Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fordham Law creates new 1L course to teach students financial literacy

According to the school's website, it is the first school in the nation to create a mandatory 1L course in financial literacy.  Here are more details from the school's press release:

New Course Aims to Teach Students Financial Literacy


Beginning this fall, Fordham Law requires all 1L students to take a course aimed at bolstering their understanding of finance. It is the first law school to do so. The course, Quantitative Methods for Lawyers, will introduce Fordham Law students to basic financial concepts and general quantitative reasoning, skills that law firms and legal service providers deem integral to success in today’s legal marketplace.


Law school courses, including many in the first year, require some understanding of markets, cost-benefit analysis, and the time value of money. The Quantitative Methods course will expose students to these broad law-related finance issues, and in the long term, increase their ability to manage cases and transactions and strengthen their competence within firm management.


"Recognizing that quantitative reasoning is a critical component of every lawyer’s skill set, we created the Quantitative Methods for Lawyers course to introduce fundamental concepts and specialized vocabulary," explained Professor Linda Sugin, who helped design the new course.


The course consists of six hours of instruction and covers the following topics:
• Supply and demand, markets, and externalities
• Cost-benefit analysis
• Probability and causation
• Expected value and the time value of money
• Financial statements
• Ethics and the role of the lawyer in financial decisions


Each hour will be taught by a different member of the Law School’s full-time faculty. A unifying problem will tie together all the modules. In this way, students will start the course by analyzing the events leading up to a tort case and follow through as the case proceeds, using quantitative reasoning at every stage.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


August 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cooley is Laying Off Maybe Half Its Staff

From JD Journal:

Faculty and staff at Western Michigan University Thomas W. Cooley Law School have been hit with devastating news reported by the Lansing City Press: more than 50 percent of these employees will be laid off. One faculty member stated that he could not disclose details about his severance package due to non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses, but that he is (obviously) “really, really pissed.”

  The faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that he was notified just last week that his final day would be August 31.

 The law school has been faced with declining enrollment, more than a 40 percent drop over the past few years. Tuition, however, has been raised 9 percent.

You can read more here. Over the last few years, I have wondered when the drop in enrollments was going to force schools to engage in massive lay-offs or close up shop. Maybe that time is upon us.



You can read more here. Over the last few years, I have wondered when the drop in enrollments was going to force schools to engage in massive lay-offs or close up shop. Maybe that time is upon us.


August 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Do Lawyers Charge?

According to the Enterprise Legal Management Trends Report, here is what law partners charge, on average across the country. These numbers seem quite low for the big city megafirms. You can access the full report here.


$589 Mergers and Acquisitions

$533 Corporate, General, Tax

$475 Regulatory & Compliance

$470 IP - Trademark

$435 IP - Patent

$431 Finance, Loans and Investments

$400 Commercial and Contracts

$375 Employment and Labor

$360 Real Estate

$360 Environmental

$343 Litigation - General

$179 Insurance

August 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One law prof tells new 1L's to consider getting out while the gettin' is good.

In this Forbes editorial, Professor Michael I. Krauss (George Mason) advises newly matriculated 1L's that if they've enrolled because they lack other options yet dream of big money, they've picked "the wrong generation to go to law school."  On the other hand, if you're interested in helping those under-served by the legal system for small wages while making large student loan payments, then "welcome, brother (and sister)."  Here's an excerpt:

 Law School Begins: Here's A Message to the New Crop of 1L's


. . . .


You have decided to enter law school during “interesting” times.  The business model for the private practice of law is a-changin, and many say it is broken.  Law school tuition is higher than ever, yet incomes are stagnant and perhaps dropping.  Law school loans, guaranteed by Uncle Sam and not dischargeable by bankruptcy, help you pay for tuition, but every increase in the generosity of federal largesses is yet another incentive for universities to capture rents by increasing tuition further.


. . . .


Are you interested in pursuing Justice, in making the world/your country/your state a place  governed by the Rule of Law, freer from predators and safer from tyrants than it currently is?  Are you interested in helping the 50% of Americans with legal problems who cannot currently afford legal help to resolve them?  Are you interested in soberly attempting to understand and solve the incredibly difficult, and incredibly interesting, intellectual problems that underly so many of today’s legal disputes, and that are so misconstrued by a journalistic profession obsessed with political correctness?  IF so, welcome to law school, we need you  badly, you will find your studies fascinating and enriching, and you will be able to make a real difference in the world. 


