Thursday, November 27, 2014

The 20 Best College Towns

Travel & Leisure offers us a list of the 20 best college towns in the USA, according to the magazine’s readers.

At the top of the list is Syracuse. (I wonder if any of the evaluators made a visit during the winter snow season.) Lafayette, LA places second (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College, Louisiana Technical College).

Here is the complete list.

(ljs)

November 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Law deans ask National Conference of Bar Examiners to conduct "thorough investigation" of drop in exam scores

According to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, 80 deans representing mostly middle-ranked and public law schools have signed a letter to the NCBE asking for a "thorough investigation of the administration and scoring of the July 2014 bar exam" in light of the double-digit drop in bar pass rates experienced by several schools.  The NCBE has said the drop in exams scores is due to a weaker graduating class rather than any problem with the exam or the scoring.  A few weeks ago, we told you about similar kerfuffle between the NCBE and the Dean of Brooklyn Law School.  You can check out the full details on this latest multi-school dust-up via the Wall Street Journal Law Blog here.

(jbl).

November 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a 2:38 video chronicling the history of Thanksgiving. Find out what’s fact and what’s fiction.

And here is Bing Crosby singing “I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For” from Holiday Inn.

(ljs)

November 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

National Jurist Magazine ranks top moot court programs

The rankings are based on the methodology used by the Blakely Advocacy Institute at U. Houston School of Law which rates each law school based on its combined score for all ABA approved moot court competitions.  The BAI then invites the top 16 schools in the nation to the Andrew Kurth Moot Court Competition in January to decide "the best of the best."  Using the BAI's criteria,  National Jurist Magzine ranked law school moot court programs as follows:

  1. Florida Coastal
  2. Georgetown
  3. UC-Hastings
  4. South Texas College of Law
  5. Texas Tech
  6. U. Georgia
  7. Chicago-Kent
  8. Seton Hall
  9. U. Miami
  10. Loyola-Chicago

See the schools ranked 11- 20 here.

(jbl).

November 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Caribbean Law Classes Over the Winter Break

The University of Baltimore Law School and Hofstra Law School are offering law courses in sunny Curacao:

Consider a program in an exotic destination like Curaçao, which is jointly offered by the University of Baltimore School of Law and Hofstra University, Maurice A. Deane School of Law.

“In addition to spending Christmas on a Caribbean beach, the highlights of the program were the multiple field trips to various national and local government offices to experience firsthand comparative and international law,” said Clark Smith, a third-year law student at the University of Baltimore. “We visited the local prosecutor’s office to discuss Curaçao’s legal system based on Dutch law and to the U.S. Consulate to learn about cooperation on drug interdiction between the U.S. and Curaçao.”

Catherine Moore, Coordinator for International Programs at the University of Baltimore, said students often bring their families to accompany them on the three-week trip to Curaçao, which overlaps with the holiday season.

You can read more here. As law schools seek new ways to attract students and make money, I am sure we will see more winter break courses.

(ljs)

November 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beware of Avvo

Recently, Avvo, a website that rates professionals, created a profile and rated me. (Of course, anyone who picks a lawyer based on a website like this deserves what he or she gets.) Because I don't practice law, I asked Avvo to remove my profile. Here is its response.(The inability to spell my name correctly does not give confidence is the quality of the operation)  Any suggestions?

(ljs)

      
   

 

   
   

La (Avvo)

   

Nov 24 15:55

   

Hi Louos,

   

Thank you for     contacting Avvo. We do not delete profiles on Avvo.com. The information in     a lawyer profile is pulled from public records and publicly available     information.

   

If you are     concerned that public information we share on our website is incorrect,     please let us know and we will do our best to update it. Please also check     with your state bar association to ensure your information is updated in the     public records.

   

We can make     an exception to remove all information except your license details, name,     and client reviews.

   

You also have     the option to hide your rating if one is displayed:

   

Avvo will     remove the numerical rating from your profile.
    Your profile will read "This attorney has requested that their Avvo     Rating not be displayed"

   

Attorneys who     have not been disciplined and who do not wish to appear in Avvo's practice     area search results may choose this option," and will not appear in     practice area searches on Avvo.

   

However,     licensing details and client reviews will remain visible.

   

Please let us     know what you would like to do.

   

La C.
    Customer Care
    www.avvo.com/support
    www.avvo.com/for-lawyers/support    

   

November 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wired Article on Active Learning

Wired recently published an article on active learning. (here)  Some excerpts:

"Think back to when you learned how to ride a bike. You probably didn’t master this skill by listening to a series of riveting lectures on bike riding. Instead, you tried it out for yourself, made mistakes, fell down a few times, picked yourself back up, and tried again. When mastering an activity, there’s no substitute for the interaction and feedback that comes from practice."

