After years of debate and research, M.I.T. has replaced a large introductory physics course with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive learning.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/us/13physics.html?_r=1&em
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
While this article is about MIT's move away from large lectures in introductory physics, the rationale behind the change is applicable to law schools. MIT has moved away from introductory classes in physics with 300+ students, and failure rates have decreased 50%. Attendance is up.
Most applicable to law schools is a quotation by Prof. Eric Mazur:
“Just as you can’t become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV,” Professor Mazur said, “likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it.”
Just as you cannot learn to think like a lawyer by watching your teacher do it. (RCF)
At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard
By Sara Rimer
January 12, 2009
New York Times
Monday, October 6, 2008
If I were to put a label on this semester, it would be high anxiety.
As an Academic Success professional, I feel fairly insulated from the turbulence of the outside (corporate) world. After all, we have all heard (or seen) that students go to graduate school when the economy takes a downward turn. But in the past few weeks, a palpable sense of worry and anxiety over the economy has invaded the relatively safe harbor of law school. I am not talking about the 3L's that are looking for employment. They are worried and anxious even in the best of economies. I am feeling anxiety about the economy gripping 1L's who never intended to get a paying job between their 1L and 2L year, but who are now worried they won't find any positions for the summer. I am seeing an unusual type of anxiety among the 1L's that both encourages and dismays me: anxiety that if they don't do well in law school, they are looking into an abyss. I am normally excited whenever I see a trend within 1L's that encourages them to do the things they need to succeed. But this anxiety dismays me because it is not motivated by a desire to succeed, but by a fear of failure that risks overwhelming students as the prepare for exams. There is a very real risk for most law students at most schools that they may not be able to continue their law school career if they do not complete their course work in satisfactory manner. The anxiety I am seeing among students is the type that can paralyze students if they receive even modest constructive criticism. This is a dangerous condition that can sink well-prepared students unless it is managed before midterm exam grades come out.
I don't have any suggestions for students struggling with the impact of the economy on their finances or their future, but I do have advice regarding how to cope with stress and anxiety when outside forces threaten to overwhelm them emotionally. If students are doing everything they can to succeed, which includes going to class, reviewing their notes or "purble blurb-ing", outlining, seeing their professors when they have questions about the material, and doing practice questions, then they should take a deep breath. By telling students to take a deep breath, I do not mean to minimize the gravity of recent events. There are things we can control in this world, like our own effort towards reaching a goal, and things we can not control in this world, like the economy. Taking a deep breath should remind students that they are doing everything in their power to succeed. And if students are doing everything they can to succeed and it does not show on midterms or exams, then there are bigger problems that need to be addressed, problems that would cause great stress and anxiety regardless of the economy. (RCF)
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The New York Times had an overwhelming response to their last article on workplace bullying, "Meet the Work Bully", (March 11, 2008), and has continued the discussion with a new article in today's Health section, "When the Bully Sits in the Next Cubicle" by Tara Parker-Pope, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/25/health/25well.html?ex=1364184000&en=2670251c0ad94793&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
Where workplace bullying is happening is especially notable; health care settings, academia, and the legal profession.
As law professors, we are uniquely capable of changing the socialization process of future lawyers.
For a list of workplace bullying behaviors:
It is hard not to find bullying behaviors in law school, and we can change this phenomenon.
Monday, March 24, 2008
My interest is in bullying and peer intimidation among law students; however, the New York Times has a truly horrific article on bullying.
If we are allowing this to happen in our high schools, it's no wonder we have bullies in law school that turn out to be bullies in firms.
While I wish the buck stopped in elementary school, it has to stop somewhere.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Today was the first day of the SALT Conference on Teaching for Social Justice. This is a topic close to many in ASP. Many of our students came to law school with an intense passion for justice, and it is a continual challenge to keep that fire going after grades and class rank come out. I am hoping this conference can provide some ideas on how to keep that fire going through meaningful activities and lessons. I have some spectacular colleagues from Vermont Law School presenting here, and I am also here to cheer them on.
Elizabeth Pendo from Saint Louis University presented on her work creating a student program with the Florida Health Care Ombudsman Committee. She presented some great ideas on how to engage students in a program where they can really help people and see the power of a law degree, regardless of class rank. This is an idea to pass on to externship/internship directors looking for new opportunities for students, and a great opportunity for ASP prof's to encourage students to participate in a program to help the community and renew their commitment to the legal profession.
More updates to come...
