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October 11, 2007

Creating a Classroom for the Twenty-First Century

Groundbreaking for the new UC Davis Law School expansion occurred earlier this month. The new building will add many classrooms and much needed space for student group work.

Like many law schools, we are thinking hard about what kind of technology should go into the classroom. We propose, for example, to build in video conferencing into our rooms.

What kind of equipment do you like--either as a professor or a student? What do you dislike?

What kind of equipment has your law school just installed? And has it been a success?

What does your ideal classroom podium look like? Do you like microphones at each student chair?

Anupam Chander

October 11, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 10, 2007

AALS Hiring and Innovation

Like many other schools, we are getting ready to send a contingent to the annual AALS hiring convention later this month to interview prospective professors. I was looking through the list of prospects, and marveling once again at how summary the data sheets are-- a single page of information.

Does this limit us if we are looking for innovators? Perhaps, since it tends to emphasize factors which are not strong indicators of innovation: Class rank, schools attended, membership on law review. Certainly, some students are high achievers because of their creativity, but many more are not. The brevity of the form masks many indicators of innovation, such as outside interests and inter-disciplinary work in school.

If a school is truly interested in finding innovators, they may want to emphasize some factors over others. For example, it might make sense to highly value published work which is striking and original, even if it is in the form of a student note.

But then, is innovation potential really something we even look for, or should?

-- Mark Osler

October 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 8, 2007

Would it be unethical (or even illegal) to put my US News vote up for sale?

For the second consecutive year, I have received US News' survey asking me to help identify "law schools having the top programs in intellectual property law."  My receipt of this survey highlights just how flawed some aspects of US News' rankings can be. 

I was an IP litigator a decade ago and I taught a few IP courses early in my career.  But, especially with my primary field so active, I cannot even hope to keep up with all the IP doings in law schools.  Nevertheless, US News seeks my opinion on which 15 schools have "the highest-quality intellectual property law courses or programs."  Candidly, I have absolutely no idea.

I suppose I could try to make educated guesses about the best IP programs based on who sent around the hottest "law porn" covering IP topics this year.  But I also could throw darts at the survey form and probably not do much worse. 

Consequently, I am now wondering if I could and should simply offer my US News survey to the highest bidder.  Helpfully, US News promises that survey responses are kept confidential, so nobody would know whether or to whom I sold my vote.

Of course, I do not want to do anything unethical or illegal, so I am genuinely seeking an answer to the question posed in this post's title.  I know vote selling in some contexts can be illegal, but I don't think a survey by a private magazine garners too much public protection.  As for ethics, well, what I am proposing seems no less savory than what some schools have reportedly done to game the US News rankings system.  Plus, some recent research suggests that open vote buying/selling may be efficient in this kind of setting.

Posted by DAB

P.S.  Though I started this post in jest, the free-market libertarian lurking inside me is really getting jazzed about this US News vote-selling idea.  Perhaps some law-and-econ folks need to talk some sense into me.

October 8, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack