Prawfsblawg reports that Yale is offering stress relief dogs for its pampered pups students:
It seems that things have become so stressful for some law students that therapy dogs are in order.
In my day, we had to walk ten miles to school to take our exams. Through knee deep snow. Uphill. Both ways.
Over at his blog Excess of Democracy, Derek Muller (Pepperdine) has a provacative post titled "NCBE Has Data To Prove Class of 2014 Was Worst in a Decade, And It's Likely Going to Get Worse." Derek recounts that the overall bar passage rate across the country for the July 2014 sitting was down as compared to previous years, and he posits that the lower results were caused by "student quality and law school decisionmaking." He believes that the data suggests that lower quality students, and educational decisions of law schools, are producing graduating classes that are less qualified overall, in turn resulting in lower bar passage rates.
In essence, students come into law school having done worse on the LSAT, and they leave law school doing worse on the bar exam.
Apropos of which, Paul Caron has the latest California bar passage data:
The big story this year is the striking decline in the bar passage rate:
- First time test takers from ABA-aproved law schools: down 6.5 percentage points
- All test takers: down 7.1 percentage points
These declines are concentrated in the lowest ranked schools:
- First time test takers at the 5 highest ranked schools: down 1.5 percentage points
- First time test takers at the 5 lowest tanked schols: down 12.3 percentage points
The state’s overall passing rate has declined in the past five years, from 89 percent in 2009 down to 80.9 percent this year.
One might reasonably infer that the slump in law school applications has meant that all schools are taking in students today that they would not have taken 10 years ago, but that the bottom tier schools have been disproportionately affected by this trend, which makes sense. As Brian Tamanaha has noted:
A sharp decline in applicants inevitably leads to a decline in the quality of law students, manifested in declining LSAT/GPA medians and rising acceptance rates. A decade ago, for the entering class of 2003, only 4 law schools accepted 50% or more of their applicants (the highest at 55.4%). Jump forward to 2011: 42 law schools accepted 50% or more of their applicants, broken down as follows: 29 schools accepted between 50% and 59%; 7 schools accepted between 60% and 69%; 5 schools accepted between 70% and 79%; one law school accepted 80.1%.
Here is another comparison to put the decline in perspective: A little more than half of the applicants who applied to law school in 2004 were accepted somewhere; in 2013, around seventy-five (and perhaps eighty) percent of the people who apply will be admitted somewhere. As law schools reach ever deeper into the applicant pool, they will admit students who should not be in law school. Applicants with low LSAT/GPA scores, in particular, have a higher risk of failing out and a higher risk of not passing the bar exam.
The bottom tier schools now are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, which is reflected in their bar passage rates.
In this corner, we have Stanford law professor Joseph Grundfest counterpunching earlier criticism by Yale law professor Jonathan Macey:
It takes some fancy footwork even to argue that the Harvard Proposal, with its glaring omissions, complies with SEC regulations. And, I am happy to concede that Professor Macey is a talented and clever dancer. But the problem with Professor Macey’s arguments in defense of the Harvard Proposal is that they get tripped up by the facts and the law.
But back comes Macey with a combination of jabs and uppercuts:
As I explain below, the Reply reverses field and drastically modifies and weakens the authors’ allegations. Furthermore, in conceding some key points that I made and in failing to address some others, the Reply itself demonstrates that Gallagher/Grundfest wrongfully accused the SRP and should withdraw their allegations.
I jest, of course, but it really is a bit like watching a heavyweight fight. The difficulty that Joe and Jon now find themselves in, however, is that once you start one of these fights, you have to win.
I want to include modules on Citizens United (personhood) and B Corps/L3Cs in my corporate social responsibility course new spring. Anybody got some?
Rick Garnett blogs:
For everyone planning on attending the AALS Annual Meeting in DC -- and for any law professors or law students who'll be in the area in early January! -- here's information about the upcoming Lumen Christi / Law Professors Christian Fellowship event, featuring our own Rob Vischer and Prof. Barbara Armacost (U. Virginia). Sign up now!
I won't be there, of course, because I never go anywhere I can't get to in my RV. But people willing to subject themselves to the terrors and trials of modern air travel should probably go. I've been to several of their events over the years and they are always rewarding.