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
After two and a half years as co-editor of the ASP Blog, I think it is time for me to step aside and bring in a fresh voice, so I want to introduce our newest addition to the blog: Professor Rebecca Flanagan. As I take on the role of contributing editor, Rebecca will become one of the blog's co-editors. I think you will find her postings stimulating, timely, and insightful.
Rebecca is the Director of the Academic Success Program at Vermont Law School and an Assistant Professor of Law. She took over the ASP department at VLS from Ellen Swain in December 2007. Before joining VLS, Rebecca was the Director of Academic Support at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, and the Assistant Director of the Institute for Student and Graduate Success at Whittier Law School.
Rebecca came to ASP directly from law school, where she had the incredible luck to work for the (amazing) Ruth McKinney at UNC Law. While at UNC, she was a teaching assistant in the LEAP program. Before law school, she taught K-3 art, music, and theatre integration in Willington, CT, at Center Elementary School and Geopolitics to talented and gifted high school students with Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.
Rebecca's interests are in educational psychology, focusing on the learning environment and legal education. Her first article, "Lucifer in Law School," will be published in the upcoming Washburn Law Review Symposium of Humanizing Legal Education Conference.
She received her B.A. from the University of Connecticut, her M.A. from Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Welcome to the blog, Rebecca!
Monday, January 14, 2008
For those unable to attend this year's business meeting for the AALS Section on Academic Support, we have posted below the minutes of the meeting.
Academic Support Section
Minutes – Business Meeting – January 3, 2008
The meeting was called to order by Section Chair Nancy Soonpaa at 6:35 P.M..
1) Election of Officers
The slate of officers and board members was presented by Linda Feldman on behalf of the Nominating Committee. The slate was as follows:
Chairperson-Elect: Pavel Wonsowicz (UNLV)
Secretary: Ellen Suni (UMKC)
Treasurer: Kristin Holmquist (UCLA)
All officers serve one (1) year terms.
Members of the Executive Committee:
Board C (Term Expires 2010): Jeff Minetti (Stetson)
Board D (Term Expires 2010): Vinita Bali (Santa Clara)
There were no nominations from the floor and the slate passed by voice vote.
2) Program Committee
Robin Boyle announced the Program for the Section and indicated that we need members for the Program Committee. Robin was thanked for her work.
3) Proposal for Creation of Bar Pass Committee
Robert Coulthardt suggested that the Section create a Bar Pass Committee. Concerns were expressed that Academic Support should not be viewed as responsible for bar pass; that is the responsibility of the Law School as a whole. After much discussion of that and other issues, it was proposed that the Bar Pass Committee be created to a) serve as a liaison for the Section with schools, the ABA and others interested in and knowledgeable about bar support, b) keep track of rule changes and notify Section members of relevant proposals, and c) perhaps eventually assist in the development of best practices for law schools regarding bar pass support. By voice vote, the Committee was created with the charge stated above.
Pavel Wonsowicz reported that he had had discussions with Barbara Glesner Fines regarding her website, which she does individually and not as a formal part of the Section. Pavel indicated that Barb is willing to allow the Section to take over ownership and upkeep of the site. He proposed creation of a website committee. After much discussion of the website and related issues (both during this portion and later in the meeting), it was agreed that we needed a broader committee to address information and communication issues that might also include the blog, wiki and listserv. By consensus, it was agreed to create an Information and Communications Committee to address these issues.
5) Achievement Award
A draft of the proposed award was distributed. There was much discussion regarding the effect the award might have on collegiality within the Section, which is one of its most important assets. Discussion ensued regarding whether this is really a “lifetime achievement award” or could be an award for a significant accomplishment by an individual or group. After a full airing of the issues, it was decided by consensus that an Award Committee will be created to revise the proposed award to meet the particular academic support community concerns and make sure a new proposal also is acceptable to the AALS. The revised award can then be considered for adoption at next year’s meeting.
6) Nominating Committee
There was discussion regarding whether the nominating committee needed to have different membership, since it had not changed in some time. It was agreed that we should add new members but also retain continuity. A call to the membership for nominations to the Nominating Committee will go out from the Chair. I was also suggested and agreed that opportunities for service on other committees will also be included in the notice to the membership. Anyone interested in serving on a committee who has not already indicated a desire to do so should let in-coming Chair Kris Franklin know.
Linda Feldman announced that reservations had been made for dinner on Thursday and lunch on Friday for anyone who wanted to attend. Sign-up sheets were circulated.
