Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Above the Law has the story of an Ohio lawyer who has moved to strike his opponent's complaint due to poor writing, verbosity and run-on sentences. The plaintiff has now struck back with a motion of his own that calls the defendant's accusations "worthless" and argues that his writing style is "perfectly fine." You can judge for yourself by reading the full story here and check out the pleadings at issue here.
Some professors use this format for final exams, and some use it for in-term assessment. All of us who use this format know how challenging it is to write good questions.
Here is a very helpful article: Susan M. Case & Beth E. Donahue, Developing High-Quality Questions for Assessment in Legal Education, 58 Journal of Legal Education 372 (2008). It offers very specific advice, most of which I agree with.
You can access the article here.
This blog has long stressed the importance of including professional identity in the law school curriculum. Developing a professional identity is essential to a young lawyer. Not only should law schools help their students develop professional identities in general, they should include professional identity across the curriculum so that students can handle ethical problems in specific fields. For example, there are many aspects of professional identity that are unique to prosecutors.
Professor Heather Field has written an excellent article that deals with professional identity problems for tax lawyers: Fostering Ethical Professional Identity in Tax: Using the Traditional Tax Classroom.
However, there is a dearth of resources for faculty members who want to leverage their traditional tax classrooms to help future tax lawyers develop their professional identities and learn to exercise professional judgment within the boundaries of the applicable ethical rules. So how can doctrinal faculty members help aspiring tax lawyers develop and implement their professional identities? This article describes exercises for the traditional tax classroom that are intended to (a) enable each student to identify and justify her developing lawyering philosophy, and (b) empower each student to implement her lawyering philosophy in her career. By empowering professors to help their students become more thoughtful, principled tax advisers, this article advances the goal of building a community of ethical tax professionals, both taxpayer-side and government-side, that serves taxpayers well."
Elizabeth Adamo Usman (Belmont), Nurturing the Law Student’s Soul: Why Law Schools Are Still Struggling to Teach Professionalism and How to Do Better in an Age of Consumerism
Nice article on how law school's can help students develop their professional identities:
Elizabeth Adamo Usman (Belmont), Nurturing the Law Student’s Soul: Why Law Schools Are Still Struggling to Teach Professionalism and How to Do Better in an Age of Consumerism, 99 Marq. L. Rev. 1021 (2016).
Abstract: "The pronounced increase over the past few decades of the role of consumerism in higher education in general and in law schools specifically, in which schools and students view themselves, respectively, as consumers and sellers of an educational product, has only been accelerated in recent years with the competition over the declining number of potential entering law students. With no end to this trend in [sight], consumerism appears to have become a part of the reality of legal education.
This Article explores the intersection of consumerism and professionalism in the law school setting with a specific focus on the “Millennial” law student. This Article first explores the contours of what constitutes “professionalism,” concluding that at essence it involves aspirational values of the legal profession. The Article also delineates the unique characteristics of law students from the Millennial generation, focusing on Millennials’ penchant for service and desire for greater meaning through work.
With this background in mind, the Article argues that although, as of yet, Millennial students’ self-conception of themselves as consumers has hindered rather than helped law schools in fulfilling their duty to inculcate legal professionalism, law schools have the ability to change this. By drawing upon the unique characteristics of the Millennial student, law
schools can harness the power of consumerism to give the Millennial student-consumer the greater meaning that she seeks while at the same time inculcating students with the aspirational values of our profession.
To bring about this change, law schools will have to embrace the Humanizing Legal Education Movement and focus on the movement’s central tenant of nurturing not just the mind but also the “soul” of the law student. With the Humanizing Legal Education Movement as the skeletal structure, specific educational mechanisms, namely Mindset Theory, Metacognition, and self-regulated learning, can provide the flesh on the bones that brings this goal to fruition."
Monday, January 16, 2017
Sunday, January 15, 2017
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may already know that the annual law school incubator conference is held each year in the spring (here and here). This year, the conference will be hosted by Texas A & M School of Law in Fort Worth from March 16th to 18th. If you've been thinking about submitting a proposal to speak at the conference, please act quickly because the deadline is Tuesday. Here are the additional details:
Registration and Information Now Available at Conference Website
Texas A&M School of Law will be hosting this conference designed for people who are already involved in incubator or other post graduate programs for solo, small firm, and non-profit practitioners, as well as for those who want to know more about how these programs work and how they contribute to enhancing social justice through improved access to law.
