Subscribe via RSS Feed

They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true

[ 175 ] April 15, 2014 |

Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow in the NYT on the “supposed” “crisis” “in” “legal” “education:”

According to the Association for Legal Career Professionals, as recently as 2007, close to 92 percent of law-school graduates reported being employed in a paid, full-time position nine months after graduation. True, the employment figures had dropped by 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, but only to 84.7 percent.

As my second all-time favorite tennis player would put it: You have got to be kidding me. You cannot be serious.

I don’t know what’s more egregious here, the laziness or the intellectual dishonesty.

As to the former, if you’re going to spin your stats in the most misleading way possible, at least bother to get them right in the first place. The claim that way back in 2007 92% of graduates “reported being employed in a paid, full-time position nine months after graduation” is wrong: NALP’s figures include part-time jobs and unpaid jobs (and part-time, unpaid jobs). 5% of law graduates with jobs reported their employment as part-time, while an unknown number weren’t being paid (the latter is an increasingly common arrangement in a world in which young people are expected to work for free in order to get their feet inside slamming employment doors). And even with all these caveats, the reported percentage of 2007 graduates with jobs of all kinds still wasn’t “close to 92%” — it was 85.3%, since NALP wasn’t able to ascertain the employment status of 2% of graduates, and another 4% of the graduating class attended schools that didn’t report their data.

Of course anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the supposed crisis in legal education will have noticed a far more egregious “oversight” in this analysis (which isn’t an oversight at all, since whatever else they may be Chemerinsky and Menkel-Meadow aren’t idiots): At this late date, EC and CMM still have the chutzpah to trot out the law school’s scam’s oldest and crudest trick, which is to imply that their employment statistics are referencing actual legal jobs.

But they’re not. Even in the halcyon days of 2007, just before one third of all big law entry-level jobs disappeared, only 68.9% of graduates were reported to have acquired full-time long-term jobs requiring bar admission nine months after graduation. That total has declined by 17% since, and goes even lower when you exclude law school-funded “jobs” and people who list themselves as having set up solo practices. Barely half of 2012 –and 2013 — law school graduates got a legal job, broadly construed, within nine months of graduation, rather than the utterly phony “84.7%” figure the authors cite to what they must hope is a profoundly naive readership (Note how even the latter wildly pumped up total employment figure is pretty grim, given that the current employment rate for 25 to 34 year olds, which includes everyone from high school dropouts to interdisciplinary JD/MPH/PhDs, is 93.2%).

The rest of the op-ed is if anything even worse, featuring a bunch of disingenuous tongue-clucking about how unfortunate it is that the cost of “college” (not law school, which has actually risen by much more) has gone up by more than 1100% since 1978 — as if a brand-new and (to put it mildly) superfluous law school in a hyper-saturated legal employment market just had to charge the $47,300 in resident and $53,900 in non-resident annual tuition and fees that Chemerinksy’s vanity project is charging this year, because of reasons. (These figures don’t include three years’ worth of living expenses in one of the most pricy areas in the country).

The most nauseating aspect of all this is the gelatinous patina of sanctimony the authors slather onto their exercise in profoundly anti-intellectual — if “intellectual” is taken to mean “minimally honest” — hucksterism. “Legal education is still an excellent choice for those committed to serving others in a rewarding career,” they primly observe. Yes, it’s certainly been an excellent choice for them. Let’s take a moment to contemplate how well these public-spirited scholars are doing for themselves by “serving others.”

The first person Chemerinsky hired onto the UC-Irvine faculty when he got this self-abnegating enterprise rolling five years ago was his wife. In 2012 this dynamic academic duo pulled down a combined salary of $597,000 from the University of California’s perpetually cash-strapped system.

Meanwhile Menkel-Meadow took home a salary of $320,000, so it’s safe to say a career in public service is working out OK for her as well.

Microbreweries and Teamsters

[ 124 ] April 14, 2014 |

A bit of a kerfuffle in Minnesota between microbrewers and the Teamsters.

