Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"As If Grading Weren't Arbitrary Enough" - Corporations Students to Have Their Exams Graded By Committee

UPDATE: Seems like prof got the exams graded after all . . .hooray(!)

It didn't take long for several outraged tipsters to send us this, from Dean Mahoney. As many of you who read ANG might be aware, a Corporations professor (don't name him here, ty) didn't get his Corporations grades in from last semester. Turns out said prof had a legitimate reason for the delay. However, last week, the Dean sent out an email that grades would be up this week. But today all the students in the class received this:

Dear Corporations students:

I write to follow up on my e-mail from last week. I was unfortunately too optimistic in my assessment of Professor [Redacted]’s ability to complete grading his exams, for which I apologize.

In order to resolve the situation as promptly as possible, a group of other Corporations teachers (including yours truly) has agreed to grade the exams ourselves. I recognize that this raises a risk of some inconsistency in grading because there will be multiple graders. We will have a conversation among ourselves about what we are looking for in the answers and I will personally take a look at all of the exams to try to assure consistency. I will submit final grades no later than Monday, March 30.

I am sorry that we have gotten to this point and I recognize the solution is imperfect. It is the best I am able to come up with under the circumstances. I hope you will agree with my assessment that the top priority is to have grades submitted in the next few days.

Thank you for your understanding.

Here's what one tipster said:
This is total horses**t and I can’t believe a dean would sign off on it, let alone propose it and follow through. We took this class with the understanding that we would be hearing [redacted]’s view, taking [redacted]’s exam, and getting [redacted]’s grades. Now with this grading by committee idea, it’s not just a matter of inconsistency among graders, but we might as well have taken a different professor’s exam. There is no way that this is the best possible solution under the circumstances, as the Dean suggests. The top priority is not to get a grade in the next few days, but to get the right grade. The fact that we can’t even opt out of this cockamamie plan is just that much worse.

Would anyone prefer that the class just be graded pass/fail? And what of people who needed these grades a month (or two) ago, for job searching and related prosects? Also, did the administration take student suggestions - particularly from those students who are in the class - about how to remedy the situation?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

3月28日隨即的事情; 今天天氣非常好 - 出外玩吧!

* It's wicked nice outside - go out and play (see: title of this post)!

* Battlestar Galactica - we'll miss you. Obviously the title of this blog owes a little something to BSG, and homages are occasionally paid, so we're sad to see the show end. That's not to say that the show didn't get very, well, bad in the last season. As for the finale, it's far and away the best episode artistically of the fourth season. The 40 minute battle scene was wicked cool, and we are all tearing up in the penultimate goodbye scenes a tiny bit. I also liked the very last ending sequence, as it sent a small chill through spine. But thematically? I dunno, it left a lot of open questions and gave me the sense of a sort of a cop-out - an (all to literal) deus ex machina ending (zing!). It's pretty obvious to me that they didn't plan to get this far and a lot of the (bogus) prophecies are left both unfulfilled and unexplained. Alas, I'll say no more, because I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't scene it yet (or haven't had the good fortune of being hooked on the first half of the series).

* Speaking of puns, somehow this law student from Fordham got a piece in yesteday's New York Times writing about them? I mean, how do you set THAT up? We're positively jealous . . . If anyone from the NYT ed-board is reading this (doubtful), we'll write about anything: Law stuff, tv-shows, Feb Club, AIG Bonuses, OGI . . . anything!

* We mentioned a while back that we didn't like the time after the Libel Show, because it meant that things were starting to get real in re exams. Well, DING! - out of pure indolence we have decided that the new rule is that things get real after the Softball Invitational. And speaking of the Softball Invivational - which is next weekend - be sure to check UVA Law Blog live coverage (or maybe not so live, as there's no wireless at the Park . . . but you know what I mean).

* We think we heard someone on main grounds say the other day that "evolution is only a theory" in the course of an argument/debate. Hehe.

* EDIT: Did we mention it's *really* nice out? From 10 minutes ago:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reviewing C'ville's Finest - A Culinary Adventure: Part II - The Gang Goes to CiCi's

For the second article in what promises to be a very long and profitable series, I decided to review Cici’s Pizza, this time accompanied by just T-Pain and Justincredible. (Find the first installment here). Cici’s Pizza is an all-you-can eat pizza buffet located up 29 in the Seminole Square Shopping Center. It also has all-you-can eat salad and pasta, but the main attraction is definitely the pizza. You can tell this by reading its name. Let’s get going.

Surprisingly dull. Team member-customer interaction exclusively happens while paying at the counter for your meal and drink. You’re responsible for the rest of your needs – you get your own pizza, you refill your own drink, and in the bathroom, you wash your own hands. Chris the Manager would yell out the name of the pizza coming off the conveyor belt oven. I assume that’s what he was saying, because, while audible, the words meant very little to my ear. He probably intended to mimic the voice tone of an auctioneer, but it sounded more like random noise – perhaps something like the sound coming from an old AM/FM radio when you’re fiddling with the tuner. The other customers were mostly parents with young children, including one adorable little girl sitting behind us, or obese people looking forward to cashing in on Obama’s universal health care. Approximately fifteen sk8erbois took turns describing, alternatively, sweet sk8er moves they could do and girls they would hook up if said girls knew they existed.
Grade: B

T-Pain's remarks in italics [and edited for language and grammar]:
First of all, Chris is my man. He yells out [stuff] like "BEEE-HOLD, THE POW-WUURRR OF CHEEEESE!!!" when he places pizzas on the buffet, and he does it without a hint of self consciousness. Second, you will never hear T-Pain complain about an establishment filled with young mothers; [they're] my favorite [people]. Also, Cici's has these [awesome] bug light sconces that serve a dual purpose - they kill bugs [...] and they also look nice, providing a bug free, attractive environment. Finally, those dudes in the back were members of the top hybrid paintball/D&D club in C'ville. The closest they've been to a skateboard since the 5th grade was the time they totally kicked skater [butt] outside of the Seminole 4.
Grade: A+

None. See above.
Grade: NA

Two quick points: the dirty plate cleanup was mad quick. Also, the register worker was very clear and polite in explaining why the buffet cost so [darn] much. Big ups.
Grade: Satisfactory

Below average. The walls lacked decoration, absent a massive print above the buffet extolling Cici’s fine and delicious ingredients. Two televisions protruded from the wall – one could pick between watching CSNBS and the Cartoon Channel. Eye gouge! The most interesting décor was the arcade in the back of the restaurant. Cici’s offered several choices for the gaming thrill seeker, including “Put in a dollar, win 4 quarters”, “The Fast and the Furious”, “Big Game Hunter”, and one especially evil machine called the "Build Brick Prize Machine." For only $0.75, one purchases the opportunity to win one of three prizes: (1) nothing, (2) a “minor prize” – some plastic shit, including a crappy looking wristband, a top, and a Stretch Armstrong playdoh thing, or (3) a “major prize” – a Zune or an iPod or a digital camera. Blocks move back and forth and the player has to press the button at the right time to stack up the blocks. The pace of the back and forth increases as the height of the stack increases. Stack ten levels and you win a “minor prize.” Stack sixteen levels and you win a “major prize.” After considering the disparity between the minor and major prizes, plus the fact that all the major prizes appeared to have come out a couple years ago, T-Pain opined that it was likely a near-impossibility for someone to win the “major prize” or was actually an impossibility and therefore fraudulent. All present concurred. By the way, I finished 5th in a street-race in Chinatown playing The Fast and the Furious – Justincredible urged me to pick the 1995 Toyota Supra, but I was too intrigued with the top speed of the 1967 Pontiac GTO.
Grade: B-

Cici needs to hire a decorator or some[thing].