. . . .


[I]f you’re in law school because you didn’t know what else to do after your BA, because you hate Math (and erroneously think Law doesn’t require Math skills) and the sight of blood, therefore couldn’t be a physician, and have no goal other than to make a lot of money, and if you dislike work but have always relied on your IQ and adrenaline to ace all your courses, well, you chose the wrong generation to go to law school.  Get thee out now whilest  a partial refund of  tuition is still available.


. . . .

Continue reading at Forbes here.

Hat tip to ATL.


August 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Texas Wesleyan Grads Get A&M Diplomas?

Last April Texas A & M purchased Texas Wesleyan’s law school for $73.2 million. Now Texas Wesleyan grads argue that they are entitled to Texas A & M diplomas. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

A dozen frustrated law school alumni filed a complaint with the American Bar Association Friday that Texas A&M University is using Texas Wesleyan law alumni statistics to market the school but won’t grant them retroactive Aggie diplomas.

A&M officials say they can’t give diplomas to people who didn’t attend A&M.

A&M has attempted a compromise:

In April, the university sent certificates to about 3,800 alumni that they could frame and display next to their Wesleyan diplomas, Short said.

“It was really intended as a formal, tangible recognition of the graduates in our community,” Short said.

The certificates are topped with the A&M name followed by the graduate’s name and a sentence about how he or she was “in good standing and a colleague of past, present and future graduates” of A&M University.

“It left us scratching our heads about what is was supposed to mean,” Norred said. “It says we are colleagues. We are colleagues with all attorneys. I don’t know what this thing was supposed to do. It only made people more upset.”

[Law school Vice-Dean Aric] Short said, “For our purpose, they are all members of the alumni community. The decision on granting diplomas is made by the university in College Station, and we are trying to do everything we can in our power to include everyone.”

You can read more here.


August 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Don’t Read Books

From Brain Pickings:

Penned by Chinese poet Yang Wanli in the 12th century, the poem, translated by Jonathan Chaves, is a renunciation of books as a distraction from the core Buddhist virtue of mindful presence:

Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you.

It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
burn incense.
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.

You can read more here (August 19). You probably shouldn’t share this with your law students :)



August 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Top 10*" law schools teaching the technology of law practice

With the help of the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, the Taskforce on eLawyering sent a survey last year to 203 ABA accredited law schools to determine the extent to which they are teaching legal practice technology.  Specifically, the survey asked what schools are doing by way of coursework or other steps to teach students electronic "document assembly and drafting, courtroom technology, decision support systems, the ethics of legal technology, legal tech start-ups, marketing, matter and knowledge management, new model law firms, online dispute resolution, project management, software development, legal process engineering, access to justice and legal technology, cloud computing, law firm Web development, online marketing issues, social media and lawyering, and computer security and law practice."

Because only 32 schools returned the survey* (a 16% response rate), the Task Force acknowledges it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions about which schools are doing the most to teach students the technology skills they will need in practice.  Nevertheless, the Task Force has identified what it calls "10 points of light" regarding schools that offer "multiple courses or have dedicated centers—and actively involve regular faculty" in teaching these vital practice skills.

In alphabetical order, those "top 10" schools are:

          1. Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School
          2. Chicago–Kent College of Law
          3. Columbia Law School
          4. Florida Coastal School of Law
          5. Georgetown University Law Center
          6. Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law
          7. Michigan State University College of Law’s ReInvent Law Laboratory
          8. University of Pittsburgh School of Law
          9. Suffolk University Law School
          10. Vermont Law School

Continue reading here for a summary of the coursework and other offerings each of the schools on the list have taken to provide students with law practice technology skills.


August 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eight Excuses for Plagiarism

The Chronicle of Higher Education gives us a catalogue of excuses for plagiarism. Here are the excuses (greatly abridged):

The Extenuating-Circumstances Defense

The “Absolutely Not, But …” Defense

The “It Was My Research Assistant” Defense

The “I Am Not a Crook” Defense[“He denied wrongdoing, though, saying the allegations of plagiarism were “unfounded.””]

