Monday, March 11, 2024

AI screws up SSRN (Update)

I uploaded a new paper to SSRN, the latest in Rocky and my series on exclusive private enforcement. I would share the SSRN link, but the medical team at SSRN flagged it as having a "medical and/or health term that has initiated a medical screening process;" they removed removed the paper from public view pending further review. According to an SSRN person, the "medical and/or health term" triggering review is "patient"--as in "this law places business owners seeking to exercise a conservative-favored federal right in the same bind that S.B. 8 placed abortion providers and patients seeking to exercise a liberal-favored right."

I assume this is because of an AI filter and not because some human being was stupid enough to make this mistake. But I wonder what would happen if someone wrote a sentence such as "Justice Kagan believes the Court is not patient in seeking constitutional change."

I find it distressing that circulation and publicity of our work is in their hands.

Update: An emailer says this was a simple algorithm rather than "AI." Fair enough and I stand corrected. SSRN still screwed this up. How much? Well, here is the email I got in response to asking to speak to someone with some ability to resolve things:

Your paper or analysis may be framed around a legal, economic or other topic question; however, if the data that is used in the analysis is medical or health related, we must use caution around both patient and health information.
 
The SSRN system performs an initial automated scan of the submission to identify medical and/or health terms. Depending on the scope of the medical content, SSRN's Medical Team will conduct a deeper medical screening on any such papers that include medical or health data in order to provide complete transparency and to follow best practices around any health data. Due to the caution that is required around health care or medical preprints for prevention of harm and to meet required reporting standards, SSRN screens these papers to ensure they have appropriate declarations around competing interests and funding as well as ethical approval and trial registration, where appropriate.

Your paper is now available on your "My Papers" page and has been expedited.  It is also publicly available on SSRN's website.

Again, we used the word as a noun to describe someone who, seeking a medical procedure, sues to challenge the validity of a law. The word patient(s) appears 7 times, once in the title of a source. Oh, and the paper is not available on SSRN's website or "My Papers;" the link says "This paper has been removed from SSRN at the request of the author, SSRN, or the rights holder." Since I am the co-author and co-rights holder (and I am quite sure Rocky did not remove it), the cause is obvious.

After all this, the article better attract some readers.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 11, 2024 at 03:15 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Students at faculty workshops?

I gave a talk at another law school yesterday and the audience included five students. The faculty invites students to attend all talks--they send a school-wide, first-come email and make space for the first 10-or-so students. Two of the students asked very good questions.

Do other schools do this and what are people's thoughts on it? That students generally are not included in faculty workshops reflects the difference between law students and PhD students, who often attend department workshops and often are treated more as colleagues than as students. One point against it is that it changes the tenor of the talk by adding to the audience listeners who lack the expertise to engage in the presentation. On the other hand, a 1L is as competent to discuss a bankruptcy paper as I am. And I see some benefits, such as community building and filling the room (harder in the era of work-from-home). And I realized that the audience in most law school symposia, beside the other symposium speakers, consists of students (journal members, etc.). So why not for individual talks?

Would like to hear what other schools do. Comments left open.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 5, 2024 at 12:01 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, February 24, 2024

3rd Annual Law vs. Antisemitism Conference, Feb. 25-26 at FIU College of Law

Anti Semitism Conference poster_R4The 3rd Annual Law vs. Antisemitism Conference begins tomorrow and runs through Monday at FIU College of Law. We have more than 100 registrants from all disciplines and all over the country.

The program includes keynote speeches by Marc Stern of the AJC and Rabbi David Saperstein, formerly of the Union for Reform Judaism; a screening of the film Recipe for Change: Standing up to Antisemitism with producer Todd Shotz; and a Sunday evening reception at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. And, of course, good food.

All panels and presentations will be livestreamed, for those who cannot make it to FIU. There is a link listed for each panel.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 24, 2024 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2024

(Re-upping) Perspectives on the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law and Procedure: A Symposium in Memory of Megan Fairlie

FIU College of Law and FIU Law Review will host Perspectives on the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law and Procedure: A Symposium in Memory of Megan Fairlie, beginning at 9 a.m. this Friday, February 2, 2024. The programs honors the work of Megan Fairlie, my FIU colleague from 2007 until her death in 2022. The event will be livestreamed.

Program after the jump.

Opening Remarks: Dean Antony Page (FIU College of Law)

Panel IA Tale of Two Defendants in International Tribunals

Diane Marie Amann (University of Georgia School of Law)

Michael P. Scharf (Case-Western Reserve University School of Law)

Moderator: Mario Loyola (FIU College of Law)

Panel IIThe Academic Work of Megan A. Fairlie

Mark A. Drumbl (Washington and Lee University School of Law)

Göran Sluiter (University of Amsterdam)

Jennifer Trahan (NYU Center for Global Affairs)

Moderator: Kerri Stone (FIU College of Law)

Panel IIIMegan A. Fairlie's Career at FIU College of Law

Video Presentation

Altanese Phenelus (FIU College of Law '14)

Megan Roth (FIU College of Law '17)

Casey Waldeck (FIU College of Law '20)

Moderator: Howard M. Wasserman (FIU College of Law)

Panel IVSome Challenges in International Criminal Law

Nancy Combs (William & Mary Law School)

Milena Sterio (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law)

Yvonne M. Dutton (Indiana University-Robert H. McKinney School of Law)

Moderator: Tawia Baidoe Ansah (FIU College of Law)

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 29, 2024 at 01:11 PM in International Law, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Swarthmore, whatever comes after redux

My kid did not particularly like Swarthmore during the campus visit, so I feel ok enjoying the media-and-podcast tour by Wesleyan's president while criticizing the statements from Swarthmore's president.

That said, in response to Steve, I did not intend to criticize Smith for condemning "river to sea" or "jihadist" as part of a call for civility. (Although I am suspicious of many calls for civility, which can be vague and perverted into content-based suppression of (often) less-powerful speech on the pretext of a content-neutral concept such as civility). My point (which I did not frame well) is that she shifted within that paragraph--from explaining what is and is not protected to what she dislikes to a call for civility. And that confused her message.

And that said, Suzanna Sherry emails with a different criticism of Smith's statement (email quoted with Suzanna's permission):

Whatever the merits of Smith’s general points, I find this bit (emphasis mine) very telling about her own sympathies (which she should not be broadcasting in such a statement):

        For instance, chanting “from the river to the sea” is heard by many as antisemitic and a direct threat against Jews.             Referring to Arabs or Muslims as “terrorists” or “jihadists” is Islamophobic and anti-Arab. Such rhetoric is simply                 unacceptable and I condemn it.

The difference between “heard by many” and “is” suggests (a) that the Hamas chant is not antisemitic but merely heard as such; and (b) that the “such rhetoric” in the third sentence refers only to the Islamophobic/anti-Arab statements and thus that “river to the sea” is not unacceptable and she does notcondemn it. The referent in the third sentence is ambiguous – it could include both the previous sentences or only the one immediately preceding it – and my point is that the difference in phrasing between the first two sentences tells us which she means.

There may be a response to that; I leave it to Steve to make it, if he chooses.

One more thing I did like in Smith's letter: Although the school allowed the sit-in to continue last semester and will not do the same with future sit-ins, those who engaged in last semester's actions may be receiving notices of conduct violations. University leaders, including the Stefanik Three, have been under fire, in part, for discovering protection for offensive speech only when it targeted Jews (Jeannie Gersen notes this criticism). I initially read Smith as saying last semester's sitters would receive a pass while putting those who engage in future civil disobedience on notice that they will be removed from the space and sanctioned--which would potentially have replayed that criticism by protecting the pro-Palestine/anti-Israel group and sanctioning future pro-Israel protesters. Rather, her point was that the sitters were not stopped in the moment but may face consequences.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 29, 2024 at 11:00 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gersen on academic freedom

From the New Yorker (paywalled). Some good inside-baseball about Harvard since October 7 and the flipping of free-speech positions (what I have been calling Camp 3).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 29, 2024 at 08:46 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Swarthmore revisited

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am less enamored than Steve of the statement by Swarthmore President Val Smith. Pieces are worthwhile, including the reminder that civil disobedience includes facing the consequences of one's actions. And her conclusion--a longer version of "it depends on the context"--is right. But the rest is vague, conclusory, and question-begging, in a way that can (and perhaps will) be used to restrict a lot of otherwise-protected speech at the school. (My disagreement with Steve's assessment of the letter may reflect our different priors about campus speech).

She calls out those who intimidate and threaten those with opposing views, clearly singling out counter-speech, although she does not explain what intimidate or threaten or retaliate means. She says speech that makes people "feel threatened" is unprotected, ignoring how targeted speech must be to constitute a threat. She says "peaceful" does not mean absence of physical harm; it also includes yelling into  bullhorns when the volume causes physical harm (whatever that means).

