Just a snip from Dan Filler’s Faculty Lounge post:

The [greater Philladelphia] market has five schools successfully fighting for roughly the same cohort of students: Rutgers- Camden, Temple, Villanova, Penn State, and Drexel.  (Yes, Penn State is hours away, but it competes for the same students as the other three schools and scholarship decisions affect the others.)  Notwithstanding differences in US News rankings, many students are willing to select a lower ranked school among the four depending on the bottom line cost of an education.  This is evident from the fact that the LSAT range of each school is pretty wide and that each school’s 25th percentile LSAT is within 4 points of every other’s.  Or, to put it another way, students admitted to the highest US News ranked school of the four – Temple – are routinely lured away to each of the other four schools by virtue of aggressive tuition discounts.

For more, see Philadelphia, The Capital Of Low-Cost Law School Education. — Joe

Perhaps but only if the principle of respect for all persons is actually accepted as being legitimate in civil society instead of merely being politically correct public chatter. Therein lies the problem. Here’s the abstract for Common Good and Respect for Persons [SSRN] by Wojciech Sadurski (University of Sydney – Faculty of Law):

We need a “working” conception of the common good, i.e. a conception that does not rely on where one stands in various current political controversies about specific aims, purposes and measures of achieving them, including controversies reflected in debates about and within constitutional law. Such a “working conception” can be supplied by the idea of public reason as a characteristically liberal device of legitimacy in a pluralistic society: attempts to equate “common good” with a set of common actual first-order interests must fail. Public reason is justified by a principle of respect for persons who may or may not agree with the specific laws but who will likely feel they are “second class” citizens, thus deeply disrespected, if the law is based on grounds which are not endorsable by them. Hence, this paper explores a triangle of concepts: common good, public reason (as a working conception of common good), and respect for persons (as a justificatory argument for public reason). In the first part of this paper I discuss the concept of common good, and its relationship with public reason, and in the second part I discuss respect for persons as a justification for public reason. It is argued, in particular, that respect (as a justificatory value of public reason) should be seen as part of a constellation of values, of which freedom (understood through a presumptive evil of coercion) and political equality (understood in an outcome-based, agency-related sense), are of particular importance.

While not achieving “Download of the Week” status by Larry Solum, hat tip to Legal Theory Blog: “All the theory that fits!”. — Joe

“A previously moribund proposal to require 15 hours of clinical work has now come back to life, thanks to advocacy by (guess who?) clinical faculty,” wrote Brian Leiter. “Students who want to do 15 or 30 hours of clinical work should be able to do it; but why in God’s name would one require it of everyone, without any regard for that student’s ambitions or plans?” For largely negative reaction to the ABA proposal from law school faculty members, see his More Mischief Afoot at the ABA post. See also Scott Fruehwald’s Brian Leiter Misrepresents Proposal by ABA Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Legal Skills Prof Blog. — Joe

That’s the title of a recent Fastcase Blog post by Joshua Auriemma. Here’s his open salvo:

I often wonder whether the Googleification of legal research isn’t a terrible thing for the profession (at least in this stage of the technology’s development). In law school, I was a master of Boolean searching. I thought about my research question, figured out which words probably appeared closest to other words, and crafted a narrow and specific search.

Somehow, when I became an appellate attorney and had access to WestlawNext through my firm, all of that training went out the window.

If interested, continue reading the post here. — Joe

From the announcement:

Do you have a great lesson plan or assignment that you’d be willing to share?  How about handouts or PowerPoint slides?  If so, then we need your help!

The RIPS Teach-In Kit Committee is currently accepting submissions for the 2014 Teach-In Kit.  The Teach-In Kit is a resource where law librarians can share materials and ideas to help improve legal research instruction.  We hope you’ll consider helping out your colleagues by submitting your materials to this year’s Kit.  We invite you to send contributions as email attachments to Shawn Nevers at neverss@law.byu.edu.

Prior contributions have included course syllabi, lesson plans, research guides, assignments, lecture notes, handouts, examinations, quizzes, PowerPoint slides, tutorials and games.  Examples of past submissions can be found in kits from previous years.

The deadline for contributions is Friday, January 24, 2014. Thanks in advance for your contributions!