This really surprised me, especially because the Bob Scott I had as a professor at UVa 30 years ago was a hard ass among hard asses:
Columbia Law School is allowing students who say they're traumatized by Garner and Brown killings to postpone finals. http://t.co/q8VhFgtbWO— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) December 7, 2014
The politically correct cops at UCLA will probably give me grief for saying this, but this tweet nicely captures my attitude about what Columbia is doing:
@brithume Wow now I really want a Columbia Law School graduate representing me during a stressful courtroom experience.— Яobola (@robx_d) December 7, 2014
Update: And this one too:
The Washington Post article is full of eyebrow raising details:
When officials at the University of California at Los Angeles began negotiating a $300,000 speech appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the school had one request: Could we get a reduced rate for public universities?
The answer from Clinton’s representatives: $300,000 is the “special university rate.” [In fairness, the fee is funded by an endowed gift and was donated to her foundation, but still ....] ...
Top university officials discussed at length the style and color of the executive armchairs Clinton and moderator Lynn Vavreck would sit in as they carried on a question-and-answer session, as well as the kind of pillows to be situated on each chair. Clinton’s representatives requested that the chairs be outfitted with two long, rectangular pillows — and that two cushions be kept backstage in case the chair was too deep and she needed additional back support.
After a lengthy call with a Clinton representative, UCLA administrator Patricia Lippert reported to campus colleagues, “She uses a lavalier [microphone] and will both speak from the audience and walk around stage, TED talk style. We need a teleprompter and 2-3 downstage scrolling monitors [for] her to read from.”
During a walk-through of Royce Hall five days before the lecture, the e-mails show, Clinton’s team rejected the podium planned for her use during her 20- to 30-minute speech, setting off a scramble on campus to find a suitable podium and rent a new university seal to match. ...
Her representatives asked for a case of still water, room temperature, to be deposited stage right. They also asked that “a carafe of warm/hot water, coffee cup and saucer, pitcher of room temperature water, water glass, and lemon wedges” be situated both on a table on stage as well as in another room where Clinton would stand for photos with VIPs.
For the green room, Clinton’s representatives requested: “Coffee, tea, room temp sparkling and still water, diet ginger ale, crudité, hummus and sliced fruit.” They also asked for a computer, mouse and printer, as well as a scanner, which the university had to purchase for the occasion. ...
When university officials decided to award Clinton the UCLA Medal, Clinton’s team asked that it be presented to her in a box rather than draped around her neck. That request was sent to the university’s chancellor, Gene Block. ...
Organizers faced criticism that more students could not attend, particularly after an early morning event to allow students to enter a lottery for one of 413 free tickets turned into a shoving match. But students without tickets were able to watch a live stream of the event in an overflow location, Renaud said.
Other controversy surrounded Clinton’s visit. When an online survey asked the public what questions should be posed during a 40-minute question-and-answer session, university officials noted in e-mails that the majority of the suggestions were about the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Somehow one suspects few of those questions got asked.
Neither UCLA nor Hillary Clinton come out of this episode looking very good.
A friend suggested this to me. I suspect s/he's right.
You will perhaps recall Judge Richard Kopf. If not, start here. The Judge recently got crosswise (again) with friend of the blog Rick Hasen who is a good guy and a major scholarly figure despite starting out with two strikes (he's a liberal and he teaches at Irvine). That spat presumably motivated Judge Kopf to post the following request:
I am interested in collecting a list of law professors who litigate in the trial courts of this country while also teaching law. I don’t care whether such litigation is civil or criminal in nature. I don’t care whether the litigation takes place in state or federal court. I understand and appreciate that busy law professors only have so much time. As a result, I don’t expect the list to contain law professors who are constantly in our trial courtrooms. But, I do want to know about law professors who try enough cases on a fairly regular basis that one might conclude that they are presently competent to sit at the first chair representing a client before a jury or a trial judge. ...
Please, please, please, no snark. I honestly have no interest in picking a fight. On the contrary, I am sincerely hoping to recognize and praise law professors who litigate in the many trial courtrooms of our nation while also regularly teaching law.
