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Friday, March 20, 2015

NY Times on Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners: Proximity Rivals Prestige in Partnership Prospects

Following up on last Friday's post, Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners:  New York Times, Law School Proximity Matters for Partner Prospects, Study Finds:

Elite law schools are not always a glide path to becoming a partner at a big law firm. A new study of partners’ academic pedigrees shows that a large number of graduates who reach the top rung at a law firm do not necessarily come from the top-ranked law schools.

The study of 33,000 lawyers at the largest 115 law firms in the country found that the dozen highest ranked law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Northwestern, had a high correlation between their status and the number of alumni who made partner.

But some of the other 100 schools examined showed greater differences between their ranking and their alumni partner numbers, said Edward S. Adams, a University of Minnesota law professor who co-authored the study. ...

The study “highlights the power of geographical proximity,” Professor Adams said, and “it generally validates that the law school attended matters for ‘big law’ partnership prospects.”

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amidst 70% Enrollment Decline, Appalachian Law School Sheds 60% Of Its Faculty And Seeks Affiliation With Another College To Survive

Appalachian LogoWCYB, The Appalachian School of Law Looks Ahead:

Fewer and fewer people are attending law school. That nationwide shift means schools are competing for students as they try to balance their budgets. In 2004, there were 100,600 people nationwide who applied to law school. In 2013, there were just 59,400.

This is especially evident at small  'fourth tier' schools. In fact, many have had to align themselves with larger institutions just to survive. 

We were contacted about the status of the Appalachian School of Law by people concerned about its future.  News 5 WCYB's Samantha Kozsey visited the school and spoke to one of its board of trustees, as well as alumni, faculty and former faculty as well as legal consultants about the future of law schools specifically ASL. Just about everyone we spoke to said, this is a tough time especially for the few remaining 'free-standing' private law schools. ...

At the height of enrollment, there were approximately 150 students in a graduating class at ASL. ... [There were 145 1Ls in Fall 2011.] Compare that to the incoming class for 2014 which was approximately 45. ... Some estimate that number will drop even more for this coming Fall.

Even the faculty numbers have dropped from 14 full-time professors in the Spring of 2014 [17 in Fall 2012] to eight in the fall to seven this semester, that's down 50%.

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Minnesota Symposium: Reforming the IRS

Minnesota LogoMinnesota hosts a Tax Policy Symposium next Friday, March 27,  on Reforming the IRS:

Congress asks the IRS to handle a variety of government functions—not just collecting taxes, but also implementing the Affordable Care Act, monitoring the activities of tax-exempt organizations, and administering refundable tax credits designed to accomplish various social welfare goals, among other myriad tasks. Even beyond the controversy over its scrutiny of conservative political organizations, the IRS faces criticism for its handling of many of its congressionally-assigned functions, from its declining ability to handle routine taxpayer phone calls to its efforts to address fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Meanwhile, Congress has reduced the IRS’s budget, making it difficult for the IRS to accomplish all of its myriad tasks successfully. But even if Congress gave the IRS better funding, could the IRS accomplish all that Congress asks of it effectively? Or has the IRS reached a point institutionally at which it simply cannot do its many jobs well, irrespective of the funding that Congress provides? If it cannot, then what might IRS reform look like? [The symposium papers will be published in the Spring 2016 issue of the Columbia Journal of Tax Law.]

Keynote Address:   Nina Olson (National Taxpayer Advocate), The IRS and Taxpayer Trust: Recent Research on Promoting Compliance

Panel #1:

  • Steve Johnson (Florida State), Law From the Sublime to the Ridiculous and Most Things in Between: Options for Tax Administration in an Era of Growing Responsibilities for Shrinking Budgets
  • Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Does the IRS Need Further Reform? 
  • Commenters:  Andy Grewal (Iowa), Joe Thorndike (Tax Analysts)
  • Moderator:  Morgan Holcomb (Hamline)

Panel #2:

  • Lloyd Mayer (Notre Dame), The Better Part of Valour is Discretion: Should the IRS Surrender Its Oversight of Tax-Exempt Organizations?
  • Amy Monahan (Minnesota), The IRS as Health Care Agency
  • Commenters:  Paul Caron (Pepperdine), Chris Walker (Ohio State)
  • Moderator:  Claire Hill (Minnesota)

Panel #3:

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March 20, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Bar Exam Comes Under Fire

Bar Exam FailNew York Times, Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire:

For decades, law school graduates have endured a stressful rite of passage, spending the first 10 weeks after classes end taking cram courses in the arcane details of the law before sitting down for the grueling, dayslong bar exam. Those who do not pass cannot practice law, at least in nearly all the states and the District of Columbia that consider the exam the professional standard.

But that standard, so long unquestioned, is facing a new round of scrutiny — not just from the test takers but from law school deans and some state legal establishments. Some states, including Arizona, Iowa and New Hampshire, are exploring or have adopted other options, questioning the wisdom of relying on a single written test as the gateway to legal practice.

The debate over the exam is not new, but it broke out in the open after the results of last summer’s exam were released in the fall, showing that the 51,005 test takers had the poorest results in nearly a decade.

Many law school deans, bristling from criticism that they are replenishing their ranks with less academically qualified students as the number of law school applicants has fallen sharply, began to openly question the mechanics of the bar exam.

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

LegalED: Igniting Law Teaching -- A TEDx-Style Conference on the Future of Legal Education

March 20LegalED hosts its second conference today on Igniting Law Teaching: A TEDx Style Conference on the Future of Legal Education (webcast) at American:

The conference will feature talks by 30 law school academics and practitioners from the US, Canada and England in a TEDx-styled conference to share ideas on teaching methodologies.  LegalED’s Teaching Pedagogy video collection includes many of the talks from last year’s conference, which have been viewed collectively more than 5000 times. ...

