Category Archives: Law School

Tweaked Today

Froomkin’s Legal Writing Tips.

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MiamiLaw Enrollments Jump 30+%

Our first year class is up about 30% and LSATs are (officially) the same as last year. In fact, they look a bit stronger, but not enough to move the US News needle. If the trend were to continue, however, we could potentially raise them next year.

We matriculated more than 310 students this year; last year we matriculated about 240. We’re told that all the other indicators, e.g. minority enrollment 46% (dominated by Hispanic students), also are basically indistinguishable from last year. I gather that 2L transfers in were also notably higher than transfers out — although the #1 student in the class inexplicably chose to transfer to Yale Law.

These astonishing and (to me at least) unexpected admission numbers are good news — great news — for the law school’s finances and near-term future. Last year, despite suffering a smaller drop in applications than the national average, we under-admitted to keep up academic standards. This year thanks to increases in applications and in yield over last year we did not need to do that: we now have approximately the number of students in the first year class needed for long-run financial health at steady-state — at a size considerably smaller than our peak 1L classes. Those used to run at a gargantuan 380 … and sometimes more when yield fluctuations caught us by surprise.

I hope, of course, that these numbers translate into good news for our graduates three years from now. That means work for them, and for those of us on the faculty too.

In one way, however, the numbers are not quite as great news for me: there are 41 students in my Torts class where last year there would have been 30. It’s a bit more crowded in there.

The interesting question, though, is why? Why were our applications and yield and up so sharply this year, in what I expect must be well above national trend given the number of LSAT takers?

At present, I have only one idea, and it’s not one that I hold with much confidence: perhaps the lag time for gains in US New rank to reflect in student choices is much longer than we think. Results come out in Spring before the deadline for students to choose a school. Even so, by that point they’ve already decided where to apply, and many may also also have decided their priority list or even sent in a deposit. So this year’s outcomes are a product not of last year’s rankings but of at least the last two year’s rankings, and maybe more. (Please note that I’m not in any way endorsing the US News rankings method, nor the idea that a sensible student would place weigh on anything more than a very large variation in the rankings. That said, it’s conventional wisdom that prospective students care a lot about even small deviations.)

To have any shot at a better guess, I’ll need to know more about the national data. I hear rumors of a diverse set of outcomes at other law schools — some also did well some not so well. We have some nice new programs, but they’re small; the football team is doing better, but it still doesn’t feel quite like championship material, so those traditional explanations seem insufficient to explain a jump of this magnitude. I do know that our Admissions office worked really, really hard, but then they worked pretty hard last year too. The law school gave out more scholarships, which also must have contributed to the jump, although from what I hear we are nowhere near what Brian Leiter suggests may be a national average of 48% for private law schools.

Whatever the reason for Miami Law’s enrollment rebound, I’m happy about it. I just wish I knew the cause so I could bottle it.

How did your law school do?

Posted in Law School, U.Miami | 4 Comments

‘Thinking Like A Lawyer’ Proved to Exist

‘Ideology’ or ‘Situation Sense’? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment:

This paper reports the results of a study on whether political predispositions influence judicial decisionmaking. The study was designed to overcome the two principal limitations on existing empirical studies that purport to find such an influence: the use of nonexperimental methods to assess the decisions of actual judges; and the failure to use actual judges in ideologically-biased-reasoning experiments. The study involved a sample of sitting judges (n = 253), who, like members of a general public sample (n = 800), were culturally polarized on climate change, marijuana legalization and other contested issues. When the study subjects were assigned to analyze statutory interpretation problems, however, only the responses of the general-public subjects and not those of the judges varied in patterns that reflected the subjects’ cultural values. The responses of a sample of lawyers (n = 217) were also uninfluenced by their cultural values; the responses of a sample of law students (n = 284), in contrast, displayed a level of cultural bias only modestly less pronounced than that observed in the general-public sample. Among the competing hypotheses tested in the study, the results most supported the position that professional judgment imparted by legal training and experience confers resistance to identity-protective cognition — a dynamic associated with politically biased information processing generally — but only for decisions that involve legal reasoning. The scholarly and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Spotted via Solum, Kahan, Hoffman, Evans, Devins, Lucci and Cheng on Experminental Assessment of the Effects of Motivated Reasoning on Actual Judges.

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Would You Like to be My Research Assistant?

Apologies, blog readers, but this announcement is for UM Law 1L & 2L students only:

I would like to hire a UM Law student to be my research assistant for 10-15 hours/week during the coming semester. If things work out we might continue into the summer and/or next year.

The work primarily involves assisting me with legal research relating to papers I am writing on privacy and on Internet regulation.

I need someone who can write clearly and is well-organized. If you happen to have some web or programming skills (some or all of WordPress, HTML, MySQL, Perl, Debian), that would be a plus but it is not in any way a requirement.

The pay of $13 / hr is set by the university, and is not as high as you deserve, but the work is sometimes interesting.

If this sounds attractive, please e-mail me the following with the subject line RESEARCH ASSISTANT 2015 (in all caps), followed by your name:

  1. A note telling me
    • Where you saw this announcement
    • How many hours you’d ideally like to work per week
    • When you are free to start.
    • Your phone number and email address.
  2. A copy of your resume (c.v.).
  3. A transcript of your grades (need not be an official copy).
  4. If you have one handy, also attach a short NON-legal writing sample. If you have none, I’ll accept a legal writing sample (whatever you do, though, please don’t send your L-Comm memo).
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Dream On

Philosopher Robert Paul Wolff dreams about what teaching would be like if profs acted like doctors.

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Nice Surprise

CameraZOOM-20141124151542845Someone sent me this via a student-run candygram service today.

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