Following on my recent Leiter post deconstructing US News law school reputation rankings, Brian has created a Condorcet survey seeking to determine what law professors value when assessing the quality of other law schools. What matters to you when you contemplate law school reputation? Take the survey here.
Now that on-campus interviews are in full swing, I thought I might pose a question about a topic that is typically not discussed – meetings with people who are not members of the faculty. Some schools include meetings with a variety of people in the building, while others limit meetings to voting faculty and key university leaders. For those who have experienced (or are currently experiencing) this process, which non-faculty did you meet who were most helpful? Who do you wish you had met?
The House approved HR 5566 on Monday, the "Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010," in an effort to revive a federal ban on animal cruelty videos. In US v. Stevens, the Supreme Court held that the crush video statute enacted in 1999 was unconstituitonally overboard under the First Amendment, and ever since then, Congress has been trying to hammer out a narrower alternative.
A California statute permits certain aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States to receive the benefit of in-state tuition rates at California public colleges and universities. Those students enrolled at a public California post-secondary education institutionwho have spent three or more years in a California high school, received a diploma from a California high school, and pledge to seek to obtain lawful residence status as soon as they are eligible to do so are entitled to pay the in-state rates. A federal law, 8 USC 1623, provides that unlawfully present aliens "shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State ... for any post-secondary education benefit ... unless a citizen ... of the United States is eligible for [the same] benefit ... without regard to whether the citizen ... is such a resident." Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ruled, in Martinez v. Board of Regents, that California's law was not preempted by the federal statute. Why not? According to a unanimous California Supreme Court, California's criteria are not on the basis of residence within California. A New Yorker could send his kid to a boarding school in California for four years and the youngster would be eligible for in-state tuition even though she is not a California resident. (Perhaps Cate and Thacher, two of California's tonier boarding schools, ought to trumpet this boon in their literature -- "Come to Thacher; go to UC for in-state rates!")
What the California Supreme Court overlooked is that the issue is not so much express preemption as it is implied "obstacle conflict" preemption. The California statute arguably "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress." Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52 (1941). The most natural reading of the federal law is that states may not award resident tuition rates to unlawful aliens unless they award those rates to citizens who are not residents of the state. Another plausible reading of the federal law is that it denies to states the power to treat unlawfully present aliens residing in the state as residents for purposes of resident tuition rates unless they treat non-resident citizens the same way. The California Supreme Court read the federal law in this latter way, but even if that construction is accepted, it still seems to me that California's law, as a practical matter, is a thinly disguised method of flaunting the congressional objective. Congress has articulated a specific objective rather than merely declaring a general aspiration. See, e.g., Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Montana, 453 U.S. 609 (1981). Kris Kobach, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, has indicated he will file a cert petition with the US Supreme Court.
Former United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is in Houston this week to speak at a sold-out public event. His pre-event interview with Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Tolson is available here. Among his many interesting remarks are his comments on diversity at the high court, including:
Diversity is always a positive value in a multi-member, decision-making body. But unfortunately it's only nine seats, and you can't represent every area of the country or every point of view you would like to. Personally, I would like to see more Midwesterners or Westerners and not as many from the Ivy League schools. But that does not mean any one of them is not fully qualified. It's a problem that there are only so many seats available, and each time (presidential administrations) have made excellent suggestions right along, but they have not tended to diversify the court.
I have just learned that my alma mater, the University of Melbourne School of Law, has just appointed its first female dean: Professor Carolyn Evans who is a law and religion scholar and has recently served as research dean at the school. Announcement here.
Sam Waterston, Law & Order’s Jack McCoy, turns 70 today, and I was surprised to find out that he shares a birthday with two famous judges – real and reel, respectively: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and Judge Joseph Wapner of The People’s Court. Many characters have appeared on Law & Order during its 20 years on television (not bad, considering McCoy’s ranking among the “most irritating” characters last year), and many TV judges have followed in Wapner’s footsteps. How do you think these shows benefit (or detract from) the actual practice of law? Can the reel McCoy on television be used to train the real McCoy's who will become lawyers?