The Igniting Law Teaching conference is unlike other gatherings of law professors.  Here, talks will be styled as TEDx Talks, with each speaker on stage alone, giving a well scripted and performed 8 minute talk about an aspect of law school pedagogy.

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March 20, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Declining Applications Cause Law Schools to Deploy 'Strange' Survival Tactics

Bloomberg,  Law School Applications Set to Hit 15-Year Low:

Law school is falling out of favor with Americans, new data show. The decline has spurred programs to use strange survival tactics.

Law schools keep getting less attractive to young professionals, with schools receiving 6.7 percent fewer applications this year than they did in 2014, according to numbers released by the Law School Admission Council on Wednesday, March 19. The number of individuals applying has also fallen, by 4.7 percent. If the pace continues as it did last year, the number of people who applied to law school for the Fall 2015 semester will hit its lowest level in 15 years.


[W]aning interest in law school has become an increasingly urgent threat to the business model underlying legal education in the U.S. As legal jobs have dried up, fewer people are applying to and enrolling in law schools, spurring panic across the industry. To cope with the new reality, schools have arrived at innovative tactics to help fill their classrooms. 

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March 20, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 680

IRS Logo 2The Blaze, The IRS Is Quietly Trying to Undo Limits on Political Targeting, Spending on Conferences:

House Republicans on Wednesday accused the Obama administration of pushing to eliminate some of the key reforms Congress has imposed on the IRS, including prohibitions on lavish conferences and a ban on applying extra scrutiny to groups based on their political beliefs.

The proposed IRS budget for 2016 put forward by the Obama administration lays out the government’s vision of how the IRS would operate in the next fiscal year, but it doesn’t include those reforms and others Congress has passed.

That prompted House Republicans to ask why those reforms weren’t picked up by the IRS budget for the coming year. They didn’t get an answer, but stressed that Congress still sees these reforms as important.

“Since the IRS targeting and spending scandals, appropriations bills have included prohibitions against targeting U.S. citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights, targeting groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs, and making videos without advance approval,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). ...

The targeting scandal continues to plague the IRS, and has forced the Republican Congress to enact language each year aimed at stopping the IRS from scrutinizing groups depending on their political beliefs. But the IRS has also been wrapped up in the conference scandal, after shelling out more than $800,000 for a lavish event in Nevada. ...

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), who chairs the subcommittee on financial services, said the proposed elimination of reforms meant to stop these activities adds “insult to injury,” especially since Congress was forced to impose them after several scandals hit the agency. “A provision… that says you cannot target, well, that’s not in the request,” Crenshaw said. 

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March 20, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Schizer Presents Taxes, Subsidies, and Energy Innovation Today at Northwestern

SchizerDavid M. Schizer (Columbia) presents Taxes, Subsidies, and Energy Innovation at Northwestern today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Part I outlines the environmental, national security, and economic goals of our energy subsidies. Part II considers how conflicts among these goals, as well as empirical uncertainty, undermine efforts to pursue them effectively. Part III demonstrates why poorly crafted subsidies increase overall demand for energy, and also require the government to pick winners. This Part also shows that the real problem is not so much using subsidies instead of taxes, but using “proxy” policies in lieu of “results-based” policies. Part IV focuses on “demand reduction” subsidies, analyzing challenges in funding energy efficiency and alternative energy. Part V considers “supply enhancement” strategies, exploring problems with subsidizing oil production. Part VI considers how the traditional tax policy issues of distribution, excess burden, and revenue apply to energy subsidies. Part VII is the conclusion.

March 19, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Singhal Presents Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement Today at UCLA

Singhal (2015)Monica Singhal (Harvard) presents Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement (with Paul Carrillo (George Washington) & Dina Pomeranz (Harvard)) at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

Reducing tax evasion is a key priority for many governments, particularly in developing countries. A growing literature has argued that the use of third party information to verify taxpayer self-reports is critical for tax enforcement and the growth of state capacity. However, there may be limits to the effectiveness of third party information if taxpayers can substitute misreporting to less verifiable margins. We present a simple framework to demonstrate the conditions under which substitution will occur and provide strong empirical evidence for substitution behavior by exploiting a natural experiment in Ecuador. We find that when firms are notified by the tax authority about detected revenue discrepancies on previously filed corporate income tax returns, they increase reported revenues, matching the third party estimate when provided. Firms also increase reported costs by 96 cents for every dollar of revenue adjustment, resulting in minor increases in total tax collection.

March 19, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sieg Presents Increasing Property Tax Compliance at Penn

SiegHolger Sieg (Pennsylvania) presented An Experimental Evaluation of Strategies to Increase Property Tax Compliance: Free-riding in the City of Brotherly Love at Pennsylvania yesterday as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris William Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

This study evaluates a set of notification strategies intended to increase property tax collection. We develop a field experiment in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Revenue to test three of the most commonly suggested hypotheses of tax compliance: deterrence, moral appeal, and peer conformity. Our preliminary findings provide evidence that both moral appeal and peer conformity modestly improve tax compliance, while deterrence notifications are no different from standard notifications.

March 19, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

House, Senate GOP Tax Leaders Urge President Obama to Work With Congress on Tax Reform, Rather Than Take Unilateral Executive Action

Congress (2015)Following up on my previous post, President Obama Is 'Very Interested' in Raising Taxes Through 'Executive Action':  House Ways & Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan and Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch yesterday sent this joint letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew "urging the Administration to tackle unfavorable provisions in the tax code by working with Congress on comprehensive tax reform instead of taking unilateral action":

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March 19, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bankman, Nass & Slemrod: Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion

Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Clifford Nass (Stanford) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan), Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion:

Tax evasion costs government over 400 billion dollars a year. We suggest enforcement efforts can be strengthened by redesigning the tax return to take advantage of social psychology research, and industry experience with data-driven systems. To illustrate the potential of this approach, in this paper we propose three categories of changes that merit testing through pilot studies. The first involves changing the wording on existing returns to increase the psychological cost of evasion and increase the perceived expectation of detection. The second builds appeals to morality in the return itself through the use of a short phrase containing a "self-relevant" noun. The third uses on-line "conversational agents" to ask adaptive questions.

March 19, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

March Madness Tax Bracket

Forbes:  Take The Tax Bracket Challenge: Which Is The Best Code Section Of Them All?, by Tony Nitti:

I say screw the NCAA bracket, and let’s fill out a ”Tax Bracket” instead. ... Below is a printable version of a 64-item bracket comprised entirely of authorities from the Code and Regulations that, if completed to completion, will ultimately reveal what is, in your mind, the greatest of all areas of the tax law. 

Blank Bracket

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March 19, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago Symposium: Grassroots Innovation and Regulatory Adaptation

Chicago Logo 2Symposium, Grassroots Innovation and Regulatory Adaptation, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 1-115 (2015):

March 19, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Law School Fire Sale: Pace Offers to Match In-State Public Tuition

Pace SaleWall Street Journal Law Blog, Law School Fire Sale: Pace Offers to Match In-State Public Tuition:

“Crazy Eddie” would be proud.

Pace University Law School in New York isn’t the first law school to slash its prices to lure more students. But a new tuition program the private school is set to announce takes the discounting trend to a whole new level.

Starting next academic year, qualifying students who enroll at Pace can earn a law degree at the tuition rate of their home-state public law school.

The program isn’t offered to any applicant. A Pace spokesman told Law Blog that eligibility would be mostly based on applicant GPA and LSAT scores with a loose cut-off around the median scores of Pace’s own students. ... The Pace spokesman said the matching rate covers all three years and is available to only future students. [Pace’s spokesman later emailed Law Blog to clarify that the matching rate isn’t renewed automatically but is “contingent upon the student remaining in the top 50% of the class.”]

Located in White Plains outside of New York City, the school is best known for its environmental law program and placed 138th in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of top U.S. law schools. ... Pace’s applications numbers have taken a particularly hard hit. Between 2011 and 2014, applications to Pace fell by almost 50% from 2,735 to 1,436. Its first-year enrollment shrank by about 18% in that period.

Press Release, Pace Law School Launches First-in-the-Nation Tuition Matching Program:

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March 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Crowdfunded Entrepreneurs, Tripped Up by the Taxman

Kickstarter LogoNew York Times, Crowdfunded Entrepreneurs, Tripped Up by the Taxman:

Jenny Wecker, a fledgling Salt Lake City entrepreneur, had a hit on her hands at the end of December: She collected $42,000 in pledges from the crowdfunding site Kickstarter for more than 300 orders of a stylish diaper bag she had designed. The project came together in a whirlwind after her husband persuaded her to test a broader market for the bags, which she had been making by hand and marketing on Instagram.

“We didn’t even think twice about how the taxes would affect us,” she said.

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March 19, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGinnis: The California Bar’s Self-Serving Proposal to Require 50 Hours of Pro Bono Work by New Lawyers

California State Bar (2014)Following up on Sunday's post, California to Require 50 Hours of Pro Bono Work For Law Students to be Admitted to Bar:  John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), The California Bar’s Self-Serving Proposals:

Last week California followed New York in proposing a requirement of 50 hours of pro bono work for prospective lawyers.  Unlike New York’s existing rule, which requires lawyers to serve their time before admittance to the bar, the California proposal permits them to meet the requirement shortly afterwards as well.  California’s proposal also requires 15 “units” of “experiential learning,” within such activities as clinics or externships, that can be satisfied either during law school or separately in a private externship. This proposal is an unfortunate one–both protectionist and ideologically one-sided.

First, assuming that units translate to credits, the requirement of 15 credits of experiential learning —a significant proportion of law school coursework—will make some students’ legal education less valuable and likely make it more expensive for everyone.  Some students would benefit more from the additional course work crowded out by experiential learning. For instance, those interested in corporate and commercial law may get more from exhausting the business law curriculum than from taking available experiential learning in areas not directly relevant to their careers. Students are adults and can make such decisions for themselves. ...

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March 19, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 679

IRS Logo 2Western Journalism, IG Reports: IRS Now Has All It Needs To Turn Over ‘Lost’ Lerner Emails:

Federal investigators now have the capability to turn over tens of thousands of once-lost Lois Lerner emails.

Last month, Deputy Treasury Inspector General Timothy Camus testified before the House Oversight Committee that it had discovered back-up tapes in a storage facility in West Virginia, which contain over 30,000 Lerner emails. He also stated that at the time, he could not turn over the emails to the committee due to a licensing issue with the company that provides the software needed to match the emails.

The Daily Caller reports that Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s office confirmed Monday that the Treasury IG now has the needed software and will be able to provide all the Lerner emails discovered. Chaffetz serves as chair of the House Oversight Committee.

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March 19, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shanske Presents Local Democracy and Financial Knowledge Today at Toronto

Shanske (2015)Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) presents Local Democracy and Financial Knowledge: The Case for a Local Government Finance Commission at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

The financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated that local governments often do not currently have the expertise to use debt wisely, much less the expertise to reform their use of pensions or to design tax systems that can raise more money with less economic distortion. Yet local governments must do all of these things and more, as higher levels of government continue to devolve responsibilities.

This is not to say that there is not useful expertise that could help local governments, just that there is not generally an institution for aggregating this knowledge and making it available to local decisionmakers in a manner consistent with the norms and goals, both political and economic, of local democracy. There are examples of such mediating institutions, such as North Carolina’s Local Government Commission, but their role – and the reasons for their success – have not yet been adequately theorized.