She at times shifts, without explanation, from what speech can be sanctioned to what she (individually or on behalf of the university) does not like to calling for civil discourse as a normative aspiration. So:

All of us must consider what it means to truly be part of this community and how our words affect each other. For instance, chanting “from the river to the sea” is heard by many as antisemitic and a direct threat against Jews. Referring to Arabs or Muslims as “terrorists” or “jihadists” is Islamophobic and anti-Arab. Such rhetoric is simply unacceptable and I condemn it. As we engage with those of different perspectives and backgrounds, I urge us all to be mindful that the pathway to common ground is paved with respect and understanding. I am confident that members of this community can find ways to express their views without resorting to harmful or hateful speech that impedes the effectiveness of their advocacy.

What does any of this mean? That something is "heard" as antisemitic or Islamophobic is irrelevant--antisemitic or Islamophobic speech is (in most contexts) protected. What does it mean that she "condemn[s]" such rhetoric, especially after what came before? She may be right about what makes or undermines effective advocacy, but, again, I am not sure how that fits with the rest of the letter.

She ends with:

Nothing I’ve written here is intended as a threat to free expression or an attempt to silence any particular view on campus. On the contrary, my intention is to maintain an environment where individuals are free to express varying views and opinions without fear of retaliation.

If that is her intention, she failed. If I am a Swarthmore student, I have no idea what I am able to say, other than that I cannot occupy a campus building to say it. And she suggests an overbroad interpretation, inconsistent with First Amendment principles, of campus speech codes and of how much speech the college can restrict and sanction.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 28, 2024 at 11:20 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

More thoughts on campus speech (Updated)

Several things:

Stephen Carter writes in The Times about the importance of free speech to the campus mission of intellectual curiosity and the mistakes and inconsistency of everyone--left and right--since October 7. Some really great stuff here. I do not agree with all of it, especially as to extent of protection for interruption and private opprobrium for other speech.

• [Update]: And this ALI interview with Geoff Stone, hosted by David Levi. (Note: Stone holds the Edward Levi Chair at UC, named after David's father).

University of California's  regents will consider prohibiting academic departments from using university web sites and other channels for political messages unrelated to university business. The proposal responds to many departments at UC schools posting messages supporting Palestine and Hamas and criticizing Israel. Naturally, faculty scream academic freedom, although the inability of the department to speak as an entity does not limit their ability to speak as individual (or a group of) faculty. A question from this: Chicago Principles suggest that sub-units within a university should not engage on current events, for the same reasons the university as a whole should not. But what do Chicago Principles and ideals of academic freedom say when a sub-unit of the university (e.g., UC-Santa Cruz's Ethnic Studies Department) chooses not to abide by those principles but the university imposes them?

• At the upcoming 3rd Annual Law vs. Antisemitism Symposium, I will participate in a roundtable on the legal academy post-October 7. I plan to talk about the December 5 hearing, the range of reactions to it (back to my idea about three camps), and the lessons to be drawn. There is a lot of confusion on that last, as this story from FIRE demonstrates. FIRE is pushing back on proposals at several schools to revise campus speech codes to prohibit explicit calls for genocide against groups. I share FIRE's opposition to such efforts and its arguments against these proposals. But FIRE describes these efforts as "fallout" from the presidents' "disastrous" congressional testimony.

But what makes the testimony "disastrous?" If FIRE is worried about schools expanding their speech codes, the disaster was the presidents advancing (however inartfully) the pro-speech position ("protection of speech depends on context") and getting attacked by Elise Stefanik, who insisted that calls for genocide must violate campus speech codes ("the answer is yes!"), prompting universities to amend those codes to satisfy Stefanik and other committee Republicans. If so, the disaster lay in Stefanik's response, not in their testimony. Or the disaster was their inartfulness--failing to fully explain why context matters or to precursor their statements by condemning such speech. But that requires us to believe Stefanik--a dishonest actor--would not have had the same response to a fully articulated First Amendment vision explaining why many "river to sea" chants are constitutionally protected and thus do not violate campus speech codes.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 27, 2024 at 12:36 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 15, 2024

Perspectives on the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law and Procedure: A Symposium in Memory of Megan Fairlie

FIU College of Law and FIU Law Review will host Perspectives on the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law and Procedure: A Symposium in Memory of Megan Fairlie, beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, February 2, 2024. The programs honors the work of Megan Fairlie, my FIU colleague from 2007 until her death in 2022. The event will be livestreamed.

Program after the jump.

Opening Remarks: Dean Antony Page (FIU College of Law)

Panel IA Tale of Two Defendants in International Tribunals

Diane Marie Amann (University of Georgia School of Law)

Michael P. Scharf (Case-Western Reserve University School of Law)

Moderator: Mario Loyola (FIU College of Law)

 

Panel IIThe Academic Work of Megan A. Fairlie

Mark A. Drumbl (Washington and Lee University School of Law)

Göran Sluiter (University of Amsterdam)

Jennifer Trahan (NYU Center for Global Affairs)

Moderator: Kerri Stone (FIU College of Law)

 

Panel IIIMegan A. Fairlie's Career at FIU College of Law

Video Presentation

Altanese Phenelus (FIU College of Law '14)

Megan Roth (FIU College of Law '17)

Casey Waldeck (FIU College of Law '20)

Moderator: Howard M. Wasserman (FIU College of Law)

 

Panel IVSome Challenges in International Criminal Law

Nancy Combs (William & Mary Law School)

Milena Sterio (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law)

Yvonne M. Dutton (Indiana University-Robert H. McKinney School of Law)

Moderator: Tawia Baidoe Ansah (FIU College of Law)

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 15, 2024 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, International Law, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 08, 2024

Sprigman on narrowing plagiarism

Chris Sprigman (NYU Law) argues for narrowing the definition of plagiarism to ease its use as political weapon. Sprigman emphasizes plagiairism's twin purposes--protecting the original sources of ideas and protecting readers from being defrauded--and limits the "core offense" to copying of "valuable collections of words," those that readers and original authors would care about, in light of the academic work's core intellectual contribution. Sprigman does IP, so he compares how copyright polices the use of ideas with plagiarism's (current) overinclusiveness.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 8, 2024 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 06, 2024

What do we mean by "Socratic Method"?

Orin Kerr posted his 1997 article on the decline of the Socratic Method in law school. It is an interesting read, featuring interviews with several HLS professors (Orin wrote the piece for a seminar). He divides the subjects into three groups--Traditionalists (using the true-and-traditional SM); Quasi-Traditionalists (mixing Socratic "flavor" with other techniques); and Counter-Traditionalists (rejecting SM in favor of panels, lectures, and group problems).

So a question I have wondered about since I began teaching (and maybe since law school): What does the "Socratic Method," in the purest sense, entail? What are its essential elements? What did the professors of the '40s-early '60s do that post-'80s teachers do not? From the descriptions of what the non-traditionalists (whether quasi- or counter) do, I think I identify the following elements:

    Question-and-answer

    Targeted at one on-call individual for at least some period

    Case-centric and tied to the Langdellian case method. That is, the Q&A focuses on a particular case and hypothetical off-shoots of those cases. No pre-set problems or hypos. No broader discussion of the issues as a whole, disentangled from the particular case.

    No prof resolution of the questions or issues at the end of the questioning

    Randomized cold-calling with no (or very little) notice or warning of when you might be called on. No volunteers.

    Last names only.

    No passing unless the student has formally opted-out in advance. Or at least the pass results in some embarrassment for the student or the burden falling on his neighbor.

Additional elements? Did I list anything that should not be part of the definition?

If I am right about these "elements," then I have never had a traditionally Socratic professor, including among those who began teaching before the 1990s. Even the greatest media representation--The Paper Chase--was not purely Socratic; one plot line involved Hart gathering the courage to raise his hand in class. No one on my faculty uses the pure-and-traditional SM. I am not purely Socratic for a bunch of reasons that vary by class, although my student evals seem to disagree. FWIW, this fits my experiences on appointments committees, where every candidate describes her teaching style as "modified Socratic"--code for "rigorous but not obnoxious."

Also if I am right, I am not sure what is lost. I do not see the pure SM as so much more rigorous and challenging than the modified SM Orin's subjects describe.

Comments left open, because I am curious about this.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 6, 2024 at 03:23 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Two items on campus speech and other protests

Two items on campus speech and other protests.

• Journalist Mark Oppenheimer has a podcast called The Syllabus, dealing with campus politics. The latest episode features Jacques Berlinerblau (Georgetown) discussing the proper role of protest on campus in light of the purposes of universities as spaces for expert discussion, not discussion writ large. He also has an interesting take on the role (or abandonment of the role) of teaching in the undergrad space.

• Jenny Carroll (Alabama, headed to Texas A&M) published Policing Protest: Speech, Space, Crime, and the Jury in Yale L.J.; she argues for a defense for expressive conduct, allowing juries to acquit someone of content-neutral offenses that implicate speech activity. The defense operates as a middle ground or hybrid of justification and nullification.