A bill that would allow limited Sunday sales of alcohol in Minnesota is in jeopardy.

Backers of a bill that would allow liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sundays have been rebuffed at the State Capitol for years. So this year, they considered it a victory that even a tiny Sunday sales provision was included in the overall liquor bill.

The measure, which would allow craft beer taprooms to sell growlers (refillable containers that hold half a gallon) on Sundays, sailed through legislative committees. But in recent days the bill has stalled in the Senate Tax Committee. The roadblock? The powerful Teamsters Union.

Teamster’s Union political director Ed Reynoso said the union started lobbying against Sunday growler sales after he learned a company that distributes alcohol and employs members of the union suggested the law would allow them to reopen their labor contracts because of it. He said the union wants to avoid that because it could mean wages, benefits and work hours could all be back on the table.

“As soon as we had an employer raise the potential that they were going to ask for a reopener, I reached out to leadership, I reached out to the Senate Committee chair,” Reynoso said. “I notified them of our objections and our concerns.”

The microbrewers are angry:

The issue is frustrating to members of the Minnesota Beer Activists, who have lobbied for ending the state’s ban on Sunday liquor store sales. The group’s director, Andrew Schmitt, said he thought allowing growler sales was a compromise.

“We’re not going to see any progress and who comes out ahead on that? It’s the Teamsters and it’s only the Teamsters,” Schmitt said. “They have protection for their concerns and the brewers aren’t going to get anything addressed and the consumers aren’t going to get their needs addressed and the Teamsters have essentially killed the bill.”

Well, the bill isn’t exactly dead yet and it’s far from clear in the story that the Teamsters have the power to do so. Could be used an excuse by politicians who don’t want to pass the bill anyway. But if companies are using this as a way to reopen contract and bust unions, then that’s an excellent reason for the Teamsters to oppose this bill. In fact, that’s exactly what a union is supposed to do. Now, it would be nice to know who this company is and what they are saying, something the report evidently couldn’t find out. It would also be useful if the brewers and the Teamsters could reach out to each other and talk this through (admittedly, making alliances has never been a priority of the Teamsters). The brewers should also come out in favor of strong union contracts and oppose anyone seeking to reopen contracts. But that’s evidently not something they have thought about.

The absurdity of the contemporary American law school, Part 743

[ 26 ] April 14, 2014 |

Nova Southeastern has become the latest law school to announce publicly that it’s buying out a significant number of its tenured faculty. In Nova’s case, everybody whose age + years of service adds up to 60 is eligible. Assuming typical demographics this category probably includes a solid majority of the tenured faculty. The school says its capping the percentage of buyouts at 20% of the faculty (It’s unclear whether this means 20% of the faculty as a whole, 20% of tenured faculty, or 20% of the tenured faculty who are eligible.)

The terms of the buyout offer weren’t disclosed, although it does include three years of continued health insurance coverage. Not surprisingly, universities are discovering that this is a crucial consideration when trying to buy out faculty who are not yet eligible for Medicare within The Best Health Care System in the World ™. From what I’ve been able to gather, two years salary seems to be more or less the going rate for buy outs these days; in any case at least one Nova law professor was more than happy to take the deal:

“It’s a very fair offer,” [Bruce] Rogow said. “I accepted right away. This frees up the opportunity to hire new, fresh faculty. In the long run, it’s very good for me because I have something else that fills up my time, which is the practice of law. Teaching was just for the pleasure.”

Rogow, who served as acting dean of the law school in 1984, still may teach a class or two from time to time, but his career as a tenured law professor is over, he said. A prominent appellate lawyer, he plans to continue working full-time at his Fort Lauderdale-based solo practice.

