Monday, March 11, 2013
The Dallas Morning News this weekend published an interview with Ellen Pryor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at UNT-Dallas College of Law, which is slated to open August 2014. The interview addresses her thoughts on opening a new state-supported law school in an environment with law school applications at a 30-year low.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Professor Doug Berman at Sentencing Law & Policy commented this morning on what promises to be a very timely and important symposium upcoming at Duquesne Law School. The syposium is called "Plea Bargaining After Lafler and Frye" and will be held February 28-March 1 at Duquesne in Pittsburgh in cooperation with the Criminal Justice Section, White Collar Crimes Committee, Mid-Atlantic Region. The symposium schedule is here.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
At least two Texas legislators, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III of Harlingen and Rep. Armando Martinez of Weslaco, have filed bills to establish a public law school in the Rio Grande Valley. The two bills are similar to one another - the primary difference is that Lucio's bill would place the law school in the University of Texas System, while Martinez's bill would authorize the school to be created and operated by any willing and existing university system.
A law school in the fast-growing Rio Grande Valley has long been a goal for South Texas's legislative delegation. While the need for a new law school in this national market is doubtful, the Rio Grande Valley is greatly underserved. The nearest public law school to the Valley is the University of Texas at Austin some 300 miles away. The Rio Grande Valley appears by far to be the largest region in the nation, measured by population, located so far from a public law school. The two MSA's that make up the Valley have almost 1.2 million in population according to the last Census.
Texas created a public law school in the Dallas during the 2009 session - the University of North Texas Dallas (UNT-Dallas) College of Law is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2014. With law schools facing declining enrollment in this tough job market, getting yet another law school opened in Texas looks to be an uphill battle this session.
The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days during odd-numbered years, called special sessions excluded.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Another Case Alleging Law School Committed Fraud In Disclosing Employment Data of Graduates Dismissed
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
A series of cases have recently been filed alleging that law schools have mislead student applicants. Most of these cases have been dismissed, but now comes word via an article in the National Law Journal, that one has survived a motion to dismiss, here. As the article states:
The fraud lawsuit against the Thomas Jefferson School of Law lives on.
A San Diego judge declined to dismiss the case — the first in a wave of suits brought by recent law graduates who claim their alma maters misled them with overly rosy assurances about their postgraduate job prospects.
Those suits have not fared well in court; five have been dismissed since March. However, as of the ruling in San Diego, three cases against California law schools have survived motions to dismiss.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, ____A.D.3d____(1st Dept. Dec. 20, 2012), is an important case which we reported on earlier. It is one in a series of cases challenging reporting practices of law schools across the cournty with respect to employment data. Plaintiff's theory was basically that New York Law School's published statistics were fraudlent and misleading. While the court affirmed the motion to dismiss against New York Law School, it did say some things which greatly trouble me as a member of the adjunct faculty at this school. Specifically, the court stated:
While we are troubled by the unquestionably less than candid and incomplete nature of defendant's disclosures, a party does not violate GBL 349 by simply publishing truthful information and allowing consumers to make their own assumptions about the nature of the information (see Andre Strishak & Assoc. v Hewlett Packard Co. 300 AD2d 608, 609-610 [2nd Dept 2002]; St. Patrick's Home for Aged & Infirm v Laticrete Intl., 264 AD2d 652, 655-656 [1st Dept 1999]; see also Corcino v Filstein, 32 AD3d 201, 202 [1st Dept 2006]). Accordingly, we find that defendant's disclosures were not materially deceptive or misleading (id.). . . .
We are not unsympathetic to plaintiffs' concerns. We recognize that students may be susceptible to misrepresentations by law school. As such, "[t]his Court does not necessarily agree [with Supreme Court] that [all] college graduates are particularly sophisticated in making career or business decisions" (MacDonald, 2012 WL 2994107, at *10). As a result, they sometimes make decisions to yoke themselves and their spouses and/or their children to a crushing burden because the schools have made misleading representations that give the impression that a full time job is easily obtainable when in fact it is not.
Given this reality, it is important to remember that the practice of law is a noble profession that takes pride in its high ethical standards. Indeed, in order to join and continue to enjoy the privilege of being an active member of the legal profession, every prospective and active member of the profession is called upon to demonstrate candor and honesty. This requirement is not a trivial one. For the profession to continue to ensure that its members remain candid and honest public servants, all segments of the profession must work in concert to instill the importance of those values. "In the last analysis, the law is what the lawyers are. And the law and the lawyers are what the law schools make them."[FN3] Defendant and its peers owe prospective students more than just barebones compliance with their legal obligations. Defendant and its peers are educational not-for-profit institutions [FN4]. They should be dedicated to advancing the public welfare [FN5]. In that vein, defendant and its peers have at least an ethical [*6]obligation of absolute candor to their prospective students.
