Friday, February 23, 2018
I love the Kardashians. I don't watch the reality show, but I do keep up with them because I use them in hypotheticals in class and in exams for entity selection questions. The students roll their eyes, but invariably most of them admit to knowing everything about them. When the students can relate to the topic, it makes my job easier. That's why I used the SNAP IPO last year as our case study on basic securities law. Every year I pick a "hot" offering to go through some of the key principles and documents, and Snap was the logical choice because the vast majority of the students love(d) the Snapchat app. The company explained as its first risk factor "... the majority of our users are 18-34 years old. This demographic may be less brand loyal and more likely to follow trends than other demographics. These factors may lead users to switch to another product, which would negatively affect our user retention, growth, and engagement." I used myself as an example to explain that risk factor in class. I have over 100 apps on my smartphone, and I have a son in the target demographic, but I never open Snapchat unless my six-year-old goddaughter sends me something. I just don't get the appeal even though millions of celebrities and even mainline companies use it for marketing. My students were aghast when I told them that I wouldn't invest in any stock that depended on the vagaries of their ever-changing taste.
Enter Kylie Kardashian. She's the youngest Kardashian (20 years old), is worth at least $50 million, runs a cosmetics empire on track to earn a billion dollars, has 95 million followers on Instagram, and has 24 million followers on Twitter.
After she offhandedly tweeted that she doesn't really open Snapchat anymore yesterday, Snap lost $1.3 billion (6%) in value. This plunge added to an already bad week for Snap after Citi issued a sell rating and the company confirmed to 1.2 million change.org petition signers that its new redesign was here to stay. But it was Kylie's tweet that caused the real damage. Perhaps one of Kylie's lawyers or business managers alerted her to the fallout because she later tweeted out, "still love you tho snap... my first love." Kylie probably forgot how much power she really has. When she released a video about her pregnancy and childbirth, 24 million people watched in less than 24 hours because she had refused to allow any of her followers to see pictures of her belly. She knows marketing.
Meanwhile, after seeing Kylie's first tweet, cosmetics competitor Maybelline went on Twitter to ask its users if it should stay on Snapchat, noting that its Snapchat views had dropped dramatically. The company later deleted the tweet, but users had already voted 81% to 19% to leave on the Twitter poll.
Snap appears determined to stick to its unpopular redesign, and its CEO received a $637 million bonus last year after the IPO. Perhaps the CEO should use some of that money to pay for a new Kylie tweet. In 2016, when Kylie earned only $18 million, 20% of that haul came from social media endorsements. It looks like the President isn't the only one who can move markets with a tweet.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Law Teaching for Adjunct Faculty and New Professors Conference
Law Teaching for Adjunct Faculty and New Professors is a one-day conference for new and experienced adjunct faculty, new full-time professors, and others who are interested in developing and supporting those colleagues. The conference will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at Texas A&M University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas, and is co-sponsored by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and Texas A&M University School of Law.
Sessions will include:
Course Design and Learning Outcomes – Michael Hunter Schwartz
Assessment – Sandra Simpson
Active Learning – Sophie Sparrow
Team-based Learning – Lindsey Gustafson
Technology and Teaching – Anastasia Boles
Details are here.
CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning—Summer 2018 Conference Exploring the Use of Technology in the Law School Classroom June 18-20
Gonzaga University School of Law
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law teachers are utilizing technology in their classrooms across the curriculum. With the rising demands for teachers who are educated on active learning techniques and with technology changing so rapidly, this topic has taken on increased urgency in recent years. The Institute is interested in proposals that deal with all types of technology, and the technology demonstrated should be focused on helping students learn actively in areas such as legal theory and knowledge, practice skills, and guided reflection, etc. Accordingly, we welcome proposals for workshops on incorporating technology in the classrooms of doctrinal, clinical, externship, writing, seminar, hybrid, and interdisciplinary courses.
The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. The workshops can address the use of technology in first-year courses, upper-level courses, required courses, electives, or academic support roles. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.
Second, our summer conference will be at Gonzaga Law, June 18-20 and will focus on the use of technology in the classroom. We're currently accepting proposals for that conference (and the deadline has been extended to March 2). More info here.
Monday, February 12, 2018
Just a quick post today about a teaching technique I have been using that offers significant opportunities for exploration, especially in small class environments.
I am again teaching Advanced Business Associations this semester. The course allows students to review and expand their knowledge of business firm management and control issues in various contexts (public corporations, closely held corporations, benefit corporations, and unincorporated business entities), mergers and acquisitions, and corporate and securities litigation. I have reported on this course in the past, including in this post and this one.
At the conclusion of each unit, I have students locate (go off on a treasure hunt, of sorts) and post on the course management website (I use TWEN) a practice document related to the matters covered in that unit. Today we concluded our unit on benefit corporations. Each student (I only have five this semester) was required to, among other things, post the actual corporate charter (not a template or form) of a benefit corporation. Although the Advanced Business Associations course features training presentations by representatives of Lexis/Nexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg that include locating precedent documents of various kinds, the students have not yet had this training.
In our discussions about this part of today's assignment, we learned a number of things. Here are a few:
- New articles, blog posts, and other secondary materials can be a good starting place in locating firms with particular attributes.
- The word "charter" can mean different things to different people.
- Journalists do not understand the difference between a benefit corporation and a B corporation.
- In research geared toward locating precedents for planning and drafting, googling descriptive terms is likely to yield yield fewer targeted results than googling the terms used an actual exemplar document.
- Corporate charters for privately held firms can be difficult to find--especially in certain specific jurisdictions, even when you know the firm's name and other identifying attributes.
- "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again." Three of the five students posted more than one document before they found an appropriate example.
- The corporate charters the students posted include exculpation and indemnification.
- Patagonia's charter is pretty cool. It has a detailed, specific benefit purpose, a prohibition on redemptions, and a right of first offer. It also requires a unanimous vote on certain fundamental/basic corporate changes, redemptions, and bylaw amendments.