Apparently referring to Rogow as a prominent appellate lawyer is something of an understatement. Per his CV:

In addition to teaching, Mr. Rogow has argued over 400 cases in federal and state courts,
including 11 cases in the Supreme Court of the United States. No one in Florida has argued more
Supreme Court cases than Mr. Rogow. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for 22 years.
In 2009 he was named in 4 categories: Appellate Practice, Commercial Litigation, First Amendment
Law, and Criminal Law. He is also listed in Chambers USA as a top commercial litigator. Mr.
Rogow is both a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of
Appellate Lawyers, a dual recognition accorded to only a small number of lawyers in the United
States. For years he has been named by Florida Trend as one of Florida’s “Legal Elite.”
Mr. Rogow’s clients in 2007-2008 included Morgan Stanley (he reversed a $1.8 billion dollar
judgment against the company); Merrill Lynch; Richard Scrushy (Former HealthSouth CEO); the
Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida; the cities of Doral, Miami Lakes, Hialeah and Pinecrest,
Florida; all the parimutuels in Broward and Dade Counties Florida; Donald Trump; Don King (the
boxing promoter); David Koch (Koch Industries); and in the Supreme Court of Florida he recently
represented appellate court Judge Michael Allen and Joe Anderson (Florida’s largest road
contractor). Mr. Rogow was appointed in 2007 by the Supreme Court of Florida to represent two
indigent prisoners, winning both cases. In 2007-2008 he argued 6 cases in the Supreme Court of
Florida. Former clients have included F. Lee Bailey, Wyeth Corporation, the Seminole Tribe of
Florida, Seminole Management Associates, and numerous lawyers and law firms, including Florida
tobacco lawyers in their tobacco litigation fees claims that ultimately resulted in fees of nearly two
billion dollars.

Rogow has been a “full-time” member of Nova’s law faculty since 1974, even though for much of that time he has also apparently been operating what may be Florida’s most profitable solo law practice. It’s unclear as to what “full-time” employment on the law faculty means for him; a check of Nova’s current web site and cached copies of it indicates that he taught two classes in the 2014 winter semester, and none in either the fall of 2013 or 2012. (I wasn’t able to find the winter 2013 schedule). And while one shouldn’t put much weight on sites like Rate My Professors, the evaluations of his teaching there suggest that their pedagogic value is perhaps questionable:

Brilliant attorney, terrible professor. I only went to his class four times and never opened my text book. He gives a review the last class before the final…and if you study that, you’ll do fine. One of my best grades in Law School. And he invites you to dinner at his place! Would take again!

I wish commenters would stop being coy and just come out with it. Rogow didn’t take attendance and didn’t know/care who anyone was or whether they came to class or not. The entire semester was basically story time featuring him. The last 2 classes were a review session where he told us EXACTLY what we needed to know to succeed on the final.

Etc.

As for “scholarship,” it hardly comes as a surprise that a search of Google Scholar indicates Rogow has published almost nothing over the course of his 40+ years in legal academia, or at least anything anyone has ever cited.

So how much are Nova students paying for having a big name lawyer who is apparently a glorified adjunct on their faculty? To its credit, Nova responded last year to SALT’s annual survey of law faculty salaries, which revealed that the median salary for a tenured Nova law professor was just under $155,000 (Plus a $12,000 summer research stipend. Do appellate briefs count I wonder?). Given Rogow’s fame and seniority, he could easily be pulling down well north of $200,000 for what sounds like about five hours a week of work, amortized over a 47-week work year (let’s assume French vacation schedules just for the heck of it).

Of course all this is ridiculous from any perspective that sees law schools as something other than extraordinarily successful rent-seeking operations. Surely Nova can (and does) pay successful practitioners a few thousand dollars per class to share war stories and advocacy tips with their students. Or if for some reason Nova wanted to transform itself to a genuine graduate department in legal studies, it could pay actual academics what it pays its faculty in its humanities and social science departments (around $80,000 per year, per this less than scientific survey).

Instead it charges students more than $35,000 per year — and last year 71.3% of its students paid full boat sticker price — for this nonsensical arrangement.