I thought of the paper (which Carroll presented at FIU last year) in light of recent protests on-campus (sit-ins in the President's office) and off (blocking bridges and airport roads). I have criticized calls for prosecutors and universities to drop charges against those who engage in civil disobedience, because civil disobedience includes bearing the consequences of breaking the law in furtherance of a cause. Carroll offers a middle ground. The First Amendment does not provide a basis for dismissing the charges, but it offers the jury (as voice of the community) to decide that free-speech values should prevail in a particular case. In other words, prosecute the Bay Bridge 78 (they are 11.14 times as great as the Chicago 7) or the Brown students who sat in the president's office and let them try to convince a jury of the expressive righteousness of their cause.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 4, 2024 at 12:13 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Dean, Washburn University School of Law

Washburn University seeks a student-centered, collaborative, and innovative leader to join its campus and serve its students and community as its next Dean of Washburn University School of Law.  Alongside academic deans of the University’s other colleges and schools, the Dean reports to Washburn’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and serves as a senior leader at the institution. The Dean provides academic, intellectual, strategic, and administrative leadership for Washburn University School of Law and is responsible for its effective administration. The Dean works with key stakeholders, both inside and outside of Washburn University School of Law, to advocate for the School of Law’s mission of providing outstanding legal education using innovative and individualized teaching approaches in a collegial and collaborative environment.

Located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn University was founded in 1865 and educates nearly 7,000 students enrolled in more than 236 academic programs. With approximately 1,200 highly committed faculty and staff members, Washburn matriculates students through certification, associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs that have a meaningful and lasting impact on its graduates, as well as the region and beyond. Its programs are offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, Washburn Institute of Technology, and the Schools of Applied Studies, Business, Law, and Nursing on a 160-acre traditional residential campus, on two technical education campuses, and through distance learning. As a public, municipal, open-access institution, Washburn is proud to offer an affordable, quality education that helps all types of students improve their quality of life while having a positive impact on society.

Washburn University School of Law was founded in 1903 and is one of only two law schools in Kansas. The School of Law has excelled in the categories most important to its students and alumni, the same categories that measure the success of a legal education: a high-quality curriculum; exceptional faculty members and staff; outstanding library resources; favorable graduation statistics, bar pass rates, and employment outcomes; and overall affordability.  There are 11 certificates of concentration offered as part of a law degree, two joint degree programs, a master of studies in law, and an LL.M. in global legal studies.

In July 2023, the School of Law moved into its newly constructed state-of-the art building on the southeast corner of the campus. Robert J. Dole Hall is a 65,000 square-foot facility that is a high-tech building, allowing the faculty to use electronic teaching options including the facilitation of remote activities and guests, and recording lectures and presentations. It features appellate and trial courtrooms, an 11,000 square-foot library, and a law clinic. 

The Dean facilitates an environment that supports and promotes the faculty’s commitment to student learning and engagement, faculty scholarship, and service to Washburn University School of Law, the University, and the legal profession. The Dean, in partnership with the faculty, is responsible for academic program development and review; faculty recruitment; development and evaluation of faculty members; and student relations.

The Dean is responsible, in cooperation with the Provost, for academic and administrative planning; budgeting; administration and implementation of school and university policies; external relations; and fundraising in partnership with the University Foundation. The Dean works collaboratively with the administration, and with other deans and leaders, to set and accomplish strategic goals for Washburn University School of Law and to align the functioning of the School with Washburn’s broader academic identity and its strategic plan and process.

The incoming Dean will be a dynamic and visionary leader who will build upon the School of Law’s strengths; maintain an inclusive collaborative culture; provide exceptional professional educational experiences for students; recruit and develop an outstanding faculty; and promote scholarly endeavors. The Dean will be a committed team player who is devoted to excellence and shared governance and will be a thoughtful decision-maker, working collaboratively with the faculty, staff, students, and administrators. The Dean will have unquestioned integrity and exemplary interpersonal and communication skills.

The incoming Dean will have the opportunity to build on the long-standing tradition of excellence within Washburn University School of Law and to work alongside both internal and external stakeholders to increase and enhance the mission and reach of the School of Law. Enhancing access and opportunity for students and the faculty through alumni and donor relations will be essential. Bringing and enhancing key program opportunities for students and the School of Law to best serve the region and the state will also be crucial to the success of the new Dean.

QUALIFICATIONS AND KEY ATTRIBUTES INCLUDE:

 

  • JD from an accredited institution with eligibility for appointment at the rank of professor required.
  • Residence in Shawnee County.
  • Academic record of teaching excellence, scholarship, and service.
  • Commitment to participating in development and other external activities, including strengthening alumni relations, and building strategic partnerships.
  • Experience and ability to manage financial resources, complex budgets, and personnel.
  • Experience and ability to successfully lead a faculty and staff through times of change.
  • Commitment to shared governance and constructive interactions through transparent and collaborative leadership.
  • Commitment to student success and serving the educational needs of an economically and demographically diverse population.
  • Spirit of collaboration and innovation.
  • Commitment to participating in the community and profession.
  • Proven track record of developing meaningful relationships.
  • Knowledge of accreditation standards.
  • Knowledge of critical issues in legal education.
  • Ability to thrive in a dynamic team environment.
  • Open and transparent communication style with excellent interpersonal communication skills.
  • Service-oriented personality and leadership style with high emotional intelligence.
  • Student-centered approach.
  • Visible and accessible approach to leadership.
  • Strong moral compass with personal and professional integrity beyond reproach.
  • Political astuteness with ability to communicate a position in a non-polarizing manner.
  • Critical strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

The Search Committee invites letters of interest and nominations to be submitted directly to the search firm, Anthem Executive. Correspondence should include a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest describing relevant experience and interest in the position. Submit materials to Michael Ballew, Scott Watson, JR Wheless, or Florene Stawowy at:

[email protected]

While applications and nominations may be accepted until the position is filled, interested parties are strongly encouraged to submit their materials as soon as possible to assure consideration. The deadline for applications is January 12, 2024; however, Anthem and the University reserve the right to end or extend the application and nomination process following this date. Expressing interest is the first step in receiving consideration and does not make one an applicant for the position.

Washburn University is committed to providing a place of work and learning free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability (whether actual or perceived by others), religion, age, sex/gender (including pregnancy related conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, or veteran status (military status or military obligations) in the programs or activities which it operates. 

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 2, 2024 at 09:31 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 14, 2023

3d Annual "Law v. Antisemitism" Conference (February 25-26 2024)

The event web site and registration page is live.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 14, 2023 at 04:20 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 09, 2023

With great speech comes great responsibility

Interesting statement from University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos on an important consequence of the Chicago Principles of campus expression:

The Chicago Principles protect the voice of each and every member of our community, inviting all to listen and to engage in a collective dialogue. The sum of this dialogue, noisy and fraught though it may sometimes be, is a kind of gift that we offer to each other through our considered participation. I write to remind you that the inheritance of our university’s environment of free expression comes with serious responsibilities.

He concludes "Our environment of free expression is a gift, and I urge each of you to honor and utilize our gifts responsibly so that we may all deepen our understanding." I think the statement is consistent with Paul's conclusions.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 9, 2023 at 09:54 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Legal scholars are not bound by reality

Following on Paul's recommendation of Noah Chauvin's Against Gap-Filling: I recommend this line towards the end of the piece:

Legal scholars are not bound by reality in the same way as our colleagues in other fields: Whereas they seek to understand and explain phenomena that have happened, are happening, or will happen, and are limited by the facts known or discoverable about these phenomena, our subject matter is the law—something that is (with apologies to adherents of natural law theory) wholly made up by people. Physicists, economists, and art historians must account for the world as they find it. But to the extent a law, legal doctrine, or method of interpretation is imperfect, legal scholars can advocate changing it. Legal scholarship concerns itself not with the world as it is, but the world as it should be.

When I began teaching, there was a line between "theoretical" and "descriptive" scholarship, with the former as "real" and the latter less valuable. But I always believed there is a large class of normative work, while not grounded in deep theory or legal philosophy, digs into and attacks the doctrine. Chauvin describes that.

I also love the first line of that block quote (a colleague said it is his new mantra). My wife is the child of medical academics and has done research in sociology and criminology. When we met (as I was beginning teaching), she laughed at the notion that we seemed to sit at a computer, write whatever we wanted, and get tenure for it.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 2, 2023 at 12:12 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 27, 2023

Ginsburg on institutional neutrality

Tom Ginsburg (Chicago) urges universities to adopt the Kalven principles of university neutrality towards the events of the day. Ginsburg highlights a couple interesting points. First, "[a]fter many years of speaking out so regularly, schools look defensive when adopting a stance of silence only when a large massacre of Jews occurs." (I made a similar point). Second, departmental statements present larger problems than university statements--junior faculty and grad students feel a greater "need to toe a party line announced by those who control tenure and resources" than by a distant university president, especially in those departments that "seem to treat public-facing statements as being as central to their mission as is research."

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 27, 2023 at 08:58 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2023

The right thing for a suspicious reason

We have witnessed two things on college campuses in the past week: Many schools allowing pro-Hamas rallies, statements, and literature and most schools refraining from issuing corporate statements (or issuing anodyne statements that satisfy no one).

Perhaps this is how it should be: Many believe, like Paul, that universities should not make broad statements on public disputes. Northwestern President Michael Schill urged that position,* grounded in the Chicago Principles and the Kalven Report, in arguing that the university should not speak for its individual members and that he would avoid "statements on political, geopolitical or social issues that do not directly impact the core mission of our University, the education and futures of our students, or higher education." And many believe that campus spaces, especially on public universities, are public forums that should be open for constitutionally protected speech, however offensive and obnoxious, and that administrators should not interfere to protect offended listeners.

