Friday, December 23, 2016

Students File $5 Million Class-Action Lawsuit Against Charlotte Law

Above the Law: Students File $5 Million Class-Action Lawsuit Against Charlotte Law.

According to the article, "As of today’s date, the Charlotte School of Law is still providing information on its Financial Aid webpage as to the types of federal loans that students may access to finance their education at the school."  I checked at 3:30 pm on December 23, and this was still true.  Charlotte received the notice of the loss of federal financial aid on December 19.

(Scott Fruehwald)

December 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale law librarian picks the most notable quotes of 2016

Professor Fred Shapiro is the Associate Director for Collections at Yale Law School's library and for the past 11 years has come up with a list of the top 10 most notable quotes for the year just ending. Professor Shapiro's list has become a tradition that is widely reported by many news outlets including the AP and CNN. Here's Professor Shapiro's  top 10 for 2016 courtesy of the National Law Journal

  1. "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters." —Donald Trump, speech at campaign rally, Sioux Center, Iowa, Jan. 23.
  2. "When they go low, we go high." —Michelle Obama, commencement speech at Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi, April 23.
  3. "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the 'basket of deplorables.'" —Hillary Clinton, remarks at a fundraiser, New York, Sept. 9.
  4. "And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside." —Lin-Manuel Miranda, poem about Orlando massacre read at Tony Awards ceremony, New York, June 12.
  5. "[In politics] you need both a public and a private position." —Hillary Clinton, speech to National Multi-Housing Council released by WikiLeaks, Oct. 7.
  6. "I alone can fix it." —Donald Trump, speech at Republican National Convention regarding America's political system, Cleveland, July 21.
  7. "Have you even read the United States Constitution? … You have sacrificed nothing and no one." —Khizr Khan, addressing Donald Trump in speech at Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, July 28.
  8. "Lucifer in the flesh. … I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life." —Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, describing Ted Cruz during a talk at Stanford University, April 27.
  9. "His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life." —Dan Turner, letter to judge prior to sentencing of his son, Brock Turner, after Brock's conviction for sexual assault of an unconscious woman, June 5.
  10. "I'm not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I'm the first Simone Biles." —Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, interview, Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 11.

Read the full article here.


December 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

10 Suggestions for Writing Tenure Review Letters

I usually write a couple of these each year. I generally agree with Professor Eric Goldman’s ten suggestions. I suggest erring on the side of giving positive evaluations. I would keep in mind that the tenure committee is seeking letters from several people, and some of the evaluators can be very negative and mean spirited or just plain ignorant. I think it important to provide a positive balance, when possible, so that the candidate is not judged unfairly.

You can access the ten suggestions here or a 19 Green Bag 2d 357.


December 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Angry students say Charlotte School of Law hid the truth about its problems

Charlotte Observer: Angry students say Charlotte School of Law hid the truth about its problems.  Excerpts:

"On Monday, Kocaj and CSL’s 700 other students at the for-profit school learned that the Department of Education will cut off millions of dollars in student loans and other financial assistance on Dec. 31. That’s money that most of the students need to continue their classes."

"The government’s reason: a 'substantial and persistent' failure by Charlotte School of Law to meet admission and curriculum standards while intentionally misleading current and prospective students about the extent of its problems."

"An online series of demands circulating among CSL students calls on the school to submit all grades by the end of the year so students wanting to transfer can apply to new schools. The petition also says students scheduled to graduate in May should be allowed to attend the school for free, and that the administration be restructured and/or replaced."

“We keep being told that the administration was so surprised,” Kocaj said. “Then you read what the government released. How can you possibly have been surprised?”

"Indeed, federal documents indicate that Charlotte School of Law has been the subject of intense scrutiny from the accrediting American Bar Association dating back to March 2014. In the time since, the school has repeatedly been found lacking on admissions, academic rigor and the bar exam pass rates of its graduates. None of these problems were publicly disclosed until the ABA formally put the school on probation in November."

"According to government documents, Conison and the others feared that any announcement would make it harder for Charlotte School of Law to recruit and keep students, who pay some $60,000 in tuition and expenses each year to attend."

"Kocaj, who owns her own tax-preparer company in Charlotte, and attends law classes at night, says she feels misled and exploited."

“We didn’t know the DOE had questioned anything,” she said. “Now we’re waiting to hear from a dean that the student body collectively no longer trusts.”

