Professor James Gardner of SUNY Buffalo School of Law has been named interim dean of the law school, succeeding Makau Mutua. He takes over at the end of the month. Gardner served as vice-dean from 2005-12.
William Howard Taft University recognizes that the job market for new law grads can be challenging. It now offers a "novel" solution: the Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Professional Practice Management. The $18,000, 36 credit, loan deferring program is described as follows:
The Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in Professional Practice Management is believed to be the first program of its kind – designed specifically for newly admitted attorneys who are facing employment challenges. (Enrollment is limited to qualified attorney applicants.)
The Program teaches the skills necessary to manage a successful solo or small legal practice. It combines a traditional M.B.A. curriculum with webinars and assignments directly related to the practice of law. For those that qualify, it is also the only University program approved for Title IV Federal Financial Aid, allowing some to borrow tuition and living expenses while also deferring repayment of existing federal student loans.
The book answers the question “Are there some things which you permissibly may possess, use, and give away, but which are wrong to buy and sell?” in the negative, in contrast to the numerous books already written on the topic which take the contrary position. Brennan and Jaworski are selling three tiers of acknowledgements: Silvermint Tier, Platinum Tier, and Gold Tier (The Silvermint Tier is so named because philosophy and women’s studies professor Daniel Silvermint is paying to have the highest tier named after him.)
Wish I had thought of that! But no reason I can’t adopt it going forward. In addition, I’ve decided to sell links to and mentions of your work in my blog posts and tweets. I’m still working out the exact fee schedule, but will charge extra for highly positive mentions and even more for highly negative mentions (as controversy is always an attention getter). Finally, if those pesky law review editors won’t stop bothering you for support that you can’t find, just let me know and I’ll sell you a blog post setting out the needed statements, to which you can then cite.
We often complain that student editors demand support for obviously correct statements of common knowledge – indeed, it is sometimes the case that the proposition is so widely known and accepted that it is difficult to find discussion of the point in print. For example, you may want to reference the uncontroversial view that “professors of market regulation are considered smarter and more interesting than professors of constitutional law,” yet struggle to find something in print to that effect (in contrast to the faculty lounge and hallway conversations in which this assertion is frequently found). Problem solved! Just let me know the statements for which you need a citation and I’ll post them here for a fee. The profit possibilities on this one are nearly endless.
Introduction: I often discuss my TFL posts and the comments thereto with my father, Arthur Frakt. Dad was a long-time faculty member and Associate Dean at Rutgers-Camden before becoming Dean at Loyola LA in the 80s, and Dean of Widener (both Wilmington and Harrisburg) in the 90s before retiring. He has come out of retirement a couple of times: first, to help start the law school at Drexel, and later, to help Western State overcome its bar passage struggles and get full accreditation. He continues to follow closely what is going on legal academia. I asked him if he would be interested in sharing some of his thoughts on The Faculty Lounge, and he graciously offered to do so. After reading them, I find myself in complete agreement with everything he says. We both look forward to your comments.
- David Frakt
SOME THOUGHTS ON LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS AND THE BAR
by Arthur Frakt
In my four decades as a teacher and administrator in legal education, I was always deeply involved in the admissions process as well as the success of students in passing the bar examination and gaining entry into the profession. Of course every law school dean must have an interest in how his or her school's students have performed on the LSAT and succeeded at the bar examination, but I had a deep personal concern stemming from my own experience in law school and my work as the only lawyer in the New Jersey Attorney General's office working full time on civil rights.
It appears that the decision process on selling the for-profit Charleston School of Law to the for-profit Infliaw system is moving along. Charleston Law is seeking ABA approval of the sale and will make a presentation to the ABA on October 30. At the same time, a unanimous Charleston faculty, as well as one of the school's owners, are opposing the move. They want to turn the school into a non-profit.
As far as I can tell, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education has not yet decided whether it would approve the move in any case.