[*] Then followed it with a somewhat more defensive statement when someone suggested he "believe[s] that the University as an entity should not be governed by a set of values … that everything is relative."

The problem is that universities reached this epiphany about campus speech when the speech celebrated the deaths of Jews and when even the stuff about Israel is tinged with comments about ovens and gas chambers. Prior to that, many (most) university officials took a different approach. They believed it necessary and appropriate to express solidarity and support African American students following George Floyd's (and other) murders or for women following Dobbs. They believed it necessary and appropriate to regulate, threaten, and sanction student speech--Halloween costumes, microaggressions, chalking sidewalks, singing songs on a bus surrounded by members of your group and unheard by anyone outside the group. Jeffrey Flier, former dean of Harvard Med School, makes this point (paywalled) in arguing that universities should move to the Chicago position of neutrality on non-educational issues, while pointing to Harvard President Claudine Gay's multiple statements and efforts to get out of the hole.

If the carousel ends in the right place on this, I am glad. But it is hard not to be suspicious of the context.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 16, 2023 at 09:31 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Keeping no one happy

In the wake of a May 2023 student speech at CUNY Law graduation that some saw as defending Palestine, others saw as anti-Semitic, and which every relevant government actor responded to incorrectly, the Forward reports, based on the minutes and student notes of a September faculty meeting, the school will not have a student speaker. But students will speak at some pre-graduation programs.

They say a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy. If so, mission accomplished. Critics say the school is silencing students and curtailing speech rights. An anti-Semitism activist says allowing the student to speak at the pre-graduation ceremony is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough. He also calls for the dean to be fired for complaining about anti-Palestinian harassment following last spring's graduation, which he reads as co-extensive with the "Jewish community’s outrage and pleas to CUNY to recognize their civil rights on campus."

This is not going away easily.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 5, 2023 at 09:49 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 02, 2023

CFP: Third Annual Financial Restructuring Roundtable, April 4, 2024

The Third Annual Financial Restructuring Roundtable will be held in person on April 4, 2024 in New York City. Spearheaded by Samir Parikh, Robert Rasmussen, and Michael Simkovic, this invitation-only event brings together practitioners, jurists, scholars, and finance industry professionals to discuss important financial restructuring and business law issues.

The Roundtable invites the submission of papers. Selected participants will receive a $2,000 stipend and have the opportunity to workshop their papers in an intimate, collegial setting. 

We seek papers exploring diverse topics and will be interested in interdisciplinary perspectives. Papers will be selected through a blind review process. Junior scholars (with one to ten years in academia) are invited to submit a 3 – 5 page overview of a proposed paper. Submissions may be an introduction, excerpt from a longer paper, or extended abstract. The submission should be anonymized, and – aside from general citations to the author’s previous articles – all references to the author should be removed.

Please submit proposals by October 30, 2023. Invitations will be issued via email by December 1, 2023.  Working drafts of papers should be available for circulation to participants by March 1, 2024.  

Proposals – as well as questions and concerns – should be directed to Samir Parikh at [email protected]

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 2, 2023 at 09:31 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

13th Annual Junior Federal Courts Workshop

The George Washington University Law School will host the 13th Annual Junior Faculty Federal Courts Workshop on March 8-9, 2024. The workshop pairs a senior scholar with a panel of junior scholars presenting works in progress. It is open to untenured and recently tenured academics who teach and write in the areas of federal courts, civil rights litigation, civil procedure, constitutional law, and other related topics. The program is also open to scholars who wish to attend, read, and comment on papers but not present. There is no registration fee.

The conference will begin on the morning of Friday, March 8, and conclude by early afternoon on Saturday, March 9. Each panel will consist of three to four junior scholars, with a senior scholar commenting on the papers and leading a group discussion.

The workshop will take place at the George Washington University Law School, which is located in the heart of Washington, DC. GW will provide lunches and dinners for those attending the workshop, but attendees must cover their own travel and lodging costs. A discounted block of rooms will be made available at a nearby hotel.

Those wishing to present a paper must submit an abstract of no more than two pages to [email protected] by Friday, November 17, 2023.

Questions about the conference may be directed to Professor Chas Tyler at [email protected].

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 26, 2023 at 12:50 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Maybe I'm part of the problem

With Yom Kippur upon us, it is time to confess my sins in response to Paul's post, because I am part of the problem:

Prior to COVID, I wore slacks and a tie when teaching (often a tie linked thematically to the day's class), although I wore shorts, a polo, and a quarter-zip on non-teaching days (I live in Miami, where it is hot 49 weeks a year and very warm the other three weeks).*

[*] A former student sued me a few years ago. The complaint, alleging a due process violation, included allegations about how I dressed).

When I taught online during COVID, I adopted my non-teaching outfit for the video classroom space. The shorts were out of camera and the quarter-zip-and-polo looked nice enough. I lived in Philly and taught online during fall 2020; John Fetterman was running for Lt. Governor, and, needless to say, I became a fan.

I continued wearing that outfit when I returned to teaching in-person-but-masked in fall 2021. For precedent, I pointed to basketball coaches--who used to wear dress clothes on the sideline, from Pat Riley's Armani suits to the unfortunate 1970s:

ImagesThat is until COVID, when coaches insisted on wearing comfortable clothing (warm-up pants, quarter-zips, sneakers) to go along with masks. And there is something weird about a mask with a suit or otherwise nice clothing. So, I told my students, I would continue with shorts and a polo and a mask in the classroom. With the lawsuit fresh in mind, I assured them this did not reflect on how seriously I took teaching or how the class would be conducted.

When I removed the mask in fall 2022, I said the hell with it. I had become comfortable (again, wearing pants and a nice shirt in Miami is miserable), it did not change the quality of my teaching (for whatever that is worth), and it did not change how students interacted with me in the classroom or their seriousness in preparing and engaging in class.

As Paul said, a classroom is not the U.S. Senate. And I dress "appropriately" in other contexts, such as commencement or when serving as moderator of a school-wide lecture with a visiting judge. I think about whether this is the wrong choice and whether to go back to wearing slacks (or at least jeans--which I probably would in a place that had seasons), if not all the way to wearing ties. The recent dust-up and the resulting discussion of "professionalism" puts this back on my radar. So far, my desire for comfort in hot weather prevails. 

S'lach li.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 21, 2023 at 10:26 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

More in memory of JoAnne Epps (Guest Post)

The following post is by my FIU colleague Kerri Stone; Kerri served as a Freedman Teaching Fellow at Temple prior to joining FIU.

I met JoAnne Epps when she was not yet President JoAnne Epps, nor Provost JoAnne Epps, nor even Dean JoAnne Epps, but Associate Dean and Professor JoAnne Epps, and I was a teaching fellow at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. Although fellows were not eligible to be hired onto the faculty from the teaching market, JoAnne, along with others on the faculty, spent time and energy mentoring us and making sure we could handle ourselves everywhere from a classroom to an academic conference, to a faculty meeting. Because she was a generous mentor, we were the beneficiaries of her vast wisdom, advice, and stories.  We learned from her example that a law professor could be simultaneously warm and funny, but also rigorous and formidable. We all turned to her for advice countless times, and as busy as she was, she made the time for us. Having spoken to others over the years, I now know that she made everyone—her students, her most junior colleagues, and her friends, even those she hadn’t seen in years—feel like she had all the time in the world for them. That is a real gift.  I was reminded of this gift of hers again just a few years ago, when JoAnne came to Miami and made the time to visit my law school to address our faculty. I was lucky enough to be invited to lunch with her and a mutual dear friend of ours on our faculty, Professor Joelle Moreno. Sitting with the two of them, laughing and discussing our lives and careers, is something I still remember vividly. JoAnne Epps was a true mentor and friend whose graciousness and generosity one-on-one will always be her legacy alongside her tremendous accomplishments in the legal academy.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 21, 2023 at 07:38 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Some Thoughts on the Remarkable JoAnne Epps (Guest Post)

JoAnne Epps--former faculty member, law dean, provost, and acting president at Temple--died Tuesday. The following remembrance is by my FIU colleague Joelle Moreno. If you have and would like to share remembrances or experiences with Prof. Epps, feel free to email them to me; I am happy to post a collection.

JoAnne Epps is the reason I am a law professor.

We met 30 years ago this summer. I was a new(ish) DOJ prosecutor sent to Boulder, Colorado to hone my trial skills. I’m not sure what I expected from NITA Nationals, but teaching was not a priority at my law school, and it showed. After three years of boring, self-important, pedantic performances from my own faculty, I was wholly unprepared for JoAnne.

JoAnne was, and I choose this word carefully, unique. 

When she walked into the room, JoAnne scared the shit out of you. It wasn’t just her poise, charm, and easy sense of humor. JoAnne immediately sized us up, this room of blowhard junior litigators and proto trial lawyers seeking to prove ourselves at big firms or government offices. She saw our strengths and weaknesses and, as we rose in turn to make our opening statements and summations, each of us pretending that our egos were not on the line, JoAnne cut through the nonsense with inarguable truths and incisive criticism. I’d never seen anything like her, as sharp and useful as a knife but indelibly herself. Hard to imagine today in our academic reality of eggshells and Stepford faculty.