"A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences addressed this question by conducting the largest and most comprehensive review of the effect of active learning on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Their answer is a resounding yes. According to Scott Freeman, one of the authors of the new study, 'The impact of these data should be like the Surgeon General’s report on “Smoking and Health” in 1964–they should put to rest any debate about whether active learning is more effective than lecturing.'”

Findings:

"1. Students in a traditional lecture course are 1.5 times more likely to fail, compared to students in courses with active learning."  "The authors point out that, were this a medical study, an effect size this large and statistically significant would warrant stopping the study and administering the treatment to everyone in the study."

"2. Students in active learning classes outperform those in traditional lectures on identical exams" "On average, students taught with active learning outperformed those taught by lectures by 6 percentage points on their exam. That’s the difference between bumping a B- to a B or a B to a B+."

Conclusion: "“[Under active learning,] students learn more, which means we’re doing our job better. They get higher grades and fail less, meaning that they are more likely to stay in STEM majors, which should help solve a major national problem. Finally, there is a strong ethical component. There is a growing body of evidence showing that active learning differentially benefits students of color and/or students from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or women in male-dominated fields. It’s not a stretch to claim that lecturing actively discriminates against underrepresented students.”

At this point I usually add some comments.  However, this article says it all.

(Scott Fruehwald) (emphasis in original)

November 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Learning styles are bogus

Professor Daniel Willingham, a cognitive psychologist at UVA and author of Why Students Don't Like School (hint - it's because learning is hard), has written before about the lack of empirical data supporting the theory of learning styles (including in the aforementioned book).  Here is another short article he wrote for the TES blog which bills itself as the world's largest online community for teachers.   The article is called Classroom Practice – Listen Closely, Learning Styles are a Lost Cause can be found here.  Learning styles are controversial and provoke strong feelings among many teachers insofar as some are convinced of their existence no matter what people like Professor Willingham claim while others remain skeptical in light of the studies that have failed to prove that, for example, students who identify as visual learners score better on tests when the teacher uses visual techniques than if the same material is taught using a different modality like aural, kinesthetic, etc.  This most recent article likely won't change many minds but is still worth a glance if you're interested in the topic.  Here's an excerpt: 

. . . .

In many schools – indeed, in some teacher training institutions – learning styles are treated as proven fact. And although some teachers have accepted that this faith is misguided, others fight the truth and vigorously defend the theory. A common argument is that their teaching has always been informed by learning styles and their experience bears out the theory’s utility. The science, they say, must be wrong. I can assure you, it is not.

Most studies on the theory tend to test it as follows:

 

  • Step 1 – determine the “learning style” of, say, 100 people.
  • Step 2 – offer an experience that is consistent with the style of half the group and inconsistent with the style of the other half. For example, if you have 50 people with a “visual style”, show 25 of them a silent film that depicts a story and make the other 25 listen to an audio version of the story. Then do the same for the 50 people with an auditory style: half experience the story in their preferred style (by listening) and half in their non-preferred style (by watching).
  • Step 3 – measure people’s comprehension of the story or their memory of it some time later.

If learning styles existed, the people who had experienced the story in their preferred style would get more out of it. Unfortunately, all the studies show that this core prediction simply does not hold; not for children with typical development and not for children who have learning difficulties.

. . . .

Continue reading here.

(jbl).   

November 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Twelve Resume Mistakes

According to Harrison Barnes at LawCrossing, here are 12 sins you should NOT commit on a resume:

1. Emphasizing responsibilities but not accomplishments -- or, conversely, getting bogged down in minutiae.

2. Telling (instead of showing) the reader how wonderful you are.

3. Allowing chronology to determine structure.

4. Using a "one size fits all" approach.

5. Wasting critical space under your name with a prominent display of your address and phone number.

6. Making margins so wide that the text is forced into narrow columns.

7. Including your photograph.

8. Using small print.

9. Using a scripted font.

10. Using bold typeface for standard categories.

11. Having your legal resume professionally printed.

12. Failing to take into account how the means of transmittal will alter the appearance.

You can find full explanations here.

(ljs)

November 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Responding to the "Mismatch" Controversy in Law School Affirmative Action

The publication of a new paper by Richard Sander, Mismatch and the Empirical Scholars Brief, has reopened the controversy concerning affirmative action in law schools and his "mismatch hypothesis."  (here)  The mismatch hypothesis "postulate[s] that very large preferences--racial or of any other kind--may undermine student learning, because professors tend to teach to the middle of their class, and students far below the middle will have trouble keeping up and advancing as concepts build day by day."