"Meanwhile, the school’s web page continued to say Wednesday that CSL remains 'fully accredited' by the bar association – a claim that the government says is intentionally misleading."

"Chuck Spellman said his daughter, a third-year law student at CSL, found out about the pending loss of her student loans on Facebook. He accuses the school of unethically hiding its problems – leaving the students with a devalued diploma and diminished job prospects even as they amass a debt of up to $200,000."

"Some CSL students already have contacted law firms in Charlotte and Raleigh to discuss possible legal action against the school."

"The Department of Education’s findings, Horne [an attorney for some students] said, “indicate there was information that should have been passed along to students before they wrote the tuition checks or took out the loans.”

"Federal documents indicate that the school was the subject of extensive ABA scrutiny dating back to a bar association accreditation visit to the school in March 2014. In January 2015, the bar issued its first report that CSL was failing to meet certain standards."

"The bar’s July report also required Charlotte School of Law to disclose its problems to current and prospective students. The school did not. In fact, the first public announcement of noncompliance came in November, when the ABA announced the formal two-year probation."

"[I]n a 13-page letter sent to CLS President Chidi Ogene on Monday, the Department of Education repeatedly accuses school leaders of deception and dishonesty in how the school described both its ABA standing and the performance of graduates on the bar exam, which on the most recent test was the lowest in the state."

"In July, the bar association homed in on 44 different areas – including the rigor of the school’s curriculum and its admission of students who did not seem prepared for either law school classes or passing the bar exam."

"Two months later, when Ogene and Conison met with the ABA to discuss the latest findings, school leaders pressed to keep its noncompliance hidden from faculty and students, the government letter says."

Disclosure, school leaders said at the time, would “effectively tell applicants to beware of attending the Charlotte School of Law … and inevitably create anxiety on the part of high-performing students and make their transfer more likely.”

Wow!!  This story needs no comment.  I only hope other schools are paying attention to what's happening at Charlotte.  Of course, it might already be too late for some schools.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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December 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Charlotte School of Law Statement on Department of Education Action

For Immediate Release
Contact: Victoria Taylor, Director, Community Engagement and Public Relations
Charlotte School of Law Statement on Department of Education Action on December 19, 2016
On December 19, 2016, the Charlotte School of Law was notified by the Department of Education that our application for recertification under Title IV of the Higher Education Act was denied and that our eligibility regarding federal financial aid would end on December 31, 2016. We strongly disagree with this determination and are evaluating all available options to challenge the decision, particularly the Department of Education’s mischaracterization of CharlotteLaw’s academic accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA) and our representation of that status.
Charlotte Law will continue to work closely with the ABA to seek clarification on this unprecedented decision and we will preserve all avenues of appeal and recourse available to us. We will continue to put the best interests of our students first and foremost as we assess our options going forward.


(Scott Fruehwald)

December 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hunger Problem on College Campuses

In response, schools are opening food pantries. From CNN Money (excerpts):

The number of food pantries on college campuses is exploding. While there's no official count, membership in the College and University Food Bank Alliance has quadrupled in the past two years. It currently has 398 members.

"A majority of students who are food insecure were also working and receiving financial aid," said Clare Cady, an author of the report and co-founder of CUFBA.

The study found that 56% of food insecure students were currently employed, more than half received a federal grant, and 18% had received a private scholarship.


December 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

For the first time ever, women make up the majority of law students

Though the number of students enrolling in law school has been way down over the past few years (almost 30% since 2010) and remains flat compared to last year, the demographics are changing. As this story from the New York Times DealB%k section reports, for the first time ever, women make up the majority of law school matriculants.

Women Make Up Majority of U.S. Law Students for First Time


For the first time, women make up a majority of law students, holding just over 50 percent of the seats at accredited law schools in the United States.


The number of men and women enrolled in juris doctorate programs has been nearly equal for a number of years, but this is the first time women have moved past the 50 percent mark, according to data released Thursday by the American Bar Association.


Currently, 55,766 women nationwide are studying for a juris doctor degree, compared with 55,059 men, according to the bar association. First-year students are more than 51 percent women, or 19,032, and 48.6 percent men, or 18,058.


The A.B.A. requires accredited law schools to annually disclose data in a number of areas, including admissions, financial aid and employment outcomes, but law schools do not require students to identify their gender, so there may be some students who are not listed as women or men.


