Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Legal sector adds 4700 jobs in September

Hubba, hubba, hubba - the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that the legal sector added 4,700 jobs last month. BLS also revised its job report for August by finding that the legal sector only lost about 900 jobs that month, less than half the figure originally reported.  Overall that puts the total number of jobs added to the legal marketplace at 7,300 more than existed last year at this time. The AmLaw Daily has more details here and, of course, you can always check out the BLS report directly here.


October 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lawyers Accepting Bitcoin as Payment

From JD Journal:

Imagine being able to pay your lawyer with a cryptocurrency. Another lawyer has announced he will accept Bitcoin payments for his services, though he will still insist on regular money for his retainer. Michigan business and tax lawyer Donald Katz is the latest lawyer to jump on the Bitcoin wagon.

Bitcoin is a digital form of currency that is more like property than currency since its value can change. For tax purposes, its fair-market value is calculated on the day it was received. When the Bitcoin payment is later spent, it’s at a capital gain or loss, depending on the market value at that point.

This is why the payment in Bitcoin must be for current services and not for future services like a retainer. A single Bitcoin has been valued between $300 and $1000 with it currently holding a market value of $375.

 You can read more here.


October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Healthy Food or Healthful Food?

You probably want to say “healthful food.” From Grammar Girl”:

Healthy versus Healthful: The problem is that some people insist that you can’t say your salad is healthy; you have to say it’s healthful because only healthful can mean “conducive to good health.” The thinking is that only a living thing can be healthy—if we’re in good health, you and I can describe ourselves as healthy. Healthy is a personal characteristic, but things that are dead, things we consume, aren’t healthy anymore. If they’re good for us, they’re healthful.

Here’s a joke from an 1895 usage guide that played on this kind of thinking: “The physician implied precise English, when, to the inquiry whether oysters were ‘healthy’ at certain seasons, he replied, ‘I have never heard one complain of an ache or an ail.”

You also can find an article on this episode in changing word usage at the Chronicle of Higher Education (here). (You may need a subscription.)


October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

SCOTUS Accepts 13 New Cases

The Court has agreed to hear 13 additional cases covering a wide range of topics. The SCOTUS Blog offers brief summaries. You can access the posting here.


October 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Co-Deaning a Coming Trend?

Recently, both the University of New Mexico and Case Western have gone that route. Case has had duo deans. After two years as interim co-deans, Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf have become permanent co-deans. At New Mexico, in August, Alfred D. Mathewson and Sergio Pareja became co-deans.

Today, deaning certainly affords enough work for partnering deans. They need decide only how to handle matters when they disagree For more, please see Tax Prof Blog’s recent posting (here).


October 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thinking about law school? Here are the three college courses you should consider taking.

That's according to the Law Admissions Lowdown column at the USNWR blog. Here's what they recommend: 

1. Take an introductory course in formal logic because it will help you build the mental discipline needed to think in a linear and organized way.

2. Take a survey course in U.S. history because it will give you the context for understanding how our legal system developed and evolved as well as help you practice and refine your research and writing skills.

3. Take a microeconomics course because economic principles underlie many areas of law including key 1L subjects like contracts and torts. And like a course in formal logic, economics will help you hone your analytical abilities. 

Read the full post at USNWR's  Law Admissions Lowdown here.


October 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Study: This Year, Law School Applications May Grow

From Kaplan Test Prep:

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2015 survey of admissions officers at 120 law schools across the United States*, the vast majority of law school admissions officers predict that they are going to see something they haven’t seen in many years: an increase in applications. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) are confident that their law school will see a spike for the 2015-2016 application cycle, compared to the previous cycle. This level of optimism represents a dramatic reversal of opinion from Kaplan’s 2014 survey when only 46% expressed confidence that their law school would see an increase in applications over the previous cycle.  That spike that nearly half predicted didn’t come to fruition. In fact, the 2014 entering law school class was the smallest one in 40 years.

Here’s hoping. No prediction here on the scores of the applicants.You can read more here.


October 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 2, 2015

The published history of clinical education at St. Mary's Law School

This is new article by Professor (retired) Sue Bentch (St. Mary's) that, as the title suggests, documents the history of clinical educational at her former school. It's not yet posted on SSRN but you can find it at the source, 46 St. Mary's L.J. 285 (2015) as well as Wexis and other online repositories. From the introduction:

When Barbara Bader Aldave became dean of St. Mary's University School of Law in 1989, among her goals was the creation of law clinics at St. Mary's. She began work toward that goal immediately upon assuming the position of dean. Today, the award-winning clinical program that she began and nurtured is a star in the law school's firmament. This Article examines the history of that program and how the clinics at St. Mary's have grown into one of the leading clinical programs in the state, perhaps even in the nation.

