Category Archives: Law School News & Views

Stanford takes top honors in ATL’s 2017 top 50 law schools rankings

ATL’s rankings are the only rankings to incorporate the latest ABA employment data for the class of 2016. Details here. — Joe

Charlotte School of Law students receive federal loan money in the nick of time

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

Purdue University buys Concord Law School

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

Florida A&M University’s law school dean dismissed after less than 18 months on the job

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

University of Georgia Law School receives grant to create US legislative process tool

From the press release:

Congratulations to Associate Dean Usha Rodrigues, Law Library Director Carol A. Watson and Faculty Services Librarian Thomas “T.J.” Striepe for their work with the Terry College of Business that resulted in an approximately $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This money will provide for the design of an open-source open government digital transparency platform that will offer data access to and visualization of the U.S. legislative process. This interactive, informative tool will aid citizens in becoming more engaged, allowing them to form their opinions on legislation in a quick, fact-based and safe online environment. By combining text analysis, network analysis and visualization, the project will provide insights into how libraries can take on new roles supporting access to government and legislative information and data.

Kudos — Joe

Controversy over the results of Above the Law’s 2017 law revue video contest

“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

An alum’s requiem for Whitter Law School

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

You would think that nothing else could possibly go wrong for Charlotte School of Law — but you would be wrong

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

Ousted Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer Bard sues university, seeks reinstatement

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

How much more liberal are law professors than members of the legal profession?

The Volokh Conspiracy’s Jonathan H. Adler writes about a new paper by Adam Bonica (Stanford University), Adam S. Chilton (University of Chicago), Kyle Rozema (Northwestern University) and Maya Sen (Harvard University), The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity,  “[t]heir bottom line: The legal academy is significantly more liberal than the legal profession, which is notable because the legal profession itself is more liberal than the public at large.” Here’s the paper’s abstract:

We compare the ideological balance of the legal academy to the ideological balance of the legal profession. To do so, we match professors listed in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of Law Teachers and lawyers listed in the Martindale-Hubbell directory to a measure of political ideology based on political donations. We find that 15% of law professors, compared to 35% of lawyers, are conservative. After controlling for individual characteristics, however, this 20 percentage point ideological gap narrows to around 13 percentage points. We argue that this ideological uniformity marginalizes law professors, but that it may not be possible to improve the ideological balance of the legal academy without sacrificing other values.

— Joe

April 15 tax marches: Law prof’s tweet starts grassroots movement calling for release of Trump’s tax returns

On Jan. 22, 2017, Jennifer Taub (Vermont Law School), whose research and teachings focuses on corruption, corporate political spending and the links between politics and money tweeted this:

Let’s plan a nationwide #DivestDonald and #showusyourtaxes protest for Saturday, April 15

Now more than 130 marches are expected to take place Saturday, April 15th. A full list of times and places available on the Tax March website. The DC march, which kicks off at 12pm at the US Capitol West Front Fountain is expected to be the biggest: more than 50,000 people have listed themselves on Facebook as interested or attending.

For background, see Tax March: how a law professor sparked a global event to demand Trump’s returns by Amber Jamieson, The Guardian.

— Joe

Will blockchain technology change legal education and reduce the need for lawyers in some practice areas?

Blockchain technology creates a platform for trust through truth and transparency for parties. Because the blockchain (at the least the public blockchain) is in fact public and immutable, the technology increases transparency, while at the same time significantly reducing transaction costs. Intermediaries, including lawyers, are replaced by code, connectivity, crowd, and collaboration.

According to Mark Fenwick, Wulf A. Kall and Erick P. M. Vermeulen (the sources of the above quote), blockchange technology will be a disruptive force in the legal academy and in the practice of law. To be “practice ready,” students and practitioners may have to compete with this development in the practice of property law, employment law and privacy law in the near future. Here’s the abstract to their article, Legal Education in the Blockchain Revolution:

The legal profession is one of the most disrupted sectors of the consulting industry today. The rise of Legal Tech, artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and, most importantly, blockchain technology is changing the practice of law. The sharing economy and platform companies challenge many of the traditional assumptions, doctrines, and concepts of law and governance, requiring litigators, judges, and regulators to adapt. Lawyers need to be equipped with the necessary skillsets to operate effectively in the new world of disruptive innovation in law. A more creative and innovative approach to educating lawyers for the 21st century is needed.

What is blockchange technology? You can start with this Wikipedia article for an overview. — Joe

The most expensive law schools in the U.S.

Forbes produced the rankings which can be found here. Here’s a snip:

On top of the list this year is New York University. A student who takes on some debt to pay for an education at NYU School of Law – and is one of the 21.7% of students there that receive at least the median $20,000 discount – will owe $261,548 when all is said and done. That will mean monthly payments of $2,910 on a 10-year repayment plan.

H/T to Staci Zaretsky’s Above the Law post. — Joe

InfiLaw System’s Arizona Summit Law School placed on probation by ABA

Arizona Summit School of Law, which is part of the for-profit InfiLaw System, received notification on March 27, 2017 that it has been put on probation by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in part for low bar passage rates. It follows a November 2016 ABA decision that put Charlotte School of Law, another InfiLaw school, on probation. Check out the ABA’s decision and list of required remedial actions for Arizona Summit here.