“There are more women than men based on data we have,” said Barry Currier, managing director for accreditation and legal education at the A.B.A.’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. “It is a snapshot in time, and the numbers can be updated by the schools. But it is not likely to be large numbers.”


Over all, law school enrollment remains flat, with only a tiny increase of a few dozen first-year students offering an encouraging sign. Enrollment is stabilizing after dropping almost 30 percent since 2010.


. . . . 

Continue reading here.


December 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Former Student Gets Removed From the Bench

Every once in a while, a former student breaks ethical rules and I am disappointed. In this instance, the former student, a trial judge, has a son who owed $5000 in state back taxes. She asked another judge to intervene by contacting the judge who was hearing her son’s case. The judge hearing the son’s case apparently was influenced. All three judges are now off the bench and the intervening judge has suffered criminal conviction related to a variety of incidences. Appeals are pending.

I am always surprised when a former student gets in trouble. I never suspect that a student would behave so badly. In this case, I last saw the former student when she was the speaker at our big minority law student dinner. There, she related a compelling narrative of how she had succeeded despite a difficult, impoverished youth. There, she served as a model for the student audience.

I don’t think I could have done anything to further improve her moral compass when she was my student. Still, I am disappointed.


December 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

College Presidents Earning Over $2 Million

From Delaware Online:

Presidents of eight private colleges in the U.S. were paid more than $2 million in 2014, the most ever to hit that mark, according to a new study.

They join a total of 39 chiefs who made more than $1 million that year, passing the previous high of 32 the year before, according to new annual rankings released Sunday by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Overall, pay across the industry has continued to climb. For presidents of private colleges who worked in 2013 and 2014, average yearly pay rose by 8.6 percent, to $513,000.

Topping the list was Jack Varsalona, president of the 15,000-student Wilmington University, in Delaware, whose salary and benefits totaled $5.4 million.

He was followed by Chancellor Mark Wrighton, of Washington University in St. Louis, who was paid $4.2 million, and President R. Gerald Turner, of Southern Methodist University in Texas, who was paid $3.3 million.

Other private colleges with presidential salaries topping $2 million in the new rankings are the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Northwestern University, Belmont University and the University of Chicago. Previously, the highest number of schools to hit that mark was five, in 2013.

You can read more here.


December 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Paul Caron on Charlotte Law School's Loss of Federal Financial Aid

Quoted in the ABA Journal:

“This is potentially a cataclysmic event for legal education. The Department of Education’s reasoning could easily be extended to other law schools,” Paul Caron, an associate dean and professor at Pepperdine School of Law, wrote in an email to the ABA Journal.

“Hopefully, today’s action by the DOE will finally cause law schools to confront the existential crisis facing legal education,” says Caron, who writes at Tax Law Prof Blog.

I think that Paul is right that this could be cataclysmic.  This could cause major changes in the legal education world, hopefully for the better.

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S.  This from Paul Campos:

"As to how damaging this will be, nearly 100% of Charlotte’s income, like that of the other Infilaw schools, comes from tuition dollars, and the overwhelming majority of those dollars are funneled into the school’s coffers in the form of federal student loans. So unless this decision gets reversed (Charlotte has a couple of weeks to file an appeal.) . . . .  Charlotte will be going out of business almost immediately, which is actually great news for its current victims students, since that means their student loans will be forgiven."

December 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Charlotte Law School Denied Access To Federal Student Loan Dollars

Above the Law: Law School DENIED Access To Federal Student Loan Dollars.

"Today, the Department of Education announced that on December 31, 2016, it will end access to federal student financial aid for the Charlotte School of Law, a for-profit InfiLaw institution. Charlotte Law owes its inability to secure federal loans to its non-compliance with American Bar Association standards and to its own misrepresentations to students regarding the likelihood that they’d be able to pass the bar exam."

Denial of Recertification letter here.

(Scott Fruehwald)


December 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Digital Natives Prefer Paper Books or E-Books?

Let’s look at the upcoming generation. According to a survey, Scholastics Kids and Family Reading Report:

But most students still opt to turn actual pages. In the Scholastic survey, 65 percent of children ages 6 to 17 agreed they would always want to read in print, up from 60 percent in 2012. And 77 percent who had tried e-reading said that the majority of the books they read were in print. That was especially true for younger readers when reading for pleasure: 84 percent of 6- to 8-year-olds read mostly on paper, compared with 62 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds.

