Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I, Grantmore, feel the rage

GrantmoreGreetings, Nancy and fellow readers of Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot:

Thanks to Nancy for inviting me to contribute to this page. I am especially grateful that she has invoked my name in the fight against Chadsworth Osborne Junior III. I agree that it is the responsibility of every lover of knowledge and justice in the legal academy to oppose the scourge known as PrivilegeLaw. In future posts I will reveal, one by one, the true secrets of my despicable classmate Chadsworth.

In the meanwhile, I exhort everyone to support Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot, Class Bias, and MoneyLaw. And in case you haven't visited, please drop by my own blog, named simply Grantmore, and my SSRN page. I may not have a body, but I do have a blog!

Best wishes to all,

Gil Grantmore
Webmaster
Jurisdynamics Network

Touching a nerve at The National Jurist?

I just received an email from National Jurist:
As you are already aware, in our latest January issue of The National Jurist, we covered the story on law schools and their relationship with the U.S. News & Word Report’s rankings. We seem to have touched a nerve and as a result, many discussions have arisen on the subject. We have posted a link to your blog site on http://www.nationaljurist.com/ on our blogs page. To keep this important discussion going, we would also appreciate if you could post our link as well. You can follow the discussion or join in the conversation yourself by e-mailing comments to Rebecca@CypressMagazines.com.

Sincerely,
Krista Burnett
National Jurist
Marketing Coordinator
858-300-3203 ext. 303

I'm certainly happy to do my part. If you'd like to weigh in on the story, or on my posts about the story (see here for my post on the National Jurist story, here for my MoneyLaw post on the story, and here for my post on the AALS Workshop on The Rankings Game), you can do that here or on The National Jurist's website.

For those whose clicking fingers are already too pooped, here's National Jurist's post about the response to its lead article in the current issue:

Legally Blogged

In our latest issue of The National Jurist, we covered the issue of law schools and their relationship with the U.S. News & World Report's rankings. We seem to have touched a nerve. You can follow the discussion by clicking on the blog links below -- or join in the conversation yourself. E-mail comments to Rebecca@CypressMagazines.com[.]

* CALI’s Pre-Law Blog: "Law School Rankings" (His follow-up post is here.)

* Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports: "How Far will Law Schools Go to Win the Rankings Race?"

* TaxProf Blog: "National Jurist: How Far Will Law Schools Go to Win the Rankings Race?"

* Law School Innovation: "Does US News promote good or bad innovation?"

* MoneyLaw: "National Jurist: How Far Will Law Schools Go to Win the Rankings Race?"

* MoneyLaw: "Am I the poster child for why the USNWR rankings are bad?"

* Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot: "Closure (?) on National Jurist"

* Shangrila Towers: "School: Much ado about nothing"

* Empirical Legal Studies: "USNWR Gaming and the Failure of Self-Regulation"

So please do weigh in: What'd you think about the article? About the comments in all of the blogs?

Monday, January 29, 2007

MoneyLaw, Class Bias in Higher Education, and PrivilegeLaw

Jim Chen, over at MoneyLaw, pointed out Chadsworth Osborne Junior 3d's blog, PrivilegeLaw, the sworn enemy blog of MoneyLaw and Jeff Harrison's blog, Class Bias in Higher Education. In Jim's post, Two princes tackle PrivilegeLaw, Jim uses the classic "popular culture defense" to call attention to PrivilegeLaw's anachronistic view of legal education.

Sure, Jim, you can take the high road. I, however, now believe in fighting fire with fire, so I went straight to someone who might have been one of Osborne Junior 3d's contemporaries, Gil Grantmore. Gil has his own blog, and more important, he has some pretty interesting stories, some of which tangentially might relate to Osborne Junior 3d's performance in law school.

Perhaps a détente might be in order?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Only two degrees to Fall Out Boy....

Thanks to Alan Childress, of Legal Profession Blog fame (among other things) and his post about my Bacon number, I started thinking about other types of connections and numbers. I have a Fall Out Boy number of two, thanks to Pete Wentz, who did a wonderful job on the University of Houston Law Center's strategic plan. Pete's son is also named Pete Wentz, and he's one of FOB's band members. I really like how tightly FOB's lyrics are written. Check out Dance, Dance and Sugar, We're Goin Down as examples. So the Pete in the picture is pretty darn talented. So's his dad.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Closure (?) on National Jurist article

After mulling things over, I sent Rebecca Luczycki, Editor in Chief of Cypress Magazines' National Jurist and preLaw publications, an email to explain that I wasn't exactly thrilled with her description of the meeting in the first paragraph of National Jurist's The Rankings Game article. (If you want to see the Word version of my email and her response, click here.)