Outstanding. Here’s where Cici’s shines. As mentioned above, Cici’s has salad and pasta. We all declined both offerings so we can’t tell you how the fare was. Sorry, but if you want a salad bar, go to a farm or HT or some boring place like that. Now that I’ve cleared that up, I can report that the pizza was delicious. While largely tasting the same regardless of topping, some pizzas stood out for their scrumtrelescence. I loved the “BBQ” and the “chicken with hot sauce” pizzas most especially, although I admit that cubed chicken is a little weird. The onion and sausage pizza also delighted my pallet with its deep, succulent flavors of …. wait for it …. onion and sausage. Stay away from the macaroni and cheese pizza – Justincredible lamented the extreme carbs of this pizza, as he is actually a woman, while T-Pain and I agreed that the value-add of the “pizza” part of the macaroni and cheese pizza was zero. The cheese bread was excellent, if a bit greasy – make sure you get a bowl of the red sauce for dipping. The dessert portion of the buffet is fantastic. The brownies are extra gooey and the apple crisp pizza is unreal delicious. At the end of our feast, I almost couldn’t breath because I had eaten so much, but I made sure to sample the desserts. (Notice the sacrifice I make for you readers).
Grade: A

They got [sic] ranch dressing and bowls to dip food in. Nice. A++

$8.50 including the bigger to-go drink and tax (price same for lunch and dinner) ($17 when T-Pain forgets his wallet - jerk)
Price - Free: big up to my man J-Crew. Thanks dog. I'll get you back, I just need to wait a couple weeks til my [check] clears.

Overall grade: B
Overall grade: A dog. A. Don't hate.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cheating and UVA Law

Several news sources have reported on a recently released study that claims that 56% of business school students cheat, apparently because of something called "perceived peer behavior." The logic goes something like this: I think that my classmates are cheating, so I myself have to cheat in order to keep up. While B-School students apparently are the worst offenders, one can't ignore the possibility (likelihood?) of similar misbehavior happening elsewhere in post-secondary education, including law school. Honor codes and systems are a pet interest of mine, so I'll quickly detail the evidence that cheating (however you define it) could take place at our institution.

To wit:

1. Except for exams in 'first year' classes, all exams at UVA Law are self (or "flex") scheduled. This means you can take the exam at any scheduled timeslot. Typically one has two chances per day (AM and PM) for two weeks.

2. Many professors' exams are neither wholly closed book nor open book. Many alternatives exist, from least to most restrictive, including:
(a) statutory supplements only;
(b) self-made outline only;
(c) any outline, self-made or otherwise;
(d) textbook and self-made outline;
(e) textbook and any outline, self-made or otherwise.
3. At places like UVA Law, where the honor code is largely self-monitoring and self-enforcing, points 1. and 2. becomes more even more important. There is no way of knowing whether one is cheating because of the large variation among permissible materials on the exam. He has two outlines open plus his book, but how do I know that is impermissible?

4. Some professors have periodical evaluations throughout the semester that count toward one's final grade. Many of these evaluations are take-home, online, or are in some way unmonitored.

5. Grades matter, especially in the zero-sum game of a forced curve. The curve ensures that one student's success means another's failure. Employers make hiring decisions based on grades. It's a competitive world, EITE, and grades provide a way for employers to distinguish among largely homogeneous hiring pools.

All of this indicates that a systemic incentive and opportunity exists at UVA Law for students to cheat. I advance no public position on whether cheating happens, but merely note that a deviant fellow willing to get ahead would find ample means to do so. Hence my humble recommendations towards encouraging honesty:

1. To students: turn in anybody you see cheating. Another's dishonesty takes opportunity or $$ directly out of your pocket or an honest person like you. While I find honor systems that punish those that fail to turn in their compatriots distasteful, you owe it to yourself and others to uphold the honor system at UVA. There are many mechanisms in place to ensure a person will receive a fair and private trial, so don't let concerns about kicking out an honest person stop you from reporting cheating.

2. To professors: at the least, make extraordinarily clear what materials are allowed in the exam. This encourages compliance and prevents against creating an opportunity for a student to either knowingly or innocently circumvent the rule. At most, consider making all evaluation opportunities entirely open book. This measure virtually prevents against cheating, absent prior knowledge of the evaluation's contents. Certainly you can make an exam challenging enough to ensure a fair curve. The excuse that "I need to find a way to distinguish among students to give grades" probably only distinguishes those who memorize well from those who don't, rather than evaluating true understanding.

These two recommendations proactively address possible cheating at UVA Law. Curb opportunities for dishonest "perceived peer behavior" and I have no doubt that most students will do the right thing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Harris Teeter: Great Store, Or Greatest Store?

On Friday afternoon I was so distraught about what was happening in Boise that I - quite inadvertently - threw all caution to the wind.

I went to Harris Teeter to go get some bleach (got to keep those softball jerseys nice and white!) and realized that after drinking away the pain inflicted by the Missouri Tigers at B-Dubs, I was a bit low on cash. So, at the self-checkout dealy, we not only got the bleach but also decided to get "cash back" on our debit card. However, I was so distraught that, after showing the guy my ID to get that 5% discount, I simply grabbed my bleach and receipt, ignored the flashing thing on the display that said "DON'T FORGET TO TAKE YOUR CASH", and simply walked out, hopped on my bike, and sped away - forgetting, of course, to take my cash.

That was around 6 PM. It wasn't until 9 PM that I realized my error. Frantically, I dashed out of my place and flew into my SUV (yea, I guess I should have biked what with the environment and need for cross-training and all, but I wasn't thinking clearly).

I got to HT at around 9.07, and went to check if the cash was still there - I mean - we're not talking about a computer or a textbook here - I thought maybe, just maybe, it'd still be there. Nope.

Then I went to customer service thinking - hoping - that perhaps some good Samaritan had turned the money in. I talked to the manager and explained to in my sob story. I produced the receipt from the self-checkout place (which I had, in fact, managed to save), and recounted my stupidity. No, he said, no one had come and turned in a wad of cash from self-checkout center. I mumble something about the honor code . . .

But then - the manager talked it over with . . . some other mid-level employee, went into his office - and gave me all the cash I had lost. I couldn't believe it. Anyway, whil I've always been erstwhile Wegmans supporter (an Upstate NY behemoth that is slowly creeping south), I gotta say I just don't see this happening anyway where else. In New York they'd probably not only have the money for me but yell profanities at me to get the **** out. Even in NOVA they'd just politely send me on my way, snickering a bit. (OK, obviously I'm being a bit tongue-and-cheek here, stop emailing me). But here - in C-ville - I found a place that really values its customers.

Good show, Harris Teeter, good show. As long as I am in Charlottesville (or any other place with a Harris Teeter), I am never shopping anywhere else.

Friday, March 20, 2009

All of This Happened Before, And It Will All Happen Again Pt. 2: Professor Leslie Responds to Student Allegations

Continuing on our previous archive coverage, we have this long (very long - 3,968 words) op-ed by Professor Leslie in the April 22, 1988 issue. We thought in the interests of furthering equal-coverage, we should publish this as well (after publishing article last time that outlined the allegations). Both that issue and the week that proceeded have substantial coverage on the allegations outlined below. We'll try to put some of this material online, consistent with the Law Weekly's policy on reproduction (opens a .pdf of the most recent issue, see just below the colophon). Please pardon the transcription errors . . .