A large open room in an old industrial building with three wooden picnic tables lined up end to end in the center of the room. The tattoo station was small portable table, two folding chairs, and a cheap floor lamp. Our research assistant, with her clipboard, was by far the cleanest and most official looking person around. And when she offered to help the tattoo artist by taking the names of the people in line, he was delighted. In the 5 hours she was there (from 9pm to 2am) a total of 76 people signed up for free tattoos.
Some interesting observations:
4 individuals did not know what they wanted, but knew that they wanted some free tattoo
5 individuals wanted a free tattoo, but did not know where they wanted it
68% of those in line for free tattoos reported that they would not get the tattoo if it were not free
Ariely concludes that:
the power of “free” is surprisingly influential. When we face a decision about a tattoo, one would hope that the long term permanency of the decision, coupled with the risks of getting different types of infections would cause people to pay little attention to price, and certainly not to be swayed one way or another by the power of free. But sadly, the reality (at list in the nightclub scene in New York) suggests that the power of free can get us to make many foolish decisions.
It’d be interesting to know more about the “power of free” in this context and the full range of questions that were asked. Had the subjects at least been contemplating tattoos even before the event? Were they undecided, hesitant, or afraid, but pushed over the line by the free offer? Or did they just hear about the offer and, think: “Free tattoo. I’m there!” And were these first-timers, or folks who already had one, or even multiple, tattoos? (The subjects’ self-reported levels of drunkenness were relatively low).
I am particularly susceptible to the lure of “free stuff” – which often isn’t really free – and this makes me the target of much mockery and ridicule from friends and family members. But even I would not get a tattoo (permanent, painful, and subject to some infection risk) only because it was free if I didn’t otherwise want one.
And remember, when it comes to tattoos, you can do better than free. Pictured above: Kari Smith, who reportedly auctioned her forehead space on eBay in order to pay for her 1-year-old son’s private education. Goldenpalace.com, an Internet gambling company, spent $10,000 to have their website address tattooed on Smith’s forehead.
Sandra Sperino, an employment discrimination scholar who joined the Temple Law faculty in 2008, has accepted a position on the University of Cincinnati faculty starting next fall.
The lateral moves begin!
My 2010-11 chart won't start for awhile, however. Feel free to peruse my 2009-10 list, or even my lateral move compilations from 2008-09, 2007-08, 2006-07, or 2005-06 if you're a lateral move history buff.
A few weeks ago our friends at Brooklyn Law school got creative, sending along a jar of spicy Brooklyn Salsa to potential US News voters as part of their law school PR package. Everyone enjoyed the tasty treat and it confirmed what many of us already believed: Brooklyn Law is hot right now.
But that was only the beginning. It seems that the law school was also the site of some racy lingerie ads produced by the Italian clothes manufacturer, Diesel. (Caution: link takes you to some barely-work-appropriate images. Hurry up before you get caught.)
The folks who sent the salsa (i.e., the Brooklyn Law School administrators) are apparently very unpleased by this unexpected heat. Interim dean Michael Gerber stated:
We are as shocked and mortified as you must be by these photographs. When the school gave its permission to do the shoot, the school was assured that the photos would be in good taste. They are not.
It's hard to know whether this new ad campaign will have any effect on the law school's reputation among the 646 people who vote on such matters. But I am stone certain that there are hundreds of BLS students who are mad as hell that they weren't in the libes that day Diesel's sexy, shirt-and-pantless models appeared in the stacks.
As anyone from Alabama will appreciate, I mean this headline only partially tongue-in-cheek. It seems that Gene Marsh, an old colleague of mine at Alabama and now an emeritus professor - as well as counsel to Birmingham's Lightfoot, Franklin & White - has just taken on some new business: representing Auburn in the potential NCAA investigation over its quarterback Cam Newton.
For some readers, some background will be in order. What's the deal with Newton? Over the past week, allegations have emerged suggesting that Newton's dad might have been trying to negotiate a payment from somebody (the school? an alumnus?) in exchange for for convincing his son to join Mississippi State. He didn't become a Bulldog...so is it relevant for Auburn? Under NCAA rules, it doesn't matter whether Auburn was involved in negotiations. According to SI.com:
So far, Auburn has not been implicated in the pay-for-play scheme. But by the letter of the NCAA's law, an athlete is ineligible the moment a rule is broken. Even if Newton didn't know about his father's request, this is the word the NCAA put out Thursday: "The solicitation of cash or benefits by a prospective student-athlete or another individual on his or her behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn wrote. It is up to the athlete's school to declare him ineligible and apply for reinstatement.
