Category Archives: Legal Academia

Call-for-Papers, AALS Poverty Law Section: “Working But Poor: Understanding and Confronting the Working Poor Phenomenon”

The AALS Section on Poverty Law will sponsor a session at the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting. The title of the program is Working But Poor: Understanding and Confronting the Working Poor Phenomenon. In collaboration with the Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law, the Section seeks papers for publication and presentation.  The deadline for submissions is August 8, 2014. See this link for additional information: AALS Poverty Section Call for Papers 2015 Program.

UNC’s Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity presents a High School Poverty Curriculum

Though framed as a High School Poverty Curriculum, the links and articles included are good and could be mined for law school courses as well or for non-poverty law classes that still want to have a session on poverty.

Update on the story in Sonia Nazario’s book Enrique’s Journey

Sonia Nazario, the author of Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother (2006), published an op-ed that updates readers on Enrique’s immigration struggles.  For those who want to teach an immigration story as part of a poverty law class, the book is great, as is the associated photo essay.

Op-Ed: “Amid The Debate, J.D.’s True Value Gets Lost” AND my related ppt slides

Op-Ed: Ray Brescia, Amid The Debate, J.D.’s True Value Gets Lost, National Law Journal, Aug. 5, 2013.

And since I recently made a related draft powerpoint on the issues in legal education and jobs, I have attached it here: Future of Legal Education and Student Debt.  It has links to a number of the related stories and articles.

Nice Interactive Infographic on Inequality

From the Economic Policy Institute:  Worth perhaps assigning as an activity before a class.

New Article on Law Schools: “Will the Income-Based Repayment Program Enable Law Schools to Continue to Provide ‘Harvard-Style’ Legal Education?”

New Article on Law Schools: Gregory Scott Crespi, Will the Income-Based Repayment Program Enable Law Schools to Continue to Provide ‘Harvard-Style’ Legal Education?, SSRN July 2013.  Abstract below:

Legal education provided in the prevailing “Harvard-style” now costs students on average between $160,000 and $250,000 for their three years of study, the precise amount depending on the law school attended, the alternative employment opportunities foregone, and the amount of scholarship assistance provided. However, the median starting salary for full-time, entry-level legal positions has declined in recent years to only $60,000/year, and upwards of 45% of recent law graduates are now unable to obtain full-time legal employment, and this dismal employment situation is unlikely to significantly improve over the next few years. While the attractive job opportunities still available to graduates of the elite law schools justify the large majority of those graduates incurring the high costs of legal education, even under unsubsidized federal student loan terms, the far more limited job prospects facing the majority of graduates of non-elite law schools do not justify their incurring those costs on those terms. However, the existence of the Income-Based Repayment (“IBR”) program as implemented by the Obama Administration’s new Pay As You Earn (“PAYE”) rules may significantly change this situation for those latter students.

In this article I conduct several different detailed analyses of the IBR program under the liberalized PAYE rules, and of the related and even more generous Public Service Loan Forgiveness (“PSLF”) program. My conclusion is that the IBR loan repayment and debt forgiveness provisions are sufficiently attractive so that Harvard-style legal education is now again a financially viable proposition for many law students, not only for those students attending the 10 most elite law schools but also for many students attending non-elite law schools, specifically those students who will graduate in the upper half of their class or better at the 40 or so upper- or mid-tier non-elite law schools, and also for those students who will graduate in the upper quarter of their class or better from one of the more than 150 lower-tier law schools. For most other law students, however, who in the current employment market have only a slim chance of obtaining a full-time entry-level legal position paying even $60,000/year, and who have virtually no chance of obtaining a qualifying public service legal position under the PSLF program, attending law school is no longer economically justified even with the IBR and PSLF loan repayment options.

The continuation of Harvard-style legal education at the non-elite law schools will depend to a large extent upon the willingness of their students to continue to borrow the large sums needed to pay for this expensive education and then enroll in the IBR or PSLF programs to reduce the burden of repaying those debts. My analysis leads me to somewhat optimistically conclude that many prospective law students considering attending upper- or mid-tier non-elite law schools should go ahead and matriculate, taking out the needed student loans and then enrolling in either the IBR or PSLF programs to contractually lock in these favorable repayment and loan forgiveness terms. If they choose to do so then these schools should be able to continue to offer Harvard-style education, albeit probably with significantly smaller enrollments and in a moderately more financially stringent manner. Whether these prospective students will in fact be willing to attend and enroll in the IBR or PSLF programs on a large scale in the coming years, however, is for several reasons yet uncertain. On the other hand, I conclude more pessimistically that attending lower-tier law schools can no longer be financially justified even under the IBR or PSLF programs for any but the best of their students, and consequently the longer-term prospects for the survival of those many law schools is not very promising.

Finally, one should not assume that the IBR and PSLF programs will necessarily continue to be available for law students indefinitely. The taxpayer subsidies of uncertain but possibly substantial size that these programs provide to law students, a group of people that are drawn disproportionately from upper-income socioeconomic groups, and indirectly to law schools, generally relatively affluent institutions, and to relatively very affluent law faculty makes these programs an attractive target for political leaders who are looking for opportunities to reduce federal deficits, particularly at a time when there is a pronounced oversupply of new lawyers relative to the employment opportunities.

The elite law schools will surely survive in any case, but law school deans and other legal education leaders may only have a relatively short period of time to take proactive steps that will significantly reduce law school costs and tuitions for the upper- and mid-tier non-elite schools so that those schools can survive should the IBR program be substantially curtailed or even eliminated for law students. The substantial curtailment of the IBR program for law students would, however, probably lead to the closing of many if not most of the lower-tier law schools no matter what efforts they may undertake to try to avoid this fate.

