The image is Foster Auditorium on the University's campus, where Governor Wallace made his stand in the schoolhouse door in June 1963; and where shortly thereafter Vivian Malone and James Jones registered at the University.
What are law schools doing—or preparing to do—with their various law journals in an era where there may not be adequate student numbers to staff them? I am curious to know not only what is happening to ‘specialty’ journals, but also ‘general’ law reviews. Are some specialty journals considered more important/fundamental than others? Is there any law school that has shuttered a general law review while keeping a specialty journal alive? How are these decisions being made? By the dean? By the students? By the faculty?
Also: What is happening with student-selection processes for those journals which survive? If, say, a law school has had an average class-size of 300 and the top 10% (30) were selected to edit the general law review, how does this work when the class-size drops to 100? Does the law review take the top 30% of the class, or is the law review shrunk? What does this shrinking look like? Are fewer articles accepted for each edition of the law review, or are some editions—and some article submission cycles—just eliminated?
Finally: How will this affect faculty article placement expectations? If half of law reviews shutter, is it fair for schools to expect the same number of placements, or the same ‘rank’ (e.g. Tier 1) of placements?
NB: Anonymous comments are welcome. However, comments that respond to the substance of this particular post, as well as comments that demonstrate the ability to put spaces between paragraphs, will receive priority posting-wise. Others will probably be deleted.
Professor Alberto Gonzales has been named the new dean of Belmont University College of Law, effective June 1. He served as the first George W. Bush Administration Attorney General. He was also a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court. He is currently the school's Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law.
Gonzales received his JD from Harvard. Although I haven't read any of his work, he is certainly an active scholar.
You might think that the answer to this question is obvious. Obviously, it's your business, and yours alone, right? I mean, sure, maybe it would be considerate to discuss the potential ramifications of this activity with your partner. And you might want to consider the welfare of the bee. But other than that, whose business could it possibly be?
Well, as academic empiricists know, what others can do freely, they often require permission to do. Journalists, for instance, can ask potentially traumatizing questions to children without having to ask whether the risk to these children of interviewing them is justified by the expected knowledge to be gained; academics, by contrast, have to get permission from their institution's IRB first (and often that permission never comes).
So, too, with potentially traumatizing yourself — at least if you're an academic who’s trying to induce a bee to sting your penis in order to produce generalizable knowledge, rather than for some, um, other purpose.
Earlier today, science writer Ed Yong reported a fascinating self-experiment conducted by Michael Smith, a Cornell graduate student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior who studies the behavior and evolution of honeybees. As Ed explains, when, while doing his other research, a honeybee flew up Smith's shorts and stung his testicles, Smith was surprised to find that it didn't hurt as much as he expected. He began to wonder which body parts would really smart if they were stung by a bee and was again surprised to learn that this was a gap in the literature. So he decided to conduct an experiment on himself. (In addition to writing about the science of bee stings to the human penis, Ed is also your go-to guy for bat fellatio and cunnilingus, the spiky penises of beetles and spiders, and coral orgies.)
Cornell University’s Human Research Protection Program does not have a policy regarding researcher self-experimentation, so this research was not subject to review from their offices. The methods do not conflict with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, revised in 1983. The author was the only person stung, was aware of all associated risks therein, gave his consent, and is aware that these results will be made public.
As Ed says, Smith's paper is "deadpan gold." But on this point, it's also wrong.
It might not seem like much for a school that was charging $53,850, but Brookyn Law has cut its tuition 15%, to $45,850, effective in the 2015-16 academic year. It will hold tuition at the current level in the coming academic year. The one year delay will presumably give Brooklyn a chance to reformulate its budget - and payroll - before the price drop. It will also insure that the school does not overextend itself this year, given that its scholarship offers have been premised on revenue from the higher tuition.
It's always difficult to assess what a price cut will do to net revenue, given that schools discount so aggressively. More than anything, I suspect that this move is designed to maintain, or increase, the size of its applicant pool. I'm guessing that, once a school's sticker goes north of $50K, a sizable number of prospective students simply look elsewhere.
I do think there is one aspect of the WSJ article that's worth noting. For the first time in a long time, I see that the writer used an "employed in any capacity whatsover" employment number to describe graduate placement success. He described Brooklyn as having an 88% placement rate, Fordham, a 90% placement rate, and CUNY an 80% placement rate.
