelow Fellows, and one Dickerson Fellow), who cover many curricular areas, including labor law, employment law, ERISA, civil rights, property, family law, criminal law, immigration law, criminal procedure, civil procedure, professional responsibility, contracts, comparative law, administrative law, legislation, financial regulation, empirical legal studies, business associations, corporate law & securities regulation, corporate finance, antitrust, international law, human rights, alternative dispute resolution, international business transactions, and conflicts, among other areas.

Our candidates include former federal appellate clerks; Law Review editors; JD/PhDs and LLM/SJDs; and accomplished practitioners as well as scholars.  All have publications and writing samples. 

If when you e-mail, you tell me a bit about your hiring needs, I can supply some more information about all these candidates, since we have vetted them all at some point in the recent past.

September 19, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, September 18, 2017

Are law degrees as valuable to minorities? (Michael Simkovic)

Frank McIntyre & Michael Simkovic, Are law degrees as valuable to minorities? International Review of Law & Economics (forthcoming 2017) (ssrn download):

"Individuals who complete law school typically receive a large boost to their earnings compared to what they would likely have earned with a terminal bachelor’s degree.  (Simkovic & McIntyre, 2014)  The law earnings premium has exceeded the cost of law school by a wide margin, even toward the bottom of the earnings distribution, and even for graduates who enter the labor force during a recession or with an unusually large cohort of fellow law graduates. (McIntyre & Simkovic, 2017)

 

But is the value of a law degree predictably different depending on one’s race or ethnicity? Estimates by race or ethnicity could help prospective law students and law schools better predict variability in the potential financial benefits of law school, and could help inform outreach, admissions, academic support, and financial aid policies.

 

This article investigates differences in the law earnings premium by race and ethnicity.  Compared to bachelor’s degree holders, a higher proportion of law graduates are white.  

 

Studies of the returns to education at the college level or below have come to different conclusions about differences in benefits by race.  Several studies have found lower earnings among black and Hispanic law graduates compared to non-Hispanic whites.  The reasons for these differences are not fully understood and are hotly debated. . . .

 

Whatever the cause, among those with law degrees, there are differences in average earnings between different race or ethnic groups. However, the same pattern is present among bachelor’s degree holders. [Prior to this study it was] unknown whether there are similar differences in earnings premiums (i.e., the boost to earnings from the law degree), measured either on a percentage or dollar basis. . . .

 

[T]he National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study found that long-term bar passage rates were substantially lower for minorities than for whites.[1]  Thus a study of all law degree holders including those who did not pass a bar examination [such as this one using Census data] may find larger racial gaps in earnings [than previous studies that look only at bar-passers].  

 

We find evidence that white graduates have a somewhat higher percentage boost in earnings compared to minorities, but when translated into dollar terms the law earnings premium is substantially higher for white graduates than for minorities.  At the median and including law graduates who are not practicing law, the annual boost to earnings from a law degree is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics.  The law earnings premium is also higher for whites than for minorities at the 75th percentile, the 25th percentile and the mean, and for samples that are exclusively male or female. . . .  

 

Figure 4 for blog post

Continue reading

September 18, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Science | Permalink

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

UNC's Civil Rights Center stripped of its ability to litigate cases

Shameful.  As a result, it will shut down entirely.

CORRECTION:  The Center will not, contrary to the NLJ headline, shut down entirely, but it has been stripped of one of its previous academic functions.  (Thanks to several readers who wrote to me about this.)

September 13, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Judge Posner talks to the NY Times about his sudden retirement

Lots of gems, as one might expect.  On his approach to judging and some of his critics:

 

“I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions,” Judge Posner said. “A case is just a dispute. The first thing you do is ask yourself — forget about the law — what is a sensible resolution of this dispute?”

 

The next thing, he said, was to see if a recent Supreme Court precedent or some other legal obstacle stood in the way of ruling in favor of that sensible resolution. “And the answer is that’s actually rarely the case,” he said. “When you have a Supreme Court case or something similar, they’re often extremely easy to get around.”

 

I asked him about his critics, and he said they fell into two camps....

 

He said he had less sympathy for the second camp. “There are others who are just, you know, reactionary beasts,” he said. “They’re reactionary beasts because they want to manipulate the statutes and the Constitution in their own way.” 

And on his immediate reason for retiring:

He had become concerned with the plight of litigants who represented themselves in civil cases, often filing handwritten appeals. Their grievances were real, he said, but the legal system was treating them impatiently, dismissing their cases over technical matters.

“These were almost always people of poor education and often of quite low level of intelligence,” he said. “I gradually began to realize that this wasn’t right, what we were doing.”

 

In the Seventh Circuit, Judge Posner said, staff lawyers rather than judges assessed appeals from such litigants, and the court generally rubber-stamped the lawyers’ recommendations.

 

Judge Posner offered to help. “I wanted to review all the staff attorney memos before they went to the panel of judges,” he said. “I’d sit down with the staff attorney, go over his memo. I’d make whatever editorial suggestions — or editorial commands — that I thought necessary. It would be good education for staff attorneys, and it would be very good” for the litigants without lawyers.

 

“I had the approval of the director of the staff attorney program,” Judge Posner said, “but the judges, my colleagues, all 11 of them, turned it down and refused to give me any significant role. I was very frustrated by that.”

 

His new book, he said, would have added to the tension: “If I were still on the court, it would be particularly awkward because, implicitly or explicitly, I’m criticizing the other judges.”

 

Judge Posner said he hoped to work with groups concerned with prisoners’ rights, with a law school clinic and with law firms, to bring attention and aid to people too poor to afford lawyers.

September 12, 2017 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Saturday, September 9, 2017

New American Foundation fires a prominent researcher who criticized one of its largest donors (Michael Simkovic)

The powerful Washington D.C. think tank New America Foundation, which has ties to the technology, finance, and aerospace industries, recently fired a researcher within days after the researcher praised the European Union for fining Google for antitrust violations.  Google and its CEO are among the largest donors to New America Foundation, as well as other think tanks.  The head of New America Foundation claims the firing was for a lack of collegiality, but declined to discuss specifics.  

The firing echoes similar incidents at other think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institute, where researchers have been fired shortly after offending other important donors or political patrons.

As the Economist magazine explains:

[Think tanks suffer from] a fundamental flaw. Unlike other institutions designed to promote free inquiry, such as universities or some publications, think-tanks do not enjoy large endowments, researcher tenure or subscription revenue to insulate thinkers from paymasters. And thinking costs a lot.

The New America Foundation has played a prominent role in efforts to privatize student loans by making the terms of federal student loans less attractive and making the loans less widely available.

September 9, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Science, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

University of Chicago Law School, Dickerson Fellowship for 2018-19

The University of Chicago Law School invites applications for the Earl B. Dickerson Fellowship, with an appointment at the rank of Instructor, for a twelve-month term to begin on July 1 or August 1, 2018. The Dickerson Fellowship is named after the first African-American graduate of the Law School, from the class of 1920. The Law School seeks candidates who demonstrate the promise of distinguished legal scholarship and law teaching and ideally have relevant practice experience that will qualify them to act as teachers and mentors of students. Among other considerations, we value candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives who will enrich and improve the student experience and the Law School's culture. The Dickerson Fellow will teach one or more courses per year and will be expected to publish high-quality scholarship and contribute to the intellectual life of the Law School. A J.D. is required. Candidates must apply online at the University of Chicago Academic Career Opportunities website, http://tinyurl.com/y94upx29, and upload a current curriculum vitae, law school transcript, and reference contact information. Applications will be considered until the position is filled or until June 30, 2018, whichever comes first.

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination at http://www.uchicago.edu/about/non_discrimination_statement/.

Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-0287 or email ACOppAdministrator@uchicago.edu with their request.

September 6, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, September 4, 2017

"Legal Positivism about the Artifact Law: A Retrospective Assessment," the final version...

...is now on SSRN.

September 4, 2017 in Jurisprudence | Permalink