Registration and Information now available at Conference Website
Texas A&M School of Law is pleased to announce that information about the conference is now available and registration is open at the conference website:
The website has information about the cost, registration process, accommodations, travel and other basic information. A preliminary program schedule is there and detailed program information will follow.
Request for Proposals **DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 1/17/17**
The Consortium for Access to Justice: A Collaborative Community of Law Practice Incubators and Non-profit Law Firms, and the other conference sponsors, California Western School of Law, UMKC School of Law, Touro Law Center, and the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) are pleased to invite you to submit proposals for presentations and suggestions for topics and speakers for the conference. You can do so by visiting the website for the Conference athttp://www.law.tamu.edu/incubatorconf and following the link for submissions (deadline January 17, 2017).
We are seeking proposals and suggested topics for a wide range of subjects related to the 3 main conference themes:
1. How incubators, residencies, apprenticeships and nonprofit law firms can support social justice movements;
2. How to incorporate technology into these programs to increase impact of the programs for the legal services consumers and program participants;
3. Models and ideas for program and community law firm sustainability.
We hope to have speakers from law schools, bar associations, incubator and residency programs, sliding scale and non-profit law firms, legal services and other non-profit organizations, private practice, technology organizations, and the Judiciary. Feel free to propose a presentation by yourself or suggest topics and speakers that you would like to hear.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact any of us directly. We apologize for cross posting duplications but we are anxious to reach a broad and diverse audience.
- Luz Herrera email@example.com
- Fred Rooney firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bob Seibel email@example.com
- Tony Luppino firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shantelle Argyle email@example.com
- Meredith R. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
- Robert F. Seibel email@example.com
More information will be e-mailed soon to the Clinical listserv. Please watch your inbox for details.
Of particular interest to Legal Profession professors. Withdrawing under these circumstances can raise an ethical question: When you petition to withdraw, what can you tell the court? From the Thompson Hine blog:
Model Rule 1.16(b), and state rules based on it, describe when you “may” withdraw from a representation, including when the client “substantially fails to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services,” and the client has been warned that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled. Comment  gives the example of a client refusing to abide by an agreement concerning fees or court costs.
In civil litigation, the quandary arises because Model Rule 1.6 requires the lawyer to maintain confidentiality about everything “relating to the representation,” with only narrow exceptions, and Rule 1.16(c) requires the lawyer to comply with a tribunal’s rules in seeking to withdraw.
You have to phrase your withdrawal request to the tribunal in some way — but how far can you go in revealing the reason? In Formal Opinion 476, the ABA Committee acknowledged the difficulty, quoting one characterization of the issue as a “procedural problem that has no fully satisfactory solution.”
The Committee offers this advice:
Therefore, the Committee concluded, where the assertion that “professional considerations” justify withdrawal is not acceptable, and “when a judge has sought additional information” to support the motion to withdraw for non-payment, then the lawyer may “disclose information regarding the representation of the client that is limited to the extent reasonably necessary to respond to the court’s inquiry and in support of that motion to withdraw.”
You can read more here.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
"As previously announced, the School of Law will open for classes on January 23rd. We are working with the ABA and our North Carolina state authorizing agency on the implementation of a plan that will enable currently enrolled students to complete their program of study and receive a J.D. from the Charlotte School of Law. The plan will involve collaboration with another ABA-accredited law school to participate in the teach-out.
While we have not yet reached an agreement with the Department of Education respecting the precise conditions for the release of the second disbursement of Direct Loan proceeds to those students entitled to such funding, we and the Department agree that there is a path forward to reach such agreement. Regardless of when agreement for the release of Direct Loan proceeds is reached, CSL students entitled to such funds will have the anticipated amounts credited to their tuition and fee accounts."
Attorney Jeremy Byellin advises lawyers to uncover biases of judges and opposing counsel by researching them on social media. From the Thomson-Reuters Legal Solutions blog:
Obviously, attorneys must prepare their respective cases as well as possible. But that’s always just good practice. The less obvious advice? Attorneys should familiarize themselves with their opposing counsel and judge. Having insight into the kind of people with whom you’ll be dealing in the courtroom may be invaluable to shaping your arguments.
