Law Professors

Last week, University of Chicago law professor Todd Henderson published a controversial post on Truth on the Market. Henderson revealed that he and his wife have a combined income of over $250,000, but argued that this doesn’t make them rich — certainly not rich enough to afford the new taxes Obama seeks to impose on married couples making $250K or more.

You can read the full post over at Brad DeLong’s blog, Grasping Reality with Both Hands. You cannot read the full post on Truth on the Market, because the post has been taken down. Henderson explains why:

The reason I took the very unusual step of deleting [the post and comments] is because my wife, who did not approve of my original post and disagrees vehemently with my opinion, did not consent to the publication of personal details about our family. In retrospect, it was a highly effective but incredibly stupid thing to do. The electronic lynch mob that has attacked and harassed me — you should see the emails sent to me personally! — has made my family feel threatened and insecure.

Well, Professor Henderson, I’ve got your back. We might fight to the death about the proper use of the government’s fiscal authority, but it should be beyond obvious that earning $250,000 a year in this country does not make you rich. That figure doesn’t even approach “wealth,” especially if you live in a major city.

I might have a little more experience with electronic lynch mobs then Professor Henderson, so bring it on if you must. But for all the moral outrage one can level at a person bitching about making “only” $250K, know that $250K per annum is much closer to the minimum starting point you need to bank in order to have a shot at “making it” in the expensive cities of America. Living the dream requires a whole hell of a lot more….

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That’s one of the topics covered by an impressive trio of law professors — Richard Epstein, Glenn Reynolds, and John Yoo — in an interesting, wide-ranging discussion over at PJTV. Although they all hail from the right side of the aisle, they disagree on a number of issues. Here’s a summary:

Are law schools creating a new generation law fools? Is the bar exam the best measure of a lawyer? Are the best law schools even worth the money? Law professors John Yoo and Richard Epstein of Richochet.com discussion the legal profession on this episode of Instavision.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion takes place when Professor Reynolds mentions that he decided to attend Yale Law School over free rides from Duke and Chicago. He asks Professors Epstein and Yoo: What advice would you give to a prospective law student facing a similar choice today?

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University of Chicago Law Professor and Lake Michigan rescuer, Randall Schmidt

University of Chicago law professor Randall Schmidt and his wife, Kristen Berg, can rightly be called heroes. That’s what you call people who rescue others from plane crashes on Lake Michigan.

Their incredible story was picked up in yesterday’s Chicago Daily Herald:

The Park Ridge couple, who rescued the only known survivor of a plane that crashed into Lake Michigan off the state’s western coast Friday, were on the second to last day of their annual boating trip, finishing breakfast on their 42-foot cabin cruiser, the “Kristin Says,” docked in Frankfort, Mich…

Around 10:15 a.m., after they’d been cruising for about an hour, Schmidt heard a fisherman call the U.S. Coast Guard on the radio about a plane in the water, a few miles off the coast of Ludington, Mich.

At that point the couple took immediate action to help the survivors…

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Is the American Bar Association going to deal with the unmitigated proliferation of law schools? No. Will the ABA deal with overflow of lawyers entering the profession at a time when few well-paying legal jobs seem to be available? No. Will the organization seriously address the rising cost of legal education? Not really.

Instead, the ABA committee on law school accreditation wants to take a look at tenure. The National Law Journal reports:

Should the American Bar Association require law schools to maintain a tenure system?

The committee reviewing the ABA’s accreditation standards doesn’t think so. It has floated a proposal that would eliminate the term “tenure” from the ABA standards covering job security and academic freedom. The committee also wants to kill a requirement that law schools provide clinical faculty members with job protections similar to those enjoyed by full-time professors.

Excuse me, I’m gonna need to throw my coffee cup at something…

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It’s nearly August. But at Harvard Law School, administrators are still trying to sort out what happened with Professor Bruce Hay’s spring Evidence course.

Not that grades matter all that much at HLS. The most important part of an HLS student’s transcript is the part at the top that says “Harvard Law School.” Heck, the school recently reformed its grading procedures, making the actual grades even less important.

But appearances must be maintained. It’s important that students feel their “super, gold-star, yay pass” grades are well-earned and fairly distributed.

Apparently students felt that Professor Hay did not adequately communicate how they would be graded. And now the administration has to step in…

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Prof. Tribe is almost 70; please don't stick him in elevators for long periods of time.

Last Sunday, the eminent constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Westling, got stuck in an elevator at the Safeway supermarket in Georgetown. (Professor Tribe is currently in D.C. to serve in the administration of his former student from Harvard Law School, Barack Obama.)

Read the (rather humorous) write-up of Tribe’s elevator incident in the Washington Post’s Reliable Source column. According to a Safeway spokesman, the company “is trying to figure out what kind of resolution is appropriate.” Options on the table include “some steaks or a gift card.”

For those of you preparing for the bar exam this week, tackle these study questions….

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I’ve already shared with you my views on the burqa (views that weren’t popular with some of our more politically correct and/or sensitive readers). And you’ve already voted in a reader poll on efforts to ban the burqa, showing that 60 percent of you are wimps do not support France’s effort to ban the burqa.

Now some law professors have weighed in on the burqa ban. In a piece earlier this month for the Opinionator blog of the New York Times, University of Chicago law professor Martha Nussbaum offered a thoughtful critique of the burqa ban.

Over the weekend, two other prominent law professors — Richard Epstein, Nussbaum’s colleague at U. Chicago, and John Yoo, of Berkeley — jumped into the fray….

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The University of Texas Board of Regents has agreed to rename Simkins Hall. Simkins Hall was named for a former UT Law professor and Ku Klux Klan leader.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to change the name. The Houston Chronicle reports:

“There has never been any doubt in my mind about what direction they were going to go,” said regent Printice L. Gary of Dallas, the only African-American to serve on the board.

The new names will be Creekside Residence Hall and Creekside Park.

The hero of this story is former UT law professor Thomas Russell. It was his paper that forced UT to confront its past….

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Martin Ginsburg — a leading tax lawyer and law professor, and the husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — passed away earlier today. He was 78. According to a statement released by the Court, he passed away at home, from complications of metastatic cancer.

Marty Ginsburg was known in Supreme Court circles as Justice Ginsburg’s secret weapon. Justice Ginsburg herself can sometimes be shy, awkward, and introverted, but her husband was gregarious, charming, and a great entertainer. He was a talented chef and would perform the culinary honors at dinners for Supreme Court justices and their spouses. He would also cook for RBG’s clerks each Term.

He was widely noted for his great sense of humor….

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Usually when we talk about the crushing price of legal education, we focus on law school administrations who are raising tuition even as the legal economy continues to falter. Occasionally, we look at prospective law students themselves — a group of people who are evidently too addled to act with rational self-interest. Always, the American Bar Association’s utter failure to regulate law schools on behalf of aspiring lawyers looms as the 800-pound gorilla that keeps taking a dump in the middle of the room.

Rarely, if ever, does the media turn its gaze towards law professors and their culpability in the epic scam of taking money from kids who don’t know any better and will never be able to pay off their debts. Most law professors don’t set tuition rates. They don’t determine the scope of loan forgiveness programs. They don’t mislead the world via U.S. News in order to pad employment stats. Hell, most of them aren’t even directly engaged in recruiting the next class of minnows that will keep the scam alive. All they do is teach, research, and take as much money as the market will offer.

But Washington University law professor Brian Tamanaha thinks that his professorial colleagues need to step up to the plate and start taking some responsibility for what is happening to law students — especially law students at low-ranked law schools. He says that professors can no longer turn a blind eye to the sadness of their students….

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