The “My Detractors” Defense

The Straight Apology

The “It Was a Crazy Time” Defense:“This is not an excuse, and I would never offer it up as an excuse, but at that point in my life, I had a family. I worked two jobs. I was running for the Illinois State Senate. I was trying to get my dissertation finished,”

The “How Do You Define Plagiarism?” Defense

For the record, Merriam-Webster defines plagiarism as “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.”

You can read more here. (You may need a subscription)



August 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Upstart legal research companies challenge Wexis

This article from the American Lawyer discusses how two (relatively) new legal research companies are challenging the dominance of Westlaw and Lexis. One of the companies mentioned - Fastcase which was launched back in 2003 - has gained a strong foothold among practitioners through  its program that provides members of several state and local bar asssociations free access.  The other company mentioned, Ravel Law, was founded by a pair of Stanford Law School grads and is based on a visual approach to legal research (you can read a more detailed profile of the company here via the online ABA Journal Magazine).  According to the AmLaw article, Ravel Law has already garnered about one third of the AmLaw 100 law firms among its users.  Perhaps it's time to start introducing 1Ls to Ravel in addition to Fastcase, Bloomberg Law, LoisLaw, etc.  You can read the full article about Fastcase and Ravel here via AmLaw.


August 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cooley Law School Changes its Name

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School is now the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Here are the opening paragraphs of the media release:

August 13, 2014 - KALAMAZOO, Mich.--After reviews by the Higher Learning Commission and the American Bar Association, an affiliation agreement in the works for more than a year has led to a new identity for the nation's largest law school--the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Completion of the arrangement between the private nonprofit law school and the public research university drew officials from both schools to the WMU campus this week to announce that the affiliation is now effective. They also used the occasion to roll out the law school's new visual identity and reveal a number of initiatives that will benefit current and future students of both schools as well as the communities they serve.

Initiatives unveiled included an announcement that WMU Cooley Law will offer first-year law classes on WMU's Kalamazoo campus in fall 2015. In addition, faculty at both schools have begun the work of developing both a law minor and a 3+3 program at WMU that will allow students to earn both a bachelor's degree and a law degree in just six years.

You can read the rest here.


August 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching About Using Posters, Photos, and Other Visuals

Think Progress, a liberal website, offers a large set of photos, posters, and other graphics. You might find them useful in class. For example, you might ask students to decide which are the most effective and which are the least effective and why. Consider comparing the two on maternity leave policies. You can access the visuals here.


August 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Gallup poll finds student loan debt has negative correlation with general sense of well-being

A new Gallup-Purdue University poll found that college loan debt negatively correlates not only with financial well-being, which is expected, but also with other important measures of overall well-being such as having a sense of purpose in life and physical health.  The poll was a joint-research project between Gallup, Purdue University and the Lumina Foundation which analyzed student loan debt among 11,000 adults who graduated from college between 1990 and 2014. Using the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the poll addressed college graduate "well-being" across the following five measures based on the amount of educational debt participants had incurred ranging from "no debt" to "over $50k":

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Here's a summary of the findings:


You can read the full summary of the poll results via the Gallup website here.


August 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

25 Books to Read Before You Die

Powell’s, that amazing “city of books” in Portland, Oregon, put together this list. Its criteria for selection:

Instead of worrying so much about what had to be included, we opted to present a collection of books that has the ability to change the way you think and feel and reflects our diverse interests here at Powell's.

For the list, please click here. Looks like I’ve got lots of reading to do.


August 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, August 15, 2014

More tips for law students seeking jobs from the NYLJ

The New York Law Journal has a helpful online supplement offering job hunting tips from several prominent New York area practitioners and law school administrators.  You can get the full supplement here.  Below are some relevant excerpts:

Basic Rules for OCI and Summer Associate Programs

Larry Cunningham, the Associate Academic Dean at St. John's School of Law, and Andrea M. Alonso, a partner at Morris Duffy Alonso & Faley and president of the St. John's School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors, offer advice to summer associates and those beginning the interviewing process, culled from their experience in both practice and academia.

