Thursday, February 19, 2015
I spoke recently with Kyle McEntee, Executive Director, Law School Transparency, and learned that LST is not responsible for the inaccurate posts made on some law school Wikipedia pages. Mr. McEntee informed me that the Wikipedia posts were made by law students, who simply referenced the LST site. LST's numbers are correct.
On a personal note, I think that LST has been a good thing for legal education, and accountability. The changes made by the ABA with regard to placement rates were, in large part, a response to the information being posted by LST.
I still take issue with Matt Leichter's numbers regarding lawyer overproduction. His numbers are primarily forecasts, and he does not adjust them when his forecasts turn out to be wrong. He is as reliable as a weather forecast predicting next month's weather.
Monday, February 16, 2015
I took this photo while visiting a law school that will remain nameless because I didn't ask for permission to post it (though I'm quite certain the school would be far from ashamed to be named). Libraries are going digital, and budget pressures make it difficult to justify maintaining print publications. Most law firm and county libraries have long since cancelled their print subscriptions, driving up the publication costs for the few remaining (mostly law school) buyers.
Colin Picker over at Law School Vibe suggests that:
the law schools within a city or region should consolidate their collections together, in the process reducing unnecessary duplication. That consolidated collection could be stored in a suitable warehouse. The consolidated library books could then be electronically identified and ordered as needed by students or academics from participating law schools....
This may be a viable option for materials not yet available digitally, such as traditional academic books. But for everything else -- case reporters, law journals, etc. -- I suspect the answer will be outright replacement with digital materials.
Shelves at many law libraries already are tagged with a note indicating that the shelved material is no longer kept up-to-date. Rows of discontinued publications already look antiquated; it's only a matter of time (and a reversal in the decline in law school admissions) before libraries are pressured to discard the paper and repurpose the space.
Friday, February 13, 2015
From Dean Jean Holloway of Hamline University School of Law, and President and Dean Eric S. Janus, of William Mitchell College of Law:
"Our two law schools have announced plans to combine, to further our shared missions of providing a rigorous, practical, and problem-solving approach to legal education.
The combination will occur following acquiescence by the American Bar Association. Until then the two schools will continue to operate their current programs, while taking steps to ensure a smooth transition for students when ABA acquiescence is obtained.
Once combined, the law school will offer expanded benefits for its students, including three nationally-ranked programs: alternative dispute resolution, clinical education, and health law; an array of certificate and dual degree programs, and an alumni network of more than 18,000.
The combined school will be named Mitchell|Hamline School of Law and will be located primarily on William Mitchell’s existing campus in Saint Paul. Mitchell|Hamline School of Law will be an autonomous, non-profit institution governed by an independent board of trustees, with a strong and long-lasting affiliation to Hamline University.
The Mitchell|Hamline School of Law will be led by Mark Gordon, who will serve as its founding President and Dean. Mark brings nearly 30 years of experience in higher education and public service. He is currently president of Defiance College, a private, liberal arts college in Defiance, Ohio, and previously served as dean of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law."
In my senior year of college at the University of Georgia, I had the good fortune of covering the Atlanta Flames of the National Hockey League for an FM radio station in Athens, Ga. The Flames moved to Calgary, shortly thereafter (and Atlanta has even lost a second NHL team, the Thrashers).
My job was to go to the games, sit in the press-box, and conduct post-game interviews. It was truly a great experience, but I was far from being a professional interviewer. I have many vivid memories from that experience. Most of the players were really classy human beings. Jean Pronovost, for example, was always willing to give an interview, even after a bad loss. He was polite, and gracious, despite the fact that I was a 20 year old college senior, pretending to be a sports reporter. Some players, on the other hand, were not as nice. One defenseman took great pleasure in disrespecting reporters, doing things I need not mention on this blog.
One of my favorite players to interview was Bill Clement. Clement was one of the most intelligent players in the league, and he always did his homework. I was not surprised when he went on to do broadcasting on a national level, when he retired from playing. After one game, he quickly exposed my lack of depth. I asked a teammate of Clement's how it felt to be scoring goals this year, since he was not known as a goal scorer. Clement called out from across the locker room, "check the stats." If I had done my homework better, I would have seen that the player I was questioning had been the second-leading goal scorer on his previous team. Bill Clement then kindly pulled me aside, and told me that he wasn't trying to show me up, he simply wanted to make sure I got the facts right.
As I read Matt Leichter's post regarding overproduction of lawyers, and the posts about Law School Transparency on the Faculty Lounge, I want to call across the room, "check the stats." Much of the information coming from those sources is contradicted by the facts reported by law schools to the ABA, including placement rates and costs.