The problem is, Auburn has known of these allegations for sometime and it has chosen not to declare Newton ineligible and then seek reinstatement. It doesn't want to risk losing him. Why does it matter? Because Auburn is closing in on the BCS football crown. The implications of this whole Megilla are pretty serious, if you care about college football and particularly if you care about the non-BCS conference teams (Boise State and TCU) who could be boxed out of the championship if Auburn in undefeated. Auburn could easily reach, or win, the BCS championship only to have the NCAA strip it of all its wins months later - which would be no help to a Boise State, for example.
Which brings me back to the point of this post. Gene Marsh was Alabama's excellent, and upstanding, Alabama faculty athletic representative and compliance during some hairy days in the early 2000's. Notwithstanding the Tide's dirty laundry, his efforts won him the position of Chair on the NCAA Committee on Infractions from 2004-06. And now Alabama's chief rival and sworn enemy, Auburn, has just retained the fellow to help it through this dangerous time.
I feel certain that thousands of Bama fans are hoping that Newton is declared ineligible and that Auburn's season goes up in flames. That's just the way college sports rivalries function - much as many true North Carolina fans wish Duke the worst, irrespective of whether Carolina stands to gain from Duke's failures. Alabama fans will not be wishing Gene well, I suspect. And they'll see this as further proof that lawyers lack scruples. As for those Alabama law students who were undergrads at Auburn? Well, that's another matter altogether...
Maybe it's just as well that Alabama is out of contention this year.
Update: As a commenter notes, a columnist from the Birmingham News is reporting that unnamed sources deny that Marsh is working on the case. Auburn apparently routinely retains the Lightfoot firm for various needs but allegedly Marsh has no involvement in this matter. Assuming that Marsh does not have an actual conflict of interest here, Auburn would be foolish not to use his services. Marsh may not be the "point man" on the case, but I'm betting that Auburn is counting on his good advice.
In my last two posts -- Dangerous Categories: Diversity and Stereotypes in the Boardroom and Dangerous Categories II (Wow, Men Are Still From Mars and Women From Venus?) -- I discussed a forthcoming paper with Lissa Broome and John Conley on corporate board diversity. As I noted, all of our interview subjects (with one partial exception) agree with the abstract proposition that board diversity is a good thing. On the more specific question of why it is good, there is broad agreement—a master narrative of sorts--that board diversity results in functional improvements to board or corporate operations—a qualitative “business case” for board diversity. Though the particulars of the functional story vary across respondents, many accounts bear a strong resemblance to Justice Powell’s original exposition of diversity in the Bakke case: a diverse group of people will engage in a richer discussion that will be informed by the multiple perspectives for which their demographic diversity is a proxy.
But it has proven difficult to get beyond this very general narrative; our respondents have been able to provide few detailed or substantive examples of this presumed benefit of diversity. Perhaps this reluctance to examine critically the benefits and drawbacks of board diversity results from the dangerousness of the categories associated with diversity--gender, race, and ethnicity. The “different perspectives” argument requires the assumption that people of diverse demographic backgrounds really are different in some meaningful way—but difference is a concept that must be handled with great delicacy. Those who are not members of traditionally unrepresented groups do not want to be accused of stereotyping or essentializing by identifying particular unique contributions of members of those groups; no one wants to say anything like “they are especially good at that.” Conversely, those who are members of traditionally unrepresented groups have a vested interest in presenting themselves as not being different: not as token members of a group, but as individuals who have been selected based on their own merit.
Nevertheless, when we pressed our respondents we did find a few concrete examples of how contributions of particular female and minority board members may have benefitted the corporation. Nearly all of these examples, which we excerpt in detail in the article, relate directly or indirectly to employee, community, or customer relations. Perhaps most meaningfully, female and minority board members were credited with positive contributions in improving employee relations, and in causing the corporation to focus more deliberately on the diversity of its workforce as it considered retention, promotion, and succession issues. For reasons we elaborate in the paper, this latter point could well suffice as a business justification for the vigorous pursuit of board diversity. Consequently, we find it somewhat curious that this rationale does not figure more prominently in our respondents’ abstract business case (in contrast to the more prominent but less concretely supported Bakke narrative).