Why wasn't I thrilled? Well (and I might be a tad sensitive about this), I wasn't happy (1) that, after two-and-a-half hours of a loaded meeting, I was so emotionally drained and frustrated that I'd ended up shedding a few tears in public (embarrassing enough at the time), and (2) that the stories (Houston Chronicle and National Jurist) reporting the tears might have been a nice hook for the reporters but certainly also added to stereotypes about women executives "not being tough enough" to lead.

In any event, I wrote Ms. Luczycki a letter, she apologized, and life moves on.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Closure on SSRN--two comments, and then two new questions

Thanks, everyone, for weighing in on my questions about SSRN "top 10 downloads" lists. Two of the comments were so good that I want to recap them here:

Here is an SSRN Top Downloads story: A friend accidentally gave his article a fairly obscure label. Soon he got a congratulatory e-mail notifying him his article was one of the Top Ten Downloads from a certain legal subject area. He had, it turned out, accomplished this with ONE download, the very download he himself undertook to verify that the article had been successfully uploaded.
As regards your SSRN inquiry, I've noted that my school, UC Davis, has just begun publicizing the "top 10 downloads." As Ann Bartow's story demonstrates, however, the list is not particularly meaningful. Certain subject areas may have very small readerships. I do not list my own "top 10 downloads" on my c.v. I believe that traditional indicators of influence--e.g., citation in a legal decision, excerpting in a casebook, anthologizing in a book--are more revealing.
Thanks, Ann & Anupam! Your posts demonstrate that there's no easy way to measure the effect of someone's scholarship on the field. Instead, we'd have to do much more intensive searches, in part because people use a variety of different ways to circulate their work (articles, books, chapters, blogs, etc.).

And now, two new questions:

(1) Has anyone come up with an easy way to do the more intensive type of search for how and where one's work is cited? It's easy to check for citations in articles and cases, but what about checking for citations in books, chapters, blogs, and other types of publications?

(2) How do we then account for what the late, lamented (at least by me) Spy magazine used to call "Logrolling in Our Time"?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A little Ellen Degeneres to start your week out right

I've been an Ellen Degeneres fan for a long time, and I record her show on M-F. Thanks to two other friends of mine, who happen to share many of my musical tastes, I saw a certain Saturday Night Live video about a week ago. I didn't particularly like it, but I love Ellen's parody of it, which I found on wikipedia. Enjoy!

Mary L. Dudziak and the Legal History Blog

Mary L. Dudziak just posted a comment in response to my post on figuring out SSRN downloads, and I wanted to upgrade her comment to a new post so that I could make sure that folks can see the two links that she sent along. Here's her post:

Just found your new blog via the Feminist Law Professors blog/Law Blog Central, and wanted to say welcome from the Legal History Blog! For comments on rankings (SSRN & others) over at the Legal History Blog, here are a couple of links: Your New Year's Resolution: An SSRN Download A Day, and Chronicle of Higher Ed reports new Scholarly Ranking Service.

Best wishes, Mary Dudziak

Thanks, Mary, and while I'm at it, a shout-out to Chris Fairman at Ohio State, who just emailed me to tell me how to find the "top 10 downloads" when I get one of those "you're in the top 10 downloads" notices. Thanks, Chris!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Figuring out SSRN downloads--and some questions for everyone

There's been a lot of recent blogging going on regarding the rankings (see, e.g., MoneyLaw's recent posts here (Jeff Harrison), here (Al Brophy, also mentioning Brian Leiter's and Anthony Ciolli's links to the Boalt Hall law student's study on which members of the tenured faculty there are publishing articles), here (Paul Caron), and here (my own post about the "joy" of being a poster child in the anti-USNWR rankings fight); see also Paul Caron's post over at the TaxProf Blog about the National Jurist's lead story on the rankings).

Here's a related question, as law schools search for new ways to tout faculty scholarship (preferably at low cost): Does your school tout instances of SSRN notification of "top 10 download paper" status? I know that UHLC used to do that (Doug Moll & Jacqueline Weaver each received notices like this), but I don't know what other schools do. Is this something that your school (1) keeps track of & (2) publicizes (a) to internal (law school & university) audiences or (b) to external audiences? Do any of you mention receiving this type of notice on your CVs? Would it matter to you if you received info about "top 10 downloads" from other schools? (And would it change your opinion of those schools, either for better or for worse?)

