August 6, 2011
Something New: Video Abstracts of Published Research Articles
On July 29, 2011, Dove Medical Press announced its launch of video abstracts for the Company's 100-plus peer reviewed medical and scientific journals. As papers are accepted for publication, the author is given the opportunity to present a brief video about the research article. See Dove Medical Press Publishes First Video Abstract (press release). So far, three have been published. See the Dove Medical Press YouTube channel. Quoting from the author guidelines for video abstracts:
Video abstracts are a new initiative and addition to papers that we are now offering our authors. The videos would be presented by the author, be of 1-4 minutes duration and give an overview of their paper so readers can get an idea of the content and motivation behind the paper.
The aim is to enable authors to personally explain the importance of their work to the reader. Video abstracts will enhance the reader's understanding and appreciation of an article through the accessible presentation of the main results and conclusions reported. To maximize engagement and visibility, authors are encouraged to combine footage of themselves with other relevant material of interest—such as imagery, animations, footage of an experiment running or a lab tour.
Hat tip to INFOdocket's post by Gary Price. [JH]
August 5, 2011
NYSBA Asks ABA To Consider More Law Student Skills Training
The New York Law Journal is reporting on a draft resolution presented to the American Bar Association by the New York State Bar Association that asks the ABA to consider changes to law school education requirements that would make graduates "practice ready," or something like that. The idea is to give students opportunities to interact with real-life clients with real-life problems in real-life settings. The sentiments are nice given the horrible job market out there.
Mind you, law schools don't exactly need the ABA to make changes to their programs which would give their students real world skills. I would think competition among schools for quality students might drive this as a way of addressing the current job market. Teaching skills in addition to the law might give rise to advertising campaigns that read "Want to be a scholar, go to University X. Want to be a lawyer, come here." Students would be more competitive for the jobs that do exist, or at least be more prepared to practice law on their own.
I expect the ABA to nod politely, harrumph a bit, and take the resolution under advisement. The reality of legal education and the reality of practicing law doesn't always meet in the reality of accrediting law schools. That, and the ABA seems very fond of its comfort zone when it comes to regulating law school programs. Perhaps another Senatorial letter might be in order. More on the resolution is here.[MG]
Next to Last Chapter in the Baltimore Law Saga: Local Attorney Offers $10K If Closius Returns as Dean
On August 1, Ronald V. Miller, Jr. of the Maryland firm of Miller & Zois and UB Law adjunct faculty member for 13 years posted the following offer on The Maryland Injury Law Blog:
I really believe that Dean Closius and University of Baltimore School President Robert L. Bogomolny ought to sit down - with a mediator - and try to resolve their differences. Obviously, there was tension between these two men that ran deep. But they both want what's best for the law school. They just need to get on the same page.
If Dean Closius returns as Dean to the University of Baltimore Law School, Miller & Zois will donate $10,000 to the school. I'm hoping other Closius supporters make a similar pledge.
One important point here. Since Dean Closius arrived at UB in 2007, I have met him a total of zero times. My fault, not his. I've got three kids: I'm teaching my classes and getting out of there pretty quick. My point is that I'm not in the tank for Dean Closius personally. I'm just in the tank for the objective, quantifiable improvements we have seen at this law school over the last four years.
(Emphasis in the original.)
UB doesn't appear interested in the offer. On August 2, Michael Higginbotham was appointed to serve as interim dean of the law school. From the Baltimore Sun:
In announcing Higginbotham's appointment Tuesday, university President Robert L. Bogomolny said, "He is among the most respected members of the UB law faculty, and his natural leadership skills and unquestionable integrity will maintain the School of Law's forward momentum during this transitional period."
Final chapter? Dean search, outside or internal appointment? [JH]
Friday Fun: The Law Library ... and You: Time to Prepare for Law Library Tours for Incoming 1Ls
Quoting the YouTube blurb: "A 'recently-unearthed' educational filmstrip from our archive touches upon the noise policy and other common concerns about use of the Duke Law Library." [JH]
eReading Application Showdown
India Amos has launched a series of articles to analyze eReaders by functionality titled E-Reading Application Showdown on Digital Book World: The Publishing Community for the 21st Century. The areas she plans to discuss are
- Colors and themes
- Social Media
And the apps are
- Google Books
The series offers to be very interesting for anyone who has not the opportunity to give all the apps a test drive. Here's the links to the first two installments by India Amos:
- E-Reading Application Showdown, Part 1 – Annotations
- E-Reading Application Showdown, Part 2: Typography
Library Switches eReaders. Meanwhile, the school librarians at Creekview High School (Canton, GA) explain why Kindle's revised TOS is the reason Nook Simple Touch has become the school's “go to” device this academic year. See The Unquiet Librarian's Why We Won’t Purchase More Kindles at The Unquiet Library. [JH]
Just Trying to Survive: County Law Library Mission Statements Round-Up
Greg Lambert has compiled some 50 county law library mission statements. See his 3 Geeks post for details. While all are noble aspirational statements, I think the reality in this economy is that county law libraries are just trying to survive. I'm not sure our little county law library's Introduction to the Butler County Law Library qualifies as a mission statement per se but it does speak to Survivor Island in county law library style. [JH]
Opening: Director of the Law Library, University of Detroit Mercy
The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law invites applications for the position of Director of the Kresge Law Library. The Director is a member of the Law School tenure-track faculty and reports directly to the Dean of the Law School.
