Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Jamie R. Abrams joins us as a guest blogger for July. She is a professor at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law where she teaches Torts, Family Law, Women & Law, and Legislation.
As law schools nationwide prepare to implement the new ABA requirements governing experiential learning and assessment, it is also appropriate to revisit the gendered critiques of the Socratic dialogue. Scholars such as Professor Lani Gunier and Professor Elizabeth Mertz have studied its disproportionately marginalizing effect on women and minority law students. While innovations in law teaching are everywhere, these innovations are being constructed upon and limited by the ancient architecture of the case-based Socratic method, which still endures and persists throughout first-year and core upper-level courses. Law schools continue to design their budgets, curricula, and student experience around some degree of case-based, Socratic law teaching in large-lecture style classrooms.
But the Socratic method admittedly has some advantages that none of the other curricular innovations have. It is repeated hundreds of times in different courses, whereas a typical student in a law clinic will represent just a handful of clients on discreet legal issues. It is delivered to a large and diverse group of students allowing for competing perspectives and critical inquiry. It has robust volumes of existing teaching materials built around it making it the most economical method of law teaching. It is comfortable for many professors and law faculties because they were taught this way and they have taught this way for decades, thus allowing greater buy-in and ease of adaptation.
The Socratic method can be reframed to better catalyze other teaching innovations, create more practice-ready lawyers, and cultivate more inclusive and inviting law classrooms. Within the existing framework of law teaching – the same casebooks, class sizes, and teaching style – the case-based Socratic method can be reframed in three straight-forward ways to better align with curricular innovations in legal education and to create a more positive student experience. These adaptations are consistently (1) positioning client(s) at the center of the Socratic dialogue; (2) positioning law students as attorneys considering legal research and weight of authority as a springboard to client counseling and outcomes; and (3) sensitizing students to varied lawyering skills such as client counseling, settlement, drafting, and discovery within the Socratic case-based approach.
These re-framings of the Socratic method would create a more inclusive law school experience for all. These approaches reduce the hierarchy of the professor over the students and invite inclusive participation. The participation that is sought is more collaborative and inviting of diverse perspectives because it is offered as a means to advance client interests and goals, rather than to challenge the professor or a classmate. This would role model collaborative, collegial, and productive lawyering for our students, not just adversarial competencies.
This entry is excerpted from my article on Reframing the Socratic Method previously published in the Journal of Legal Education.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Meera Deo (Thomas Jefferson), A Better Tenure Battle: Fighting Bias in Teaching Evaluations, 31 Columbia J. Gender & Law 1 (2015).
This Article draws from the first systematic, comprehensive, mixed-method empirical law faculty diversity study to investigate how challenges in the classroom and bias in teaching evaluations affect female law faculty of color. The in-depth interviews of female law faculty of color are systematically analyzed using Atlas.ti software, finding that students directly challenge particular faculty in class, sometimes through verbal and even physical abuse, and write insensitive and irrelevant race- and gender-based comments on anonymous teaching evaluations. These encounters often have negative effects on the professional trajectory of women of color law professors, most notably when these individuals seek promotion and tenure. Instead of supporting these discriminatory barriers to advancement, legal institutions should do away with student evaluations altogether, modify them, or supplement them with more rigorous and less discriminatory forms of evaluation. This is the way to fight bias in teaching evaluations.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Challenging conventional wisdom is one thing; saying things that are historically inaccurate, inflammatory and racist is another. How much does academic freedom actually cover? If a history professor says something fundamentally wrong about a historical fact — such as misidentifying who staged the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — is that person’s views covered by academic freedom or is that a question of professional competence? What if a poetry professor says the same thing?
While the real protections offered under the principle vary from campus to campus, faculty work is at least founded on the idea that there’s room to express even unpopular ideas or beliefs. But are arguably unacademic opinions — inflammatory falsehoods that have no apparent basis in fact — also covered? A recent case at Oberlin College raises questions about whether all ideas are created equal when it comes to academic freedom.
For the American Association of University Professors, the distinction is one of disciplinary expertise and professional competence, said Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary in the department of academic freedom, tenure and governance. If, for example, a physics professor declared on Twitter that the Sept. 11 attacks were a hoax, AAUP would advocate for the professor’s right to free speech in extramural utterances (it doesn’t distinguish between free speech in person or online). But if the physics professor declared that the world is flat, denying all scientific evidence to the contrary, that could call into question his or her professional fitness.
“There’s a somewhat strange consequence that the less something relates to your discipline, the more protected you are on a general level,” Tiede said. “The closer something is to your area of expertise, you must in some sense be more careful that what you say doesn’t create concerns.”