— Joe

If approved by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, ABAJ’s Mark Hansen reports that the Protocol for Reviewing Law Graduate Employment Data, and Statement of Procedures for Collecting, Maintaining and Reporting Law Graduate Employment Data—DRAFT (dated Nov. 8, 2013) could take effect with the class of 2014, whose employment data must be reported to the ABA by April 7, 2015. In addition to random audits of law school employment data, “[the ABA] section would also conduct annual ‘red flag’ reviews of all schools then under sanction for misreporting employment information, as well as all schools it ‘has reason to believe’ are reporting false or inaccurate information.”

According to the draft proposal approved by the governing council of the ABA section, “while this Protocol and Statement are designed to uncover inaccurate, incomplete or misleading reporting where it exists, a principal goal is to mandate that schools maintain supporting documentation that will substantiate their reported data.” However, Hansen reports

Council member Edward Tucker, a Cleveland CPA, said he thinks the effort is “doomed” because graduates have no obligation to disclose their employment status to the schools they graduated from.

“What we’ve done is construct a dike to hold back the ocean with a great big hole in the middle,” he said of the proposal.

— Joe

With admissions plummeting since the end of the recession, S&P observes that credit quality of stand-alone law schools and law schools associated with smaller regional and non-flagship public universities has been deteriorating. Only component law school credit ratings for national and large public universities remain high. “[T]he strong [are] becoming stronger or remaining stable while the weak are becoming weaker.” For details, see S&P’s As Law School Demand Drops, Credit Quality Among U.S. Schools Diverges (Dec. 5, 2013). See also Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports post. — Joe

Quoting from the December 5, 2013 press release republished in full on No Shelf Required:

Through OverDrive, K-12 school libraries and public libraries will be able to offer 24/7 access to McGraw-Hill Professional digital titles in four broad categories: Business/Consumer, Science/Technical, Test Prep/Education, and Medical.

The eBook collection for schools and public libraries includes more than 700 recently released titles for researchers, business, medical, and technical professionals, and students preparing for ACT, SAT, MCAT or LSAT exams. These titles and more are available now for libraries and schools to lend for virtually any device with a modern browser… .

I think this would not have happened, at least not this soon, if not for ALA robust consumer advocacy campaign. Isn’t it time for AALL to get its act together? — Joe

Don’t know but ASU Law’s plans might point the way toward a new beginning in the public sector of the legal academy if this ambitious project is successful because —

  • The new law school complex will be located in downtown Phoenix (instead of Tempe);
  • It will include a public law library and a civic outreach center; and
  • It will be the home for a non-profit law firm called the ASU Alumni Law Group which will be staffed with up to 30 recent ASU Law grads under the supervision of five experienced attorneys.

If the Arizona Board of Regents approves the plan, construction could begin as early as summer 2014 and the center may be open in fall 2016. For details, including links to press coverage, see this press release. — Joe

On Dewey B Strategic, Jean O’Grady identifies what’s hot and what’s not based on the findings of this year’s AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leadership Survey. My personal favorite is “Succession planning:  Hot (making a succession plan) Not ( executing a succession plan).” Jean reports that “[a]lthough the majority of firms have a succession plan – 90% of firm leaders have been in place for more than 10 years, so succession is not happening.” For more, see AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leaders Survey: What’s Hot and What’s Not. — Joe

It’s free and it will be streamed live today starting at 2:00 pm Eastern. Panel members include Gwen Evans, Executive Director of OhioLINK, Courtney Greene, Head, Discovery & Research Services, Indiana University and Edward Smith, Executive Director, Abilene Library Consortium. Pre-registration for this 60-minute discussion is not required. Details here. — Joe

From yesterday’s ABA press release:

The committee found that Rutgers-Camden violated Standard 503, which requires law schools to use a valid and reliable admissions test, and Interpretation 503-1, which requires law schools that use an admissions test other than the Law School Admission Test to establish the test’s validity and reliability in determining an applicant’s ability to complete the J.D. program.

Rutgers-Camden operated an admissions program, without obtaining a variance from the ABA, that allowed some applicants to use a standardized graduate admissions test score instead of an LSAT score to gain admission to the law school. The school subsequently qualified for a variance but elected to suspend the program.