There has been a great deal of criticism of Sander's hypothesis.  However, I would like to approach it from a different angle: regardless of whether Sander is correct, can law schools overcome the seeming disadvantages that students admitted through affirmative action display by adopting new teaching techniques?  I believe that the answer to this question is yes.   

There has a great deal of criticism of law schools' approach to legal education, particularly the Socratic method, the case book approach, and the paucity of practical experiences.  While many disagree, I find these criticisms devastating.  Law schools are using a nineteenth-century approach to solve a twenty-first-century problem.  Even the philosophical basis of the Langdellian method has been thoroughly refuted.  (here)

A recent study has demonstrated that smaller classes, personal attention, active learning, and frequent formative assessment can eliminate the gender gap in g.p.a. for law school graduates.  While I know of no similar study in the law concerning minorities, studies in other fields show that new approaches to teaching, particularly the use of active learning and developing a growth mindset, help at risk students perform better.  (e.g., Daniel T. Willingham, Why Students Don't Like School Ch. 8 (2009), here, here, here, here, here)  For example, a "recent study, focusing on different sections of an introductory biology class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that active learning is particularly beneficial to African-American students and first-generation college students. All students' test scores combined rose more than three points in classes structured around active learning, but African-American and first-generation students in active-learning classes saw scores rise more than six points." (here)

If law schools are going to admit students through affirmative action programs, they have the responsibility to make sure that those students succeed.  They should not be thrown into the pool to sink or swim.  As the old saying goes "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."  Affirmative action programs without more effective approaches to teaching are liking giving a man a fish.  Law schools need to teach men and women to fish so that they can succeed as lawyers.

(Scott Fruehwald)

November 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession launches practice oriented magazine

It is called, appropriately enough, The Practice, and is intended to bring together under one roof academic research and practical advice for legal practitioners including everyone from newly minted lawyers to BigLaw partners.  The magazine will offer thoughtful analysis and perspectives on the legal profession for a global audience based on Center on the Legal Profession’s groundbreaking empirical research.  More specifically, the magazine will address the following subject matter and topics:

  •  Research: What does academic research reveals about the best ways to practice law today? Get original research from the Center on the Legal Profession, plus reports from the journals tailored to your practice.
  • Commentary: What are leading legal academics and professionals saying about the changing legal profession? In each issue, receive insights from the top legal practitioners and thinkers in the world.
  • Perspective: What major trends will be affecting your firm over the next year, five years, or 10 years? How are legal services evolving as a profession—and as a business?
  • Analysis: How do U.S. and worldwide trends in the legal industry affect you, whether you’re a newly minted associate or a partner looking to ensure a legacy? What can you expect from changing global regulation in coming years?
  • Practice: How can law practices and professionals navigate change and elevate their practice? Each issue offers benefits like tips from top practitioners and “The Takeaway”—the bottom line on what the broad trends analyzed in each issue mean for your practice and clients.

This looks like it's going to be an especially helpful publication for those teaching legal skills to keep up with the times and latest practice trends. The inaugural issue is available for free here.  Thereafter individual subscriptions to the bimonthly magazine will be $195 per year (institutional subscriptions will also be available).

Hat tip to Robert Ambrogi's always excellent and informative LawSites blog.

(jbl).

November 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Ohio Universities Get Bomb Sniffing Dogs

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Five more universities around Ohio are receiving bomb-sniffing dogs as officials expand a state program that makes more of those canines available for safety needs on and off campuses.

The University of Toledo, Kent State University, Ohio University and Central State University are each getting a dog trained to detect explosives. Rex, the German Shepherd going to Cleveland State University, will receive extra training to be part of general patrol operations, according to Ohio Homeland Security.

You can read more here  And at my school, we can’t get permission to bring in well-trained dogs  to comfort the students during exam time.

(ljs)

November 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oxford Dictionaries’ “Word of the Year”

From msn news:

Oxford Dictionaries picked "vape" - the act of smoking an e-cigarette - as their new word of the year on Tuesday, with the affectionate "bae" and the more pragmatic "contactless" as runners-up.

"Vaping has gone mainstream," with usage doubling in 2014 compared to 2013, editorial director Judy Pearsall said.

"The language usage of the word vape and related terms in 2014 has shown a marked increase" due to celebrities "vaping" and "growing public debate on the public dangers and the need for regulation", she said.

The word, which was first used in the 1980s, can be employed as a verb to mean inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by electronic cigarettes but also as a noun to refer to the devices themselves.