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Meera Deo, Trajectory of a Law Professor, 20 Mich. J. Race & Law (2015)
Abstract:Women of color are already severely underrepresented in legal academia; as enrollment drops and legal institutions constrict further, race and gender disparities will likely continue to grow. Yet, as many deans and associate deans, most of whom are white, step down from leadership positions during these tumultuous times in legal education, opportunities have arisen for women of color to fill those roles in record numbers. However, there are individual and structural barriers preventing access to the leadership level. Significant hurdles have long prevented women of color from entering law teaching. Thus, this Article provides evidence to support the thesis that ongoing changes in legal education will likely continue to create barriers both to entry and advancement for women of color law faculty members and those who aspire to join legal academia. This Article draws from quantitative and qualitative analyses of data drawn from the Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project, a landmark mixed-method study of law faculty diversity, which utilizes an intersectional lens to focus on the experiences of women of color in legal academia while also incorporating those of white men, white women, and men of color. Empirical findings reveal that structural barriers (i.e., outright discrimination) as well as more indirect obstacles prevent women of color from joining legal academia in meaningful numbers and also preclude women of color who are already legal academics from taking on leadership positions. Law school administrators and policy makers should work against these structural and individual barriers to increase and improve faculty diversity at all levels. Greater diversity in legal academia generally, and leadership in particular, will not only provide greater opportunities for particular law faculty members, but will also have a positive effect on law students, legal education, legal academia, and the legal profession overall.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Gender Differences in Post-Tenure Productivity Due to Fewer Solicited Invitations to Women Law Faculty
Albert Yoon (Toronto), Academic Tenure, J. Empirical Studies (forthcoming)
We also note that when limiting publications to articles and essays, the gender differences remain statistically significant across all three outcome measures, but are smaller than for the full sample of publications. This reduction in the gender gap suggests that male faculty are more likely to receive invitations to participate in symposia and other solicited venues for publication than female faculty. This disparity accounts for at least some of the observed gender gap in productivity. ***
The gender difference in productivity we consistently observe warrants additional comment. Women write fewer articles post-tenure, are cited less frequently, and place in lower-ranked journals than men. The point estimates on gender reflect general comparisons between female and male faculty, and do not identify differences before and after tenure. In separate specifications, not reported, we examine female and male faculty separately. We find that across the full sample of publications, female faculty exhibit roughly the same productivity on all three measures before and after tenure, while male faculty’ publication count increases by 24 percent (their citation rate and journal placement do not meaningfully change).
The underlying explanation for these gender differences goes beyond the scope of this Article and warrants closer examination. Other studies have examined men and women in law school, the entry-level law teaching market, and the legal profession, often identifying large differences between the genders. The limits of our data make it difficult to further explore possible explanations for the differences we observe. We do not, for example, observe which faculty – men and women – are married or have children during the first ten years of their academic careers, either of which could influence their productivity. Part of the differences, we observe, however, may be institutional, given that we observed that men publish in symposia – typically solicited publications – disproportionate to their numbers in the academy.
H/t Tax Prof Blog
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
This is one of the best articles I've seen capturing the leadership realities of deaning today, from my view as an Associate Dean.
Chronicle HE, So You Want to Be a Dean?
I started out idealistic, and adamant that I could develop a better model of a school of education. What could be so hard, I thought, in "operationalizing" one’s ideas? What I have since learned: Nothing is more exciting or complicated in higher education as turning ideas into reality. It is way harder than rocket science.
So for any of you faculty members considering moving into administration, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your background may be your greatest asset. The bad news is that it may also be your undoing as a capable administrator.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Queen's University's Faculty of Law is home to Feminist Legal Studies Queen's (FLSQ), a research group that expands awareness and development of scholarship in feminist legal studies, enables the development of feminist legal scholars at Queen's, and fosters connections among feminists with an interest in law. In the fall of 2014, I had the privilege of returning to Queen's Law to give the first seminar in FLSQ's 2014–15 lecture series. I was tasked with providing some reflections on why feminist legal theory matters. Some of the people attending the talk were also enrolled in the Queen's Feminist Legal Studies Workshop. The readings assigned for those students were (1) Toni Pickard's (retired Queen's law faculty member) wonderful introduction to law students at Queen's from 1987, (2) Patricia Monture's (a graduate of Queen's) 2004 piece, “Women's Words,” and (3) Ruthann Robson's (lesbian legal theorist and class critic) piece “To Market, To Market.”What follows is the text from that talk.