In part one of the letter, Leslie discusses some specific allegations - that he made comments against Africans-Americans, Jews, women, homosexuals, Italians, and the blind. He denies the explanation and attempts to explain the incidents. In the second part (the beginning of which we have bolded the paragraph), Leslie discusses what he perceives as the motives of those accusing him.

Professor Leslie's Open Letter on Allegations of Racist and Sexist Comments
Virginia Law Weekly, April 22, 1988, p. 3-4

I write this letter to answer allegations on my part in the way that I teach my class in Employment Law. As far as I am concerned, these allegations are anonymous. No student as come to me to make these complaints, nor to ask for amplification or explanation of these alleged incidents. You ought to be somewhat troubled by that since my impression is that my accusers are not students in the class, but are reporting solely on the basis of hearsay. because I feel I have engaged in no conduct for which i need to feel ashamed or apologetic, I will comment on each "incident."

Several allegations are contained in a written statement dated April 4 [1988]. I first address these matters. The case involving a "credit in an appliance store" is Williams v. Walker-Thomas. The case is, I would like to think, a principal case in every Contracts course in America. The lower court opinion begins as follows: "Appellant, a person of limited education separated from her husband, is maintaining herself and her seven children by means of public assistance." The appellant, Mrs. Williams, signed 14 contracts over a period of time to purchase household article from the Walker-Thomas furniture company, "A retail furniture store in the District of Columbia." Mrs. Williams signed signed dragnet security clauses and when she could not make her installment on a stereo set, the defendant repossessed all of the items that she had bought form the store. The contract clauses providing for such a foreclosure was alleged to be unconscionable under the UCC.

The case requires two or three days of class time in my class. One of the issues that we address at length is whether the court is making some unwarranted assumptions about Mrs. Williams and other, future persons who might seek to buy goods on the installment plan in DC. Did Mrs. Williams understand what she was signing? Were the facts that she had seven children and was on public assistance probative on the issue? If she knew what she was singing, why did she not travel to Sears to buy the stereo (the answer is that she was a poor credit risk)? Isn't the effect of the case that some people in DC who are poor credit risks will be unable to buy stereos on the installment plan? If so, the ruling is paternalistic. In the context of this discussion, we consider whether the fact that Williams was probably black and that a disproportionate number of those affected by this decision are black ought to matter.

However, the case nowhere identifies Mrs. Williams as being black. It is my view that most students reading the case believe that a woman on public assistance buying a stereo in the circumstance in DC is very likely to be black, whether the case specifies her race or not. This is not a statement about some inherent incapability of black women, but rests on empirical observation that there are more black women on public assistance in Dc than there are white women on public assistance. Is Mrs. Williams' race relevant? I would not argue that black women are incapable of making decisions as to what to buy or as to the amount of credit risk that they think it wise to assume. That is the point: I would not argue that poor black people lack this capacity to make choice, or having seven children, or being public assistance warrants the interference. Was the court thus unconsciously motivated by racial or economic stereotypes?

To the extent that the Williams decisions makes it more expensive for DC residents to purchase goods on credit, the burden of the decision falls disproportionately on black people. This another reason why a complete classroom discussion of case has to address the issue of race. I know that at least one other faculty member who teaches case takes the same general approach w/r/t to Williams' race, and I assume that all Contracts teachers feel that the matter has to be explicitly addressed. There is no racism here.

Of the alleged incidents, the one involving the race of Mrs. Williams is the only that occurred in a class other than Employment Law. The first day of EL followed immediately the discharge of James "Jimmy the Greek" Snyder by a TV network. I did not see the entire interview that prompted the discharge, so I sued the only that portion of the interview which I had seen, in which Snyder said the selective breeding of slaves had produced black athletes that are physically superior to white athletes, to illustrate some of the kinds of issues that we would be addressing in the semester. Snyder was 73 years old when discharged, and I treated briefly the question whether he had been drinking too much, and I discussed whether Snyder might have or ought to have a claim that he was improperly discharged on account of a handicap - alcoholism. I said that the first topic that the class would address was the employment-at-will-doctrine. In most states, the television network could fire Snyder for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all; but in some states, the courts have in circumstances they deem appropriate announced that employee could be fire only for "good cause."

Suppose, I asked, that Snyder challenged the network to show that his discharged was reasonable? The network could argue that TV viewers had found the remarks offensive, but I pointed out, reliance on customer preferences to justify racial discrimination in employment is no defense, ought it to be here? Suppose, I said, that Snyder claims that what he said is true. How ought that to affect a determination of whether his discharge was for good cause? I said that i had no knowledge of whether slave owners had selectively bred slaves, but I knew that reporters covering the Snyder discharge were similarly ignorant b/c they had called a prominent academic historian of the period to ask whether slave owners had engaged in the practice. He told them that the historians once thought that they had but more recently historians had come to doubt these reports. Could the truth of Snyder's remarks, if they were true, or the fact that he thought they were true, be a defense to discharge? Are the courts or government administrators qualified to decide these issues of just cause discharge, and by what standards? Thus ended the discussions of Jimmy the Greek. There is no racism here.

The third alleged incident has to do with the academic level of black youths. One of the leading SCOTUS cases on race discrimination is Griggs v. Duke Power Company. It is in the Employment Law case book, and we spent a day or two on it. In tat case, the company used standardized intelligence tests and evidence of a high school education as hiring and promotion criteria. This had a disparate impact on blacks, who on average were less likely than whites to have completed high school. The Court held that because of the disparate impact, neither the tests nor the diploma could be sued as employment criteria unless the Company could validate the necessity of passing score or a diploma to a successful job performance.

After discussion of the case was finished, a student raised her hand, noted that the Court had remarked on the fact that blacks had "long received inferior education in segregated schools," and asked whether I though that with the end of segregated schools, and thus the improved educational prospects for blacks, the disparate impact would disappear, alloying employers to once again rely on these criteria. I stated that I had no special expertise or knowledge on this problem, but that I thought that improved educational opportunities would not alone make enough of a difference. Whether one should call it the "poverty cycle" or the "fatherless family" problem, I didn't know but I said that I believe that the problems facing black ghetto children were too serious to be soon solved by access to better schools. This prompted a discussion by the class, with me joining in, on the seeming success, disproportionate to the their numbers, of many Asian immigrant children. It was remarked that Asian parents "push" their children to achieve academic excellence. We all seemed to agree that even if the reports of unusual accomplishments by Asian immigrant children and of the role of guiding parents in those accomplishment were completely accurate, this was a generalization only, and it would not be correct to conclude that no black parents pushed their children to achieve academic excellence.

After the class, one (white) student told me that he thought that I ought not to have expressed any opinion whatsoever on the question asked in class that prompted the discussion. In his view, notwithstanding the fact that I announce that I have no comparative advantage on this issue, m faculty status is likely to carry too much weight and authority. Other discussion students around the desk at the time disagree with his remarks, took the view that the class discussion had been very worthwhile, and that it was unlikely to have occurred had I not taken a position. I agree with those students; however I thought it appropriate to say at the beginning of the next class that the views I had expressed on the matter were my own (tentative) views and that I claimed no expertise. That was the end of it.

Those are the incidents that were set out in the letter of April 4. I now turn to the four remarks attributed to me in the notes taken by Elizabeth Lowe of an oral conversation that she had with a complainant on April 8.

First I cannot believe that I ever said, "The last time I was ripped off it was by a Jew." I have no idea when it is claimed that I said it, or what the context was. I have no prejudices against Jews. Discrimination for or against Jews has not been a topic in any class that I have ever taught, save the allegation in DeFunis that law school special admissions for black applicants constitute discrimination against a Jew, who had superior credentials but was denied admission. That case is not taken up in Employment Law.

