Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Should law schools be penalized for admitting students from wealthy families who are not motivated to work? (Michael Simkovic)

Scott F. Norberg argues for a law school accreditation standard tied to student employment outcomes.  The proposal is interesting, and may have some advantages over a standard tied to bar passage rates, for example because it does not give state bars--who can make the bar exam more or less challenging and have incentives to strengthen barriers to entry--excessive control over access to legal education. However, there are several potential concerns. 

Employment is systematically higher among certain demographic groups across education levels for reasons that have little to do with value added by law school.  An employment-outcomes based standard could encourage law schools to focus on admitting groups with higher expected employment. 

Continue reading

February 20, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Weblogs | Permalink

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Billionaire taxes and innovation (Michael Simkovic)

Some of my thoughts on the ultra-high net worth wealth tax debate, and its implications for innovation and economic growth, are available here.  For thoughts on the adminstrability and constitutionality of ultra high net worth taxes, see here.

February 19, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

An evocative portrait of Soia Mentschikoff...

Monday, February 18, 2019

Lateral hires with tenure or on tenure-track, 2018-19

These are non-clinical appointments that will take effect in 2019 (except where noted); I will move the list to the front at various intervals as new additions come in.   (Recent additions are in bold.)  Last year's list is here.  Feel free to e-mail me with news of additions to this list.


*Matt Blaze (computer and network security) from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer & Information Sciences to Georgetown University (joint appointment in Law and Computer Science).


*Michael Cahill (criminal law) from Rutgers University back to Brooklyn Law School (to become Dean).


*Danielle Citron (privacy, civil rights, freedom of expression, Internet law) from the University of Maryland to Boston University.


*Danielle Conway (public procurement law, entrepreneurship, intellectual property) from the University of Maine (where she is Dean) to Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law (to become Dean).


*G. Marcus Cole (bankruptcy, law & economics) from Stanford University to the University of Notre Dame (to become Dean).


*D. Wendy Greene (employment law, race & law, constitutional law) from Cumberland Law/Samford University to Drexel University.


*Vinay Harpalani (race & law, education law, constitutional law) from Savannah Law School to the University of New Mexico (untenured lateral).


*M. Elizabeth Magill (administrative law, constitutional law) from Stanford University to the University of Virginia (to become Provost).


*Ralf Michaels (comparative law, conflicts of law) from Duke University to the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and Private International Law (Hamburg).


*John Newman (antitrust, conflicts) from the University of Memphis to the University of Miami (untenured lateral).


*Jedediah Purdy (property, environmental law, constitutional law) from Duke University to Columbia University (effective January).


*Michael Selmi (employment law & discrimination, civil rights) from George Washington University to Arizona State University.

February 18, 2019 in Faculty News | Permalink

Friday, February 15, 2019 plans to include ALL tenure-stream faculty in its impact and productivity study...

...regardless of whether or not scholarly writing is part of their duties.   Following up on yesterday, a colleague elsewhere writes: "I saw your post on US News’s new impact rankings. I wrote to Bob Morse earlier this week to ask for clarification about whether to include clinical, LRW, and library faculty if they are tenure/tenure-track but do not have full (or any) scholarship requirements. He wrote back to say that they are all included: US News is using the bright line of tenure/tenure-track regardless of tenure classification or scholarly requirements."

February 15, 2019 in Rankings | Permalink

Thursday, February 14, 2019 to start "scholarly impact" rankings....

...basically on the model I used to do and Greg Sisk (St. Thomas) has continued now for several years, but with a couple of differences/unknowns. I guess they didn't want to be left behind by the new "gold standard"!