In short, I will argue that a new state‐level institution can succeed in improving local government financing in a manner consistent with preserving local autonomy if its expertise is used in the first instance to design default rules that are both simple and (mostly) correct. Beyond the default rules there is a place for a more fact‐intensive engagement, but in most cases the default rules should provide a workable options or set of options with which a local government can achieve its goals.

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March 18, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Average Fee for a Professional to Prepare Your Tax Return: $273

Wall Street Journal, What Tax Preparers Are Really Charging for 2014 Returns:

How much will it cost to have a professional prepare your tax return this year?

The national average fee for 2014 returns will be $273, according to a survey by the National Society of Accountants.

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March 18, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Doing Your Taxes: Should You Use a CPA or Tax Lawyer?

Shake, Doing Your Taxes: Should You Use a CPA or Tax Lawyer?:

When it comes to getting help with your taxes, there are a variety of options you can turn to depending on your needs and budget. Two of the options are CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) and tax lawyers. When should you consult a tax lawyer versus a CPA? ...

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March 18, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

NLJ: Small LSAT Spike Doesn’t Mean Law School Slump Is Over

National Law Journal, Small LSAT Spike Doesn’t Mean Law School Slump Is Over:

More people took the Law School Admission Test in February than during the same month last year—4.4 percent more, to be exact. That represented the single largest increase in test takers since December 2009 and followed a nearly 1 percent boost in the number of December test takers.

But people who track admission trends warned not to read too much into those numbers. Traditionally, fewer candidates sit for the test during February, and the increase represents just 859 additional test takers nationally. Moreover, the total number of test takers during the 2014-15 cycle was down by nearly 4,000—3.6 percent—according to the Law School Admission Council, which administers the test. The total number of test takers has declined in each of the past five years.

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March 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

House Holds Hearing Today on The Burden of the Estate Tax on Family Businesses and Farms

House LogoThe Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures of the House Ways & Means Committee holds a hearing today on The Burden of the Estate Tax on Family Businesses and Farms (links to statements and testimony below):

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation has released History, Present Law, And Analysis Of The Federal Wealth Transfer Tax System (JCX-52-15):

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March 18, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Charleston Law School Offers Buyouts to Faculty

Charleston LogoCharleston Post and Courier, Charleston School of Law Offers Buyouts to Faculty Members:

Charleston School of Law has offered buyouts to some of its faculty members, adding another act in the drama that has been going on since owners announced a possible sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System in July 2013.

Law school dean Andy Abrams sent an email to some faculty members on Monday telling them that the school’s three-member board decided to offer a voluntary exit program for tenured, tenure-track and other tenure-equivalent faculty members. “The essence of the program is that the school will buy out the faculty member’s contract for consideration.”

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March 18, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 U.S News Law School Rankings: Average Student Debt

Following up on my posts (links below) on the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings:  U.S. News, Which Law School Graduates Have the Most Debt?:

School (Rank)Ave. Debt of 2014 Grads% Grads With Debt
Thomas Jefferson (Tier 2) $172,445 91%
New York Law School (127) $166,622 83%
Northwestern (12) $163,065 80%
Florida Coastal (Tier 2) $162,785 93%
American (71) $159,316 83%
Vermont (122) $156,713 84%
Touro (Tier 2) $154,855 85%
San Francisco (138) $154,321 88%
Columbia (4) $154,076 76%
Whittier (Tier 2) $151,602 91%

Thirteen law schools did not supply U.S. News with debt data on their graduates: 

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March 18, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

GAO: Improper Government Payments Increased 18% in 2014, to $125 Billion; EITC's 27% Error Rate Is Highest of Any Program

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, Government-Wide Estimates and Use of Death Data to Help Prevent Payments to Deceased Individuals (GAO-15-482T):

Government-wide, improper payment estimates totaled $124.7 billion in fiscal year 2014, a significant increase of approximately $19 billion from the prior year’s estimate of $105.8 billion. The estimated improper payments for fiscal year 2014 were attributable to 124 programs spread among 22 agencies.

The increase in the 2014 estimate is attributed primarily to increased error rates in three major programs: the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid programs, and the Department of the Treasury’s Earned Income Tax Credit program. These three programs accounted for $80.9 billion in improper payment estimates, or approximately 65 percent of the government-wide total for fiscal year 2014. Further, the increases in improper payment estimates for these three programs were approximately $16 billion, or 85 percent of the increase in the government-wide improper payment estimate for fiscal year 2014.

The EITC's 27.2% error rate is far greater than any of the listed government programs.


March 18, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

WSJ: New ABA Rules on Reporting School-Funded Jobs Could Drop Some Law Schools' U.S. News Ranking

Following up on yesterday's post:  Wall Street Journal, Law Schools Face New Rules on Reporting Graduates’ Success; Move Could Lower Their Standings in U.S. News Rankings:

U.S. law schools face renewed scrutiny over claims about their ability to find work for their graduates, a crucial selling point amid one of the legal industry’s worst-ever job markets.


Some of the schools have been creating temporary jobs for grads by paying nonprofits and others to employ them, a move that in some cases has boosted the schools’ standings in the much-followed U.S. News & World Report rankings.

A new rule adopted last week by the accrediting arm of the American Bar Association will tighten such claims, giving law schools less credit for jobs that they subsidize. ...

Critics say such jobs unjustifiably burnish the results reported by law school deans, who are under pressure to make their schools stand out as the financial value of a law degree increasingly has been questioned. ...

Under the new ABA rule, effective next year, all 204 schools accredited by the group will have to leave out jobs they subsidize when reporting how many graduates found long-term, full-time employment that requires a law license.

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March 18, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 678

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal Editorial Report, Post Clinton:

Paul Gigot: Well, just in time for 2016, the Justice Department has announced that it is gearing up to prosecute coordination between candidates and outside groups, a move that senior editorial page writer Collin Levy says should worry Republicans in particular and the super PACs that support them.