The quotation regarding male nurses [Editor's Note (in original): Dean Lowe's notes include the following alleged exchange: "We all know about male nurses, don't we?" (Leslie) "What do you mean?" (student) "Well they're homosexual, aren't they?" (Leslie) "No I just thought they needed jobs." (student)] is taken out of context and is inaccurately reported. The casebook in Employment Law takes up the matter of comparable worth: whether the law does or ought tor require firms to pay comparable wages for jobs that are "comparable" but not "equal" - so nurses ought not to earn less than janitors. In that context, I asked what a policy of comparable worth might seek to accomplish. One possibility is that the policy might go far to eliminate beliefs that some jobs are for men and others are for women. Some cases, reported in the case book, involve nurses, a predominately female profession. We discussed the limits of what the law can do. If men do not often opt to become nurses (as opposed to, say, becoming pharmacists), is a raise in pay of nurses likely to draw many men into the profession. You cannot analyze that question without thinking about what it is about the job of nursing that deters male applicants. I said that when my wife was practicing nurse, there was a stereotype that male nurses were homosexual [sic]. Another (male) student said that when his wife practiced nursing, there was the same stereotype. Such a stereotype might deter men who did not want to be stereotyped as homosexual from entering this profession, even if wages were not increased.

This is not the same as saying that all male nurses are homosexual, that a disproportionate percentage of male nurses are homosexual, that homosexual men ought to be nurses, that they ought not to be nurses, or that homosexuality is "bad."

The notes say that I made "[a] remark about Italians." I recall no remark about Italians, and I harbor no prejudice against Italians. I cannot think of what the context could possibly have been, for there are no cases involving discrimination and Italians in the case book. It could have been something of the sort: "Do you think it is appropriate for the government to require that the 18-year-0ld son of a prominent black doctor to be given preferential admission into a craft apprenticeship program (to which he is qualified) if it means the the son of an Italian immigrant (also qualified) will be excluded?" I don't remember doing that, but such a remark is not racist.

The notes say that I made "[r]emarks about women." In a class covering employment discrimination issues involving women, including decisions to hire, to fire, to promote, to grant pregnancy leave, etc, there are certainly remarks about women.

Finally, the notes suggest the following.

"Suggestions to blind student in telephone conversation in which student sought information on course materials that the student should enroll in another class; hallway remark to student when student identified himself as the caller that DL[eslie] was glad to know who he was and had been planning to ask him to stand up in class to identify himself."

Sometime during the summer I received a call from a student admitted to the fall class. He told me that he was blind and that he was assigned to my section of Contracts. He said that he would like to buy a copy of the book for the course so he could have transcribed during the summer. I told him that another professor and I were writing a Contracts case book and that the course materials would consists of photocopies of a draft of that book. I told him that I did not have a final version of even the first several weeks' worth of the materials finished, and that at the beginning of the semester I would have no more than one-third of the semester's materials completed the remainder of the materials would completed as the semester went along. I told him that I could give him a copy of the last year's materials but that there would certainly be substantial changes between last year and the coming year. I told that him that two of my colleagues were also using the draft materials but that other colleagues were using a book by Prof. Sten Henderson that was already in print. If having the materials transcribed was important, I suggested, he might contact the Dean's office and request that he but he be put in a Contracts section where the book was then available. I could think of nothing else I could do for him.

The student introduced himself to me at the elevator on the first day or so of the fall semester. I told him that I had neglected to write down his name when he called, that I had oped to meet him and offer any help that I could during the semester to lessen any problems caused by his blindness.

The student took my class in the fall, I treated him no differently form any other student, and he has never claimed otherwise to me. For someone to try to make out that this shows animosity by mean towards a blind person suggests a malign motive on the part of those who point their finger, in my view.

Those are my responses to each allegation. I want to emphasize what I am not accused of. I am not accused of making a racial slur. I am not accused of treating any black student or any woman student or any handicapped person with a lack of personal respect. I am not accused of calling on black or female or handicapped students too often, or too seldom, or of asking the questions that embarrass them personally. I am not accused of discriminatory examinations nor of discriminatory grading.

[UVA Law Blog's emphasis, see above]

I leave it to you to evaluate just what I am accused of. I strongly deny that I have engaged in racist or sexist conduct, or that I have engaged in conduct lacking judgment.

There is a principle that I hold dear that lies at the heart of this episode for me. In a course that deals with legal issues involving matter of race and sex, talking about the issues can be painful . It may be painful for a student that knows that he or she is the beneficiary of an affirmative action plan to hear debated the justness of an affirmative action plan for admission to craft apprentice programs. While it would be wrong to brutalize these students in any way, the only way to avoid the pain is to avoid talking about the issues.

Not talking about them will not make the issues go away. Not talking about them will not keep judges from thinking about the issues when they decide cases, whether they address them explicitly or not. Talking about them makes this a better class. It does not make me a racist.

At a meeting on April 14 between myself and students who were circulating a petition about me, I was accused several times of having made racist and sexist remarks, but no incidents were specified that had not already been communicated to the Dean's office, and relayed to me. Being old enough to remember the early 1950s, I had a sense of deja vu when a student held up a letter, saying, "I have here in my hand a letter signed by two students which says that you made a racist remark," and then refused to tell me what I was alleged to have said. The petition was not presented to me (and never has been) I said that I could not believe that there were any complaints relating to racism or sexism in the first semester courses in Contracts or Labor Law because the student evaluations put out by the students mentioned none. The reply was that the students would not have listed such complaints because they feared retaliation (notwithstanding, I gather, that the evaluations are anonymous, that they are given to me only after my grades are turned in, that I am required to adhere to a B mean, and that the evaluations do not hesitate to make other, forceful critcisms. I offered to photocopy my above account of the incidents alleged to be racist or sexist, and provide them with copies. Several of the student organization representatives said they would like to read the memo. I said that my secretary would have it for them the next morning By the end of the next day - Friday, April 15 - no one had picked up a copy. During that day, the stories you have all undoubtledly read came out in the student newspapers.

The only facts to report are that several students have written to me or stopped by office to say that they support me and that they and others intend to write to the Dean on my behalf.

The student newspapers report that initiators of the petition are the same students that are pursuing an "activist diversity agenda." In fact, the tactics used against me are pretty clever. First, alleged that "many" students from the Employment Law course have complained. Second, set out no specific allegation in the petition for the students to evaluate. Third, call for an "investigation." Finally, get it to the newspapers. Students without a political agenda might sign the petition on the grounds that that alleged race and sex discrimination ought never to be ignored, without considering the need for probable cause before a person a is publicly targeted.

There was one feature of how they handled, however, that makes it clear that their motive was to harass and embarrass. They misled the students who signed the petition by suggesting they were merely asking for the Dean's office to investigate the allegations. At the very time they circulated the petition and alerted the press, they knew that the allegations had been presented to the Dean's office at the end of the previous week, that Dean Lowe had a meeting with the students at that time, and that the Dean's office was already investigating the allegations. The only purpose of the petition was publicity. If I were a member of a "sponsoring" organization - the National Lawyers Guild [UVA Law Blog note: The NLG is a left-wing organization of civil rights and other progressive attorneys], the Black Law Students Association, Virginia Law Women, and the Jewish Law Students Association - I would ask my elected official if they knew when they sponsored a petition asking for an investigation, the investigation was already underway.