The accreditation committee imposed a public censure on the law school, which must post the censure document prominently on its website home page for one year. The censure is also posted on the website of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

The committee also imposed a $25,000 monetary penalty based on the benefit the school received from operating the program.

Hat tip to Mark Hansen’s ABAJ post. — Joe

 

Congratulations and good luck to this year’s crop of elected officers.

Vice President/President-Elect (July 2014 – July 2015)

  • Keith Ann Stiverson, Director of the Law Library and Senior Lecturer, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Secretary (July 2014 – July 2017)

  • Katherine K. Coolidge, Law Librarian, Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP

Executive Board (July 2014 – July 2017)

  • John W. Adkins, Director of Libraries, San Diego Law Library
  • Donna Nixon, Electronic Resources Librarian & Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This year’s election generated about as much rank-and-file interest as previous years. AALL reported that only 29.96% of dues paying members voted. — Joe

By now most people has heard about Amazon’s plans to delivery 5-pound or less packages to a customer’s doorstep within a half hour of placing an order by way of unmanned drones. (If not, here’s the link to Charlie Rose’s 60 Minutes story). But what does the FAA has to say about it? According to Jacob Gersham’s WSJ Law Blog post, the FAA issued a policy notice back in 2007 but has never issued a formal regulation banning the commercial use of drones. Details at What the Law Says About Amazon’s ‘Prime Air’ Drones.

After getting over the wow factor, the first thought that popped into my head after viewing the 60 Minutes segment was, “oh boy, its going to be year-round hunting season if/when Amazon implements this, hopefully with paintball guns, not shotguns”. — Joe

In his recent Download of the Week post, Solum wrote “this is important research, combined with deeply interesting theorizing.” He was referring to Statutory Interpretation from the Inside – An Empirical Study of Congressional Drafting, Delegation and the Canons: Part II, Stanford Law Review, forthcoming, by Abbe R. Gluck and Lisa Schultz Bressman. Part I was published earlier this year. Here are the abstracts for both.

Statutory Interpretation from the Inside — An Empirical Study of Congressional Drafting, Delegation and the Canons: Part I [SSRN], 65 Stanford Law Review 901 (2013):

What role should the realities of the legislative drafting process play in the theories and doctrines of statutory interpretation and administrative law? The ongoing debates frequently turn on empirical assumptions about how Congress drafts and what interpretive rules Congress knows, but there has been almost no testing of whether any of these assumptions reflect legislative reality. We have attempted to fill that void. This is the first of two Articles reporting the results of the most extensive empirical study to date — a survey of 137 congressional counsels drawn from both parties, both chambers of Congress and spanning multiple committees — on topics ranging from drafters’ knowledge and use of the textual and substantive canons of interpretation, to legislative history, the administrative law deference doctrines, the legislative process and the Court-Congress relationship.

Our findings have implications for virtually every swath of the interpretive debates. We can report, for instance, that there are some canons that our drafters know and use — Chevron and the presumption against preemption, for example, but that there are other canons that our drafters know, but consciously reject in favor of political or other considerations, including the presumption in favor of consistent usage, the rule against superfluities, and dictionary use; and still other canons, like Mead and noscitur a sociis, that our drafters do not know as legal rules but that seem to be accurate judicial reflections of how Congress drafts. Our interviews also elicited a treasure trove of information about key influences on the drafting process that legal doctrine rarely considers, from the variety of audiences for legislative history, to the way in which the personal reputation of particular agency heads affects delegation decisions, to the fact that drafting conventions depend on the type of statute being drafted and its path through Congress.

All of these findings, and many others, allow us to press for a more precise answer to one of the fields’ foundational questions: that is, what should be the purpose of these canons of interpretation? Judges, often using the unhelpful generalization that they are Congress’s “faithful agents,” have legitimized these doctrines using a variety of conflicting justifications, some of which turn on empirical reality, some of which do not, and most of which aim to justify many different types of canons that seem to be doing very different types of work. Do the canons reflect how Congress actually drafts, and so effectuate legislative supremacy? Or do judges use the canons for more dialogical reasons, such as to encourage Congress to draft more precisely — and does Congress listen? Might the canons, despite how “neutral” some appear, instead be understood to effectuate judicial values that are external to the legislative process — such as advancing constitutional norms or imposing coherence on the U.S. Code? Our study illuminates this variety across the normative bases for the canons also reveals that each set of justifications rests on a very different vision of the judicial power and the Court-Congress relationship.