A WSJ reporter just tipped me off to this news release by Facebook regarding the changes it has made in its research practices in response to public outrage about its emotional contagion experiment, published in PNAS. I had a brief window of time in which to respond with my comments, so these are rushed and a first reaction, but for what they're worth, here's what I told her (plus links and less a couple of typos):
There’s a lot to like in this announcement. I’m delighted that, despite the backlash it received, Facebook will continue to publish at least some of their research in peer-reviewed journals and to post reprints of that research on their website, where everyone can benefit from it. It’s also encouraging that the company acknowledges the importance of user trust and that it has expressed a commitment to better communicate its research goals and results.
As for Facebook’s promise to subject future research to more extensive review by a wider and more senior group of people within the company, with an enhanced review process for research that concerns, say, minors or sensitive topics, it’s impossible to assess whether this is ethically good or bad without knowing a lot more about both the people who comprise the panel and their review process (including but not limited to Facebook's policy on when, if ever, the default requirements of informed consent may be modified or waived). It’s tempting to conclude that more review is always better. But research ethics committees (IRBs) can and do make mistakes in both directions – by approving research that should not have gone forward and by unreasonably thwarting important research. Do Facebook’s law, privacy, and policy people have any training in research ethics? Is there any sort of appeal process for Facebook’s data scientists if the panel arbitrarily rejects their proposal? These are the tip of the iceberg of challenges that the academic IRBs continue to face, and I fear that we are unthinkingly exporting an unhealthy system into the corporate world. Discussion is just beginning among academic scientists, corporate data scientists, and ethicists about the ethics of mass-scale digital experimentation (see, ahem, here and here). It’s theoretically possible, but unlikely, that in its new, but unclear, guidelines and review process Facebook has struck the optimal balance among the competing values and interests that this work involves.
Most alarming is Facebook’s suggestion that it retreat from experimental methods in favor of what are often second-best methods resorted to only when randomized, controlled studies are impossible. Academics, including those Facebook’s statement references in its announcement, often have to resort to non-experimental methods in studying social media because they lack access to corporate data and algorithms. “Manipulation” has a negative connotation outside of science but it is the heart of the scientific method and the best way of inferring causation. Studies have found that people perceive research to be more risky when it is described by words like “experiment” or “manipulation” rather than “study,” but it’s not always the case that randomized, controlled studies pose more risk than do observational studies. The incremental risk that a study — of whatever type — imposes on users is clearly ethically relevant, and that's what we should focus on, not this crude proxy for risk. I would rather see Facebook and other companies engage in ethical experiments than retreat from the scientific method.
It’s also unclear to me why guidelines require more extensive review if the work involves a collaboration with someone in the academic community.
Elizabeth Garrett, the provost of the University of Southern California - and a law professor - has been named the new president of Cornell University. She will take over in July. Before joining USC, Garrett was on the University of Chicago Law faculty where she also served as Deputy Dean.
Texas Tech University School of Law invites applications from exceptional individuals for a tenured or tenure-track position teaching Oil and Gas, Energy Law, and related courses. Applicants must possess a J.D. degree and have relevant experience such as teaching, legal practice, or a judicial clerkship. Appointment may be made at the Assistant, Associate, or full Professor level. Entry-level candidates must show scholarly promise, as evidenced by publications in scholarly journals, scholarly works in progress, or a scholarly agenda. For lateral applicants, a distinguished record of teaching and scholarship is required. Once hired, faculty members are evaluated and advancement is determined by contributions in teaching, research, and service to the law school and the university.
Please submit your cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references electronically to the attention of the chair of the Personnel Committee, Eric A. Chiappinelli, Frank McDonald Endowed Professor of Law, at the Texas Tech Jobs website https://jobs.texastech.edu or www.workattexastech.com. Please reference Requisition Number 1187BR. You may contact Professor Chiappinelli directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.
The (expected) news that Florida State Senator John Thrasher has been named FSU's new leader is here.
This was a controversial search. As the Chronicle details here:
The process in which the board selected Mr. Thrasher had been controversial almost from the beginning. In May, the board’s search committee drew protests from students and faculty members by announcing that Mr. Thrasher was the only candidate it planned to interview at its next meeting. In June, Florida State’s Faculty Senate voted no confidence in the search committee’s consulting firm, William Funk & Associates, which subsequently ceased its involvement with the renewed search process.
