Provost Willihnganz responds to J. Bruce Miller's attack on the University of Louisville

Provost Shirley Willihnganz has written a comprehensive response to J. Bruce Miller's attack on the University of Louisville. Provost Willihnganz's contribution to the Courier-Journal, styled "UofL 'well on its way' to becoming a premier university," mentioned the Law School:

Our law school ranked 98th of 184 programs — not out of 100, as Miller claimed. Our 2008 entering class had a median LSAT score of 156, equivalent to an SAT score of 1120, and an average undergraduate GPA of 3.45. This puts us closer to the top 50 percent, rather than the bottom 5 percent as Miller claims.

Along with the rest of the University of Louisville community, I thank Provost Willihnganz for her valiant — and correct — defense of our university.


What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?

— Edwin Markham, The Man with the Hoe (1898)

L'homme à la houe

Jean-François Millet, L'homme à la houe (1860-62)

»  Reprinted from the July 2009 issue of Louisville Bar Briefs   «

In this summer of disquiet, of economic uncertainty and instability, we may yet redeem this season if we transform poetry into motion and song into resolve. From fields of lawyerly prose, let us greet the long reaches of the peaks of song, the rife of dawn, the reddening of the rose.

The Law School's Academic Success Program

Kimberly Ballard, director of academic success, has announced important changes in the Law School's Academic Success Program:

Kimberly Ballard

I am particularly excited about two changes that we will be implementing for the incoming Law School class.

First, we are in the process of rebranding the Law School's academic support program. As part of the rebranding, we changed the name of the program to "Academic Success." The Law School's Academic Success Program is a resource for all law students. It is dedicated to helping every law student achieve his or her full academic potential. We hope that all students will appreciate the benefits of the Academic Success Program, and that the caliber of the program will attract future top-quality students.

The second (and more significant) change is the creation of a Structured Study Group (SSG) program for first-year students. The design for this new program is based on numerous studies throughout all levels of education addressing the learning benefits of cooperative learning groups. The SSG program will be an inclusive, non-remedial program of academic success that integrates study skills instruction into the context of one targeted first-semester subject — Contracts I.

To develop skill mastery, the SSG program will utilize cooperative learning techniques that incorporate hypotheticals and problems that will aid students in developing law school study and analytical skills that the students can use with success throughout their legal education, in studying for the bar, and in law practice. Approximately ten upper division students will be selected to become Academic Fellows. The primary responsibility of the Academic Fellows will be to facilitate the structured study groups. Each study group will consist of 10 to 16 students. The groups will meet once per week for one hour. There will be approximately nine sessions during the fall semester.

The goals of the SSG program will be to:

  • maximize the academic performance of all students;
  • assist students in developing law school study skills so they will perform to their potential;
  • help students develop the attitudes (commitment, perseverance, self-confidence) they need to succeed in law school; and
  • provide students with social support and reduce student isolation.

In order to achieve these goals, the Academic Fellows facilitating the study groups will focus on law school learning skills, including outlining, synthesis, issue spotting, creating hypotheticals, memorization, and writing answers to practice exam questions. The focus of the SSGs will be developing students' law school-specific writing and thinking skills.

J. Bruce Miller's misleading characterization of the Law School

In its July 6, 2009, edition, the Louisville Courier-Journal published letters to the editor that responded to a June 28, 2009, opinion column by J. Bruce Miller, "Louisville's two educational myths." I understand that further responses from the University of Louisville are forthcoming.

U.S. News

In the meanwhile, I wish to address a highly misleading statement in Mr. Miller's column. He mentions the University of Louisville's Brandeis School of Law in one sentence: "It's [sic] law school stands at 98th out of 100 American law schools, . . . ." This statement is misleading. U.S. News and World Report's current survey of American law schools ranks the University of Louisville 98th — out of 184 programs, not out of 100. As that magazine reports in the online version of its survey, "U.S. News surveyed 184 accredited programs to get the information used in the ranking of top law schools."

In support of his assertions, Mr. Miller wrote, "You can't make this stuff up. It's true." With respect to his statement about the Law School, he did make stuff up. And it's misleading.

Update: This response was published as a letter to the editor by the Courier-Journal on July 9, 2009.

Follow LouisvilleLaw on Twitter

The Law School now has its own Twitter page. The Cardinal Lawyer invite you to follow LouisvilleLaw on Twitter. While you're at it, be sure to follow CyberV, which is the cybrarian-powered Twitter feed of Law School librarian, Virginia Mattingly.