Friday, December 18, 2015
From the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education:
Women and the Law Annual Meeting Schedule
Wednesday, January 6th, 5:30-6:30 pm
Section on Women in Legal Education Business Meeting
Drinks and hor d’oeuvres will be provided courtesy of St. Thomas University School of Law (Miami) and University of Toledo College of Law
Thursday, January 7th, 1:30-3:15 pm
"Female Perspectives on Commercial and Consumer Law"
Co-sponsored panel with the Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law
Friday, January 8th, 10:30 am-12:15 pm
"The Dodd-Frank Act’s Fifth Anniversary: Diversity and Inclusion in the Leadership of the Financial Services Sector"
Co-sponsored panel with the Sections on Minority Groups and Employment Discrimination
Friday, January 8th, 1:30-3:15 pm
“Sex and Death: Gender and Sexuality Matters in Trusts and Estates”
Trusts and Estates and Women in Legal Education Joint Program
Saturday, January 9th, 10:30 am-12:15 pm
"The Regulation of Appearance in the Workplace and the Meaning of Discrimination"
Co-sponsored panel with the Sections on Minority Groups, Employment Discrimination, and Islamic Law
Saturday, January 9th, 12:15-1:30 pm
Section on Women in Legal Education Luncheon
Professor Marina Angel will be honored as the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
UW Law student Harlan Mechling couldn’t go to his little sister’s graduation from Willamette University, but his father did call to tell him she was graduating as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a nation-wide honor society, with 42 other women and 16 men. Those numbers stood out to Mechling, instigating his research on gender inequity.
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s not surprising because it’s consistent with my experience,” Mechling said. “Throughout my life, girls have always been at the top of the class.”
Mechling’s research revealed that women account for more than 60 percent of students graduating with honors, 9 percent higher than their percent of the student population. Despite these feats, most women will likely be getting paid only 78 percent of what their male colleagues will earn.
Kellye Testy, dean of the UW School of Law, believes her students face persistent gender discrimination once they’re out in the work world.
“One of the areas I’ve always been interested in is legal education,” Testy said. “We’ve been admitting women in law school a roughly equal number as men for a few decades now.
But if you look at the world and the number of CEOs, governors, law school deans, etc., the percentage of women is much lower than it should be.”
She clarified that it is not just the UW law school that is graduating equal numbers of men and women.
Mechling’s research used statistics from Phi Beta Kappa. He gathered stats from emails sent out to those who qualified and the number of people in the society, from 27 private and public universities. Mechling wanted to measure academics because it was one of the only measurements that was consistent across universities in different states.
He began his research thinking maybe the high percentage of women in honors was just a Northwest thing, but was surprised to find consistency among schools.
The research paper Mechling created, titled “Follow California’s lead — help women recover damages for workplace sex/gender discrimination,” also states that even with the same amount of work experience, women teachers are paid 11 percent less than male teachers within a year of graduating college. In business and management jobs, women make 86 percent of what men are paid. In sales it is even less, with women earning 77 percent of what men get paid, according to Mechling.
Testy believes it is because of implicit bias. She said gender equity is certainly moving in the right direction, but there’s a long history in the United States of gender discrimination.
Mechling said one way to address these issues is for states to have better non-discrimination laws.
“The best solution is a federal law amending the Equal Pay Act of 1973,” Mechling said. “There have been attempts to do that, but House Republicans keep shooting it down. I think the state is the only way it’s going to work because Congress has shown repeatedly that it’s not going to happen on the federal level.”
States tend to interpret the Equal Pay Act very broadly, according to Mechling. Usually there are four defenses for unequal pay and gender inequity, one of which allows employers to justify pay disparity as long as it’s any factor other than sex.
Cited in his research, the American Bar Foundation found only 6 percent of employment discrimination filings between 1987 and 2003 went to trial. Only one-third of those cases were successful. Even for employment discrimination cases, 40 percent are dismissed or lost at summary judgment.
Martina Kartman, a UW law student who was an intake investigator at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, did the initial interviews at the office to determine if a discrimination case would be taken or not.
“I think one of the things that was most difficult about discrimination laws and enforcing them is that they are from the ‘60s,” Kartman said. “Our laws haven’t always kept up with change.”
Monday, November 30, 2015
Heather Sarsons, a PhD candidate in economics at Harvard, recently compiled four decades of records on over 500 tenure decisions at the top 30 economics schools in the nation. During the tenure process at a university, young professors race to do as much research as possible to prove they deserve a permanent position on the faculty. The number of papers they publish in journals is one important measure of their performance.