David Garrow has an essay review, "The Obscure Heroes Behind Congress’s Great Moment" at The American Prospect. He discusses Clay Risen’s The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act and Todd Purdum’s An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Garrow begins:
On Tuesday July 2, 1963, Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall caught an early morning flight to Dayton, Ohio. Six days before, Marshall’s boss, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, had appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to present the newly introduced civil-rights bill that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had committed himself to enacting during a powerful nationwide television address on June 11.
Professor Malcolm Morris of Northern Illinois University School of Law has been named the new dean of Atlanta's John Marshall Law School. He was the interim dean at NIU in 2008-09. He holds a JD from SUNY Buffalo and an LLM from Northwestern.
Update: Morris is actually an Emeritus Professor at NIU. He is also the Associate Director of Graduate Tax Programs at John Marshall in Chicago.
From an email that I received earlier today from our friends in Lubbock:
Texas Tech University School of Law invites applications from exceptional individuals for a tenured or tenure-track position teaching Taxation and other related courses. (Requisition number 90998)
Applicants must possess a J.D. degree and have relevant experience such as teaching, legal practice, or a judicial clerkship. Entry-level candidates must show scholarly promise, as evidenced by publications in scholarly journals, scholarly works in progress, or a scholarly agenda. For any lateral applicant with tenure, 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.
Texas Tech University, located in Lubbock, Texas, is a state-supported National Research University with an enrollment that exceeds 32,000 students. The law school has approximately 660 students and 40 full-time faculty members. The law school is an integral part of the University and offers 12 dual-degree programs with other Texas Tech schools and colleges. The Lubbock metropolitan area is home to 250,000 people, enjoys affordable housing, abundant sunshine, friendly people, and offers easy access to other parts of the country. For more information, visit our website at http://www.law.ttu.edu/.
As an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, Texas Tech University is dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse faculty committed to teaching and working in a multicultural environment. We actively encourage applications from all those who can contribute, through their research, teaching, and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community at Texas Tech University. The university welcomes applications from minorities, women, veterans, persons with disabilities, and dual-career couples. Please submit your cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references electronically to the attention of Professor John L. Watts, Chair, Personnel Committee, at the Texas Tech Jobs website https://jobs.texastech.eduorwww.workattexastech.com. You can contact Professor Watts at email@example.com. Resume review will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.
National Conference of Bar Examiners President Erica Moeser thinks it's worth considering - and she's not convinced by the argument that students need more than a month after the end of third year to prepare. (She's also a little miffed that a big chunk of law schools that offer for-credit bar prep courses use bar-prep companies, rather than traditional law profs, to teach them.)
In Part I of this little series, I laid out some of the statistics regarding the scope of the problem of depression and anxiety among lawyers and law students. Before I tell my story, I want to spend a little time talking about why these diseases are so prevalent among lawyers.
One of the more eloquent “whys” for the high incidence of depression among lawyers was contained in an opinion piece by Patrick Krill (a lawyer, clinician and board-certified counselor) that accompanied the CNN article on lawyer suicides. As Patrick put it, “lawyers are both the guardians of your most precious liberties and the butts of your harshest jokes[; i]nhabiting the unique role of both hero and villain in our cultural imagination….” Patrick explained that the high incidence of depression (and substance abuse, which is another huge problem) was due to a number of factors but that “the rampant, multidimensional stress of the profession is certainly a factor.” Further, “there are also some personality traits common among lawyers — self-reliance, ambition, perfectionism and competitiveness -- that aren't always consistent with healthy coping skills and the type of emotional elasticity necessary to endure the unrelenting pressures and unexpected disappointments that a career in the law can bring.”
Patrick’s discussion of this issue really stuck a cord with me. Practicing law is hard. The law part is not that hard (that was the fun part for me), but the business side of law is a bear. Finding clients, billing time, and collecting money, are just a few aspects of the business of law of which I was not a big fan. Keeping tasks and deadlines in dozens (or hundreds) of cases straight and getting everything done well and on time is a constant challenge. The fear of letting one of those balls drop can be terrifying, especially for the type A perfectionist who is always terrified of making a mistake or doing a less than perfect job. Forget work-life balance. Forget vacations. Every day out of the office is another day you are behind.