If you knew JoAnne or even if you just heard her speak, her passion was unforgettable. Whether she was in class, explaining exactly why your theme and theory of the cases would never fly, or lingering over a glass of wine to describe a San Diego NITA faculty all-nighter to Tijuana, where they arrived back in the U.S. just in time to start teaching the next day, she was exuberant. At a youthful 72, JoAnne’s enthusiasm, dedication, and brilliance never diminished. She was irrepressible a few years ago when we co-hosted a boot camp at FIU on teaching and presentation skills. JoAnne taught by example that truly excellent teaching requires perception, self-acceptance, and candor.

JoAnne was recently enticed out of a planned retirement by her deep commitment to Temple University which she served with such dexterity for so long. Her passing is a blow to her family, friends, school and to everyone lucky enough to have known her. I am grateful for her friendship and saddened by her loss.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 20, 2023 at 06:49 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Is a hedgehog a momentary fox?

A quick thought on Gerard's post:

Is everyone a hedgehog in the moment of working on one large project or series of connected projects, before turning to the next (perhaps unrelated) project. Gerard is a hedgehog on § 3 for now. Come 2024, when this is resolved, he becomes a hedgehog on Youngstown. Big picture, of course, he is a fox across projects. And it seems as if many of us operate that way.

Blogging allows some foxiness to come through. While hedgehogging over a particular book or series of papers, I can write, however briefly, on outside subjects.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on September 14, 2023 at 01:59 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 25, 2023

What makes a career?

Congratulations to Jenny Martinez on her appointment as provost at Stanford. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (paywalled), Martinez's main accomplishment as dean and main qualification for the job was "defending free speech" in the Judge Duncan debacle. In fact, "[b]y elevating Martinez to its top academic post, Stanford is making a statement in the continuing free-speech debate. Leaders across the country will look to Martinez to uphold that stance, particularly as she assumes jurisdiction over not only the law school but also Stanford’s entire student body."

I praised Martinez's letter at the time, particularly for recognizing the expressive nature of heckling and in-the-room protest. But the idea that this one event was central to her appointment or that education leaders nationwide will read this as some endorsement of an approach to campus speech is laughable.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 25, 2023 at 07:04 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Teaching Tips for New Law Professors, August 23 (Moved to Top

Moving to top:

Join West for Teaching Tips for New Law Professors: How to Incorporate Professional Identity Formation in Your Teaching webinar, 3 p.m. CDT., tomorrow, Wednesday August 23.

The panel of award-winning law faculty members and casebook authors will provide guidance on developing and teaching a law school course with an emphasis on integrating Professional Identity Formation into your instruction. There will be time at the end for participants to ask questions.

Register here

Posted by Administrators on August 22, 2023 at 05:31 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 18, 2023

3d Annual "Law v. Antisemitism" Conference (February 25-26 2024) (Moved to Top)

Posting this one final time, with the deadline two weeks away. Please submit if interested and spread the word to people who might be.

FIU College of Law will host the 3d Annual "Law v. Antisemitism" Conference, Sunday-Monday, February 25-26, 2024. I am co-organizer with Rob Katz (Indiana-Inianapolis) and Diane Kemker (visiting at DePaul). The CFP and details after the jump.

Reposting with the deadline on September 1.

CALL FOR PAPERS/PRESENTATIONS

3rd Annual “Law vs. Antisemitism” Conference (February 25-26, 2024)

FIU College of Law, Miami, Florida

You are invited to submit a paper or presentation for the 3rd Annual Law vs. Antisemitism Conference. The Conference aims to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners to present research and developments on the intersection of law and antisemitism -- how law has manifested and perpetuated antisemitism, and how law has been and can be used to combat it.

Areas of interest for the conference include, but are not limited to, the following themes and topics.

  • The Working Definition of Antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), its legal implications, critics and competing definitions (e.g., Nexus, JDA)
  • Legal efforts in the U.S. and abroad to curtail expressions of antisemitism, e.g., by regulating hate speech, hate speech online, Holocaust denialism, and hate crimes
  • Laws that authorize religious expression in public spaces, laws that target Jews and other religious minorities, and generally applicable laws that burden Jewish observance, including abortion bans (in the context of Dobbs)
  • Legal responses to the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) movement and other efforts to counter boycotts of Israel
  • Comparisons between antisemitism and bias and discrimination based on race (including African Americans and Asian Americans) gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, or other categories
  • Jews and whiteness, including white privilege, white nationalism, and white supremacy
  • Intersectional issues (Jews as a religious/ethnic group; LBGTQ Jews; Black Jews, Jewish women)
  • Official discrimination against Jews, both historic and contemporary, including bars to holding office, immigration restrictions, housing and zoning restrictions
  • Jews and antisemitism in the legal profession
  • Jews as a protected class under federal and state civil rights statutes
  • Jews and employment law, including employment discrimination, religious accommodations, and the ministerial exception
  • Jews and antisemitism in higher education, including anti-Jewish quotas, Jewish perspectives on affirmative action, Title VI and hostile environments, faculty and student expression and actions concerning Israel and Zionism
  • Law and the Holocaust, punishing the perpetrators, restitution for the victims
  • The legal construction of Jewish identity (e.g., defining who is a Jew for purposes of the Law of Return, the Nuremberg laws)
  • Case studies in antisemitism, e.g., the Dreyfus Affair, the Leo Frank trial
  • Translating research on law and antisemitism into practical strategies for countering antisemitism through law
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching about the relationship between law and antisemitism

We invite scholars to reflect on the relationship between antisemitism, Jews, and the law, historically and in the contemporary environment, especially but not exclusively in the United States. We especially welcome papers and presentations that propose changes in law and policy with promise for ameliorating antisemitism and its effects. Please submit an Abstract of 300-500 words to [email protected]. Selected papers from the Conference will have an opportunity to be published in an upcoming issue of the FIU Law Review dedicated to the Symposium. (Questions may also be directed to [email protected].)

Proposals due September 1, 2023             

Presenters will be notified by October 1, 2023

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 18, 2023 at 02:11 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

9th Annual Civil Procedure Workshop

Ninth Annual Civil Procedure Workshop

May 31, 2024 - June 1, 2024

We are excited to announce that CPW9 will be hosted by UC Law SF in downtown San Francisco May 31-June 1, 2024.

Conference Information

CPW9 will give both emerging and established civil-procedure scholars an opportunity to gather with colleagues and present their work in plenary and breakout sessions. Senior scholars will moderate the plenary sessions and lead the commentary. All civil-procedure scholars are warmly invited to attend. There is no registration fee. CPW9 will provide meals for registrants, but registrants generally cover their own travel and lodging costs. Registration information and additional details will be announced in 2024.

Call for Papers

Those wishing to present a paper for discussion should submit an abstract of no more than 4,000 characters (around 500 words) by Friday, January 19, 2024. Papers from both emerging and senior scholars are welcome, but preference may be given to those who have been teaching for ten or fewer years. Abstract review is blind to author name and institutional affiliation. Papers at all stages of completion, including those likely to still be substantially incomplete at the time of the conference, are eligible. Accepted submissions will be notified in February 2024. Please submit your abstract online here.

Questions

Email Professor Scott Dodson at [email protected] with questions regarding the conference or the call for papers.

Sponsors

CPW9 is generously supported by UC Law SF, the Center for Litigation and Courts, and the American Association for Justice’s Robert L. Habush Endowment.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 16, 2023 at 09:27 AM in Civil Procedure, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 11, 2023

Understanding Civil Rights Litigation (3d edition)

I am happy to announce that the third edition of Understanding Civil Rights Litigation has been published with Carolina Academic Press and is available for use in Civil Rights and Fed Courts classes the world over. I think (hope) the third time is the charm--I got it where I want it in terms of writing style, structure and organization, and balance among doctrine, case discussion, commentary, and problem sets. I am looking forward to using it in class in the spring.

The book was delayed by about a month because I had to make a series of changes as courts did new things that either changed or supplemented what I wrote. The Court taking seven months to decide Talevski did not help. Naturally, judicial decisions continue to outstrip the book. The Ninth Circuit overruled circuit precedent and joined every other court that § 1981(c) does not create a private right of action and plaintiffs must pursue § 1981 claims against municipalities through § 1983. A divided en banc Fourth Circuit overruled circuit precedent to join every other circuit that preliminary injunctive relief can make a prevailing party entitled to § 1988 attorney's fees.  Two Fifth Circuit judges got into it over whether circuit precedent can clearly establish a right for qualified immunity. All cases would have been helpful to how I wrote pieces of the new edition. I suppose it is inevitable.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 11, 2023 at 12:25 PM in Books, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Hiring Announcment: Florida State

Florida State University College of Law invites entry-level and lateral candidates to apply for tenure-track and tenured positions to begin August 2024. Candidates in all academic areas are encouraged to apply, although criminal law/procedure, environmental law, international law, and business law are priority hiring areas.

