Diversity.

I’m taking a seminar on affirmative action this semester where we have studied how a lot of schools, UCLA included, propound the value of ‘diversity’ on campus. Black students in the seminar: 0.

While I know black UCLA law students exist, I did a quick count this week:

Black students in tax: 0

Black students in litigation: 0

Black students in remedies: 1

and by the way, black students in my 1L section: 0

Maybe next semester?

UPDATE: After I posted this, I went to see “How the West Was Won” at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. The movie was made in 1963. Part of it depicted the Civil War. There was not a single black person on-screen in nearly 3 hrs of film.

03 Nov 05

Comments

Diversity 2.

I grew up in the great state of New Hampshire (“Live free or die”) which is one of the most racially homogeneous states around. NH is 0.7% black, compared to 12.3% nationally, which puts it even behind Utah, and slightly ahead of North Dakota.

My best friend when I was 5 was a black kid in my neighborhood named Jamie (who had white parents) but aside from one black student in my high school, that was the entire population of black people I ran into in 13 years as a NH resident.

Diversity policies at universities were meant to benefit people like me: a white kid from a very white state. What did I know about people of color?

Indeed, nothing. But the homogeneity of New Hampshire did not give rise to xenophobic-type racism (as perhaps it does other places). NH is tagged as a conservative state but it’s libertarian-style, not wingnut-style. People enjoy being left alone to do their thing—live free or die, man. That translates into a respect for other people’s privacy, and a respect for differences.

For example, there are a surprising number of gay people around Manchester NH (where I grew up). Nobody would think of it as a big gay scene. But the gay people I’ve met who live in NH enjoy that aspect—they can just be gay in their own (often extremely boring) way. They don’t have to conform to some prevailing culture of urban gayness.

Surely, there are homophobes and racists in NH, like there are anywhere else. But culturally NH is oriented towards a kind of social quid pro quo—I won’t express an opinion about how you live your life, as long as you don’t insist that I have to take an interest in it. As an adult, that seems like an eminently fair exchange.

As I’ve proceeded through higher education & later the world at large, the ‘As White As New Hampshire’ test has always been my benchmark for diversity measurement. I look around environments that ought to be ‘diverse’ and say ‘why is this place as white as New Hampshire?’

Here’s an example: the Bay Area technology industry. There’s a large population of blacks in the region, mostly in the East Bay. I worked in technology for six years and dealt with hundreds of people at dozens of companies. I met exactly ONE black person. He was a graphic designer at a software company. I met exactly ZERO black engineers.

Why is this place as white as New Hampshire?

04 Nov 05

Comments

Ah, you fail to mention that you didn’t meet any white engineers either.

Posted by: Anon at November 4, 2005 04:45 PM

I have no idea what you mean. White people dominated technical & engineering positions at that time.

Posted by: MB at November 5, 2005 01:05 AM

The only students I actually know at the law school are black, Chicana/o, Latina/o or Native American. Maybe the underrepresented students stick together. No surprise.

Posted by: cindylu at November 6, 2005 01:49 AM


Diversity 3.

So, in line with the New Hampshire Whiteness Test, I have mixed feelings about our Critical Race Studies program and other similar programs that are designed to be ‘magnet’ programs for black / hispanic / native american students and faculty.

At UCLA, the Critical Race program is used as a stealth racial preference—if you check off the box on your admissions application that you’re interested, you get a preference. This is supposed to be a race-neutral preference, but URMs check off the box far more frequently than others.

I support racial preferences in admissions. I support the recognition that race issues are worthy of dedicated academic programs. But I do not support the way UCLA’s setup seems to promote cosmetic diversity—the school can tell the world “we have X% black enrollment” but inside the school, blacks and other URMs are concentrated in certain classes and absent from many others.

By wedding an academic program (Critical Race Studies) to an admissions goal (more URMs) it promotes the formation of a ‘school within the school’ leading to semi-segregation.

In 1L sections, I have heard students are assigned randomly except by race—black and hispanic students are allocated so there is a ‘critical mass’ in a section; if there aren’t enough of them, that section will have none.

I say this not in outrage or indignation, but only as an illustration of the way that ‘diversity’, broadly writ, is the justification for many of these bend-into-a-pretzel policies. But the result, while perhaps satisfying to deans and administrators, is not quite the same on the ground.

The techniques that UCLA has employed to skirt Prop 209 may have led to marginal increases in URM enrollment but I question whether it delivers diversity to the students the way it was intended to. I might as well be taking tax in New Hampshire.

