Earlier this week the public censure given to Valparaiso University School of Law for not being in compliance with admissions standards was removed by the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Do note that the school enrolled only 29 full-time incoming students in 2017. Now comes news that the law school is suspending Fall 2018 admissions, working to relocate students to other law schools, and exploring the possibility of affiliating with another law school or relocating the school for financial reasons. From yesterday’s press release:
Valparaiso University, a private university based in Northwest Indiana, today announced its Board of Directors directed the University’s Administration to continue to explore alternative possibilities related to the severe financial challenges facing its Law School. These alternative possibilities might include the possibility of affiliating the Law School with another existing law school, or relocating the Law School to another geographic market with perceived greater demand for legal education. Depending on the circumstances of such changes, approval of various accrediting organizations may be necessary.
The ABAJ is reporting that a public censure given to Valparaiso University School of Law for not being in compliance with admissions standards has been removed by the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The public censure was given to the law school in November 2016. It followed a New York Times story that reported that in Valparaiso’s class of 2015, only three out of 131 people had jobs with large law firms. Details here. — Joe
Morgan Cloud and George B. Shepherd have posted Law Deans in Jail on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
A most unlikely collection of suspects – law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees – may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News’ ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents’ crimes.
Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools’ expenditures and their students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.
U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.
H/T to Legal Skills Prof Blog for the tip to Bradley Areheart’s The Top 100 Law Reviews: A Reference Guide Based on Historical USNWR Data (Aug. 25, 2017). Here’s the abstract:
The best proxy for how other law professors react and respond to publishing in main, or flagship, law reviews is the US News and World Report (USNWR) rankings. This paper utilizes historical USNWR data to rank the top 100 law reviews. The USNWR rankings are important in shaping many – if not most – law professors’ perceptions about the relative strength of a law school (and derivatively, the home law review). This document contains a chart that is sorted by the 10-year rolling average for each school, but it also contains the 5-year and 15-year rolling averages. This paper also describes my methodology and responds to a series of frequently asked questions.
And the top 10 law schools based on USNWR data and sorted by 10-year rolling averages is
In Days of Future Past: A Plea for More Useful and More Local Legal Scholarship (2017), Frank Bowman “describes how the population explosion in American law schools during the 1990s and the simultaneous rise of the U.S. News rankings mania created a kind of tulip bubble in legal scholarship – a bubble that is rapidly, and properly, deflating. I make several concededly retrograde recommendations for dealing with a post-bubble world, including changing law school hiring practices to favor professors with more legal experience than has long been the fashion, assessing scholarship more by effect and less by placement, and devoting more of our scholarly attention to questions of state law and practice.” From the abstract:
These suggestions all flow from the basic premise that we should more consciously encourage, even if we do not limit ourselves to, producing legal scholarship that has practical value to legal and business professionals and to policy makers at every level of American government. That premise, in turn, is based on the conviction that a modestly more pragmatic approach to the scholarly project is good for society and is, in any case, a sensible response to the parlous state of the legal education industry.
NB: This paper is one of a set emerging from a conference on “The Fate of Scholarship in American Law Schools” at the University of Baltimore in late March 2016. The entire set will be published as a book by the Cambridge University Press.
The 10-member Commission on the Future of Legal Education will take a leadership role in anticipating, articulating and influencing what will be dramatic changes in the legal profession in the next decade and beyond. The Commission will explore possible changes to methods of training and testing the future generations of law students. It will seek to bring the perspectives of various constituencies to the table including judges, deans, professors and practitioners. Various subcommittees of the Commission will focus specifically on key issues including the bar exam, alternative teaching methods, length of law school and other issues identified by the group. Here’s the press release. — Joe
The Charlotte Observer is reporting that the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office ordered the Charlotte School of Law to close effective immediately. The students were informed yesterday. Reasons for the closure include the ABA’s denial of the school’s Teach-Out Plan and the North Carolina Board of Governors decision not to grant an extension of the law school’s license to operate. — Joe
Yesterday the law blogoshere saw the publication of two brief but to the point current awareness posts on two timely topics. Duke Law Library’s The Goodson Blogson published a post on the 25th Amendment titled Pleading the Twenty-Fifth and UWashington Gallagher Law Library blog published The History and Law of Special Counsel. Both provide succinct summaries of their topics with links to relevant sources. Nice way to start off the academic year with these library outreach activities. — Joe
About two years ago Pepperdine law prof Robert Anderson blogged about saving his contract students about $200 each by using an older Contracts casebook. Now he writes:
This year I am doing the same thing with my Corporations class, although I’m not buying all the books myself as I did in my Contracts class. (The expense was minimal but keeping track of hundreds of pounds of books was a nuisance.) Corporations changes a bit faster than Contracts, especially to the extent one teaches securities regulation as a part of the class. Still 90%+ of the material hasn’t changed since the 2010 edition date.
This practice does not work well for all subject areas. For example, I do not assign older editions in Securities Regulation class, which changes a bit too fast.
I hope other law school professors will follow this lead and assign older editions, especially for 1L classes such as Torts, Contracts, and Property. Such a practice adds little to the professor’s workload (and may actually be easier as there is no need to update a syllabus for a new edition), and would save law students tens of millions of dollars in the aggregate. There are many ways to lighten a law student’s financial load, if only we take a moment to put ourselves in their shoes from time to time.
