TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, July 29, 2016

Average Full-Time College Student Spends 2.76 Hours Per Day On Education-Related Activity

Heritage Foundation, Big Debt, Little Study: What Taxpayers Should Know About College Students’ Time Use:

Full-Time College Is Typically a Part-Time Endeavor
Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s American Time Use Survey from 2003–2014, during the academic year, the average full-time college student spent only 2.76 hours per day on all education-related activities, including 1.18 hours in class and 1.53 hours of research and homework, for a total of 19.3 hours per week.

Full-time high school students, in comparison, spent 4.32 hours per day on all education-related activities, including 3.42 hours in class and 0.80 hours of research and homework, for a total of 30.2 hours per week. Thus, full-time college students spend 10.9 fewer hours per week on educational activities than full-time high school students. ...

Heritage

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July 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Customers Flock To Ride-Sharing Companies Like Uber/Lyft As Higher Taxes Penalize Car-Sharing Companies Like Zipcar/Car2Go

ULZCWall Street Journal, Car-Sharing Industry Carries Heavy Tax Burden:

Local taxes put Zipcar and Car2Go at a disadvantage in competing with ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, research by DePaul University shows.

For the millions of Americans without cars, daily errands often require a quick calculation: Is it cheaper and quicker to hail a ride, via apps such as Uber or Lyft, or to use a car-sharing service, such as Zipcar or Car2Go?

Local governments around the country are tipping the scales and helping to shape the industry’s winners and losers. In recent years, cities have increased taxes on the car-sharing industry but not ride-hailing, according to new research into the competitive landscape of the fledgling industries.

Of the 40 largest U.S. cities, 29 apply taxes of more than 10% on one-hour car-sharing trips, including nine cities with effective tax rates above 30%, according to an analysis of car-sharing taxes by Joseph Schwieterman and Heather Spray of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development [When Sharing Is Taxing: Comparing the Tax Burden on Carsharing Services in Major U.S. Cities] ...

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July 29, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Herzig:  Elective Taxation On Inbound Real Estate Investment

David J. Herzig (Valparaiso), Elective Taxation on Inbound Real Estate Investment, 2016 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1025:

Since 1980, the United States has taxed U.S. real property gains of foreign investors. A nonresident must pay tax on the capital gain from the sale of U.S. real property or rights in U.S. real property, as well as on the sale of shares in non-publicly held domestic corporations that hold significant U.S. real property assets. The United States imposes a withholding liability on the purchaser based on a percentage of the purchase price. Moreover, by owning U.S. real property, foreign investors are subject to Internal Revenue Service (‘‘IRS’’) investigatory powers. Because of these rules, foreign investors spend significant resources to structure investment in U.S. real property assets to avoid being deemed an owner of the underlying real property for taxation purposes. This has rendered the underlying statute, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Act of 1980 (‘‘FIRPTA’’), elective. This electivity results in the United States exhibiting tax haven characteristics for inbound real estate investments. Rather than tightening the rules to eliminate this friction, Congress has recently proposed even looser requirements. The resulting narrative by practitioners and policy makers is that FIRPTA should be eliminated. The United States currently needs more, not less, collection of taxation. The fact that FIRPTA is either easily arbitraged or not properly collected should not result in the repeal.

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July 29, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools' Tech-Training Conundrum: If We Teach Them, Will They Get Jobs?

Law LabNational Law Journal, Law Schools' Tech-Training Conundrum: If We Teach Them, Will They Get Jobs?:

A growing number of law schools are offering students a curriculum or training around project management, automation and analytics, hoping to create a pipeline of talent that would quicken innovations that could challenge the current Big Law model. 

The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law became the latest school with such a program. .... It joins legal technology certificate programs at Suffolk University Law School, a multischool program called Law Without Walls and Michigan State University College of Law, where the professor running Chicago-Kent’s new The Law Lab, Dan Katz, started a similar program [LegalRnD).

About a dozen other schools, including Columbia Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, offer legal-tech clinics or seminars, professors in the area said. And Cornell Law School will welcome its first students in September for an LLM class in Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship.

But even as one slow gear in the legal market begins to turn, forward-thinking law professors still face a dilemma related to the pace of change among those around them. Namely, is the industry evolving fast enough to create demand for these tech-savvy graduates?

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July 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Akron Law School Dean Matthew Wilson Named Interim President; Sarah Cravens And Ryan Vacca Named Interim Law School Co-Deans

AkronAkron Law School Press Release, Dean Wilson Named Interim President, Two Interim Co-Deans Named:

Akron Law Dean, Matthew J. Wilson, has been selected by our Board of Trustees to serve as Interim President of The University of Akron for the next 18 months [after the resignation of controversial President Scott L. Scarborough]. ...

As we continue moving Akron Law forward on our current path of success, Akron Law Professors Sarah Cravens and Ryan Vacca [right] have been appointed as Interim Co-Deans.

Deans Cravens and Vacca are both already skilled leaders with experience in many different aspects of the law school, and they appreciate the challenges we face and the opportunities that exist for us to become even stronger.