About the Law School. The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law is a Catholic, urban law school that seeks to provide an excellent and dynamic legal education through a curriculum that integrates theory, doctrine, and practice; requires experiential learning; and emphasizes ethics and service to others. The School’s goal is to produce practice-ready graduates who will make a substantial contribution to the legal profession. The School has 36 full-time faculty, 65 adjunct faculty, and 572 full-time students and 155 part-time students. Located in the heart of Detroit, the School has both day and evening divisions. The School participates in a dual J.D. degree program with the University of Windsor in Ontario, which is located near the Law School across the Detroit River.
About the Kresge Law Library. The Law Library contains over 430,000 volumes and volume equivalents. It subscribes to most of the major legal databases, which are largely represented in the Library’s online catalog’s more than half a million records. The Library’s facilities have recently been renovated and remodeled. Although the Law Library is administered as part of the Law School, the Library staff works collaboratively with the University Libraries in areas of mutual interest.
Qualifications. Applicants must hold both a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and an M.L.S. or equivalent degree from an ALA-accredited library or information science program. Applicants should have at least five years of management experience in a law library, including the development of a library collection, the organization of legal information resources, and the supervision of library personnel. Applicants should have an understanding of the rapidly evolving information environment and a record of active engagement in scholarship and professional activities. Teaching experience in a law school environment is also desirable, since the Director will be expected to teach courses and to coordinate the Library’s resources and programs with the School’s innovative curriculum.
Compensation. The salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Deadline. Applications no later than August 23. Applications should include a curriculum vitae and a list of three confidential references who are familiar with the applicant’s professional work. Applications should be sent to Prof. Gary Maveal, Chair, Faculty Recruitment Committee via email to mavealgm(at)udmercy.edu. Review of applications will begin immediately.
Michigan’s largest, most comprehensive private University, the University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus. The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University’s mission, diversity, and excellence of its academic community. The University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all backgrounds.
August 4, 2011
Court Grants Petition to Unseal Nixon's Watergate Grand Jury Testimony
On July 29, 2011, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth (D.D.C.) granted a petition to unseal President Nixon's grand jury testimony from June 23 and 24, 1975, plus related Watergate Special Prosecution Force materials. Judge Lamberth, however, denied a petition to release more sealed Watergate documents, including trial documents and congressional testimony. Time to scan and publish online the grand jury testimony?
Hat tip to Steven Schwinn's Constitutional Law Prof Blog post, observing that "Judge Lamberth's order comes just months after the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum opened its new and permanent exhibit on Watergate this spring." And the judge's order comes 36 years after Nixon's appearance before a grand jury. The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum recently released 500,000-plus pages of records and a very small amount dictabelt recordings.
Just imagine what would have happened if Watergate took place during our social media era. [JH]
Book Review: Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage 3rd Edition
Oxford University Press sent a review copy of Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 3d Edition recently. I’ve been paging through this marvelous resource regularly, which is not something I would normally do with a dictionary. In fact, calling the book merely a dictionary is really a disservice to it. Bryan A. Garner is known as the general editor of Black’s Law Dictionary (latest, 9th ed., West 2009) and the author of many other titles that focus on writing. He contributes, for example, to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press 2010) on grammar and usage, and is co-author (with Justice Antonin Scalia, no less) of Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (West 2008). Garner sports close to 300 entries in WorldCat for titles associated with legal writing and usage in one form or another. The one exception I see is The Rules of Golf in Plain English (University of Chicago Press 2004). With Garner’s credentials firmly established, let’s look at the Dictionary of Legal Usage 3rd.
Anyone familiar with the style of the Oxford English Dictionary should feel comfortable with the presentation in this title. There are similar levels of detail, though no so extensive as to get lost in the historical usage of words. One of the things I like is where Garner makes precise distinctions between possible word choices. Take the entry for "exculpate," where the terms exonerate, acquit, absolve, and vindicate may share some common general meaning but do not mean exactly the same thing. Here is the entry:
exculpate; exonerate; acquit; absolve; vindicate.These verbs share the sense “to free from a charge or blame, esp. as a result of an authoritative finding.” To exculpate is simply to clear from all blame – traditionally in a matter of no great seriousness, but today increasingly in matters of serious gravity <DNA evidence ultimately exculpated him and saved him from the death sentence>. To exonerate, literally speaking, is to free from an onus; the words can be used in civil contexts not involving allegations of wrongdoing <the release exonerated all liens>, but more often today it implies such a thorough contradiction of guilt that all imputations of blame are wiped away <he was exonerated when three witnesses corroborated his alibi>. (See exonerate.) To acquit is to have a definite finding of “not guilty” by a jury. Suspicion of blameworthiness may indeed linger in a moral sense, but no longer in a legal sense <the jury acquitted the defendant as a result of the bolloxed prosecution>. (On the use of this word in a civil context, see acquit (A).) To absolve suggests a discharge from all obligations and penalties – often in the form of a formal release or an explicit judicial finding. (See absolve & release.) To vindicate is to clear (either the person or the person’s actions) from all censure <the defendant’s investment strategies were vindicated in the end>. Vindicate is alone among these synonyms in possibly referring not just to people but to things as well. For an additional sense of vindicate, see vindicate.