Thanks--looking forward to hearing from you!

My response to Tony D'Amato's post about governance

Tony, thanks for asking me to clarify my earlier post. I don't think that university presidents as a group are wiser or better than are faculty members, although I can think of at least three university presidents who are pretty darn wise, each in a different way.

But university presidents do have knowledge that is different from the knowledge that faculty members have (at least in most professors' day jobs--I'm sure that most faculty members know something about, e.g., budgeting and planning because they have to use that type of knowledge to run their own lives).

To critique your analogy, presidents aren't janitors with keys to the building; they're more like the principals, with duties to make sure that the school runs well and stays (gets?) funded appropriately. They're both managers and leaders (which is one of the reasons that it's such a hard job--very few people are good at both managing and leading).

I think that, unless faculty members want to spend the enormous amount of time that presidents spend in meetings, talking with constituents (trustees/regents, faculty, staff, students, donors, etc.), appearing at events, and coordinating the countless administrative departments that keep the university running, there are certain types of decisions to which faculty members should defer, even after providing input.

I wouldn't want some provost or president telling me what to research, what to teach, how to teach, where to publish, when to hold office hours, etc. (although such input is always, well, interesting to hear), because I know more about my field than most presidents and provost do, and because supervising my research and teaching is not the president's or provost's job. I think it's fair to accord the president and provost the same respect in terms of his or her own job duties.

Of course, if a president or provost (or dean) is failing at his or her job duties (and no, I don't think that gaming the rankings is in either job description), then the university's constituencies can go about -- in a reasoned and procedurally fair way -- suggesting that it's time for that person to leave his or her post.

For what it's worth, I also believe that faculty members can provide input but shouldn't micromanage how other staff members (for example, career services, admissions, PR, staff assistants, etc.) do their jobs unless they have the time to understand everything that the staff member is doing and in learning what the staff member already knows about the limitations and possibilities of the job. This reminds me of a comment that I heard in a movie once about having a sense of humor (most people think that they have one, but most people don't). Too many professors think that they understand what a staff member does (or should be doing), but they don't really understand (and probably don't want to take the time to learn).

When I was an administrator, I often got the feeling that professors thought that my job was easy and theirs was difficult. In fact, both types of jobs are difficult, but in very different ways. I just wish that both administrators and faculty could see those differences and respect them.

Does my response answer your question about what I meant?

Mazel tov, Alan!

Over at the Legal Professions blog, Jeff Lipshaw has announced that Alan Childress has just been named the Meyer Professor of Civil Procedure at Tulane. That's great news all around, so congrats are due to Alan and to Tulane!

Why should faculty defer to university presidents? (A post from Tony D'Amato)

Hi, all: Tony tried to comment on my post on the NYT story about university presidents, but the intricacies of Blogger are such that neither he nor I could figure out how to make his comment work, so I'm posting it here for him, below. And now, to his post:

Universities got started when various scholars, tutoring pupils, began living close to each other so that students could cut down the travel time going from one professor to another. Then the faculty, out of the fees they collected from the students, built a central building. They got donations. They hired janitors to upkeep the building.

The head janitor is now the president of the university, deemed to be someone with greater knowledge than any faculty member or, given Arrow's theorem, smarter than all of them put together. He hires hordes of sycophants, called vice-presidents, who make more than the professors because they, too, are what the university is really all about. Profs are fungible, but a CEO walks on water?

And you want us to defer to these administrators? Are we talking Animal Farm here?

Anthony D'Amato
Leighton Professor of Law
Northwestern University

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

And while I'm on the subject of funny videos....

This one--of Jon Stewart interviewing Steve Carell on The Daily Show--demonstrates modern comedic timing at its best.

If you teach business associations or antitrust....

For those of you who fall asleep before The Daily Show and The Colbert Report air at night, here's a clip that I saw a couple of nights ago. Stephen Colbert decides to do a market report, a la Mad Money w/Jim Cramer, and he covers (1) Cramer himself, (2) why oil is a good buy these days, and (3) how AT&T evolved into at&t (this last bit starts at 3:40, and I marvel at the graphics). Worth viewing.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The fundamental misunderstanding about shared governance

I don't know how many of you saw the New York Times piece on university governance: At Universities, Plum Post at Top Is Now Shaky. One comment in particular gave me an "aha" moment. The comment by Dr. Krauss at Case Western—that Case’s then-president was “ultimately a colleague”—demonstrates the widely held but fundamental misunderstanding of a university president’s role vis-à-vis the faculty.