8) Sourcebook and Directory
Questions were raised regarding the status of these projects. Members feel a need both for an updated sourcebook that will include best practices and models for different type programs as well as for detailed and current information on who is working in academic support, including their position titles, roles and responsibilities, status and salary. It was reported that LSAC was working on these projects. The status of the sourcebook is unknown, but Pavel reported that a new committee for data collection (directory) had just been created.
Discussion of these issues led to discussion of LSAC’s role in academic support. Members of the Section were extremely thankful to Kent Lollis and LSAC for their support of academic support, including the surveys, materials and conferences. That being the case, however, it was noted that getting this material together is really the responsibility of the community. But it was then noted that there is really no one body that is able to do the heavy lifting, since the Section has a greater role in outreach to the faculty generally and has limited resources. We have no body similar to the LWI or ALWD, and this may be a problem. Although no consensus was reached on this issue, it is clear that it needs further discussion in the future.
It was suggested that Pavel work with LSAC to see if the information Section members feel they need can be incorporated into the survey, and it was suggested that a lot of input is needed to make sure the survey will accurately collect usable data.
A question was raised regarding the Regionals, when they might be and how one gets involved. It was reported that the Chairs have not yet been designated. It was also noted that the process for getting involved is a fairly open one. The first step is to let Kent Lollis know of your interest. In the past, there have been open calls for proposals to host the regionals, and the chairs are usually people who have hosted or been involved in running the workshops in the past.
As the conclusion of the meeting neared, there was strong sentiment expressed that the meeting had been very productive, and Nancy was thanked for her good work in setting up and running the business meeting.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:50 p.m.
Ellen Y. Suni
Thursday, February 15, 2007
With mixed feelings – all happy, but mixed nevertheless – I tell you, dear blog readers, that approximately 100 days from today I will leave my post as Dean of Students and Academic Support Program Director at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island.
In June, Kristy (my wonderful wife) and I will fly to Montevideo, Uruguay, to begin the next exciting chapter of life. After twenty years of practice in California, a few years in secondary and university education, and these most fulfilling eight years in law school academic support and student services, I am ready to make the move. We are both excited about life in South America.
Kristy will continue to work part-time from home as a legal secretary for LawDocsXpress, performing outsourced legal secretarial services. Because the work is all digital and via the internet, she can work wherever the internet reaches!
I will be working part-time. Among other endeavors, I will be teaching lawyers to prepare for the Cambridge University International Legal English Certificate (ILEC) examination. The ILEC is a new addition (2006) to the Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) suite of certifications. Typical ILEC examinees are lawyers interested in employment in an international law context or intending to obtain a further degree from an English-only law school.
Upon arrival in Montevideo we will begin our intensive Spanish lessons, to augment our existing basic language capabilities. We have spent a few weeks in Montevideo and have – through personal contact and the amazing internet – developed supportive relationships with a number of folks there, including those I will be working with.
About those mixed feelings . . .
Job satisfaction is a product of several components, not the least of which are whom we work for and whom we work with.
As a group (a large group) the students I have worked for – at Vermont Law School, at Roger Williams Law School, at the many schools I’ve visited, and as a CLEO presenter – have been extraordinary. Because of the nature of the work of academic support and student services through the Dean of Students office, many of the students I have come in contact with have been students suffering from disabilities or difficult circumstances of many sorts. So many of these dedicated students, in my view, are heroic – persevering despite (sometimes enormous) odds. Who could ask for a better group to serve?
For more than five years I have worked with a terrific group of people – the administration, staff and faculty here at Roger Williams. Each year it seems to get better. I couldn’t ask for a more dynamic, spirited, generous and understanding dean than David Logan … and he has a knack of attracting others of substance and verve to this school. The colleagues, the co-workers, and friends I have made in my years working in Vermont and Rhode Island have made my work a pleasure.
Those of you who have been active in this amazing field of law school academic support know what I mean when I say that this nationwide close-knit community of academic support professionals is remarkable. The combination of who you are and what you do – and what is important to you – works a powerful magic. I was so lucky find this corner of the law school academic world.
The other side of the mixed feelings is – Kristy and I are headed to a new continent, new climate (goodbye snow), new endeavors, new language, etc., etc. … everything new and different. Whoa. I think no more need be said.