The no-confidence statement is here. An op/ed opposing the hire is here. The Tallahassee Democrat editorial opposing his hire is here.
Dean Makau Mutua, who has led Buffalo Law for seven years, will be stepping down from the deanship this December. Dean Mutua made some size adjustments in the law school and has also had controversy in his time. (In fact, the litigation with Jeffrey Malkan continues. A filing here, submitted by the dean's co-defendant in the Malkan litigation, is pretty interesting in its own right.)
Professor Sarah Deer, of William Mitchell College of Law, has been named one of this year's MacArthur Fellows. Deer, a graduate of Kansas Law, is active as both a scholar and advocate in fighting domestic violence among Native American women. Other MacArthur Genius Award winners are here. Congratulations!
Imagine that once there was a famous golf school, the dean of which believed that everything that needed to be known about golf could be learned on the putting green. Being the head of a famous school, the dean was able to put into place a theory of instruction based on just that theory. Students arrived, were handed a putter, and were told that they were learning to think like a golfer.
To be fair, when the dean launched his method golf schools were in a bad state. The primary method of instruction before he introduced the putting method was lectures, where old golfers would stand before a classroom in their knickers (American meaning), holding their mashies and niblicks, and expounding on the science of golf. By comparison, the putting method was positively experiential.
Each year I spend the first few minutes of my Civ Pro class, as I expect so many other profs must do, showing my students the death cage match from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The battle between the “man with no name” and the baby-faced giant, all to decide who really owns a vehicle, sets up a lively discussion about procedural justice and modes of dispute resolution.
The second day I turn away from no-holds-barred adversarial battles and towards topics that are less traditional for Civ Pro classes. For reasons that at first clearly perplex my students, we take our second day in Civ Pro to discuss a book called The Geography of Thought, written by a psychology professor named Richard Nisbett. The book collects the results of decades of research by Nisbett and others, in which experiments are run on the cognitive styles of different cultures. In particular, he contrasts the cognitive style of east Asians – such as my students – with the cognitive styles of Europeans and Americans, such as myself.
The first interesting thing about Nisbett’s results is that cognitive differences are notable in very early childhood. They are in no way genetic – Chinese Americans, for example, test as Americans after a generation or two – but they are sufficiently deeply rooted in cultures that they show up before philosophies or dogmas can be taught with any sophistication.
The reporting is fuzzy, but a University of Illinois undergrad who met with U of I Chancellor Phyllis Wise and other administrators states that Steven Salaita's name has been forwarded to the Board of Trustees for a vote at the Board's September 11, 2014 meeting. On the other hand, U of I English Professor Ted Underwood reports that the undergrad was mistaken.
Putting aside all the heated doctrinal and factual debate about this case, which I think is far from straightforward, I think that the University of Illinois should have approved his offer in the first instance and should do so now. I believe this not because I am certain the University is under an obligation to hire Salaita. Rather, I think that, under these circumstances, the decision of the Chancellor and/or Board to exercise the reserved rights in the offer letter is corrosive to a university community.
And I would add, finally, that I am not sold on the claims that Salaita is anti-Semitic. He is an Arab-American, post-colonialist critic of Zionism and I take it his critiques are grounded in both his own personal relationship to the issue and, more broadly, his critique of colonialism. Many Israelis concede that the creation of Israel involved deeply troubling moments - Ari Shavit's account of the expulsioin in Lydda is a good example. There is, of course, a deep divide about the moral takeaway of this history and Shavit and Salaita don't come to the same conclusion. But both conclusions seem to me comprehensible when the underlying facts are viewed from radically different perspectives.
I also take it that his tweets (which must be read in context, rather than individually, if one wants to claim any insights into what he is thinking) reflect his ideological, or perhaps epistemological, commitment to the notion that politics and scholarship cannot be disentangled. (I also think he was a fool if he figured his tweets would, in fact, be read in context.)