FSU Law also invites applications and nominations for the Tobias Simon Chair in Public Law. The Chair was established in honor of Tobias Simon, a well-known civil rights lawyer and late professor at the College of Law. Candidates must hold a J.D., Ph.D., or equivalent degree, have significant experience (5 years minimum) in teaching and/or practice, and be qualified for appointment as a tenured, full professor. Candidates must have a distinguished publication record in a public law field, including, but not limited to, civil rights and civil liberties, international law, and public policy.

If interested in either/both opportunities, please send a letter of application and curriculum vitae to:

Professor Wayne Logan, Chair

Appointments Committee

Florida State University College of Law

Tallahassee, FL 32306-1601

[email protected]

 

FSU is an Equal Opportunity/Access/Affirmative Action/Pro Disabled & Veteran Employer.

FSU’s Equal Opportunity Statement can be viewed at: http://www.hr.fsu.edu/PDF/Publications/diversity/EEO_Statement.pdf

 

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 10, 2023 at 01:41 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Bryce Newell's 2023 Meta Rankings of Law Journals

Just in time for the new season (barely).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 26, 2023 at 08:16 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 14, 2023

Second Michael Olivas Summer Writing Institutte

Announcement and Zoom info on Faculty Lounge.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 14, 2023 at 10:57 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

A comment on Northwestern football and student journalism

I stopped watching football about a decade ago, finding the game too gladiatorial. For about five years I maintained a "Northwestern Football" exception, but that dissolved. Nevertheless, the reports of hazing and other misconduct within the program and Fitzgerald's firing sadden me. Fitzgerald was Northwestern football and a successful football team (even if somewhat sporadically) did great things for Northwestern as an institution. I do not know what happened in the lockerroom over the years--my best guess is the stories are substantially true, but how people looked at them ran the gamut, at least until the team stopped winning.

The Daily Northwestern story published on Saturday marked the turning point in this. Prior to that, it appeared the situation would resolve quietly--the university received an investigatory report that found the allegations "largely supported by evidence," suspended Fitzgerald for two weeks in July, and planned to keep the details internal. The Daily story* publicized the details, while opening the floodgates to more stories, more people, and more details.

[*] One of the four bylined authors is a friend's daughter.

Many people frame this as Northwestern's journalism program prevailing over Northwestern's football program or Northwestern's football program being no match for Northwestern's journalism program. This is pedantic, but I do not like the framing. The Daily Norhtwetsern, which reported and published the stories, is independent of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism (of which I am a graduate). Medill does not run the paper; Daily reporters need not be journalism majors; and most journalism majors (including myself and many of my friends) never worked for it. I do not know much about the publication process or about any faculty input into the publication process, but I expect the students made the key decisions on their own. So I am glad for the praise on student journalists and on the students running the Daily, but separate it from the journalism school.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 11, 2023 at 10:07 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

CFP: Article III Standing to Sue

The University of Chicago Law School's Constitutional Law Institute will host a conference on Article III Standing to Sue on September 22.

 

The Constitutional Law Institute invites draft papers on any aspect of the doctrine of standing. Article III of the Constitution confines the federal judicial power to "cases" and "controversies." Under modern doctrine, courts enforce that requirement by demanding that plaintiffs in every case demonstrate "standing" to sue. In recent years, the doctrine has transformed and raised many new questions -- legal, historical, and practical. Future decisions may well transform it still further.

 

Papers will be presented and discussed at the conference. Please submit any interested papers by August 1 to [email protected]. Chosen papers will be notified by August 15.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 20, 2023 at 08:43 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

3rd Annual “Law vs. Antisemitism” Conference (February 25-26, 2024)

FIU College of Law will host the 3d Annual "Law v. Antisemitism Conference, Sunday-Monday, February 25-26, 2024. I am co-organizer with Rob Katz (Indiana-Inianapolis) and Diane Kemker (visiting at DePaul). The CFP and details after the jump.

CALL FOR PAPERS/PRESENTATIONS

3rd Annual “Law vs. Antisemitism” Conference (February 25-26, 2024)

FIU College of Law, Miami, Florida

You are invited to submit a paper or presentation for the 3rd Annual Law vs. Antisemitism Conference. The Conference aims to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners to present research and developments on the intersection of law and antisemitism -- how law has manifested and perpetuated antisemitism, and how law has been and can be used to combat it.

Areas of interest for the conference include, but are not limited to, the following themes and topics.

  • The Working Definition of Antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), its legal implications, critics and competing definitions (e.g., Nexus, JDA)
  • Legal efforts in the U.S. and abroad to curtail expressions of antisemitism, e.g., by regulating hate speech, hate speech online, Holocaust denialism, and hate crimes
  • Laws that authorize religious expression in public spaces, laws that target Jews and other religious minorities, and generally applicable laws that burden Jewish observance, including abortion bans (in the context of Dobbs)
  • Legal responses to the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) movement and other efforts to counter boycotts of Israel
  • Comparisons between antisemitism and bias and discrimination based on race (including African Americans and Asian Americans) gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, or other categories
  • Jews and whiteness, including white privilege, white nationalism, and white supremacy
  • Intersectional issues (Jews as a religious/ethnic group; LBGTQ Jews; Black Jews, Jewish women)
  • Official discrimination against Jews, both historic and contemporary, including bars to holding office, immigration restrictions, housing and zoning restrictions
  • Jews and antisemitism in the legal profession
  • Jews as a protected class under federal and state civil rights statutes
  • Jews and employment law, including employment discrimination, religious accommodations, and the ministerial exception
  • Jews and antisemitism in higher education, including anti-Jewish quotas, Jewish perspectives on affirmative action, Title VI and hostile environments, faculty and student expression and actions concerning Israel and Zionism
  • Law and the Holocaust, punishing the perpetrators, restitution for the victims
  • The legal construction of Jewish identity (e.g., defining who is a Jew for purposes of the Law of Return, the Nuremberg laws)
  • Case studies in antisemitism, e.g., the Dreyfus Affair, the Leo Frank trial
  • Translating research on law and antisemitism into practical strategies for countering antisemitism through law
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching about the relationship between law and antisemitism

We invite scholars to reflect on the relationship between antisemitism, Jews, and the law, historically and in the contemporary environment, especially but not exclusively in the United States. We especially welcome papers and presentations that propose changes in law and policy with promise for ameliorating antisemitism and its effects. Please submit an Abstract of 300-500 words to [email protected]. Selected papers from the Conference will have an opportunity to be published in an upcoming issue of the FIU Law Review dedicated to the Symposium. (Questions may also be directed to [email protected].)

Proposals due September 1, 2023             

Presenters will be notified by October 1, 2023

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 14, 2023 at 09:31 AM in Religion, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Law School Academic Impact Rankings, with FLAIR (Updated)

The following is by Matthew Sag (Emory); he has posted here about competing rankings systems.

I am pleased to announce the release of the Forward-Looking Academic Impact Rankings (FLAIR) for US law schools for 2023. I began this project two years ago because of my intense frustration that my law faculty (Loyola Chicago, at the time) had yet again been left out of the Sisk Rankings. The project has evolved and matured since then, and the design of the FLAIR rankings owes a great deal to debates that I have had with Prof. Gregory Sisk, partly in public, but mostly in private.

You can download the full draft paper from SSRN or wait for it to come out in the Florida State University Law Review.

How do the FLAIR rankings work?

I combined individual five-year citation data from HeinOnline with faculty lists scraped directly from almost 200 Law school websites to calculate the mean and median five-year citation numbers for every ABA accredited law school. Yes, that was a lot of work. Based on faculty websites, hiring announcements, and other data sources, I excluded assistant professors and faculty who began their tenure-track career in 2017 or later. I also limited the focus to what is traditionally considered to be the “doctrinal” faculty. The paper provides more details and the rationales for both of these decisions. 

How do the FLAIR rankings compare to other law school rankings?

Among their many flaws, the U.S News law school rankings rely on poorly designed, highly subjective surveys to gauge “reputational strength,” rather than looking to easily available, objective citation data that is more valid and reliable. Would-be usurpers of U.S. News use better data but make other arbitrary choices that limit and distort their rankings. One flaw common to U.S. News and those who would displace it is the fetishization of minor differences in placement that do not reflect actual differences in substance. In my view, this information is worse than trivial: it is actively misleading.

The FLAIR rankings use objective citation data that is more valid and reliable than the U.S. News surveys, and unlike the Sisk rankings, FLAIR gives every ABA accredited law school a chance have the work of its faculty considered. Obviously, it is much fairer to assess every school rather than arbitrarily excluding some based on an intuition (a demonstrably faulty intuition at that) that particular schools have no chance to ranking the top X%. Well, it’s obvious to me at least. But perhaps more importantly, looking out all the data gives us a valid context to assess individual data points. The FLAIR rankings are designed to convey relevant distinctions without placing undue emphasis on minor differences in rank that are substantively unimportant. This goes against the horserace mentality that drives so much interest in U.S. News, but I’m not here to sell anything.

What are the relevant distinctions?

