Friday, May 27

Sign of the times?: Harvard Law's Tribe decides against second treatise volume  
Adam Henry at 12:44 PM

The Legal Times reports today that Harvard Law School heavyweight Laurence Tribe has decided against drafting a second volume in the latest edition of his highly influential American Constitutional Law treatise. Tribe first announced the decision in a private letter [PDF] to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, citing rapid change and uncertainty in the field that would render any purported "treatise" almost immediately incomplete and obsolete. Earlier this week, Professor Jack Balkin of Yale Law School blogged on the symbolic importance of the decision, calling it an "important moment in American constitutional scholarship" that presages, perhaps, an imminent paradigm shift in constitutional law.

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GW Law names BU Law prof as next dean  
Adam Henry at 12:02 PM

The George Washington University School of Law has named Professor Frederick M. Lawrence of the Boston University School of Law as its next dean, effective August 1. GW's press release announcing the appointment hails Lawrence as "one of the nation's leading civil rights experts" and briefly chronicles his scholarship in the field. Elsewhere, the National Law Journal has reported recently on two national trends in legal education: 1) "full-throttle fundraising" by law schools across the country, driven by rankings concerns and relying more than ever on private contributions from graduates and law firms; and 2) pro bono requirements by an increasing number of schools, as a prerequisite to graduation. Finally, the Fulton County Daily Report last week reported on the first class of students to graduate from once-"decimated" John Marshall Law School in Atlanta following its full accreditation.

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Thursday, May 5

Supreme Court grants cert in Solomon case  
Adam Henry at 3:54 PM

Two major law school news stories this week. First, on Monday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, where, earlier, the Third Circuit barred enforcement of the Solomon Amendment because of concerns about its constitutionality (Legal Times). GW Law's Orin Kerr weighs in with the early prediction "that that the Court will reverse. I don't think it will be close, either: maybe 9-0, with a concurrence or two." Second, attorneys have filed a huge class action suit against Bar/Bri and Kaplan, alleging illegal market divison of the lucrative bar exam prep industry that has cost coursetakers some $300,000,000 in supracompetitive prices (LA Daily Journal). Read the filing firm's press release and complaint. Elsewhere, the New York Legal Journal reviews results of the first annual "Law School Survey of Student Engagement," Marquette Law's Christine Hurt suggests ways of "Fixing Law School Admissions" by fixing US News's rankings, and Texas Law's Brian Leiter announces another faculty move (actually a split appointment), this time by Anita Bernstein of Emory Law.

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Thursday, April 28

Emory dean abruptly resigns  
Adam Henry at 3:27 PM

A mid-finals week roundup of recent law school news: 1) Emory Law dean Thomas C. Arthur has resigned abruptly after three years' service, citing personal reasons (Fulton County Daily Report); 2) Massachusetts Law dean Lawrence Velvel rips Harvard Law dean Elena Kagan on his personal blog for not reprimanding Professor Laurence Tribe for attribution errors; 3) Kagan is among five legal scholars recently named as 2005 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences - others include Yale Law's Jack Balkin and Michigan Law's Catherine MacKinnon (via Leiter Reports); 4) a team from Howard Law recently finished first in the American Bar Association's National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition (Baltimore Times); and finally, 5) Lewis & Clark Law announces today that "brash and gutsy" Erin Brockovich will address its May 2005 graduates.

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Friday, April 22

Vandy Law names new dean  
Adam Henry at 10:18 AM

A cursory, week's-end roundup of recent law school news: 1) Vanderbilt Law has named Penn Law professor Edward Rubin as its next dean, effective July 1; 2) Rubin's colleague Kermit Roosevelt has penned a new novel, set for June release and described as "a meditation about the life of the law, the organism that is a law firm, and its impact on those who come within its powerful orbit" (link from JD2B); and 3) Drexel University has announced plans to start a new law school, requiring co-op work and focusing on the university's areas of academic strength (Philadelphia Business Journal). In the legal academic blogosphere, UCLA Law's Eugene Volokh, one of America's "Top 20 Legal Thinkers" according to a Legal Affairs poll, has expressed concern over a letter defending the institution of the filibuster that is currently collecting signatures from law professors, while Texas Law's Brian Leiter has crunched the numbers to calculate the top producers of law teachers the last two years (Harvard and Yale Law, handily).