Statutory Interpretation from the Inside – An Empirical Study of Congressional Drafting, Delegation and the Canons: Part II [SSRN]:

This is the second of two Articles relaying the results of the most extensive survey to date of 137 congressional drafters about the doctrines of statutory interpretation and administrative delegation. The first Article focused on our respondents’ knowledge and use of the interpretive principles that courts apply. This second Article moves away from the judicial perspective. Our findings here highlight the overlooked legislative underbelly: the personnel, structural and process-related factors that, our respondents repeatedly volunteered, drive the details of the drafting process more than do judicial rules of interpretation. These factors range from the fragmentation caused by the committee system; to the centrality of nonpartisan professional staff in the drafting of statutory text; to the use of increasingly unorthodox legislative procedures – each of which, our respondents told us, affects statutory consistency and use of legislative history in different and important ways. Our respondents also painted a picture of legislative staffers in a primary interpretive conversation with agencies, not with courts, and as using different kinds of signals for their communications with agencies than courts consider.

Most of the structural, personnel and process-related influences that our respondents emphasized have not been recognized by courts or scholars, but understanding them calls into question almost every presumption of statutory interpretation in current deployment. These findings have significance for textualism, purposivism and beyond. They undermine the claims of proponents of each theory that theirs is the most democracy-enhancing, because none makes satisfactory efforts to really reflect congressional expectations. Our findings challenge textualism’s operating assumption that text is the best evidence of the legislative bargain and suggest more relevant – but still-formalist – structural features that might do better. They reveal that although purposivists or eclectic theorists may have the right idea with a more contextual approach, many of factors on which they focus are not the same ones that Congress utilizes. With respect to delegation, for both types of theorists, Chevron now seems too text- and court-centric, in the light of our findings, to actually capture congressional intent to delegate, which has been its asserted purpose.

In the end, our findings raise the question whether the kind of “faithful agent” approach to interpretation that most judges currently employ – one aimed effectuating legislative deals and often focused on granular textual details – can ever be successful. We thus look to different paradigms less dependent on how Congress works, including rule-of-law and pragmatic approaches to interpretation. These alternatives respond to the problem of the sausage factory, but pose different challenges in light of the modern judicial sensibility’s pronounced concern with legislative supremacy.

See also the authors’ Methods Appendix for their two-part series. — Joe

Try as research instructors do, one can’t get around the fact that researchers are going to turn to Google Search. One might as well be realistic by providing detailed instruction on how to get the most out of Google Search. Christa Burns and Michael P. Sauers’ new work could be handy for this task. From the ALA Bookstore blurb:

Google Search Secrets
Christa Burns and Michael P. Sauers
Item Number: 978-1-55570-923-5
Publisher: ALA Neal-Schuman
Price: $48.00

Google can be an incredibly powerful tool for research, but the top-of-the-page results are seldom the most beneficial to library users and students, and many of the search engine’s most useful features are hidden behind its famously simple interface. Burns and Sauers reveal the secrets of effective Google searches in this invaluable resource showing how to get the most out of the service, with

  • An overview of all the tool’s search services, including Image, Maps, News, Blogs, Discussions, Scholar, Patents, and Books
  • Ready-to-use instructions on how to go beyond the simple search box and top results to get library users the answers they need, fast
  • Straightforward guidance on using filters to refine search results, with examples of common searches like images with Creative Commons licenses, news searches set for a date range or into an archive, and videos with closed captioning
  • An explanation of the bibliography manager feature of Google Scholar, which allows students and researchers to build bibliographies with ease
  • Tips for configuring Safe Search on workstations in children’s departments and schools
  • Copious screenshots walk readers through each topic step by step, making this a true how-to guide for everyone who uses Google.

— Joe