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July 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Hits Facebook With $5 Billion Tax Bill

Facebook (2016)Following up on yesterday's post, Facebook Ignores Seven Summonses From The IRS Demanding Documents On Its Offshore Tax Strategies:  Bloomberg, Facebook Tax Bill Over Ireland Move Could Cost $5 Billion:

Facebook Inc.’s future cash flows and results could suffer a major blow if it loses a battle over new U.S. tax liabilities related to the transfer of its global operations to Ireland in 2010.

The Internal Revenue Service delivered a notice of deficiency to the social media giant Wednesday for $3 billion to $5 billion, plus interest and penalties, based on the agency’s audit of Facebook’s transfer pricing, the company said in a regulatory filing Thursday. Facebook, which plans to challenge the notice in federal tax court, said its balance sheet could suffer if it’s held liable.

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July 29, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Professor Finds Bat In Her Office

My Pepperdine friend and colleague Carol Chase had an unwelcome visitor in her office:

July 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1177

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Justice Department Knew of IRS Scandal 2 Years Before Congress but Did Nothing:

Recently unearthed documents reveal that the FBI knew the IRS was unfairly targeting groups because of their conservative politics two years before Congress even heard about the agency’s misconduct.

The revelation has already added fodder to the conservative case to impeach the current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Almost 300 pages of documents released Thursday and obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act confirm that the IRS subjected conservative groups to increased scrutiny beginning in 2011.

Even though the FBI uncovered the scandal in 2011, the documents show, the Department of Justice chose not to act.

Legal Insurrection, Top IRS Officials Knew Agency Targeted Conservative Groups:

What a shock. Judicial Watch discovered that top IRS officials, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew that the agency targeted conservative groups before they told Congress.

Washington Examiner, IRS Chief's Reaction After Learning About Tea Party Targeting: 'Oh, S--t':

Then-IRS chief Steven Miller threw his pencil across the room and yelled, "Oh, s—t" when he was told in the spring of 2012 that his agency had been targeting Tea Party groups for heightened security, according to newly released documents.

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July 29, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Harrison:  Florida Is 'Modernizing,' Not 'Dismantling,' Its Graduate Tax Program

Florida Logo (GIF)Jeff Harrison (Florida), Please Don't Dismantle Tax!!:

In my previous post (more here) I praised the new Dean at UF. Someone, perhaps disingenuously, perhaps sincerely, wrote a comment (anonymously) asking me to list what her accomplishments are. ...  I responded with a list. ...

[O]ne of my answers was "modernize the LLM in tax."  To that I got this — yes, anonymous —  comment: "By modernizing the LLM program, do you mean by dismantling it and not hiring outstanding faculty to replace those that are retiring?"

This particular  phrasing has been used repeatedly by people who are being manipulated, in my opinion, to fight self-interested battles of those  terrified of changing a 50s style LLM program into a 21st Century LLM program to the benefit of all. Some of this has occurred evidently in a mass mailing. In fact, I expect to see  T shirts that say "Don't dismantle tax." The ANONYMOUS commentator is parroting a rumor possibly spread, encouraged, and, hatched by people at UF who are afraid of moving forward. ... Riling up students and alums to advance personal ends is pretty desperate.

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July 28, 2016 in Grad Tax Faculty Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Law Firm Partner Sentenced To Jail For Pretending To Be A Tax Lawyer Also Claimed To Be A Columbia Tax Prof

KitchenForbes: Woman Sentenced To Jail For Pretending To Be A Tax Attorney, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

Kimberly Kitchen ... worked as an attorney in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, for ten years. There was just one problem: Kitchen was never actually licensed to practice law.

Kitchen lied about her background, claiming to have received a law degree, first in her class, from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She claimed to have passed the bar exam and received her attorney license. She even claimed to have taught trust and taxation law at the Columbia University School of Law. Kitchen had documents to back her claims up – only all of those documents were fake. Kitchen never went to law school, never passed the bar exam, and was never a licensed attorney. There is no evidence that she ever taught trust and taxation law at law school.

Nonetheless, Kitchen was able to trick her employers, as well as her colleagues, for years. At the BMZ Law Firm, she made partner. She was even appointed president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association.

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July 28, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Leff:  How Churches Can Vindicate Their Right to Endorse Political Candidates

Following up on yesterday's post, Chodorow & Johnston: Trump's Wrong-Headed Call For Tax-Subsidized Politicization Of The Pulpit:  Benjamin Leff (American), If Churches Really Want to Vindicate Their Right to Endorse a Candidate, It’s Easy for Them to Get into Court:

Last week, attendees at the Republican National Convention applauded loudly when Donald Trump repeated his promise that if he’s elected president, he’ll work to end the ban on political-campaign activity by tax-exempt churches.  All 501(c)(3) organizations (including churches) have been prohibited from “intervening” in a campaign for public office for over half a century, and the arguments for and against the prohibition have remained remarkably consistent for decades.  Activists on one side call for an end to the ban, which they believe is an infringement on free exercise of religion or free speech.  Activists on the other side call for the IRS to actually enforce the ban, which they argue is being flouted by (mainly) churches who thereby distort the electoral process.  A long list of academics has written articles from a wide range of perspectives, proposing a wide range of solutions (including my contribution way back in 2009).  (I also spoke about this issue a few weeks ago in Australia, at a fabulous round-table at the University of Melbourne.)  As Sam Brunson pointed out on this blog in May, the IRS is “stuck in the middle.”

