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Friday, April 29, 2005
Here are some of the significant legislative developments in Indiana from the last several days:
First, after a no-vote earlier in the day, the Indiana House voted at 11:36 p.m. in favor of enacting Daylight Savings Time in the state (51-46). One must wonder how Mitch Daniels persuaded those two votes to switch in such a short span. Either he made some sort of political threat to the switch-overs or he kissed some serious butt. I suspect the latter. Now the Federal Department of Transportation will hold hearings on whether certain parts or all of the state should change to the Central time zone.
The General Assembly also passed a measure increasing the speed limit on Indiana's rural highways, and it awaits Daniels' inevitable signature. The bill would raise the speed limit on certain stretches of interstate from 65 to 70, on some four-lane divided highways from 55 to 60, and on certain divided and limited access highways from 55 to 65. Though the law would authorize the increases to take effect July 1, the state must first conduct road review studies, which could take a few months.
Finally, the Indianapolis city council voted 18 to 11 against a measure that would have banned private employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation. The proposal would have excluded churches and certain non-profit entities from its effect. Nothing quite like a little pro-discrimination to bring our city council together.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
This petition has been passing around the law school. Please read it and consider signing it, by e-mailing Anelia Ray with your intention to sign:
Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis
Lawrence W. Inlow Hall
530 W. New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-3225
April 25, 2005
Dear Dean Mead and the Promotion and Tenure Committee,
We urge you to consider giving tenure to Professor Bradford.
He is one of the best professors we’ve had in our combined law school career. He is very knowledgeable, highly approachable, and extremely inspirational.
We understand that he will not be teaching at our school in the fall, and we are the worse off for it. We know that many of the faculty members do not appreciate the idea of running a university as a business, however, even the term ‘the marketplace of ideas’ is indicative of the way that academia is being regarded. And, after all, we do pay for our education. The rankings, the caliber of teaching, and cost are all considerations we took into account when we decided to attend this school.
You also mentioned in your email to the student body that faculty resources are one of the variables that made a difference in our U.S. News and World Report rankings. We urge you not to let go of one of the best. He is, as listed on the school’s website, one of the fewer than fifteen tenure-track academic legal faculty members of Native American origins in the country. We are apprehensive that he will be long gone to another university that is more appreciative of his talents, experience, and extensive publications before this school offers him tenure.
You said our mission is to provide a high-quality legal education and to train future leaders throughout the state, the nation, and the world. Professor Bradford is one of the faculty members who will enable you to do that.
Please consider granting him tenure. The school and the entire student body will be the better for it.
Update: Please see Professor Cooper's comment regarding the tenure process...
From this Chicago Tribune article:
Defendants in high-profile criminal and civil cases are increasingly using the Internet in an attempt to influence the public, the media and even potential jurors. From simple discussion groups to ultra-slick multimedia shows, the sites are giving unprecedented message control to those who stand to lose their fortune or freedom.
On its surface, this seems like a negative trend to me, as website defenses would be likely to make it more difficult to find unbiased jurors.
Monday, April 25, 2005
As both an academic opportunity and a career, we accept that law school and the legal profession are high stress areas. We accept certain imbalances between work, school, and life. Our threshold for suspecting something is wrong with ourselves and others becomes set at a higher level. Yet by setting such thresholds at higher levels, we ultimately harm ourselves or others.
From Teaching Human Lawyers by Molly Stuart J.D.
We live in a world where studies show that although law students enter law school quite happy and idealistic about helping others, there soon is a troubling shift to major indicators of psychological distress. These negative changes persist through law school and into the students early careers, making it clear that the negative findings do not represent a brief adjustment period at the beginning of law school. The incidence of clinically elevated anxiety, hostility, depression, and other symptoms among law students ranged from eight to fifteen times that of the general population. In addition, a significant percentage of practicing attorneys are experiencing significant psychological distress well beyond that shown in the general population. These trends seem to be directly traced to law study and law practice. The unusual symptoms are not exhibited when the student enters law school but emerge shortly after beginning law school and remain, without significant abatement, well after graduation. This heightened distress can lead to significant depression, suicide, substance abuse, major life dissatisfaction and lack of professionalism.
