We just brought you news of Stanford Law School changing its grading system. Now Harvard Law School is following suit.
Dean Elena Kagan just sent this message out to the HLS student body:
To all students:
I am writing to let you know that the faculty decided yesterday to move to a grading system with fewer classifications than we have now. The new classifications, much as at Yale and Stanford, will be Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail. The faculty believes that this decision will promote pedagogical excellence and innovation and further strengthen the intellectual community in which we all live. The new system will apply to students entering HLS in fall 2009; yet to be determined is whether it also will apply to some or all classes of current students.
The faculty began consideration of this issue last year, and has consulted with groups of students, alumni, and other employers in the course of our discussions. Before making a decision on whether to implement the system now, for all or some of our current students, I want to make sure that any interested student has a chance to express his or her views. To provide this opportunity, I will hold a “town hall” meeting on Thursday, October 2 from 2:30 to 3:30 in Austin North. I look forward to seeing you some of you there.
Was there an epidemic of A’s that caused these sweeping changes at Harvard and Stanford?
Like Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer’s message back in May, Kagan’s message leaves open the question of what kind of honors HLS will be doling out. Don’t count on Harvard’s system being any less complicated then Stanford’s. Remember, Harvard is moving away from a ridiculous 15-point system that nobody understands anyway.
But the crucial question is whether this new system will be applied retroactively to the classes of 2009 and 2010. If I were in either of those classes, I’d stop worrying about the economy and show up for the debate, on October 2nd.
Under the leadership of the beloved Elena Kagan, Harvard Law School continues to raid other schools for law professor talent. Word on the street is that another big hire is in the works. This past weekend, Dean Kagan crowed about her coup before a group of admitted students, saying it would be announced later this week.
We checked for news and gossip over at Leiter’s Law School Reports, the definitive source for information about senior-level appointments in legal academia, but didn’t see anything. Any guesses as to who will be snatched by HLS next?
In addition to the Harvard name (and endowment), Dean Kagan has other weapons in her arsenal for doing battle in the recruitment wars. She wooed Feldsuk with a million-dollar mansion, and Cass Sunstein with a million-dollar bab[e]. What fabulous prizes will Kagan bestow upon her latest hire?
Feel free to speculate and opine in the comments, or by email. Thanks.
If we knew anything about sports, we’d say this is the legal academic equivalent of Major Player X leaving Super-Elite Team Y for Super-Elite Team Z. But we don’t. So we’ll just say it’s one of the biggest law school hiring coups since Harvard Law School snatched half of Feldsuk from NYU.
HLS strikes again — but this time around, the victim of their poaching is U. Chicago (where we’ll be making an appearance later this week, by the way). From the Harvard Law School website:
Renowned legal scholar and political theorist Cass R. Sunstein ’78 has accepted an offer to join the Harvard Law School faculty, Dean Elena Kagan ’86 announced today. Sunstein, currently a tenured professor at the University of Chicago Law School, will begin teaching at HLS in the fall. He will also become director of the new Program on Risk Regulation.
“Cass Sunstein is the preeminent legal scholar of our time — the most wide-ranging, the most prolific, the most cited, and the most influential,” said Kagan. “His work in any one of the fields he pursues — administrative law and policy, constitutional law and theory, behavioral economics and law, environmental law, to name a non-exhaustive few — would put him in the very front ranks of legal scholars; the combination is singular and breathtaking….”
Some tipsters’ takes:
“I imagine a lot of Chicago alums will be annoyed at the least.”
“Yet another high-profile move to HLS. Dean Kagan has done an amazing job these past few years getting big names out to Cambridge. (I’m just annoyed because I decided to take Admin Law this semester.)”
“[W]e just learned that although Martha Nussbaum turned down Harvard and Brown last week, Cass Sunstein ACCEPTED his Harvard Law offer! I’m torn – HUGE get in Sunstein, proving Elena Kagan is unstoppable, but is this trouble for the power couple?”