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July 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Future For Law Students, Law Schools, And The Legal Profession

FoundationsAlli Gerkman (Director, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers), Foundations for Practice: The Future for Law Students, Law Schools, and the Profession:

According to BARBRI’s 2015 State of the Legal Field Survey, just 23% of practitioners believe new lawyers have sufficient skills to practice. Across the country, legal employers’ and bar organizations’ concerns about the readiness of new lawyers have crescendoed. But while the problem—that new lawyers are lacking in preparation—seemed clear, it has been less clear just what that meant. What are new lawyers lacking?

Our Foundations for Practice survey set out to define that. After working with state bar organizations to distribute the survey across the country, we are sitting on more than 24,000 responses from lawyers in all 50 states. Today, we are releasing two exciting outcomes from the survey:

  1. Our first two reports in a series of reports that will result from the data! First, Survey Overview and Methodological Approach describes the Foundations for Practice survey and methodology used for the foundations and describes the demographics and practice-specific characteristics of the respondents. Second, The Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient, our lead report, shows that new lawyers are successful when they have a much broader blend of legal skills, professional competencies, and, most importantly, characteristics that comprise the “whole lawyer.”
  2. A data visualization tool that allows you to explore the results on your own terms.

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July 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Visualizing How Fortune 500 Companies Use Offshore Tax Havens

HowMuch.net, This Interactive Calculator Shows How Much Tax Havens Are Costing America:

Many multinational corporations use their global reach, and a fair degree of high-tech accounting, to shift their assets, profits—and taxes due—to so-called offshore tax havens. These countries have minimal corporation tax rates, drastically reducing the amount of tax these multinationals have to pay. Below is a list of the 30 U.S. companies with the biggest offshore holdings. Our calculator gives you an idea of how much more money Uncle Sam would make if all that income were declared in the U.S. 

Tax-havens-2 (2)

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July 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Johnson:  Paul Ryan's Republican Tax Wish List

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), Where's the Rest of Me?: Ryan's Republican Wish List, 152 Tax Notes 105 (July 4, 2016):

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has released a wish list of what Republican House members would like to see in a tax system in the form of a plan that moves toward a cash flow consumption tax. A cash flow consumption tax is a terrific idea if it is used to raise revenue and to shift the tax burden from those without resources to those who have them, but it increases the harm that taxes do if it is used to give away revenue or shift the tax burden the other way. A cash flow consumption tax exempts from tax the return from capital, an exemption that obviously benefits those who have capital, called rich people. A cash flow consumption tax should make up for the revenue loss given over to the wealthy with higher taxes on their consumption, but Ryan’s plan would not. One of the great virtues of a cash flow consumption tax is that it would end the tax bias in favor of owner-occupied housing — selfish and wasteful investments instead of productive investments — but this plan would not.

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July 28, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Launches Investigation Of Clinton Foundation

CLinton Foundation (2017)Daily Caller, IRS Launches Investigation Of Clinton Foundation:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen referred congressional charges of corrupt Clinton Foundation “pay-to-play” activities to his tax agency’s exempt operations office for investigation, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

The request to investigate the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on charges of “public corruption” was made in a July 15 letter by 64 House Republicans to the IRS, FBI and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They charged the foundation is “lawless.” ...

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July 28, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Facebook Ignores Seven Summonses From The IRS Demanding Documents On Its Offshore Tax Strategies

Facebook (2016)Following up on my previous post, IRS Sues Facebook For Billions In Undervalued IP Assets In 2010 Irish Transfers: Bloomberg, Facebook Fails to Show Up for Seventh Tax Summons From IRS:

Facebook officials failed to show up after getting seven summonses from the Internal Revenue Service demanding internal corporate records on one of its offshore tax strategies, according to an IRS court filing.

U.S. authorities are examining Facebook’s federal income tax liability for the period ending Dec. 31, 2010 and are looking at whether the company understated the value of global rights for many of its intangible assets outside the U.S. and Canada that it transferred to a subsidiary in low-tax Ireland.

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July 28, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

State Outlines Evidence, Witnesses In Markel Murder Case

Markel & AdelsonTallahassee Democrat, State Outlines Evidence, Witnesses in Markel Case:

The State Attorney's Office has compiled an exhaustive list of possible witnesses and nearly 100 pieces of evidence in its cases against the two men accused of killing Florida State University law professor Dan Markel.

Most of the 175 possible witnesses are TPD officers and residents of the Betton Hills neighborhood, particularly people living on Randolph Circle and Trescott Drive. The list includes Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, her brother Charlie and parents Harvey and Donna. Others include a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and convicted killer, a woman Markel was romantically linked to and an FSU professor who was dating Wendi Adelson. ...