- There is a law firm in California that is a professional corporation organized as a benefit corporation "to pursue the specific public benefit of promoting the principles and practices of conscious capitalism through the practice of law." Also pretty cool.
The discussion was rich. The students accomplished the required task and reflected responsibly and valuably on their individual search experiences during our class meeting. They learned from each other as well as from me; benefit corporations seemed to come alive for them as we spoke. We accomplished a lot in 75 minutes!
Do any of you use a similar teaching technique? Have you adapted it for use in a large-class (over 50 students) environment? If so, let me know. I would like to evolve my "treasure hunt" for business law drafting precedents for use in a larger class setting.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Sixth Biennial Conference:
To Teach is to Learn Twice: Fostering Excellence in Transactional Law and Skills Education
June 1-2, 2018 • Atlanta
Emory’s Center for Transactional Law and Practice is delighted to announce its sixth biennial conference on the teaching of transactional law and skills. The conference, entitled “To Teach is to Learn Twice: Fostering Excellence in Transactional Law and Skills Education,” will be held at Emory Law, beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, June 1, 2018, and ending at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, 2018.
Four New and Different Things about the Conference:
- Presentation of the inaugural Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills. Note: For information about how to nominate yourself or someone else for this award, please visit http://bit.ly/2C1HdMW.
- New 45-minute “Try-This” time slots for individual presenters to demonstrate in-class activities.
- Reduced registration fee for new transactional law and skills educators.
- Reduced registration fee for adjunct professors.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
We are accepting proposals immediately, but in no event later than 5 p.m. on Monday, February 16, 2018.
We welcome you to present on any aspect of transactional law and skills education as long as you view it through the lens of our theme. We expect to receive proposals about theories, programs, curricula, courses, approaches, methods, and specific assignments or exercises that foster excellence in transactional law and skills education. In other words, what works best (excellence in teaching) to achieve particular student outcomes (excellence in learning)? If it’s true that “to teach is to learn twice,” what wisdom can you impart to others who may want to replicate or imitate what you are doing? How have you made yourself a better teacher? And how have you assured that you are achieving the best student outcomes?
Try-This Sessions. Each Friday afternoon “Try-This Session” will be 45-minutes long and will feature one classroom activity and one individual presenter.
Panels. Each Saturday session will be approximately 90 minutes long and feature a panel presenting two or more topics grouped together for synergy.
Please submit the proposal form electronically via the Emory Law website at http://bit.ly/2BTD7pr before 5 p.m. on February 16, 2018.
PUBLICATION OF SELECTED MATERIALS
As in prior years, some of the conference proceedings as well as the materials distributed by the speakers will be published in Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law, a publication of the Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law of The University of Tennessee, a co-sponsor of the conference.
Both attendees and presenters must register for the Conference and pay the appropriate registration fee: $220 (general); $200 (adjunct professor); or $185 (new teacher). Note: A new teacher is someone in their first three years of teaching.
The registration fee includes a pre-conference lunch beginning at 11:30 a.m., snacks, and a reception on June 1, and breakfast, lunch, and snacks on June 2. We are planning an optional dinner for attendees and presenters on Friday evening, June 1, at an additional cost of $50 per person.
Registration is now open for the Conference and the optional Friday night dinner at our Emory Law website at http://bit.ly/2BpTQVc.
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS AND HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS
Attendees and presenters are responsible for their own travel arrangements and hotel accommodations. Special hotel rates for conference participants are available at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, less than one mile from the conference site at Emory Law. Subject to availability, rates are $149 per night. Free shuttle transportation will be provided between the Emory Conference Center Hotel and Emory Law.
To make a reservation at the special conference rate, call the Emory Conference Center Hotel at 800.933.6679 and mention “The Emory Law Transactional Conference.” Note: The hotel’s special conference rate expires at the end of the day on May 18, 2018. If you encounter any technical difficulties in submitting your proposal or in registering online, please contact Kelli Pittman, Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.727.3382.
We look forward to seeing you in June!
Sue Payne, Executive Director
Kelli Pittman, Program Coordinator
Friday, December 29, 2017
We are at a time of year where schools are starting to make offers for professor position.
In business schools, the hiring process is more of a year-round affair than it is in law schools, but business schools have started to learn that they need to hire on the same schedule as law schools if they want to compete for the best legal academic talent. Also, a few business schools, such as the University of Georgia this year, have started to attend the AALS hiring conference.
As I explained a few years ago, working as a law professor in a business school can be a good bit different than working in a law school.
Business school legal studies positions have become more popular in recent years as law school hiring has diminished and as many law schools face financial difficulties. Personally, I have fielded dozens of calls from prospective academics and current law school professors, asking advice about getting a job teaching law in a business school.
The business school legal studies positions are quite diverse – vastly different pay scales, vastly different teaching loads, vastly different research expectations, and some are tenure-track and some are not. As such, I think it is smart to explore some of the following before accepting a legal studies professor position in a business school.
- What are the research expectations, especially how does the school view law reviews? (Some business schools disregard or heavily discount law reviews because they are not “peer-reviewed” in the traditional sense. There are peer-reviewed legal journals, like the American Business Law Journal, the Journal of Legal Studies Education, and the regional ALSB related journals, but there are relatively limited publication slots. Also, business schools may use metrics for scholarship not common among law schools, and you should attempt to uncover the formal and informal tenure requirements before accepting a job.)
- Does the business school provide WestLaw/Lexis access? (Most schools at least have Lexis, but they may or may not have access to all the law resources you need for your research.)
- Does the business school have an ExpressO and Scholistica accounts? If not, will they reimburse for your submissions?
- What is the teaching load/schedule? Ask not only about the number of hours, but also the number of courses, as business schools seem to have more 2-credit courses, especially at the MBA level than law schools. Also, business schools have night, weekend, and online classes, especially at the MBA level, more frequently than law schools.