The above problems and illnesses aren't simply feeling stressed in school or in a new career. Those are serious psychological and physical issues that affect how we work, study, and live. They are widespread and common, though you likely don't realize that.
Thanks to TV movies of the week we're familiar with the pitfalls of drug and alcohol abuse. The physical and mental destruction it will do to our bodies includes lack of concentration, short term memory loss, blackouts, cirrhosis of the liver, and other symptoms.
Though somewhat dated now a 1993 AALS survey of 3,400 law students at 19 schools discovered
For more nebulous conditions such as depression
The American Bar Association has noticed the severity of the issue:
In 1991, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore interviewed 12,000 workers about depression. Lawyers ranked No. 1 on the list of occupations that were most depressed.
As we approach finals simply reminding everyone to 'keep it real' seems woefully inadequate. If you are a student, an attorney, judge, or someone else in the legal field every state has a Lawyer Assistance Program. Every school and university has some type of assistance program. If you think you have a problem, or others told you they believe you have a problem, go check to see if you need assistance. We are taught to resolve other people's problems. We forget to resolve our own.
The costs to ourselves and others in this legal experience isn't just student loan debt, time, putting familial and friendly relationships on the back burner, but also potential and devastating damage to our physical and mental health. In 13 days we graduate. The extra cost for some walking across the stage will be around 1 in 10 have abused alcohol or other substances, 40% will have brain damage, and after graduation 1 in 10 may contemplate suicide every month. I hope we can bring those extra costs down in the future.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Scroll down the page until you see this headline: Legislatures often enact valuable bioethics statutes
Friday, April 22, 2005
No one knows who the graduation speaker will be on May 8th. One reason for this is the administration is still in the process of selecting the speaker. Luckily the Elite Eight list has been disclosed.
A tough list, but I see some potential upsets occurring around finals.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Not all Republicans support using the "nuclear option" to end the filibustering of judicial nominations.
Conservatives such as this one and also this one do not.
Rally and Press Conference
Thursday, 21 Apr, 12:00 pm
IU School of Law, Rm 259
Speakers: Professors Sheila Kennedy, Florence Roisman, Jeff Cooper; Minister Barry Welsh; Students Jay Lee, Melody Goldberg
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
...is not going to happen anytime soon, but a law firm in Chicago is challenging the traditional form of charging clients by the hour. The firm, McGuireWoods LLP, now derives 30%+ of its revenue from alternative billing plans and it is using this strategy to attack its competition in the competitive Chicago market that includes big players such as Kirkland & Ellis.
[hat-tip Allison Martin]
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The first issue covered by the panel was the process of gauging students' performance and absorption of the material throughout the semester. The students on the panel were concerned that too few classes had midterms or other mechanisms to judge their learning progress. The general feeling amongst the students, which the professors seemed amenable to, was to have weekly or quarterly ungraded quizes, or at least ungraded midterms.
The second issue covered dealt with teacher evaluations. Students expressed frustration with the inconsistency with which tenured professors even handed out evaluation forms to their students. They, along with the professors, expressed frustration with the premade evaluation forms, which often contain inapplicable questions. The professors highly encouraged students to use the free-form comment fields on the back of the eval forms.
The third issue dealt with the socratic method. Student Reagan Gibson gave an eloquent defense of the socratic style of teaching. Nothing else of note on this issue.
The fourth issue dealt with course syllabi. Student Kelly Paulter mentioned a frustration common among many students: that professors' syllabi quickly stray from reality, causing students confusion over what material they are responsible for. She suggested a method that a couple of her professors have done: creating no syllabus and rather just giving the next class's assignment during the preceding class. Professor Rhutenburg quickly opposed this method, but with no support. Professor Moore, speaking from the audience, suggested using OnCourse to post the upcoming assignments.
The fifth issue dealt with LARC. Several complaints came out here, but to do it justice, I think I will reserve for it, its own post.