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July 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1176

IRS Logo 2Legal Insurrection, Hillary: As President, Trump Could Use IRS to Target His Enemies:

Have you noticed that many of Trump’s critics accuse him of things he hasn’t done yet but which other people have actually done already? The latest example comes from the presumptive Democratic nominee who warns President Trump could use the IRS to target his enemies.

Imagine that.

Watch Hillary Clinton paint a picture of this potential travesty which already unfolded under President Obama.

Hillary has one thing going for her here. The media has pretty much abandoned all reportage of the IRS targeting scandal. How many average Americans even know Obama used the IRS to silence tax paying Americans in the run up to the 2012 election and got away with it?

David Reaboi made the point well on Twitter:

Tweet

If we had an honest media, Hillary would have been laughed off the stage for saying this.

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July 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tax Infinity And Beyond

InfinityGalya Savir (Michigan), Tax Infinity & Beyond:

Commercial activities in space are going to expand thanks to new game-changing technologies being developed by Space Entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs have pledged to reduce the cost of accessing space, and plan to unlock new horizons for innovative space markets, such as mining space-based resources and space tourism. Signs are showing in Congress of the impact that the space technology phenomenon is having on the U.S. legal system and on other governments’ policy decisions worldwide. Realizing the promise of expanding the United States' aerospace economy has raised myriad legal challenges, one of which is the issue of taxation. Thus, there is no time like the present to review the tax rules, at both the federal and the international levels, to ensure the sustainability of a policy that is clearly in the public interest.

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July 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chodorow & Johnston:  Trump's Wrong-Headed Call For Tax-Subsidized Politicization Of The Pulpit

Trump (2016)Following up on Sunday's post, Trump's Call To Repeal The Johnson Amendment And Allow Churches To Endorse Political Candidates:  

Adam Chodorow (Arizona State), Donald Trump Wants to Politicize the Pulpit:

One of the biggest applause lines of the Republican convention was Donald Trump’s call to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment, which, among other things, conditions churches’ tax-exempt status on ministers refraining from political speech at their pulpits. Critics such as Trump argue that ministers have First Amendment speech rights, which they say the government is infringing by restricting religious organizations in this manner. ...

In truth, it’s a lot more complicated than that. With Trump, it always is. Because on closer inspection, it’s clear that the Johnson Amendment, made law in 1954, serves an important function: preventing the government from subsidizing political speech. And repealing the law could lead to more entanglement of church and state—not less. ...

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July 27, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 10 Washington, D.C. Tax Law Firms

Following up on my previous post, 2017 Vault Law Firm Tax Rankings:  Above the Law, Tax Firm Power Rankings:

Over the next few months, we going to be hear A LOT about the presidential candidates' tax plans. But who is actually going to turn all of these proposals into actual laws? These people, that's who, the tax attorneys and lobbyists (who are often lawyers) in Washington, DC. While tax lawyers in, say, NYC help clients navigate the Tax Code, it is their peers in DC who exert influence on the *writing” of the laws themselves.

Here is our take on the most active and influential law firms and lobbying shops in the area of tax practice and policymaking. The law firm portion of our list comprises both elite specialist boutiques as well as top-tier full-service Biglaw firms that place a relatively outsized emphasis on tax practice in our nation’s capital. ...

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July 27, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Grads Would Fix Law School: More Experiential Learning And Diversity, Reformed Grading Policies

Fix ItFortune, Here's How Law School Grads Would Fix Law School:

Law grads want more experiential learning, more diversity, and reformed grading policies.

As part of its survey of this year’s “Best & Brightest” 3Ls, Tipping The Scales asked nominees to share how they would change law school. From experiential learning to grading practices and diversity, the 2016 Class didn’t hold back. ...

Unsurprisingly, their complaints start with experiential learning opportunities (or the lack thereof). ...

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July 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Beyer:  Estate Planning Ramifications Of Obergefell

Gerry W. Beyer (Texas Tech), Estate Planning Ramifications of Obergefell v. Hodges:

One year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges holding that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” Since then, an estimated 123,000 same-sex marriages have occurred bringing the total number of same-sex marriages in the United States to almost one-half million. The number of Texas same-sex marriages will be difficult to track because the government does not plan on keeping a separate count of same-sex marriage licenses. Nonetheless, with over three percent of Texans identifying themselves as gay or lesbian, it is of vital importance for estate planners to understand the current and potential future impact of same-sex marriage on estate planning in Texas.

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July 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through July 1, 2016) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

57,604

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

10,365

2

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

32,823

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

4681

3

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

31,655

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3272

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

27,217

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2747

5

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

26,223

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2437

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

22,473

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1975

7

James Hines (Michigan)

21,901

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1926

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

21,161

Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)

1913

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

21,156

Chris Hoyt (UMKC)

1778

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

19,974

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1744

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

19,005

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1738

12

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

18,197

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1736

13

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

17,362

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

1731

14

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

17,080

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1681

15

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

17,036

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

1520

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

16,971

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1493

17

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

16,675

Yariv Brauner (Florida)

1445

18

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

16,513

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1441

19

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

16,147

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1417

20

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

16,110

Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)

1390

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

15,673

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1360

22

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

15,105

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1330

23

David Walker (Boston Univ.)

