Law Professors

Am I happy, or in misery? Whatever it is that exam, put a spell on me.

If this were any other school, if this were any other professor, I’d probably be screaming about this in my sleep. But I can’t get mad at Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School. He’s old. He’s kooky. He’s got a personality and tenure. What’s not to like?

A tipster forwarded a copy of the 2011 Evidence exam Professor Nesson just issued. I think it’s great. Some people are going to go all nuts about how their school is “just as good as HLS if this is the kind of crap exam they give to students.” Some Harvard students, especially the ones who spent all semester reading and making their own case briefs, are going to scream about how they’re paying nearly $50K a year “for this.”

But whatever. You’ve got all these people running around, mainly deans at lower-ranked law schools, screaming about how legal education confers some kind of intangible, experiential benefit that cannot be codified in simple job placement statistics. Well, Professor Nesson is all about the existential experience of thinking deeply (or casually) about law — and he’s doing it at a school that confers the very tangible benefit of high-paying, prestigious jobs to all who want them.

So, strap yourselves in: two questions, 500-word limit per answer. Have fun, kids….

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Michigan Law School, a state school, charges $46,586 per year in tuition. It then conservatively expects students to incur another $18K-plus in living expenses to bring the price tag for one year’s worth of a Michigan legal education to $64,716 for in-state residents. That prices out to $194,148 for the full three years, and that’s assuming that Michigan doesn’t raise tuition while you are there.

And Michigan is one of the few places that can, more or less, claim that it’s worth it. To be sure, it’s not worth it for all the students. Remember, Louisville Law Dean Jim Chen just told us that people need to make three to six times their law school’s yearly tuition in annual salary if they go to school on loans and want to one day be financially sound homeowners. Some Michigan grads are banking upwards of $279,516, but certainly not all.

Still, one would expect a significant amount of that high tuition goes toward making Michigan Law what it is, and keeping the professional opportunities rolling for Michigan graduates.

Apparently, keeping Michigan Law what it is involves paying Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker quite a tidy sum….

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I’m really enjoying the newfound interest from the New York Times about the state of legal education. Times reporter David Segal seems genuinely interested in recording the growing tragedy of American law schools.

Concern from mainstream media is great, but the proposed solutions are a little bit scary. Last month, Segal Slate explored the possibility of paying people to not go to law school.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Segal is at it again. This time, he’s questioning the American Bar Association’s role in keeping the cost of legal education so high. Unfortunately, the solution seems to be letting everybody who wants to open a law school do so.

Is it worth pushing down the price of legal education by offering really crappy legal education?

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How hard is it to write an exam for a course you’ve taught all semester? Seriously, tell me, how hard is it? On a scale of one to ten — ten involving programing a rocket ship, one somewhere around putting on pants in the morning — where does formulating a law school exam rate? A two? Maybe three if you are teaching the course for the first time?

It cannot possibly be so hard that you have to use the same exam over and over again, in the digital age. We’re not talking about something as complicated as the wheel. A law school exam can be reinvented, every year, with subtle and simple changes.

Using the exact same exam is just lazy. There’s no other word for it. LAZY. The high cost of law school is largely attributed to the hefty salaries of law school faculty. The least these people can do is write a novel exam each and every semester that they teach.

And yet during this finals period alone, we’ve got students from three law schools, including two law schools in the top ten, alleging that their professors couldn’t be bothered to come up with fresh exams for this year’s students….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stop Reusing Your Old Exams, You LAZY Law School Professors!”

* Now that Chicago has bared it all, isn’t it time for other law schools to fall in line? Show us the stats for the class of 2010 already. [Law School Transparency]

* And this is why your mother told you not to talk to strangers. [Legal Juice]

* If you’re going to send out a survey asking who your bros would like to rape, at least be classy about it. “Surprise sex” just sounds better. [Yahoo!]

* Five useful tips on how to be a better law prof, written by a law prof. Sleeping with students didn’t make the list. [PrawfsBlawg]

* In America, we make television shows about women and their witchy ways. In Saudia Arabia, they just kill them. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Martin Klotz, outside counsel for SAC Capital’s Steve Cohen, demands that you respect his client. [Dealbreaker]

* Ryan Gosling’s hotness put to good use for law school finals. [Law School Ryan Gosling]

* We should start preparing for the first Skyrim-based lawsuit. [Slate]

Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo

The topic of whether (and how) to reform legal education remains very hot. The latest New York Times story — by David Segal, who isn’t very popular among law school deans right now — has sparked much online commentary.

And it’s not over yet. What do Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo — two of legal academia’s most colorful characters, rock stars in Federalist Society circles — think of the current state of law schools here in the United States?

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Members of the University of Illinois College of Law community received sad and disturbing news yesterday when they learned that a faculty member at the law school was the victim of an apparent hate crime.

The law professor (who remains anonymous at the request of the University) was found on the second floor of the Illinois Terminal on Wednesday.

University president Michael Hogan assured students and faculty that the alleged attack was made by a person who is not affiliated with the university….

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November is typically a month where people give thanks for all of the good things in their lives. The vast majority of the scandalous lawyers featured in these pages seem to have forgotten about that small fact. They just don’t give a damn.

Family ties? Meh. The troops? Screw ‘em. Honorific ATL titles? Totally lame.

Who are these thankless men? Let’s check out the candidate pool for November’s Lawyer of the Month competition….

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Of course not! But the headline got your attention, didn’t it? The notion of Judge Richard Posner as being anything other than a genius will certainly make people sit up and take notice. There’s a reason why there’s a Facebook group called Richard Posner for Philosopher King (of which I am a proud member).

It should be noted, however, that Judge Posner’s opinion in Gonzalez-Servin v. Ford Motor Co. was not 100 percent perfect. It initially contained some infelicitous wording — which has since been fixed.

Let’s look at the language that was perhaps imprecise….

UPDATE (4 PM): Additional comment from Judge Posner, added after the jump.

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Professor William Birdthistle

Welcome to Lawyers & Economics, a new video series on financial topics by Professor William Birdthistle of Chicago-Kent College of Law. Professor Birdthistle, who teaches corporate law, has been preparing well-received videos for his students on a variety of subjects related to economics and finance. We’ve previously linked to some of his work, which received positive reader feedback, so we thought we’d give you a bit more.

After the jump, here’s a short primer on the Greek debt crisis, which remains ongoing. Watch it, so you can sound enlightened the next time this topic comes up at a cocktail party.

It features not just Professor Birdthistle but also a television actor you might recognize, who left Hollywood to become a law student….

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