So, Collin, why is this important, this announcement, and why did they do it now?

Collin Levy: Well, I think you hit it right on the head. They did it now because the election is heating up. Look, Paul, this is scary because illegal coordination happens when a campaign is directly organizing its message with an outside group, which is then effectively spending money on the campaign’s behalf.

Gigot: And that’s illegal. That’s illegal.

Levy: Yes, that’s illegal. But what’s scary here is all the Justice Department really needs is the allegation that that is happening, and then they can go on a fishing expedition, subpoenaing documents, bank records, all sorts of things, immense numbers of records from campaigns in an effort to find the needle in the haystack.

Gigot: Well, the definition of coordination is pretty slippery. I mean, it’s not—I mean, so people may know each other in an outside group and know somebody on the campaign. They may have worked for them previously. What is illegal is calling them up on the phone and saying: “Hey, now we want you to run a $5 million buy in Iowa to influence this race.” But if it’s just sort of in the ether that, you know, we understand the message, we’ve been paying attention to the newspapers and there’s no active coordination, it’s not illegal. But you’re saying this can become a fishing expedition that can dig into everything inside a campaign and create havoc and with a mere accusation, is that fair?

Levy: Yeah, that’s certainly fair. We saw that happen in Wisconsin with the allies of Scott Walker, who, all of a sudden, had prosecutors literally subpoenaing thousands of pages of documents. The same thing could happen with the Justice Department. The fact that they used the words that they were going to “aggressively pursue” possible coordination offenses here I think with us meant as a scare tactic, too. It was meant to put these campaigns on alert. “Hey, you know, we’re watching you.”

Gigot: And there’s a link here, is there not—and this is really interesting—between the Justice Department figure who’s announced this, Richard Pilger, who runs the campaign crime section, and the IRS figure, Lois Lerner, who ran the tax-exempt section of IRS that had harassed conservative groups. Put that together for us.

Levy: Yeah, that’s right. Back in 2010, Mr. Pilger was emailing with Lois Lerner saying, hey, maybe we should look at the possibility of prosecuting some of these tax-exempt groups for any false statements they make on their applications here. So, you know, you get the real sense that he’s a true believer and I think that’s something we should be very wary of.

Gigot: So, Kim, how should Republican campaigns respond to this?

Kim Strassel: Well, look, you have to step back and put this in context. The IRS and the Justice Department thing, this is all part and parcel. More broadly, too, look at the disclosure laws that the Obama administration has wanted to impose on corporations. This is not necessarily about keeping campaign finance law in good order. This is about shutting people up. It’s about making them not talk. So Republicans—that’s going to be the threat to them. And they’re going to have to, I think, continue operating as they normally do. If the Justice Department comes sniffing, make an issue about this.

Most of the groups, by the way, too, Paul, they have teams of incredibly experienced lawyers who do know all the rules.

Gigot: Right.

Strassel: You know, and are keeping them in check. They have to be doubly careful about that, too.

Dan Henninger: Two words.

Gigot: To lawyer up.

Henninger: Two words. Exactly. This is the Democratic obsession, Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that allowed the Republicans to compete on the basis of money with the Democrats. The Democrats are going to take the Republicans down because of Citizens United. This is the method they’ll use.

Gigot: This could pop up at any time during the election campaign.

Henninger: Just intimidate them.

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March 18, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dharmapala Presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World Today at Georgetown

Dharmapala (2015)Dhammika Dharmapala (Chicago) presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World (with Mihir A. Desai (Harvard)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John BrooksItai Grinberg, and David Schizer:

The tax treatment of interest expenses in a multijurisdictional setting raises numerous complexities. This paper catalogs these difficulties and highlights the particular problems associated with efforts to achieve ownership neutrality among multinational corporations (MNCs) when debt financing is available. We argue that the differential deductibility of debt entailed by various current tax law provisions leads in general to potential distortions in the patterns of asset ownership across MNCs, and that various proposed solutions have significant limitations. We suggest several alternative regimes to address both the ownership distortions that we highlight, as well as other well-established problems of income-shifting through debt. These alternative regimes are extensions to a multinational setting of two general approaches to the neutral treatment of interest expenses - the CBIT (comprehensive business income tax) and ACC (allowance for corporate capital). These regimes – a worldwide debt cap (WDC) and a net financing deduction (NFD) – provide solutions to income-shifting and ownership distortions. However, they have the potential disadvantage of restricting other policy parameters.

March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leff Presents A New Method for Funding Law School Education Today at William & Mary

LeffBenjamin M. Leff (American) presents The Income-Based Repayment Swap: A New Method for Funding Law School Education (with Heather Hughes (American)) at William & Mary today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

The high cost of legal education and corresponding student debt levels is a subject of robust debate. Yet too few critics of degree cost show creativity in thinking about the optimal mechanism for funding a legal education. The traditional model for financing a legal education is that students borrow with (mostly) fixed-rate loans repayable soon after graduation. The federal government supplements loans with income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs to protect students who have borrowed more than they can afford to pay back. The reach of these programs has expanded dramatically in recent years, with the programs covering 1.3 million graduates owing around $72 billion as of the first quarter of 2014, with every indication that those figures will grow dramatically unless the programs are modified. A significant segment of those who depend on income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs will be law students, because those are among the students with the highest levels of qualifying debt.

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March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA Requires Separate Reporting of Law School-Funded Jobs, But Continues to Allow Reporting Them as Long-Term, Full-Time, Bar Passage-Required Jobs

ABA Logo 2Following up on last week's post, ABA May Prohibit Reporting Law School-Funded Jobs as Full-Time, Long-Term Bar Passage-Required Jobs:  ABA Journal, Legal Ed Section's Council Approves Change in Reporting of School-funded Jobs:

The governing Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved a proposal to change the way law schools classify school-funded jobs in their reporting of graduate employment outcomes.