The FLAIR rankings assign law faculties to four separate tiers based on how their mean and median five-year citation counts compared to the standard deviation of the means and mediums of all faculties. Tier 1 is made up of those faculties that are more than one standard deviation above the mean, Tier 2 is between zero and one standard deviations above the mean, Tier 3 ranges from the mean to half a standard deviation below, and Tier 4 includes all of the schools more than half a standard deviation below the mean. In other words, Tier 1 schools are exceptional, Tier 2 schools are above average, Tier 3 are below average, and Tier 4 are well-below average.

The figure below illustrates a boxplot for the distribution of citation counts for each tier. (There is a more complete explanation in the paper, but essentially, the middle of the boxplot is the median, the box around the median is the middle 50%, and the “whiskers” at either and are the lowest/highest 25%.) The boxplot figure below illustrates the substantial differences between the tiers, but it also underscores that there is nonetheless considerable overlap between tiers.

The FLAIR rankings

The next figure focuses on Tier 1. The FLAIR rank for each school is indicated in parentheses. The boxplot next to each school’s name indicates the distribution of citations for each doctrinal faculty member within that school.

Readers who pay close attention to the U.S. News rankings will note that the top tier consists of 23 schools, not the much vaunted “T14”. The T14 is a meaningless category; it does not reflect any current empirical reality or any substantial differences between the 14th and 15th rank. Attentive readers will also note that several schools well outside of the (hopefully now discredited concept of the) T14—namely U.C. Irvine, U.C. Davis, Emory, William & Mary, and George Washington—are in the top tier. These schools’ academic impact outpaces their overall U.S. News rankings significantly. U.C. Davis outperforms its U.S. News ranking by 42 places!

Looking at the top tier of the FLAIR rankings as visualized in the figure above also illustrates how misleading ordinal differences in ranking can be. There is very little difference between Virginia, Vanderbilt, and the University of Pennsylvania in terms of academic impact. The medians and the general distribution of each of these faculties are quite similar. And thus we can conclude that differences between ranks 6 and 8 are unimportant and that it is not news if Virginia “drops” to 8th or Pennsylvania rises to 6th in the FLAIR rankings, or indeed in the U.S. News rankings.

The differences that matter, and those that don’t

In the Olympics, third place is a bronze medal, and fourth place is nothing; but there are no medals in the legal academy and there is no difference in academic impact between third and fourth that is worth talking about. Minor differences in placement rarely correspond to differences in substance. Accordingly, rather than emphasizing largely irrelevant ordinal comparisons between schools only a few places apart, what we should really focus on is which tier in the rankings a school belongs to. Moreover, even when a difference in ranking suggests that there is a genuine difference in the overall academic impact of one faculty versus another, those aggregate differences say very little about the academic impact of individual faculty members. There is a lot of variation within faculties!

Objections to quantification

Many readers will object to any attempt to quantify academic impact, or to the use of data from HeinOnline specifically. Some of these objections make sense in relation to assessing individuals, but I don’t think that any of them retain much force when applied to assessing faculties as a whole. If we are really interested in the impact of individual scholars, we need to assess a broad range of objective evidence in context; that context comes from reading their work and understanding the field as whole. In contrast, no one could be expected to read the works of an entire faculty to get a sense of its academic influence. Indeed, citation counts, or other similarly reductive measures are the only feasible way to make between-faculty comparisons with any degree of rigor. What is more, aggregating the data at the faculty level reduces the impact of individual distortions, much like a mutual fund reduces the volatility associated with individual stocks.

One thing I should be very clear about is that academic impact is not the same thing as quality or merit. This is important because, although I think that the data can be an important tool for overcoming bias, I also need to acknowledge that citation counts will reflect the structural inequalities that pervade the legal academy. A glance at the most common first names among law school doctrinal faculty in the United States is illustrative. In order of frequency, the 15 most common first names are Michael, David, John, Robert, Richard, James, Mark, Daniel, William, Stephen, Paul, Christopher, Thomas, Andrew, and Susan. It should be immediately apparent that this group is more male and probably a lot whiter than a random sample of the U.S. population would predict. As I said, citation counts are a measure of impact, not merit. This is not a problem with citation counts as such, qualitative assessments and reputational surveys suffer the same problem. There is no objective way to assess what the academic impact of individuals or faculties would be in an alternative universe free from racism, sexism, and ableism. A better system of ranking the academic impact of law faculties will more accurately reflect the world we live in, that increased accuracy might help make the world better at the margins, but it won’t do much to fix underlying structural inequalities.

Corrections and updates

Several schools took the opportunity to email me with corrections or updates to their faculty lists in the past three months. If I receive other corrections that might meaningfully change the rankings, I will post a revised version.

Further Update: The original post did not include the figures. Here they are:

T1_alt1

Distribution of Citation Counts by Tier

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 1, 2023 at 09:31 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig at FIU

FIU will host our Sixth Decanal Lecture (the first since COVID), with Angela Onwuachi-Willig (BU), on How To Build an Antiracist Profession, 12:30 p.m. EDT today (Tuesday). Livestream here.

Sixth Decanal Lecture v3

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 28, 2023 at 06:25 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Still more on Stanford (Updated)

 Steve (welcome!) reports (with a copy of Dean Jenny Martinez's letter) on the for-the-moment resolution of the Stanford-Kyle Duncan debacle. A couple of points.

Martinez recognizes that some protesters--those who waved signs, those who snapped or hissed, those who asked provocative or even obnoxious questions--engaged in protected counter-speech for which they should not be punished. The letter also references a "non-disruptive level of audience reaction" as protected and appropriate in the forum, an important recognition of the gradations at work. Within the space reserved for a speaker event, it is not a simple binary between silently listen, display signs, and ask questions on the one hand and complete chaos on the other; oral counter-speech remains permissible prior to the point of disruption (wherever that begins). FWIW, Judge Duncan has not made similar distinctions; he expressed particular annoyance with the snapping.

As to my point about asymmetry: The President of West Texas A&M prohibited student organizations from putting on a drag show (scheduled for next Monday), calling it "derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny" and akin to blackface, and insisting that, despite the adult audience, drag shows cannot be harmless. The student group has sued and should win the TRO allowing them to hold the event. (Interestingly, the President recognizes that his decision violates the First Amendment but says he does not care). So again--obnoxious counter-speech v. formal state prohibition on student speech. Yes, there are counter-examples on both sides. But a trend is developing. Plus, I wonder how Judge Duncan--and his insistence that speakers be allowed to speak without interruption no matter how offensive the speech--would rule if he is on the Fifth Circuit panel for any appeal in that case.

Update: Popehat weighs in and again gets everything right.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 25, 2023 at 10:17 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2023

UCLA Seeks Legal Research and Writing Faculty

UCLA School of Law is seeking a full-time lecturer to teach two sections of the first-year J.D. course in Legal Research and Writing. The opening is for the 2023-24 academic year. The appointment will be effective July 1, 2023.

Each section of the Legal Research and Writing is a year-long five-credit course, designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of legal reasoning, the structure of objective and persuasive arguments, legal research methods, statutory interpretation, and additional skills, such as oral advocacy, fact investigation, and client counseling. Students complete a variety of written assignments, both graded and ungraded, designed to reinforce the overarching lessons of the course.

This is a full-time academic, non-tenure track appointment as a Lecturer in Law.

For a complete job announcement, see here.  The deadline for applying is April 21, 2023.  Please contact Dave Marcus, Vice Dean for Curricular and Academic Affairs, with any questions ([email protected]).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 13, 2023 at 09:31 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 27, 2023

CFP: Continuing Legal Education and the Professional Education of U.S. Lawyers

Announcement here.

The AALS Journal of Legal Education invites abstract submissions for a symposium on “Continuing Legal Education and the Professional Education of U.S. Lawyers.” The Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board will host the in-person symposium on Friday, October 6, 2023, at the Inn at Villanova University. Accepted final articles will be published by the Journal of Legal Education in a symposium issue.

The symposium will take a broad and deep look at the continuing legal education (CLE) landscape. The themes of the symposium are the purposes of continuing legal education and how effectively those purposes are achieved, including the measurement of teaching and learning.

Areas of exploration could include, but are not limited to: adult learning and engaging pedagogy — i.e., best practices in delivering legal education outside the law school classroom; innovation and experimentation in the delivery of CLE, including best practices for developing and delivering online education in synchronous versus asynchronous formats; the relationship between CLE provider accreditation, program quality, and learning outcomes; legal ethics education and moving the needle on professional compliance; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the context of both mandatory and non-mandatory CLE, including access to quality programming and compulsory substantive content on DEI and anti-harassment content; state-by state experimentation with alternatives to fulfilling mandatory CLE, including “CLE for pro bono“ programs; and, in keeping with the spirit of the comments offered by legal education pioneer John Mulder, the important role of law schools in ensuring quality continuing legal education, Continuing Legal Education, 1 J. Leg. Ed. 378, 385 (1949).

The Journal seeks contributions and perspectives from a wide array of potential authors, including legal educators, CLE regulators and providers, and consumers of continuing legal education.