. . . .

Prior to Dean Aldave's arrival at St. Mary's, experiential learning by law students was primarily accomplished the old-fashioned way: some law students worked part-time for practicing attorneys or in offices, such as the District Attorney's office. In the early 1970s, Professor Charles Cantu directed a program in which students were placed with officers in the juvenile section of the District Attorney's office. Later, during the 1980s, part-time professor Mary Anne Crosby introduced a series of externships. To enhance their knowledge of the justice system and give them practical experience, Professor Crosby arranged for students in her Juvenile Law classes to work in the juvenile division of the Bexar County District Attorney's office, assisting the attorneys there with their caseloads and eventually earning academic credit. Consequently, the dean at that time hired her to direct a broader program. With the volunteer assistance of two professors in particular, Professors Gerald Reamey and John Schmolesky, she expanded this program to the Bexar County District Attorney's office and to the local office of the United States Attorneys, as well as to the San Antonio City Attorney's office and Bexar County Legal Aid (BCLA). Eventually, Professor Crosby placed students with four state district judges, the local bankruptcy court, the Department of Immigration, and the estate, tax, and trust departments of several banks. The next year, 1982, she obtained and administered a three-year grant from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to establish a Clinical Internship Program (CIP) in conjunction with BCLA. The grant paid for a full-time supervising attorney and assistance from a BCLA secretary. Students worked at BCLA offices and met with their supervisor there. Their cases were generated by BCLA and the students earned academic credit for the CIP. Professor Crosby herself taught an introductory classroom component, but the supervising attorney who was primarily responsible for day-to-day supervision was not a member of the St. Mary's faculty. The LSC grant was extended for an additional year, but after that the program foundered because of lack of funding and administrative indifference. Professor Crosby left the faculty and with her departure these experiential offerings that she had developed over the previous five years evaporated. Thus when Dean Aldave arrived, there was no viable clinical experience available for law students at St. Mary's.


Dean Aldave was determined to install properly funded and accredited law clinics at St. Mary's--clinics that adhered to the American Bar Association's Standard 302 requiring case supervision by law school faculty and the award of hard credits for students, a goal which she set to work on as soon as she began her tenure in 1989. As she herself says, there was both opportunism and design in the creation of the various clinics: “One good thing led to another.” She named David Dittfurth, her Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, to be the initial Director of the Clinics--a post he held until 1993. As the various programs grew and fell into place under Professor Dubin and other clinicians, Professor Dittfurth's responsibilities became primarily administrative and oversight, regulating the expenditure of grant money and acquiring computers, furniture, and other necessities. However beyond these quotidian matters, according to Professor Dubin, it was the tone that Dean Aldave set and her indomitable will and spirit that made it all happen.


October 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 Presidential and VP Debates Will Be at 4 Colleges

From the Commission on Presidential Debates:

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) today announced sites and dates for three presidential and one vice presidential debates during the 2016 general election.  The dates and sites are:

First presidential debate:
Monday, September 26, 2016
Wright State University, Dayton, OH

Vice presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Longwood University, Farmville, VA

Second presidential debate:
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY will serve as the backup site.




October 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Incorporating practical business skills into the law school curriculum

This is a new article by Professor Eric Chaffee (Toledo), the full title of which is Answering the Call to Reinvent Legal Education: The Need to Incorporate Practical Business and Transactional Skills Training into the Curricula of America's Law Schools and will be published shortly in the Stanford Journal of Law, Business and Finance. In the meantime, you can check it out here on SSRN. From the abstract:

In his seminal article, Value Creation by Business Lawyers: Legal Skills and Asset Pricing, 94 Yale L.J. 239 (1984), Professor Ronald Gilson begins his paper with a simple question: “What do business lawyers really do?” As a result of a myriad of different pressures for change on the legal academy, Gilson’s exploration of the role of business lawyers has taken on new relevance because one question is on the mind of every legal academic: How should legal education be reformed? This article is founded upon the assumption that reform must begin by examining the job market. This is because people go to law school not only to learn about the law but also to get a job or advance in their careers. Gilson’s exploration of the role of the business lawyer is of special interest because the legal academy has done an excellent job training law school graduates to occupy the courtroom, and now, it must better train them to occupy the boardroom and other business environments as well.

Looking at recent predictions from the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite slow growth in the legal field, the demand for human resources specialists, management analysts, health services managers, medical records technicians, financial advisers, and other business fields will increase dramatically within the next decade. These are all jobs in which a juris doctor is not required but could be a real asset to both an employer and employee undertaking these different types of employment. This article suggests that if the legal academy wants to continue to thrive, then law schools must augment their curricula to train graduates how to survive and achieve within these different types of business environments. Unlike Professor Gilson’s emphasis on teaching business theory in his 1984 article, this article suggests that times have changed, and that law schools must focus on teaching practical business and transactional skills.