You can read more here. Oh, am I out of touch. I have never heard of “vape” or “bae” until now.

(ljs)

November 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning Outcomes In Professional Responsibilty

Barbara Glesner Fines has written an excellent article on using learning outcomes in professional responsibility class.

The Power of a Destination: How Assessment of Clear and Measurable Learning Outcomes Drives Student Learning

Abstract:     

"This monograph is designed as a practical tool for helping professional responsibility teachers to develop effective and efficient assessment practices. A carefully structured program of assessment: the identification of discrete legal research skills outcomes, with defined levels of proficiency, and tools for assessing those proficiencies, can provide both incentive and structure necessary to effecti[vely] preparing students for the daunting responsibilities and challenges of becoming ethical balanced attorneys. The assessment approach to teaching can give faculty and students alike an energy and confidence that will fundamentally change how we think about teaching and learning in law school."
 
Professor Fines notes that "In teaching, for too long, faculty have measured their success by their inputs – the carefully chosen course materials, the meticulously planned learning activity, the brilliantly delivered lecture – without asking whether all this teaching is actually resulting in learning."
 
Because she focuses on outcomes, Fines's approach to teaching uses a backwards design.
 
1. "The assessment process requires beginning with outcomes – with the destinations we plan for our student’s journey through law school."  "Choose significant learning outcomes."  "[L]earning goals might include subject matter goals, skills goals, or values and attitudes goals."
 
2. "Prioritize."  "After you have narrowed down some priorities for learning goals, you must then depend on the level of proficiency you will expect for student learning."  Depth or breadth?  (Breadth is usually better.)
 
3. "Think of the Students."  "Just as expectations management is important in representing clients, so too it is important that you understand your student’s expectations, abilities, and preferences in planning learning outcomes. If you don’t talk to your students ahead of time about the outcomes you have for the course and give due respect to their own expectations, you may simply be leading where they do not want to follow."
 
4. "Make Outcomes Count."  "Once we have established our outcomes, we must design assessments if we want those outcomes to count. 'Assessment methods and requirements probably have a greater influence on how and what students learn than any other single factor. This influence may well be of greater importance than the impact of teaching materials.'"
a. "To design assessments, first choose what you want to assess."
b. "After a specific outcome is identified, choose a method for assessing learning."
c. "The final step in the assessment process is to use the data one gains from assessment to improve learning."
 
In the second half of the paper, Fines "suggests a number of assessment techniques, with examples from the professional responsibility class, that can provide important information about student progress in achieving the learning outcomes [she has] set for a course."  These include Socratic dialogue, quizzes and worksheets, graphics, the minute paper, issue spotting exercises, peer-assessed drafting exercises, assessing reflection, short analytical problems, client interviews as summative assessments, peer assessments to evaluate collaborative skills, and traditional final exams.
 
Professor Fines concludes, "It’s the power of a destination. I urge you to try this 'backwards design’ approach to your teaching."
 
In sum, the key point in Professor Fines's article is backwards design.  Start with the outcomes you want from the class and work backwards from there.  Not only will this approach work in an ethics class, it will work in doctrinal and skills classes.
 

November 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New employment numbers by BLS suggests law school class of 2016 will have better job prospects

The ABA Journal Blog has the story here.  What it boils down to is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has changed the way it calculates projected job openings in the legal services sector.  Until now, the BLS based its job projections on the assumption that those who enter the legal profession stay until they get old or retire.  In reality, many lawyers - I recall reading a story several years ago that put the figure at 50% within 10 years - leave the profession much earlier than that to pursue alternative careers.  As a result, the BLS may have been greatly understating the number of new jobs openings in the legal services sector.  From now on, the BLS will measure measure attrition through survey results rather than relying on assumptions about cradle to grave career paths.

(jbl).

November 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should the Drop in MBE Scores Affect our Teaching?

As we have reported, scores on the Multistate Bar Exam have declined, and that decline has raised a minor ruckus. Over at Best Practices for Legal Education (Nov. 14), Margaret Moore Johnson raises a difficult issue: would traditional doctrinal teaching help our students pass the bar more than does the sort of teaching that many of us now advocate? (my words, not hers):

But at a time when law schools are focusing on teaching integrated doctrine, skills, and values, an already ambitious undertaking, is it backtracking to reconsider the multiple choice test – like LSAT prep all over again – instead of progressively developing knowledge and true professional competence? Or is it appropriate to simultaneously develop the skills students need to pass the (often criticized) bar exam?