- Are there other tenure-track legal studies faculty members? If so, those faculty members likely will have fought most of the research battles mentioned above, though standards do change over time and resources are cut, so it is still worth asking those questions. I am the only tenure-track legal studies faculty member at the Massey College of Business at Belmont University, and I do miss discussing my research with knowledgeable colleagues on my hall. That said, having a law school at Belmont and nearby Vanderbilt has helped some, though I don’t make it over to either school nearly enough.
- What is the policy on research stipends? (This varies significantly at business schools).
- What is the policy on travel? (If you do not have legal studies colleagues in the school or nearby, you will definitely want to travel to the various ALSB conferences for work-shopping your articles and for exchanging ideas with fellow legal academics).
- What administrative responsibilities will you have? At some schools, full-time legal studies professors are responsible for managing the legal studies adjuncts, which can take a considerable amount of time. (I do not). At some schools, legal studies professors serve as pre-law advisers to undergraduate business students. (I do, and I enjoy it, though it does mean quite a number of extra meetings and reference letters, especially in the late fall and early spring.)
- Does the school have a pre-law major or minor or certificate program? (If so, this may give you some additional job security and may allow you to teach a variety of courses, instead of section after section of Business Law/Legal Environment).
- Is the school AACSB accredited? There are multiple accrediting bodies in the business school space, but AACSB is clearly the best and most of the non-AACSB schools do have a bit of a second-class reputation. Also, I believe Business Law/Legal Environment is generally a required course at most (if not all) AACSB schools.
Always happy to discuss teaching law in a business school with those who have additional questions. Good luck to everyone on the market.
Friday, December 22, 2017
One of the things I have noticed in raising two young children is how both my son and my daughter are much more likely to do what I do than they are to do what I say.
For example, I’ve always encouraged my children to be active, but it wasn’t until I started running that they really started being interested in running themselves. Now, they stage mock races, love their “running shoes,” and ask which foods will make them fast. On the less positive side, when they see me looking at my phone or eating sweets, they want to do the same thing, regardless of what I say is best for them.
Similarly, I had a professor in law school who insisted that we be on-time to class. He explained all the reasons why a habit of punctuality would benefit us in our careers, but then proceeded to be late a number of times himself. He attempted to explain this away, telling us “the partners in the law firm may be late, but that doesn’t excuse lateness from you.” Nevertheless, the students did not seem to respect the professor’s cautionary tale about being late because of the own actions, and it became difficult for him to hold the line he had drawn.
While all of us are human and flawed, the above is a good reminder to me. Our children and our students are watching us, and we are likely to have a bigger impact through our example than through our words.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Hardesty on Law Students as Future Leaders: Using Neutral Facilitation Techniques to Teach Leadership Skills
I have had the pleasure to work with a diverse and impressive group of people on the law faculties upon which I have had the privilege to serve. One of those people is David C. Hardesty, Jr., President Emeritus of West Virginia University and Professor of Law at the WVU College of Law. President Hardesty holds degrees from West Virginia University, Oxford University (which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar), and Harvard Law School, but more impressive is the time he spends mentoring students and faculty. He remains committed to the college, university, and state, and we are fortunate he continues to share his time with us.
President Hardesty teaches a course on leadership, called Lawyers as Leaders, which would be highly relevant at any law school, but it especially important at a school like ours where we are the only law school in the state. In addition to serving clients big and small, our students consistently go on to hold public office, advise legislators and regulators, and run large companies in the state. President Hardesty recently wrote an article for the West Virginia Law Review Online that explains part of how he helps prepares lawyers to be leaders. The article is Law Students as Future Leaders: Using Neutral Facilitation Techniques to Teach Leadership Skills, 120 W. Va. L. Rev. Online 1 (2017). The introduction explains:
Lawyers lead in America. They always have. They probably always will. This Article suggests the reasons why. It also argues that if lawyers are destined to lead, then law schools should help law students develop an understanding of leadership theory and foster leadership skill development. The Article describes how a course called “Lawyers as Leaders” is taught at the West Virginia University College of Law, employing neutral facilitation techniques, as well as lectures, group discussions, journaling, and simulation activities. It then describes a powerful pedagogical tool that can be used to develop future leaders: “student-centered neutral facilitation.” It explains why neutral student-centered facilitation is an effective method for teaching leadership skills to law students. The Article begins and ends with two “facilitation stories,” highlighting the use of facilitation by experienced lawyers and law students alike. The first story is about the use of facilitation to help clients achieve their goals. The second is about a student in the midst of learning how to facilitate a discussion.
As we continue to evolve how we think about educating lawyers, and what we hope to accomplish, courses that discuss options and expectation in context can play a significant role in preparing our students. Hardesty explains:
Research has found that the student-centered discussion process enriches student learning. In particular, the incorporation of the student-centered discussion process into the classroom “has the potential of enhancing the level of student learning about the course content and about the way they and others think about difficult issues.” This finding makes sense given that students tend to remember course content based on their level of involvement it. Faculty members have reported that content coverage in their courses has not declined in student-centered classrooms; rather, they have found that their students experience a deeper understanding of the course’s fundamental concepts. One explanation for this deeper level of understanding is that students discover for themselves the essential concepts that would normally be presented through course readings or lecture material. In addition, “[f]aculty report that they have seen students who have not been ‘stars’ in previous classes suddenly ‘blossom’” in the student-centered classroom environment. Because students feel safe and comfortable working with their teammates, student-centered discussions can bring out the potential that some students have but may not otherwise reveal in more traditional classroom environments. (footnotes omitted)
As the semester draws to a close, I thought this one was worth a look as you gear up for next semester's courses. It helped me think about some new ideas, anyway. Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 10, 2017
After my daughter Allie's first stay at Vanderbilt Children’s hospital, with what we think was a virus that attacked her lungs, Allie seemed to return to normal for a couple weeks before having another episode. This time, we spent 4 days in the hospital. The praise I lavished on Vanderbilt last time was less deserved on this trip, mostly blamed, staff repeatedly claimed, on a new computer system. (Note: In a place like a hospital, don’t you think you should provide adequate training and work out the bugs before launching a new computer system?)
In any event, Allie is back home again, though we are still working with doctors to uncover the precise cause.
Obviously, my daughter’s health is much more important than work, but I do need to continue to work (if for no other reason than health insurance...we would be bankrupt without health insurance). Given that my focus has been diverted, I have had to push on quite a number of deadlines -- 4 writing assignments and 2 speaking engagements -- and have been slower than normal in returning graded work. Thankfully, students, editors, and colleagues have been quite understanding.
As a professor and a person, I am a big believer in meeting deadlines, so it has been difficult for me to ask for extensions. When asking for extensions, I do think students and professors can “cry wolf” too often, and then, when true emergencies do arise, it becomes harder for the other side to happily grant the extension. This situation has made me even more committed to hitting every deadline I can, so that when I do ask for an emergency extension, people know it is for a valid reason.
Also, this situation has reminded me of the need to create some margin in my life. This past month was going to be a busy one, even without my daughter’s situation. It was doable, but all time needed to be available and efficiently used. Without margin, many projects were impacted, in domino fashion. Now, this situation with my daughter was unexpected and extraordinary and difficult to plan for, and I am not suggesting that we all run at 50% capacity in case of an emergency, but I do think I could have benefited from having built a bit more flexibility into my schedule. (Note: As a law review adviser, I recommended that my students to build some of this margin into their publishing schedule for professors. For example, tell the professors you need the article about a month before you actually do because various issues almost invariably arise.)
In any event, I am quite appreciative to all those who have been so understanding, and I am catching up. Barring any future issues, I think I will be back in the grove and on schedule in about 10 days or so, just in time to gear up for finals.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Notre Dame Law School invites applications to serve as the inaugural full-time Director of the Law School’s new California Innovation Clinic. The Clinic will provide transactional services and related advice to individuals or entities in the Bay Area seeking to start or expand their own ventures. The Clinic will operate out of the Notre Dame California center in Palo Alto, California.
The Clinic will provide students, under the supervision of the Clinic Director, opportunities to serve the transactional needs of early-stage startup ventures. The services offered by the Clinic will depend in significant part on the background and skills of the Clinic Director, but we anticipate that the Clinic will assist clients with some or all of the following: entity formation, founder agreements, non-disclosure agreements, ownership agreements, licensing and/or freedom to operate agreements, and privacy and data security policies. Specific client matters will be determined by the Clinic Director, although decisions about the overall direction of the Clinic’s work will be made in consultation with the Dean and other law school faculty members.
The Director will be a full-time staff attorney or non-tenure track faculty member, with responsibility for all aspects of the Innovation Clinic, including client development, client representation, law student supervision, and classroom instruction. The Innovation Clinic will be one of six clinics at the Law School.
Responsibilities of the Director will include:
- Developing a consistent and appropriate base of clients for the clinic;
- Designing and implementing the Clinic infrastructure including a curriculum, a case management system, and relationships with partner organizations;
- Providing transactional services to Clinic clients;
- Supervising up to 8-10 law students per semester, and approximately
1-2 law students each summer, in direct client representation;
- Providing law students with instruction in substantive and procedural law necessary to effectively represent Clinic clients;
- Providing law students with training in core lawyering skills necessary to carry out client representation, including interviewing and counseling, fact investigation, negotiation, drafting corporate agreements, and oral advocacy;
- Developing and teaching a companion course covering the range of legal issues that arise at different stages of a startup venture’s development;
- Collaborating with clinical and other faculty at the Law School;
- Collaborating with leaders of other entrepreneurship-related activities within the broader University, including the IDEA Center;
- Attending conferences and interacting with faculty at other institutions; and
- Assisting in the development of additional financial resources for the Clinic.
The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:
- A Juris Doctor degree from an ABA-accredited law school and at least 8-10 years of practice experience relevant to the representation of startup ventures in transactional matters;
- Excellent supervisory and communication skills;
- A commitment to instructing and supervising law students;
- Ability to work in a self-directed and entrepreneurial environment;
- An academic record that demonstrates the capacity to be an active participant in the Law School’s academic community and in the national clinical-education community; and
- A license to practice law in the State of California.
Term and Compensation: The position is full-time with a salary commensurate with experience, plus benefits, which include medical, dental, and retirement. The initial contract will be for a two-year term beginning July 1, 2018, or as soon as possible.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO SCHOOL OF LAW
BUSINESS LAW AND/OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
OPEN RANK FACULTY POSITION
The University of New Mexico ("UNM") School of Law invites applications for a faculty position in Business Law and/or Intellectual Property. The faculty position is a full-time tenured or tenure-track position starting in Fall 2018. Entry-level and experienced teachers are encouraged to apply. Courses taught by this faculty member could include general business courses, intellectual property courses, and commercial law courses. Candidates must possess a J.D. or equivalent legal degree. Preferred qualifications include a record of demonstrated excellence or the promise of excellence in teaching and academic scholarship and who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, as well as working with broadly diverse communities. Academic rank and salary will be based on experience and qualifications. For best consideration, applicants should apply by October 22, 2017. The position will remain open until filled. For complete information, visit the UNMJobs website: https://unmjobs.unm.edu/. The position is listed as Open Rank – Business Law Requisition Number 2761.
The University of New Mexico is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Friday, September 15, 2017
From August 31 to September 10, I participated in an excellent 6-week online boot camp called Miler Method. The camp is led by 2x Olympic medalist in the 1500m, Nick Willis, and his wife Sierra. The camp led up to the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile in NYC.
As I have posted about before, I have enjoyed taking some massive open online courses (MOOCs), and I think all educators should familiarize themselves with this form, as the online world is already impacting even the most traditional courses.