Faculty members are fond of saying that a department chair, a dean, or a president is simply “first among equals.” That phrase connotes the sense that any other colleague on the faculty can second-guess the president’s decisions, even without the same access to information that a president might have. The phrase also connotes the idea that a group of professors should ask the president to stand down when his or her decisions become unpopular.

It would be difficult to imagine someone outside of the academy referring to his boss as a colleague, to be criticized and possibly fired by his employees. But within the academy, some conceptions of shared governance—the principle that allocates jurisdiction over certain matters to the faculty and jurisdiction over other matters to the administration—often get confused with the idea that the roles of a president and a professor are roughly the same.

Make no mistake about it: the roles differ greatly. Many presidents now are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they must work with multiple constituencies, including the board of trustees, the faculty, the rest of the administration, the students, the staff, the alumni, the donors, and any regulatory agencies. Their lives and their decisions are public. We professors, on the other hand, have the luxury of being able to work in places and at times that are most conducive to our own productivity, and when we are done for the day, we can put our work down until the next day. Moreover, if we make a bad policy decision, the buck doesn’t stop with us, especially if we have tenure. The buck, however, always stops with the president, even for decisions that are within the faculty’s jurisdiction.

I'm sure that some of the animosity between university administrators and faculty members lies with the pay discrepancy of the two types of positions. I'm not condoning high presidential pay packages just for the sake of presidential retention—that notion smacks too much of our current problems with CEO compensation—but faculty members should realize that the demands on a university president are different in kind from the demands on a professor.

In reality, a president can be a colleague before the presidency. A president can be a colleague after the presidency. But during the presidency, the president is not a colleague but a leader, with the benefits and the burdens of that role.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Blogger & BEPRESS

I've just added a BEPRESS page, having learned about this website at the AALS Annual Meeting. I use the BEPRESS page to describe my scholarship, and the links in BEPRESS are my SSRN links. The process of building a site takes about an hour or so, and it gives me a different way of presenting the information on my CV. The new Blogger makes it easy for a technology Luddite like me to build a web page, and I have a web-based document host site for the documents I want to upload (built on the free version of Microsoft Office Live).

For those of you who want to give it a try and who don't have easy access to the brains and talent of Jim Chen, the Blogger/BEPRESS combo is a handy way to start.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Over at MoneyLaw, some new factors for rating law schools

I just finished a post over at MoneyLaw on a new way of rating schools, focusing on the current black box that is between admissions statistics and graduation/placement rates. (Finally, some talk about rating the internal life of a school!)

If we examined whether a school is mentschlekhkeyt or unmentschlekhkeyt, maybe we'd give the school's potential students and potential faculty candidates a more useful picture of the place. Places like Ohio State would, I think, come out near the top. We could reward environments with high standards and nurturing environments--places that model the sorts of lawyer behavior that we want our students to learn. Schools that choose to create some standards for behavior (and those standards must be peer-created, not imposed from above) should, over time, move up in mentschlekhkeyt ratings.

Monday, January 08, 2007

And now for something completely different (ballroom dancing) ...



Some of you know that I took up ballroom and Latin dancing a few years ago, as a way of working out the stress of my then-job as dean. This weekend, as I was typing away on emails, ABC's weekend edition of Good Morning America (the link's at http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=2776515, but when you click to it, you can't get back to this page, so you might want to open it in a new window) showed the dance studio that I attend in Houston, King's Dancing Center. (When I head out to Las Vegas, I'll also dance at SuperShag Vegas.)

I picked up ballroom dancing first in the Bay Area, fell in love with it there, and started competing seriously out of Sam Sodano's studio in Columbus, Ohio, when I started teaching at Ohio State. When I became an associate dean at OSU, I gave it up due to lack of time. Nine years later, I started from scratch here in Houston. If you've watched TLC's Ballroom Bootcamp, you've probably seen my teacher, Billy King, on TV.

So why dance? First off, it really is a way of reducing stress. When I was having a bad day at work, I could leave the stress behind for a bit while I was taking lessons. When I was frustrated at my dancing, I could take some comfort in the fact that I was enjoying my work. When neither part of my life was going well, I came home and savored my family (cats included) and friends.

Second, dancing gives me an outlet for my love of performing. It's one of the few ways to play "dress-up" as an adult, and it's great exercise. It's not inexpensive, and that's one of the many reasons I consult--to pay for my dancing habit.

