Friday, January 29, 2016

Growing the Pie

Int'l[by Rick Bales]

I found this chart from a recent article in The Economist surprising -- the U.S. significantly lags Australia, Britain, and Canada in the percentage of higher-education students hailing from foreign countries -- and this despite the fact that Britain is actively discouraging foreign students from coming to Britain.

The problem in the U.S. is our visa system. The Economist explains that the U.S. "visa rules are needlessly strict and stress keeping out terrorists rather than wooing talent. It is hard for students to work, either part-time while studying or for a year or two after graduation."

Our system of legal education is widely seen as the gold standard throughout the world. Our law schools need more students. Perhaps this is an area where Access Group can lobby Congress to help ease student visa restrictions and grow the pie for American law schools and all of American higher education.


January 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Henderson/McEntee/Shepard Propose Changes to US News' Methodology

Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency has an interesting post today at Above the Law.  It discusses a letter he, Bill Henderson and former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall Shepard (who was also the Chair of the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education) sent to US News in 2014 proposing some changes to the rankings methodology. 

They would get rid of the "faculty resources" factors (the parentheticals are the weight currently given in the rankings to each factor):

  1. Expenditures per Student (9.75%): The amount spent on instruction, library and supporting services divided into total J.D. student enrollment.
  2. Modified Expenditures per Student (1.5%): The amount spent on instruction, library and supporting services, plus financial aid, divided into total J.D. student enrollment.
  3. Student-Faculty Ratio (3%): The ratio of students to faculty members, according to the ABA definition.
  4. Library Resources (0.75%): The total number of volumes and titles in the school's law library.

In their place, they suggest that US News use either:

  1. Expenditures per High-Quality Job; or
  2. Tuition Revenue per High-Quality Job

Expenditures are a very poor measure of any type of academic quality.  Worse, over the years, this factor has undoubtedly contributed to tuition increases, since spending more money on anything marginally helps in the rankings.  My preference would be to get rid of any factor related to expenditures at all.  But given the reality that US News likes to appear "scientific" and probably wants to keep some form of expenditure data, a link between expenditures and job outcomes, however imperfect, would probably be an improvement.

January 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Will Law Firms Go the Way of Kodak?

That is the important question raised by a new report from the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center.  There are important forces at work - globalization and technology in particular - which will shape the legal profession and legal education in the decades ahead.  We in legal education have a real stake in law firms' success.  We need a more productive dialogue than has generally been taking place. 

January 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Some Observations From AALS

I cannot believe it is January already, and that the AALS annual meeting is in full-force. While I have been a critic of the AALS in the past, I am happy to see the progress Judith Areen has made with the organization, since she took over as executive director. The organization has finally embraced technology under her leadership, and she seems genuinely interested in listening to, and working with the member schools. Furthermore, the organization is actively trying to reduce the expenses of those attending the meeting this year. SEALS has always been aggressive in its negotiations with conference hotels, and this year is the first year I felt that AALS negotiated on behalf of its membership.

Some other observations:

  • It is heartening to see that this year's conference has broadened participation by those new to legal education, and that the panels seem to be more inclusive than ever. 
  • The publishing companies and other vendors in the exhibition hall have definitely scaled back on their promotional items, and their receptions for authors have been scaled back, as well. 
  • The publishing companies are much more focused on electronic access, than on hard-copy publication. They have unveiled new products to help law schools with the formative assessment now required by the ABA.
  • CALI continues to be the leader in providing free casebooks, with a goal of cutting student costs. CALI has been the voice in the wilderness for many years.
  • UC Irvine was granted membership in the AALS on January 7. Congratulations to that school for its continued success during challenging times.

January 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jerry Organ Analyzes Conditional Scholarships

Jerry has posted another interesting analysis, this time of changes in the prevalence of conditional scholarships since the ABA began requiring disclosure of renewal rates.  Again, I would ask you to consider how common this approach to scholarship assistance would be if it were not for U.S. News?  Still, it is a good thing that prospective students now have information about the renewal rate at each school, so they can make more informed decisions.

January 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)