I am not involved in this case and I only know what I read. I have been at New York Law School for about 8 years and everyone has gone out of their way to serve and help students. I do not believe that anyone would intentionally mislead a student. Perhaps, this is why I find the court's language troubling-deeply troubling. As adjunct professors, we do not get to go to faculty meetings and we are not kept informed about the governance of the school, and that is very unfortunate. I would hope that New York Law School puts out some communication explaining its position.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
This is a tough time to be a law school dean. Consider Vermont Law School dean Marc Mihaly, who only four months into the job, is now facing a $3.3 million budget deficit. With a 14% projected revenue decline on the horizon, Mihaly has announced a voluntary buyout for VLS staff which he says could be extended to faculty if there are not enough takers. He also announced that VLS will increase its LL.M program and certificate offerings to make up for the revenue loss. Taja-Nia Henderson at Concurring Opinions, has some interesting comments on the problems and risks associated with law school faculty buyout programs.
Meanwhile, Penn State Law dean Philip McConnaughay, facing declining enrollment at the dual-campus school, has proposed to "spin off" the Carlisle campus into a separate, autonomous entity beginning in 2015. This proposal came after state and local officials rejected his proposal to consolidatete the 1L program into the University Park campus. Interestingly, Penn State acquired the Carlisle campus in only 12 years ago.
Ten new law schools that are either ABA accredited or seeking accreditation have opened the doors in the last ten years with new schools in Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas planning to open. With enrollment declining and legal jobs paying enough to reasonably retire law school debt harder to find, it seems obvious that some industry restructuring, including possible consolidation or school closure, will occur. We can expect more stories such as the ones coming out of Vermont and Pennsylvania as this process unwinds.
Friday, September 28, 2012
There has been much written in the blogosphere about Steven M. Davidoff's essay in the New York Times earlier this week as well as to Paul Campos's response to it, and I do not have much to add other than to say that I have just read the online comments to the Davidoff piece and I found there a substantially positive review for the value that adjunct faculty brings to the overall law school educational experience. This seems worth observing here, this being the Adjunct Law Profs Blog and all.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Santa Clara Law Professor recently posted both is tenure application and his application to be promoted to full professor online. It is available here. I must admit that I have never seen this type of information before and I assume that many readers also have not seen this type of material. While I understand the need to keep personnel type information confidential, posting information like this is helpful for comparision purposes.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Sunday, September 9, 2012
The Am Law Daily posted "A Tale of Two (California) Law Schools" by Matt Leichter yesterday. Leichter compares the two law schools most recently receiving ABA provisional accreditation, University of La Verne and University of California at Irvine, and concludes:
There are two lessons the University of La Verne and UC-Irvine provide us. The first is that there is no "responsible" way to create a law school that doesn't involve creating unemployed graduates. Either the law school will take in students it knows will either not find law jobs or won't even pass a bar exam (La Verne), or it will force another law school somewhere else to do the same (UC-Irvine).
The second and more significant lesson, which is more closely associated with UC-Irvine than La Verne: We are slowly approaching the endgame for public law schools. Once state governments no longer consider training lawyers a public good, by cutting subsidies, public law schools mutate into vestigial state structures whose agendas are orthogonal to any public purpose, unless using their students' tuition for other university programs counts. They should either be privatized or closed.
I am not entirely convinced by Leichter's arguments but I find them to be interesting and worth further thought. I also learned a new word -- "orthogonal."
Saturday, September 1, 2012
A Santa Clara Law Professor recently posted both is tenure application and his application to be promoted to full professor online. It is available here. I must admit that I have never seen this type of information before and I assume that many readers also have not seen this type of material. While I understand the need to keep personnel type information confidential, posting information like this is helpful for comparision purposes.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Abolish the Law Reviews! is an interesting July 5, 2012 article from The Atlantic by Walter Olson. He makes the familar arguments that law schools take too much time to publish and serve only the needs of the faculty. Olson favors online scholarship, such as blog posts instead.
While Olson and others have somewhat of a point, I would not go so far as to abolish the law reviews. They serve a purpose at law school. It is called training law students how to write. More fundamentally, what is wrong with law reviews today is that they focus on legal theory. Law School should teach law students how to practice law.
Unfortunately, look at any law school today. You will see that there are very few professors hired in the last 10 years or so that has any material amount of practice experience. Law schools are too busy chasing the prestige of an Ivy league Phd (in addition the the required JD). Because so few professors have practical experience, they often write about things that no body cares about.
The solution is to ONLY hire professors with significant experience and ONLY hire professors who can teach. Publications should be related to practice. Law schools can save money and time by only publishing articles online. Many law schools do that now, but not for their main stream law review.
Wake up law schools, we are in the 21st Century! ABA are you listening. You need to wake up and change the ABA Standards NOW.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Sunday, August 12, 2012
An August 8, 2012 article from the National Law Journal, here, indicates that the ABA and other bar associations are studying legal education.
Reform is badly needed. Law schools are run by professors who, for the most part, are not competent to practice law. Yes, they are bright and have those ivory degrees. But, how many of them ever represented a client, performed a deposition or answered a complaint?? Sadly, law schools today are not concerned with hiring professors with experience. They are more insterested in having their faculty produce law review articles that no one reads.