The change, recommended by the Section’s Data Policy and Collection Committee, will create a new employment status category for graduates in school-funded jobs on the employment summary form that schools are required to complete for each year’s graduating class.

Under the change, the number of graduates reported in other employment status categories–such as “employed-bar passage required” and “employed-JD advantage”–will be reduced by the corresponding number of graduates in school-funded positions reported elsewhere.


But the council, which met Friday and Saturday in San Francisco, rejected the second part of the committee’s proposal, which was to re-classify most school-funded jobs–now counted as long-term, full-time jobs–as short-term positions.

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March 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Music Soothes the Savage Tax Beast

Music 2John Prebble (Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law), Music in Lectures and Examinations to Promote Right Brain Activity:

Since 1998, most of John Prebble’s classes in Laws 211 Contract and Laws 365 Elements of Taxation have been accompanied by background music from the Baroque era, approximately 1600 to 1750. The same music was played in 2012 and 2013 as background to classes in Taxn 301, Advanced Domestic Taxation, a course in the Victoria University Business School.

Broadly speaking, most music from the Baroque period is suitable to listen to while studying or in class. People are not entirely certain why this should be, but one plausible explanation is that Baroque music generally has a very regular tempo and, apart from fast movements, about one beat per second. That is said to be approximately the rate of alpha waves in the human brain. There are thought to be two possible benefits.

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March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Building a Competitive U.S. International Tax System

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Building a Competitive U.S. International Tax System (links to statements and testimony below):

  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Statement
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR), Statement
  • Rosanne Altshuler (Professor of Economics and Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Rutgers University), Testimony
  • Pamela F. Olson (U.S. Deputy Tax Leader & Washington National Tax Services Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers), Testimony
  • Stephen E. Shay (Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School), Testimony
  • Anthony H. Smith (Vice President of Tax & Treasurer, Thermo Fisher Scientific), Testimony

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation has released Present Law And Selected Policy Issues In The U.S. Taxation Of Cross-Border Income (JCX-51-15):

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March 17, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barry & Caron: Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy

Jordan M. Barry (San Diego) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 69 (2015):

Many emerging companies’ business models center on helping consumers to share assets in new ways. This “sharing economy” has already experienced tremendous growth and attracted considerable investment capital and talent. Yet, as is often the case with economic innovations, existing regulatory structures have hindered the growth of the sharing economy, reducing its popularity and slowing its development.

This Article explores the tension between innovation and regulation, both in general and in a specific context: the intersection of the transportation sector of the sharing economy and the qualified transportation fringe benefit rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 132. We illustrate how regulators’ legitimate concerns combine with the uncertainty surrounding new ways of doing business to create regulatory environments that place new industries at a disadvantage. We also argue that two of the most common approaches that regulators adopt to foster new industries – expanding regulation to encourage new industries and restricting regulation to spur innovation – are both flawed. In tax and other areas of law, these approaches tend to operate cyclically, with each coming into fashion for a time until its flaws are deemed unbearable and it gets replaced by the other. This cycle will continue until someone comes up with a better innovation.

March 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

March Madness Law School Bracket

March MadnessHere is the March Madness Law School Bracket, with outcomes determined by the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings (using academic peer reputation as a tiebreaker). The Final Four are Harvard (2 in U.S. News), Virginia (8), Duke (8), and Texas (15), with Harvard beating Virginia in the championship game.   The closest match ups are:

  • First Four:  BYU (34) over Mississippi (94)
  • First Round:  SUNY-Buffalo (87) over West Virginia (94)
  • Second Round:  Texas (15) over Notre Dame (22), Villanova 87) over LSU (94), Ohio State (34) over Arizona (42)
  • Sweet 16:  OSU (34, 3.2 peer) over BYU (34, 2.9 peer), UCLA (16) over Iowa (22)
  • Elite 8:  Duke (8) over UCLA (16)
  • Final Four:  Virginia (8, 4.3 peer) over Duke (8, 4.2 peer)
  • Championship:  Harvard (2) over Virginia (8) 


March 17, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Symposium: Legal Education Looking Forward

SHSymposium, Legal Education Looking Forward, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 967-1129 (2014) (blogged here):

March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monroe: Rethinking Partnership Distributions

Andrea Monroe (Temple), Taxing Reality: Rethinking Partnership Distributions, 47 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 657 (2014):

Partnerships play an increasingly vital role in the federal income tax. Yet partnership taxation is deeply flawed, with complicated provisions that strain the voluntary compliance mechanism on which all federal income tax relies. This article considers one of the most difficult challenges facing partnership taxation: the treatment of distributions.

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March 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 677

IRS Logo 2The Daily Caller, No More Excuses: Obama Admin Has What It Needs To Give Up Lerner’s Emails:

Obama administration investigators now have everything they need to provide Congress with Lois Lerner’s emails, The Daily Caller has learned.

Treasury Department deputy inspector general Timothy Camus last testified that his office found more than 30,000 of Lerner’s emails, including emails from 2011 that were on a backup tape at a storage facility in West Virginia that the IRS never went to.

But Camus said that the investigation was on hold because his office was haggling over licensing issues with a company that makes special software that Camus said he needs to “match” the emails on the new tapes with the emails that have already been turned over to the House Oversight Committee. Camus said he just needed to make sure that he wasn’t giving Congress emails that it already had.

The Daily Caller has confirmed that the Treasury inspector general’s office has received the special software and is in the process of using it to match the emails.