As lawyers write in a technical jargon, the distinctions noted by Garner can improve the use of words in legal filings and memoranda to convey a clear meaning. I believe law students might be better served to have access to this type of dictionary to give them a deeper introduction to the language of the law. This book, compared to the standard legal dictionary, could inspire critical thinking in some about how best to convey a point of law or better understand a point they are reading. That, I believe, is a marketable skill.
Entries are often accompanied with citations to appropriate authority as either sources or examples of the definitions and styles for usage. As noted in the definition above (and in many other entries) internal cross-referencing to related terms adds to greater understanding of a legal concept in context. Anyone interested in the language of the law would find the Dictionary to be informative, whether looking up a specific term or simply browsing the entries.
The content is far from dry, and even contains a bit of whimsy from time to time. Garner has put personality into compiling this substantial work, which is something I believe other editors and publishers deliberately try to avoid. Garner succeeded at making a dictionary useful, informative, and browsable. I can’t say that I would pick up a volume of Words And Phrases and page through it at slow times at the reference desk. I could see doing that for this particular title. It’s just so gosh darn interesting.
Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 3rd is 991 pages, including a bibliography, indices, and other aids. At a cover price of $65, it is less than half the cost of many casebooks and will be useful for a longer period of time. The current Amazon price offers a discount on that, though there is no electronic copy listed. [MG]
Budget Control Act Eliminates Subsidized Interest Loans for Graduate Students
Student Loans. As required under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, most of the costs of the federal student loan programs are estimated on a net-present-value basis. The bill would make two changes to the student loan programs. CBO estimates those changes would reduce direct spending by $9.6 billion over the 2012-2016 period and $21.6 billion over the 2012-2021 period. The legislation would:
- Eliminate the subsidized loan program for graduate students. Beginning July 1, 2012, the bill would eliminate the interest subsidy on subsidized student loans for almost all graduate students while a borrower is in school, in the post-school grace period, and during any authorized deferment period. (Certain post-baccalaureate students would still be eligible.) The current annual and cumulative loan limits for unsubsidized loans would be adjusted to permit students to borrow additional funds in the unsubsidized loan program. CBO projects that, over the 2012-2021 period, the provision would shift approximately $125 billion in loan volume from the subsidized to the unsubsidized loan program. Because borrowers would be responsible for the interest accrued on those loans while in school, CBO estimates that this provision would reduce direct spending by $8.2 billion over the 2012-2016 period and $18.1 billion over the 2012-2021 period.
- Eliminate loan repayment incentives. Beginning July 1, 2012, the bill would terminate, with one exception, the Secretary of Education’s authority to make incentive payments to borrowers to encourage the on-time repayment of their federal loans. Specifically, the bill would eliminate the Secretary’s authority to offer a partial rebate of the origination fee but would still allow the current interest rate reduction for borrowers who agree to repay their loans through electronic debiting. Because borrowers would effectively pay a higher upfront origination fee, CBO estimates this provision would reduce direct spending by $1.4 billion over the 2012-2016 period and $3.6 billion over the 2012-2021 period.
That's a savings equal to three months in Afghanistan. See, Debt Deal Would End Subsidized Loans To Grad Students, Produce Savings Equal To Only Three Months In Afghanistan on Think Progress. For analysis by Annie Hsiao, director of education policy at the American Action Forum, see The delinquency of the debt ceiling and student debt on The Hill's Congress Blog. For commentary, see Elie Mystal's ATL post, Debt Ceiling Deal Includes Last-Second Screwing Of Graduate Students. [JH]
If the Bench Finds Law Journal Articles Irrelevant, What About Law Prof Amicus Briefs?
According to Tun-Jen Chiang's PrawfsBlog post, Amicus Briefs and the Academic-Judge Divide, law prof amicus briefs are just as, if not more, irrelevant then their scholarly law journal output. "In discussions about the supposed uselessness of legal scholarship to judges, I often ask: 'should law professors file more amicus briefs?' Responses are mixed, but my general impression is that judges see law professor amicus briefs as just about equally, if not more, useless than their articles," writes Tun-Jen Chiang.