15,071

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1265

24

Steven Bank (UCLA)

13,410

Jordan Barry (San Diego)

1255

25

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

13,175

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

1223

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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July 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are The Google Law Review Rankings 'Worthless'?

Google Scholar (2015)Following up on yesterday's post, 2016 Google Law Review Rankings:

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Annals of "Bullshit" Rankings:

The problem (we've encountered it in philosophy in the past, but now everyone there knows Google  Scholar is worthless for measuring journal impact) is that there is no control for the volume of publishing by each journal, so any journal that publishes more pages and articles per year will do better than a peer journal with the same actual impact that publishes fewer articles and pages.

Rob Anderson (Pepperdine), Google Scholar Releases 2016 Journal Rankings, Controversy Ensues:

Leiter's arguments are (mostly) incorrect. And as my previous posts about Google Scholar were used as part of the ranking, I felt the need to respond. ...

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July 27, 2016 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

AALS Call For Participation: Discussion Group On The Future Of Tax Administration And Enforcement

AALS (2018)AALS, Call for Participation in a Discussion Group on The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement:

The Annual Meeting Program Committee introduced a new program format, Discussion Groups, at the 2016 Annual Meeting to facilitate scholarly discussion and engagement. Discussion Groups provide a small group of faculty an opportunity to engage in a sustained conversation about a topic of interest. The objective is to facilitate a lively and engaging real-time discussion among participants. Discussion Group participants will typically be expected to write and share a short presentation summary (3-5 pages) as part of their participation. The Discussion Group sessions, however, will not feature formal presentations. Instead, the written summaries are intended to facilitate a lively and engaging real-time discussion among the participants. Participants in this Discussion Group will consist of a mix of the people identified in the original proposal along with additional individuals selected on the basis of this call for participation. There will be limited audience seating for those not selected in advance to be discussion participants.

The following is a Call for Participation in a Discussion Group on The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement, to be held at the AALS Annual Meeting, Saturday, January 7, 2017 from 8:30–10:15 am, in San Francisco.

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July 27, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Business Insider:  The 50 Best Law Schools In America

Business InsiderBusiness Insider, The 50 Best Law Schools in America:

Methodology:

  • 32% — Percentage of graduates securing a highly coveted position [BigLaw & federal clerkships]
  • 20% — Percentage of graduates securing full-time, long-term positions requiring bar passage
  • 20% — Percentage of graduates still seeking employment (negatively weighted)
  • 12% — Percentage of graduates who pass the bar on their first try 
  • 8% —  Cost of tuition for full-time, non-resident students
  • 8%—  Median LSAT score for admitted students

Here are the Top 10:

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July 27, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1175

IRS Logo 2Hot Air, Hillary: Can You Imagine Electing a Vindictive Man Who Might … Send the IRS After His Critics?:

You know what? I can imagine it. Pretty vividly, actually. Right down to the names of the “hypothetical” IRS officers involved.

Of all the examples she could have cited to make the point that Trump is a loose cannon, how did she and her speechwriters conclude that this was one worth floating? I understand calling him out for wanting to issue illegal orders to the military; that’s the most alarming thing he’s said since he got in the race. But attacking Trump over a potential IRS gone rogue is like attacking him for potentially wanting to intervene in foreign civil wars without Congress’s approval. We’ve seen that movie already. In fact, Hillary Clinton produced that movie.

Even lamer, if the IRS decides to start taking down political enemies, it’s more likely they’d focus on taking down President Trump himself than his adversaries. Judging by their political donations, IRS employees lean in exactly the partisan direction you’d expect the taxman to lean. Obama didn’t need to tell Lois Lerner to target tea partiers. That sort of thing would occur to her naturally given the agency’s institutional lean.

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July 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

If California Is A 'Bad State for Business,' Why Is It Leading The Nation In Job And GDP Growth?

Real GDPLos Angeles Times: If California's a 'Bad State for Business,' Why Is It Leading the Nation in Job and GDP Growth?, by Michael Hiltzik:

State and federal statistics released as recently as Friday make it clear: California is smoking hot, economy-wise.

The state gained 40,300 jobs in June and 461,000 over the year. With a gain of 2.9%, that was the best 12-month record of any large state except Florida, which won by a nostril with a gain of 3%, and much better than the nation as a whole (1.7%). According to the congressional Joint Economic Committee, California leads the nation in growth in its gross domestic product, which grew by 4.2% in 2015 — more than twice the national rate.

This record raises numerous questions, the most interesting of which is: So what’s all that guff about California being a “business-unfriendly” state?