In December, we attended Professor Sunstein’s 2007 Distinguished Lecture at AEI in Washington, DC (where we’re currently based). We were mighty impressed by the good professor, who wasn’t just brilliant and articulate, but also funny and self-effacing. Congrats to HLS and Dean Kagan on this latest addition to the Cambridge constellation of legal geniuses! Update: Additional analysis of the Sunstein move from Professor Brian Leiter appears here. It seems that all is well in Sunstein-Nussbaum land. Per Professor Leiter:
[A]s Cass told me, he will be keeping his Chicago apartment and an office at the University of Chicago Law School, and he will also continue teaching part-time at Chicago as the Harry Kalven Visiting Professor of Law (probably in the winter quarters).
Oh you Harvard Law School kids! We poke some fun at the (rather silly) proposal to rename the HLS sections, which are currently identified by numbers. And then we get grief for it in the comments, including a claim that we “have very little understanding of irony or satire” (even though the survey didn’t seem very satirical to us, aside from a single throwaway line about Hogwarts).*
Anyway, to satisfy any defensive HLSers, we’ll now publish a tip we received that makes the Law School seem slightly less ridiculous:
[I]t’s not the HLS administration’s idea to do this; it is basically the idea of a single 1L. I was at the student government meeting in which this idea was first proposed, and it came from a 1L section representative. Because 1L participation is strongly encouraged, no one wanted to shoot him down (even though many people thought the idea was silly).
Someone suggested sending out a poll to see if other students agreed, and if so, the student government would pass on the poll results to the administration. My hunch is that students will vote against it, and regardless the faculty/admin almost certainly would not support the idea. That’s the back story.
Our condolences to Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan. Dean Kagan, who was under consideration for the president of Harvard University, was passed over for the job in favor of historian Drew Gilpin Faust (aka “Dr. Faust”).
But maybe it’s for the best. As Harvard president, it can be tough not to make enemies. See, e.g., Larry Summers.
(Unless you want to be kinda boring and ineffectual. See, e.g., Neil Rudenstine.)
And enemies are not what a possible Supreme Court nominee wants. Especially a nominee who, like John Roberts and Samuel Alito, generally plays well with others — even those who hold divergent ideological views.
From a Princeton tipster:
The most recent edition of the Princeton Alumni Weekly has an interesting tidbit about Anne-Marie Slaughter and Elena Kagan (who have creepily similar resumes):
“‘Elena has an extraordinary talent for not making enemies,’ says Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, who became friendly with Kagan when both were Sachs Scholars at Oxford (Kagan coxed the boat in which Slaughter rowed), and later taught with her at Chicago and Harvard law schools.”
How hot is that??? Perhaps you could create a “fantasy legal academic crew team,” with, e.g., Charles Fried as stroke (naturally — he’s quite the gym bunny) and Bruce A. in bow. Think of the Photoshop head-pasting potential!
We are well aware of Dean Kagan’s hotness (since she was nominated in our law school deans hotties contest). But we had no idea she was also an athlete.