The Miler Method, like MOOCs, taught me not only valuable substantive information, but also further instructed me on the art of online education. Below are a few reflections on the pros and cons of the online format as applied to the Miler Method running training camp. My thoughts follow below the page break.
Friday, August 25, 2017
I am delighted that Dr. Jeff Edmonds has agreed to be interviewed for this blog. Jeff and I graduated from the same high school in Chattanooga, TN, a few years apart. We both ran track, though Jeff ran a good bit faster than I ever did, and Jeff continued his running career at Rice University and Williams College. Jeff earned a PHD in philosophy at Vanderbilt University and is currently the high school academic dean at the prestigious University School of Nashville. Jeff coaches a running group called the Nashville Harriers, and he recently revived his excellent philosophy and running blog, The Logic of Long Distance.
The interview follows under the break. In the interview, Jeff shares wisdom on running and education that are well worth your time.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
So, don't. Over at Above the Law, Prof. Kerriann Stout wrote 10 Things That Will Absolutely Piss Off Your Law Professor. She notes it is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good one and worth a read. This year, I added a new bit of information to my first day of class about how to interact with me about absences and workload. (I often discuss this in class at some point, but I don't recall ever doing it in both of my classes on day one.)
So, here's the deal. In my classes, I allow a certain number of absences (depending on number of credits and days we meet) without questions for personal reasons, interviews, etc. Here is an example of my attendance clause:
Students are expected to attend every class. Students are permitted to miss up to four classes for other obligations without explanation. This number is to include virtually all absences, including sickness, out-of-town interviews, etc. (but does not include classes missed for religious observance). If classes in excess of four are missed, to avoid withdrawal from the course, a written explanation may be required, including the reason for missing additional classes, the student’s plan to ensure the materials covered in the missed classes will be learned, and the reasons the student should be permitted to continue in the course. The policy is designed to facilitate learning, not impose hardship.
This way, students can plan ahead (and most do), and they can make decisions as professionals must about how they prioritize their time. Despite this policy, every year I have students email me to say they will (or did) miss class because they:
- Have to finish a paper for another class
- Have a law review note or moot court brief due
- Must study for a midterm
- Need to prepare for a clinic meeting/hearing
- Plan to attend an out-of-town football game/baseball game/concert
Again, I do not require nor do I ask for an explanation (unless it is related to excess absences, and no one has tried these reasons for that). My new tack is to explain:
I am interested in you as a human being, so please do not hear me saying I don't care what you do or why. And if you need help, you should ask. And if you can't ask me, talk to our Dean of Students or Dean of Academic Affairs or ask a friend. There is help available; please let us help. What I am about to tell you is not about when you need help. It is about what you say when you can't make it to class or be prepared for that class and about what you say to me (or my colleagues) in communicating that information.
Though I do not require it, I appreciate it when you tell me you cannot be in class on a given day. I am am fine if you very rarely request a pass for the day because you are not prepared. But I don't ask you for reasons for your absence or why you are not prepared. So, if you volunteer that information and tell me that you have to miss class or are unprepared because you need to finish a paper for another class, that says to me, "I have prioritized another class over yours." You may not mean to be saying that, but it is in many ways what you are saying.
I understand that you may be sharing to be honest. I appreciate that, and if I were to ask you, honesty is the best policy. I get that you might be trying to communicate that you are not missing my class for a frivolous reason. Okay, but you have still told me your priorities. I also understand that you might want some level of absolution. I can't and shouldn't give you that. We all have a lot to do, and sometimes life gets in the way of life, so we must make tough choices. That does not make me mad. Just don't volunteer that you made such a choice when you don't need to volunteer that you did.
I raise this for you not because it really upsets me. It doesn't. It may annoy me on a given day, but I can handle it. But it really, really irritates some of my colleagues, even if they don't tell you. And it is an incredibly risky thing to share with a client or boss, who definitely don't want to hear someone else's work is more important than their's.
So, be honest when asked, and take responsibility for your actions. Don't share information unnecessarily. Don't seek external absolution from professors, or clients, or bosses. I am here to teach, and I am here to help you learn, and grow, and find the resources you need to thrive. But I am not here to make you feel better about not doing the work I have asked of you.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Business leaders probably didn’t think the honeymoon would be over so fast. A CEO as President, a deregulation czar, billionaires in the cabinet- what could possibly go wrong?
When Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, resigned from one of the President’s business advisory councils because he didn’t believe that President Trump had responded appropriately to the tragic events in Charlottesville, I really didn’t think it would have much of an impact. I had originally planned to blog about How (Not) To Teach a Class on Startups, and I will next week (unless there is other breaking news). But yesterday, I decided to blog about Frazier, and to connect his actions to a talk I gave to UM law students at orientation last week about how CEOs talk about corporate responsibility but it doesn’t always make a difference. I started drafting this post questioning how many people would actually run to their doctors asking to switch their medications to or from Merck products because of Frazier’s stance on Charlottesville. Then I thought perhaps, Frazier’s stance would have a bigger impact on the millennial employees who will make up almost 50% of the employee base in the next few years. Maybe he would get a standing ovation at the next shareholder meeting. Maybe he would get some recognition other than an angry tweet from the President and lots of news coverage.
By yesterday afternoon, Under Armour’s CEO had also stepped down from the President’s business advisory council. That made my draft post a little more interesting. Would those customers care more or less about the CEO's position? By this morning, still more CEOs chose to leave the council after President Trump’s lengthy and surprising press conference yesterday. By that time, the media and politicians of all stripes had excoriated the President. This afternoon, the President disbanded his two advisory councils after a call organized by the CEO of Blackstone with his peers to discuss whether to proceed. Although Trump “disbanded” the councils, they had already decided to dissolve earlier in the day.
I’m not teaching Business Associations this semester, but this is a teachable moment, and not just for Con Law professors. What are the corporate governance implications? Should the CEOs have stayed on these advisory councils so that they could advise this CEO President on much needed tax, health care, immigration, infrastructure, trade, investment, and other reform or do Trump’s personal and political views make that impossible? Many of the CEOs who originally stayed on the councils believed that they could do more for the country and their shareholders by working with the President. Did the CEOs who originally resigned do the right thing for their conscience but the wrong thing by their shareholders? Did those who stayed send the wrong message to their employees in light of the Google diversity controversy? Did they think about the temperament of their board members or of the shareholder proposals that they had received in the past or that they were expecting when thinking about whether to stay or go?
Many professors avoid politics in business classes, and that’s understandable because there are enough issues with coverage and these are sensitive issues. But if you do plan to address them, please comment below or send an email to email@example.com.
August 16, 2017 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Shareholders, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
TaxProf Blog has been passing along the news of law schools choosing to allow applicants to substitute the GRE in place of the LSAT. The most recent post: Georgetown Is Fourth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades; LSAC Disagrees, Says 'The Rest Of The Top 14 Will Go Like Lemmings Off The Cliff'.
As to the substance of the matter, I don't feel too strongly. It is my suspicion that combining grade point average with any standardized test (including GMAT and MCAT, along with GRE and LSAT) would do a reasonably good job of predicting success in law school. Sure, the MCAT would likely be less on target, but probably not that much, especially when we're talking about highly selective schools like Georgetown and Northwestern.
The value of competition in the testing marketplace does seem valuable to me in a few ways.. For one thing, the LSAT is still administered like it is 1989 (as Christine Hurt noted a while back). There would be value in making the LSAT more accessible, and it is is at least plausible that the highly limited access to the LSAT is negatively impacting the number of students choosing to apply to law school. LSAC would be well served to catch up with the other tests (that are now offered with more regular testing dates and sometimes online) to give prospective law students more options.
In addition, I think there is value in letting students have options. I know there are some concerns that students taking the GRE might apply to law school without really thinking it through because it's easy, but I think that risk is limited. For one thing, just taking the LSAT doesn't mean someone thought that hard about law school. It just means that planned ahead. A little. There would be flaky GRE-taking law students, but there'd be highly motivated GRE-taking students who were thinking about a master's degree but would be great law students.
One thing some schools might be missing, though, is that the GRE thing swings both way. That is, if the GRE is acceptable for law school applications, students planning on law school might now choose to take the GRE and end up considering other kinds of graduate programs. Schools looking to expand their pool may be creating competition in places that did not exist before (or was much milder).
Ultimately, I support creating more options for students so that they can make better decisions about their future. As long as the testing option (LSAT, GRE, etc.) serves as a reasonably good predictor of law school and bar passage success (and I think that is still an open question), I am okay with it. I hope schools that chose to accept the GRE are doing so with an expectation that the admitted students will do well, and I hope schools monitor their students so that adjustments can be made if success rates are not as anticipated. That, to me, is the biggest issue: whatever we do, we need to make sure we're delivering on our educational promises, regardless of how we assess our potential students' likelihood of success.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Good morning from gorgeous Belize. I hope to see some of you this weekend at SEALS. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the compliance course I recently taught. I received quite a few emails asking for my syllabus and teaching materials. I am still in the middle of grading but I thought I would provide some general advice for those who are considering teaching a similar course. I taught thinking about the priorities of current employers and the skills our students need.
1) Picking materials is hard- It's actually harder if you have actually worked in compliance, as I have, and still consult, as I do from time to time. I have all of the current compliance textbooks but didn't find any that suited my needs. Shameless plug- I'm co-authoring a compliance textbook to help fill the gap. I wanted my students to have the experience they would have if they were working in-house and had to work with real documents. I found myself either using or getting ideas from many primary source materials from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, the Institute of Privacy Professionals, DLA Piper, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizational Defendants, policy statements from various governmental entities in the US (the SEC, DOJ Banamex case, and state regulators), and abroad (UK Serious Frauds Office and Privacy Office). Students also compared CSR reports, looked at NGO materials, read the codes of conducts of the guest speakers who came in, and looked at 10-Ks, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and other climate change documents for their companies. I also had students watch YouTube videos pretending that they went to CLEs and had to write a memo to the General Counsel so that s/he could update the board on the latest developments in healthcare compliance and risk assessments.
2) This should be a 3-credit course for it to be an effective skills course- My grand vision was for guest speakers to come in on Mondays for an hour and then I would lecture for the remaining time or I would lecture for two hours on Monday and then students would have simulations on Wednesday.This never happened. Students became so engaged that the lecturers never finished in an hour. We were always behind. Simulations always ran over.
3) Don't give too much reading- I should have known better. I have now taught at three institutions at various tiers and at each one students have admitted- no, actually bragged- that they don't do the reading. Some have told me that they do the reading for my classes because I grade for class participation, but I could actually see for my compliance course how they could do reasonably well without doing all of the reading, which means that I gave too much. I actually deliberately provided more than they needed in some areas (especially in the data privacy area) because I wanted them to build a library in case they obtained an internship or job after graduation and could use the resources. When I started out in compliance, just knowing where to look was half the battle. My students have 50 state surveys in employment law, privacy and other areas that will at least give them a head start.
4) Grading is hard- Grading a skills course is inherently subjective and requires substantive feedback to be effective. 40% of the grade is based on a class project, which was either a presentation to the board of directors or a training to a group of employees. Students had their choice of topic and audience but had to stay within their industry and had the entire 6-week term to prepare. Should I give more credit to the team who trained the sales force on off-label marketing for pharmaceuticals because the class acting as the sales force (and I) were deliberately disrespectful (as some sales people would be in real life because this type of training would likely limit their commissions)? This made their training harder. Should I be tougher on the group that trained the bored board on AML, since one student presenter was in banking for years? I already know the answers to these rhetorical questions. On individual projects, I provide comments as though I am a general counsel, a board member, or a CEO depending on the assignment. This may mean that the commentary is "why should I care, tell me about the ROI up front." This is not language that law students are used to, but it's language that I have tried to instill throughout the course. I gave them various versions of the speech, "give me less kumbaya, we need to care about the slave labor in the factories, and less consumers care about company reputation, and more statistics and hard numbers to back it up." Some of you may have seen this recent article about United and the "non-boycott, which validates what I have been blogging about for years. If it had come out during the class, I would have made students read it because board members would have read it and real life compliance officers would have had to deal with it head on.