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July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Conservative Backlash Against Vic Fleischer's Appointment As Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Senate Finance Committee Democrats

Fleischer (2016)Following up on my recent posts:

Politico, Morning Tax: Backlash Begins:

It took a little while, but prominent conservatives in the tax field are starting to question Sen. Ron Wyden’s decision to bring on Victor Fleischer as co-chief tax counsel for Finance Committee Democrats. Fleischer, a University of San Diego law professor, helped jump-start the movement to end the preferential tax treatment of carried interest, which has become something of a cause celebre among Democrats.

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July 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnson:  How And Why We Built A Majority-Minority Faculty At UC-Davis Law School

UC Davis Logo (2017)Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: How and Why We Built a Majority-Minority Faculty, by Kevin R. Johnson (Dean, UC-Davis):

In the summer of 1989, the law school at the University of California at Davis added three new faculty members: two Latino men and an African-American woman. I was one of the Latinos, and I didn’t know until I read it in the local paper that the new arrivals were the only people of color on a previously all-white faculty.

I wasn’t surprised. At that time, the faculty at every top-tier American law school was overwhelmingly white and predominantly male. There was nothing unusual about the situation on my new campus, nor about the law school’s apparent intention to diversify.

What has proved unusual is that we succeeded. Today I am dean of the law school, and our faculty diversity is broad: gay and straight, white, Latino, African-American, and Asian. On a faculty of 36 tenured and tenure-track scholars, we have Filipino-, Iranian-, Indian-, and Algerian-Americans, as well as Korean-, Japanese-, and Chinese-Americans. With our most recent hires, we now have a faculty that is 47 percent female and 56 percent minority.

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July 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Alstott:  Tax And … Housing Policy

EvictedAnne Alstott (Yale), Tax and … Housing Policy:

In his new book, Evicted, Harvard sociologist Matt Desmond recounts the human cost of the frequent evictions that disrupt life in poor communities. Desmond doesn’t focus on the role of the tax code in housing policy, but his work suggests directions for further thought. ...

We know that renters are second-class citizens in federal housing policy: taking into account tax expenditures and direct spending, the feds spend about $190 billion per year to subsidize housing, but as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates, the subsidies are poorly matched to housing need.

The upside-down distribution of federal housing subsidies isn’t news to tax folks, of course. Still, I think it’s worth looking beyond the home mortgage interest deduction and its glaring flaws. Instead, or addition, we might consider whether the federal government can — and should — redirect subsidy funds toward rental housing need and toward the goal of housing stability in particular.

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July 26, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Li:  'Strangers In A Strange Land'—Chinese Companies In The American Tax System

Ji Li (Rutgers), 'Strangers in a Strange Land'—Chinese Companies in the American Tax System, 68 Hastings L.J. ___ (2016):

Two distinct features describe foreign direct investment (“FDI”) from emerging economies: (1) most of the investors thrive in poor regulatory environments, and (2) the visible hand of the state exerts a powerful influence. Due to these two features, emerging market FDI poses novel questions to tax law scholars and U.S. policymakers. For instance, will the investors import noncompliance practices? Or will they adapt to the complex and stringent regulatory regime of the host country?

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July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 Google Law Review Rankings

Google Scholar (2015)PrawfsBlawg: Google Scholar Law Review Rankings — 2016, by Bryce C. Newell (Tilburg University):

Includes only flagship/general law reviews at ABA accredited schools (I think I've captured (almost) all of these, but let me know if I've missed any). Rankings are calculated based on the average of Google's two scores (h5-index and h5-median), as proposed here by Robert Anderson. The final column shows how much a journal's rank has changed in 2016 versus last year's ranking (0 indicates no change, a positive number indicates the ranking has gone up in 2016, while a negative number indicates a drop in ranking in 2016).

Bryce lists 194 flagship law reviews. Here are the Top 25:

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July 26, 2016 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Chevron In The Circuit Courts:  IRS Is Afforded 4th Least Judicial Deference Among 22 Federal Agencies

Kent H. Barnett (Georgia) & Christopher J. Walker (Ohio State), Chevron in the Circuit Courts:

This Article presents findings from the most comprehensive empirical study to date on how the federal courts of appeals have applied Chevron deference — the doctrine under which courts defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute that it administers. Based on 1561 agency interpretations the circuit courts reviewed from 2003 to 2013, we found that the circuit courts overall upheld 71% of interpretations and applied Chevron deference 75% of the time. But there was nearly a twenty-five percentage-point difference in agency-win rates when the circuit courts applied Chevron deference than when they did not. Among many other things, our study reveals important differences across circuits, agencies, agency formats, and subject matters as to judicial review of agency statutory interpretations — as our rankings based on these variables illustrate.

Table 2

As Table 2 indicates, the subject matters for which courts defer most often to agency interpretations included telecommunications (8.60), Indian affairs (8.33), federal government (8.18), pensions (8.17), education (8.15), health and safety (8.14), and entitlement programs (8.03). Conversely, the subject matters for which courts defer the least were civil rights (5.99), followed by housing (6.04), prisons (6.64), tax (6.74), and employment (6.96). ...