How neat! Dean Kagan, you can yell “Stroke!” at us anytime. A ‘Rebellious Daughter’ to Lead Harvard [New York Times]
Lots of interesting moves, both actual and rumored, to report upon today. Possible promotion:
* Elena Kagan, the popular (and hot) dean of Harvard Law School, is being considered for the presidency of Harvard University. In government:
* New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is on a hiring spree (just like his successor as AG, Andrew Cuomo). Lloyd Constantine, who currently heads a 40-lawyer firm, will serve as a senior advisor to Spitzer. Debra Bachrach, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, will direct the state’s Medicaid program. Joseph Baker, bureau chief for health care under AG Spitzer, will take over as deputy secretary for health and human services. “You’re Fired”:
* Former Apple in-house lawyer Wendy Howell was discreetly discharged, late last year, for her role in the options backdating fiasco. Reunited and it feels so good:
* Structured finance lawyers William Cullen, Janet Barbiere and Bola Oloko, to Thacher Proffitt & Wood, from Sidley & Austin. The trio left Thacher Proffitt together in 1997 (back when Barbiere and Oloko were still associates; they were recently promoted to partnership at Sidley). Other lateral moves:
* Bankruptcy lawyer Steven Wilamowsky, to Bingham McCutchen, from Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Headhunters at Harvard May Pick a Woman [New York Times] NY Bankruptcy Partner Switches Firms [NYLawyer.com] NY Trio Returns to Firm They Left in the ’90s [NYLawyer.com] Spitzer Taps Three NY Lawyers to Fill Key Positions [NYLawyer.com] Apple Quietly Canned Lawyer Who Backdated [The Recorder via Law.com]
Over at Bench Memos, Ed Whelan — one of our favorite commentators on matters judicial — provides a great account of Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent visit to his alma mater, Harvard Law School. Here’s an excerpt:
The dinner that Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan hosted on Wednesday evening to honor the 20th anniversary of Justice Scalia’s appointment to the Supreme Court was a delightful event, far exceeding my hopeful expectations.
In her own remarks honoring Justice Scalia, Dean Kagan was eloquent, warm-spirited, insightful, and very amusing. She presented Justice Scalia with a letter from Chief Justice Roberts congratulating him on reaching the “midpoint” (or some similar term) of his service on the Court. With wonderfully apt remarks, she also gave him, as a memento of the dinner (which featured salmon as the main course), the framed original of a humorous letter from the great Justice Joseph Story offering thanks for a gift of salmon. The celebratory remarks of professors Charles Fried, Laurence Tribe, and John Manning were likewise excellent.
An interesting update to our prior post about Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent appearance at the Yale Law School. From a current YLS student:
Some of us were bothered — though not exactly surprised — by Dean Harold Koh’s tepid introduction of Justice Scalia. Koh couldn’t seem to find anything warm and welcoming to say about Scalia. Rather, he spent his entire introduction praising Christine Jolls.
It was as though Scalia wasn’t even there. Koh’s lack of hospitality was particularly striking when compared to how he often gushes about other relatively unremarkable visiting speakers.
Like our correspondent, we’re not entirely surprised. We haven’t met Dean Koh in person, and he wasn’t dean when we were at Yale. But we have heard through the YLS alumni grapevine that he is more ideologically motivated, and less evenhanded, than his predecessor as dean, Tony Kronman.
We’ve also heard Dean Koh compared to Dean Elena Kagan of Harvard Law School in this regard. Dean Kagan is politically active on the liberal side. Like Dean Koh, she served in the Clinton Administration (as a domestic policy advisor and in the White House Counsel’s office). She was nominated to the D.C. Circuit by President Clinton, but was denied a vote, and she’s a possible SCOTUS nominee in a Hillary Clinton Democratic administration. But despite her personal leanings, Dean Kagan has been widely praised for supporting intellectual and ideological diversity on the Harvard Law School campus.
(Also, Dean Kagan was a nominee in our Law School Dean Hotties contest. She did not prevail, losing out to a Yalie (Asha Rangappa). But just like the Oscars, it’s an honor just to be nominated.) Earlier:The Eyes of the Law: Did Poor Justice Scalia Have to Spend the Night in New Haven? Law School Dean Hotties: Your Female Nominees “Harvard Law On A Heterodox Spree, Listing to Right” [Volokh Conspiracy]
Only a few hours remain for voting in our Law School Dean Hotties contests. Click here to vote on the women, click here to vote on the men, and click here to vote on the male alternates.
One of the female candidates, Associate Dean Leah Jackson of Baylor Law School, has commented on the contest. When contacted by the Baylor school newspaper, the Baylor Lariat, she offered these thoughts:
“I was truly shocked to show up on such a list,” Jackson said via e-mail Tuesday.
Jackson noted that the contest was “a cute little piece,” but said she would “enjoy it more if the comments focused on how bright, accomplished and respected each of the women on the page are.”