Admittedly, having Rogow teach Civil Procedure isn’t as absurd as handing that job over to somebody with a doctorate in philosophy, who has only seen the inside of a court room on TV, (this is not, needless to say, a hypothetical situation in the context of the contemporary American law school), but still . . .

Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali Being Denied A Symbolic Degree The Death Of Academic Freedom? (SPOILER: No.)

[ 158 ] April 14, 2014 |

The intro to Ross Douthat’s last column:

EARLIER this year, a column by a Harvard undergraduate named Sandra Y. L. Korn briefly achieved escape velocity from the Ivy League bubble, thanks to its daring view of how universities should approach academic freedom.

Korn proposed that such freedom was dated and destructive, and that a doctrine of “academic justice” should prevail instead. No more, she wrote, should Harvard permit its faculty to engage in “research promoting or justifying oppression” or produce work tainted by “racism, sexism, and heterosexism.” Instead, academic culture should conform to left-wing ideas of the good, beautiful and true, and decline as a matter of principle “to put up with research that counters our goals.”

The punchline:

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

These accusations of bad faith and intolerance makes this nicely sanitized version of why people found Hirsi Ali’s past comments objectionable even more irritating:

Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture…

[...]

What both cases [the other one is Eich's resignation, of course] illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.

The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases.

“Stinging” and “sweeping” criticism is a rather anodyne way of characterizing Hirisi Ali’s arguments. For example, that (not radical but all) Islam must be “crushed” and that if the Constitution doesn’t permit all Islamic religious instruction to be banned, so much worse for the Constitution. The double standard here is the opposite of what Douthat claims; if she had made similar comments about the Jewish or Roman Catholic faith not only would Brandeis’s decision to withdraw the degree not have been subjected to any noticeable criticism, there’s no chance she would have received an honorary degree in the first place. And as for the implication that Brandeis’s ornamental degrees are now reserved for liberals only, Douthat should speak with his colleague David Brooks, who received one in 2011.

And as an argument that liberals no longer value free expression, this is an even weaker case than the Eich resignation. Hirsi Ali was not a professor, or any kind of employee at Brandeis. She has not lost her job. She has an open invitation to speak at the institution. She had an essentially meaningless honorary degree withdrawn. As evidence that liberals don’t really care about academic freedom or freedom of speech, this isn’t even weak tea — it’s plain lukewarm water. Which is why the only specific liberal he cites as representative is an undergraduate who wrote a terrible essay that he concedes nobody else has endorsed.

Shorter verbatim quintessential hack Mr. Zev Chafets: “Brandeis University committed an honor killing this week.” It’s a great moment of self-fetuation; it’s pretty hard to imagine someone is that concerned about honor killing when they compare it to not getting an ornamental degree. (HT: MarkF)

It Would Simplify F-35 Acquisition Decisions…

[ 125 ] April 14, 2014 |

And thanks to Putin, we now have a template to make this happen:

Put together, the United States and Canada would be a colossus, with an economy larger than the European Union’s—larger, in fact, than those of China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea combined. We would control more oil, water, arable land and resources than any jurisdiction on Earth, all protected by the world’s most powerful military.

Far-fetched? Maybe. But consider this: Two Canadian prime ministers – one after the First World War and another after the Second World War – seriously considered proposing a merger with the United States. They did not proceed for political reasons.

I’m very much looking forward to the seizure of important government buildings in Vancouver and Toronto by pro-American “activists,” followed by sketchy referenda…

 

“He Was No Sinner in His Own Eyes”

[ 48 ] April 14, 2014 |

The Economist has an excellent remembrance of Charles Keating, anti-obscenity advocate in all its forms–pornography and federal regulation of the financial industry.

Crusader and snake-oil salesman were hard to reconcile. Perhaps it all sprang from having an invalid father, too weak to steer him. Perhaps it came from spending years in navy training in the war, but never fighting. A bronze plaque on his desk declared that “A man can do no wrong if he always rides to the sound of the guns.” His energy and arrogance seemed to fire off wildly in dozens of different directions.