This assessment can be conducted using a variety of methods. The simplest of these is just reviewing existing legal writings of the subjects in question, which can often reveal the respective viewpoints and argument styles of their authors.
But these same authors are also actual human beings – and as such, have physical presences in the real world. And these presences leave footprints that can provide clues about their inclinations and biases.
You can read more here.
Friday, January 13, 2017
At The Professor is In, consultant Kellee Weinhold explains what you can do wrong at a job talk. Having sat through innumerable job talks, I have suffered through any number of awful ones. I can attest to the quality of the advice here. Here is the best advice:
Here is the hard truth: No one actually cares about what interests you. They care about how you and your work are in conversation with them. That’s why the job talk exists. To allow you to further explain what you are doing and show how you engage with the people around you. So, rein in your narrative of self-discovery and provide a clear and compelling snapshot of your research that reveals your maturity, flexibility, and teaching abilities.
For specific pieces of advice and explanations, please click here.
Beyond Learning Objectives: Overview of The Taxonomy of Cognitive Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements: A Guidebook for Schools and Faculty To Create Strategic Curricular and Course Learning Objectives by Hillary Burgess
Wow!!! This is the best article I have seen on learning objectives, assessment objectives, and outcome measurements. What Professor Burgess has done is to take Bloom's Taxonomy and adopt it to legal education. The level of detail and specific suggestions she has in this article are amazing. Everyone who is involved in drawing up outcome measures for their law school should read this article. Everyone who needs to draw up outcome measures for their own classes needs to study this article in depth. I guess this means everyone in legal education.
Beyond Learning Objectives: Overview of The Taxonomy of Cognitive Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements: A Guidebook for Schools and Faculty To Create Strategic Curricular and Course Learning Objectives by Hillary Burgess.
In the past, the ABA has accredited law schools based on inputs. Specifically, law schools needed to attract a certain caliber of student as measured by GPA and LSAT score. Currently, the ABA has moved toward accreditation standards based on outcome measurements rather than inputs. Law schools will no longer be able to provide curricula as the primary means for judging the quality of the educational program. Rather, schools are going to have to produce data that students met the learning objectives of the curricula. This shift is subtle, yet fundamental. It is no longer acceptable to simply teach the learning objectives. Students must also learn. And law schools must be able to prove that students learned. With the recent decline in law school applications, faculty are faced with a student body that is less and less prepared to begin a traditional legal curriculum.
Thus, law schools must provide more training and prove more results with students who struggle more. And, this task must be done in an economically viable manner. This “new normal” might seem to present the academy with an insurmountable challenge. However, with curricula that are optimally structured to follow the natural progression of human learning, this otherwise overwhelming challenge becomes possible.
This article provides a Taxonomy of Cognitive Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements. The taxonomy can help both the ABA and schools develop standardized language used to communicate learning and assessment objectives. The taxonomy provides a guide as to how to write curricular and course learning objectives.
The taxonomy also guides law schools to structure curricula and courses to meet these learning objectives to create positive outcome measurements. Specifically, by creating curricula that mimics the natural progression of adult human learning, law students will be able to learn more efficiently and law professors of all experience levels can avoid misalignment between instruction, learning, and assessment. Additionally, by setting learning objectives that internalize the shift to measuring what students should be able to do (the measurable outcomes), the learning objectives could more closely align with measuring and proving student learning.
In this article, I discuss what learning objectives, assessment objectives, and outcome measurements are and how to write them. Then I review existing taxonomies of learning objectives and discuss why the legal academy could benefit from a discipline-specific taxonomy of cognitive legal learning objectives. I then provide an introduction to Taxonomy of Cognitive Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements with descriptions of each of the general levels of legal learning objectives. Detailed descriptions of each dimension of the taxonomy will follow in subsequent papers, as will teaching and assessment tips that address specific and discreet learning objectives."
Students who use spaced repetition while studying retain more in long-term memory than students who don't.
Spaced Repetition: A Method for Learning More Law in Less Time by Gabriel H. Teninbaum.