First, the similarities:   they will examine only a five-year window (2014-2018, no doubt because Sisk just did 2013-2017); and they will collect data on citations to the median and mean faculty member, as Sisk did.  But now the differences:  they appear to be planning on including tenure-track faculty, not just tenured faculty, even though tenure-track faculty have much lower citation rates; they are using Hein instead of Westlaw; and they are also going to count publications (how is a bit unclear).  Also unclear is whether they plan to combine productivity with impact measures:  given Bob Morse's affection for meaningless aggregations of apples and oranges, I fear that's what they may do.   But we'll see. does not plan on incorporating the impact/productivity ranking into this year's law school rankings, but I bet money they will incorporate it going forward, which is consistent with changes they've made to their overall Business and Medical School rankings, incorporating more "objective" data, although not impact metrics.  Obviously knows it has been repeatedly burned by misleading self-reporting by schools that it never carefully audits, so switching to non-manipulable metrics no doubt seems preferable.  And since their academic reputation surveys are now just echo chambers of recent overall rankings, adding in an impact/productivity component would be a slight corrective to that.  (Contrast, e.g., Stanford's academic reputation in U.S. News [tied with Yale and Harvard] with its scholarly impact performance.)

Schools that have their clinical faculty on the tenure-stream, even if there are not publication expectations, may be in particular trouble here.  Sisk's policy, which was mine, was to exclude clinical faculty, since at many schools, even those where they have tenure, their responsibilties do not include scholarship.  But is asking for all tenured and tenure-track faculty, regardless of primary role or function.

February 14, 2019 in Games, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

$3 million to support first-generation law students at U of Georgia

Monday, February 11, 2019

Professors Chilton, Masur and Rozema respond on raising tenure standards and the costs


We’re grateful to Brian Leiter and Michael Simkovic for blogging about our article “Rethinking Law School Tenure Standards.” We agree with both of them that there are costs to raising tenure standards. The goal of the project is not to claim that those costs are unimportant. In fact, after acknowledging some of the costs of applying stricter tenure standards, we end the paper’s introduction by saying “[w]e thus caution against jumping to conclusions about whether tenure standards should be increased, and we hope future work builds on what we have started here to better understand how the legal academy’s personnel decisions can be improved.”

Instead, the goal of the project is to provide new evidence that can help faculties set tenure standards in a more informed way. So even granting Michael’s argument that the costs of increasing tenure standards are high, the results in the paper should still be helpful to law schools.

We’ll highlight just three results that we think are important. First, the results show that pre-tenure research records are highly predictive of post-tenure research records. This illustrates that it is possible to tenure scholars that will be influential in the future with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Second, the results show that there are fantastic scholars across a wide range of law schools. For instance, roughly 30 percent of professors at law schools ranked 50-100 have more citations than all but the top 30 percent of professors in the same tenure cohort at the top 20 law schools. Not everyone is moveable, of course, but there is a lot of talent available in the lateral market. Third, the results illustrate that modest increases in denial rates could result in large increases in law schools’ academic impact. It’s reasonable to think that denying more people tenure is not worth the trade-off, but schools should know how big the potential benefits are when making those decisions.

That said, Michael is right that we only focus on estimating the costs and benefits of applying stricter tenure standards on academic impact, and we don’t claim to be performing a full cost-benefit analysis of the effects of raising tenure standards. But a lot of the costs he described wouldn’t arise or are not as high as he makes it seem.

Continue reading

February 11, 2019 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (12)

Friday, February 8, 2019

$20 million gift for health law at University of Florida

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Stanford appoints a Dean from within: Jenny Martinez

Details here.

February 7, 2019 in Faculty News | Permalink

Saturday, February 2, 2019

In Memoriam: William Van Alstyne (1934-2019)

One of the leading constitutional lawyers of his generation, Professor Van Alstyne taught from 1965 to 2004 at Duke University, and then from 2004 to 2012 at the College of William & Mary, where he was also emeritus.  The William & Mary memorial notice is here and the Duke memorial notice is here.

February 2, 2019 in Memorial Notices | Permalink

Friday, February 1, 2019

On the costs of denying tenure

I agree with Prof. Simkovic that there are costs to denying tenure if only one or two law schools have serious tenure reviews--so that's our collective action problem in law schools.  In almost all other fields, elite departments deny tenure at much higher rates than in law, where 95% get tenure according to Professors Chilton et al.  By contrast, in other fields, rates of tenure appear to hover around 25%, maybe a bit higher.  Somehow all these other fields have pulled this off; the interesting question is what's holding law back?  I speculated about this many years ago (2004, so bear that in mind).  I'm opening comments for thoughts from readers and further responses from Prof. Simkovic and other academics.  (Comments are moderated, and may take awhile to appear, so be patient.)