08 Nov 05

Comments

I actually recently graduated from UCLA Law with a concentration in Critical Race Studies. I also did some research on UCLA Law admissions policies and statistics, and how curricular diversity (“magnet programs) relate to the actual goals of representation and whether it’s back-door affirmative action leading to stigmatization, etc. Having gone through two years in CRS, I can tell you first hand that though the concentrators are diverse, they are by no means concentrated in any one ethnicity/race. Most of the concentrators are White or Asian-American, followed by Latina/o and Black. The highest correlation is between CRS and PILP actually. In the end, the class of 2005 contained only 8 CRS concentrators—it’s tough for people to finish their Bar req./PILP req. and 7 CRS req., particularly the extra writing req. The fact that it graduates relatively few, given that its core classes (CRT, Civil Rights) can number into 35-40 demonstrates that most students view the classes as legitimate curricula that they wish to take to broaden their legal education; therefore many students take the classes on an ad hoc basis. If it were a stealth program, all of its graduates would be minorities, and they would be predominately Black/Latino. The fact that Black/Latino students take these classes does not mean that they got in through the back door or are looking for an easy way through law school. The CRS program is a rigorous program emphasizing scholarly writing—four of us graduates, including myself, are currently looking towards entering the market for legal academia. I guess my point is, the CRS is not a “stealth racial preference,” but rather an academic program comprising what you perceive as disproportionate numbers of of minorities and public interest minded students. The Corporate Law Program and the Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA have a disproportionate number of White people—would we call these programs a “stealth” method of recruiting John Muir sympathizers or Warren Buffet types? Law school admissions is about intellectual diversity as much as demographic diversity—therefore, it behooves a school to offer varied curricula in order to entice a varied student body.

Posted by: Dana Nguyen at December 30, 2005 10:47 PM

CRS was introduced at UCLA in part to remedy a drop in URM enrollment caused by Prop 209. Students expressing an interest in CRS on their application get an admissions preference, regardless of their race. I’m not aware that students expressing an interest in the Corp Law or Environmental Program get a similar preference. So both the intent & the implementation are different.

I don’t agree that “if it were a stealth program, all of its grads would be minorities”—any program that is designed to have a disproportionate effect on URMs while evading Prop 209 is by definition stealth. The fact that whites and Asians can also benefit doesn’t change that.

Nowhere did I suggest that CRS is an “easy way through law school” or anything less than “rigorous”.

My point was simply this: I had approx 215 total classmates last semester, which is about 35% of the 2L/3L enrollment. Of these, exactly one student was black. Perhaps it was a sampling anomaly. But that’s fewer than I’d expect given the overall black representation of 4% or so.

To me, this is an example of why Prop 209 is a failure. I think admissions offices should be allowed to admit whomever they want, for whatever reason. There is no absolute scale of ‘merit’. As Souter said in Gratz, “equal protection cannot become an exercise in which the winners are the ones who hide the ball”.

Posted by: MB at December 31, 2005 08:11 AM


What I learned at the gay wedding.

My college roommate got married in Boston this weekend to his boyfriend of 10 years. At the reception I found myself seated between two very attractive female lawyers—the good news. The bad news—they were both married. The on balance good news—they were married to each other.

They told me they had gone to a law school where they were the only two lesbians in the class, and fortunately they liked each other. They both had checked off ‘gay’ on their applications and had no doubt it was important to their admissions chances.

When I jokingly called it a form of affirmative action, they assured me it was—and added that they are frequently beneficiaries of a similar type of affirmative action in social situations, as nobody seems to have a hot, married lesbian couple among their friends. So, in their words, they “fill a gap.”

As it turned out, their marriage last year had been the impetus for my roommate & his guy to ‘make it legal’—a form of peer pressure that straight people have endured through gritted teeth for decades, and now may start to grow through the gay population.

They asked if I was dating law school women. I said I was considering it. That got the most voluminous response of the evening, as they detailed the many, many reasons I really should not date law school females. I’m not sure they made that compelling a case, but ladies take note: certain lesbians are out there trash-talking you. In case you want to make something of it.

PS. Congratulations John & Stan!

14 Nov 05

Comments

Deanizzle Schillizzle.

TW & MD pass this one along from the SFGate:

Michael Schill, dean of UCLA’s law school, was given an annual salary of $290,000 and then received a $270,000 housing allowance when he arrived from New York University in August 2004. UC also paid his actual moving expenses. UC administrators say they need to offer such allowances to recruit the best employees and to speed their transition to UC jobs.

In other news, a full 50% of my fall professors have now declared that they “love” my orange & purple Adidas sneaks. Thank you, gentlemen.

14 Nov 05

Comments

270 grand for housing? I’m not sure what he’s buying... a studio in Westwood?

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Posted by: EXENATIDE-SYNTHETIC-1420753712 at January 21, 2007 06:15 AM


Gin & juice.

More from the SF Gate: highest paid people in the UC system. And yes, we have some serious bling babies in our midst.