The final issue was the use of teaching tools. Nothing of note here either.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
The purpose of an Open House is to sell something. In this case on Tuesday all three law reviews will have an Open House to sell themselves to potential new members. Regardless if you're a day or a night student, if you have any interest in joining a law review you should go to the Open Houses. Let me tell you why:
Both Indiana International & Comparative Law Review and the Indiana Law Review are in the third floor law review suite in the library. Just go up the stairs, past the couch, and on the left should be an open set of double doors. II&CLR will be on the left and goes from 4:15 to 6:30. ILR will be on the right and goes from 4:30 to 6:30.
The newest law review, Indiana Health Law Review is on the first floor of the library. Hang a left as if you are going toward the elevator or bathroom. Just past the elevator on your right will be the Christine S. Hall Center for Law and Health. The IHLR Open House is also 4:30 to 6:30.
If you chat with me I'll give you the best answers I can. It will be my last duty with law review. I look forward to meeting some of you.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
You might think I'm joking, but I'm not. At the "Surviving and Thriving As A New Lawyer" seminar held last August, one of the speakers noted how the game of golf changed his professional life. People at his firm would ask him if he wanted to play golf. The lawyer replied that it wasn't his game and continued to play basketball as his preferred physical activity. After several months this lawyer noted that many things were occurring at his firm and with clients that he knew nothing about. The attorney inquired about his lack of being in the loop and was told, "We talk about so many things on the golf course, but you never come."
The attorney quickly learned to play golf.
Though a bit of a stereotype it has enough truth to provide a lesson to us all: many decisions between lawyers are not made by briefs and oral arguments in front of a judge, but are made in friendly games of golf. The social aspects of golf provide a relaxed atmosphere to discuss business related matters. A lot of important things are casually discussed during 18 holes.
One of the criticisms of law school is that it teaches you the law, but it doesn't teach you how to practice the law. Faculty, administration, and students stress clinics, internships, or actual legal employment as a way to learn the practical day-to-day aspects of our legal world. All are good suggestions; however, instead of taking a 2 credit seminar in an obscure area of law might I suggest a physical education requirement instead. Not only would we learn an activity that keeps us physically and mentally healthy, but it would also provide opportunities to enrich our careers.
Currently, 10 of the 13 U.S. Circuit courts are led by a majority of judges appointed by Republicans. By the end of Bush's tenure, that figure is expected to rise to include all of the circuits except for the lonely liberal 9th Circuit in San Francisco.
The article from which I got these numbers rightly points out that being appointed by a Republican or Democrat does not guarantee conservative or liberal reading of the law. Just look at our current Supreme Court. A majority of the justices were nominated by Republican presidents, but on many key issues the court rules in opposition to how most Republicans side.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Has the judiciary gotten too powerful? Should Congress check it? Michael P. Farris, the head of the Home School Legal Defense Association suggests three options to limit judicial power: eliminate binding precedent, create a 2/3 Congressional "veto" over court decisions, and to impeach judges based on a larger set of criteria.
The Centre for Faith and Journalism blog has the story, and I welcome you to join the debate in the post's comments, in which I incidentally have sharply rebuked Mr. Farris' ideas.
Monday, April 11, 2005
This isn't solely for the current first years. Many people write on to law review after their second and third years.
If you have any questions about law review, representatives from all three reviews will be at the following information sessions:
Tuesday, April 12, 4:30 pm, in room 385
Wednesday, April 13, 7:30 pm, in room 385
Thursday, April 14, 12:00 pm, in room 375
Free pizza is at every meeting. Bring questions and a drink. If you're on the fence about trying out for a law review I feel you should attend one of these meetings. Even if you don't think you want to be on law review you should still attend a meeting just to get more information.
The Indianapolis Star offers its report on the law school's US News ranking slide. Reporter Barb Berggoetz interviewed ILN editor Lucas Sayre, as well as yours truly. I was pleased to see Barb uncover specific statistics that helped contribute to the slide. 57.6% of graduates had jobs in 2003, compared with 62.2% the year before. 90.2% were employed 9 months after graduation, compared with 93.9% the year before. And from the summer of 2003 to winter 2004, only 78.6% passed the bar exam, compared with 81.1% the year before. On the other hand, the student/faculty ratio improved and the school's deficit is shrinking. "I think the school has gone through the transition that it needed to go through," Tarr said, "and it should soon be in a healthy state."