More on this to come.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Medical schools pride themselves on being professional schools, and not graduate schools. They understand that they cannot train new doctors, without giving them exposure to actual medical practice. Law schools are finally moving more and more to the professional school model, by offering experiential learning, including clinics.
I have become a big believer in clinical education, and the impact it has on students, as well as the clients they serve. Students and alumni regularly tell me that their experience serving in a clinic was the most rewarding and valuable thing they did in law school. Some student testimonials can be found here.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Touro Law Center has published the Journal of Experiential Learning.
The journal is a place for deans and faculty to publish essays and articles about their experiments with various aspects of experiential education. The journal welcomes guest editors and ideas for themes for future issues.
The coordinating editor is Myra Berman, Assoc. Dean for Experiential Learning at Touro Law.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
At Ole Miss Law we require a two week Skill Session each year. 1L's are required to take Contract Negotiation and Drafting, while 2L and 3L students can elect the Skill Session class they will take. The program has now been in place for three years.
The classes are taught by a combination of full-time faculty members and practitioners, and the practitioners live on campus during the two-week program. Having lawyers and judges present on campus for the entire two weeks allows the students to interact with them on a much more meaningful basis than the typical course taught by an adjunct. Furthermore, we have found that teaching skills in a concentrated two-week period is more effective than teaching the same skills in a 13 or 14 week semester.
Student feedback has been positive.
I know that Vanderbilt Law has just launched a program that helps students transition from the classroom to the profession. are there innovative programs other schools would like to share? If so, I would be happy to link to them on this blog.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Mario Mainero, Professor of Academic Achievement and Director of Bar Services at Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law thinks so. His article, “We Should Not Rely on Commercial Bar Reviews to Do Our Job: Why Labor-Intensive Comprehensive Bar Examination Preparation Can and Should Be a Part of the Law School Mission” can be found at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2546001.
Monday, January 5, 2015
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
We were honored to host Justices Kagan and Scalia at Ole Miss on December 15. The USA Today Story, and the AP Story on their visit showcase the friendship and civility they share, even though they strongly disagree on many issues. I felt lucky to be there.
Monday, December 15, 2014
It is clear from the Faculty Candidate Comments on Prawfsblawg that law schools do not always communicate quickly regarding hiring decisions. I think that common courtesy at least dicatates that we inform the candidates of the process. Admittedly, it is often difficult to schedule all candidates before winter break, but it does seem like a school should let candidates know when then might expect to hear.
Silence from hiring committees is a recurring thread on blogs, and we can do better.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
This essay is by Dean Frank H. Wu, who is Chancellor & Dean of University of California Hastings College of the Law. It was originally published at the Huffington Post.
I have never been persuaded that leaders in higher education should be selected from academics. Or, more precisely, I doubt that the customary responsibilities of a faculty member prepares her to preside over an institution of higher education. The skill sets needed for longevity heading a college do not overlap significantly with the talent and training of the typical scholar-teacher, especially in these times of unceasing change. The selection of professors and the expectations of them are not intended to foster development of diverse competencies.
My thinking was reinforced recently by an executive education program at Harvard. The refresher offered me an opportunity for reflection. Any teacher should reverse roles from time to time. Being a student is an excellent means of learning how to serve them.
I do not hesitate to state that I was not the best person to select for the job I am honored to hold. That person likely is mythical.
I run a standalone law school affiliated with a great system of public higher education. To the extent I have been qualified as a candidate, and, more importantly, successful as an office holder, it has been because of an eclectic mix of activities I have done beyond my day-to-day work along the way. I volunteered on boards and government commissions, and I kept busy as a public speaker and media commentator. I was the faculty member who could upset colleagues, always running around doing something else. (For example, as a university trustee, I took part in three presidential searches from the other side of the table.)
At the seminar, I realized I was not alone. My peers face similar challenges. They too had made a transition, some coming up through a faculty senate or other body not necessarily aligned with the administration; others had come straight out of government.
All schools except the most elite are being forced to look anew at their "business model" as much as intellectuals might hope to avoid such a term. The issues are complex. They are not abstract.
Our stakeholders demand pragmatism. Their expectations are not only conflicting but also increasing: higher rankings, better student services, more transparency, development of metrics for learning outcomes, enhanced research -- all with the realities of reduced state funding and the hopes for lower tuition.
A chancellor or president of a campus or system is concerned with budgets, management of personnel and risks, fundraising, communications and marketing -- for a public school, legislative relations too. She must be able to handle a crisis and cultivate the governing board. None of this is done by a solitary figure.
Completion of these tasks all depend on an ability to work well with other people as a part of a team. Some academic disciplines encourage group effort, but other fields are individual pursuits.