This article contributes to the existing scholarship in three main ways. First, this article argues for change that rationally conforms to the future of the job market and increases the employability of law school graduates. Most other articles discussing curricular reform just focus on training law school students better for the exact same pool of jobs. These articles do nothing to stabilize the legal academy because they simply continue the competition for a limited number of employment opportunities. Second, this article tracks what business lawyers could do in practice. Although other articles discuss what law school graduates who become business lawyers should be doing in practice, this article focuses on the breadth of positions that might be occupied by those graduates. Third, unlike other articles that just argue for changes in legal education to improve training for business lawyers, this article provides various curricular models for that change. If meaningful change is to occur, then real world implementation must be possible. This article offers a number of roadmaps for that real world implementation.


October 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

12th Annual World University Rankings

From College (here):

London-based Times Higher Education (THE) published its 12th annual World University Rankings Wednesday, and while American schools as a whole have lost some of the mojo they’ve showed in past years, they continue to dominate.

Six of the top 10 slots for 2015-16, in fact, are schools in the U.S. 

According to the rankings, these are the top 10 schools in the world:

  1. California Institute of Technology
  2. Oxford University in the U.K.
  3. Stanford University
  4. Cambridge in the U.K.
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. Harvard University
  7. Princeton University
  8. Imperial College London
  9. ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  10. University of Chicago

This is the fifth consecutive year that Caltech secured the top spot.

Johns Hopkins University, Yale University and University of California at Berkeley all placed high in the rankings at Nos. 11, 12 and 13, respectively.

For what it’s worth.


October 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maryland Law Starts a Freddie Gray Class

From U.S. News:

After Freddie Gray died in April of a spinal injury days after being arrested in Baltimore, the city erupted. There were peaceful protests as well as dayslong riots, but administration and faculty at the University of Maryland's Carey School of Law had a different reaction: ​They designed a class.

"We were actually right at the end of the semester and right in the middle of exams. And so our students sort of left here without a ​time to discuss or consider the issues that were raised by what was happening in our backyard," says Donald Tobin, dean of the law school.

The school, located in Baltimore, put together a class where law students and students from the University of Maryland—Baltimore's School of Social Work could discuss the underlying problems that lead to this type of conflict and how law can be used to improve social justice, he says.

The eight-week course, "Freddie Gray's Baltimore: Past, Present, and Moving Forward," debuted this fall. Students and professors will discuss topics such as community policing, housing and health care, and students will have opportunities to do local volunteer work.

You can read more here.



October 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Paralegal Forges Judges’ Names on 117 Court Orders

From the ABA Journal:

A paralegal at a New York personal injury firm was having trouble keeping up with his work, which involved sales of structured settlements. So he forged the signatures of 76 judges on 117 court orders, between June 2011 and October 2013, prosecutors say.

Charged with 117 counts of forgery and possession of a forged instrument, Thomas Rubino, 42, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in the Manhattan case, reports the New York Law Journal (sub. req.). The New York Post also has a story.

However, the government says Rubino admitted responsibility in earlier conversations with investigators. He said the law firm, Paris & Chaikin, knew nothing about the forgeries.

“Each year, the workload increased and I had difficulty keeping up,” Rubino allegedly said. “I made the forged orders when I felt overwhelmed with work. I was motivated out of fear that the work wouldn’t get done.”

You can read more here.

I guess the lesson is closely supervise those who work for you and don’t overburden them with work.


September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg Law asks legal employers: "Are the worst days behind us?"

In this short video Bloomberg Law asks some law firm leaders and general counsel whether the legal profession has put its worst days behind it. The consensus among those interviewed is that there's still plenty of opportunity for growth if law firms are creative and willing to adapt. But if not, you may be screwed.   


September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MacArthur Genius Grants for 2016

From The Atlantic, here are mini bios of the 24 new grant recipients. I don’t see any lawyers or law professors among them.


September 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top Ten Lists on the Supreme Court

Who are the most literary Justices? Which Justices sported the best moustaches? You can find out. The Green Bag has collected an assortment of “top ten lists” concerning the Supreme Court. Academics at play. You can access the lists here.