InfiLaw operates three standalone for-profit law schools. All of them are trying to affiliate with a university to enhance their long-term viability: Arizona Summit Law School has announced it will sign an affiliation agreement with Bethune-Cookman University; Florida Coastal is in the discussion stage with a university and Charlotte School of Law is looking for a university. For more, see the ABAJ article, Can for-profit InfiLaw schools be had on the cheap, and would they be worth it?  — Joe

Ranking law schools by LSAT scores: The best and the worst

It should surprise no one that Cooley Law School was ranked last in the lowest median LSAT with a score of 142 this year (The 25th percentile LSAT score for Cooley was 139). But which law schools rank in the top 12 with the highest LSAT scores? See 12 Law Schools with the highest LSAT scores (US News The Short List Blog).

Which law schools do applicants with high LSAT scores favor? See A De Gustibus Approach to Ranking Law Schools by Christopher J. Ryan Jr. and Brian L. Frye. Here’s the abstract:

The U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Schools Rankings” define the market for legal education. Law schools compete to improve their standing in the rankings and fear any decline. But the U.S. News rankings incite contention, because they rely on factors that are poor proxies for quality like peer reputation and expenditures per student. While many alternative law school rankings exist, none have challenged the market dominance of the U.S. News rankings. Presumably the U.S. News rankings benefit from a first-mover advantage, other rankings fail to provide a clearly superior alternative, or some combination of the two.

This article assumes that the purpose of ranking law schools is to help students decide which school to attend. Accordingly, it describes an approach to ranking law schools based entirely on the revealed preferences of students. Law schools admit applicants based almost entirely on their LSAT score and undergraduate GPA, and compete to matriculate students with the highest possible scores. Our de gustibus approach to ranking law schools assumes that the “best” law schools are the most successful at matriculating those students. This article concludes with a “best law schools ranking” based exclusively on the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of matriculating students.

— Joe

One last chance for Charlotte School of Law

Placed on probation by the ABA, losing its federal loan revenues, and losing much of its tuition paying student body as a consequence, Charlotte School of Law is on the verge of collapse if it doesn’t do something to overhaul itself. The private law school has announced plans to affiliate with a northeastern university, one not yet identified, and to go non-profit. From Wednesday’s NPR  program:

“MT: How would this work?

LW: The school’s new dean, Scott Broyles, says the plan is to partner with a university in the northeast. InfiLaw, the company who now owns Charlotte School of Law, wouldn’t make academic decisions, but, instead, deal with the school’s day-to-day operations.

MT: How much of a difference would this change make? Is it a smokescreen?

LW: It’s hard to say at this point. It’s not clear how that agreement between the non-profit board and InfiLaw would work, nor how much the school would pay InfiLaw. But the plan also calls for faculty to play a bigger role in making academic decisions, starting with admissions standards.”

“MT: Is this enough to persuade the Department of Education to begin cutting federal loan checks again to Charlotte School of Law?

LW: That remains to be seen. A letter from the Department of Education in January didn’t mention the option of re-instating federal loan money to the school back. It simply noted because the school hadn’t agreed to close, students wouldn’t have their federal loans forgiven. But Broyles [the new dean] says a few things have changed since then.”

See also the ABAJ article, Can for-profit InfiLaw schools be had on the cheap, and would they be worth it? because Sterling Partners may be unloading all three of its for-profit InfiLaw System law schools, including Charlotte School of Law. — Joe

Cincinnati Law dean gets the pink slip two years into her first five-year contract

After rumors started circulating about a faculty no-confidence vote, the end was in sight. See TaxProf Blog for a copy of the provost’s email to the law faculty about removing the Univ. of Cincinnati College of Law dean from her post and placing her on administrative leave. — Joe

Gorsuch confirmation hearings gear up: “Find as much information about the new Supreme Court nominee as possible.”

“The idea for the Gorsuch Project was born after law librarians from several universities and government offices faced a similar question from their patrons: ‘Find as much information about the new Supreme Court nominee as possible.'” — From the Gorsuch Project.

The Gorsuch project “is the result of the collaborative efforts of several libraries to research and collect a comprehensive set of materials relating to the Hon. Neil Gorsuch’s career on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Majority opinions, dissents, and concurrences authored or joined by Gorsuch and references to his published work and speeches are presented here.” The academic law libraries involved are located at the Univ. of Illinois College of Law, the Univ. of Richmond School of Law, the Univ. of Virginia School of Law (host site of the Project), plus the Free Law Project and the US Railroad Retirement Board contributed to the project.

See also Neil M. Gorsuch a Law Library of Congress bibliography that was last updated February 2, 2017.

H/T to Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Slaw post. — Joe

March Madness begins with the release of the 2018 US News Law School Rankings

Here. — Joe

A Berkeley law journal dumps the Bluebook

The Bluebook “impedes” the editors of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice’s ability to fulfill its mission to publish innovative, intersectional, and rigorous scholarship according to this announcement. So the editors have replaced it with this six page “practical citation system.” What do you think? — Joe