Category Archives: Law School News & Views

What will legal education look like in 2025?

From the abstract for Ian Holloway and Steven Friedland’s The Double Life of Law Schools, 68 Case Western Reserve Law Review ___ (2018):

This Article posits that for the legal education of 2025 to once again thrive, it will have to reframe itself. The drivers of change—particularly the law services marketplace and the changing nature of clients and legal work—will require faculty and administrators to reconsider outcomes, values, and objectives of the enterprise. In many ways, any resulting configuration ought to have more connections with the outside world, becoming more like that of a business or medical school than a liberal arts curriculum, and greater integration of its individual courses. For example, there should be a reinvigorated focus on connections between lawyering, clients, and legal education, including the recognition that most students who attend law school intend to practice some form of law. The education also should connect with new realities—that lawyers today reach solutions collaboratively, often in teams; that lawyers manage projects and utilize a variety of skill sets, all within a service profession requiring expertise in different but specialized knowledge domains; and that access to legal services is still an issue for many persons living in the United States. Given the utilization of these new drivers and the connections illuminated between lawyering and law school, the underlying theory-practice tensions also should shift. In essence, law schools likely will start producing more measurable outcomes—outcomes focusing on transforming novices into nimble experts with multiple skill sets. In 2025, the change in legal education might be significant, but it also needs to be significantly improved, given the volatile nature of the times.

— Joe

Two law schools found to be “significantly out of compliance” with ABA admissions standard

This month the Accreditation Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions informed Golden Gate University School of Law and Duncan School of Law that both schools are “significantly out of compliance” with the ABA’s admissions standards. Read more about it.

— Joe

The 2018 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools

CJ Ryan and Brian L. Frye’s “revealed-preferences” ranking is subjective because its purpose is to ask where prospective law students choose to matriculate. In other words, objective rankings tell students what they should want, but the authors’ subjective ranking asks what students actually want. In The 2018 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools, the authors present a law school ranking based exclusively on the combined scores of the students in a school’s 2017 incoming class. The authors also compare this ranking to their previous ranking, as well as other objective ranking systems, and provide regional rankings of law schools. — Joe

Delisted! Pepperdine Law receives USNWR 2019 Law School Rankings death sentence for data reporting mistake

Instead of reporting its median LSAT score was 160, Pepperdine Law admitted making a reporting mistake because the school had submitted to USNWR a median LSAT score of 162. At 162, Pepperdine would have jumped 13 spots to 59 from 72. The school claims that at 160, Pepperdine would have been ranked 62 or 64. “Would have been,” because US News refused to recalculate the school’s rank and issue a new rankings list prior to the official release of the 2019 Law School Rankings [here]. Instead, Pepperdine received a death sentence because US News removed Pepperdine’s ranking altogether. No law school marketing fodder using the overall Best Law School ranking for Pepperdine Law this year. — Joe

2019 USNWR Law School Rankings Leaked (again)

Above the Law reports that today’s U.S. News rankings leak comes to us courtesy of Mike Spivey of the Spivey Consulting Group, who broke the news. For the past several years, Spivey has obtained the law school rankings ahead of their official publication, and they are always accurate. — Joe

Trump motivating students to attend law school

Over 30 percent of applicants who want to attend law school say that’s because of Trump. The statistic comes from Kaplan Test Prep survey of 500+ pre-law students. The survey was conducted in Dec. 2017 and Feb. 2018. Here’s the press release. — Joe

Who is the most notorious Cooley Law School grad?

My vote goes to Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. According to Wikipedia, he is a Cooley Law grad. I wonder if he has donated $130,000 to the school’s scholarship fund. — Joe

Rostron & Levit update their guide for submitting articles to law reviews

Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals (Jan. 26, 2018) by Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit contains information about submitting articles to law reviews and journals, including the methods for submitting an article, any special formatting requirements, how to contact them to request an expedited review, and how to contact them to withdraw an article from consideration. It covers 202 law reviews. — Joe

Valparaiso School of Law won’t be admitting students next year

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.

— Joe

ABA removes accreditation censure for Valparaiso University School of Law

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

Law dean felons?

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.

— Joe

Top 100 law reviews based on historical USNWR data

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

  1. Yale
  2. Harvard
  3. Stanford
  4. Columbia
  5. Chicago
  6. NYU
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Berkeley
  9. Virginia
  10. Michigan

— Joe

A call for producing legal scholarship that has practical value

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.

— Joe

ABA Forms New Commission To Rethink Legal Education

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

RIP Charlotte School of Law

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

Welcome back law students: Current awareness services reach out to incoming law students by way of two academic law library blogs

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

Saving law students cold hard cash by opting out of requiring new casebook editions

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’s law school receives ABA public censure

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

June LSAT takers increase almost 20% over last year

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.


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