This, to me, is a pretty illuminating attitude. The usual complaints about law review articles—that they are too abstract and don’t grapple with legal materials like case precedent in a serious way—really can’t be said about law professor amicus briefs, which usually do make legal arguments in a lawyerly way. If what judges are really seeking from law professors was help in legal analysis from a group of reasonably intelligent individuals with expertise in an area and time to conduct research, then an amicus brief should answer all of those requirements.
But help in legal analysis and decision-making is not what judges are really looking for. A modern judge has lots of help on legal analysis from numerous sources like law clerks and staff attorneys, in addition to the parties’ attorneys, with Lexis and Westlaw making research ever more easy. The contribution that a law professor can provide on top of this is minimal. What judges really want from law professors are convenient citations to support an outcome the judge already has in mind, but that the judge wants to attribute to an authoritative and “objective” source other than the judge himself. An amicus brief provides less of the appearance of authority and objectivity than a law review article does. Our depriving judges of one traditional source of the sheen of objectivity that is necessary to sustain the formalist myth is what really drives the complaints from those quarters.
Perhaps there was a time when amicus briefs authored by law profs were valuable but Tun-Jen Chiang correctly observes:
A modern judge has lots of help on legal analysis from numerous sources like law clerks and staff attorneys, in addition to the parties’ attorneys, with Lexis and Westlaw making research ever more easy. The contribution that a law professor can provide on top of this is minimal.
What judges want is something akin to citing and quoting blackletter statements of law produced by authoritative doctrinal analysis that once were but is no longer be as readily available from recognized authorities because those titles are now spit out by "Publisher's Staff" without the expertise required to produce new authorative black-letter statements.
Filling the legal treatise vacuum created by vendor commodization. Law journal literature has not filled the gap in editorial analysis produced by our vendors traditional updated sources. Hell, take for example contract law. Do our vendors even stay true to the different schools of thought that originally resulted in competing intellectual perspective produce by Williston and Corbin. I'm thinking the kids employed straight out of law school as editorial staff probably don't even know what I am referring to.
I also thing there is no reason for court libraries to continue acquiring these qualited-deluded titles in print or online. In the "new normal" editorial quality matters and if traditional named author-branded titles fail to meet current expections, contrary to past expections, it is time kill them and look for alternatives that the Bench can use. Some of our very expensive legal information providers apparently believe that branded titles are beyond critical evaluation because users will always want to rely on them -- they even rely of the reluctance of librarians of a certain age to elminate old standbys from the collection. No longer the case in the Shed West Era. They are ignoring generational shifts in conducting legal research, shifts promoted by those vendors who minimize the importance of using of secondary legal sources. But I digress... .
Tun-Jun Chiang writes
What judges really want from law professors are convenient citations to support an outcome the judge already has in mind, but that the judge wants to attribute to an authoritative and “objective” source other than the judge himself. An amicus brief provides less of the appearance of authority and objectivity than a law review article does. Our depriving judges of one traditional source of the sheen of objectivity that is necessary to sustain the formalist myth is what really drives the complaints from those quarters.
Well, that's hardly an earth-shattering revelation. Just legal formalism? Let's toss in legal realism. Absent some sort of "unified theory" for interpretation of the Big Bang of access to primary legal materials that is and has existed for several decades, law profs have plenty of fodder for churning out amicus briefs as well as law journal articles based on micro-interpretative schools of thought which don't offer any intellectual assistance to the Bench.
Hat tip to the Legal Skills Prof Blog postby Villanova's Louis Siricos, Jr. [JH]
Opening: Head of Reference Services, Yale Law
Head of Reference Services
Lillian Goldman Law Library
Yale Law School
New Haven, CT
Rank: Librarian II-III
Schedule: Full-time (37.5 hours); Standard Work Week (M-F, 8:30-5:00); evening and weekend hours may be required.
Institutional Background Information. Yale University offers exciting opportunities for achievement and growth in New Haven, Connecticut. Conveniently located between Boston and New York, New Haven is the creative capital of Connecticut with cultural resources that include two major art museums, a critically-acclaimed repertory theater, state-of-the-art concert hall, and world-renowned schools of Architecture, Art, Drama, and Music.
The Lillian Goldman Law Library. In support of Yale Law School's outstanding legal scholarship and lawyer training, the Lillian Goldman Law Library is dedicated to acquiring and preserving a superb collection of resources in all formats, furnishing access to information wherever it exists, providing the most highly competent assistance to use information resources and maintaining a welcoming, comfortable facility. The Lillian Goldman Law Library provides services which exceed the expectations of users by its leadership in the innovative use of technology and the continuing development of its most highly valued asset, its staff. Learn more about the Lillian Goldman Law Library and its collections and services.
The Lillian Goldman Law Library is located within the heart of the Yale Law School complex, providing the Law School community with ready access to one of the world's finest collections of printed legal materials. These collections are complemented by access to a growing array of online sources as well as the strong interdisciplinary collections housed nearby at more than twenty-two other campus libraries, including Sterling Memorial Library and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Utilizing these resources combined with our excellent, service-oriented staff, we strive daily to be the best academic law library in the world.