Plus, as a lawyer (and especially as a litigator), no matter how good a job you do, sometimes you lose. That inevitable loss is made worse by the emotion that the lawyer often takes on from his or her client. Almost no client is excited to call her lawyer. Clients only call, of course, when they have problems. Those problems can range from the mild (for example, a traffic ticket) to the profound (like a capital murder charge). But whatever the problem, the client is counting on the lawyer to fix it. Every lawyer I know takes that expectation and responsibility very seriously. As much as you try not to get emotionally invested in your client’s case or problem, you often do. When that happens, losing hurts. Letting your client down hurts. This pain leads to reliving the case and thinking about all of the things you could have done better. This then leads to increased vigilance in the next case. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, for some lawyers this leads to a constant fear of making mistakes, then a constant spike of stress hormones that, eventually, wear the lawyer down. The impact of this constant bombardment of stress hormones can be to trigger a change in brain chemistry that, over time, leads to major depression.
Depression is a subtle and insidious disease. By the time you are sick enough to recognize that you have a problem, your ability to engage in accurate self-evaluation is significantly impaired. It is a strange thing to know, deep down, that something is wrong with you but to not be able to recognize the massive changes in yourself. Helping yourself at that point is often impossible. Unfortunately, those suffering from depression become expert actors who are extremely adept at hiding their problems and building a façade of normalcy. Eventually, it takes all of your energy to maintain this façade. The façade becomes the only thing there is.
Depression is not a character flaw. It is not a weakness. It is not a moral failing. You cannot “just get over it.” No amount of will-power, determination or intestinal fortitude will cure it. Depression is a disease caused (in very basic and general terms) by an imbalance and/or insufficiency of two neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin and norepinephrine. In this way, it is biologically similar to diabetes, which is caused by the insufficiency of insulin in the body. As a disease, depression can be treated – and treated very effectively. But it takes time and it takes help – personal help and professional help.
And now we get to the personal part. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The European Institute at the University College London is soliciting papers for a workshop scheduled for March 2015 that aims "to explore what political theorists can contribute to ... preparation" for reparations claims. They are looking for 1500 word essays by July 1 that will address one of three key questions:
What is in need of repair? (‘Problems’)
What is the case for repair / the reply to the case against repair? (‘Principles’)
What should repair look like? (‘Policies’)
Cribbing now from their webpage:
This workshop is part of a longer-term, experimental project, aimed at the co-production of knowledge, by academics and activists who collaborate in their work on reparations. In this way, this workshop contributes to the recently established African Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP). ARTCoP will help UCL develop its engagement with, and its accountability to, African heritage communities in London. For this reason, a representative of UCL will provide ARTCoP with a monthly report on this project. This workshop is the first of three events helping to prepare this Community of Practice to engage with CARICOM’s claim for reparations from Europe.
The structure of this one-day-long MANCEPT workshop is to invite six ‘scholars’ and six ‘stakeholders’ to discuss the ideas of each participant and to air ideas about how, in future, we can work together. Following this MANCEPT workshop, if the participants are interested in continuing this work, they will be paired up to produce joint, or complementary, presentations, to be presented to the public, in December 2014, at a meeting funded by UCL’s European Institute. In March 2015, UCL’s Equiano Centre will host a one-day-long workshop, where the work—now revised in light of public scrutiny—can be presented to an academic audience, and where we can reflect critically on the process and methodology of the co-production of knowledge. We will seek to publish the results of this experimental process, in an online, open-source volume, with UCL Press.
Last summer the North Carolina legislature passed a law banning the use of Sharia law in North Carolina courts. The statute is an odd one . It does not mention Sharia law, only foreign law. But the law's supporters had Sharia law in mind. The statute -- maybe in some kind of odd resonance with Shelley v. Kraemer -- prohibits the enforcement of contracts that infringe fundamental constitutional rights. This is a way of allowing courts to review private agreements regarding divorce and custody (I'm guessing mostly pre-nuptual agreements) if they refer to Sharia law [or other foreign law] as a way of resolving a dispute. It has been codified in the North Carolina General Statutes in Chapter 1. Its provisions include:
§ 1-87.13. Public policy
In recognition that the United States Constitution and the Constitution of North Carolina constitute the supreme law of this State, the General Assembly hereby declares it to be the public policy of this State to protect its citizens from the application of foreign law that would result in the violation of a fundamental constitutional right of a natural person. The public policies expressed in this section shall apply only to actual or foreseeable violations of a fundamental constitutional right resulting from the application of the foreign law. (2013-416, s. 1.)
§ 1-87.14.Nonapplication of foreign law that would violate fundamental constitutional rights.
