Email from Dean Levi to 2Ls

August 5, 2009Duke Law News

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dear Students,

As of 6 p.m. today, all journal editors will have received the final, accurate results of the journal selection process and will begin making calls to issue invitations for journal membership. As many of you know, the invitation process is different for each journal. Six of our journals, ALR, DJCIL, DJCLPP, DJGLP, DLJ, and L&CP, will be able to make these calls within the next 24 hours. The selection process for three of our journals, DELPF, DFLSC, and DLTR, is ongoing, and these journals will continue making phone calls past that time. We expect that the entire process will be completed within the next few days.

I thank each of you for your patience and understanding this week. I also thank the journal editors as well as the many administrators, particularly Associate Dean Elizabeth Gustafson, who worked to correct the various problems with the data set.

While we do not yet know all the reasons this year's process was so flawed, we do know that the data used during the initial selection process contained many errors made at different stages of the process. The selection process calls for the accumulation and manipulation of a large number of data points, and the opportunities for human error are numerous. From data entry to scoring and calculation of data, multiple errors were made; the impact of each mistake was compounded by the complexity of the matching system and the dependence of one calculation on another. Because of the extent of the data problems, we determined that it was necessary to redo the entire process, from beginning to end, and to check and re-check all of the data. These steps added to the time it took to redo the process but now give us confidence in the accuracy of the final outcome.

Most, but not all, of the students who sought journal membership will indeed receive an invitation from one of the journals. Some will receive an invitation from a different journal than the one they heard from last week when the erroneous invitations were issued. And, unfortunately, some students will not receive any invitation, even though they may have received one in the initial, flawed process. I am sorry about this; I recognize the value of journal membership, and I know those of you who are affected in this way will be disappointed. In the end, however, the only fair outcome is the accurate outcome. I hope that those of you who are disappointed will feel free to speak to me or other faculty about the many other ways in which you can advance your writing skills within our curriculum.

I assure you that we will conduct a thorough review of this entire event and process so that we may avoid similar problems in the future. I will ask the journals to take a leading role in this review.

I apologize again to each of you for the disruption of the last week. I look forward to working with you to improve the system for journal selection and, most important, supporting each of you in another successful and fulfilling academic year. Best wishes for the remainder of your summer.

Sincerely,

Dean Levi
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