Finally, I have a whole set of friends from dancing that I'd likely never have met outside of dancing. Amateur ballroom dancers (which is what I am) are generally friendly, not competitive in the mean sense, happy to encourage others, and interesting. Most of the pro teachers and coaches that I've met have been wonderful to me, and I'm learning a great deal from them. It takes a lot of intelligence to dance well (and more coordination than I have at times).

I visited with a friend recently who works so hard that there's no time for hobbies. I felt the same way for a while, but I learned that I need my hobbies to keep that part of my personality alive. So for me, thank goodness for dancing!

Friday, January 05, 2007

This year's AALS was different....

I'm back from this year's AALS meeting in DC, and I don't know whether it was the panel discussions, the reunions with old friends, the shockingly long timespan between my first conference in 1992 and this year, or my recent return to being a law professor--but I had a wonderful time.

If any of you went to the rankings workshop, I hope you came away with some new ideas. Don't forget to download Andy Morriss's & Bill Henderson's new article, Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings. I keep thinking that there should be a Law Schools Rated Almanac, just like the old Places Rated Almanac, which took every population microcenter in the country and rated each one according to useful and verifiable categories (climate, health care, crime, recreation, educational institutions, etc.) Although it included a weighted score at the end, the organization of the book also allowed readers to consider their own priorities. (Doing a law school version of the Places Rated Almanac would be a lovely follow-up to my old article, Ratings, Not Rankings: Why U.S. News & World Report Shouldn't Want to Be Compared to Time and Newsweek--or the New Yorker.) The panelists all day, along with the leaders of the breakout sessions, did a great job. And for those of you who think that we should simply use SSRN downloads by author to rank law schools, just remember that Chris Fairman of Ohio State has cornered the market for all time--at least until six more people write articles with George Carlin's other famous words.

Last aside on SSRN for this post: I got one of those nice notes that start off with "Your Paper Makes SSRN Top Ten List." That, of course, led to a 45-minute search for exactly which two of LSN's journals were the journals with this particular list. The email referred to two lists: "IO: Firm Structure, Purpose, Organization & Contracting" and "Structure: Governance & Ownership (Topic)." If anyone knows how to locate the specific places to find those lists, please let me know.

I received that email just shortly before I went into the Section for the Law Dean's panel discussion on "What I Wished I'd Known Before." Not quite sure how far to go, given the context, I alluded to some of what I wish I'd known before, much of which referred to Not Quite "Them," Not Quite "Us": Why It's Difficult for Former Deans to Go Home Again.

My guess is that everyone on the panel came up with many, many more ideas after we'd finished the session. Here are some of mine for folks who are negotiating to become deans, all of which I forgot to say at the session:
  1. Make sure that your faculty slot is already funded. When I was negotiating the first time around, I didn't realize that there was a chance that my own faculty slot was tentative, based on whether my predecessor dean (who's now the chancellor there) left UNL for other options. Make sure that the budget already includes your own faculty line, or you'll find yourself cobbling together a budget sufficient to pay for yourself, let alone any potential new hires.
  2. There should be a mix, in the negotiation, of agreements on what your school needs (e.g., more lines, upgraded classrooms, different overhead charges, etc.) and what you and your loved ones will need. You should put your school's needs first, but so many of us (me included) are so excited to be serving as deans that we often forget to ask for what we will need as well. Which leads me to . . .
  3. PLAN AN EXIT STRATEGY that includes not just what your salary and length of leave will be, but also (a) whether you'll have to pay the leave back if you want to go elsewhere (glad I addressed this one, since I'm off to UNLV after this semester), (b) where your office will be located and what secretarial help you'll get (my uncle did this when he became emeritus, and he was glad that he did, especially as administrators changed over time), (c) what kind of research and travel budget you'll have (Ray Nimmer has been great about this), and (d) what your title, post-deaning, will be (Alex Johnson, for example, has dean emeritus status at Minnesota). And don't forget to plan your days once you leave--this is true for all research leaves, not just leaves for former deans. Time can slip away quickly.
But I digress: back to the AALS. What made it different for me this year was, more than anything else, the healing power of reconnecting in person with good friends who have been part of my support system this last year in so many ways. I am truly touched by the outpouring of kindness, and I'm still very grateful.

When I was a wet-behind-the-ears law professor in 1992, I was intimidated by the sheer size of the AALS annual meeting, and I hung out mostly with the other two OSU new hires that year, Ned Foley and Kathy Northern. It took me years to get comfortable hanging out in section meetings, let alone to speak at them. Now AALS's annual meeting feels like a favorite shoe, not too worn-in, but not too new.