UPDATE (4/24): A reader in the know informs JURIST that the appointment of Edward Rubin as Vanderbilt Law dean is in fact somewhat old news. JURIST regrets the staleness. There is, however, real "new"s to report from the Vandy camp: outgoing dean Kent Syverud has just accepted the position of dean at the Washington University School of Law. Wash U. offers this press release on the appointment, and Brian Leiter blogs on its addition of a "very talented administrator and academic leader" here. "If Syverud can duplicate his Vanderbilt success in St. Louis," he writes, "Wash U could easily be one of the up-and-comers among top law schools in the next decade."

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Wednesday, April 20

Pitt Law names FSU Law prof, Mary Crossley, as its next dean  
Adam Henry at 3:30 PM

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law, home and host to JURIST, has named Professor Mary A. Crossley of the Florida State University College of Law as its next dean, effective July of this year. A widely recognized scholar and teacher of disability and health law, Crossley will bring a measure of administrative experience to the law school, having served previously as an associate academic dean at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Members of the Pitt Law community learned of her appointment by e-mail today. Those outside this community should look for a press release at the university website soon.

UPDATE (4/22): Read the University of Pittsburgh's press release here.

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Saturday, April 16

HLS declines to discipline Tribe over attribution error  
Adam Henry at 11:30 AM

After an inquiry into the matter, Harvard University officials have decided not to formally discipline Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe for his recently discovered failure to attribute material in a 1985 book. Officials found the lapse "significant," but insisted that the lapse was inadvertent rather than intentional. Tribe, for his part, has reiterated his apology. The Boston Globe and the Harvard Crimson offer fuller coverage here and here.

Elsewhere, briefly, Texas's Brian Leiter reports on two lateral hires by the Boalt Hall School of Law and offers a nice review of the fallout in the legal blogosphere over the recent "Scalia Incident" at the New York University School of Law. See JURIST's post earlier this week for background.

NOTE TO READERS: With final exams around the corner, JURIST's Law School Buzz will be posting with diminished frequency over the next few weeks. Please continue to check in, though, for the latest in in law school news. And thanks for reading.

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Thursday, April 14

UNC Law names acting dean  
Adam Henry at 1:33 PM

The University of North Carolina School of Law has named Professor and Senior Associate Dean Gail Agrawal as the acting dean of the law school, effective July 1. She will hold the office on an interim basis until UNC names someone to permanently replace outgoing dean Gene Nichol. Nichol explains his decision to leave UNC for the presidency of the College of William and Mary in a letter to the UNC Law community here.

In other law schools news, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law announces the establishement today of its new Institute for Global Security Law and Policy. According to the press release, the institute is "designed to be a leading national and international research and resource center concerning terrorism. " Directing the institute will be Case Professor Amos Guiora, who enjoys both academic and practical experience in the field of counterterrorism.

Finally, according to a San Francisco Examiner report, a federal judge has tossed several arguments in a conservative Christian group's suit for reinstatement by the University of California Hastings College of the Law. The Hastings Christian Fellowship was allegedly denied recognition as a student organization after it informed officials that it would exclude members on the basis of religion and sexual orientation, in contravention of the school's non-discrimination policy. Despite the recent ruling, though, its constitutional arguments are expected to be litigated when the suit returns to court, as scheduled, in early October.

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Wednesday, April 13

John Edwards to speak at W&M Law graduation  
Adam Henry at 1:10 PM

'Tis the season for announcements about law school graduation speakers. William and Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law checks in early in the season with the announcement that John Edwards, former vice presidential hopeful and now professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, will address its spring 2005 graduates in a ceremony on May 15, 2005. It is possible, although merely speculative, that the college's president-elect, current UNC dean Gene Nichol, had some hand in the selection.