Salary / total pay in 2004:
Michael Schill: $265,833 / $535,833
Neil Netanel: $180,000 / $351,812
Mark Grady: $225,000 / $343,300
Katherine Stone: $193,600 / $298,410
Khaled Abou El Fadl: $180,000 / $241,158
Joel Handler: $215,000 / $235,998
Stephen Yeazell: $220,000 / $234,999
Devon Carbado: $165,000 / $233,298
Samuel Thompson: $189,600 / $231,733
Richard Abel: $215,000 / $230,000
Mark Greenberg: $125,000 / $228,305
Daniel Lowenstein: $185,000 / $226,111
Grant Nelson: $210,300 / $225,299
Russell Robinson: $125,000 / $224,260
Stephen Munzer: $190,000 / $209,999
Lynn LoPucki: $194,800 / $209,800
Noah Zatz: $125,000 / $208,929
Grace Blumberg: $191,200 / $206,19
Eugene Volokh: $154,700 / $204,950
Lynn Stout: $189,600 / $204,599
David Binder: $189,600 / $204,599




















Some of these people started at UCLA in 2004 (Schill, Netanel) so they have fat one-time moving bonuses packed into their compensation. It makes me think I should start indexing my teaching evals to salary. “The class was pretty good, but considering how much we pay this dude, I expected nicer Powerpoint slides.”

If you want to know what all the other law professors make, here’s the law faculty pay scale.

Now, law professors are somewhat fond of griping about their salaries in relation to the expected earnings of the 25-year-olds entering big law firms each year. To this I say: all of you seem to severely discount the value of tenure.

The big firm associate gets paid well, but he’s likely to get burned out & quit long before his 7th year, and trade down to a more enjoyable (but less lucrative) job.

Whereas the tenured professor gets to collect her salary every year ... not subject to performance reviews ... forever. No questions asked. Plus, there seem to be pretty liberal policies supporting extracurricular consulting and teaching very little certain semesters (like, zero). Most people in America would call this a sweet deal.

So the next time you hear the whining of tenured professors, raise your hand and say: Boo. Fuckin. Hoo. Baby.

(props to TW)

16 Nov 05

Comments

You are very right. But you left out two very important facts: 1) They work 9 months out of the year; 2) These guys are on sweet pension plans.

The California teachers pension plan website has a nifty benefits calculator. (calstrs.org) (I’m not sure what plan UC professors are on, it might be calpers, but I’m sure the benefit calculation is similar).

Take Professor Nelson as an example. Let’s say he retires making $225K after 25 years of service (probably a modest estimate). The calculator tells me he will take home $135K / yr. in pension for the rest of his life. How much would your average private sector loser have to stash in his 401K to get that kind of return when he retires? Answer: About $2.7 million (assuming 5% return).

Boo.Fuckin.Hoo.In.Fuckin.Deed.

Posted by: at November 16, 2005 10:56 PM

And another thing—when those pension funds become insolvent because they promise these ridiculous benefits for limited contributions, who is going to have to bridge that gap? Taxpayers, that’s who. Yes on 75!!!

Posted by: at November 16, 2005 11:07 PM

Reminds me of my teachers growing up who complained ad nauseam about having to make their own copies, how little the get paid, how they can’t assign papers because they don’t have time to grade them. One day my chemistry teacher gave us a sales pitch on why we should all consider being teachers. His exact words are a little fuzzy but the jist of the matter was

- He makes 75k/year

- He works 170 days a year

- He gets every holiday off

- He has free medical/dental coverage

- EVERYBODY in his family has free medical/dental

- In his words - “they couldn’t fire me unless I molested somebody”

- He can retire after 22 years with a full pension.

- He can call in sick any day he wants.

- He works 5 50-minute periods a day max.

This was probably ten years ago so some of this might have changed and this teacher was in a non-LA Unified school (LAUSD pays about 10% on average less and has introduced a very small copay on some medical although everything else is comparable to my knowledge). Having subbed in LA Unified I was given the sales pitch and the “real deal” by many long-time teachers including the fact that your insurance is paid in full even after you retire! I believe in paying teachers a competitive wage and trying to recruit as many qualified teachers as possible. I also know first hand about the extra time, patience and dedication it takes to make it out there as a teacher. Looking out at classes of 40 students (which made it practically impossible to teach) I always wondered how many kids would be in that class if the teachers in the school taught all three semesters instead of two (multi-track school) and got benefits more similar to those in the private sector. To give you an idea - if CA teachers had a regular copay for their own and their family’s medical, not only would every kid in CA have brand-new textbooks every year - they could keep them. I also wondered how many more qualified teachers would be drawn to teaching if they front-ended some of the money they were spending on the massive benefit/pension packages instead of offering me 43.5k/year to start. 60-70k/year out of college is very doable if you ever sat down and actually did the math with the budget. But the teachers unions would never allow that. Why not, you ask? Ahhh . . . at least you’re starting to ask the right questions.