In addition to leaving my law school position, I will be resigning as contributing editor of this blog and as contributing editor and columnist (“The Adviser”) for the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine. Dan and Liz, Senior Editors of this blog, will be looking for a replacement, as will Ira Pilchen, Editor of Student Lawyer. I’m sure Dan and Liz would welcome new talent to the blog. I’ll check with Ira to find out how he wants to go about finding a new columnist (my final column will appear in the May 2007 issue).
The administration at Roger Williams is considering restructuring the combination position I have been holding ... I’ll notify you blog watchers when a determination is made and a job description is posted (applications, I’m told, would be premature at this point).
With warm feelings and gratitude,
Sunday, February 26, 2006
The most recent (March 2006) issue of the ABA publication Student Lawyer includes (see page 34) a conference notice of interest. Quoting from the magazine ...
"The ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law ... in conjunction with ABA president Michael Greco and the EEOC, is sponsoring a National Conference on Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities. Participants will discuss ways to further the employment opportunities for and promote the hiring of recent law graduates and young lawyers with disabilities."
The conference is on May 22 and May 23. "The conference," the notice continues, "encourages law students to attend the conference. To support student participation, the commission will offer a reduced registration fee as well as scholarships to students demonstrating need."
Encouraging news: "With proper accommodations and open lines of communication, lawyers with disabilities have proven themselves to be as successful as their peers without disabilities."
In the academic support field, most of us work with students manifesting a variety of disabilities (visible and invisible); and many of us contend with comments by students, faculty and lawyers along these lines, "Why is she even going to law school? Who is going to hire a lawyer with (fill in the blank)?" Oh, that gets to me. Between your school's Career Services office and its Academic Support office ... somewhere ... we need to be able to provide accurate, up-to-date answers to these inquiries ... not only for those who ask the questions above, but, more importantly, for those who ask this question: "Will I ever get a job if they find out about my _________?"
For detailed conference information, visit the commission's web page. (djt)
Sunday, February 5, 2006
This past week, Prof. Linda L. Berger of Thomas Jefferson School of Law announced this position opening: Director of Academic Success.
The successful candidate will further develop, coordinate, and evaluate a comprehensive program that provides academic support to students from orientation to law school through admission to the bar. Depending on the successful candidate’s background, experience, and interests, the position carries with it the opportunity to play a broader institutional role.
The future development of the program will be determined by the new Director in collaboration with the faculty and senior administrators. Components may include learning and study skills workshops for all students; individual counseling and referral for at-risk students; substantive courses incorporating learning and study skills; and involvement in summer pre-law programs, new student orientation, bar preparation coordination, community outreach programs, and faculty teaching workshops.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law is a non-profit, independent, ABA law school located in San Diego, an attractive and diverse urban community along the Pacific Coast.
Review of applications will begin immediately. Thomas Jefferson is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from women and people of color.
Professor Berger asks that applicants send a résumé and cover letter to:
ASP/Bar Pass Task Forcec/o Prof. Linda L. Berger
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
2121 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110
email@example.com (Electronic submissions are welcome.)
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Academic Support Section of AALS is hosting a session on reading in law school at the January conference in D.C., and it promises to be an exceptional session. The topic is hot not only in the academic support field but in others as well, so the ASP folks decided that reading should be the focus of the section’s presentation at AALS this year.
Ruth Ann McKinney, whose book Reading Like a Lawyer is a must-read for just about anyone teaching or studying law, will be active in the session. Joining her will be two other impressive experts in the field: David Nadvorney, an academic support professional from CUNY with a masters in reading, and Dorie Evensen, a Ph.D. from Penn State who has a substantial LSAC grant to study reading in law schools.
The session is designed to be relevant to all teachers, not just those in the academic support field, and will provide lots of hands-on opportunities so attendees can practice some things they can do in their own classrooms to help students become better (more powerful) readers. The concepts and techniques explored in the session will be relevant to anyone working with students whose classroom engagement is rooted in what they've read – in other words, all law professors.
So you may want to invite colleagues teaching other courses as well because they will find very helpful, practical advice. Of course, the session will be particularly relevant to those who teach legal writing. In fact, at the last Legal Writing Institute conference in Seattle, reading was a very hot topic. That conference included presentations by Ian Gallacher; Cathaleen Roach and Carol Parker; Debra Moss Curtis and Judith Karp; Laurel Oates; and education experts, Drs. Dorie Evensen and Jim Stratman.