For him, however, there was no contradiction. He fought scum in all its forms. For him, federal regulation too was an obscenity. When the savings-and-loans industry was deregulated in 1982, it was allowed to take risks with investments. That was what he did with Lincoln, quintupling its worth in four years. Then in 1985 the rules tightened again. At that point the regulators—some of them homos, all of them evil—launched a vendetta against him. The practitioners of yellow journalism followed.

He was no sinner in his own eyes. “Martyr” and “scapegoat” were more like it. He was running a dynamic enterprise that was bound to recover when the market perked up. If Washington had let him alone, the Lincoln investors “would all be rich”. Besides, in the far worse financial scandals of 2008-09, no one went to jail.

By the way, when Keating died, did the Sunday talk shows have John McCain to talk about it? Unlike McCain’s usual blather, he actually knows what’s he talking about when it comes to Keating.

Evidence that someone affiliated with the Tea Party has an actual sense of humor

[ 26 ] April 14, 2014 |

Granted, it’s the sort of stuff most of us outgrew in middle school, but that’s better than the absolute lack they typically sport.

Presidents Tend To Be Evaluated In the Context of Other Presidents

[ 102 ] April 14, 2014 |

I’m honestly not sure who Michael Kazin is arguing with here. I don’t know who thinks that LBJ should be given a pass for Vietnam, and Kazin doesn’t cite anybody who thinks this either. He does cite some public officials giving speeches at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act emphasizing his good points, which is obviously not a context where one expects to see a full evaluation of his record. I’m also not at all persuaded that Vietnam was the key reason that the Democratic coalition foundered during this era. Vietnam was horribly wrong because it was horribly wrong, but in terms of keeping the New Deal coalition together he really had no good options.

Some days I’m glad I got out of the teaching gig…

[ 261 ] April 14, 2014 |

…for example, when I learn about a high school principal who receives a video of bullies tormenting a teen and proceeds to contact the police because of “a wiretapping incident.”

Priorities, people, it’s important to have them.

This Day in Labor History: April 14, 1975

[ 35 ] April 14, 2014 |

On April 14, 1975, the Bunker Hill Mining Company in Kellogg, Idaho announced a new policy in response to worries about female workers suffering reproductive problems due to lead exposure. The company decided to require sterilization of all women working in its smelter. This was a landmark moment in the history of women working in dangerous labor, particularly in traditionally all-male industries like mining.

Bunker Hill was founded in the late 1890s and became one of the nation’s largest producers of lead and zinc. Until 1943, women were not allowed to work in the lead smelter. That changed briefly because of World War II, but they were again banned in 1946. In the 1970s, Bunker Hill employed around 1600 people. Of them, nearly 100 were women. 22 worked in the lead smelter area. By the 1970s, Americans’ concern over lead poisoning, both on the job and in the nation at large had grown significantly. The nation was moving toward banning leaded gasoline and both environmentalists and some labor unions fought for greater restrictions on the exposure of working people to all sorts of toxic materials, especially lead.

Bunker Hill was a union mine, its workers represented by the United Steelworkers of America. But the USWA was not particularly comfortable with female members. In 1973, the EEOC, Department of Labor, and Department of Justice filed suit against the nation’s 9 largest steel companies and the USWA, charging them with discriminatory hiring practices that extended through the mills. That the union was at fault too is depressing, but on target with a lot of organized labor in traditionally male physically challenging work at this time. The settlement agreed to give $31 million in back pay to 40,000 women and minorities in the mills and to set hiring goals of 25% of supervisory positions and 50% of craft jobs going to women or minorities. Neither the union nor the companies really wanted this to happen. But the EEOC settlement reopened the lead smelter to women.

