Law Faculty

Untenured law professors are not protected from pink slips.

As law school applications continue to decline, law schools must make hard choices. A law school can maintain the size of its entering class — and the revenue stream generated by those students — but at the cost of lowering its admissions standards. Or a law school can shrink the size of its entering class, accepting the decline in revenue to maintain the caliber of its student body, and make up for the lost revenue by cutting costs.

In my view, the second approach is superior. As the legal job market continues to shrink, with even top law firms conducting large-scale layoffs, it makes sense for law schools to produce fewer graduates. The legal profession is “right-sizing,” and law schools should follow suit.

But even if the second approach is better than the first, it’s not without pain. Last week, we heard reports of one law school basically axing its entire junior faculty. All of the untenured professors received notice that their contracts might not be renewed for the 2014-2015 academic year. Ouch.

As is so often the case, though, there’s more to this story than meets the eye….

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Minnesota, or Vaes Dothrak?

When I think of Minnesota, I think of Lake Wobegon — “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Michele Bachmann is strong. Jesse Ventura is good-looking (if you’re into that whole “manly” thing). And the law students at the University of Minnesota Law School are above average. Their academic qualifications help Minnesota Law claim the #19 spot in the U.S. News law school rankings. (In the Above the Law law school rankings — which focus on outputs, like job placement, rather than inputs — Minnesota also fares well, ranking #25.)

The professors at Minnesota Law are above average too. The Minnesota faculty ranks #19 in terms of scholarly impact.

How do they fare in the professorial pay sweepstakes? Let’s look at the data….

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You can download the notes, or not. I don’t care. I have to write a law review article that nobody will ever read.

Of course it does. That question has such an obvious answer that it’s kind of dumb to ask. Of course a system that rewards “teachers” with lifetime jobs for focusing on esoteric research that has little or no applicability to the challenges their students will face in the real world is of limited value to the students who pay their salaries.

So why would a professor get in trouble for saying that? Why would a professor get in trouble for saying it to other professors? If there are people who think the job of a big-time legal academic is to service students, they are sadly mistaken.

Why should anybody have a problem with a Harvard Law professor who says that?

Please note the UPDATE added after the jump.

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UCLA School of Law

Welcome to the latest installment of Law Professor Pay Watch. After visiting Texas and Michigan, we’re back on the coasts, this time in sunny southern California.

Los Angeles is home to many celebrities — and we’re not just talking about Hollywood stars. The superb faculty of UCLA School of Law boasts several prominent pundits and public intellectuals.

How much do star bloggers like Eugene Volokh and Stephen Bainbridge earn from their day jobs? What about such academic adversaries as Kimberlé Crenshaw, the critical-race queen, and Richard Sander, a leading opponent of affirmative action?

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The night before my first final exam every semester in law school, I’d pop in my Rocky DVD, fast forward to the point where Rocky goes to the arena the night before, and watch through to the end. The movie reinforced my approach to law school exams.

“I can’t beat him.” But if you can go the distance, if you can still be standing by the time the exam is over, then you’ve achieved your own personal victory.

Of course, there are winners and loser every finals period. The damn things are graded on a curve. Today, we’ve got a law professor who took the time to tell his students how to “win” his upcoming evidence exam — just some standard exam tips, plus an explanation of what he particularly looks for.

Sounds nice enough? Well, not for one 3L. This student took the opportunity to post some kind of hippie screed as if law students are supposed to get together and sing kumbaya and reject competition or something.

In other words, this law student thinks law school is a damn show, she doesn’t know it’s a damn fight…

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‘Another tuition hike? Time for a new car!’

If liberals are to be true to our professed values, we must critically examine our own conduct, however painful and embarrassing it might be. We cannot speak truth to power yet not to ourselves. [P]rogressive law professors, I charge, have profited from a system of legal education with harmful consequences to individuals and society — while claiming (and believing) that they were fighting the system.

– Professor Brian Tamanaha of the Washington University of St. Louis School of Law, criticizing his colleagues for remaining silent while law school tuition has soared. His remarks can be found in a forthcoming essay that will be published in the Stanford Law & Policy Review.

Sock-Puppets are a scourge of our time. How annoying does a person have to be create a fake, online persona specifically for the purpose of touting their own real life views?

We usually think of the most annoying commenter creating a fake persona, or “sock puppet,” to promote their “real” online persona. Occasionally, oversensitive journalists or bloggers will create an internet identity for the express purpose of pimping their articles on social media.

But today we’ve got a law professor who just got busted for creating a fake online handle to promote his scholarship. That the law professor is also a rabbi who got busted by “The Jewish Channel” just heightens the embarrassment….

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As we reported yesterday, Dean Paul Schiff Berman is leaving the deanship at the George Washington University Law School to assume a university-wide position as GW’s “Vice Provost for Online Education and Academic Innovation.” He’s switching jobs effective January 16, 2013.

Since the news of Dean Berman’s resignation became public, we’ve heard all sorts of rumors about why he’s departing as dean of GW Law. What are the rumors — and is there any truth to them?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More About Paul Berman’s Departure From the Deanship at GW Law School”

* Dear ABA: could you please at least LOOK at what’s going on at Rutgers-Camden. We’ve already looked at their arguably misleading ads. Now Paul Campos has figured that the school may have been massively under-reporting the amount of debt people graduate with to the ABA (scroll down to Upate III). Seriously ABA, do one small part of your freaking job JUST ONCE. [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Here’s a great way to lower the cost of education: make books free. I mean, it’ll never, ever happen, but it’s a good idea. [CALI via Tax Prof Blog]

* Law students might need a bit of a refresher on supply and demand before they hit up fall recruiting. [Adam Smith Esq.]

* Legacy LeBoeuf retirees have also been screwed by the D&L fiasco. Boy, Dewey know how they feel. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Should we care about the “scholarship” of law professors at all? [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Wild strippers are a national problem in New Zealand. [The Telegraph]

* Congratulations to the latest class of Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40! [National LGBT Bar Association]

* I’m not sure why Romney won’t just say that he lied to the SEC about when he left Bain. Lying to the SEC is just good business. Lying to the American people is something that politicians are only supposed to do for sex. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]

* Character and fitness can be a surprisingly tough hurdle, so I’ve been told. [The Toronto Star]

* Here are the top law faculties by scholarship. I’d bet this list and the list for top law faculties by salary are pretty similar. [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]

* One of our favorite lawyers, renowned litigator Ed Hayes, gets another profile — a dandy profile this time. [The Dandy Portraits]

* This is a highlight reel of terrible lawyer ads. [Strategist via Findlaw]

* Man with the largest penis gets frisked by TSA. When asked to comment, Sam said, “This is how we keep motherf***in snakes off the motherf***in planes.” [Hufffington Post]

* Congratulations to Michael Fricklas, the general counsel of Viacom, on receiving this year’s Raising the Bar Award from the Hollywood Reporter. [Hollywood Reporter]

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