As Don Langevoort notes in his commentary to our article, this muddle is surely due in part to the lack of a coherent, over-arching explanation for how boards themselves add to firm value. (A point Larry Ribstein also makes in his excellent blog post about our paper over at Truth on The Market). Moreover, as Langevoort explains, much of the value added by the board is likely to occur in response to some exogenous crisis and, in any event, outside of the formal boardroom setting. If so, then the “real action” of the board will be unobservable by the group and unlikely to display much that is attributable to gender or ethnicity.
Langevoort’s description of the relative unimportance of demographic diversity in a board’s response to crisis situations is consistent with a comment from one of our respondents (a Hispanic female). When asked about diversity concerns when she served on the board of a company experiencing deep financial distress, she said:
If you could for a moment imagine yourself in a fast flowing river drowning looking for a lifeboat, you wouldn’t care what color it was and you wouldn’t care who was in the lifeboat. All you need is a lifeboat.
In other words, this crisis demanded action rather than introspection about diverse perspectives.
Finally, Langevoort’s suggestion that board meetings are routine and ceremonial is also consistent with our respondents’ accounts. We note in the paper some of the seemingly “trivial” contributions to board discussion that our respondents cited as evidence of the value of diversity. Perhaps these are the best examples our respondents can offer because so much board discussion is, in fact, largely trivial.
Why our respondents do not offer more meaningful stories of diversity’s impact outside of the boardroom we can only speculate. One possibility, of course, is that minority and female board members are not invited to be part of the relevant out-of-meeting conversations. This theory is consistent with the account of an African-American male director who told us that he knew that some board members went out in the evening for meals and did not invite him to join them. Overall, however, other female and minority respondents did not echo this narrative of exclusion. Needless to say, this possibility, if true, does not bode well for the Bakke “richer conversation” rationale for board diversity invoked so frequently by our respondents, and by many researchers as well.
That wraps up my series of posts about this draft. Thanks for listening – and feel free to send comments my way.
In the heavily competitive law school teaching job market, the so-called “job talk” has assumed increasing importance in the ultimate hiring decision. Nevertheless, there is little published information to assist a law school faculty in structuring or evaluating the job talk and a similar paucity of information for candidates to guide them in creating and preparing for the presentation of their talk. This article is intended to fill that void. The article guides the preparation of faculty and candidates for both the job talk itself and for the crucial Q&A period that follows the talk. The article represents the authors’ collective 87 years of experience seeing both successful and unsuccessful job talks, as well as the experience of 15 colleagues around the country who reviewed our initial draft and commented on it from the perspective of their various law schools.
My favorite band, Squeeze, found themselves in an all-too-familiar situation: they recorded lots of awesome tunes -- one of them (Tempted) something of a generational anthem -- but they didn't own them. So when a car company or a TV show wanted to use one of those tunes, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford (the songwriting team) had no say in the matter, and saw little of the proceeds.
The beloved show, Sesame Street, debuted today in 1969, and it remains just as popular as it was 41 years ago. Sadly, even Big Bird’s famous address is not immune to litigation or controversy. The show’s new song, There’s an App for That, has recently raised Apple’s ire, and there’s talk that the company might sue. When was the last time you discussed Sesame Street or any other children’s show in class? Who were your favorite characters as a child (or today)? On a similar note, I loved watching Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company.
Seventy-two years ago today -- in the wee hours of the morning -- my grandfather Felix and his brother Leopold were arrested by the Gestapo at their homes in Frankfurt and Bad Kissingen. My grandfather was taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Leo was kept at the local jail in Bad Kissingen. Leo was released after eight days; my grandfather was released after three weeks or so. Both were "Frontsoldaten" -- front-line veterans of World War I -- and received some priority in release as a consequence of that.