Posted by: TR at November 16, 2005 11:52 PM


Gaming 1.

You can keep your spider solitaire and your minesweeper. That crap is boring. During the inevitable lulls in legal education that all of us must endure, I like to revisit friends from my youth: coin-op arcade games from the 80s.

Those of you who sit behind me have probably already wondered ‘how did that dude get Ms. Pac-Man on his laptop’? Suffice it to say, I have my pick of hundreds of vintage games.

Nevertheless, I come back to a few over and over. Not only that, but certain classes put me in the mood for certain games. Like cabernet and prime rib—they just seem to go together. There is some sort of thematic connection between game & topic that manages to keep me entertained, yet still connected to the overarching themes of the lecture.

Donkey Kong / Remedies

DK is a true work of art. And I feel much the same way about our civil procedure system: a beautiful interlocking set of ideas of how to achieve justice, while balancing concerns of fairness, expediency, and finality.

As I climb the girders, I am a plaintiff seeking to obtain some remedy—perhaps a permanent injunction—meanwhile cruel Defendant Kong hails down objections and defenses upon me. I will not be deterred. I have suffered irreparable harm.

19 Nov 05

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Gaming 2.

Elevator Action / Federal Income Tax

This game has been critical for my understanding of ordinary income and capital gains treatment. Our protagonist must work his way down a tall building, using elevators to make his escape, shooting villains along the way.

Whereas I prefer to see it as an allegory of a taxpayer who has purchased a commercial property as a tax shelter, allowing his to ‘get on’ the ‘cap gains elevator’. Then, through depreciation deductions, he reduces the adjusted basis (takes the elevator down).

When he reaches the bottom floor, he makes a clean getaway in what looks like a red Ford Pinto, happy that he has succesfully deferred all the tax on his rental income into the future. True, he faces a big capital gains bill if he sells the building. But there’s always level 2.

23 Nov 05

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Gaming 3.

Pengo & Mappy (tie) / Litigation

OK, I can’t really explain this one. There is something about studying multiparty tort settlements that requires me to occasionally escape for 20 seconds and assume the identity of a lovable cartoon animal: one who kicks blocks of ice around, or one who jumps on trampolines. It can be so hard to choose sometimes.

27 Nov 05

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Bluebook idiocy.

Early in the semester I had the brilliant idea to subcontract the Bluebooking of my seminar paper to an eager law review member who had no life and would appreciate the $10 + 12-pack of MGD I would offer for the privilege.

Somewhere along the way I forgot to write that down. Now I’m doing it myself and don’t even have the MGD to show for it.

I’m sure the idiocy of the Bluebook has been adequately described elsewhere on the web. so let me just file a short concurring opinion: The Bluebook is idiotic. How we, as Americans, can have such elegant Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and such dreadful, illogical rules for citations is beyond me.

The worst part of the Bluebook is the maddening inconsistency that makes most of the fiddly rules about when to use small caps or italics useless, since they mean different things depending on what type of source material is being cited. Does that not seem stupid to you? If you’re on UCLA L. Rev., don’t answer, because I know it will cause the fabric of time-space in your immediate vicinity to collapse.

27 Nov 05

Comments

Constriction time again.

Ah, exam time is almost here again. The good news is that since last year, UCLA has inflated its grade curve to increase the A’s, decrease the C’s, and center the whole distribution around a B+ rather than B. Meaning, I will either get a grade boost for working the same amount, or keep the same grades while working less.

Given the preparation I’ve mustered so far, it’s likely to be the latter. This is what I learned last semester about exam prep. For three classes, I had this “great” outline system and did a ton of sample exams. I got average grades on those exams. For the one class I hated, where I had a crap outline, did 1.5 sample exams and left an hour early, I graded the best.

This either proves a) something or b) nothing.

Actually, I do think I made a mistake last semester, which maybe I can help someone else avoid. When I made my outlines I was trying to get everything summarized in a neat format. I wasn’t actually learning the material any better. So this time, my rule is: nothing goes into the outline until I’m convinced I get it. Having the material well-summarized, but just as inscrutable, is not useful.

And this time, I promise to leave all my exams 2 HOURS early, which should launch me into the A++ zone.

29 Nov 05

Comments

on behalf of all of your classmates, i whole-heartedly sanction your exam-taking strategy, and would happily wave goodbye I watch you leave.

Posted by: pv at November 30, 2005 02:02 AM

Nice Depeche Mode reference. “Some Great Reward?” might have been appropriate as well.

Posted by: Gahan at December 4, 2005 07:07 PM

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