5) Be current but know when to stop- I love compliance and CSR. For the students, it's just a class although I hope they now love it too. I found myself printing out new materials right before class because I thought they should see this latest development. I'm sure that what made me think of myself as cutting edge and of the moment made me come across to them as scattered and disorganized because it wasn't on the syllabus.
6) Use guest speakers whenever possible- Skype them in if you have to. Nothing gives you credibility like having someone else say exactly what you have already said.
If you have any questions, let me know. I will eventually get back to those of you who asked for materials, but hopefully some of these links will help. If you are teaching a course or looking at textbook, send me feedback on them so that I can consider it as I work on my own. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week, I will blog about how (not) to teach a class on legal issues for start ups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, which I taught last semester.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
As some of you know (and as I noted in a prior post), I have taught from time to time in the past (and will be teaching again this fall) a course focusing on nonhuman animals and the law. The course reveals, among many other things, that business law doctrine and practice have a number of significant intersections with nonhuman animals. Although I am likely to say more on that later, the earlier post linked in above notes a few things.
Yesterday, I received the "Call for Papers and Features" reproduced below. Many of the suggested topics--and the overall theme of "animal welfare in the context of human development"--engage business law. In particular, agricultural business seems to be on the ends of the editors . . . . Accordingly, I am posting the call thinking that some of our readers would be interested in knowing about this.
[Aside: I do not subscribe to the citation policy of the journal for the "features" being sought through this call--e.g., "Almost every sentence must be cited" and "If a sentence does not have a citation, you should have a good reason (i.e., it is your concluding argument or a recommendation)." Unless those who established these requirements are confident that "features" otherwise meeting their requirements do not contain novel legal or policy arguments or recommendations, that pair of citation "requirements" is absurd, imv.]
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CALL FOR PAPERS AND FEATURES
The Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief (SDLP) is currently accepting submissions for its Fall 2017 edition on topics related to animal welfare in the context of human development. Development will not be sustainable if animal welfare and human-animal relationships are not included in development programs, policies, and laws. Therefore, it is important to highlight the commonality between animal welfare issues and human justice issues.
If you would like to submit an article or feature for consideration, please contact us at email@example.com immediately. We will accept submissions on a rolling basis. The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 25, 2017. We will select up to four articles and four features for publication, and we will notify the Authors by Monday, October 2, 2017. Article Requirements differ from Feature Requirements – see below.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
§ Consumption of Species Versus Ecotourism in Developing Nations
§ Exploitation of Natural Fisheries and the Associated Issue of Bycatch
§ Challenges in Regulating Offshore Aquaculture
§ The Effects of Anthropogenic Noise on Marine Life
§ Going Meatless and Securing Food Sources: Moving Away from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Meat Consumption
§ Socio-Economic Challenges in Shifting from Animal-Based Agriculture to Plant- Based/Non-Animal Based Agriculture
§ Intersection Between Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Environmental Justice
§ Habitat Loss and Deforestation from Agriculture
§ The Role of Financial Institutions in Animal Agriculture Projects
§ How to Move Toward a Global Animal Welfare Policy
§ Human Health Implications Associated with the Production and Consumption of Animal Products
§ Balancing Wildlife and Continued Land Exploitation in National Parks and Preserves
§ The Effects of Deep Sea Bed Mining on Marine Life
SDLP is available online at LexisNexis, Westlaw, VLex, Hein Online, and on our website at www.wcl.american.edu/org/sdlp.
It is also widely distributed at law and graduate schools, and to representatives of international organizations worldwide.
We reserve the right to reject submissions at any time or for any reason. We also reserve the right to hold all submissions on file for later publication and reserve the right to revise submissions and/or cut text. Authors will have the opportunity to accept or reject any revisions. SDLP accepts submission of timely articles that have already been published elsewhere, so long as permission of the previous publisher is received.
[Click on the "Continue reading" button below for the requirements for articles and features.]
Friday, July 21, 2017
My mother-in-law was reading the book for her job at a private elementary school, and I brought a limited number of books (due to the weight of my hardcopy books), so I read this book too. Our teaching center at Belmont University has mentioned Palmer’s work a number of times, so I was interested in the book.
Simply stated, Palmer’s thesis is that “good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” He defines identity as “an evolving nexus where all the forces that constitute my life converge in the mystery of self," and he defines integrity as “whatever wholeness I am able to find within that nexus as its vectors form and re-form the pattern of my life.” (13) Teaching, he argues, comes from the heart and soul of the teacher, and not primarily from chosen techniques.
Palmer makes a solid point about paradox and pedagogical design. “The space should be bounded and open….hospitable and charged….invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group…welcome both silence and speech.” (76-77). The tendency in teaching, I think, is to swing from one side to the other, when we really need to be addressing all of these things simultaneously. Making space for silence in the classroom is something that is especially difficult for me.
He observed, “students who have been well served by good teachers may walk away angry—angry that their prejudices have been challenged and their sense of self shaken. That sort of dissatisfaction may be a sign that real education has happened. It can take many years for a student to feel grateful to a teacher who introduces a dissatisfying truth.” (96-97). This made me wonder if we should add teaching evaluations from alums 5+ years after the class.
I also liked his description of subject-centered classes (instead of teacher-centered or student centered). In the subject-centered class, the students are active and important participants, but they are not the focus of the time.
Palmer notes that he uses mastery grading, allowing students to revise their papers as many times as they like with only the final grade counting. I tried this once, in an MBA class, because many of my colleagues utilize it. I found mastery grading lacking. It encourages weak initial effort, as the students wait for comments, knowing that they can revise their poor product with more specific guidance.