It is part of the agenda of some political activists to "keep things stirred up." I suspect that that had a good deal to do with the petition alleging racism and sexism against a faculty member - and a faculty member teaching a thoughtful course that raises hard issues of racial and sexual policiy in employment is a very esay victim if what he says is misrepresented, taken out of context, or otherwsie distorted. But it was pointe dout to me recently that such an attack has a more specific and subtle effect: it neutalizes the victim as an effective contributor to influence on the issues that the acitvists care the most about. Thus someone accused of being a racist and a sexist is unlikely in the near future to chair the Faculty Appointments Committee. Could it be the fact that because of my involvement in the law and economics program and my known personal friendship with the incoming dean, I was thought to be opposed to the activists' agenda and potentially an important influence in school affairs, and thus a very satisfactory target?

I am not suggesting that everyone who signed the petition was motivated by an activist agenda, nor that all students who are participating in the "activist agenda" movement would engage in malign tactics. I am suggesting suggesting that a student who signed the petition when it amde no attempt to establish probable cause forgot for a moment one of our most important principles of due process and human decency.

What now? Dean Merrill has investigated the allegations of the petitions in advance of its formal submission ot him. The petitition, I am told, mentions no specific instances, and thus adds none to the letter related to me by Merrill and the notes Lowe's conversation. Student at the meeting on April 14 could not or would not make any additional specific allegations. I believe that i have shown that unless someone is prepared ot challenge the factual accruacy of my explanation of these instances, there is no evidence that I have engaged racially or sexually discrimnatory conduct nor that I have made errors in judgment.

Douglas Leslie
Professor of Law

[Editor's Note: In the interest of providing a fair and equal forum for Professor Douglas Leslie, we have reporudced his response to the initial charges of racism and sexism and his open letter to the Law School. To preserve continuity and space we have condensed the letter into a single piece. The first and second paragraphs of Prof. Leslie's letter of April 17 have been deleted. The first line of Prof. Leslie's letter to Dean Merill has been editied [sic]. Orginal copies are available at the [sic] Leslie's office]
Sorry for the typos. [EDIT: Yes, there are a good deal of typos - for some reason blogger's spell checking software is not working correctly which is making them hard to ferret out - many of them have been fixed now, though. Also, in some cases I shortened "District of Columbia" to "DC"].

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All Of This Has Happened Before, And All Of It Will Happen Again, Pt. 1

Le plus ca change le plus ca le meme chose? Maybe - the Virginia Law Weekly staff, in scouring through our archives (which go back to 1949!) found this article about controversy Professor Leslie in the April 22, 1988 issue. Both that issue and the week that proceeded have substantial coverage on the allegations outlined below - including a lengthy (and I mean LENGTHY) op-ed by Leslie himself defending the charges. We'll try to put some of this material online, consistent with the Law Weekly's policy on reproduction (opens a .pdf of the most recent issue, see just below the colophon). Please pardon the transcription errors . . . and stay tuned for more archived Law Weekly coverage.
Leslie's Response Stirs Controversy
Virginia Law Weekly
Joe Pankowski, Jr.
April 22, 1988
p. 1

Law School Prof. Douglas Leslie said that he didn't "feel ashamed or apologetic" this week about his classroom conduct following the circulation of a petition which asked the administration to investigate discriminatory remarks he allegedly made in class.

The petition, sponsored by the Virginia Law Women, the Jewish Law Students Association, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Black Law Students Association, was presented to the deans last Friday. Leaders of the groups said that many in the Law School community had supported the petition, but they did not know the actual number of people who signed it. In a sternly-worded response, Leslie denied that he engaged inr acists or sexist conduct, or conduct lacking in judgment.

Students in Leslie's Contracts and Employment Law classes aid the professor made an offensive comments on at least eight separate occasions. Three of the alleged statements were about blacks, with the others concerning Jews, Italians, homosexuals, women and the blind. Leslie answered each allegation in his letter, saying either that the particular incident never happened or that his statement or actions had been misunderstood.

For example, some students were concerned about Leslie's classroom treatment of Williams v. Walker Thomas Furniture Co., a case involving a poor women buying on credit. They particularly upset by Leslie's identification of the woman as "probably black," especially since her race was not mentioned in the decision. Lelsie said discussion of the case warranted consideration of the woman's race.

"It is my view that most students reading the case believe that a woman on public assistance buying a stereo in these circumstances in the District of Columbia is very likely to be black, whether the case identifies her race or not," said Lelsie, a professor at the University of Virginia since 1978. "This is not a statement about some inherent capability of black women, but rests on the empirical observation that there are more black women on public assistance in the District of Columbia than there are white women on pubic assistance."

Leslie, who said that no students have approached him about any of his in-class comments, questioned the motives of those behind the petition. He said that they knew the dean's office was already investigating the matter and that this petition was part of their diversity activist agenda. [emphasis added]

"The only purpose of the petition was publicity, and I paid the price," Leslie said. "Could it be that the fact that because of my involvement in the law and economics program and my known personal friendship with the incoming dean, I was thought to be opposed to the activists' goals and potentially an important influence in school affairs, and thus a satisfactory target?"

The students who back the petition and at least one faculty member disagree. Prof. Gary Peller, in a four page letter in today's Law Weekly, said Leslie had unfairly characterized the motives of the students.

"(Leslie's) accusation that 'some political activists are falsely accusing him because they object to his law and economics approach strikes me as incredible," Peller said. "This accusation should be allowed to trivialize or obscure the serious issues that have been raised about whether Professor Leslie made racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks in class, and whether institution will deal with allegations in a fair manner."

James F. Williams, who said that he was an objective observer of the incident, said in his letter to the Law Weekly that the measure had absolutely political purpose. "No one involved with the petition ever contemplated some broader political agenda would be further by it or that anyone objectively viewing the situation would reach such a conclusion," Williams said. "The petition was merely a response to valid student concerns that have been generally expressed over the course of three years and that crystallized this this semester in such discontent that warranted expression to the administration."

Representatives of the organizations supporting the petition and other students met with Leslie last Thusday to try to resolve their problems. The meting, which was attended by Prof. Stephen Saltzburg and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Elizabeth Lowe, didn't lead to any progress. In fact, it may have exacerbated the situation.

In a letter which he posted on the records office bulletin board, Leslie said he was not given the chance to answer all of the charges aginst him a the meeting. "I sought to give an oral account of each incident, along the lines set out in the memorandum, but they would not let me get beyond the first incident - that it is racist to identify Mrs. Williams in Williams v. Walter-Thomas as black," Leslie said.

Yet, in response to Leslie's letter also placed on the bulletin board, third-year student Mark Scudder said the professor had mischaracterized the tone and substance of the meeting. Scudder said that the 40-minute discussion of the Walker-Thomas incident was going nowhere and the group unanimously agreed to depart the incident-by-incident progress.

"The students did not deny Leslie to opportunity to address the allegeations against him," Scudder said. "All, including Leslie, agreed to abandon the format."

At the meeting Scudder said the group agreed on a two-prong solution to the Leslie situation. First, Leslie, Dean Merrill and concerned students would come up with a way in which Leslie would teach his courses in an inoffensive maner. Second, a permanent faculty commitee would be assembled which would provide a forum so that students could voice their concerns in complete privacy.

Leslie, however, siad that his Employment Law course requires a discusison of employment discirmination issues. In that he didn't wish to offend any student, Leslie said that he would never again teach Employment Law, [emphasis added] according to Scudder. An administration source has confirmed that Leslie will no longer teach Employment Law.

