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February 16, 2016


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Their efforts seem to be quite squarely aimed at US News academic reputation ranking a la Irvine's start-up faculty hiring a few years ago. And judging from the coverage here and elsewhere, it seems to working:

(1) Announce a bunch of flashy new/lateral hires with the credentials that we academics care about;
(2) Legal academics and their blogs pick up on the heady scent of prestige and cover these hires breathlessly;
(3) Rinse and repeat;
(4) Watch US News ranking increase, because it's weighted so heavily toward peer academic score (25% of total score).

This only works because of #2 above. Contrariwise, if rather than reannouncing every announcement of every new hire, legal academics either ignored it or started asking critical questions (such as: is making this large of an investment all at once in fixed personnel costs nearly guaranteed to lead to an increase in tuition in the near future?), the strategy doesn't work.

Also: even assuming rankings-chasing is a good idea (I'm dubious), this strategy, like any rankings-chasing strategy, assumes a universe in which the current rankings methodology remains unchanged. If US News tomorrow decides to eliminate or drastically reduce the weight given to the academic rep score, this strategy will look foolish in hindsight.

Milan Markovic

I appreciate Anon's concern for our students. He or she will be pleased to hear that we will not be raising tuition and in fact recently announced a 15% tuition cut.


A&M's efforts strike me as much less obviously subject to ridicule than UC-Irvine's. For one, A&M isn't creating a new law school, but taking one over. The overall supply of law schools stays the same. Second, A&M isn't, as far as I know, making the preposterous claim that the world needs another "top 10" law school. That claim was always preposterous because if UCI became a "top 10" school, it would just mean that some other school was demoted from the top 10. Why a top 10 school should be located in one place rather than another is hard to fathom, systemically speaking. And finally, A&M, as far as I know, isn't making the yet more preposterous claim that it's existence is justified by a huge unmet demand for "public service" attorneys with $50,000/year tuition debt loads hanging around their necks.

Al Brophy

This is great news for the students and faculty of A&M. Thomas and Lisa are terrific scholars and teachers.



You're welcome. I'll look forward to seeing that last. I'm being sincere.

Note, however, that I did not say "an increase in *law school* tuition; I said "an increase in tuition". Assuming that A&M doesn't have a giant bucket of unending cash laying around somewhere but is instead operating on a fixed budget model where money is fundamentally fungible, the money has to come from somewhere. In the absence of that cash bucket, the only possible other "somewheres" that could be funding this massive wave of hiring are (a) other A&M students' tuition increasing or (b) other A&M programs' budgets decreasing.


Texas A&M University has an $11 billion endowment. They can afford to make some good hires AND lower law school tuition--no need to choose. They are doing some really good things, and deserve credit for it.


Well, then that's fair enough: They do in fact have the hypothetical giant bucket of cash.


I'm excited by what Texas A&M is doing. If I were looking to make a move, I'd apply for sure.

West Coast Prof

What Andy is doing at Texas A&M is great. The former law school suffered for a variety of reasons, and congratulations to Andy and his team for turning it around -- funded, of course, by a very rich university that has wanted a quality law school for years. (In the 1990s, the university almost acquired South Texas College of Law, Indeed, there is even one issue of USNWR in which that law school is identified as Texas A&M's. But the higher education coordinating board in Texas stopped it.) For its population size, Texas is not as saturated with law schools as many states -- and turning one of the weakest ones into a much better one is hard to criticize.

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