February 1, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (7)

Raising tenure standards is no free lunch (Michael Simkovic)

Brian Leiter and Paul Caron both recently noted a study by Adam Chilton, Jonathan Masur, and Kyle Rozema which argues that law schools can increase average faculty productivity by making it harder for tenure track faculty to get tenure.  While this seems plausible, denying tenure more often is no free lunch. 

A highly regarded study by Ron Ehrenberg (published in the Review of Economics and Statistics) found that professors place a high monetary value on tenure, and a university that unilaterally eliminated tenure would either have to pay more in salary and bonus or suffer a loss in faculty quality. After controlling for faculty quality, university rank, and cost of living, university economics departments that are less likely to offer faculty tenure must pay untenured faculty more, in part to compensate for increased risk.  Reduced tenure rates is associated with higher productivity, but it is costly.

It's easy to understand why.  A promising candidate with offers from otherwise comparable universities A and B would be unlikely to take an offer from A knowing that A denies tenure 70 percent of the time while B only denies tenure 10 percent of the time. 

Faculty who are untenured and at an institution with high tenure denial rates would also have strong incentives to spend their most productive years avoiding publishing anything that might upset private sector employers who could give them a soft landing in the event that they are denied tenure.  Quantitative measures of faculty "productivity" based on number of citations and publications don't capture the harmful qualitative shift this would produce in faculty research, particularly in an area like law.

There are numerous other advantages to tenure (and disadvantages to weakening it), which I've discussed here and here, including protecting intelletual freedom, encouraging faculty to share rather than hoard knowledge, promoting investment in specialized skills, aligning faculty and institutional incentives, increasing the rigor of teaching and improving outcomes for students (compared to use of adjuncts).  

Continue reading

February 1, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Deny tenure more often, raise scholarly impact

That's the conclusion of a study by three colleagues of mine, Adam Chilton (just tenured, easy case!), Jonathan Masur, and Kyle Rozema (our Behavioral L&E Fellow).  I've not looked at the details of the study, but I wonder how much the results are affectedd by Harvard's historical pattern (changed in recent years) of hiring and then tenuring everyone based on good grades in law school, which results in more "dead wood" there than elsewhere.   Even if Harvard has some effect on the findings, I think their basic point is correct:  law schools, especially those maintaining a high scholarly profile, should be more demanding about tenure.

January 31, 2019 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

$15 million gift to Albany Law School from anonymous donor


(Thanks to Chris Colton for the pointer.)

January 30, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

USA Today "hit piece" on law schools

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) comments.

January 29, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Thursday, January 24, 2019

UVA Law's Class of 1990: They're Happy!

Good for them, and good for UVA!   Of course, there may be some self-selection going on:  happy types may choose UVA over other top law schools!

January 24, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Links to all the "Most Cited" law faculty lists for 2013-2017

These were posted, starting last August.  Here's all the links in a single post for the convenience of readers.  (You might start with this post:  In a world, don't confuse citations with quality.)  All these lists are for the period 2013-2017, inclusive.  The parenthetical number indicates the number of most-cited faculty listed.

Top 50 Law Schools based on scholarly impact

Schools with highest percentage of tenured faculty on most-cited lists

Ten Most Cited Law Faculty Overall

Antitrust (10)

Civil Procedure (10)

Commercial Law (10)

Constitutional Law (20)

Corporate Law & Securities Regulation (20)

Criminal Law & Procedure (20)

Critical Theories of Law (Feminist and Critical Race) (20)

Election Law (10)

Evidence (10)

Family Law (10)

Intellectual Property & Cyberlaw (20)

International Law & Security (20)

Law & Economics (15)

Law & Philosophy (10)

Law & Social Science (15)

Legal Ethics/Legal Profession (10)

Legal History (10)

Property Law (10)

Public Law (excluding Constitutional) (25)

    (includes administrative, environmental, legislation/statutory interpretation, regulatory law)

Tax (10)

Torts and Insurance Law (10)

January 22, 2019 | Permalink