Particularly given that his tweeting was part of his scholarly project - that is, his job - as I imagine he understood it, it seems to me that the best decision for the University is to embrace the scholar the department recruited, warts and all.
There are fewer folks going on the AALS market this year, according to this data over at Prawfs, but there will always be aspiring law professors. And for the sixth straight year, Arizona State is putting on an Aspiring Law Professors Conference. It's September 27 in Tempe, and this year, Paul Caron will deliver the keynote.
This just in: University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise reaffirmed her decision not to hire Professor Steven Salaita, and she has received backing from the University Board of Trustees.
In an email to the University community, Wise wrote:
We have a particular duty to our students to ensure that they live in a community of scholarship that challenges their assumptions about the world but that also respects their rights as individuals.... A Jewish student, a Palestinian student, or any student of any faith or background must feel confident that personal views can be expressed and that philosophical disagreements with a faculty member can be debated in a civil, thoughtful and mutually respectful manner. Most important, every student must know that every instructor recognizes and values that student as a human being. If we have lost that, we have lost much more than our standing as a world-class institution of higher education.
The Board, and University President, issued a statement offering "unwavering support of Wise", stating:
Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education. If we educate a generation of students to believe otherwise, we will have jeopardized the very system that so many have made such great sacrifices to defend. There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.
The complete statements can be found at the link above.
Yes, it is true. As the recent story in the Atlantic by Paul Campos accurately reports, I was the dean candidate who was asked to leave Florida Coastal School of Law by school President Dennis Stone in the middle of my presentation to the faculty. Since the story came out, I’ve been contacted by many law faculty members wanting to know the whole story. I’ve also seen a fair amount of uninformed speculation on the topic floating around the blogosphere. So, I have decided to write about what happened in the hopes that I can put all the speculation to rest and move on.
Let me start by saying that just because I appear in Paul Campos’ article does not mean that I endorse Paul Campos’ point of view about Florida Coastal School of Law, InfiLaw, for-profit law schools, or the “law school scam” theory in general. I believe Paul raises a lot of serious and important issues, and makes several valid points, but the views expressed in the article are his, not mine. Dan Filler has graciously offered me the opportunity to expand on my own views on legal education here at The Faculty Lounge, and I will do so in future posts. (And thank you for the kind introduction, Dan.)
I also want to make it clear at the outset that I do not agree with the view expressed by some commentators that Florida Coastal School of Law, Charlotte Law, or Arizona Summit School of Law are “diploma mills.” I believe that each of these schools provides a solid legal education, on par with many of their peer schools. The truth is that the faculty hiring market has become so competitive that all three of these schools have been able to hire many highly qualified and distinguished lawyers and scholars as faculty members. I have friends on the faculty of all three schools whom I know to be fine teachers and scholars who would be a credit to any law school faculty in the country. I have seen no evidence that the educational program at InfiLaw is any less rigorous than the typical J.D. program. There is no question that all three InfiLaw schools have produced many fine attorneys, a substantial majority of whom passed the bar on the first attempt. My concern about InfiLaw has primarily to do with its admissions policies over the last four years. During this time, InfiLaw schools have admitted hundreds of students with extremely low LSAT scores and mediocre GPAs. This clearly appears to be an administrative policy as the admission numbers look very similar at all three of their schools. I do not believe that InfiLaw has any special insight that would enable them to identify students with extremely low LSAT scores who have much greater aptitude for the study of law than their test scores and GPAs would indicate. Nor do I believe that InfiLaw schools have any magic formula for getting students of marginal aptitude to outperform their indicators. InfiLaw schools are not notably better or worse or different than the many other unranked law schools around the country, aside from their for-profit status.
In April, Dan wrote about the Florida Coastal dean search where the candidate was asked to leave in the middle of his job talk (under threat of a security escort out of the building) after his presentation turned a critical eye towards the school's admissions standards and bar passage rates.
Now Paul Campos fleshes out some of the details in this Atlantic piece, which he uses to launch a longer discussion about the Infilaw suite of schools and the crisis in higher education generally.