Early findings are both exciting and consistent with the benefits of this method found in other fields. In one recent use of the technology, an entire graduating law school class was offered the chance to use SpacedRepetition.com to supplement their traditional bar preparation courses. Those who used the spaced repetition method passed the bar exam at a rate 19.2% higher than students who did not make use of it."
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Following up on my post of the other day regarding the recently concluded AALS annual conference in San Francisco during which the Section on Teaching Methods sponsored a program on the use of wearable technology to teach legal practice skills, as a former chair of the section myself, I'm happy to oblige the newly elected chair, professor Debbie Borman of Northwestern, by announcing the brand new slate of Section Officers. Without further ado, here they are:
The AALS Teaching Methods Section promotes the communication of ideas on techniques, strategies and methods of teaching, evaluating assessment of strategies, and formulating learning outcomes for law students.
The 2017-18 Executive Committee also includes: Chair-Elect: Rory Bahadur (Washburn University School of Law); Secretary: Michael Bloom (University of Michigan) Treasurer: Ted Afield (Georgia State University), Past-Chair: Karin Mika, and Executive Committee Members: Dustin Benham (Texas Tech University School of Law) Kim Holst (Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law), Susie Salmon (University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law) and Ric Simmons (The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law).
Congrats to everyone appointed to a new position and if you'd like to get involved with the section next year, be sure to contact any one of the new officers who can sign you up for the Teaching Methods listserv and then look for announcements throughout the year seeking volunteers for Section projects.
I have often doubted those who say they mulitask well. This is because working memory has only a limited number of slots, and, consequently, humans must focus their attention on the main task. A recent article on CNBC backs this up: Why Smart People Don't Multitask by Travis Bradberry. Excerpts:
"You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren't just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that's critical to your future success at work."
"Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time."
"They found that heavy multitaskers — those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another."
"Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully."
"Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they'd expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night."
"It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise."
"Multitasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low Self- and Social Awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work."
To students: If you think you can surf the net and listen in the class, you are wrong. Same thing for driving and using a cell phone.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
The Latest Twists and Turns at Charlotte Law by David Frakt.
"New details are emerging from Charlotte Law School. They have pushed back the start of their semester from January 17th to January 23; some, but not all, students will apparently get federal student loans for the spring; and it looks very much like Charlotte Law may be headed for closure in the not too distant future as they are working on a teach-out plan that involves Infilaw sister school Florida Coastal."
Evidence suggests that the answer is yes. From Tech.mic:
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen looked at 1,095 participants over a one week period, most of them women who spent an average of one hour a day on Facebook. Half of them logged-off Facebook for an entire week, and the other half kept using it as normal.
What the researchers found was that, at the end of the week, the participants who had signed off reported an increase in "life satisfaction" and positive emotions.
But the benefits weren't the same across the board — the "effects were significantly greater" for heavy users and people who already get jealous of other people on their feed.
Other studies back up this finding. You can read more here.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Professor Debbie Borman, a legal writing professor at Northwestern and incoming Chair of the AALS Teaching Methods Section, thought our readers would be interested in a program organized by the TM section at the recently concluded AALS annual conference in San Francisco last week since it addressed a very innovative use of classroom technology that most associate with law enforcement. That's right, body cameras and other wearable video technology. The panelists discussed using this technology to help students better assess their body language and speaking styles during mock legal skills exercises such as moot court and simulated negotiations.
As Professor Borman describes it, the panel discussion, which was called "Using Technology to Unlock Engagement
and Learning,” featured Professors Alyson Carrel (Northwestern) and David Dowling (Chapman) who demonstrated how wearable technology can be helpful in several ways in the context of legal skills classes. For instance, the panelists told the audience how they've been using small, wearable cameras in their mediation and negotiation classes to help students better assess their speaking styles and body language. The panelists discussed how this technology allows students to tweak their communication styles in subsequent exercises in ways that resulted in noticeable improvements and greater self-confidence. In particular Professor Borman observed that wearable technology would also be useful in moot court activities as well. As she explained after watching the panel's presentation: “Such technology enables students to get immediate feedback about distracting body language as well as feedback that can help smooth out vocalizations for more success and confidence in oral argument.”
It sounds like a very successful, informative program all the way around. Thanks for sharing.