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
In response to calls from several students for an administration response to IU Law- Indy's drop in the USNWR rankings, interim dean Susanah Mead wrote the following:
A number of you have contacted me in the past few days expressing concerns about the new US News & World Report law school rankings, which were published last week. I want to address those concerns.
First, please be aware that these rankings are not accepted or approved by any organization in legal education or by any public agency. The American Bar Association, the official law school accrediting agency, has a specific policy of not ranking law schools because no reliable methodology for ranking has been devised. In addition, the deans of nearly every law school have gone on record in the past denouncing the US News rankings. These rankings are flawed for many reasons, including their failure to take account of many factors that distinguish one law school from another – such as, teaching effectiveness, faculty scholarship, faculty accessibility to students, diversity within the student population, physical facilities, location, cost, student satisfaction, etc. Of course many of these important distinguishing factors are not easily measured, especially for comparative purposes, and that is why no ranking system has received official sanction.
Nevertheless, we cannot and do not ignore the reality that those who are unfamiliar with law schools and legal education consult the rankings. Therefore, we have been studying the US News methodology to ascertain why our position changed so dramatically, particularly in a year when our ranking in the most heavily-weighted category (the peer assessment survey) improved. We have determined that part of the reason is the result of relatively small changes in categories where differences among schools are small. For example, a decline of less than a dozen graduates reporting employment nine months after graduation constituted a drop of 44 places in that category of the rankings.
Our conversation with the director of data research at US News also revealed that the “faculty resources” component of the survey contributed significantly to the ranking change. In this area, the magazine calculates a figure based on a three-year average of certain expenditures measured against the size of each school’s enrollment. A review of past records indicates that, in 2002, our report to US News contained data on the size of our entering class rather than the size of our entire student body. Because our position in the second tier did not change, this error was not caught either by us or by the magazine. (At that time, US News did not attempt to calculate individual school rankings beyond 50.)
The following year, US News began to rank schools from 50-100. Although nobody directly consulted past data, our “faculty resources” rank for that year (and the next year) included the 2002 numbers as part of the three-year average. This year, the 2002 data was no longer part of that average. This led to a significant decline in our “faculty resources” rank and had a major impact on our overall standing in the survey.
We will continue to review the US News methodology to ensure that our school is accurately portrayed. In addition, several of us in the law school administration will attend a national symposium next week on the future of the law school ranking system. But, in the end, we will not allow ratings produced by a commercial publication to dictate the future of our law school. Our mission is to provide a high-quality legal education and to train future leaders throughout the state, the nation, and the world. This means that we will strive to enroll strong students based on an array of factors. We will work to recruit energetic faculty to teach those students. And we will continue to open doors for graduates when they leave our halls.
I am immensely proud of our law school. We have a wonderful program filled with highly-talented people. No magazine survey can change that or the upward direction in which we are traveling.
Finally, I would like to invite any of you who would like more specific information about the ranking system (or any other topic of concern to the future of the law school) to attend an open forum for students with members of the administration on Monday, April 25th in the Moot Court Room from 12:00-1:00 and 4:30-5:30.
Interim Dean Designate and Professor of Law
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear Maurice Clarett's lawsuit against the NFL, in which he challenged the league's elgibility rules which disallow persons only 2 years out of high school from being elgible for the NFL draft.
A lower court had ruled in favor of the NFL. This ruling will allow the NFL to continue its practice of forbidding players from moving from high school directly to pro ball, as has happened in the NBA (to its detriment, many would argue).
Monday, April 04, 2005
Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington is holding a symposium called "Next Generation of Law School Rankings" on April 15th. Here is a link to more information. Here are some quotes:
The U.S. News & World Report annual law school rankings are the 800-pound gorilla of legal education. Although met with varying degrees of skepticism and hostility, the U.S. News rankings affect virtually all aspects of law school operations. A myriad of alternative rankings have emerged in recent years, seeking better and more accurate ways of measuring law school performance.