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July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

G20 Calls For Tax Policy Overhaul

G20Following up on Friday's post, G-20 To Scrap 30 Years Of Tax Policy And Recommend Taxing Capital Income At Higher Rates Than Wages:  Sydney Morning Herald, G20 Calls For Tax Policy Overhaul:

Group of 20 finance ministers say taxation policies should be improved worldwide to reflect globalisation and promote socially balanced, sustainable economic growth.

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that not only specific tax rules but entire "taxation administrations [based on national boundaries] have to be updated."

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July 26, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont Law School Seeks $15 Million Federal Loan To Restructure Its Debts Via Sale-Leaseback With Related LLC

Vermont Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the financial difficulties at Vermont Law School: VT Digger, Vermont Law School Seeking Federal Loan to Ease Debt Costs:

Vermont Law School is hoping to borrow $15 million from the federal government to help restructure its debts and take advantage of lower interest rates.

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July 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1174

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Hatch: Senate Won't Remove IRS Head:

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says a House effort to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has no chance of moving through the Senate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the most senior Senate Republican, on Thursday said his colleagues and Koskinen don’t always agree but that those conflicts shouldn’t cost the commissioner his job.

“We can have our disagreements with him, but that doesn't mean there's an impeachable offense,” Hatch told reporters at the Capitol. “And for the most part he's been very cooperative with us."

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July 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, July 25, 2016

U.S. News:  Law Schools With The Lowest Debt, Highest Rank—BYU, Georgia State, Nebraska, Tennessee

2017 U.S. News LogoU.S. News & World Report, 10 Law Schools Where Alumni Have the Least Debt:

With tuition and fees often running at $30,000 per year or more, many students take out loans. Among the 183 ranked law schools that submitted debt data to U.S. News, the average debt for 2015 graduates who borrowed was $112,748. ... Of the 10 schools where graduates borrowed the least, the average debt was $62,735. ...

Below are the 10 schools where 2015 graduates who borrowed for law school had the least debt. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School Average Debt U.S. News Rank
Hawaii $54,988 92 (tie)
South Dakota $57,170 143
North Carolina Central $57,924 RNP*
Nebraska $58,744 57 (tie)
BYU $62,423 38 (tie)
Arkansas (Fayetteville) $64,901 86 (tie)
Georgia State $66,637 57 (tie)
Tennessee $66,939 65 (tie)
Liberty $68,667 RNP
Arkansas (Little Rock) $68,960 136 (tie)

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July 25, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times:  FASB's New Stock Option Treatment Raises Profits, Highlights Low Effective Tax Rates Paid By Most Companies

The New York Times: A Profit Bump for Companies, and Tax Transparency for Investors, by Gretchen Morgenson:

Think the world of accounting is dull? Then you don’t know about the new auditing rule that is about to raise many companies’ reported profits and bring greater clarity to the actual taxes big corporations pay.

The rule change involves a new approach to stock option accounting, and it will have the greatest impact at companies that dispense oodles of these awards as employee compensation. It arrived in March to little fanfare and was imposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets auditing standards for United States corporations.

The new rule relates to the tax benefit that a company receives when it gives options to executives and workers. The change doesn’t affect what a company must pay in taxes related to its stock option grants. It simply shifts the place where a company reports the options-related tax benefit. The shift makes the benefit more evident to investors.

The standards board changed the rule as part of its accounting simplification program, intended to reduce the costs and complexities of auditing standards and maintain “the usefulness of the information provided to users of financial statements,” as the regulator put it.

But the change will have other effects. Along with appearing to juice many companies’ net earnings, it is likely to bring the spotlight back to the issue of low corporate taxes in America, possibly reigniting that debate.

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July 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Tax Complications From A Summer Job

Wall Street Journal Tax Report: Congratulations on the Summer Job! Here’s What You Owe the Government; Some Children’s Returns Are as Complicated as Their Parents’, by Laura Saunders:

Summertime living is supposed to be easy, but for those who take seasonal jobs the taxes can be tricky.

Now is a good time for a checkup if you are a student with a summer job or have a young worker in the family.

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July 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department Of Education's New Fraud Defense To Loan Repayment Will Spur Spurious Lawsuits

Department of Education LogoFollowing up on my previous posts:

Law360 op-ed: No Good Reason For New Student Loan Forgiveness Rules, by Anthony T. Caso (Chapman):

You may have read news reports over the past few years that new lawyers are having more and more trouble finding a job. The recession that hit in 2008 seems to linger on, especially in the legal market. The U.S. Department of Education has a solution. It has proposed new regulations that will spawn a new industry of spurious lawsuits against colleges and universities. Everybody will have to hire lawyers — and lawyers will be the only clear winners in the battles to come.