"The students urged Leslie to teach the course, but to eliminate the offensive comments," Scudder said. "Leslie said that he could not conceive a teaching the course in any other way, and that he would be too self conscious in his lectures."
Some thoughts points that jump out (with no comment one way or the other):
  • Leslie and the administration said he wasn't going to teach Employment Law anymore (?)
  • Leslie blamed the petition on diversity activists - those diversity activists are still around, North Grounds, are they not?
  • We've started transcribing Leslie's response, and hope to have it up soon.
  • We've heard that there is now a petition to keep Leslie as a Prof. circulating.
  • Apologies to BSG. Too lazy to come up with originally / witty post titles. Or paying homage. Whichever . . .
Previous Coverage:
Secret's Out: Cavalier Daily Runs' Story on Students' Accusations; VLW Report Pending
UVA Law Prof Draws Controversy for Remarks; Virginia Law Weekly to do a Full Report

Secret's Out: Cavalier Daily Runs Story On Students' Accusations; VLW Report Pending

From today's Cavalier Daily:

Multiple Law students have filed reports against University Law Prof. Doug Leslie, accusing him of making offensive comments, using harsh language and giving preferential treatment to particular students. An investigation about the concerns is now underway, Law School Dean Paul Mahoney said.

In recent days, the accusations have become the subject of some conversation among many Law students, as Leslie sent a mass e-mail to his students encouraging them to voice their opinions to Academic Assoc. Dean Jim Ryan. Leslie declined to comment further about the proceedings, but referred The Cavalier Daily to a copy of the e-mail. According to that copy, several former students cited the professor for inappropriate behavior.

Read More. Ah the virtues of being a daily instead of a weekly . . . anyway, the article mostly just rehashed the full letter that UVA Law Blog posted.


UVA Law Prof Draws Controversy for Remarks; Virginia Law Weekly to do a Full Report

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reviewing C'ville's Finest - A Culinary Adventure

It tastes good *and* it's good for you!

Here at UVa Law Blog, we talk a lot about the law school and issues relating to UVa Law students, but we rarely discuss conditions outside the law school building. Charlottesville, Virginia is a great little city with lots going for it besides the University. While C’ville residents regularly enjoy a beer at historic Miller’s, stroll through Thomas Jefferson’s famed Monticello, and purchase fresh produce at the Charlottesville City Market, team UVa Law Blog often enjoys the finer aspects of the town. That’s right, we’re talking about all-you-can-eat buffets. Charlottesville contains many of these fine establishments, and in an effort to give you a full picture of life at UVa Law, we have decided to review and grade these places.

T-Pain, S-Pain, Justincredible, and I went to China King Buffet for dinner last night. Two-thirds Chinese restaurant – one-third granite counter-top showroom, CKB is an excellent option for those seeking a place to eat their heart’s out. The foyer includes samples of different granite types and a full granite counter-top. Likewise, the men’s bathroom contained more granite wares (see below). The women’s restroom, like all women’s bathrooms, remains a mystery to me. CKB serves all the usual staples – General Tso’s chicken, fried dumplings, chicken and sweet peas – but goes further. Guests can enjoy “sushi”, crab legs (dinner only), frog legs, white dough things (evidently called dim sum), and a hibachi bar. The variety extends to dessert, where the options include such delicacies as Jell-O (red, yellow, and green), cake, marshmallow casserole, and bananas covered with red syrup.

So-so. The hostess dutifully found us an unoccupied table without making rude comments or swearing. The waiter was a smiling, pleasant young man who brought us drink refills without our asking (for you non-C’ville residents, this is a big deal). The “sushi” maker guy is generally unpleasant and the customers need upgrading. You would think the kind of individuals who would frequent an all-you-can-eat buffet would be healthy and thin. After all, these types are the ones that need the most nourishment. However, you would be gravely mistaken.
Grade: B-

T-Pain weighs in:
Our service was poor. I received a single Dr. Pepper refill over the course of a three course meal. Also, first/second plates were not removed in a timely fashion. These oversights were particularly perturbing given that our server was not responsible for food orders, as we served ourselves directly from the buffet. I should say that our server was a delightful, sprightly fellow. I'm not sure which sparkled more brilliantly: his earnest manner or his diamond/cubic zirconium earring. Payment was taken at the register, and the cashier was similarly gregarious.
Grade: B

Outstanding. CKB was decorated everywhere with Chinese-type art. There were some Chinese symbols turned into wall art, a large fish-tank with one or two fish swimming about, and a wall-size moving picture of a waterfall (probably depicting China). The ceiling was painted blue with flashing lights simulating stars. Justincredible tells me the lights are the same kind used in redneck Christmas trees.

T-Pain again:
The bathroom was almost high-end, featuring ultramodern slate countertops and floating slate sinks, several semi-clean urinals, and one stall with a working latch. A large puddle had formed near the exposed plumbing underneath the sinks.

Anyway, the décor was beautiful and highly attractive, worthy of a Michelin 4-star restaurant. I would hazard the décor rivals the décor in any other restaurant in C’ville – or the world.
Grade: A

Positively endless. I’m a sucker for fried dumplings and Hong Kong doesn’t disappoint. The General Tso’s chicken was delectable if a little soggy. T-Pain reports that the frog legs taste like chicken. Justincredible found the ribs moist and tender – I would have preferred slightly less char on them. The “sushi” betters the options at Harris Teeter only slightly. Stay away from any sushi here with more than 3 ingredients. Crab legs and shrimp offer opportunities for the economical to get their money’s worth. The fried rice was fried and therefore delicious. The cakes at the dessert menu contained sugar and were therefore delicious. The Dr. Pepper contained the right proportions of sugar, water, and bubbles and was therefore delicious. Bottom line, lots of choices and always something different to sample.
Grade: B

Price: $16 including drink and tip for dinner (lunch about $9).

Overall grade: B+

UVA Law Prof Draws Controversey for Remarks, Treatment of Minority Students; Virginia Law Weekly To Do A Full Report

The editors of UVA Law Blog debated for sometime about whether to publish this email. Sent by a UVA Law professor to current and former members of his first year contract, it is his response to allegations from some of his student. Our decision to publish this, after receiving it from multiple sources, is based on the following factors:
  • The Virginia Law Weekly will be doing a full report on the matter this week or next; when the professor in question was aksed for his comment, he refered the Law Weekly to this email.
  • The email had so many recipients, and has now subsequently been seen by so many people, that it is basically public.
  • We will not publish the professor's name.
  • Do not post the prof's name in the comments, or the names of any of his students (complaining or not). They will be deleted immediately.
  • All of the information in the letter (including the name of the professor) will be made public -
  • We ask that other blogs NOT link to this story but instead WAIT for the Law Weekly's full investigation, which will be available sometime after Friday on its website, lawweekly.org.
  • At this time, none of the editors have any comment on this issue.
* * *

From: <lawitc%UVA@lawnotes2.law.virginia.edu>
Date: Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 7:25 PM
Subject: My future teaching
To: "Contracts [redacted] 02 FA2008" <302mp@law6.law.virginia.edu>

Last Tuesday, Dean Mahoney called me into his office to tell me that there had been student complaints about my conduct of Contracts [redacted] this fall. This came as a complete surprise to me. The dean indicated he might find it necessary to disallow me from teaching first-year courses (Contracts and Property) on account of these complaints.

The complaints recounted at that meeting were three:

* That I failed to call on African American students (whether he meant cold-call or recognition of a volunteer was not clear to me).
* That I said in class, “Where are all the Jews?”
* That I used an example in which a married law student was seen socializing with the spouse of another law student, which gave rise to a threat probably constituting duress.

