Wednesday, July 27, 2016


In my previous post  I praised the new Dean at UF. Someone, perhaps disingenuously, perhaps sincerely, wrote a comment (anonymously) asking me to list what her accomplishments are. Although many anonymous commentators could not tie Rod Stewart's shoe, I responded with a list that can be found in the comments section of my past post.

To make a long story short although it is too late now, one of my answers was "modernize the LLM in tax." To that I got this -- yes, anonymous -- comment: "By modernizing the LLM program, do you mean by dismantling it and not hiring outstanding faculty to replace those that are retiring?"

This particular  phrasing has been used repeatedly by people who are being manipulated, in my opinion, to fight self-interested battles of those  terrified of changing a 50s style LLM program into a 21st Century LLM program to the benefit of all. Some of this has occurred evidently in a mass mailing. In fact, I expect to see  T shirts that say "Don't dismantle tax." The ANONYMOUS commentator is parroting a rumor possibly spread, encouraged, and, hatched by people at UF who are afraid of moving forward.

I've decided to respond to this clearly disingenuous and anonymous question, (Rod Stewart's shoe aside) as what might be called a teaching moment. Oh, that's to high minded sounding. Let say it is a blah blah moment during which I try to dissuade others from buying into every rumor that emanates from UF Law. Riling up students and alums to advance personal ends is pretty desperate.

1. Dismantling: As far as I know there is no dismantling unless that means making the program more attractive and exciting. And, as far as I know, if any retiring people are not replaced it will simply reflect the fact that we do not replace all people who retire because of budget issues. Four or five people retired from UF Law this year. As far as I know, none will be replaced except maybe tax. Again, the  commentator/questioner has been duped into thinking that tax is any different from any other area.

Since the tax program attracts many fewer applicants than a few years ago, the class is smaller, and so few JD students take tax courses (what is with that? when I when to law school most people took at least 2) most people would agree that it makes little sense to replace everyone who retires. Again, I do not know that people will not be replaced but in the interest of simple economics, I personally would not replace them.

2. Dismantling and not replacing are the same question but let's get real about the LLM at Florida. It is the third ranked LLM according to  US News but in some other rankings it is much lower. I believe the Dean is struggling to make sure the US News ranking is maintained despite the loss over the past several years of some true tax stars and a serious case of inertia.  As for how outstanding the current faculty is, I cannot say since I do not pay much attention to the area. I am pretty sure there is definitely one outstanding scholar and perhaps more. A rumor is that two others, well-versed in tax,  are more or less excluded from being "official" which in both cases makes no sense to me. Just sliding those two over into tax to replace retirements would be a big step. I hope the Dean does this but I am happy to have no influence.

So if there is no dismantling of what is one of UFs highest ranked programs (whether reality based or not) what would be the interest in not hiring the best person possible? If we hire I am sure the sights will be very high and possibly higher than some would like.

There you go bated breath commentator!!!


Steve Pullum said...

I have read all of your blog posts about the LLM program. I disagree with your analysis of the program and the professors. Your unwarranted attacks on some fine professors (and gentlemen) says more about you, than them. I do not believe that the dean is trying to improve the LLM program. Eliminating the heart of the program will not improve the program, it will kill it.

After reading your tax blogs, I read some of your other blogs. Clearly you are an opinionated individual with too much time on your hands.

Your blogs do not add to the reputation of the UF law school. They clearly show that you are nothing more than another loud mouthed ultra-liberal.

J. Stephen Pullum

Jeffrey Harrison said...

res ipsa

Jeffrey Harrison said...

I am not sure why those who feel the tax program is being mistreated never offer actual evidence to support their beliefs. My point is a simple one and it is not at all about funding. I am in my faculty office nearly every day. So far I have not heard any member of the faculty, including those that teach tax, publicly express concern about the rigor of the program. In fact, I have not heard one of them say publicly what the changes actually are that threaten the core of the program, including its rigor. Where does that leave me? The only explanation is that through whispers and private meetings loyal alums are being exploited to fight the petty turf wars for a couple of faculty members – a very sad state of affairs. People who sneak around and rile students and alums almost always make a case that cannot stand scrutiny.