September 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Intelligent people's brains wired differently to those with fewer intellectual abilities, says study

Intelligent people's brains wired differently to those with fewer intellectual abilities, says study by Steve Connor.  "The scientists were part of the $30m (£20m) Human Connectome Project funded by the US National Institutes of Health to study the neural pathways of the brain. "


"The brains of high-achieving individuals are wired up differently to those of people with fewer intellectual or social abilities according to one of the first studies to find a physical link between what goes in the brain and a person’s overall lifestyle.  An analysis of the 'connectivity' between different parts of the brain in hundreds of healthy people found a correlation between how well wired-up some individuals were to their cognitive abilities and general success in life, scientists said.  The researchers found that 'positive' abilities, such as good vocabulary, memory, life satisfaction, income and years of education, were linked significantly with a greater connectivity between regions of the brain associated with higher cognition. This was in contrast to the significantly lower brain connectivity of people who scored high in 'negative' traits such a drug abuse, anger, rule-breaking and poor sleep quality, the scientists said."

"Each fMRI analysis looked at the connectivity – the amount of nerve signalling – that takes place between about 200 different regions of the brain. The one that stood out was the connectivity between the parts of the brain involved in so-called higher-level cognition, such as language and learning. . ."

"The ability to measure the amount of nerve signalling between different parts of the brain, especially those involved in high cognition such as learning and memory, could help scientists to better understand the nature of general intelligence, which is currently measured by tests that examine a range of intellectual skills."

"It may also be possible to use the research to work out how to train people to improve their brain connectivity and therefore push than up the scale so that they achieve more than they otherwise would, he added."

While this study only hints at improving one's intelligence, other studies (frequently discussed on this blog, e.g., here, here) have shown that intelligence can be improved with hard work and deliberate practice.  What this study gives us is a better picture of how the brain works.  Now, we need to use it to develop ways to better educate our students.

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Law school survival guide from the National Law Journal

The National Law Journal has published a special report for law students on how to survive (and thrive) in law school and beyond. Below are links to each of the advice columns that comprise the special report some of which you may want to share with your students.

How to Clinch That 'A' and Not Lose Your Mind
Avoiding procrastination, staying organized, and balancing courses are keys to success.


Before Going to Law School, Live Your Life
Gaining experience prior to pursuing a Juris Doctor degree made a KPMG executive a better student.


'Soft Skills' Are What Make Good Lawyers Great
The vast majority of job candidates know the law. Those who shine know themselves even better.


Stressing Out in Law School Is a Matter of Choice
You can decide whether to merely survive the experience or thrive by refusing to "compare and despair."


September 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

No, the MBE was not "harder" than usual

No, the MBE was not "harder" than usual by Derek Muller.


"Despite some hesitation or tentative conclusions offered, I'll restate something I began with: "Let's instead focus on whether the July 2015 bar exam was 'harder' than usual. The answer is, in all likelihood, no--at least, almost assuredly, not in the way most are suggesting, i.e., that the MBE was harder in such a way that it resulted in lower bar passage rates.

We can see that the MBE uses Item Response Theory to account for variances in the test difficulty, and the NCBE scales scores to ensure that harder or easier questions do not affect the outcome of the test. We can also see that merely adding a new subject, by itself, would not decrease scores. Instead, something would have to affect test-takers ability to an extent that it would make them perform worse on similar questions. And we have some good reasons to think (but, admittedly, not definitively, at least not yet) that Civil Procedure was not that cause; and some good reasons (from declining law school admissions standards on LSAT scores and UGPAs, and MPRE scores) to think that the decline is more related to the test-takers ability. More evidence and study is surely needed to sharpen the issues, but this post should clear up several points about MBE practice (in, admittedly, deeply, perhaps overly, simple terms).

Law schools ignore this to their peril. Blaming the exam without an understanding of how it actually operates masks the major structural issues confronting schools in their admissions and graduation policies. And it is almost assuredly going to get worse over each of the next three July administrations of the bar exam."

(Scott Fruehwald)

September 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Does Legal Scholarship Influence Judges?

In a current article in the Yale Law Journal, Hon. Diane Wood, Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, finds that legal scholarship has only an indirect influence. Here is the abstract:

This Feature examines the role of legal scholarship in judicial decision making. It first provides a historical snapshot of U.S. legal scholarship, noting that the advent of legal realism and other academic schools of thought may have contributed to a gap between legal scholarship and judicial practice. The Feature then conducts an empirical survey of recent citations to legal scholarship on the Seventh Circuit and concludes that most citations were on points of legal doctrine rather than broad legal theory. While legal scholarship could well serve purposes other than influencing judges—such as introducing new ideas, helping to shift norms, and subtly affecting the development of the law—the Feature draws attention to the disconnect between the bulk of legal scholarship and the judicial decision-making process.

 You can access her article here, Legal Scholarship for Judges

Unfortunately, Judge Wood’s conclusions are not atypical. A raft of scholarship on law reviews supports them. One wonders how much time and money law schools and professors should spend on scholarship when they could exert a greater influence by spending those resources on improving pedagogy and contributing to public service.


September 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)