The ASP session will run from 4:00 to 5:45 on Thursday, January 5th (Session #5400). It lets out just in time for cocktails, so there will be a great opportunity to strike up some conversations and collaborations across disciplines. Okay, conversations . . . about football or ballet or whatever. Collaborations later. (dbw)
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Of course, I should have brought along the digital camera to take a group photo. Kris Franklin (pictured, right) organized another wonderful NY-centered worskshop on Friday, November 18.
Academic Supporters from Maryland, Pace, NYLS, Touro, Hofstra (see Richard Neumann, at right) , Quinnipiac (see Gail Stern, at left), Roger Williams, Fordham and Cuny gathered to discuss, learn and work together.
You shoulda' been there! Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus and Myra Berman taught us how to use "IRAC Diagraming" to help students "...see IRAC in action." Fabulous.
Mark Padin sparked a discussion about LSAT/diversity-minority/bar-pass issues, concerns and controversies ... not the least of which was the mandatory vs. voluntary participation controversy, which led ... as you would expect ... to the stigma/backlash controversy. Mark not only offered his own comments and experiences, but distributed material documenting the disturbing fact that "minority representation among law students has dropped for the past two years, from 20.6 percent in 2001-2002 to 20.3 percent in 2003-2004" (based on ABA statistics).
[By the way, one of the articles Mark handed out was from a publication you may be unaware of: Minority Law Journal Student Edition. This particular article featured the FIU and FAMU attempts to "increase the legal profession's diversity in Florida." ed.]
Kris Franklin ran us through a drill which required us to analyze two (actual) students' exam answers, then discuss how to best help each student. For this part, I passed out four-color pens, and explained the Dan Wilson (see tribute to Dan by his Denver students) method of helping students analyze their own answers. Kris provided a typed transcript of her detailed voice recording commentary that she delivered to the student (a method which provides the opportunity to offer detailed, lengthy and – one would hope – more helpful advice to struggling students).
Note to workshop participants: consider writing a short version of your impressions of what went on during the workshop, and I'll post them here. Send them as an attachment. (djt)
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Friday's New York Times technology section (New York Times article) reported that lawyers represent an "explosion" in the blogosphere. There are numerous blogs written by lawyers and about the law. In fact, we represent a disproportionate number of bloggers and blog readers. Why do you suppose that is?
The article theorizes that we are bored by our day to day jobs (not true in the Academic Support field), or that we are all trapped writers under the surface (I thought we were all frustrated actors, but then again I was a litigator in a prior life), or even that we all have an opinion on something that we need to express and that just being lawyers lends us some credibility (this doesn't work, even with children, in my experience).
I disagree. I think it is because we are all trained never to ask that last question and that blogging lets us do just that and then answer it as well. At trial, we put all the evidence in front of a group of people, or a judge alone and hope that they connect the dots (that through careful preparation and excellent trial technique we have placed very close to one another....). In a blog, we can connect them ourselves. I don't disagree with the article writer that we are an essentially verbal crowd, but I really believe blogging cures a frustration that lawyers often feel when we can't just blurt out the answer (i.e. "my god, people he's guilty as sin and here's why....").
There is, the article points out, even a 1L blog written by a student. I checked it out to see what goes on on the other side of the desk and found it helpful.
The next thing I'd like to know is why there are so many law related TV shows and how any of this relates to Academic Support..... (ezs)
Thursday, October 6, 2005
Okay, so it has been a while since I've blogged.
That's because I've been spending lots of time interviewing applicants for the positions of Co-Editor and Contributing Editor. The search was successful!
Very soon, I will be announcing the new editorial staff. Hint: the new editors are from the east coast, west coast and the heartland of America.
What does this mean to you, the Reader? More information, more perspectives, more provocative articles.
Thanks for putting up with the brief hiatus. (djt)
Friday, September 23, 2005
Sunday, September 4, 2005
As Academic Support Professionals, how can we help?
Here's an example. Scour the internet for letters like this one, and respond. I found this (and many others) at http://www.isthatlegal.org/loyno/.
Question from 1L Rekha Tavva
I am a common law 1L and am completely frustrated and at a loss as of what to do and with time running out on my options I am seeking any and all advice. I was given permission to attend Loyola Chicago and MSU as a visiting student with tuition and books waived and provided respectively, however, now that I know that U of H will somewhat be Loyola's satellite campus I am confused as to what I should do. I know that many 1L's have decided to give it a go at other schools but I want to know if this is the wisest choice. Basically, I am asking people for the pros and cons of each decision. If any professor or classmate is reading this, I would greatly appreciate your advice on this pertinent matter. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and my phone number is 310-435-6479. Hope to hear from anybody. Thanks a million for your advice and time...and I hope all is well.