In an email sent to Interim Dean Mead, and also sent to the student body, a 2L student posed the following questions to the law school's administration:
1) Is there something that this administration is failing to do to retain key faculty? Or, is the departure of key faculty a regular occurrence at law schools of our caliber?"As the blog comments suggest, the student body needs this issue addressed sooner, rather than later. We need something more than an analysis on the irrelevance of the rankings," he said.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
As a Catholic I offer my thoughts on the man who led the Church for 27 years. His leadership had a profound effect not only on matters of theology and not only on Catholics.
Friday, April 01, 2005
IU School of Law - Indy student Donna Morphew passed away at 9:30 p.m. last evening. Donna was hospitalized at St. Vincent’s earlier this week. She was an LL.M. student (Health Law track). Prof. Kinney offers this: "When she entered the program this fall, she was so full of hope. She had recovered from several episodes of heart disease and was looking forward to a new lease on life." ILN will report on funeral arrangements as we receive it.
As part of IndyLaw Net's ongoing investigation into IU Law-Indy's plunge in US News & World Report's rankings, I spoke today with Bob Morse, Director of Data Research for the magazine. He provided ILN with an inside look at numbers for last year compared to this year. "These are not exact numbers for the ranking, but they are representative of why it (the drop) happened," he said.
For a detailed explanation of how these factors are weighed, examine this analysis from Prof. Brian Leiter. There you will find that "placement rank" is a highly manipulable score that is entirely self-reported by schools. US News can varify neither the accuracy nor nature of employment from students at other law schools. Perhaps the most significant drop came in "faculty resources," another highly manipulable factor that is also entirely self-reported by schools. As Prof. Leiter notes, this factor hurts large schools since per capita measures penalize economies of scale. Moreover, like placement rank, schools are able to lie and mislead on their true per capita expenditures.
Asked about the dramatic change, Richard Folkers, director of media relations for US News & World Report, said "US News does not rank schools; our rankings are a journalistic enterprise. It is 75% statistical and 25% reputational." Pressed further on IU-Indy's change he said, "We do not make year to year comparisons, largely because the factors we consider will often change. The rankings attempt to provide a snapshot of a give moment."
I hope everyone has either already mailed in their Indiana Bar Application or you will get it notarized, photocopied, and postmarked with today's date soon. HOWEVER, if you have been delayed for whatever reason and are still scrambling to get it in after normal business hours you still can get it in on-time.
Any bailbondsman should be able to notarize your application and they are open 24 hours a day. Plenty of them are near the City-County Building. To get an April 1st postmark the Park Fletcher Post Office at 2760 Fortune Circle E east of the airport is open 24 hours a day. Please use the link for a map.
Not wanting to displace the conversation about the new rankings, but I found it very ironic walking in during lunch today to see campus police fingerprinting the coffee vending machine that was broken into. I guess crime happens everywhere even in a building as crowded as this. I wonder if our food thief is becoming more aggressive?
In typical law school fashion I ask the following questions:
In all seriousness I'm sure the administration and campus police would love any information anyone may have in case you saw or heard something.
As reported here at IndyLaw Net on Monday, the new US News & World Report 2006 law school rankings are out, and IU-Indy was placed at 95, a whopping 32 places lower than last year. Our sister school in Bloomington jumped four notches to 36.
With the horrendous news of such a significant drop, the Indiana University trustees convened an emergency meeting to decide on how best to proceed. After an emotional meeting that lasted well into the night, the trustees decided that a new name with a fresh beginning was the best way to go. The school's new name will be the "Benjamin Harrison Law School."
In 1936 the Indiana Law School, a full-time day school, merged with the Benjamin Harrison Law School, a part-time evening division. Thereafter the two operated as the Indiana Law School and eventually became the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis. (See Wikipedia for more.) Because of the school's slide in rankings, the trustees believed the new name would give the school uniqueness and a fresh start, while retaining its historic roots. An official anouncement is expected later in the day.
Update: For the highly gullible, the school's name change is an April Fool's joke. The rankings news, though, is a sad reality. See this post for more.