What does this finding suggest about the periodic efforts of legal education publishers to move us to digital books?

You can read more here at Education Week.


December 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boise & Morriss: The Shameful Truth Is That Many Law Schools Have Admitted Students With Low LSAT Scores To Prop Up Tuition Revenue And Now Seek To Avoid Accountability For The Ensuing Poor Bar Passage Results

Boise & Morriss: The Shameful Truth Is That Many Law Schools Have Admitted Students With Low LSAT Scores To Prop Up Tuition Revenue And Now Seek To Avoid Accountability For The Ensuing Poor Bar Passage Results (Tax Prof Blog).  Excerpts:

"Standard 301 of the ABA Standards, titled 'Objectives of Program of Legal Education' requires that a law school 'maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares its students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.' Bar passage and membership in the legal profession are at the heart of the mission of legal education, and it is the responsibility of the ABA to ensure that mission is fulfilled. The ABA would be failing miserably in its duty as the accreditor of the nation's law schools if it adapted its standards to ensure their survival rather than the success of law students."

"The ABA is correct in expecting law schools to do right by the students they admit and adequately prepare them to pass the bar exam and engage in the profession for which they are pursuing a legal education."

As the readers of this blog know, my position is that law schools should not be admitting students who are unlikely to pass the bar.  They need to raise their admissions standards and educate their students better.  As Deans Boise and Morriss note, law schools exist for the students, not the administration and faculty.

(Scott Fruehwald)

December 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas OKs bar exam for UNT Dallas law grads

ABA Journal, With question of accreditation looming, Texas OKs bar exam for UNT Dallas law grads

"While the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law is pursuing ABA accreditation, the state supreme court on Tuesday granted a request from the dean that its graduates be able to sit for the July 2017 bar exam."

The is a very encouraging development.  As I have noted before, North Texas has been using teaching and learning techniques based on recent general education scholarship, such as active learning, frequent formative assessment, experience-based learning, etc.  The Texas bar now gives them a chance to prove whether these techniques result in improved bar pass rates.  (As I have also mentioned before, FIU used a similar approach to raise its bar rate to the top of the Florida bar results.)  With the recent disastrous bar results in many states, especially California, law schools need to be using these new techniques.

(Scott Fruehwald)

From the UNT website:

Our goal is to be a teaching law school, concentrating on student learning, but with a different vision of what that means. For one thing, in the first year and beyond, your courses will include periodic feedback and assessments during the course, not the usual single test at the end of each semester. This will help you know how well you are learning the material, and how to improve.  It also will help us monitor how effectively we are teaching. We don’t want anyone to fall behind if we can prevent it. So we will be challenging you, but we will also be supportive.

Another goal is for you to spend as much time as possible "doing" law, and not just studying law. Most of our upper level courses will have a "lab" component in which you will apply the subject matter of the course through activities that law practice involves. We also will have opportunities for you to work with and be mentored by practicing lawyers. And because we have a terrific location right in downtown Dallas, we are in proximity to many of the most outstanding lawyers in our region. While you may not leave our law school or any law school with all the skills of an experienced lawyer, we will do our best to get you as close to that objective as we can.

December 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The death of the billable hour has been greatly exaggerated.

The billable hour is very much alive and well according to a new study by legal consultant The Blickstein Group Inc. which conducted a survey of more than 100 law department representations and found that the billable hour is still the most prevalent billing arrangement compared to alternative fee arrangements ("AFAs"). Corporate Counsel has more details.

The Billable Hour Just Won't Die, Report Finds


While alternative fee arrangements are gaining popularity, data recently collected by the consultancy Blickstein Group Inc. shows that discounted hourly billing rates are still much more common than AFAs.


The Ninth Annual Law Department Operations Survey, produced by Blickstein in cooperation with the legal consulting and services company Consilio, looks at feedback from more than 100 law department professionals. A supplement to the report is available here. The full 45-page report, which was provided to Corporate Counsel, is available by request to Blickstein.


The majority of respondents—70 percent—said that between zero and 30 percent of their outside legal work is done through AFAs. Less than 2 percent of respondents said that between 71 and 100 percent of their outside legal work is done through AFAs.


A number of impediments to using alternative fee arrangements were offered by respondents, including a law firm's unwillingness, not knowing which AFA to use and no internal impetus to change the current system. The greatest number of respondents, 36 percent, said the unpredictable nature of matter activity is the biggest thing standing in the way of using an AFA. The second-most-cited reason was a lack of data.


Law departments that want to use AFAs are in a position to make it happen, Josh Rosenfeld, vice president of legal services at legal services provider QuisLex, said in a Dec. 14 webinar about the results from the study. "Clients have way more leverage than I think they realize they do with respect to negotiating AFAs with their law firms," he said. "And each of these impediments can be overcome and it is not a terribly high bar."


. . . . 

 Continue reading here.


December 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From What Universities Do Most Billionaires Graduate?

From Forbes: Topping the list (in order) are Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Cornell, Penn, and Yale. For a full infographic, please click here.


December 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Research Guide on Construction Law

As a concluding exercise in Professor Lori Corso’s Advanced Legal Research course, Villanova law student Chris Reese constructed this excellent research guide on construction law.

You can access it here. It serves as an example of a creative project that others can include in their courses.


December 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law school enrollments remain flat

From a story in the National Law Journal:

Number of Students Enrolling in Law School Basically Flat


The number of first-year law students nationwide increased this fall—albeit slightly—for the first time since 2010, when word of a bleak entry-level job market and skyrocketing tuition turned off many potential applicants.


Some 36 additional law students showed up on American Bar Association-accredited campuses this year, for a total of 37,107, meaning new enrollment was essentially flat.


While law deans likely aren't breaking out the bubbly, flat may sound pretty good to legal educators these days considering that first-year enrollment has plummeted 29 percent over the past six years. That decline has forced many law schools to pare down their faculties and make other painful budget cuts.


So are law schools on the road to recovery?


Not so fast, said Derek Muller, a law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law who tracks enrollment trends on his blog Excess of Democracy. The new data suggests that this is the new reality for legal education.


"Flat" is good in the sense of stability, Muller said, but he added, "I think it's bad for a lot of law schools that were hoping for growth, both in terms of quantity and quality. For schools that had been bracing for a short-term decline, with this bottoming out, I think they're going to have to expect that this is the new normal."

. . . .

Continue reading here.


December 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Biggest Annual Law Firm Bonuses of the Year

From JD Journal

Susman Godrey delivered their bonuses to associates this year in a big bundle, bigger than any other firm has given out yet this year.

For the firm’s annual holiday party this month in New York, celebrity chef Daniel Boulud was flown in from Tokyo to cater the party. His flagship restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars six years ago with one of those stars being taken away since. Boulud whipped up tasty treats in the kitchen and spent time mingling with guests.

Besides Boulud’s tasty treats was another dish being served to the guests– mouth-watering bonuses. The firm likes to reward its associates for the time they spend at the firm, not for the year they graduated from law school. For associates that have put an exceptional amount of hours, they can receive an even larger bonus.

Typically, their bonus amounts are $20,000 or more over what Cravath offered up their associates. This is a common thing for Susman to do in order to attract the best associates to their firm and then keep them there. Last year provided larger bonuses but these ones are still topping everyone else so far.

Six years with firm – $120,000 to $140,000

Five years with firm – $105,000 minimum

Four years with firm – $95,000 minimum

Three years with firm – $85,000 minimum

Two years with firm- $65,000 minimum

One year with firm – $40,000 minimum

Susman also boasts shorter partnership tracks. Associates that complete a clerkship receive a one year credit, two years if they completed a clerkship for the U.S. Supreme Court. They need seven years total to be eligible for partner so clerking with the Supreme Court is a big advantage for associates.

You can read more here.


December 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best Regions for New Grads to Find Jobs

JDJournal (here) studies date from the ABA and the National Association of Law Placement to reach these findings:

The top spot for law grad jobs was in the New York-New Jersey region. No other region compares for the 2015-2016 timeframe. The law schools report a graduate to job ratio of 1.19. That is 1.19 jobs for every graduate in the area. Many regions across the country have improved from two years ago but none to be as strong as the New York area. The New England area is the opposite ratio at 0.56. This means that graduates in this region head to other areas like the New York-New Jersey area to find jobs.

Click on the link above, and you will find a helpful map of all regions in the U.S.


December 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)