Let me know if you find other sites where students are reaching out for help we may offer.
See what these students and their families and friends are going through ... Professional photos from TIME magazine ... a photoessay, "The Day After Katrina."
From the "everything New Orleans" (NOLA) web site: Amazing photographs of Katrina's effects. (djt)
LexisNexis' Law School Publishing group has implemented a plan to respond to the needs of law school students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. LexisNexis will provide free coursebooks to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that requires a LexisNexis coursebook. LexisNexis will also provide free copies of relevant titles from our Understanding Series and our Q & A Series to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that corresponds to a title in our Understanding and Q & A product lines.
To receive this assistance, an appointed school administrator (e.g., the registrar) must make this contact on behalf of the displaced student(s) who have been invited to participate in their Fall 2005 program. Requests must include:
- Students' name
- Mailing address
- Email address (if any)
- Phone number
- Home law school
- Author name & title of adopted LexisNexis coursebook
- Fall 2005 course listing (to determine relevant study aid titles to send to each student).
Please send this information to: Lisa Hughes, LexisNexis Law School Sales Operations Manager, via email at Lisa.A.Hughes@lexisnexis.com, or via fax at 518-641-6090.
Friday, September 2, 2005
I just received this communication from the master editors of the Law Professor Blogs:
The Law Librarian Blog is compiling communications resources for Fifth Circuit, Tulane, and Loyola-New Orleans communities as the blog's editorial staff locates them. See generally http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/
Joseph A. Hodnicki
Law Professor Blogs, LLC
Editor, Law Librarian Blog
Friday, August 5, 2005
This week I am in Milwaukee at the AHEAD (Association of Higher Education and Disability) annual summer conference.
Watch for posts in the coming days about issues we all face ... helping students with visible and invisible disabilities cope with the rigors of the law school curriculum. The conference includes presentations by attorney disability specialists from the Office of Civil Rights and private firms, as well as a plethora of presentations and workshops hosted by Disability Support Specialists (example: Dr. Jane Thierfeld Brown from University of Connecticut School of Law) bringing us up to date on the latest law, technology and trends in providing academic support for this segment of our diverse students.
In the coming posts, I will acquaint you with some of the lessons I have learned, and provide direction about where to turn when you run into a difficulty in handling situations in this area. (djt)
Friday, July 15, 2005
Guess what ... We're happy again!
We're all aware that unhappy law students morph into unhappy lawyers; so just where did this latest group of California lawyers come from?
Contrary to everything I've read in the past decade, the July issue of California Lawyer, reports that California lawyers are choc-fulla' glee as they head for the office each day.
Based on a 2004 poll taken by the magazine's editors, "Fully 57 percent of responding lawyers said they're extremely or very satisfied with their jobs. Another 29 percent said they are somewhhat satisfied, which makes a whopping 86 percent who are content with what they do for a living."
Not only that, the pollsters conclude, "What's more, 30 percent are more content at work today than they were a year ago. California lawyers do indeed seem to be a happy group."
The conclusions in the article seem remarkable to me. Why?
The questionnaire was sent to "a representative sample of 700 California lawyers," and the poll achieved "a 17 percent response rate." Do the math. 119 lawyers responded. That means, that of California's 201,626 lawyers (as of July 16, 2005), 102 reported being content.
Does the number of respondents seem small?
A 1994 issue of the California State Bar Journal (the official publication of the California State Bar) included an article entitled, "Pessimism for the future: Given a second chance, half of the state's attorneys would not become lawyers." The conclusions in that article are based on 2,700 responses (from a significantly smaller base number of attorneys at the time).
According to former litigator (now career consultant) Holly Huart: "More than half of the lawyers who responded to a 1992 California Lawyer fax poll rated themselves 'unhappy but inert' or so unhappy they would change careers; 70% said they would start a new career if they could. Similarly, a poll taken by California Lawyer magazine in 1993 found that over 70% of the respondents said they would not go into law again if they could begin their careers anew, and this was reinforced by a study published in the California Bar Journal in 1995." (See: Huart article, with sources)
(Disclaimer: I am a member of the California Bar. I am neither "unhappy" nor "inert" (does that mean I'm happy and "ert"?)... but then I live in Rhode Island and work at a law school. Also, I was not one of the 119 lawyers responding to the survey questions.) (djt)