Reap the Benefits of a Bar Association

Glenn Lau-Kee, the president of the New York State Bar Association and partner at Kee & Lau Kee, writes: A true legal education never stops. There is no better way to gain this experience than by interacting with other lawyers in the context of participating in bar association work.

A Distinguished Career Starts With Networking

Jack Killion, co-founder and partner in Bluestone + Killion, writes: The factor that generates the top, mind-boggling successful lawyers from the rest is their ability to network and develop important long-term relationships. And the shift from good to really successful starts when the nouveaux attorney recognizes that networking is a key factor for long-term professional and personal success and starts developing these skills sooner rather than later.


I Did Everything Right … Where's My Job?

Jill Backer, the associate director for employer relations at Brooklyn Law School and co-chair of the NYCLA Lawyers in Transition Committee, writes: Graduating from law school and taking the bar exam are huge accomplishments. However, many graduates reach these milestones without having received a post-grad job offer. There are many things that you can be doing to find that job!


August 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rejected Professor Candidate At Iowa Law Gets Retrial

From U.S. Law Week/Bloomberg News:

A civil rights suit alleging a candidate for a professorship at the University of Iowa College of Law was discriminated against because of her conservative views will be retried because the judge erred by reconvening the jurors to clarify the verdict after he had declared a mistrial and dismissed them, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held July 15 (Wagner v. Jones, 2014 BL 196034, 8th Cir., No. 13-1650, 7/15/14).

Teresa Wagner taught part-time at Iowa Law and was known for her conservative stances. She alleged the school rejected her application for a full-time, tenured professorship because of her political views. Wagner sued then-dean Carolyn Jones under 42 U.S.C. §1983, claiming violations of the First Amendment and her rights to due process and equal protection.

Magistrate Judge Thomas Shields of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury without clarifying which particular claims they had deadlocked on. He reconvened the jurors two minutes later and amended the ruling.

Addressing an issue of first impression, the Eighth Circuit held that the lower court decision was in error because a jury cannot reconsider or amend a verdict after a court declares a mistrial and discharges it from the courtroom.

Full text at

August 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Kids Aren't Alright: Rethinking the Law Student Skills Deficit

The Kids Aren't Alright: Rethinking the Law Student Skills Deficit by Rebecca C. Flanagan.


This article explores the decline of fundamental thinking skills in pre-law students and the challenges facing law schools admitting underprepared students during a time of constrained budgets and declining enrollment. A growing body of empirical research demonstrates a marked decline in the critical thinking and reasoning skills among college graduates. The causes for the decline are interconnected with other problematic changes on undergraduate campuses: 1) a dramatic decrease in student study time since 1960, examining research which suggests that undergraduate students spent 1/3 less time studying in 2003 than they did on 1961; 2) a consumerist orientation among college students, resulting in a diminished focus on learning; 3) grade inflation at undergraduate campuses, resulting in grade compression and an inability to distinguish between exceptional and ordinary students 4) a decline in undergraduate students choosing to major in liberal arts that provide the foundation for early success in law school. Declines in study time, grade inflation, and changing patterns in student class choice that have created an undergraduate learning environment that is less rigorous than undergraduate education fifty years ago.

This article challenges law schools to examine the adequacy of traditional support programs when incoming classes require systemic and sustained academic assistance. Law schools have traditionally helped academically underprepared through academic support programs, however, traditional ASPs are not equipped to provide broad-based and comprehensive assistance to large numbers of law students. Law student underpreparedness is a “wicked problem,” so complex that singular solutions are impossible. Law schools admitting substantial numbers of students with lower-levels of academic preparedness need to ask themselves questions to determine how to best address these challenges. The broader legal community should reflect on these questions because the answers will require all stakeholders to invest in changes to undergraduate education as well as legal training.

August 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elon School of Law announces appointment of its first "Dean of Experiential Learning"

From Elon's press release:

Elon University School of Law Dean Luke Bierman today announced Professor of Law Faith Rivers James as Elon Law’s first associate dean for experiential learning and leadership. In this role, Rivers James will provide guidance and coordination for the law school’s experiential learning initiatives, including externships, residencies, clinics and the school’s nationally recognized leadership program.