A court, administrative agency, arbitrator, mediator, or other entity or person acting under the authority of State law shall not apply a foreign law in any legal proceeding involving, or recognize a foreign judgment involving, a claim for absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board, child custody, child support, alimony, or equitable distribution if doing so would iolate a fundamental constitutional right of one or more natural persons who are parties to the proceeding. (2013-416, s. 1.)
§ 1-87.15. Interpretation of contracts providing for choice of foreign law.
(a) In the interpretation or enforcement by a court, administrative agency, arbitrator, mediator, or other entity or person acting under the authority of State law of any contract or other agreement that provides for the choice of a foreign law togovern its interpretation or the resolution of any claim or dispute, the court or administrative agency shall preserve the fundamental constitutional rights of natural persons who are parties to the contract or other agreement.
(b) If enforcement of any provision in a contract or other agreement for the choice of foreign law would result in a violation of a fundamental constitutional right of one or more of the natural persons who are parties to the contract or other agreement,the agreement or contract shall be modified or amended to the extent necessary to preserve the fundamental constitutional rights of the natural persons. (2013-416, s. 1.)
§ 1-87.16. Interpretation of contracts providing for choice of foreign venue or forum.
If the enforcement of any provision in a contract or other agreement providing for a choice of a foreign venue or forum would result in a violation of a fundamentalconstitutional right of one or more of the natural persons who are parties to the contract or other agreement, that provision shall be modified or amended to the extent necessary to preserve the fundamental constitutional rights of the natural persons. (2013-416, s. 1.)
Because I am always looking to incorporate North Carolina legislation and cases into my courses, I think that I probably ought to pay some attention to this statute. I mean, if we're banning the use of Sharia law here in North Carolina, surely it's being used with some frequency, no? And I thought that I'd crowd-source a couple of issues related to this. First, does anyone have any recent North Carolina cases involving Sharia law that I should be teaching? Or North Carolina separation and custody agreements that I could use to illustrate how Sharia law is appearing in North Carolina? Does this come up in some way in wills or trusts? I'm not sure -- I don't know as the statute would protect beneficiaries under a will or trust that in some way uses Sharia law to determine eligibility, though maybe a beneficiary might try something along those lines....
Also, I'm planning on a field trip up to Hillsborough to look for instances where lawyers in the Orange County Superior Court invoked Sharia law. I'll let you know how that goes. But perhaps Orange County isn't the best place to look for this? Do our North Carolina readers have any suggestions on the counties where Sharia law has been invoked most frequently? Perhaps I should think about Alamance, Granveille, or Halifax Counties? Or maybe, because of this statue, I need to look in Virgina counties. Would Lunenburg County be a reasonable place to look for this? Suggestions most appreciated because as I say I want my property -- and especially trusts and estates -- classes to be up-to-date.
The illustration is of the antebellum Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough.
Last night, the ABA Section on Law School Accreditation and Review announced one of the most significant changes to law school accreditation standards in over twenty years. By a split vote, the Section voted to eliminate the mandated use of LSAT and GPA's in law school admissions. The majority decided that the pernicious effects of these indicators - and particularly, the way in which they easily facilitate law school rankings such as U.S. News - 0utweigh any value they might otherwise provide admission committees. The Committee was particularly troubled by the routine use of GPA's which have been shown to reflect more of an average of undergraduate performance while marginalizing high and low grades, as well as a student's median performance. The Committee also backed off its prior enthusiastic support of the LSAT, noting that it is only a small snapshot of how a student performs on tests. In lieu of the LSAT and GPA, the ABA urged law schools to look at the whole candidate, including both successes and failures.
While the news was significant, the ABA did not outright prohibit use of such indicators. Instead, it suggested that schools might utilize other tests in addition to the LSAT, such as the GMAT, the GRE, and the fMRI. Similarly, the ABA identified other indicia of undergraduate success beyond the GPA, such as departmental honors, selective club membership, or generosity under difficult circumstances. The ABA seemed particularly interested in facilitating more direct communication between undergraduate institutions and law schools, suggesting the creation of a recommendation marketplace where law admissions committees and recommenders could engage in more dynamic and iterative process of reference creation and evaluation.
Reaction among professors has been muted, although Paul Campos, the Harold Camping Professor of Law at the University of Colorado, argued that this change was unlikely to reverse the trend of law schools admitting students based primarily on their ability to apply to law school.
Scamblogger critics called it yet another ABA sham. "I'll bet that everyone on that Committee is in the pocket of [Santa Clara law professor Stephen] Diamond", wrote one anonymous commenter at Lawyers, Guns and Bitcoins. And with an almost ritualistic incantation, the commenter added, "Brian Leiter is nothing more than a legal philosopher and quite possibly an oenophile."
Professor Mark Adams, of Valparaiso Law, has been named the new dean of the University of Idaho College of Law. Adams has been vice dean and associate dean at Valpo and will move to Moscow to take over in late June. He will have to navigate the school's increasing presence in Boise - where it is competing with Concordia Law.
Back in January, CNN ran a piece entitled “Why Are Lawyers Killing Themselves.” In general, the piece focused on a spate of lawyer suicides in Kentucky and other states over the last several years. Most of the suicides (15 since 2010) in Kentucky were seemingly successful lawyers. One was a relatively young (37) and popular adjunct professor at NKU’s Chase College of Law.
Outside of Kentucky, another prominent lawyer suicide was Mark Levy, the chair of Kilpatrick Stockton’s Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice in D.C. Mr. Levy was a top Supreme Court advocate, having argued 16 times before the Court and, in January 2009, won a 9-0 victory for DuPont in an important ERISA case (Kennedy v. Plan Administrator, 555 U.S. 285 (2009)). However, in April 2009, as the economy tanked, Kilpatrick Stockton informed Mr. Levy that his services were no longer needed. So, Mr. Levy came to work on April 30, 2009, sat down at his desk, activated the “out of office” auto-reply feature on his email account and shot himself in the head. Chillingly, the “out of office” message Mr. Levy activated that morning was as follows: “As of April 30, 2009, I can no longer be reached. If your message relates to a firm matter, please contact my secretary. If it concerns a personal matter, please contact my wife.” (SeeRichard B. Schmitt, “A Death in the Office,” ABA Journal, Nov. 2009, at 30-31).
Here in North Carolina, one of the founders of King & Spalding’s Charlotte office, who was profoundly successful; a prominent litigator in McGuireWood’s Raleigh, N.C. office; and numerous quietly successful small town lawyers have committed suicide in recent years.
The common thread running through most of these suicides? Clinical Depression (a/k/a “major depressive disorder”).
According to the American Psychiatric Association and numerous other sources, depression is the most likely trigger for suicide. Lawyers, as a group, are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than the average person. Of 104 occupations, lawyers were the most likely to suffer depression. (Both of these statistics are from a Johns Hopkins University study to which I cannot find a link).
Further, according to a two-year study completed in 1997, suicide accounted for 10.8% of all deaths among lawyers in the United States and Canada and was the third leading cause of death. Of more importance was the suicide rate among lawyers, which was 69.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 individuals, as compared to 10 to 14 suicide deaths per 100,000 individuals in the general population. In short, the rate of death by suicide for lawyers was nearly six times the suicide rate in the general population.
A quality of life survey by the North Carolina Bar Association in the early 1990s, revealed that almost 26% of respondents exhibited symptoms of clinical depression, and almost 12% said they contemplated suicide at least once a month. Studies in other states have found similar results. In recent years, several states have been averaging one lawyer suicide a month.
What is worse is the state of our students. According to a study by Prof. Andy Benjamin (U. Wash.), by the spring of their 1L year, 32% of law students are clinically depressed, despite being no more depressed than the general public (about 8%) when they entered law school. By graduation, this number had risen to 40%. While this percentage dropped to 17% two years after graduation, the rate of depression was still double that of the general public. (See http://www.lawyerswithdepression.com/law-school-depression/).
These statistics, which likely have not improved in recent years, are terrifying.
In the months since CNN ran its story, I have (unsuccessfully) tried to shake the feeling that we (as lawyers, law professors and the mentors of a generation of law students) missed out on a valuable opportunity to more fully address an issue that is critical to the legal profession. So, when the opportunity to post here came along, I decided to revisit this issue and to do so in a personal way.
I will admit to being a bit nervous about even raising this topic. (Given the nature of many anonymous internet commenters, I think most people would be hesitant to bare even a minute portion of their souls online and attempt to engage with a very serious subject, only to be subject to snarky or mean-spirited attacks.) Plus, mental illness and suicide are not comfortable subjects for most people. There remains a very real stigma attached to mental illness. Many people believe that suffering from clinical depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or a host of other mental illnesses is a character flaw or a weakness. Having one of these diseases has been seen as something of which the sufferer should be ashamed. This attitude has been in place for too long for people to easily change their perceptions and opinions.