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March 17, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Brown: Law School Without Borders

Following up on her op-ed in last Monday's Washington Post, Law Schools Are in a Death SpiralDorothy Brown (Vice Provost and Professor of Law, Emory), Law School Without Borders, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1050 (2014):

LawyersNow that the music has stopped, instead of law schools having more people than seats, we have more seats than people. Accordingly, law schools are shrinking class size to stave off any negative impact on their U.S. News rankings. But shrinking class size means shrinking revenue, so either some part of the budget must be cut, or universities will have to subsidize the deficit in perpetuity—a very unlikely occurrence.

The largest expenditure in most law school budgets is faculty salaries and benefits, so that should be the natural focus of budgetcutting.  But it will not be. While law firms can fire partners, law schools cannot fire tenured law professors easily while remaining open. ...

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Piketty and Others on Capital in the Twenty-First Century

PikettyThomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics), About Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 105(5) Am. Econ. Rev. 1 (2015):

In this article, I present three key facts about inequality in the long run emerging from this research ... and seek to sharpen and refocus the discussion about those trends. In particular, I clarify the role played by r > g in my analysis of wealth inequality. I also discuss some of the implications for optimal taxation, and the relation between capital-income ratios and capital shares. 

I. What r > g Can and Cannot Explain
[T]he way in which I perceive the relationship between r > g and inequality is often not well captured in the discussion that has surrounded my book. For example, I do not view r > g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the twentieth century, or for forecasting the path of inequality in the twenty-first century. Institutional changes and political shocks— which to a large extent can be viewed as endogenous to the inequality and development process itself—played a major role in the past, and it will probably be the same in the future. In addition, I certainly do not believe that r > g is a useful tool for the discussion of rising inequality of labor income: other mechanisms and policies are much more relevant here, e.g., supply and demand of skills and education.

Piketty 2Wall Street Journal op-ed, Piketty Corrects the Inequality Crowd, by Robert Rosenkranz:

The book’s central proposition, that inequality in capitalist societies will inevitably grow, can be summed up with a simple equation: r>g. That is, the return on capital (r) outpaces the growth rate of the economy (g) over time, leading inexorably to the dominance of inherited wealth. Progressives such as Princeton economist Paul Krugman seized on Mr. Piketty’s thesis to justify policies they have long wanted—namely, very high taxes on the wealthy.

Now in an extraordinary about-face, Mr. Piketty has backtracked, undermining the policy prescriptions many have based on his conclusions. In About Capital in the Twenty-First Century, slated for May publication in the American Economic Review but already available online, Mr. Piketty writes that far too much has been read into his thesis.

Though his formula helps explain extreme and persistent wealth inequality before World War I, Mr. Piketty maintains, it doesn’t say much about the past 100 years. “I do not view r>g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the 20th century,” he writes, “or for forecasting the path of inequality in the 21st century.”  

Instead, Mr. Piketty argues in his new paper that political shocks, institutional changes and economic development played a major role in inequality in the past and will likely do so in the future.

When he narrows his focus to what he calls “labor income inequality”—the difference in compensation between front-line workers and CEOs—Mr. Piketty consigns his famous formula to irrelevance. “In addition, I certainly do not believe that r>g is a useful tool for the discussion of rising inequality of labor income: other mechanisms and policies are much more relevant here, e.g. supply and demand of skills and education.” He correctly distinguishes between income and wealth, and he takes a long historic perspective: “Wealth inequality is currently much less extreme than a century ago.”

Wall Street Journal, Why Thomas Piketty’s Revisions Don’t Fix His Book, by Salim Furth:

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March 16, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Final Day for Proposals: Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

Today is the final day to respond to the Call for Proposals issued by the Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”):

Mid-CareerAMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently-tenured professors of tax law for scholarly discussion. Our inaugural meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 4 & 5, 2015, on the campus of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. We anticipate that official proceedings will wrap up by noon on June 5. Thanks to the generous support of Law, Finance and Governance @ Ohio State and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, AMT is able to provide attendees with conference meals and refreshments. AMT can commit to ensuring that these meals will not be “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.” Attendees will be expected to cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

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March 16, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo: Who Says You Need a Law Degree to Practice Law: Limited License Legal Technicians

LLLTWashington Post op-ed:  Who Says You Need a Law Degree to Practice Law?, by Robert Ambrogi:

Michelle Cummings never went to law school. Her formal college education ended in 1998, with a paralegal studies degree from Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. But this summer, Cummings could start taking on legal clients who need help filing for divorce or child custody. Like a fully licensed attorney, she’ll be able to open an office and set her own fees.

Cummings is part of Washington state’s ambitious experiment to revolutionize access to legal services, particularly among the poor. ... Washington state’s answer is a new class of legal professionals called “limited license legal technicians.” They are the nurse practitioners of the legal world. Rather than earning a pricey law degree, candidates take about a year of classes at a community college, then a licensing exam. Once they do, they can help clients prepare court documents and perform legal research, just as lawyers do. “It will save time and heartache,” says Paula Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar Association. “It’s groundbreaking.”

California, Oregon, Colorado and New Mexico say they may follow Washington’s lead. The program, if it spreads, could transform how middle- and lower-class Americans use the law. ...

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Kahn: A Tax Audible: Coaches and Buyouts

Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), A Tax Audible: Coaches and Buyouts, 68 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc ___ (2015):

CHarlie StrongAfter Mack Brown resigned, the University of Texas, a school that has one of the premier football programs in the country, looked to hire a new head football coach. The school set its eyes on Charlie Strong. One roadblock was that Strong was still employed as the head football coach of the University of Louisville. In order to be released, Strong’s contract required a buyout payment from Strong to the University of Louisville for $4.375 million. The typical method of handling this has the new university employer reimburse the coach for the buyout or directly pay the buyout to the old university employer. Under those structures, many schools took the position that such payments were includible in the coach’s income for federal tax purposes. The University of Texas, however, accomplished its desired result in a seemingly unique manner that attempted to avoid the income tax issue. In this article, I will explain that this new structure does not improve the prospects for excluding the payment from the coach’s taxable income. However, this does not mean the buyout payment is taxable to the coach. Instead, I will review two independent policy justifications for not taxing the coach regardless of which structure is used.