Elsewhere, on JD2B, editor Marshall Camp points to some interesting discussion in the legal blogosphere, including 1) suggestions that law schools should subsidize their professors' blogging activities, inspired by a recent paper by Professor Larry Ribstein of the University of Illinois College of Law and picked up by Dan Markel, among others, here; and 2) observations on the apparently diminishing size of teaching loads for law professors, started by an informal survey by Professor Gordon Smith of the University of Wisconsin Law School, here. Smith senses "that reduced teaching loads become increasingly rare as you descend in the rankings" and speculates that "[t]he shift in teaching loads is being driven by the market for law professors." Camp also links to a message board report, confirmed by a Washington Square News story today, that a student at the New York University School of Law asked Justice Antonin Scalia, "Do you sodomize your wife?," at an NYU Q-and-A Tuesday. According to the story, Scalia refused to answer the question and administrators promptly turned off the questioner's microphone.

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Tuesday, April 12

Path clearing for first public law school in Dallas  
Adam Henry at 12:55 PM

According to a report today in the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Senate has passed legislation that clears the way for the University of North Texas to open the first public law school in Dallas and, in fact, all of the fast-growing North Texas region. Should the Texas House second the measure, UNT's school of law could join the state's nine other law schools in operation by decade's end.

In other law school news, Professor Gregg Bloche of the Georgetown University Law Center has been awarded a fellowship by the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to support his next project on medicine in the public sphere. Bloche is the only member of the legal academy in this year's class of 186 US and Canadian fellows. Georgetown's press release today has more on the professor and his fellowship-winning scholarship.

Finally, Professor Daryl Levinson of the New York University School of Law has reportedly accepted an offer to join the faculty of Harvard Law School. According to Texas's Brian Leiter, who first reported the offer, Harvard's pitches to Levinson and to Richard Pildes, Levinson's colleague in con law at NYU, are part of a general plan to expand the HLS faculty.

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Friday, April 8

Ethics authority Geoffrey Hazard to join Hastings faculty  
Adam Henry at 12:21 PM

Leading a busy day of law school news is the announcement, via Leiter Reports, that Professor Geoffrey Hazard, Jr. is leaving Penn at year's end to join the faculty of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. In addition to Hazard, "the nation's leading authority on legal ethics," Hastings has also hired "a major figure in feminist legal theory" in American's Joan Williams. Leiter blogs briefly on the two major appointments here. He also adds that, in an apparent Newtonian reaction to the loss of dean and constitutional law scholar Gene Nichol to the presidency of William and Mary, the University of North Carolina School of Law has hired Michael Gerhardt, a con law man himself, from W&M.

Elsewhere, some further US News rankings fallout. "Numbers Guy" Carl Bialik explains in the Wall Street Journal how the small tweak in this year's ranking methodology may have unintended consequences for minority admissions and enrollment. In a nutshell, by hybridizing mean and median LSAT scores to calculate schools' LSAT "medians," the new methodology punishes schools that had been stockpiling lower-scoring minorities without consequence to their self-reported medians. The change may force admissions offices in the future to make tough choices between two institutional priorities: diversity and ranking.

In related news, prof-to-be Dan Markel has generated some good discussion on his new PrawfsBlawg site by tackling the tangled topic of yield-maximization/protection strategies by law school admissions offices. Markel largely lauds such strategies, which boost schools' rankings by lowering their acceptance rates, if only because they temper the effect described by Robert Frank in "Higher Education: The Ultimate Winner-Take-All Market?" [PDF]. My own view on the matter is somewhat less sanguine, recalling that yield-maximizing concerns have helped drive the shift in undergraduate admissions toward binding and restrictive early admissions programs that arguably restrain competition. It is perhaps telling that, in response to such gamesmanship concerns, US News recently dropped yield as a factor in its undergraduate ranking methodology. So long as it retains acceptance rate as factor in both methodologies, however, applicants can expect to continue to experience surprising admissions results from their lower-ranked target schools.