However, as lawyers and law professors, we must to do more. It is clear that our students need us to do more. When you are depressed, you feel so terribly alone. You feel different. You feel ashamed. You feel weak. You feel like you will never feel better and that you can never be the person you want to be.
If 40% of our students feel this way, we must do more. They look up to us. They see us as role models and mentors. They see us as strong and successful and confident. They need to see that suffering from depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder will not curse them for all time and destroy their lives. These are treatable diseases, not character flaws. They need us to be brave and be honest.
And then there is me: an untenured, assistant professor with five kids, who left a generally successful practice career to teach at Charlotte School of Law. So, anonymous internet commentators be damned . . .
My name is Brian Clarke. I am a father, a husband, a lawyer and a law professor. And I suffer from major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
So there you have it. While I have been “out” at Charlotte Law and have spoken publicly about my disease, this is the most wide-open forum in which I have come out.
In my next post, I will share my story (a piece of public soul baring that you should not miss!). In the third (and mercifully final) post in this little serial adventure, I will discuss the role my struggles with depression and anxiety have played (and continue to play) in the classroom.
[FYI, as this is a serious topic, I will moderate any comments to this post and delete anything I deem inappropriate or off topic.]
Folks who followed the Taxing Eggs symposium here at the Lounge a few weeks ago might also be interested in the most recent episode of Oral Argument, The Astronaut's Hair, featuring Lisa Milot, one of our tax expert participants in the Taxing Eggs symposium. The episode is really well done, and touches on the taxation (and other legal and cultural issues) involving the sale of gametes, plasma, hair, artwork, and other items.
I was unaware of Oral Argument until this episode and am now going back to listen to the prior episodes, which cover everything from substantive legal debates to law school rankings to the roles of legal scholarship and law blogging. According to the website, Oral Argument is “a podcast about law, law school, legal theory, and other nerdy things that interest us” and is “a product of the collision of Joe Miller and Christian Turner.” Prior episodes are:
Last fall, when the University of Vermont (UVM), located in Burlington, and Vermont Law School (VLS), located in Royalton, announced that they were developing a joint degree program, UVM's Vice President for Administration and University Relations explicitly denied that a merger was on the table: "It’s not on the table at all. We're not talking about a merger." But concerns about a merger and relocation—which Royalton residents say would adversely affect the local economy—have nevertheless persisted, and indeed have been rekindled this year. In January, the UVM Board of Trustees convened an ad hoc work group, which last met in closed door session on February 27, "to explore the university’s relationship with VLS." According to Vermont Public Radio, "at least three UVM trustees [who declined to go on the record] have confirmed that the possibility of UVM acquiring VLS outright is one of many scenarios the work group is examining."
Those three trustees presumably do not include Vermont Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge, who cited the possibility of a merger in her decision to resign her position as a member of the UVM Board of Trustees on February 20 after serving just one year of a six-year term. Buxton felt that she faced a potential conflict of interest between her role as trustee, should UVM decide that absorbing and relocating the law school was in its interest, and the role she has held since 2010 as state legislator, where she represents the Royalton residents who are increasingly uneasy about rumors of a merger. Incidentally, Buxton is a 2010 graduate of the law school and, until May of 2013, also held a fulltime position there as assistant director of community relations and alumni affairs. That position, however, which accommodated her annual four-month stint at the state house, was eliminated in May as part of the law school's various layoffs and buyouts amid declining enrollments and Buxton was forced to file for unemployment while she searched for a similarly accommodating job elsewhere. (It's unclear from her Wikipedia page whether she has been successful in her job search.)
In response to the upsurge of merger rumors following Buxton's resignation, UVM President Thomas Sullivan and VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly released a joint statement implicitly denying that a merger is on the table. They said that "programmatic and academic opportunities between the institutions," including joint degrees and clinical and research collaborations, "represent the full extent of what the two institutions are exploring and discussing." Asked for a more explicit statement about whether a merger and relocation is a possibility, law school spokesperson Peter Glenshaw was somewhat more circumspect than UVM's Vice President for Administration and University Relations had been last fall. "At this time," Glenshaw said, "there is no plan to relocate, and we intend to continue building our strategic academic partnerships with UVM."