According to Sarson’s preliminary results, it doesn’t affect a male economist’s chances at tenure if he publishes papers on his own, or with collaborators. But female economists are punished if they co-author. *
As further evidence that men are receiving credit for women's contributions, Sarsons shows that the penalty for co-authorship only exists when women work with men. When women work on a paper exclusively with other women, that penalty disappears. When men and women collaborate, however, men seem to soak up all the credit from the women.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
November 12 was the bicentennial of the birth of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of America’s most prominent and extraordinary women’s right leaders. The event passed largely un-noticed. We missed a chance to pause and reflect on her leadership and also on the issues she wrestled with, some of which are still with us.
Stanton deserves more recognition. She was, of course, the main organizer of the famous Seneca Falls women’s rights convention in 1848, which issued a ringing declaration demanding the right to vote. But there are several other reasons for studying her career.
We didn't miss it at the Con Law Colloquium at Akron Law. The entire colloquium featured Stanton scholars of law and history delving into Stanton's contributions to gender equality and constitutional thinking of the vote, political economy, marriage, the family, and religious liberty.
Here's my prior blog post and all the details from the program.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I've stumbled across this notion of servant leadership. It is prevalent in social justice and religious circles, but was not familiar to me. I studied leadership in many classes in graduate school, but those all explored notions of power, control and personality rather than ideas of service.
A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
The idea of servant automatically triggers my feminist flags as something sacrificial that would be required of women, but not men. Something like the doormat theory of leadership. Servant leadership sometimes appears, as in this article, as something kinder and gentler and more attuned to feminine values. Ms. JD, Women Leading Change. But, the more I read, the more the idea is clearly gender neutral and derives from approach to both means and end. It continues to appeal to me as better matching my own motivation for taking on and implementing administrative leadership.
Women who are leading change also empower others to serve as leaders. A servant leader’s success is not measured by title, rank or position, instead the servant leader’s accomplishments are reflected in the sense of agency developed in the lives of others.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The AALS Women in Legal Education Section announced that Professor Marina Angel (Temple University Beasley School of Law) will be awarded the 2016 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her bio details her extensive accomplishments and leadership of women in the profession. "A Temple law professor for nearly 40 years, Professor Angel’s scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and service truly embody the spirit and purpose of this distinction."
My favorites of her work are:
Susan Glaspell's Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers: Woman Abuse in a Literary and Legal Context, 45 Buffalo L. Rev. 779 (1997)
Criminal Law and Women: Giving the Abused Woman Who Kills A Jury of Her Peers Who Appreciate Trifles, 33 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 229 (1996).
Teaching Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers and Trifles, 53 J. of Legal Education 548 (2003)
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
The US Feminist Judgments Project is featured in Time, with editors Linda Berger, Bridget Crawford, and Kathy Stanchi.
The book is expected out next August.
The conference, building on the book and the broader question of the difference women make as judges will be next year, October 20 & 21, 2016 at the Constitutional Law Center @ Akron sponsored by Akron Law and UNLV Law.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Susannah Dainow, Blind Justice: On Law School, Misogyny, and Sexual Abuse
When I arrived at law school, it was in pursuit of justice as much as a career. I had known since the age of 10 that justice is gendered; this was the age when I became transfixed by the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearings on the news. Through the haze of sordid details, I grasped enough to connect myself to the proceedings, and to gender-based inequalities of power. In high school, I was co-president of the women’s issues club; we started the school’s branch of the White Ribbon Campaign, a Canadian movement to memorialize and prevent such misogynist violence as had occurred at a Montreal engineering school in 1989, leaving 14 women dead. In conversation and in daily life, feminism and its evolutions were never far from my thoughts. As a newly-minted undergraduate, I conducted research on violence against women for a feminist legal organization. Law school seemed like the logical next step.
After the initial euphoria of having made it to a prestigious law faculty wore off, I began to sense a subtle edge pressing on me, telling me I did not belong. When Supreme Court justices visited in the fall of my first year, they took pains to discuss the need to retain women at large corporate firms through more family-friendly policies. The fact that this was the only remotely feminist concern they raised spoke volumes to me; I began to connect that uni-dimensional approach to gender with the un-belonging I was already sensing. Sometimes, entering through the school’s heavy glass doors, I felt as if invisible machinery descended from the ceiling and ground against my skin, trying to turn the raw material of me into something perfected in its own image. I started calling the faculty, “the factory.” I meant it as a joke, at first.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law is violating the Equal Pay Act by paying its female professors less than males.