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Wednesday, April 6

Stanford Law clinic influential in recent Supreme Court decisions  
Adam Henry at 2:27 PM

A midweek roundup of recent law school news: 1) Students in Stanford's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic have recently helped to win two changes in US law before the Supreme Court, and may help win a third when the Court rules in another pending case this term (Stanford Report, also LA Times); 2) NYU's faculty willing be adding one professor (voting right scholar Samuel Issacharoff, from Columbia) but losing another (intellectual property scholar Rebecca Tushnet, to Georgetown) at the end of the academic year - Texas's Brian Leiter notes that the former marks the first lateral movement between New York law schools in many years, and is, perhaps significantly, "the first time (ever, to my knowledge) that NYU has dislodged a senior faculty member from Columbia" (Leiter Reports); and finally, 3) a team from Harvard recently finished first in the European Law Moot Court Competition in Luxembourg, where team members faced the added complication of fielding questions in both French and English from ECJ judges.

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Thursday, March 31

BREAKING NEWS ~ 2006 US News law school rankings posted  
Adam Henry at 5:36 PM

Meriting a new post rather than a mere update, US News and World Report has made available online its 2006 law school rankings (top 100 / index page). The posted rankings confirm rankings leaked earlier this week from prematurely released print versions. Professor Brian Leiter of the University of Texas School of Law (#15, unchanged) checks in with an early comment here about a slight but "constructive" change in this year's methodology, concerning the calculation of median GPAs and LSATs. The change has produced no significant shake-up at the top of the rankings, which once again support the idea of "The Durability of Law School Reputation" [PDF], title of a study by Professor Richard Schmalbeck of the Duke University School of Law (11, down from 10).

Major movers abound in the middle of the top 50, however, including Fordham and UWash (27, up from 34) and Tulane (41, up from 55). Their less fortunate counterparts include Notre Dame and WashU (24, down from 20) and as Emory (32, down from 23). Kansas takes the dubious distinction, though, of biggest mover, taking a precipitous drop this year from 63 to 100 in the much more fluid 50-100 set of schools. Most critics regard that fluidity as evidence of the rankings' arbitrariness. Professor Leiter, however, evidently wishes that the rankings were more responsive to the very real annual changes in faculty quality. See here.

Meanwhile, students at 46 law schools, from Appalachian to Yale and representing the full spectrum of the rankings, are hoping for dry weather this weekend in Charlottesville. That's because the University of Virginia School of Law is once again hosting its annual law softball invitational. Teams from host school UVA enter the tournament as defending champions in both the regular and co-rec divisions. Your humble editor is pleased to be captaining the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's regular division team and encourages readers to follow the rankings fallout in his absence. Press releases alternately highlighting and downplaying schools' rankings are sure to appear on Friday and following days.

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State board kills controversial plan for first public law school in Mass.  
Adam Henry at 4:05 PM

Earlier today, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted down a controversial proposal by the University of Massachusetts that would have created the state's first public law school through merger with the Southern New England School of Law. According to AP coverage, the board's action has "effectively kill[ed]" the proposal, but proponents have, as always, vowed to return to the drawing board. Scroll down for previous coverage of the matter by JURIST.

Elsewhere, US News and World Report appears to be in the process of uploading its 2006 law school rankings, once again in advance of their scheduled posting date. It has updated the law rankings index page and the headers on subsequent pages, but the all-important rankings table continues to display 2005 data. Check the latter link soon for official updated rankings, and check back here for coverage of the rankings and the inevitable fallout later today.

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Tuesday, March 29

2006 US News law school rankings hit the 'net early  
Adam Henry at 12:27 PM

March rarely goes out like a lamb in the cloistered community of which JURIST is part. That's because every year, several days before their scheduled early April release, US News and World Report's annual "America's Best Graduate Schools" guide hits the shelves early at certain bookstores and newsstands, and the law school rankings therein are leaked online. This year is no exception. The 2006 rankings first appeared on XOXOHTH and Law School Discussion message boards as early as Saturday and have since been scanned (probably illegally) and "confirmed" by other posters with access to the print version. See this post on the latter site for the numerical rankings, although without the underlying data. With the cat out of the bag, look for US News to post the "full" rankings, reserving the bulk of such data for paying customers, well before their Friday release date. And as always, check back here for more on this developing story....

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Law School Buzz is JURIST's weblog of law school news.


Adam Henry

Adam Henry is a 3L at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He holds an AB in Politics from Princeton University.


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