Short Takes On the News: Law School Applications, Academic Freedom In Kansas, Job Prospects for Other Disciplines, and the Authors Guild Appeal

I’ve had a quiet hiatus from the blog for the last several weeks or so.  Thanks, Joe.  I’ve appreciated the time off.  Now that it’s 2014, here are some of the items from the last several weeks that are worth noting.  If anyone is wondering if law school applications are stabilizing, the short answer is no.  The latest news out of the LSAC for the class of 2014 is not looking good:

As of 12/06/13, there are 90,032 Fall 2014 applications submitted by 14,171 applicants. Applicants are down 13.6% and applications are down 15.7% from 2013.  Last year at this time, we had 28% of the preliminary final applicant count.  Last year at this time, we had 16% of the preliminary final application count.

The graphs that accompany this text are here.  To quote Dr. Zachary Smith, “Oh the pain, the pain, the pain.”

Inside Higher Ed tells us about a change to university personnel policies by the Kansas Board of Regents that makes improper use of social media grounds for discipline up to an including termination.  The policy covers any facility for online publication and commentary.  The Board is reviewing the policy in light of criticisms but has not withdrawn it during the review.  Good thing I don’t work in Kansas as I might comment on matters such as evolution and climate change.  I wouldn’t want my views to conflict with those in Kansas.

The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) tells us that other disciplines beyond law are suffering job placement problems.  Some disciplines fare better than others.  Job listings for Ph.D.’s in History fell 7.3%.  Economics fell some 6.6% in 2013.  Foreign Languages and English, and Political Science had modest declines while Sociology seems to be on the rebound.  I remember ribbing to a friend of mine who had graduated with a philosophy degree if he knew how much cab medallions cost.  I investigated and I was shocked to discover that the median price of a cab medallion in Chicago is $357,000!  Note to law grads and others without job prospects:  driving a cab for a company may be viable; owning an independent cab in Chicago costs more than going to law school.  Who knew?

And finally, in the no-surprise at all category, the Authors Guild is appealing Judge Chin’s decision that Google’s book scanning project is fair use.  We’ll see how far they get as the case is similar to the HathiTrust case that was recently argued in the Second Circuit.  A summary of that proceeding is available from the Columbia University LibrariesPublishers Weekly has the story on the AG appeal.

Mark

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