Law school dean Luke Bierman said the appointment of Rivers James was an important step in advancing Elon’s strategic objectives.


“As Elon Law intensifies its role as a national leader in experiential learning, Dean James’ expertise and guidance will be key factors in broadening and integrating our array of hands-on legal education initiatives,” Bierman said. “Faith Rivers James has been instrumental in building signature programs at Elon Law, including the law school’s nationally recognized leadership and attorney mentor programs. Her appointment to the administration at Elon Law will accelerate our efforts to provide law students with multiple experiential opportunities in law that enhance their education and advance their careers.”


. . . .


Click the links below for information about the following experiential learning programs at Elon Law:


Law practice residency programs, including semester-in-practice, corporate, nonprofit and public sector placement programs


Clinics in elder law, humanitarian immigration law, small business & entrepreneurship, and wills drafting


Attorney mentor program (preceptor program)


Leadership program, second-year course


Trial practice program and associated moot court and mock trial programs


August 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Campos on InfiLaw

Paul Campos has an interesting article on InfiLaw in The Atlantic.  (here)  See also his follow-up post here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

August 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tips for Coaching Teachers

Those of us who are senior teachers often have the responsibility of advising our junior colleagues. K-12 coach Elena Aguilar offers five good tips for coaching teachers. Here are excerpts:

Active Listening When I'm working with new coaches, the absence of active listening is sometimes what stands out the most. It's the first practice I explicitly teach and one that I think has the potential to shift everything else that happens in the conversation. I've written about this already, so read this post and watch this video to explore this idea more. And then try it!

Planning a Conversation Every time I ask coaches to spend 20-30 minutes planning a conversation, they come out of it with almost visible light bulbs above their heads, with epiphanous smiles on their faces. Yes, it is that powerful of an experience. It makes you feel confident and prepared, it deepens your empathy for your client, it warms up your mental pathways so that the words have already coursed through them and are primed to come out in the moment.

Short Observations But here's the thing about observations: I think that they can be as short as 7-10 minutes, and that a short observation can provide equally useful data to what we see in a 50 minute observation. Many observers and teachers have gotten into a mindset that observations should be an entire period. Most of the time, I disagree with this. In order for a coach to gather useful data, the coach needs to be observing for a very narrow and specific instructional practice such as checking for understanding, asking higher order thinking questions, having positive interactions . . . .

One Teacher, One Goal I want to suggest that we focus on one teacher and one goal. That doesn't mean that you neglect the other 79 teachers/17 goals, it means you FOCUS on one. You plan for conversations with that one teacher, you dig deep into what it'll take to meet that one goal.

When we focus we're much more likely to be successful, to learn in the process, to inspire others to attempt change, and to see results. Our schools are often operating in ways that are in stark contrast to best practices in making change, starting with this issue of being spread to wide and thin. See what happens this year if you identify one teacher whom you want to go deep with, who you'll observe every week, and for whom you'll plan and really prepare. It might be transformational.

Attend to Your Own Professional Learning What's one aspect of coaching that you want to work on this year? Listening? Using analytical frameworks to reflect on what you heard? Trying different coaching stances? Quelling your own judgments about other? Cultivating a quiet and calm mind? Gathering data that shifts instructional practice?

Identify one thing and then create your own learning plan. What are some activities that might help you refine this practice? If you're going to focus on using different kinds of coaching sentence stems, you can audio record conversations and analyze them afterwards. If you're doing to cultivate a quiet mind, you could try practicing mindfulness meditation. If you want to focus on strategic coaching conversations, you can start planning your conversations and reflecting on them afterwards.

You can read more here.


August 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

LSAC reports law school applicants for 2014 dropped 6.7% from last year

Law school applicants for 2014, as of 8/8/14, fell to 54,527 representing a 6.7% decline from 2013.  Those applicants submitted a total of 352,406 applications which also represents a drop of 8.2% from last year.  The LSAC website has more details including two graphs that track the decline in applicants and applications, respectively, for the past three years. Overall, this represents an almost 50% decline in total law school applicants from the high water mark set in 2004 when 100,600 prospective law students applied (submitting 552,400 applications) according to the LSAC.


August 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)