My grandfather, grandmother, dad, and aunt were fortunate enough to escape into Switzerland a few weeks after his release from Buchenwald. Leopold and his wife Irene were unable to get out, were deported to Poland in April of 1942, and perished by disease, shooting, or gassing (we'll never know which) shortly thereafter.
Several years ago, I traveled to Germany in search of traces of my great-uncle's life and death. I wrote about it extensively on my now-defunct solo blog, Is That Legal?, back in 2007. Just 10 days ago or so, I was very moved to get a phone call from an exhibit designer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum who had read my postings about Uncle Leo and who is interested in using Leo's story as part of an exhibit the museum is planning.
Yesterday's New York Times featured a very interesting article on how the tragic memory of Kristallnacht in 1938 is slipping into the shadow of the joyous memory of the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The article got me to thinking about the fading of memory. It seems to me that even without the superimposing of a later, more joyous event on public memory, the story of Kristallnacht would be moving toward the kind of quasi-oblivion in which even the most notable historical events reside. My father, who remembers the burning Torahs in the street and the Gestapo's knock on the door, will be eighty in March. I do what I can to sustain the memory and legacy of the tragedy, but I won't be around forever either.
The most we can do is remember and document. In that spirit, and in memory of Uncle Leo and the other German and Austrian Jews whose lives changed irrevocably on November 9/10, 1938, I post a personal piece of proof that it all happened. It's all that I've got.
This fall, Franklin Pierce Law School entered an affiliation agreement with the University of New Hampshire and changed its name . Now the University of New Hampshire School of Law has chosen John Broderick to lead the institution. Broderick is the outgoing Chief Justice of New Hampshire's Supreme Court. He is a University of Virginia law graduate and was in private practice before joining the Court.
This is an interesting choice for the school. Broderick was presumably selected for his stature within the state bar (though, as the press release notes, he has been active nationally around issues of judicial modernization and he co-wrote a New York Times op-ed this year.) But it seems like UNH missed an opportunity to signal its move towards both a higher national academic profile and an intensified commitment to scholarship. I'd assumed these were among the goals of the merger.
As I pondered this choice, I noticed an interesting aspect of the merger outlined in the school's FAQ's:
During the period of affiliation, the UNH School of Law will be governed by a board of 30 trustees as well as the presidents and chief financial officers of both institutions. The composition of the board will change each year, shifting from a Franklin Pierce Law Center majority to an equal balance of UNH-appointed trustees and Law School-appointed trustees by July 1, 2014.
Justice Broderick may turn out to be an excellent leader of UNH Law. But I wonder if a UNH controlled Board would have made the same decision.
If I could produce a fresh law-school-related ranking every day, there would surely be an interested audience. Thankfully, Paul Caron gave us his quarterly rankings of lawprof blawgs just the other day. And yes - we are pleased that the Lounge continued its substantial growth in readership. Thank you!
Like many other law schools and other institutions, our school has in recent years made many of its public lectures and symposia available via webcast. This can be very useful to keep a record of these events and make them more widely available to potential audiences who cannot be physically present at the events. They can be particularly helpful in cases where there is no transcript or other publication related to the proceedings that will be published in a law review or other format.
However, I have recently heard people talking about whether webcasts are superior to transcripts or other printed publications such that they will ultimately overtake the need for text-based formats. I wonder if this is the right way to think about it? In my view, webcasts provide different benefits to text based accounts of proceedings and I don't think it should necessarily be an "either/or" question if it can be helped.
While webcasts capture a lot more information than text can, they are often lengthy and it is difficult to quickly skim through them and find a pertinent snippet of information. People may be much more selective about which webcasts they watch than which text accounts (transcripts, blog summaries, law reviews) they peruse largely because it only takes a few minutes to skim through (or keyword search) a text account to see if there's anything relevant in the proceedings while it may take a lot longer to find out if there's anything of interest in a webcast.
It seems to me that a text based account of a proceeding may usefully supplement a webcast in that it can: (a) quickly help people discover whether the proceedings contain anything of interest; and, (b) direct the reader to the part of the webcast that is particularly relevant to that person's particular interest.
So I guess I would hope that people who produce records of lectures and symposias try to think about text based and other information processing formats as being complementary to each other rather than as alternatives. What do others think?