Think I am joking. Pick a law school and pick a professor hired within the last 10 days. Do a lexis or westlaw search and take a look at how many cases they made an appearance in. Amicus briefs do not count. Amicus briefs for professors are better than nothing, but just barely. I will give you one better. Take a look at the faculty in your school. How many of the professors are not even admitted to the bar in the state where the law school is located? States like NJ, where law professors (but not college professors) can waive in do not count.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Finally, the ABA is attempting to do something. They just imposed a censure on U of Illinois Law School for intentionally misreporting LSAT admissions data. A copy of the full report is available here. In addition to a public censure, the sanctions include a requirement that the law school issue a public corrective statement; a requirement that the law school hire a compliance monitor to report to the section’s accreditation committee on its admissions process and data for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; a monetary penalty of $250,000; and termination of a section agreement that allowed the law school to conduct an early-admissions program. ABA New Journal Blog has additional information and a press release issued by the ABA is available here.
I used the word finally because finally there is a recognition that numbers matter. The numbers matter because students rely on them. Whether we like US News and World Reports ranking or not, they are here to say and they use this data.
Having said that, I am sorry to say that I do not think the ABA went far enough. This is a real serious violation. The ABA found that the Law School acted with intent. How many students relied to their determinent on this? What difference would this have made to financial aid awards to students.
A much more reasonable penalty would include, in addition the above, placing the school on probation and making them reapply for full accredition in 3 years and in addition, to require that the school refund a substanial portion of the tutition to the students. Figuring out the amount would be difficult and somewhat arbitrary. I would start by figuring out how many students probably would have made a different choice of law schools. Take that number times it by the annual tuition for each of the 3 years and divide it amongest all the students. Now, that would have said a message.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Monday, July 23, 2012
MacDonald, Jr. v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, ____F.Supp.2d____(W.D. Mich. July 20, 2012), is the second case where a court has dimissed a fraud type of suit brought by former law students against a law school. The other case is Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, No. 65226/11 (NY Sup. Ct. Mar. 21, 2012), which we previously reported on.
The claim was that the 2010 Employment Report and Salary Survey was fraudlent. In granting a motion to dismiss, the court explained:
This Court agrees with Judge Schwietzer, a judge for the New York Supreme Court in a nearly identical case, for some of the reasons he discusses as to why reliance upon the two statistics would be unreasonable. See Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law Sch., Index No.652226/11, Seq. No. 002, Decision and Order (N.Y.S.Ct. Mar. 21, 2012) (Def.’s Supplemental Br. Ex. 1). This Court does not necessarily agree that college graduates The State of New York’s trial court. Case 1:11-cv-00831-GJQ Doc #54 Filed 07/20/12 are particularly sophisticated in making career or business decisions. Sometimes hope and dreams triumph over experience and common sense. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable for Plaintiffs to rely on two bare-bones statistics in deciding to attend a bottom-tier law school with the lowest admission standards in the country. In addition, “[i]t is widely accepted that American law schools,
Cooley included, employ all sorts of legerdemain to boost employment rates in a contracting legal market” (Pls.’ Resp. at 5); once again, Plaintiffs state that they had other reasons to not rely upon the Employment Reports. Furthermore, whether before or during Plaintiffs’ attendance at Cooley,it would have been unreasonable to continue to rely on the Employment Reports because of theeconomy’s massive downfall, which hit the legal business as hard as any.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Hat Tip: TaxProf Blog
Thursday, July 12, 2012
From the Yale Law School website:
To its array of innovative legal programs, Yale Law School has added yet another – a Ph.D. in Law. The first such degree program in the country, Yale’s Ph.D. in Law is designed to prepare students who have earned a J.D. degree from an American law school to enter careers in legal scholarship. It will give students a broad foundation in the canon of legal scholarship and provide them the support and specialized training they need to produce their own scholarship. The Ph.D. will stand alongside Yale Law School’s other very successful law teaching degrees – the J.S.D. adn LL.M – which are designed primarily for students who received their initial legal education outside the U.S. The Ph.D. program is made possible, in part, through a grant from The Mellon Foundation, as well as a gift from Meridee Moore ’83, founder of Watershed Asset Management, L.L.C.
Friday, June 8, 2012
The headline in a June 8, 2012 article published by Inside Higher Education says it all. "Brutal" Job Market For New Law Grads. It reports on a National Association of Law Placement or NALPA study which shows that 85.6% of law school graduates are employed 9 months after graduation. But get this, only 64.4% are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. The NALAP press release is here. A copy of NALPA's selected findings, which provides much more detail is available here. The full report will not be released until August 2012. Note, the ABA maintains a statistical data on placement stats at each law school, but the 2011 data is not yet included.
This is disgraceful. This is coming at a time when the median law school tuition is $39,496 at private schools, $35,765 for non-residents at public schools and $19,788 for resident students at public schools, here.
These students are being taught by full-time faculty who are, for the most part, incompetent to practice law. The situation is particularly accute with recent law school full time faculty hiring. Most full-time faculty members never practiced law for any substanial period of time. They may have a post-JD degree and an appellate clerkship, but very few have practiced law or represented a client for more than 5 years. This is because law schools are concerned with academic credentials as opposed to practical experience.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein