Friday, February 24, 2017

Responding to a Trump Attack: A Law Firm’s Guidelines

The prestigious New York firm of Cleary Gottlieb has issued a five page memo on how its clients should respond to a social media attack, clearly focusing on a Trump Twitter attack. The advice is very lawyer-like—full or pros and cons, very thoughtful, very measured:

Crisis plans maintained by public companies for other circumstances may provide useful guidance for how to respond to a politician’s social media attack (an “SMA”). However, every type of crisis raises unique concerns and considerations. Many companies should carefully consider the appropriate response to an SMA in advance.

This note is intended to aid public companies for a discussion at the board level concerning SMAs. It covers three main areas that public companies should specially consider: (i) governance, (ii) executive compensation and employment-related issues and (iii) communications, and provides senior legal advisors with an outline of relevant considerations.

While the principal considerations relevant to responding to an SMA will not typically be legal concerns, corporate governance considerations constitute threshold legal issues and employment-related and communications considerations implicate important legal issues.

By issuing the guidelines, the firm indicates how fearful its clients are that the President might single them out. You can read the document for yourself here.

(ljs)

February 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Betsy DeVos Criticizes Professors

From the Chronicle of Higher Education online:

Betsy DeVos, the U.S. education secretary, said that university faculty members “ominously” tell college students what to think, according to her prepared remarks for a speech on Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

In the remarks, Ms. DeVos said that college students were also responsible for fighting the “education establishment.”

“The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community,” read the remarks. “But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”

She added that the Department of Education should not control students’ decisions more than they do themselves, per the remarks, saying she wants students, parents, and communities to be in power.

Her remarks show how little she knows about professors and students. Any professor foolish enough to try to indoctrinate students learns that the more you try to push them in one direction, the more they resist and move in the opposite direction.

(ljs)

 

February 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alternative Facts in Higher Education

From Academic Impressions, here are four “alternative facts”:

ALTERNATIVE FACT #1 An institution's US News ranking is a good indicator of the educational quality of an institution. Prospective students and their families pay attention to them, and universities should expend as many resources as possible to increase their ranking.

ALTERNATIVE FACT #2 An institution's heavy emphasis on technology infrastructure enhances educational quality.

ALTERNATIVE FACT #3 Offering degree programs in an online environment will significantly increase enrollment and net revenue.

ALTERNATIVE FACT #4 Recovering from an undergraduate enrollment downfall and/or increasing enrollment will return an institution to financial security. (I think this applies to law schools as well.)

 For explanations and a statement of real facts, please click here:

(ljs)

February 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Loyola New Orleans Appoints New Dean

Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu has been named the new dean of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

From the media release (excerpts):

Landrieu, a 1987 alumna of the law school and an honorary degree recipient, will begin serving as dean and Judge Adrian G. Duplantier Professor of Law of her alma mater in summer 2017.

Landrieu has been a member of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Thomas More Inn of Courts since 1988, and served on the executive committee from 2012 to 2016. Her work as president from 2013 to 2015 helped the Inn achieve the highest ranking in the country, said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Marc Manganaro in a letter to the Loyola community. Judge Landrieu also served a dozen years on the law school’s Visiting Committee, from 2000 to 2012 and currently serves on the committee as emeritus. In 2005, Loyola University New Orleans honored her with an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service.

“It has been my honor to serve in the Louisiana judiciary for the past 16 years,” Landrieu said. “As I take this next step, I am reminded of a core value instilled in me by my parents and the Jesuits: ‘Go where you can best serve.’”

Landrieu served the Louisiana Judicial College as President in 2012 and has served as chair of its New Judges’ Orientation since 2008. She has also served on the operations committee of the LSBA Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, as co-chair of the Department of Children and Family Services External Advisory Committee, as board chair of Covenant House New Orleans, and as a founding board member of the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families. Judge Landrieu has also held key roles on the Louisiana Law Institute Special Committee on Summary Judgment; the Louisiana District Judges Association Executive Committee; and the Pro Bono Project, New Orleans.

Her many achievements include receiving the President’s Award from the Louisiana State Bar Association in 2009; the Pro Bono Project’s Distinguished Jurist Award in 2006; the New Orleans Association of Women Attorneys’ Michaelle Pitard Wynne Professionalism Award in 2013; the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center’s Public Service Award in 2002; the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award and Young Lawyers’ Section Pro Bono Award, both granted in 1998.

You can read more here.

(ljs)

 

February 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"The Past and Future of Externship Scholarship"

This is a new article by Professor Harriet Katz (Rutgers) and available at 23 Clinical L. Rev. 397 (2016) and here on SSRN. From the abstract:

This article offers an overview of scholarship about legal externship produced over the past three decades, along with suggestions for the direction of future work. Past publications examined externship’s educational value and pedagogic methods as a part of clinical education, surveyed characteristics of externship among law schools nationwide, chronicled the development of specific externship programs, and explored a variety of educational issues, as well as producing texts advocating best practices. Future work may examine the impact of changed ABA Standards and the evolution of legal education generally, including the status of externship faculty. It is hoped that this review helps orient new externship faculty and stimulates new ideas.

(jbl).

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Winning Through Integrity and Professionalism

In an article in the New York State Bar Association Journal (Feb. 2017), Judge Gerald Lebovits makes the case for integrity and professionalism:

Winning is, rather, about projecting sincerity without vouching for a client’s credibility or the merits of a client’s case. Winning is about delivering on promises without overpromising. Winning is about zealous representation without being a zealot. I learned about advocacy when I no longer wanted or needed to be an advocate. I learned about advocacy when I became a judge. I discovered that winning is about the messenger, not just the message and the media.

You can read more here.

(ljs)

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mark Herrmann: Why It’s Always Your Fault

Mark Herrmann: Why It’s Always Your Fault.  Nice article.  Excerpt:

"In a sense, whenever you write anything, you become responsible for the reader. If the reader doesn’t understand it, it’s your fault — because your task was to convey information to the reader. If the reader doesn’t understand, then you should try again."

Herrmann applies the same principle to other areas of law practice--speaking, client satisfaction, etc.

I chose the above paragraph because it is central to my approach to teaching writing.  Communication is the writer's responsibility.  If the reader doesn't understand what the writer is trying to communicate, it's the writer's fault.  This is especially important in legal writing because an attorney's job is to convince the judge.  If the lawyer fails to communicate to the judge, it's the lawyer's fault.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

N. Y. Post: Why we should teach cursive writing to all kids

N. Y. Post: Why we should teach cursive writing to all kids.  Excerpts:

But this policy change is actually more beneficial for the students than school officials appear to realize. Learning how to write cursive isn’t just useful for its own sake — as valuable as it is to be able to sign one’s own name.

As the city Department of Education rightly pointed out, “evidence reveals an advantage for handwriting using pen and paper over keyboarding for students in grades 2 to 6 for amount written, rate of word writing, and number of ideas expressed.”

In other words: Kids were better at processing information when doing so by handwriting as opposed to typing.  (emphasis added)

In addition, scientific research (and common sense) indicates learning how to write cursive helps the development of motor skills. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. William Klemm explains, “The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument.”

These benefits apply to writing more generally and cursive specifically, according to Klemm.

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Report: A Hacker Has Breached Dozens of Universities & Govt. Agencies

From Fortune:

A hacker has reportedly obtained access to the computer systems of prominent universities, including Cornell and New York University, and is attempting to sell that illegal access on the Internet, according to a research firm.

In a report published on Wednesday, the firm Recorded Future published new details about the hacker's activities. The hacker, known by the name Rasputin, gained notoriety last November for breaching a U.S. agency responsible for election oversight.

 

You can read more here.

(ljs)

February 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Crashing an Institute’s Internet—Easy!

Here is an article from Forbes explaining how. The article is a bit technical, but you will get the idea.

(ljs)

February 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rules for Plain English Drafting

At the blog for the Canadian law firm of Aird & Berlis, we find an example of an impossibly non-plain English contract provision and a plain English translation. In addition, we find this set of twelve rules for drafting in Plain English:

  1. Clear contract writing may not be elegant. However, it should be easy to understand. There are a few simple rules to follow when writing a clear contract: Put in some background information, for context.
  2. Once you say, “The parties to this contract agree as follows,” you never have to say, “party A agrees” or “the parties agree” again. You have already said that this is their agreement. No need to rub it in. Just say, “Party A will…” or “Party B will…."
  3. Write in clear indicative sentences: subject-verb-object.
  4. Use the right words. Keep them simple. Use effective, easy to understand definitions.
  5. Keep your sentences short. Use more of them instead of stringing them together with conjunctions. Pretend that you are paying for each word, and be stingy.
  6. Use subordinate clauses only when necessary. Keep them short too.
  7. Avoid the subjunctive mood. (Or maybe I should say, “Would that you would avoid the subjunctive mood,” or “Oh, that you would avoid the subjunctive mood!”)
  8. Avoid the passive voice (unless you are trying to be sneaky). “Party A shall be paid on the 15th of each successive month” is better written, “Party B shall pay Party A on the 15th of each month.” If you are trying to be sneaky, shame on you.
  9. Avoid legalese. If you mean “if,” please don’t say, “in the event that.” Avoid coupling “subject to” and “notwithstanding” because you’ll mess it up. Use one or the other, but lean toward “subject to.”
  10. Let your contract flow in a logical order. If you want to have indemnities, put them all together in one Article rather than sprinkling them throughout the contract. Put all your warranties and representations together. Put all the provisions for breach and remedies together.
  11. Use the word processing tools the good Lord gave us. If you use auto-numbering and formatting tools, you can build a better index and have a document that is free of formatting errors.
  12. Use an easy to read font. And please don’t use multiple fonts. That’s too much like wearing stripes and polka dots at the same time. Or mismatching socks.

You can read more here.

(ljs)

 

 

February 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

How to Keep Up with Capitol Hill’s Doings

News.Mic lists three platforms that will keep you abreast of legislation and Congressional committees and Congressional votes. The platforms are:

GovTrack.us

The Madison Project 

Congress.gov 

Countable 

PopVox

For a description of what these platforms offer, please click here.

(ljs)

February 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Class of 2016 Gave More than $52 Million in Legal Services

From the National Jurist preLaw:

AALS conducted a survey in November, and 80 law schools reported that 17,899 law students in the class of 2016 contributed more than 2.2 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education. That’s an average of about 124 hours per student.

Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $23.56 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students' time at these schools is estimated to be in excess of $52.2 million. 

Let’s say that again: $52.2 million. 

And that’s probably on the low side. Several schools indicated that many hours go unreported, or are difficult to track, and actual contributions are likely to be significantly higher. The project also did not include hours contributed by students in law school master degree programs.

You can read more here.

(ljs) 

 

February 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The second edition of Grover Cleveland's practical skills guide for new lawyers is here!

Grover Cleveland's (yes, that's his real name) essential skills guide for new lawyers called Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer has just been republished in an updated edition by West Academic and is available here and here.  If you're a legal skills professor, you can request a review copy from West for possible use in the classroom here.  Below is the publisher's summary along with an outline of chapter topics (you can read reviews here). There's also a new interview with Grover by the blog Ms. J.D. in which he offers additional tips and advice on everything from networking to how to manage your workload as a new associate. 

From the publisher:

The go-to book for new lawyer success at leading firms and schools, Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks contains critical advice new graduates need to thrive. Completely revised and updated, the Second Edition includes vital new information on networking, client service, business development, project management, and many other topics. The goal is simple: To help new lawyers start strong. With an easily readable style, Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks helps new lawyers navigate unwritten rules and stay afloat in a challenging profession. The book contains hundreds of tips with inside information from successful lawyers nationwide. Humorous, real-life examples illustrate the lessons along with checklists to provide comprehensive advice quickly. With employers and clients clamoring for “practice-ready” graduates, the Second Edition’s lessons are more essential than ever.

 

List of Chapters

 

  1. Sink or Swim: The Transition from Law School to Law Practice
  2. How Well Do You Swim: Your First Evaluation
  3. Feeding with Fellow Sharks: Getting and Doing Work
  4. Swimming with Sharks: Building Relationships with Other Lawyers
  5. Becoming a Pilot Fish: Making Yourself Indispensable with Exceptional Legal Work
  6. Navigating the Currents: Managing and Building Your Practice
  7. Shark Supply: Law Firm Economics
  8. Enjoying the Swim: Managing Your Life
  9. Taking the Next Plunge: Client Service
  10. Making and Casting Your Net: Networking and Business Development
  11. Other Fish in the Sea: Opposing Counsel and the Media
  12. Swimming like a Pro: Legal Skills in the Real World
  13. Swimming Away

(jbl).

February 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Law School

In 2016, LawDragon Campus took a road trip to visit the campuses of all U.S. law schools. Its assessment:

University of Texas Law School is tops for us – why? It’s at the forefront of the student-centric flip in legal education, led by Dean Ward Farnsworth. Also – and this gets complicated, but you can read here for a preview – there is no law school that can touch it within 1,154 miles in any direction. And it’s #1 in a state that mightily matters, and which it dominates. While a bit geeky, the ‘protractor’ test is one you’ll hear about again from us. For 98 percent of law school graduates – those not among the ultra-elites being courted by Harvard, Stanford and Yale – you should seriously consider going to law school in the state and region where you are going to practice. You will be making business contacts with your fellow law students, and have greatly improved odds of networking your way into a better job with local alumni. Texas places better than just about any school outside the Northeast in the N.Y.-D.C. corridor, but it cleans house in Texas.

You can read more here. (P.S. Texas is my law school alma mater.)

(ljs)

February 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida International Dean Tapped for Labor Secretary

From the Houston Chronicle:

 President Donald Trump selected Alexander Acosta as his choice for labor secretary during a press conference on Thursday afternoon, making him the first Hispanic member of Trump’s cabinet if he’s confirmed.

Acosta is an attorney who has worked in government in the past. Andrew Puzder — CEO of the CKE Restaurants fast-food chain, owner of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. — recently withdrew his name from consideration for the same position.

Acosta was assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush and is expected to get confirmed fairly easily in comparison to other Trump nominees.

Acosta, who most recently served as Dean of Florida International University College of Law, was a member of the National Labor Relations Board and also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division.

You can read more here.

(ljs)

 

February 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Did Tweets Affect the GOP Primaries?

A study answers yes. Excerpts from the article abstract:

In this paper we report an analysis of a unique dataset that characterizes how the substantive and affective content of Tweets evolved during the course of three pivotal Republican Primary debates leading up to the 2016 Presidential election.

We find that as the debates progressed Tweets provided an increasingly backward-looking account of the debates, as original content gradually gave way to retweets of the most popular earlier posts.

Moreover, whereas during the debate Tweets focused on a mix of substantive topics, the Tweets that had the longest staying power after the debates were those that focused on the more sensationalist news events, often through pictures and videos.

As such, a user coming to Twitter after the debate was over would have encountered a different topical and emotional landscape than one who had been following the site in real-time, one more closely resembling a tabloid than a substantive discussion forum. We explore the potential implications of the findings for the role that micro-blogging sites may have on shaping voter opinion in elections.

You can read more here. Ron Berman et al. "Make America Tweet Again: A Dynamic Analysis of Micro-Blogging During the 2016 U.S. Republican Primary Debates" Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 17-13 What does this study tell us about the power of emotion in persuading an audience?

(ljs)

A study answers yes. Excerpts from the article abstract:

In this paper we report an analysis of a unique dataset that characterizes how the substantive and affective content of Tweets evolved during the course of three pivotal Republican Primary debates leading up to the 2016 Presidential election.

We find that as the debates progressed Tweets provided an increasingly backward-looking account of the debates, as original content gradually gave way to retweets of the most popular earlier posts.

Moreover, whereas during the debate Tweets focused on a mix of substantive topics, the Tweets that had the longest staying power after the debates were those that focused on the more sensationalist news events, often through pictures and videos.

As such, a user coming to Twitter after the debate was over would have encountered a different topical and emotional landscape than one who had been following the site in real-time, one more closely resembling a tabloid than a substantive discussion forum. We explore the potential implications of the findings for the role that micro-blogging sites may have on shaping voter opinion in elections.

You can read more here. Ron Berman et al. "Make America Tweet Again: A Dynamic Analysis of Micro-Blogging During the 2016 U.S. Republican Primary Debates" Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 17-13

(ljs)

February 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz on Legal Education

Legal Tech News has an interesting interview with Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, one of the pioneers in legal education reform.

Here is the part of the interview that interested me the most (emphasis added):

"Q: What is your No. 1 pet peeve about legal education today?

A: I have to start my answer by saying that legal education today is the best it has ever been. At many law schools, law professors administer multiple assessments instead of one final exam at the end of the semester (as they did when I was a student), integrate modern learning theory and active learning into the design of their courses, and find ways to weave practical, authentic learning experiences into their day-to-day teaching.

While I think we still have room to improve in all three areas, my No. 1 pet peeve is the notion that, if we implement active learning, multiple assessments and authentic learning experiences, we are somehow pandering or spoon-feeding and are sacrificing other important goals, such as teaching legal theory or covering particular legal doctrines. My experience is that more effective teaching and assessment practices ensure that students learn the doctrine and theory better, and students discovering how they will use the doctrine and theory in practice to solve clients' problems causes them to become more excited and invested in learning what we want them to learn."

Exactly.  Are you listening Robert Condlin?

(Scott Fruehwald)

February 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

State of the Hiring Market: Winter 2017

From JDJournal, here is a detailed summary of where the jobs are, region by region. The information is of value mostly to those seeking lateral moves.

(ljs)

February 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Scholarships Go to Those with Least Financial Need

From the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE):

The latest LSSSE annual report, Law School Scholarship Policies: Engines of Inequity, provides a compelling view of how law school scholarships flow most generously to students with the least financial need and least generously to those with the most need. The report illustrates how these trends contribute to higher debt and stress among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

According to Aaron N. Taylor, director of LSSSE and associate professor at Saint Louis University School of Law:

 While law schools have become more generous in awarding scholarships to students, this bounty has not been spread evenly or equitably.  Narrow conceptions of merit ensure that scholarship funds flow more generously to students most likely to come from privileged backgrounds – leaving students from disadvantaged backgrounds bearing more of the risks associated with attending law school. The end-result is a cascade of negative outcomes, including a perverse cost-shifting strategy through which disadvantaged students subsidize the attendance of their privileged peers.  This is the hallmark of an inequitable system.  

You can access the survey here.

(ljs)

 

February 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)