- Reporting to the Associate Law Librarian for Reference and Instructional Services, the Head of Reference Services at the Lillian Goldman Law Library is responsible for coordinating and participating in the work and service of the Anglo-American and foreign and international reference librarians in a dynamic and challenging environment.
- Works closely with the Head of Instruction to coordinate reference, instruction, and other activities. Provides reference, teaches in the legal research classes, and participates in collection development. In addition, the Head of Reference Services will have some interest and/or experience in foreign and international law reference and instruction.
- The Law Library serves the faculty and students of a research-oriented law school with a strong tradition of interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as other researchers from larger scholarly and legal communities.
- Coordinates the reference desk schedule and other core reference activities. Teaches in the formalized legal research classes, as well as in a variety of classroom settings. Coordinates and provides additional legal research instruction in various forums; provides reference and research support. Develops research guides and other documentation, both print and electronic, to educate and assist patrons in conducting legal research and using library resources. Participates in developing the Library’s online presence via the web site and other electronic means. Will have the opportunity to participate in some collection development.
- Participates in library planning committees, working groups, and task forces within the Law Library and the University Library. Seeks opportunities for professional growth and involvement. Engages in campus, regional, and national professional organizations and collaborative activities. Expected to be professionally active and represents the Library and the University in the academic, scholarly, and professional community. May be required to assist in disaster recovery efforts.
- Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program for library and information science and a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school (or foreign equivalent), and at least two years of professional experience in a law library and professional accomplishments appropriate to the rank. Appointment to the rank of Librarian III requires at least five years of professional law library experience and professional accomplishments appropriate to the rank. Experience and/or interest in teaching legal research in a law school setting.
- Demonstrated knowledge of current information technologies and publishing formats, databases, Internet proficiencies, and a mastery of basic legal research sources and techniques in both print and electronic formats. Ability to function in a collegial, fast-paced teamwork-oriented environment which emphasizes customer service and delivery of exemplary library reference and research services. Strong public services orientation and the ability to work with varied user groups. Commitment to providing excellent customer service and the ability to work as part of a team with diverse groups and individuals.
- Ability to think independently, solve problems, and develop cost effective strategies. Self-motivated, superior attention to detail, excellent organizational skills, and ability to coordinate, lead, and direct projects. Strong analytical ability, creativity, and flexibility. Strong communication and interpersonal skills; ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and professionally in a timely manner. Demonstrated ability to work collegially and cooperatively within and across organizations.
- Preferred: Two (2) years of experience as a public services or reference librarian in an academic law library. Some supervisory experience in current or previous employment. Experience with foreign and international law reference; knowledge of foreign, comparative, and international law resources. Working knowledge of at least one foreign language. Demonstrated record of designing projects and bringing them to a conclusion in a timely fashion.
Salary and Benefits. We invite you to discover the excitement, diversity, rewards and excellence of a career at Yale University. One of the country's great workplaces, Yale University offers exciting opportunities for meaningful accomplishment and true growth. Our benefits package is among the best anywhere, with a wide variety of insurance choices, liberal paid time off, fantastic family and educational benefits, and a variety of retirement benefits, extensive recreational facilities, and much more.
To Apply. Applications consisting of a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information of three professional references should be sent by creating an account and applying online at www.yale.edu/jobs for immediate consideration - the STARS req ID for this position is 13619BR. Please be sure to reference #13619BR in your cover letter.
Background Check Requirements. All external candidates for employment will be subject to pre-employment screening for this position, which may include motor vehicle and credit checks based on the position description and job requirements. All offers are contingent on successful completion of a background check. Please visit www.yale.edu/hronline/careers/screening/faqs.html for additional information on the background check requirements and process.
Yale University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Yale values diversity in its faculty, staff, and students and strongly encourages applications from women and members of underrepresented minority groups.
August 3, 2011
Chapter Three in the Continuing Baltimore Law Saga: "Junking the Stats" in Public "Cockfight" between UB President and Fired UB Law Dean
In yesterday's ATL post about the University of Baltimore's ouster of UB Law Dean Closius, Elis Mystal comments that "these kinds of 'juking the stats' discussions are usually handled behind closed doors, but now we all get to see it." (Emphasis added.) He is referring to UB President Bogomolny open letter to the UB community and the media that disputed ousted UB Law Dean Closius's claims in his farewell statement which was also pick up by the media, including a follow-up interview with fired UB Law Dean Closius published in the a WSJ Law Blog post.
UB's president questions Dean Closius’s law school tuition give-back figures. Mystal writes "Oh, the University still takes money from the law school. A lot of it. President Bogomolny just claims that the University retains less than Closius says it does." He adds:
Apparently, Closius wasn’t exactly surprised by this line of argument from the university. The outgoing dean responded by disputing the president’s numbers. Above the Law has obtained the email he sent to the UB faculty.