I responded to Dean Mahoney later that day with an email that listed the number of fall-semester participations of all the students in the section. That list, taken from a seating chart that is still in my possession and offered to the dean, did not show any evidence of discrimination against African American students: one African American student had a low level of participation, a second student was in the middle, and a third was at the highest level (it would surely have been higher had she not missed 7 classes due to an illness).

I also wrote that I do not use language such as “Where are all the Jews?” because I do not use the word Jews — I don’t know why I don’t, but I don’t. But I may well have asked whether the students absent that day were Jewish (I do use that word) and presumably observing Yom Kippur. I was on a law school committee at that time that was charged by the Chair to discover whether students were extending their fall break by not returning to school on the Thursday and Friday of break week.

With respect to the example of a married student consorting with the spouse of a classmate, I reported to the dean that I did not recall the occasion of any such remark, but if the example was used it probably was to illustrate the issue of a lawful remark (I will tell your spouse) being used to gain a contractual advantage. In short, it would have been used to illustrate duress and the relationship between that doctrine and the crime of blackmail.

Today I received a letter from Dean Mahoney recounting interviews with students about these matters and concluding

“There are sufficiently common fact patterns in these statements that I did not think I could simply ignore them. Some of the statements attributed to you, if accurate, are sufficiently outrageous or insensitive that I could not in good conscience tell a student that his or her concerns were unreasonable.

"I will await your response to the student statements before making any decisions about your teaching assignments going forward."

Here is the text of the dean’s letter with respect to the interviews:

Student No. 1
"When a female student misspoke and confused 'lay' and 'lie' ... Prof. [redacted]'s immediate
response was to make a joke asking if he could 'lay/lie' you."
"On Rash Hashanah/Yom Kippur, noticing an absent chair, asked 'Where's the Jew?', then
discussed how 'Cary and Martha' won't 'allow' him to penalize students for missing class for
religious reasons...."
"Used a hypothetical in which a pregnant mother was unable to get to the hospital in a snow
storm—a specific student was the mother-to-be and Prof. [redacted] was the father."
"In another hypothetical, the fact pattern began with the spouse of one of the married students in
the class having an extramarital affair."
"Although Prof. [Redacted] was rude to all students... He seemed extra rude to [an African-American student]"

Student No. 2
"making a joke about 'laying' [a female student]"
"Introducing a hypothetical about one student's spouse having an affair."
"Making fun of a Jewish student for observing [the high holidays]"

Student No. 3
[redacted] also used me in a hypothetical in which a member of my section 'saw me' withthe husband of another student in our section...."

Student No. 4
"He called on students of color almost never—and when he did, he cut those students off before
s/he had an opportunity to finish a sentence."
"When a Jewish student was absent for High Holy Days,
[redacted] asserted his belief that it was
silly that schools and employers allowed these absences...."

Student No. 5
"During one of the Jewish High Holidays, Professor
[redacted] started class by commenting that one of our fellow classmates was missing for the holiday and asked the class something to the effect of 'Aren't there any other Jews in class?'"
"On another occasion while trying to demonstrate the legal concept of duress to the class, Professor [redacted] created a hypothetical narrative in which one of my classmates (female) was caught kissing the husband of another one of my married classmates."

So, that is the background of this rather long email. I am in serious danger of being excluded from teaching first year courses next year, or, for all I know, ever. I am alleged to discriminate against African Americans by not allowing them to talk in class or by failing to accord them respect when they do. I am alleged to be anti-Jewish. I am alleged to use sexually-charged, inappropriate hypotheticals in class. Finally, I am rude.

I have taken two immediate steps. I have announced in class that I will no longer cold-call, but will only take volunteers. This will avoid the allegation that I do not call on African Americans, although it will not avoid the “treating with respect” issue. (I know, and regret, that it will also mean that I can no longer encourage shy students to “break the ice” by talking in class). I have also begun to audio-record all my classes, so that hypotheticals or other remarks made by me will cannot be inaccurately reported.

If you are so inclined, I invite you to communicate with the deans with respect to these charges. There needs to be as much feedback as possible on these issues, whether for me or against me. I think the appropriate person to contact is Dean Ryan at jryan@virginia.edu.

This email has been sent to all students in my first-year classes who have not yet graduated.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


We propose a new term to be entered into the UVA Lawexicon - "Jonny Flynn Lift".

For those who don't know who Jonny Flynn is, he's the sophomore point guard for the Syracuse Orange basketball team. A 6'0'', 19 year-old native of Niagra Falls, NY, he is a top NBA prospect even now. He averages around 20 points per game and delivers in the clutch like no one else.

Flynn plaid 67 minutes in the six-OT win over favored Conneticuit in the quarter-finals of the Big East tournament, and essentially won it for his team (being one of the only starters not to foul out), and then the next day played 45 minutes in an overtime win against West Virginia. Even though his team lost the tournament in a heartbreaker against Louisville, Flynn was awarded the MVP for the Big East tournament.

Anyway, yesterday morning before the championship game against Louisville, Flynn's teammates were exhausted after having to play to successive overtime games. But not Flynn: while his teammates were getting massages and ice baths and g-d knows what else to prepare for the big game, Flynn was in the gym of his Manhattan hotel, lifting weights and getting jacked-up, because conditioning wins championships.

So we propose that everytime you go to the gym to get huge before IM soccer, football, or basketball or NGSL or whatever the action be designated a Jonny Flynn lift, as an homage to his manliness / awesomeness.

Rubesoisie: Who? What?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Follow up to Rule 12 (f)'s hypo

It looks like the opportunity cost of taking the deal is about $100,000 and one year towards partner (plus whatever raises you would push back and presumably fail to get interest on). This also assumes that $160,000 (or $145,000 or whatever "market" is in your area) is still untouchable - my instincts tell me no.

I wonder if the people who don't take the deal are easier to say goodbye to in layoffs than those who show up to work every day. Or harder to layoff because of the large sunk cost of firing somebody who hasn't generated any billables for you yet.

One more variable to consider is how long the offer is good. If you had several months to job search to be sure you had something interesting lined up, that might lead one to take it - eventually. Taking the deal then trying to line something up would be involve more uncertainty.

All in all though, the chance to score a genius grant for a year would prove too enticing. I'd live at home, volunteer (more less) at whatever prosecutor's office or legal services organization would have me, and take a go at getting something published.

Here's what my evil doppelgänger would do: take the money, get a BigLaw job with another firm, and clear a cool $240,000 for the year. Not bad, EITE.

OPEN THREAD: BAM! You're a 3L, And You Get Offered a Buyout . . .

The editors all thought it would be 'fun' to see how people respond to this hypothetical. You are a 3L and are lucky enough to have had a good summer associateship and get an offer to come back after you graduate. But then the economy tanks and your firm comes to you this (stylized) proposal:
  • It will pay you $62,000 in one lump sum when you graduate.
  • It also pay you $13,000 in the form of of bar-prep and stipend.
  • You must defer your start date at the firm for one year, basically you would be starting in October in year following your graduation.
  • There is no requirement that you do any public interest work during the interim, though the firm would prefer if you did.
  • The firm is requiring you to take the bar.
  • Employment w/ the firm continues to be at will - in other words, you could in theory take the money and run after a year.
  • You will not be eligible for UVA's Loan Forgiveness Program if you take the deal.
So what do you do? Do you take the deal? If so, what do you do in the interim? Sound off in the comments!