March 16, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deborah Jones Merritt: What Happened to the Law School Class of 2010?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession:

Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their JDs in 2010. The analysis offers strong evidence of structural shifts in the legal market. Job outcomes have improved only marginally for the Class of 2010, those outcomes contrast sharply with results for earlier classes, and law firm jobs have dropped markedly. In addition to discussing these results, the Article examines correlations between job outcomes and gender, law school prestige, and geography. In a concluding section, it offers four predictions about the future of the legal market and the economics of legal education.

Table 4A

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Harvard Professor Sues Over Tenure Denial

HarvardBoston Globe, Harvard Professor Challenges School’s Denial of Tenure:

Harvard anthropology professor Kimberly Theidon has a dossier of letters from the university attesting to her “outstanding achievement,” including when she was awarded one of a small number of endowed chairs for untenured professors and when she received an unusually large salary increase.

Theidon says she was told her department had voted unanimously to grant her tenure, and e-mails from colleagues described “stellar” reviews of her work from scholars in her field.

But none of that mattered in the end. Harvard turned down Theidon for tenure last spring, and she must depart the university at the end of the month.

To Theidon, the rejection was evidence of both gender discrimination and retaliation for her support of students victimized by sexual assault and sexual harassment, just as the university was facing a burgeoning student movement alleging the college was mishandling sexual assault cases.

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Joint Tax Committee: General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 113th Congress

Joint Tax CommitteeThe Joint Committee on Taxation has released General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 113th Congress (JCS-1-15) (287 pages):

This document, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in consultation with the staffs of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance, provides an explanation of tax legislation enacted in the 113th Congress. The explanation follows the chronological order of the tax legislation as signed into law. 

For each provision, the document includes a description of present law, explanation of the provision, and effective date. Present law describes the law in effect immediately prior to enactment and does not reflect changes to the law made by the provision or by subsequent legislation. Reasons for change are included based on Committee report language for provisions reported by a Committee. For provisions enacted in bills that went directly to the House and Senate floors without a Committee report, no reasons for change are included in this document. 

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March 16, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 676

IRS Logo 2WND, Do U.S. Presidents Really Make 'Enemies Lists'?, by Joseph Farah:

Four years ago, I wrote a column called “Obama’s enemies list” predicting Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service would subject his domestic political adversaries to politically motivated audits.

How did I know it was coming?

For one thing, my personal tax return in 2009, Obama’s first year in office, was audited. Every single one of my documented deductions was disallowed. The IRS claimed my receipts for books I had purchased for my work as an author, publisher of books, producer of movies and news executive were not substantive enough. They were all Amazon-generated receipts that included dates, purchase price and the fact that they were books. The IRS insisted the receipts had to include the titles of the books purchased. I didn’t think the IRS had any business knowing what I was reading. I still don’t. Because I read a lot of books, it represented a lot of money – more than $8,000 in what the IRS claimed were overdue taxes, with penalties.

Before having my personal tax returns audited in 2009, I had never before faced one in 40 years of professional life. Since then, I have been audited every year Obama has been in office. That’s either a striking coincidence that defies astronomical odds or a striking indictment of IRS policies under Obama. Think about it: No personal audits for four decades, then five out of five years since Obama took office. I fully expect to be audited again for 2014, 2015 and 2016 – Obama’s last three years in office.

But I also expected it because of what I witnessed in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. During his first two years in office, Democrats had control of the House and Senate. But in the 1994 midterm election, Republicans took over the House in a stunning repudiation of Clinton’s attempt to nationalize health care. The White House was shocked and embarked on a campaign to identify its political enemies and neutralize them. I was high on the list of those targets and paid a big price for investigating corruption and uncovering scandals in the Clinton administration.

Long forgotten by the press, which writes first draft of history, is the fact that Clinton’s “enemies,” lots of them, were targeted for IRS audits: They included individuals, corporations and nonprofits.

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March 16, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Should University Presidents Play a Bigger Role in Faculty Hiring and Tenure?

Inside Higher Ed, Wanting More Say:

Do most presidents really want a bigger role in faculty hiring and tenure decisions? Inside Higher Ed’s annual Survey of College and University Presidents suggests they do. And some of them are playing a larger role than faculty leaders might find reasonable. Ten percent of private college presidents, for example, say they've blocked the hire of scholars whose views they strongly disagreed with. While those findings didn't shock shared governance experts, some were uncomfortable with presidential sentiments.

According to the poll, some 55 percent of presidents say they should take a more active role in decisions about which faculty members to hire. Two-thirds agree or strongly agree that they should take a more active role in deciding who gets tenure. Just 8 and 5 percent of presidents strongly disagree with those statements, respectively. ...

All institutions by sector





Presidents Should Take More Active Role in faculty Hiring

5-Strongly agree (%)
















1-Strongly disagree




Presidents Should Take More Active Role in Faculty Tenure

5-Strongly agree (%)
















1-Strongly disagree




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March 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #3 and #4:

  1. [336 Downloads]  Why Corporate Tax Reform Can Happen, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [223 Downloads]  David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy, How to Be an Adult, and Other Mysteries of the Universe, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  3. [171 Downloads]  The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: American Legal Imperialism?, by Bruce W. Bean (Michigan State) & Abbey Wright Farnsworth
  4. [168 Downloads]  Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions, by Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State)
  5. [147 Downloads]  Inevitable: Sports Gambling, State Regulation, and the Pursuit of Revenue, by Anastasios Kaburakis (St. Louis), Ryan Rodenberg (Florida State) & John Holden (Florida State)

March 15, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)