(ljs)

November 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Harpo Marx Family Rules

 

November 23 is Harpo Marx’s Birthday. In honor of the late comedian, here are his Family Rules:

Harpo Marx Family Rules
1 Life has been created for you to enjoy, but you won't enjoy it unless you pay for it with some good, hard work. This is one price that will never be marked down.
2 You can work at whatever you want to as long as you do it as well as you can and clean up afterwards and you're at the table at mealtime and in bed at bedtime.
3 Respect what the others do. Respect Dad's harp, Mom's paints, Billy's piano, Alex's set of tools, Jimmy's designs, and Minnie's menagerie.
4 If anything makes you sore, come out with it. Maybe the rest of us are itching for a fight, too.
5 If anything strikes you as funny, out with that, too. Let's all the rest of us have a laugh.
6 If you have an impulse to do something that you're not sure is right, go ahead and do it. Take a chance. Chances are, if you don't you'll regret it - unless you break the rules about mealtime and bedtime, in which case you'll sure as hell regret it.
7 If it's a question of whether to do what's fun or what is supposed to be good for you, and nobody is hurt whichever you do, always do what's fun.
8 If things get too much for you and you feel the whole world's against you, go stand on your head. If you can think of anything crazier to do, do it.
9 Don't worry about what other people think. The only person in the world important enough to conform to is yourself.
10 Anybody who mistreats a pet or breaks a pool cue is docked a months pay.
(ljs)

 

November 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

"What's New About the New Normal: The Evolving Market for New Lawyers in the 21st Century"

This is a new article by Professor Bernard Burk (North Carolina) available at 41 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 541 (2014) and on SSRN here.  From the abstract:

Everyone agrees that job prospects for many new law graduates have been poor for the last several years; there is rather less consensus on whether, when, how, or why that may change as the economy recovers from the Great Recession. This Article analyzes historical and current trends in the job market for new lawyers in an effort to predict how that market may evolve. 

The Article derives quantitative measurements of the proportion of law graduates over the last thirty years who have obtained initial employment for which law school serves as rational substantive preparation (“Law Jobs”). In comparing entry-level hiring patterns since 2008 with those in earlier periods, a significant development emerges: While other sectors of the market for new lawyers have changed only modestly during the Great Recession, one sector — the larger private law firms colloquially known as “BigLaw” — has contracted proportionally six times as much as all the others. Entering BigLaw classes overall are now roughly one-third smaller than they were seven years ago. And though BigLaw hiring has historically accounted for only 10% to 20% of each graduating class, it is responsible for over half the entry-level Law Jobs lost since 2008. 

While some observers predict a return to business as usual as the economy recovers, this Article is skeptical of that account. The Article identifies significant structural changes in the way that the services BigLaw has traditionally provided are being produced, staffed, and priced that diminish BigLaw’s need for junior lawyers, both immediately and in the longer term. These observations suggest that entry-level BigLaw hiring, and thus the market for new lawyers overall, will remain depressed below pre-recession levels well after demand improves to or beyond pre-recession levels. At the same time, even though entry-level demand may remain static, new lawyers’ job prospects may nevertheless improve as the con-traction in the legal academy now underway reduces the number of new graduates competing for work.

(jbl).

November 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nov. 22, 1963: The Death of President Kennedy

On November 22, we observe the assassination of President Kennedy. Many of us remember how painful a time that was.

Here is a 10 minute video excerpted from the final presidential debate between then-Senator Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The quality of the debate reminds us how political debates once had substance and spoke well of the participants.

(ljs)

November 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Exercise in Drafting an Opening Argument

Here is the opening paragraph from Apple’s brief in its patent suit against Samsung:

Samsung is before the court and on trial, because Apple alleges that Samsung copied Apple’s iPhone and iPad.  This conduct was the result of a deliberate decision on the part of Samsung. In its history, Apple has created innovations in product design and user interface technology, which resulted in strong and solid intellectual property rights. With respect to those property rights, Samsung has infringed on them. Try as it might, Samsung cannot deflect the attention it has received from its conduct in copying the patents that it has asserted that it claims that Apple has taken from it.

Here is my rewrite:

Samsung deliberately copied Apple’s iPhone and iPad. It infringed on Apple’s intellectual property rights, that is, its innovative product design and user interface technology. Sumsung unsuccessfully attempts to deflect attention from its copying by alleging patent infringement by Apple. However, as this trial will disclose, Samsung slipped its patents into the UMTS wireless standards. It deceived the international body responsible for creating these standards and thus illegally monopolized technology markets. 

Although my version contains only a few less words than Apple’s, it seems more concise and to the point. It is direct. The focus is on Samsung; Samsung is the subject of every sentence. As a result, the paragraph has direction and tells a story supporting Apple’s case.

 (ljs)

November 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)