AALS Poverty and Clinic Sections’ Call-for-Papers

CALL FOR PAPERS – AALS 2014 Joint Program of the Sections on Poverty Law and Clinical Legal Education

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the “War on Poverty,” the AALS sections on Poverty Law and Clinical Legal Education will sponsor a joint program at the AALS Annual Meeting, entitled 50 Years After the “War on Poverty:”  Evaluating Past Enactments and Innovative Approaches for Addressing Poverty in the 21st Century.

The program will explore the effectiveness of the federal “War on Poverty” programs in addressing/eradicating poverty, and participants will discuss how amendments to those laws have had an impact on their effectiveness.  The “War on Poverty” programs include: Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF,” formerly Assistance for Families and Dependent Children), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP,” formerly known as food stamps), federally funded legal services (originally under the Office of Economic Opportunity, and now the Legal Services Corporation), Head Start, and the No Child Left Behind Act (originally the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), among others. In addition, the joint program will explore newer ways that the federal government has attempted to address poverty, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Family and Medical Leave Act and others.

Among the questions to be considered are:  In what ways were individual “War on Poverty” programs effective and why?  How and why were those programs ineffective?  How did amendments to the War on Poverty enactments affect their efficacy in ameliorating poverty?  What impact have exclusions from the poverty programs on such grounds as immigration status had on poverty?  How do more recent federal laws affect poverty?  Do they work with or in opposition to prior federal laws?  Can the walls between federal poverty programs be broken down to more effectively address poverty? If so, how?   How have communities responded to the “War on Poverty” programs and what impact has their efforts had on reshaping the poverty programs?  What are concrete and innovative ways for the federal government to address poverty in the 21st Century for both individuals and communities? In collaboration with the Boston College Journal on Law and Social Justice, the joint program seeks papers for presentation and publication relating to the program’s topic.  Submissions may include papers, on substantive law, interdisciplinary innovation or analysis, policy, empirical work, or clinical pedagogy, that either evaluate the effectiveness of the federal role in addressing poverty over the past 50 years, address how the federal government can address poverty in the 21st Century, or both.

The Boston College Journal of Law and Social Justice will publish selected papers, no more than two of which will be selected for presentation at the joint program in New Orleans.  Selected authors must agree not to publish their work in another journal.  Not all papers selected for publication will be presented at the annual meeting. 

Submission information:  Papers should be submitted by email attachment to  As the Planning Committee will use a blind review process, a cover letter with the author’s name and contact information should accompany the paper.  The paper itself, including the title page and footnotes must not contain any references identifying the author or the author’s school.  The submitting author is responsible for taking any steps necessary to redact self-identifying text or footnotes.  Near complete papers should be submitted by August 9, 2013.  Authors of papers chosen for presentation and/or publication will be notified by September 27, 2013.  Final papers are due by December 2013.

Eligibility: Full-time faculty members of AALS member law schools are eligible to submit papers. Foreign, visiting (without a full-time position at an AALS member law school), and adjunct faculty members; graduate students; fellows and non-law school faculty are not eligible to submit. Faculty at fee-paid non-member schools are also ineligible.

For more information, please contact Emily Suski, Planning Committee Co-Chair for the Poverty Law Section at esuski@gsu.eduor Hina Shah, Planning Committee Member for the Clinical Legal Education Section at

For students (and maybe professors) because it is exam time.

A couple of fun videos to help keep perspective on law school and exams.

1. I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.

2. F You Law Revue Parody.  (older but good).

3. I Patented Sex. (starring one of my former students).

4. Spongebob We Will Rock You.  (because I have a kid and this is an awesome way to get psyched for an exam).

New Article: “The Clinic Lab Office”

New Article: Jeanne Charn & Jeffrey Selbin, The Clinic Lab Office, 2013 Wisc. L. Rev. __ (2013).  Abstract below:

This essay describes the potential for law school clinics to serve as sites of empirical research to answer pressing questions about delivery of legal services in low-income communities. With others, we have noted the research imperative in legal services, made the case for infrastructure to support such research, and advocated for renewed ties between law school clinics and legal services programs. For reasons set forth in the paper, now is an opportune time for clinics to contribute to a growing civil justice research agenda. We call this opportunity the “Clinic Lab Office.”

In Part I, we map the common origins and current landscapes of the legal services and clinical legal education movements. The movements have drifted from their early, common agendas in order to achieve a measure of stability and security. In Part II, we identify the need for civil justice research to inform a complex, decentralized legal services delivery system. We lack critical information about the demand, supply, and efficacy of existing models, but new national efforts bode well for the future of such research.

In Part III, we argue that law school clinics are well positioned to undertake empirical research and provide examples of some early projects. Clinics have much to offer legal services in the research dimension and much to gain. Such engagement can improve clinic work, deepen student learning, and make a distinct scholarly contribution. We conclude by identifying challenges to realizing the full potential of the Clinic Lab Office.

Essays on law school and becoming a lawyer

A student who wants to do work on social justice came to my office and after I emailed him Bill Quigley’s essay, Letter to a Law Student Interested in Social Justice, he sent me a link to Dean Spade’s essay, For Those Considering Law School.   Both are worth reading by those considering law school — and even those in law school or teaching at law school.  Three somewhat more dated essays include Duncan Kennedy’s Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy (a canonical classic), Robert A. Williams, Jr.’s Vampires Anonymous and Critical Race Practice (a favorite of mine), and my On Becoming “Professor” (mine, though it is the weakest link in this list of essays).

Photo Copyright Ezra Rosser 2013

Photo Copyright Ezra Rosser 2013