EDIT: Here's what one 3L with the option is doing:

But then, in a single moment, everything shifted. The firm that had offered me a job was forcing me to choose: I could begin in December, or I could defer my start date until October of the following year and receive an additional $60,000 stipend. And suddenly, I had no idea what to do.

But wait, you might be thinking, isn’t one of the options just to do what you were originally planning to do? Well, yes. But you can’t just do what you were originally planning to do when someone offers you $60,000 not to do it. You have to think. You have to consider. You have to calculate the odds that you will get fired in your first week of work when they discover that you spend most of your time alternating between flailing uselessly around your office and making desperate phone calls to the Westlaw research hotline because you’re lonely and scared and the research attorney’s voice soothes you. Tell me again about the locate button, you ask her.

In the end, I decided to defer. I’m taking the year off to try writing professionally . . .

Read more. Writing professionally?? C'mon, everyone knows the real glory is in being an unpaid blogger . . .

Friday, March 13, 2009

There's No Such Thing A Free Lunch

Let's talk about about something important . . . Put that lunch down! . . . lunches are for admitted students only . . . you think I'm f*cking with you? I am not f*cking with you . . . From the SBA President:
I want to let you know that the first of two Admitted Students Open Houses will take place this Friday, March 13th. The Admissions Office is predicting a record number of prospective students for this event so we will likely have a very full house on Friday. Parking will be limited that day so if you could try and carpool with a friend/roommate, it would certainly help out quite a bit. Also, as part of the Open House, there will be food provided for the prospective students in the morning and afternoon. Please be mindful of the fact that this event is being held for these prospective students and so, even though it might be tempting to grab a free lunch, we all need to hold back until the prospective students and guests have been fully served and the student-volunteer hosts tell us it is ok take something. Thanks so much for helping make this event as memorable as it was for many of us just a year or two (or three) ago.
A record number of students, ITE? Well, we'll be hovering around like a vulture waiting for one of these student volunteers says it's OK. Always be closing . . .

Anyway, for the admitted students - here's a two-step guide on how to decide where to go law school.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LIVEBLOG: SBA Town Hall Meeting

1:33- Our SBA President Dan welcomes all students and begins with an apology for the poor timing of the meeting. Judging from the amount of students in attendance (around 30), this apology is well grounded. Rest assured fellow students, the minutes of this meeting will be posted on the SBA website and this will not be our only opportunity to have a town hall meeting.

1:38- Dean Lawson announcing plan to have more interview dates in August to insure the ability of the law school to host all firms that want to come interview in August. The addition of these days seems good to me, so long as it doesn't conflict with summer programs.

1:40- Lottery to increase to 50% of firms interview slots, up from 20%. Zounds!

1:42- Targeted training secession on interview process to go over how to dress selves, how not to be embarrassing in interviews. 1Ls- also stay tuned for small section training secessions on Symplicity. Symplicity, not so simple after all. Also, more training sessions? I never really found the other ones very helpful, so fingers crossed.

1:44- First question. What about the 3L interview process, any changes? Dean Lawson doesn't really have an answer to this one, except that there will be future discussions with firms and students.

1:45- President Dan wants more details about the new lottery system. Students will continue to bid on firms and half of every firms' interview slots will be filled by the law school according the highest bidders. There will also be waitlists to opt into, similar to the Special Requests under Case.

1:51- Mandatory limits on number of firm selected interviews? Turns out it is hard to limit pre-selected interviews on the firm side. As for placing limits on the students, someone suggests placing a strict limit on the number of interviews a student signs up for rather than just giving guidelines. Dean Lawson thinks it is about the whole package IN THIS ECONOMY so a strict limit would be unfair to students with good grades that are less personable, etc.

1:57- Dan directs a question to Yared Getchaw about how the changes in hiring will affect public interest jobs. These interviews will still occur during September, the agency slots will be purely on a pre-selected basis.

2:00- New proposed OGI interview schedule.

Week One: Interview preperation on Monday and Tuesday, interviews on Wed, Thurs, Friday.

Week Two: Monday off for Peer Adviser Activities. Interviews Tuesday-Friday. Pow-wows with career services over the weekend.

Week Three: Interviews on Mon, Tues.

2:01- Getting legitimate rather than dismissive lottery interviews requires students to inform themselves about the firms and be smart in choosing their lottery picks.

2:07- Student suggest a student ambassador type system where students are put in touch with older students who had been successful in the past in similar markets/with specific firms.

2:08- Abrupt end to meeting as next round of classes begins. Dan urges us all to contact the SBA with more concerns.

2:12- Final Thoughts

Overall Themes: more meetings/information for 1Ls prior to process, concendsed earlier interview schedule, increased lottery interview slots.

I will leave the town hall meeting slightly more informed and perhaps slightly more hopeful with the prospects of future 2L OGIs. However I did not hear much of anything about how we are addressing the current 2Ls still struggling to secure employment or how we are going to ensure that those 2Ls who are settling for less than ideal positions this summer are going to remedy that next year. But at least change is in the air for current 1Ls.

*Another* Computer Theft in the Law School

This one was taken from the bench outside the bathroom by WB 105.  More details  . . . later, but in the meantime, do not trust the honor code to protect your valuables (i.e. laptops) while in the Law School  ! ! ! 

EDIT: Our understanding is that this is the third such theft in recent memory.  And that's just computers, not including textbooks, clothing items, et cetra. 


Today: LIVEBLOG of Career Services Town Hall

Stuck in class? NO PROBLEM. The UVA Law Blog editors (though not I personally, *tear) bring you - LIVE from WB 126 - minute-by-minute updates of today's 1.30 meeting.

See you then!

PILA Booksale FTW

It's starts at 10 today and you best be there AT 10 to get the best deals.


(1) Get Chemerinsky for ConLaw if you don't have it already
(2) Pwn the curve
(3) ???

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get Your Libel Show Tickets ! ! !

The Libel Show is the oldest student organization at UVA law. This year is our 101st show. As a testament to its popularity, the Thursday show sold out within 2 hours, but there are plenty of seats left for Wednesday and Friday. There is FREE BEER prior to the show and during intermission, and it's a great time to be had by all. You can buy your tickets in Scott Commons at the Libel Show table this week - but hurry up cause they're selling fast!

Here's a clip from last year's show - enjoy and hope to see you there!:

Monday, March 09, 2009

Career Services / SBA Town Hall Meeting Wednesday

Got something to say to Career Services? Want to know what the big changes to OGI will be next year? Your chance is this Wednesday at 1.30 in WB 106 - the SBA & Career Services are having a "town hall meeting" where you can ask questions and get some insight into what they have cooked up next year.

Rant: This time is bad. We - like a whole bunch of other people - have class then. Of course, it's hard to schedule around the entire Law School, but we think that for a topic this important the Career Services People should have found a better time. I think more people would be able to come if they had the meeting at something like Tuesday at 5 (basing that off looking at the course enrollments on LawWeb, linked above). Anyway, it's an important event, so maybe your Prof's will understand if you miss class to attend it (since it's directly relavant to what you came to LS for in the first place . . . getting a job).

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Big Red to the Big Dance

. . . and we're back! Hope everyone's break was good . . . with Feb Club behind us, it's now time to kick it into high gear - by which I mean playing softball and enjoying the nice weather generally. And outlining . . . Anyway, here's a snapshot from our break - rushing the court after the Ivy League Title Game . . .

Better in academics, better in sports: Cornell soars above Penn

They played "We Are the Champions" and the ". . . of the world" line was on when this shot was taken, no joke.


Also, don't forget Libel Show tix go on sale tomorrow (March 9th).