Without intending to be snarky in any way, I wonder why Judge Kopf is singling out trial lawyer law professors. Are law professors who regularly take the lead in writing briefs and conducting oral arguments in appellate cases not equally worthy of recognition and praise?
More important, are trial lawyers (law professors or not) worthy of recognition and praise? I'm quite serious about that question. Consider the Manhattan Institute's path breaking report Trial Lawyers Inc., which exposed the considerable damage being done to our economy by excessive and abusive litigation:
Trial Lawyers, Inc., while not an annual report per se, presents a snapshot of the lawsuit industry as it exists today. The picture is not pretty. Total tort costs today exceed $200 billion annually, or more than 2% of America’s gross domestic product—a significantly higher percentage than in any other developed nation. Moreover, even as the economy has stagnated and the stock market has plunged, the lawsuit industry’s revenues have continued to skyrocket: in 2001, the last year for which data are available, U.S. tort costs grew by 14.3%. Over the last 30 years, tort costs grew at a compound annual rate of 9.1%; by comparison, the U.S. population grew 1.1% annually, the consumer price index grew 5.0% annually, and the gross domestic product grew 7.6% annually during the same period.
In my home field of corporate law and securities regulation, runaway shareholder litigation has become an enormous impediment to capital formation, as I argued in my article, Corporate Governance and U.S. Capital Market Competitiveness, available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1696303.
Whether or not you agree with me that runaway litigation has reached crisis proportions and therefore calls into serious question any effort to praise trial lawyers, moreover, surely you can agree with me that law schools already devote too much attention to litigation. As I argued in my essay, Reflections on Twenty Years of Law Teaching, available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1122577:
[Law school as taught by] the Socratic method doesn’t really teach you to “think like a lawyer.” At best, it teaches you to think like a litigator.
Consider a typical law student who accepts a [transactional] job at a large firm. She has spent perhaps ninety-five percent of her time in law school reading and discussing cases and law review articles. Once in practice, she will go days or weeks at a time without picking up a case or a law review article. Instead, her days will be filled with drafting, reviewing, and marking up transactional documents, negotiating language with opposing counsel, participating in conference calls, and composing memos, emails, and letters to colleagues and clients.
“Thinking like a lawyer,” as Kingsfield and his ilk would have our graduate do is not very conducive to success in that environment.
In his book, The Terrible Truth About Lawyers, Mark McCormack, founder of the International Management Group, a major sports and entertainment agency, wrote that “it’s the lawyers who: (1) gum up the works; (2) get people mad at each other; (3) make business procedures more expensive than they need to be; and now and then deep-six what had seemed like a perfectly workable arrangement.” McCormack further observed that, “when lawyers try to horn in on the business aspects of a deal, the practical result is usually confusion and wasted time.” He concluded: “the best way to deal with lawyers is not to deal with them at all.”
All of which is why I emphasize not only doctrine but also economics and business. Transactional lawyers must understand the business, financial, and economic aspects of deals so as to draft workable contracts and disclosure documents, conduct due diligence, or counsel clients on issues that require business savvy as well as knowing the law.
I want my students to understand that successful transactional lawyers build their practice by adding value to their clients’ transactions. Instead of thinking like Kingsfield, I want them to learn where the value in a given transaction comes from and how they might add even more value to the deal.
The problem with most law schools is that we have too many litigators and ex-litigators and not enough deal lawyers. So why would Judge Kopf want to contribute to that problem by giving trial lawyer law professors yet more recognition and praise? Why this bias against deal lawyers?
Finally, I suspect Judge Kopf's many fans in the "law school is a scam" crowd will take issue with his list if they stop to think about its implications. Judge Kopf is "only interested in law professors who litigate while they also teach law. Exclude professors who were once trial lawyers but who no longer spend time in the trial courtroom."
Of course, one of the main complaints by the law school scam crowd is that too many law professors spend too much time doing things other than teaching. Given how intensive trial work is, a law professor who is spending much time first chairing cases is a law professor who likely is not spending all that much time preparing for class, mentoring students, and so on.
In sum, without wanting to start a fight--just a discussion, I think Judge Kopf's latest project doesn't make much sense to me.