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July 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooks Posts Three Tax Papers On SSRN

John R. Brooks (Georgetown):

  • Don't Forget the Standard Deduction, 150 Tax Notes 1589 (Mar. 28, 2016):  "The presidential candidates this campaign season are a diverse group with a wide range of tax policy proposals, but they agree unanimously about one thing: the need to limit itemized deductions. Sadly, however, none of their proposals tackles how limits on itemized deductions would affect the other side of the equation — the standard deduction — which is also very much in need of reform."
  • Student Loans As Taxes, 151 Tax Notes 513 (Apr. 25, 2016):  "The growth of college tuition and the corresponding rise in student loan debt have become major issues of public importance. Total outstanding student debt is at least $1.3 trillion, and tuitions keep growing, even while we arguably need to invest more in higher education to add skills and grow our economy. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has made higher education reform a major part of his Democratic presidential campaign platform, proposing a new financial transactions tax to pay for large grants to states that offer free tuition to public universities. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has proposed grants to states to offer ‘‘no-debt-tuition,’’ paid for in part by repealing several tax expenditures. These and other plans would essentially increase federal spending on higher education through expanded progressive taxation."

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July 25, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fall 2016 Law Review Article Submission Guide

SubmissionsNancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Fall 2016 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-51) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 52-58) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes two highlights in this updated document:

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July 25, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vic Fleischer—'The Closest Thing The Tax World Has To A Rock Star'—Goes To Washington

Fleischer (2016)Following up on Friday's post, Vic Fleischer Named Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Democrats On Senate Finance Committee:  Bloomberg, Mr. Higher-Tax-on-Carried-Interest Goes to Washington, by Lynnley Browning:

He made his name in academia by criticizing a lucrative tax break for private-equity managers. Now Victor Fleischer is taking his anti-loophole thinking to Washington.

Fleischer will serve as a formal adviser to Democrats on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, a perch from which he says he’ll seek ways to close the so-called “carried interest” loophole -- and to curb other tax benefits.

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July 25, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (4)

Social Media For Academics

Social Media for AcademicsMark Carrigan (University of Warwick), Social Media for Academics (Sage 2016):

Social media is an increasingly important part of academic life that can be a fantastic medium for promoting your work, networking with colleagues and for demonstrating impact. However, alongside the opportunities it also poses challenging questions about how to engage online, and how to represent yourself professionally.

This practical book provides clear guidance on effectively and intelligently using social media for academic purposes across disciplines, from publicising your work and building networks to engaging the public with your research.  It is supported by real life examples and underpinned by principles of good practice to ensure you have the skills to make the most of this exciting medium.

You’ll find advice on:

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July 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1173

IRS Logo 2Politico, Hillary Clinton Warns: Trump Could Use Military, IRS To Punish Critics and Opponents:

At a campaign event in Springfield, Illinois Wednesday afternoon presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton warned Donald Trump would use the military and IRS "to go after his critics and opponents." ...

"Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS, or for that matter our entire military," Clinton said. "Given what we have seen and heard, do any of us think he'd be restrained?"

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July 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 24, 2016

If Black Lives Matter At Whittier, Shouldn't Law School Address Graduates' Abysmal Bar Passage And Employment Rates?

LBLMFollowing up on my previous posts (here and here):  The College Fix, Law Professor Who Wore Black Lives Matter Shirt to Class Has a Long Trail of Student Grievances, by Samantha Figueroa:

When a law professor wore a Black Lives Matter shirt to class earlier this year, she saw it as a teaching tool and exercise in academic freedom.

Some of her “concerned students” saw the gesture as an attempt to push her “personal beliefs” on them, but also a threat to their ability to become practicing lawyers – and told her so in a much-derided memo.

The incident was revived this month after Inside Higher Ed confirmed the institution was southern California’s Whittier Law School, whose student body is majority-minority, and the professor was Patricia Leary.

Though Leary’s public critique of the anonymous memo has drawn most of the attention, the students’ deeper anxieties have been overshadowed: Whittier’s bar passage rate is plummeting.

And if new accreditation standards under review at the American Bar Association are implemented, the value of students’ degrees from the $46,000-a-year institution may be imperiled. ...

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July 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Perry Fleischer Presents Autonomy, Uncertainty and the Poor: Reflections On 'Charity Law And The Liberal State' Today At Melbourne

Fleischer (Miranda)Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents Autonomy, Uncertainty and the Poor: Reflections on Matthew Harding's "Charity Law and the Liberal State", 41 Australian J. for Legal Phil. ___ (2016), today at the Australian Society Of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference at Melbourne Law School:

In Charity Law and the Liberal State [Cambridge University Press 2014], Matthew Harding argues that one can best justify the existence, scope, and substance of charity law as reflecting the state’s desire to further the political ideal of autonomy as grounded in Razian principles.  Complicating Harding’s job, however, is the problem of factual uncertainty:  it is frequently hard to identify the impact of a given state policy on a specific currency such as autonomy, equality, opportunity, or well-being. This commentary argues that Harding both under- and over-values the importance of this uncertainty.

He over-values this uncertainty in his discussion of the charitable tax subsidies, when he implies that the complex nature of distributive questions surrounding the subsidies renders them an ultimately unfulfilling line of inquiry.  Despite the fact that the charitable tax subsidies are but one component by which a state might further the autonomy of the poor, however, understanding the extent to which the subsidies do or do not do so is necessary for determining whether the poor in a given state can adequately exercise their autonomy.

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July 24, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)