The zoo story

The Louisville Zoo train derailment

Louisville Zoo train derailment

The June 1 derailment took place behind the Zoo's Gorilla Forest exhibit. The train's three cars and its engine were tipped on their sides. The train can carry 40 to 50 people.

The Louisville Zoo's train derailed on June 1, 2009. Ten days later, Larry Franklin, a 1967 UofL law graduate (and the subject of this extensive profile in the Louisville Courier-Journal) filed the first lawsuit on behalf of one of the families injured in the derailment.

Another graduate of the Law School, Shawn Cantley of Bahe Cook Cantley & Jones, was among the first attorneys to comment on the zoo train derailment. His blog post on the incident took note of a judicial order preserving evidence regarding the train and its history.

The spotlight in this unfolding story has now come to shine upon another graduate of UofL Law. Hans Poppe, through an entry in his Twitter account, informed me of his blog post, Leveling the playing field. Hans responded to "the sarcastic and baseless attacks that were launched . . . in the comment section" accompanying the Courier-Journal story covering the lawsuit filed by Larry Franklin.

"What people don't understand," Hans wrote, "is that most personal injury lawyers don't file baseless lawsuits." His explanation shed light on the business model and practices of lawyers who work primarily on the basis of contingency fees. "Contingency fee lawyers are just like any other business owner," he wrote. "[T]hey must turn a profit to pay the salaries of their employees, the rent, and other overhead and expenses. If they fail to do so, they are not in business long."

Jim Chen's bookmarks

One positive byproduct of my Twitter account (where I write as J.C. Redbird), my Facebook account, and my other adventures in social networking is the record of my URL-shortening activities on is quite arguably the best and most sophisticated tool for compressing URLs. It tracks the history of individual users' activities. That history gives a snapshot into the way each user approaches online information. bookmarks open a door into an active mind of a person who doesn't mind sharing his interests. In order to give readers of The Cardinal Lawyer deeper insight into my intellectual interests, I happily share my bookmarks.

Jim Chen's bookmarks 

Subscription options for Jim Chen's bookmarks 

1. Conventional RSS feed:  

2. Subscribe to Jim Chen's bookmarks by e-mail:

Enter your e-mail address:



UofL Law alumnus Daniel J. Canon is a civil rights teacher, guitar teacher, and stage actor. His musical talents are most evident in his role as a principal in his band, Shine-Ola. Graced by the voice and guitar-playing of Dan's wife, Laura Ellis, Shine-Ola is a perennial participant in the Law School's annual battle of the bands, Lawlapalooza.

At right is a video from Shine-Ola's performance during Lawlapalooza 2008. This video appears on Shine-Ola's homepage and on Conflicts Check, Dan's "highly learned treatise on the law, music, suffering, culture, society, and lap dogs." If you watch closely, you will see a cameo by J.C. Redbird, dean and professor of law by day, "epileptic superhero" by night.

The Cardinal Lawyer hastens to recommend the highly informative and entertaining Twitter timelines maintained by Dan and by Laura.

It's easy to see why Shine-Ola is one of the Law School's favorite bands.

Shine-Ola at Lawlapalooza 2008

Feudalism Unmodified / Something Blue

The Lady and the Unicorn

The Cardinal Lawyer has often spoken of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and its role in spreading the scholarly work and enhancing the academic reputation of the Law School's faculty. Feature stories such as these — one, two, three, four, and more — have explained why every graduate and friend of UofL Law should bookmark the Law School's SSRN aggregator and subscribe to that aggregator's RSS feed RSS.

I'm pleased to add two old pieces of mine to the mix: Feudalism Unmodified: Discourses on Farms and Firms, 45 Drake L. Rev. 361 (1997), and Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, 58 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1527 (1991). The balance of this post describes these pieces and invites you to download them free of charge. I also invite you to visit my personal SSRN page and to subscribe to my RSS feed RSS.

Medieval marriage

Not with a bang but a tweet

Tehran protests
Photo: Ben Curtis/Associated Press

This is the way revolution begins.
This is the way revolution begins.
Not with a bang but a tweet.

Social networking is fueling the flow of information from and within Iran. It's scooping conventional media to the point that #cnnfail has become a leading Twitter meme. If you've been harboring doubts, lay them aside.