Similar sentiments have been voiced by some commenters over at Feministing (a blog name that, truth be told, makes us uncomfortable every time we read it).
We take issue with these comments. Obviously a number of reader testimonials focused on the looks of the nominees — because this is, after all, a beauty contest. But many other comments focused on other attributes. Here are just a few examples:
“[Leah Jackson] teaches Tax: Federal Income Taxation, Corporate Taxation, and Partnership Taxation. And what’s more sexy than tax law?”
“How could any contest for hot law school deans NOT include Elena Kagan, Dean of Harvard Law School? Any woman who can climb to the top of an institution as stodgy and male-dominated as HLS is a hottie per se.”
“[Elena Kagan is] (1) among the Elect (clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Marshall), (2) former Associate Counsel to President Clinton, and (3) a one-time nominee to the D.C. Circuit — which, as we all know, is the sexiest court in the country (even more sexy than the SCOTUS). How can you say no to all that?”
“Not only is Dean Toni Massaro brilliant, attractive, and self-assured, she’s also a cancer survivor AND a lesbian. It’s easy to make Advanced Con Law sexy, but how many Deans could get 3rd year students out of bed every morning for an 8 am class and have a packed classroom?”
“One couldn’t ask for a better dean than Toni Massaro. In addition to her fantastic fundraising, she brought Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to be the Distinguished Jurist in Residence here. She also convinced Iranian Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi to come aboard as a Distinguished Visiting Faculty in Human Rights.”
“[Maureen O'Rourke's] fiery exterior is complemented by her brilliant intellect. She graduated at the top of her college class and with Honors in all her classes at Yale Law School. Dean O’Rourke has it all.”
“I write to nominate Asha Rangappa in your beautiful law school dean contest. First, she’s a genius: Princeton, Yale Law, a Fulbright, a First Circuit clerk. Second, she’s totally badass: from 2002 to 2005, she worked in the FBI as a Special Agent, focusing on counterintelligence investigations in New York City. How cool is that?”
“Dean Mary Jo Wiggins is hot inside and out. By far, she is one of my favorite people at USD Law. She is beautiful, elegant, and carries herself with dignity and class. She is brilliant and accomplished (see here and here), yet she’s never condescending or arrogant (unlike certain other professors).”
If these comments are sexist, then call us sexist.*
It seems to us that feminists in the 21st century — as opposed to, say, the 1970′s — should not object to being praised for their brains AND their beauty. Being recognized for one’s accomplishments AND attractiveness are not mutually exclusive.
To be a feminist in good standing, you don’t need to look like the late Andrea Dworkin. There is nothing wrong with looking like, say, Gloria Steinem. And feminists who happen to look more like Steinem than Dworkin shouldn’t have to apologize or feel guilty for doing so.
* Did a certain number of Fark readers have sexist comments to offer, both on Fark and ATL? Sure. But what do you expect from a bunch of acne-ridden adolescents who spend all day playing video games in their parents’ basements? Assistant Dean More Than Pretty Face [Baylor Lariat] Female Law School Dean ‘Hotties’ Contest [Feministing] Take the Bait? Or Not? [Feminist Law Professors]
You may be wondering how the number of votes tallied in our Law School Dean hotties contest, on the women’s side, went from about 1,000 to over 7,000 — basically over the weekend. The answer, in a word: Fark.
Fark is a hugely popular website, started by a fellow named Drew Curtis, that collects weird news and humor. It can be very funny, as long as you don’t mind juvenile jokes, and a little — or a lot of — vulgarity.
(Yes, Fark is even more juvenile and vulgar than ATL. Think of it as the xoxohth message board, but without the ambition.)
Anyway, Fark linked to the Law School Hotties contest, and the rest is history.
Fark has a large and active community of commenters. A number of them had some, er, interesting things to say about the candidates.
Check out some selected excerpts from their comments, after the jump.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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