Submission Guidelines

The deadline for abstracts is March 31, 2023, and authors will be notified of acceptance by May 1, 2023. All submissions must be in English. Your abstract should be under 500 words and should identify the author(s) of your proposed presentation. If you are submitting a proposal for a panel, include the names and contact information for all participants. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Late submissions may be considered if space remains available. Publishable quality submissions are due to the Journal of Legal Education by December 6, 2023.

To secure broad and strong participation, the symposium convenors will cover authors’ reasonable travel expenses and offer a $500 honorarium for authors who participate in person at the symposium and submit a manuscript that meets the Journal’s editorial standards.

Please submit abstracts as Word documents or in PDF to: [email protected]

Questions should be directed to:

Professor Steven L. Chanenson
Faculty Director

David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

299 N. Spring Mill Rd.

Villanova, PA 19085

[email protected]

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 27, 2023 at 09:31 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Whittington on the new Florida higher-ed bill

The filed version of HB 999 matches the principles DeSantis announced several weeks ago. Keith Whittington (Princeton and chair of the Academic Freedom Alliance) analyzes the constitutional and academic-freedom problems. His analysis is spot-on. I will highlight two things.

First is his closing line: "In the name of prohibiting political litmus tests for faculty, the reform will wind up imposing political litmus tests for faculty." That is the point--DeSantis and his minions do not intend or desire to prohibit political litmus tests or stop indoctrination; they want to impose their preferred indoctrination and litmus tests.

Second, he says in the closing ¶: "Hard to imagine that this kind of micromanagement of how universities operate will be very workable in practice, even if it were a good idea." Much depends on the university presidents. If they decline to exercise this new power and allow faculty governance to proceed as it has, this may do less practical than rhetorical damage.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 25, 2023 at 12:42 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Life and the Court marches on

I have mentioned that I end each Civ Pro class by telling students to Remember someone associated with that class. We did Twiqbal today, so it was "Remember David Souter." Students had to google him.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 2, 2023 at 01:21 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

More on oral assessments

Following on this exchange on oral assessments: My Civil Rights class this semester (first meeting this morning) will not include a large end-of-semester writing project, only oral arguments (plus three short in-semester papers and class participation). The three papers are worth more than the arguments, as school rules require. But students can focus all attention to the arguments as the capstone to the class.

I am curious to see if it makes a difference in the quality of arguments or in my ability to evaluate overall performance.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 10, 2023 at 08:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Whither laptops in the (in-person) classroom? (Updated)

Pre-COVID, the trend in higher ed, particularly legal ed, was to prohibit students from using laptops to take notes in class. Early studies showed students learned and retained information better when handwriting notes compared with typing often-verbatim notes. I had banned them from my room since spring 2009, based on a combination of those studies, a general belief that students were better prepared off handwritten notes, and a desire to create habits of engaging in a conversation while taking brief notes followed by a recording or transcript sometime later (i.e., what happens at a trial or deposition). About half the 1L faculty at FIU (7-8 people) did the same.

COVID changed a lot. Student habits of using computers became more entrenched, with students creating multi-screen, multi-device systems for online classes. Although I encouraged students to continue reading and taking notes on paper during my year+ of remote teaching, I doubt they listened.

So where do things stand on the other side (more or less) of COVID? I returned to my old system the day I returned to the classroom (Fall 2021); I heard no complaints. But an informal survey of my colleagues reveals four of us still ban; the rest allow computers, including several who previously did not. Early studies about notetaking have not been replicated in full.

What are faculty at other schools, especially those who did not allow computers pre-COVID, doing? Have student expectations changed and hardened, so they push back against bans? Do accommodations make this an impossible general policy?

Comments left open.

Update: Heard from one more colleague. He allows students to use devices for e-books and materials (which are cheaper and more available) but requires they take notes by hand, the computer reserved for reading and searching materials. I followed this approach by necessity one year in Civil Rights, when the new edition of the book was available electronically but not in print when class began in January. Students followed the no-notes rule, which was easy to enforce in a small (5 students) class; it becomes more challenging with 60+ students. Eboks made it more difficult and time-consuming for students to jump among materials (an issue in code classes). But that may be worth lowering the cost of books. Perhaps an intriguing middle ground for next year. In any event, that does mean five of us remain in the no-laptops-for-notes camp.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 3, 2023 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

In Memoriam, Megan Fairlie (Updated)

I am sad to announce that my FIU colleague Megan Fairlie died Tuesday, following a lengthy illness. She leaves two daughters, Aileen and Maca.

Megan came to FIU in 2007. She taught Crim, Crim Pro, and PR almost every year, so she taught and touched the vast majority of COL students the past 15 years. She wrote extensively on the ICC and international criminal law. She also was a wonderful friend and colleague; I will miss her contributions to the school's intellectual community.

More details, including about a memorial service sometime in the spring, to come.

Update: The family created a Go Fund Me for Megan's daughters. Please share the link.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 28, 2022 at 01:25 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 05, 2022

Oral assessments (if not exams) (Updated)

Responding to Gerard's post: In Fed Courts and Civil Rights, a chunk of the grade (about 30/165 points) is based on oral arguments. I usually have 20-30 students in each. The class gathers for a full day at the end of exams. Each student argues one case and judges one case. A petitioner and respondent argue the case before a panel of 3 students and me. It is a lot of fun and the students enjoy it. And it allows me to test them in real-time--to push back and/or correct their understandings and arguments and thus to measure how well they get stuff.

I have not been able to pull the trigger--which I think is what Gerard is suggesting--on making it the sole big assessment. That comes from a written opinion on a third case (as well as two smaller in-semester papers). I am not sure our internal academic policies on the curve and blind grading allow it. But it is an interesting thought would make my life easier. And that other people, such as Gerard, would consider it suggests it is worth thinking more about.

PS: A colleague described doing oral exams years ago at another school, in Fed Courts. He met with each student and had a conversation about some subjects or issues. Sometimes, to ease student discomfort, he took it outside--they walked around campus talking about federalism.

Update: One more thing, perhaps against the idea. In litigation, the balance between oral and written has shifted overwhelmingly towards the latter--fewer appeals get oral argument, fewer trial motions get oral argument, district judges spend less time on the bench. So do we do a disservice by emphasizing oral over written in getting them ready to practice?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 5, 2022 at 01:33 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Yale withdraws from US News

Dean Gerken's announcement. I do not think about legal education and metrics enough to predict what this will mean. I am curious to hear other people's thoughts, in particular for schools in the middle of the US News pack. Update: Harvard, too.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 16, 2022 at 01:34 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Affirmative action alternative? (Guest Suzanna Sherry)

The following post is by Suzanna Sherry (emerita at Vanderbilt and friend of the blog).

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the legality of affirmative action. Some time before the end of June, the Court may well hold that it is illegal – either under the Constitution, a federal statute, or both – for colleges and universities to use race as a factor in deciding which students to admit. Conservatives hope, and liberals fear, that this will mean the end of affirmative action in educational institutions.

It won’t. Elite colleges and universities will quickly adapt, changing their admissions policies to achieve their goal of a racially diverse student body while purporting to be race-neutral. It will take only three easy steps.

Step one: Make the submission of SAT or ACT scores optional (some universities have already done so). This will break the applicants for admission into two pools. One, the test-submission pool, will consist of students who earned high scores on the tests. It will be almost entirely white and Asian-American. The other, the no-submission pool, will consist of students who either did poorly on the tests, or did not take a test because they feared they would do poorly. This second pool will contain applicants of all races and ethnicities.

Step two: Establish criteria for admission from each pool. For the test-submission pool, the criteria will presumably be the traditional ones: test scores, high school grades, recommendation letters, and interviews. For the no-submission pool, the criteria will sound good, but they will be vague and infinitely malleable: drive to succeed, the ability to overcome obstacles, a commitment to making the world a better place, and the like. And, surprise, surprise, it will turn out that Black and Hispanic applicants meet these criteria more frequently that white applicants do, at least according to the admissions officers’ evaluations.

So the students admitted from the submission-pool will be almost all white or Asian-American. The largest percentage of students admitted from the no-submission pool will be Blacks and Hispanics, who are currently being admitted through affirmative action program. Admittees from this pool might also include applicants with other desirable attributes, such as offspring of alumni or big donors or celebrities, royalty from around the world, and the occasional prize-winning oboist desperately needed by the school’s orchestra.

Step three: Determine the distribution of students who will be admitted from each pool. This can be a fixed percentage (60% from one pool and 40% from the other), or a minimum or maximum (at least 40% from one pool, which is the same as no more than 60% from the other pool). The distribution can be stated as a goal – which allows some deviation – or as a mandatory result of the admissions process.

It might take a year or two to get the criteria and the distribution just right. But in short order, these elite colleges and universities will have the same racial distribution that they do now. And because there will be two separate pools and no objective criteria by which to compare applicants in the no-submission pool, there will be no way to prove that race played any role deciding who gets admitted.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 1, 2022 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 31, 2022

Civ Pro Halloween

Civ Pro is a spring class around here, so no in-class costumes. Still, I got a visit from a student in my office. She is 4'11" tall; she wore a white t-shirt with the word "statement" on it.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 31, 2022 at 05:20 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)