Mystal also observes:
The cockfight between the president and the dean over the specific figures isn’t really that interesting. Bogomolny’s letter notably fails to address the two main points from Closius’s initial letter: (a) law school tuition is high and on the rise, despite the faltering legal economy, and (b) one of the reasons the tuition is too damn high is because the university is taking a lot of money from the law school and using it for other purposes.
For the text of ousted law dean Closius's email response to the UB adminstration's claims, see ATL's post, University of Baltimore Tries To Keep The Devil Way Down In The Hole.
UB CYA PR Spin and Creditable Sources. In Is Baltimore Law School a Cash Cow? University President Disputes Ousted Dean’s Figures (August 2, 2011 ABAJ post), Debra Cassens Weiss reports that
Although the university retained 42 percent of law school revenue, it spent much of the money on the law school’s operating costs, such as human resources, technology, heat, light and security, Bogomolny said. “In fact, in 2010,” he wrote, “the university retained 13.7 percent of law revenue centrally, after allocating costs related to the law school's regular operation."
If the ABAJ wants to do more than just quote statements for the ABAJ's intended audience, UB is a state university subject to open records act disclosures. Considering the always convenient implementation of cost-plus charges from a university administration to any particular university unit, such as a law school, who do you think is a more creditable source? The ABAJ article also reports
The Baltimore Sun contacted Closius for his comments. He said he disagreed with Bogomolny's interpretation of the financial numbers, "and I'm pretty sure I'm right."
Time for an ABA Accredition Standard that Quantifies Internal Revenue Sharing? Don't know how much more chronicling there will be in this UB saga but I serious doubt the ABA will add anything more that its already issued "no comment" statement.
I'm also beginning to wonder if the ABA has the guts to "interfere" in institutional revenue sharing "deals" in a comprehensive way for the legal academy cartel by specifying a bright-line quantiative standard which requires how much money on a percentage basis must be retain by law schools for internal mission funding purposes in the context of law school accreditation. Remember that in 2009, ousted DePaul's Dean Weissenberger was fired because of a letter he was obliged to send to the Consultant on Legal Education for the American Bar Association. It disclose that certain information about tuition revenue sharing given to the ABA Accreditation Committee was no longer accurate. Such one-off "agreements" are just not working. DePaul Law remains an accredited law school. Details at Honesty Not the Best Policy at DePaul: Law Dean Fired for Disclosing Required Information to ABA Accreditation Committee; Associate Dean Resigns in Protest.
It's Not That Radical a Notion. The ABA already specifies a required student-faculty ratio (read that's an expense item which tends to push higher tuition costs to fund faculty salaries onto students now). It is also the most important and easiest factor to manipulate since increased faculty and their salaries can be dumped into increased tuition expenses paid by law students. Being substantially below that the ABA required ratio is both used by the legal academy to market law schools and, must more importantly, to enhance the prospects for a higher US News Law School Rankings because the most statistically significant US News metric is student per-capita spend.
Right now, the best and easiest way to increase student per-capita spend is for any given law school is to reduce the ABA required ratio by half or more. The current Holy Grail is to have a student-faculty ratio that is less than half what the ABA requires. But the legal academy knows this is a progessive metric that requires a increasely lower the ratio to keep up with the competition. Should this trend continue at its current pace, in a couple of decades the ratio could be 1:1. OK, that's an absurdly worst case sscenario but do a little timeline student-faculty ratio empirical research. If 9:1 is the current Holy Grail competive standard for increasing a law school ranking, how long will it take to get to reduce the ratio to an absurdly low metric? See, for example, Will the Student-to-Faculty Ratio in Law Schools Be 7.6:1 in 2038?
So let's Imagine another ranking metic that might enhance law school rankings based on law school retained revenues higher than an prosposed quantitive ABA standard. Of course, I doubt the ABA would specify in quantitive terms what the retained revenues be used for. It could just escalate the well-established trend for lowering the student-faculty ratio to play the US News law school rankings game.
The UB Law Chronicles. In addition to this post and links cited, see the following LLB posts and links cited therein for publicly available statements:
- August 1, 2011: Univ. of Baltimore Law School Dean Told to Take a Hike by University Administration
- August 2, 2011: The Saga of Fired Baltimore Law Dean Continues: U of Baltimore Responds Publicly to Dean Phil Closius
UK Decides (for now) Against Site Blocking To Combat Internet Piracy
The British government has decided not to introduce measures under the Digital Economy Act (DEA) that would block web sites that facilitate illegal file sharing. The Act had called for blocking in Sections 17 and 18. The Guardian is reporting that Business Secretary Vince Cable has decided against measures for now as they would be too cumbersome and unworkable, though he is still considering what options are practical to address the problem. Apparently copyright enforcement is harder when taking into account elements such as process and judicial enforcement.