Thus the brilliance of an idea is nothing more than beautiful if it cannot be implemented. Good decision-making processes, best practices, standard operating procedures, and principled compromise must be pursued.
We must remain conversant with the substance of higher education. That is the core of the enterprise.
Our responsibilities are at a strategic level, setting agendas, policies and priorities. The content of the curriculum in its details is decided primarily by the faculty led by the chief academic officer (the Provost). The general orientation of the education, the mode of its delivery, and its costs, however, are properly for consideration by a chief executive officer (not that such a term is appropriate in academe).
Professors have background in specialized subjects as well as, we hope, pedagogy. Nothing in the writing of articles and books, nor in Socratic dialogue about civil procedure, evidence, and ethics readied me for functions I might have regarded as mundane but which turn out to be anything but easy.
It was imperative for me to advance at least to amateur status in multiple disciplines, virtually immediately. While I did not need to become an accountant, I did need to be able to converse with accountants -- and even oversee them. (A prior program at Harvard helped me, as well as the mistakes we call experience.)
A college president has many observers and more than a few critics. The characteristics that allow her to thrive include intangibles such as commitment, resilience, and a sense of humor. Among the stupidest things I have ever believed is that being smart was all that mattered. (Perhaps for someone smarter than me it would be sufficient.)
I am pleased to see that search committees consider "non-traditional" candidates from the public and for-profit sectors. I am friends with many such persons who have done very well. So long as they will work within the norms of shared governance, they can do just fine. They support others who lead a life of the mind, which means respecting its value.
There is another reason I resist the notion of a "best qualified." The choice, in a search that has been set up properly, is not between a single candidate who is superior versus the rest of the field. It usually is among options. Capable people present alternative visions.
The conclusion to which I come has general applicability beyond higher education. The best conductors of orchestras have not always been the best soloists; the best sports teams managers have only sometimes been the superstar athletes. They were good enough to have been professionals though, and they nurture talent.
Technical expertise is crucial at the beginning of a career. The true master can make a great life for herself within her field. That is admirable as a course.
Anyone who would be a leader of a community consisting of geniuses must be humbled -- genuinely.
Yet the individual who aspires to head an institution must be different. She should practice a range of proficiencies beyond the paradigm of "publish or perish" or its equivalent in her industry. Breadth matters as much as depth.
Adaptation is vital.
Monday, December 8, 2014
It has been a long road, but LMU-Duncan School of Law has been granted provisional approval by the American Bar Association. Congratulations to Dean Parham Williams (former dean of Ole Miss, Chapman, and Cumberland Law Schools), and to the faculty, staff, and students there. ABA Letter
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a great resource for deans. The site has a booklet with tips, trends, and ideas and can be found at:
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014
From the Charleston School of Law:
Jones named new president of Charleston School of Law
Effective today, she will serve as top executive at school
NOV. 13, 2014 -- Highly-respected legal educator Maryann Jones is the new president of the Charleston School of Law, school leaders announced today.
While Dean Andy Abrams will continue to serve as the school's top academic officer, Jones takes over today as the school's top executive following a unanimous vote by the school’s board of directors.
"This is a thrilling opportunity to join a respected school as it matures," said Jones, who has served as dean emerita of Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif., since June 2009. That year, she began service as an independent educational consultant with the Charleston School of Law to provide guidance on accreditation, assessment and programmatic issues.
“We are indeed fortunate to have an individual with the experience and expertise of Maryann Jones assuming a leadership position here at the Charleston School of Law,” Abrams said today. “Having previously played a significant role in our initial American Bar Association accreditation efforts and later in the establishment of our J.D./M.B.A. dual degree with the College of Charleston, her knowledge of legal education, in general, and the Charleston School of Law, in particular, will be invaluable at this pivotal time in the life of our law school.”
Jones served in various roles at the California school, including dean and president from 2004 to 2009. She first joined the school as a professor in 1990. She taught civil procedure, administrative law and legal writing as well as performed a wide range of academic leadership duties.
Jones, who has a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Connecticut, earned her law degree and graduated with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1982. After military service in the Judge Advocate General's Corps from 1983 to 1986, she entered private practice, continuing duty in the Army Reserves until 1989.
Jones has been admitted to the bar to practice before the Supreme Court of Illinois, Northern District of Illinois, Army Court of Military Review, Supreme Court of California and Central District of California. She has broad service in legal education and community organizations.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Above is the letter from the ABA to Dean Abrams at the Charleston School of Law recommending that the sale to Infiliaw be approved by the ABA Council. The approval depends on Infilaw's ability to secure a licence from the SC Commission on Higher Education.
It should be noted that Infilaw has six months to close the deal, or the acquiescence expires.