The EEOC threatened suit over the gender pay gap in a letter sent to the university on Friday, report the Denver Post and KUSA. The agency said pay disparities at the law school appear to be a “continuing pattern” dating back to 1973. To comply with federal law, the university has to boost the wages of female law professors and give them back pay, the letter says.
The EEOC acted in response to a complaint filed by University of Denver law professor Lucy Marsh, whose $109,000 annual salary in 2012 made her the school’s lowest paid full professor. Marsh learned about the salary differences in a 2012 memo from the school dean that discussed merit raises and made salary comparisons.
The memo by law dean Martin Katz indicated that female full professors made $16,000 less on average than male full professors. Katz noted the pay disparity but said salary differences may be due to several factors, including differing merit raises and starting pay.
The law school defended its system of evaluation and merit pay for law professors in a statement by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. The school cites a consultant’s findings that pay differences are due to a professor’s rank, duties, age and performance scores. The statement said Marsh’s salary was lower because of her “substandard performance in scholarship, teaching and service.”
Marsh counters that she has won several teaching awards and her Tribal Wills Project was recently recognized by the state supreme court.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
From the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education:
The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education is pleased to open nominations for its 2016 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, the inaugural award honored Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in 2014 the award honored Catharine A. MacKinnon, and the 2015 award honored Herma Hill Kay. All of these remarkable women were recognized for their outstanding impact and contributions to the Section on Women in Legal Education, the legal academy, and the legal profession.
The purpose of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award is to honor an individual who has had a distinguished career of teaching, service, and scholarship for at least 20 years. The recipient should be someone who has impacted women, the legal community, the academy, and the issues that affect women through mentoring, writing, speaking, activism, and by providing opportunities to others.
The Section is now seeking nominations for this most prestigious award. Only individuals who are eligible for Section membership may make a nomination, and only individuals—not institutions, organizations, or law schools—are eligible for the award. As established by the Section’s Bylaws, the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Executive Committee will select the award recipient, and the award will be presented at the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting.
Please submit your nomination by filling out this electronic form by August 31, 2015. Please note that only nominations submitted via the electronic form by the deadline will be accepted.
Please email Dean Cynthia Fountaine if you have any questions or difficulty with your online submission.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
National Jurist, Year of the Female Dean
Call it the year of the women dean. Eleven of the nation’s 28 new deans this summer are female, an unprecedented number. It brings the total number of female deans at the nation’s ABA-accredited law schools to 59, or about 30 percent, which is an increase of 21 percent from 2008.
While the number still pales in comparison to the number of female J.D. students, which is 47 percent, the dean numbers are inching closer to the percent of female full-time law faculty, which is 34 percent.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
We have been tracking the number of new women law deans. Our current count is 11 of 25 new appointments (44%).
The National Law Journal provides more analysis in Female Deans Taking Charge
Since 1989, women who run law schools have dined together during an annual American Bar Association workshop for leaders in legal education. Tradition dictates that each attendee talk about her greatest success and failure during the year. They share support and ideas.
When Katherine Broderick assumed the deanship of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 1998, the 14 female law deans could fit at a relatively small table. Today, 59 women run American Bar Association-accredited law schools, comprising 30 percent of all law deans. That's up from under 21 percent in 2008, according to a survey of law faculty by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).
Clearly, they need a bigger table.
"Because we are so many, the stories of triumph and disaster are much shorter," said Broderick, now the longest-serving woman dean.
The numbers are set to rise even higher. Eleven — fully 40 percent — of the 28 deans slated to take over this summer are women — a spike that has not gone unnoticed. Incoming deans who attended a two-day ABA conference in Chicago this month buzzed about the number of women in the room.
"It felt to me like there were a striking number of new female deans," said Jennifer Mnookin, who will take the top spot at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law on July 1. "At one point, I was talking with a group of six soon-to-be deans, and five of them were women. I don't think that would have been possible a decade ago."
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Before this year's new hires, women constituted 20.6% of Law Deans. See ABA Commission on Women, A Current Glance at Women in the Law
By my count, women constitute 11 of 24 (46%) of new deans this year.
Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech), Cincinnati
Kathleen Boozang (Seton Hall), Seton Hall
Lyn Entzeroth (Tulsa), Tulsa
Melanie Leslie (Cardozo), Cardozo
Jennifer Mnookin (UCLA), UCLA
Suzanne Reynolds (Wake Forest), Wake Forest
Laura Rosenbury (Wash U), Florida
Melanie Wilson (Kansas), Tennessee
Help keep the list current. Add others to comments below.