Finally, I really liked the Quaker concept of a “clearness committee” that Palmer describes. The committee consists of four or five colleagues and a focus person. Before the meeting, the focus person writes a description of the problem (as professors, likely stemming from the classroom). Then, for two to three hours the colleagues of the focus person ask him/her open-ended questions about the problem, being careful not to offer advice, bring attention to themselves, or ask questions that are really advice in disguise (e.g., Have you considered seeing a therapist?) After the questions, the focus person has the option of continuing with mirroring (“reflecting to the focus person things he or she said or did but might not be aware of: 'When asked about A, you said B,' or 'When you spoke about X your voice dropped and you seemed tired.'”) (160). Confidentiality is pledged, not only to those outside of the committee, but also within the committee--meaning that the topic would not be raised again, even among the group members. The clearness committee would take a fair bit of time but seems like a great way to solves problems, as most solutions that stick seem to stem from personal realizations rather than merely outside advice.
There wasn’t all that much that surprised me in this book, but it was an easy read and had a few good reminders.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Prior to joining academia, I served as a compliance officer, deputy GC, and chief privacy officer for a Fortune 500 company. I had to learn everything on the job by attending webinars and conferences and reading client alerts. Back then, I would have paid a law school graduate a competitive salary to work in my compliance group, but I couldn’t find anyone who had any idea about what the field entailed.
The world has changed. Now many schools (including mine) offer relevant coursework for this JD-advantage position. I just finished teaching a summer skills course in compliance and corporate social responsibility, and I’m hoping that I have encouraged at least a few of the students to consider it as a viable career path. Compliance is one of the fastest growing corporate positions in the country, and the number of compliance personnel has doubled in the past 6 years. Still, many business-minded law students don’t consider it in the same vein as they consider jobs with Big Law.
This summer, my twelve students met twice a week for two hours at 7:30 pm. In the compressed six-week course, they did the following:
- Heard from compliance officers and outside counsel for public companies and government entities
- Read the same kinds of primary source material that compliance officers and counsel read in practice (such as the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Yates Memo, deferred prosecution agreements, and materials from the EU on the upcoming changes to data protection regulation)
- Compared and contrasted CSR reports from WalMart and Target, and reviewed the standards for the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN Global Compact
- Advocated before a board as a worker safety NGO for a company doing business in Bangladesh
- Served as a board member during a meeting (using actual board profiles)
- Wrote a reflection paper on the ideal role and reporting structure of compliance officers
- Considered top employment law and data protection risks for fictional companies to which they were assigned
- Looked at the 10-Ks and CDP report for climate change disclosures after examining the role of socially responsible investors and shareholder resolutions
- Drafted industry-specific risk assessment questionnaires
- Drafted three code of conduct policies
- Wrote a short memo to the GC on health care compliance and the DOJ Yates memo
- Did a role play during a crisis management simulation acting as either a board member, SEC or DOJ lawyer, the CEO, compliance officer or GC and
- Conducted a 20-minute board presentation or employee compliance training (worth the biggest part of the grade).
Perhaps the most gratifying part of the semester came during tonight’s final presentations. The students could pick any topic relevant to the fictional company that they were assigned. They chose to discuss child labor in the supply chain for a clothing company, off-label marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, anti-money laundering compliance in a large bank, and environmental and employment law issues for a consumer product conglomerate. Even though I was not their BA professor, I was thrilled to hear them talk about the Caremark duty, the duty of care, and the business judgment rule in their presentations. Most important, the students have left with a portfolio of marketable skills and real-world knowledge in a fast growing field.
If you have your own ideas on how to teach compliance and CSR, please leave them below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clinical Faculty Position
The Ohio State University, Michael E. Moritz College of Law
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Description: The Moritz College of Law invites applications for the position of Assistant Clinical Professor of Law in its Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic (EBLC), to start in late 2017. The EBLC professor has primary responsibility for directing and teaching the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic, which provides third-year law students with the opportunity to learn lawyering skills by representing entrepreneurs and their start-up businesses. EBLC students typically work with clients on all phases of starting a business, including client intake, entity formation, legal business planning, and contract drafting (including employment and independent contractor contracts). When relevant for the client, students also learn how to protect the intellectual property of a business. The EBLC’s clinical professor will have several areas of responsibility, including 1) supervising law students who represent clients under the Ohio Supreme Court's student practice rule 2) classroom teaching of lawyering skills, 3) engaging with the local and regional entrepreneurial community, and 4) participating in the life and governance of the College of Law.
We will consider all applicants; however, we prefer candidates with significant experience in representing entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. Candidates also should have an excellent academic record that demonstrates potential for clinical teaching and preparation of clinical educational materials. Candidates should be admitted to the Ohio Bar or eligible for admission in Ohio. The starting salary range will be $78,000 - $81,000 for a 12-month contract; full University fringe benefits are provided as well. The ideal starting date will be November 15, or as soon thereafter as possible. The successful candidate will begin teaching in January 2018.
Application Instructions: A resume, references, and cover letter should be submitted to Professor Paul Rose, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, 55 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Send e-mail applications to email@example.com. Applications will be reviewed immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled; preference will be given to applications received before September 1st.
The Ohio State University is committed to establishing a culturally and intellectually diverse environment, encouraging all members of our learning community to reach their full potential. The Ohio State University is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, or protected veteran status.
About Columbus: The Ohio State University campus is located in Columbus, the capital city of Ohio. Columbus is the center of a rapidly growing and diverse metropolitan area with a population of over 1.5 million. The area offers a wide range of very affordable housing, many cultural and recreational opportunities, excellent schools, and a strong economy based on government as well as service, transportation, and technology industries (see http://columbusregion.com/). Columbus and its many suburbs have consistently been rated as one of the Top U.S. places for quality of life. Additional information about the Columbus area is available at http://www.columbus.org.