Bunker Hill’s response to the EEOC suit was to cloak itself in a fetal rights argument, simply banning most women from the job. The company stated publicly that it “is willing to be criticized for not employing some women–but not for causing birth effects.” What it was not willing to do was to limit exposure of all workers to lead. Effectively, Bunker Hill decided to define women primarily as childbearers and operate accordingly. But as ACLU lawyer Joan Bertin stated, the real reason was that companies didn’t want women working in these jobs because of beliefs they were less efficient and argued, “The price of safety cannot be the loss of civil and constitutional rights.”

Thus if women wanted to work in the lead smelter, they could. But the company wanted no responsibility for the poison the women would ingest. So they had to be sterilized. 29 women refused and were transferred to safer work that paid significantly less and reinforced the gender norms in the mill. At least three women did receive sterilization in order to keep their jobs.

The women at Bunker Hill turned to their union for help. The USWA refused to get involved. It said the fight would be too expensive. It claimed that fighting this would cause more problems for women throughout the steel industry. It also worried for the future of the mill as the industry was already declining in the United States.

The women then went to the Idaho Human Rights Commission. It developed a compromise allowing women to be paid the same rates as if they worked at the smelter. Both the company and women rejected this idea; the company because of the cost, the workers for the principle. The women then filed a suit with the EEOC in January 1976. EEOC endorsed the same compromise as the IHRC.

Too many unionists did not care much about this case, including USWA officials. On the other hand, Tony Mazzocchi, safety director for the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers and the most important figure in the union environmentalism of the 1970s and early 1980s, stated bluntly, “Ultimately, it will be quite clear that women and men alike suffer from exposure to lead and other toxic chemicals. When that happens, the industry initiative may be to have men sterilized. We will then enter the age of the neutered worker.”

OSHA stepped into this debate. President Carter’s OSHA was Eula Bingham, and as an advocate for both feminism as well as women’s rights, Bingham was furious at Bunker Hill’s sterilization policy. As she noted, no one suggested men should be banned from workplaces where toxic exposure might lead to their sterilization. It’s also likely that OSHA wanted to use Bunker Hill as an example in order to get companies to comply with its stricter national lead standard. In 1980, OSHA filed suit, fining Bunker Hill $82,000 for 108 occupational safety and health violations, including $10,000 for the sterilization policy. But after Reagan took the presidency in 1981, OSHA dropped the case. Reagan’s OSHA already stopped referring to it as a “sterilization policy,” instead calling it an “exclusionary policy,” a significant rhetorical move.

But even before Bingham became involved in fighting the broader problem of discrimination based upon defining women as childbearers, the Idaho women had accepted defeat. The EEOC offered the same compromise as the Idaho Human Rights Commission. The women accepted their higher wages, but future women would not have the opportunity for those high-paying jobs. Within weeks, companies including Union Carbide, Dow Chemical, Firestone, General Motors, and AT&T all instituted similar programs that effectively excluded women from high-paying, dangerous work.

In the end, the women believed they had been victimized not only by their employer but by the USWA and the government. The union had done basically nothing for them. The EEOC did not want to get involved. Women in other dangerous trades would have to continue fighting for equal access to work, a fight that would continue well into the 1980s.

In 1979, the Labor Occupational Health Program made a film about lead exposure featuring this struggle. You can watch a chunk of it here. Pretty good stuff.

Although it is mentioned in several places, I don’t think there is a complete scholarly discussion of this event. I relied in part on Sara Dubow, Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America, which discusses the case for a few pages.

This is the 103rd post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast – Game of Thrones, Season Four, Episode Two – “The Lion and the Rose”

[ 10 ] April 14, 2014 |

In which Steven Attewell and I discuss how boring tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones was:

Listen to the audio here.

Game of Thrones, “The Lion and the Rose” recap by Yours Truly…

[ 87 ] April 13, 2014 |

Can be read here.

I’ll refrain from saying anything lest some of you bastards are unlucky enough not to live on the East Coast. Hey — wait a minute!

Page 4 of 1,758« First...23456102030...Last »
  • Switch to our mobile site