The conclusion that site blocking could not be effective under current law is echoed in an Ofcom report released today called “Site Blocking” To Reduce Online Copyright Infringement. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Ofcom examined several technical methods for site blocking: IP address blocking, blocking via DNS, URL blocking, and blocking sites after identifying traffic via deep packet inspection. Each was considered in turn. No technique, or even hybrids of them, was considered to be 100% effective, had different costs associated with them, and carried the risk of over-blocking. Deep packet inspection carried the additional risk of affecting consumer privacy.
The real culprit, though, was the slow pace of the judiciary. The example raised was the recent case presented to the British courts by film studios against the Newzbin2 web site where an injunction was granted forcing ISP BT to cut off access to the site. The case started in March of 2010, with application for the injunction in December, and the grant made in July of this year. The problem is that a site could pop up just before a major televised sporting or entertainment event and vanish within a day after, frustrating any attempts to take down the site through the judicial process.
Communication Minister Ed Vaizey is working on negotiations between rights holders and ISPs to see if an extrajudicial process similar to the six strikes plan brokered in the United States might be viable. See my earlier posts, ISPs To Get Involved in Copyright Enforcement and The Next Approach to Online Piracy for additional information. One similar provision would be to charge recipients of letters alleging infringement £20 to initiate an appeal. This is justified, as in the U.S. plan, to hold down the number of frivolous appeals. Unlike the U.S. version of the plan, however, the fee would be refunded if the appeal succeeded. There is no indication yet that something like this is the way forward in the UK.
It is refreshing that at least one government recognizes that the problem of Internet piracy is significant but that heavy-handed approaches that appeal to the studios and labels are not necessarily in the best interests of the governed. I hope the UK government can come up with a workable, nuanced approach to the problem. [MG]
Time for a Test Drive: Law Revision Counsel Office Releases New USC Website in Beta, Comments and Questions Solicited
The Office of the Law Revision Counsel's announcement:
The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives has been working to create a new website for the Office and the United States Code. The website is now being released as a public beta for testing and feedback. You are invited to try out the website and give us your comments about its features, content, and ease of use.
Some key features of the new website are:
- A new search engine for Code data
- An expanding "Table of Contents" style browse of the Code
- A simple search facility for quickly accessing specific Code sections or performing simple word or phrase searches
- An advanced search facility for sophisticated searching of Code content using delimiters such as field or Code hierarchy restrictions, Boolean logic, and case sensitive searches
- An improved display of search results and Code documents
- Cite Checker, a new tool that enables quick checking of specific Code sections for recent amendments
- Easy access to the USCprelim, an advance posting of the next online version of the Code
- New explanatory material about the Code and the functions of the Office
Prospective features include:
- Ability to search previous versions of the Code
- Ability to search USCprelim
- Enhanced internal and external links
Following a period of testing, the new website will replace the current website as the primary site. There will be a transition period of several months, during which the current website will remain available. Your comments and questions about the beta are welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sounds like it is time for law librarians to give the beta United State Code a serious test drive. [JH]
Vault Law's Best in Class Law Firm Rankings by Prestige: Associates Rank Top 100 Law Firms Generally and by Law Firm Practice Areas
Vault Law's annual survey of law firm assocates ranks law firms by associates' perception of firm prestige. Some 16,000 associates participated this year. For details, see Vault Law's 2012 Top 100 Law Firms. To determine the 2012 Vault Practice Area Rankings, participating associates voted for up to three firms they considered strongest in their own practice area, but were not permitted to vote for their own firm. A total of 25 practice areas ranging from Antitrust to Tax were ranked, indicating the top firms in each area, as well the total percentage of votes. For results, see the 2012 Vault Law Ranking of Law Firm Practice Areas. [JH]
August 2, 2011
News Flash: TR Legal Not for Sale!
Word is TR Professional wants to dispel any rumors that were circulating at AALL Philly 2011 by stating that TR Legal is not, I repeat, not up for sale. Rumors started circulating that TR Legal might be on the chopping block because its footprint in the Exhibit Hall was the smallest anyone could remember in decades. That and the fact that the Company could only scrape up enough cash to be a Bronze sponsor for this year's annual meeting.
In past years, we've heard Hein repeatedly state that it was not up for sale during annual meetings. Folks get worried. This year, some attendees began to wonder if Hein was going to buy TR Legal. Dick Spinelli's "no comment" response just fueled the rumor mill. Folks were delighted at the possibility of a Hein takeover of TR Legal. Just imagine, no more "customer experience and education." Just good old fashioned customer service the Hein way.
OK ... just joking about TR Professional issuing a statement that TR Legal is not on the chopping block. And Dick Spinelli's "no comment" is pure fiction. However, TR Legal's Exhibit Hall footprint really was the smallest anyone, including Dick Spinelli, could recall. Hell, it was almost as small as Hein's (Bronze sponsor, counting the car giveaway display) and BNA's (Gold sponsor, not counting their cafe area).