Good idea. Not unlike law libraries that do not acquire every annual edition of commoditized deskbooks, handbooks and manuals because of very minimal editorial changes. — Joe
Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law has been publicly censured by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar after gender discrimination allegations from a female associate dean. Also, the ABA section found that the law school was out of compliance with standards involving admissions, education programs, academic advising and equal opportunity. Here’s the ABAJ story. — Joe
When I was a working stiff at the DePaul College of Law, our Dean, Jennifer Rosato Perea, would hold regular staff meetings where she and other members of the administration would report on recruiting efforts. These included targets, where we were compared to those targets, and what efforts we were taking in spite of the law school admissions “crisis” that all law schools faced. I enjoyed those meetings because they gave all staff in the Law School a sense of community in a shared mission. It’s not something I experienced in the other five law schools in my employment history. Thanks Dean Jenn.
DePaul, as any other law school, lives and dies by bringing in not just a class that meets admission targets, but one that brings in a quality class as well. Dean Jenn and other Deans should be heartened by the latest LSAC statistics that show an approximately 20% jump in test-takers for the previous June LSAT. That’s an out-of-line statistic compared with the trends set by the last cycle of tests.
Yes, test-takers have increased gradually. The figures for the last year include a 7.6% increase last December, and a 5.4% increase in February of this year. However, a 19.8% increase in last June’s figures would not have been predictable compared to what came before.
Karen Sloan speculates in the Daily Business Review (subscription) that the increase may come from a “Trump-bump” due to the “turmoil in Washington.” It may be possible but I’m not so sure. Going to law school is still an expensive proposition. I’s have to look at job prospects if I were applying at this point. My biggest concern would still be if I could pay off the loans associated with a law career.
Sloan does caution that the number of test takers does not mean a significant increase in applications. We’ll see. I’ll be watching the trend and reporting on it from time to time.
ATL’s rankings are the only rankings to incorporate the latest ABA employment data for the class of 2016. Details here. — Joe
Karen Sloan is reporting that the Department of Education has released federal loan money for beleaguered Charlotte School of Law students. Back in December, the Department of Education had revoked the school’s eligibility for the federal student loan program. That left students scrambling for ways to pay for the spring semester without loan money. All that changed apparently after the school hired lobbyists including one who worked with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearings. For more, see Karen Sloan, With New Lobbyists, Charlotte Law Disperses Federal Student Loans as School Year Ends, Law.com, May 22, 2017. — Joe
Concord Law School along with Kaplan University have been acquired by Purdue University to beef up Purdue’s online education offerings. What Prudue is going to do with America’s oldest online law school is beyond me. Only one state bar allows students from Concord Law School to sit for the bar exam and that’s California. “Graduates of Concord Law had a very poor showing during the July 2016 administration of the California bar exam, with an overall passage rate of just 16 percent. Only 27 percent of first-time takers from the school passed the test last summer,” writes ATL’s Staci Zaretsky in Big Ten University Purchases Online Law School With Abysmal Bar Passage Rates, adding “Purdue’s purchase may be revolutionary, but we’re not quite sure that the school’s students will be well served by a law school with such discouraging outcomes.” — Joe
Angela Feleccia Epps, dean of Florida A&M University’s College of Law, was dismissed this week after less than 18 months on the job. The law school’s bar passage rate for Florida’s February 2017 exam was 46.2 percent. For July 2016, the pass rate was 52.9 percent, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners reported. The school’s median LSAT score is 145. For more, see Stephanie Francis Ward’s ABAJ report, Law school leader among four deans dismissed from Florida A&M. — Joe
“It’s time to announce the winner of Above the Law’s 2017 Law Revue Video Contest. And the winner is… There is no winner. In fact, you — or many of you, at least — are a bunch of losers”, is how David Lat opens Law Revue Video Contest 2017: The Winner!. You see, web traffic to the contest’s web page was nowhere near as high as the number of votes some of the contestants received. That discrepancy alerted ATL to the possibility that some ethically challenged students gamed the contest in favor of their finalist. [Finalists here] ATL is now conducting a do-over of its 2017 Law Revue Video contest. Lat writes “[i]f you return to Above the Law at some point on Monday, you will see a post providing you with information on how to re-vote in the Law Revue Video Contest, using a more secure system.” — Joe
On Above the Law, Jill Switzer, a Whitter Law School alum who has been an active member of the State Bar of California for 40 years, writes what she describes as “a very personal memorial to a school that had really died some years ago, although it didn’t know it then.” She adds “[t]he appalling disregard for educating law students and getting them ready for practice is shameful. Students are on their own. As I saw Whittier’s bar results drop over the decades, I cringed and mourned the death of the kind of education I had received.” — Joe
Multiple stories, here and here for example, are reporting that the North Carolina AG is investigating Charlotte School of Law under the state’s civil consumer protection law. To make matters worse, the University of North Carolina system will make a recommendation to the UNC Board of Governors as to whether the school should be allowed to retain its license to operate within the state. Reports indicate the board meets next in about one month from now, where this issue will likely be discussed. — Joe
The complaint, filed late last week, asserts the interim provost and the University of Cincinnati illegally placed Jennifer Bard on administrative leave in March immediately following her response to local media reports about financial deficits at the College and faculty members’ responses to her efforts to reduce those deficits. The complaint also asserts Bard was denied due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment when she was summarily placed on administrative leave, suffered First Amendment retaliation for speaking to the press on matters of public concern, and that the university breached both its contract with her and an agreed upon 6-month plan to restore mutual trust and communication. TaxProf Blog has the complaint. — Joe