In the Exhibit Hall square footage "contest," Lexis (Gold sponsor) and Bloomberg Law (not an AALL meeting sponsor!) led the pack. [JH]
NALP on ABA Job Reporting: Not So Fast There Buddy
There is at least one or more angles to the ABA upping its law school data placement information I'd like to mention. See Joe's post from earlier today, ABA Revises Law School Placement Data Reporting Requirements. The first is that I suspect this is motivated by some of the bad publicity schools are getting for the number of available jobs compared to incurred debt, combined with the perception that the ABA is sitting on its hands when it comes to dealing with the problem. Pressure coming from members of Congress only adds to that perception. See my post, ABA Responds to Senator Grassely.
The second angle comes from the National Law Journal story which reports that the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) is upset with the ABA's move. The problem is not because it's a bad idea, but because the ABA appears to be cutting NALP out of its longstanding role of collecting and analyzing the data collected from the law schools. NALP is incensed enough to threaten litigation. NALP Executive Director James Leipold characterizes the ABA as trying to control the data so it could control its interpretation. I can't imagine. That is so unlike the ABA (rolls eyes as the words are typed). Hulett "Bucky" Askew said the ABA should play a more direct role in the employment reporting process. Better to be proactive I guess before Congress or anyone else starts to ask more pointed questions about the ABA's oversight of law schools.
As reported by the NLJ, NALP has three concerns:
- That law school career services offices will be burdened by reporting two different sets of employment and salary statistics, one for NALP and one for the ABA.
- That fewer law schools would report statistics to NALP, because doing so is voluntary while reporting directly to the ABA is mandatory. That, in turn, would hurt NALP's ability to provide insight into the legal job market.
- That the ABA is appropriating NALP's intellectual property, in the form of its jobs survey.
The last one drew no comment from Askew other than law schools are free to report data to both organizations. Leipold said NALP wouldn't hesitate from pursuing litigation if the ABA gets too close to NALP intellectual property. It should be an interesting law suit if it ever gets filed. The discovery process could yield a lot of information on the ABA's law school governance policies. That risk may motivate the ABA to come up with a solution that works for both organizations. We'll see. [MG]
ABA Revises Law School Placement Data Reporting Requirements
Quoting from the July 27, 2011 press release, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Will Collect Additional Employment Information from Law Schools in its Annual Questionnaire:
[T]he 2011 Annual Questionnaire will request from law schools information on their graduates’ employment status, employment types and employment locations. It will also request additional and new information on whether a graduate’s employment is long-term or short-term. Finally, it will ask how many, if any, positions held by their graduates are funded by the law school or university.
New data will also be collected in the spring of 2012 (soon after February 15, 2012, the traditional nine-month-after-graduation date), for the graduating class of 2011, including whether the graduate’s job is part-time or full-time; whether the job requires bar passage; whether a J.D. is preferred for the job; whether the job is in another profession; and whether the job is a nonprofessional one. Definitions for these categories will be developed this coming fall. However, rather than wait until August 2012 to collect these new data, our plan is to collect those data from the schools soon after February 15, 2012 and display the data on our website in the late spring/early summer.
About employment locations, the ABAJ reports that law schools "also must identify the top three states in which their graduates are employed, the number of graduates working in each state and the number of graduates working overseas." (Emphasis added.) I'm wondering if the overseas metric is an attempt to measure how many law school grads are working for offshore legal processing operations. If so, many are being hired by TR Legal "Professional," whatever, for work in this country. See "Barred in Any US Jurisdication," Thomson Reuters Still Wants to Hire You But is LPO Regulation on the Horizon. [JH]
The Saga of Fired Baltimore Law Dean Continues: U of Baltimore Responds Publicly to Dean Phil Closius
All this sounds more than vaguely familiar to what happened at DePaul back in 2009 when that University's Administration decided to air its dirty laundry publicly. The Baltimore Sun reports the following:
The University of Baltimore's president issued a sharp response Monday to allegations aired by the university's former law dean after he was forced to resign last week.
In an e-mail to faculty and staff, President Robert L. Bogomolny disputed financial arguments used by former dean Phillip Closius to portray a university taking advantage of its law school to support other programs. Bogomolny said he had met with key alumni and faculty members and that "the overwhelming conclusion was that a change in leadership was in the best interests of the School of Law and the University of Baltimore."
That message ran counter to an outpouring of criticism last week from students and alumni who praised Closius as a dynamic and caring leader. Students have planned an all-day rally on Tuesday to protest the dean's removal.
For Baltimore University President Bogomolny's response, see the Baltimore Sun's Aug. 1, 2011 story: University of Baltimore president responds to ousted law dean: Bogomolny says change of leadership will serve best interest of law school, disputes Closius' budget facts. For Dean Closius' statement and one law faculty member's brave statement, see Univ. of Baltimore Law School Dean Told to Take a Hike by University Administration. [JH]