Thursday, May 5, 2016

Advice for Graduating Law Students

Recently, my law school’s alumni association held its annual brunch for 3L law students. My colleague Anne Bowen Poulin served as the speaker. Among the pieces of advice she offered, one particularly struck me:

When you receive invitations or have opportunities to engage in pro bono and other public service activities, say “yes” more often than you say “no.” In your later years, you never will say, “I wish I had done less.” You will say, “I wish I had done more.”


May 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Work Drive Matters: An Assessment of the Relationship between Law Students' Work-Related Preferences and Academic Performance

Work Drive Matters: An Assessment of the Relationship between Law Students' Work-Related Preferences and Academic Performance by Jeffrey Minneti.


"This article explores the dimensions of law students' schoolwork-related preferences and discusses an empirical assessment of those preferences. The assessment revealed two findings: (1) a positive correlation between students' schoolwork-related preferences and their first-year law school cumulative grade point average (LGPA); and (2) students' schoolwork-related preferences significantly enhanced the predictive power of the traditional law school success predictors, law students' LSAT performance and their undergraduate cumulative grade point average (UGPA). During spring 2014, 215 law students responded to a survey that included questions from the Multidimensional Work Ethic Profile (MWEP) and Work Drive Inventory. Analysis of the responses indicated that while the students’ high LSAT and UGPA explained eighteen percent of their LGPA, the students’ Work Drive, LSAT and UGPA explained twenty-eight percent of the students’ thirty-hour LGPA. The article concludes with a discussion of the significance of these findings and their impact on legal education."

May 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Washington Post: The Problems with Multitasking

Multitasking is actually kind of a problem — for kids and adults by Hayley Tsukayama.


But Michael Robb, the group’s director of research, said multitasking should no longer be seen as “some desirable trait that makes you the best 21st-century worker.”

Multitasking is a problem in a couple of ways, Robb said, citing recent neuroscience research on the practice. “Many people think multitasking does not hamper your ability to get things done,” he said. “But multitasking can decrease your ability to get things done well, because you have to reorient. That causes a certain level of cognitive fatigue, which can slow the rate of work.”

After all, you never get something for nothing, and it makes sense that splitting your focus wouldn't be great for improving your productivity.

“You’re not encoding memories in the way you should be” when multitasking, Robb said. “If I’m browsing on Facebook while a lecturer is talking, I’m not forming memories that I need to retrieve later."

"Heavy media multitaskers had a harder time filtering out irrelevant information. In other words, they may have developed a habit of treating all information they came across with equal attention instead of allotting steady attention to a particular task."

But looking at what's out there, there seems to be some strong suggestion that while all this multitasking is helping us feel productive, it's not actually letting us be that productive.

(Scott Fruehwald)


May 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Restrooms for Transgender Students

From Education Week:

A federal appeals court's decision to side with a transgender student who sued after his school restricted his restroom access could have far-reaching implications for schools around the country that have lacked legal clarity on this divisive issue.

The decision was called "a major turning point" by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, and it could help set the tone for discussions about accommodations for transgender students nationwide, school law experts said.

A federal district court judge in Virginia erred when he did not defer to the U.S. Department of Education's interpretation that a regulation created under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 applies to gender identity, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Va., said in a 2-1 decision this week.

You can read more here. At my school, there is an unmarked, single-stall restroom. It is freely available, but I don’t think most students are aware of it.


May 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teaching (About) Mindfulness: A Tale of Two Courses by Peter H. Huang

Teaching (About) Mindfulness: A Tale of Two Courses by Peter H. Huang.


"To practice mindfulness is to pay attention in a curious, deliberate, kind, and non-judgmental way to life as it unfolds each moment. Mindfulness is currently very fashionable and has been so for sometime now in American business, education, media, popular culture, and sports. Many American law students, law professors, law schools, lawyers, and legal organizations are considering how mindfulness can be helpful in law and conflict resolution. Much of the popularity of mindfulness stems from research about how mindfulness can improve mental and physical health by reducing stress and negative affect. This Essay tells a tale of teaching (about) mindfulness in two courses: first, a seminar about law and neuroscience, and second, a required law school course about legal ethics and professionalism."
Part of the article discusses how Professor Huang incorporates mindfulness into his legal ethics/professional identity course at Colorado.

May 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Martin J. Katz and Phoenix Cai to Give Keynote Address at Emory Law’s Fifth Biennial Conference on Teaching Transactional Law and Skills - June 10-11)

From Professor Sue Payne at Emory:

"At Emory University Law School’s upcoming June conference focused on the art and science of teaching transactional law and skills, the dynamic duo of Martin J. Katz and Phoenix Cai will deliver a keynote address entitled – “Encouraging this Particular Form of (Very Fun) Madness – Roles for Deans and Faculty Members.”


Marty Katz is Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. Under his leadership, Denver Law developed and implemented a major strategic plan that included initiatives in experiential learning and specialization. He is a founding board member of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, a national consortium of law schools that serve as leaders in the experiential education movement. Dean Katz’s recent publications include “Facilitating Better Law Teaching – Now” (Emory Law Journal) and “Understanding the Costs of Experiential Legal Education” (Journal of Experiential Learning).


Phoenix Cai is the founding director of the Roche International Business LLM Program and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. The Roche LLM in International Business Transactions is an intensive and experiential graduate program designed to train both U.S. and foreign lawyers in private transactional law. Prior to joining Denver Law, Professor Cai was a corporate lawyer specializing in both domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, banking, finance, and securities law.


Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Dean Katz and Professor Cai share their thoughts about how deans and faculty members can promote excellence in transactional law and skills education.


For more information about the Conference, including a list of the many other esteemed presenters and the topics they will cover, go to our conference website. If you would like to register for the Conference, please go here."


May 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Shrinking Applicant Pool Leads to Greater Law School Student Diversity

Recently, Professor Aaron Taylor addressed this subject during an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered. Here is an excerpt:

Well, when we talk about the proportional increase in black and Latino students, it really is a direct reflection of huge decreases in the number of white students - some 9,000 fewer white students enrolled in 2015 than had enrolled in 2010, and some 1,300 fewer Asian students. And so these are proportional increases as opposed to real number or actual number increases.

You can read the entire interview here.


May 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Reducing the Cost of Legal Education

Reducing the Cost of Legal Education: The Profession Hangs Together or Hangs Separately by Victor James Gold.


"Is a legal education worth the cost? Until just a few years ago, there was little doubt that the answer was yes. The recession that began in 2007 changed everything. The job market for entry-level lawyers suddenly collapsed. With tuition high and job prospects low, many concluded that legal education was a bad investment. This essay documents the challenges confronting legal education and advises law schools to meet those challenges by reducing the cost of a JD degree. But forces within the legal profession itself make it unnecessarily difficult to follow this advice.

The first section of this essay briefly recounts the events of these years of crisis in legal education. That discussion suggests that, while significantly cutting the cost of legal education is the only effective way to deal with that crisis, some of the same forces that created the crisis in the first place undermine the ability of law schools to pursue such a strategy. Those forces include the national law school rankings and unnecessary requirements imposed by the organized bar. The next section describes ways in which the legal profession responded to the crisis in legal education. Much of the profession’s initial response, from the ABA to members of the Supreme Court to the President himself, was uninformed, politically motivated, and focused on passing judgment while also passing the buck. In fact, the response of the profession continues to make it more difficult for law schools to pursue a strategy of cutting costs. This essay argues that the factors that drove up the price of a legal education will be easier to tame if there is a concerted and constructive effort by the entire legal profession to facilitate the controlling of costs. The stakes are high, since the very future of the profession will turn on whether legal education is once again financially accessible to the American middle class. We either hang together or hang separately."

May 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Insights from Psychology: Teaching Behavioral Legal Ethics as a Core Element of Professional Responsibility by Tigran Eldred

For the last few years, I have been researching the effects of brain biases on lawyers.  This research resulted in chapter 6 (cognitive biases) of my book Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015).  Now, Tigran Elred has written an article on how he teaches behavioral legal ethics in his professional responsibility class.

Insights from Psychology: Teaching Behavioral Legal Ethics as a Core Element of Professional Responsibility by Tigran Eldred.


"The field of behavioral legal ethics — which draws on a large body of empirical research to explore how subtle and often unconscious psychological factors influence ethical decision-making by lawyers — has gained significant attention recently, including by many scholars who have called for a pedagogy that incorporates behavioral lessons into the professional responsibility curriculum. This article provides one of the first comprehensive accounts of how law teachers can meet this challenge. Based on an approach that employs a variety of experiential techniques to immerse students in the contextual and emotional aspects of legal practice, it provides a detailed model of how to teach legal ethics from a behavioral perspective. Reflections on the approach, including the encouraging response expressed by students to this interdisciplinary method of instruction, are also discussed."

May 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

In N.Y, Law Firms Can Bill Clients for Work of Unpaid Interns

This is the opinion of the Committee on Ethics of the New York State Bar Association:

A law firm may bill a client for work performed by a student-intern despite the fact that the law firm does not pay the intern, because the intern receives academic credit for the work, as long as (i) the internship program complies with applicable law, (ii) the educational institution does not object to the client charges, and (iii) the charge is not excessive.

Remarkable. You can access the Opinion 1090 here.


May 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance

There is an important new study on how individualized feedback affects students in the first year of law school.

The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance by Daniel Schwarcz & Dion Farganis.


"For well over a century, first-year law students have typically not received any individualized feedback in their core "doctrinal" classes other than their final exam grades. Although this pedagogical model has long been assailed by critics, remarkably limited empirical evidence exists regarding the extent to which enhanced feedback improves law students' outcomes. This Article helps fill this gap by focusing on a natural experiment at the University of Minnesota Law School. The natural experiment arises from the random assignment of first-year law students to sections that take a common slate of classes, only some of which provide individualized feedback. Meanwhile, students in two different sections are occasionally grouped together into a "double section" first-year class. In these double section classes, students in sections that have previously or concurrently had a class providing individualized feedback consistently outperform students in sections that have not received any such feedback. The effect is both statistically significant and hardly trivial in magnitude, approaching about 1/3 of a grade increment even after controlling for students’ LSAT scores, undergraduate GPA, gender, race, and country of birth. The positive impact of feedback also appears to be stronger among lower-performing students. These findings substantially advance the literature on law school pedagogy, demonstrating that individualized feedback in a single class during the first-year of law school can improve law students' performance in all of their other classes. Against the background of the broader literature on the importance of formative feedback in effective teaching, these findings also have a clear normative implication: law schools should systematically provide first-year law students with individualized feedback in at least one “core” doctrinal first-year class."
We can do so much more to help our students learn, and formative feedback is one of the main things we can do.

May 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"University of Arkansas School of Law Student-run Clinics Yield Policy Insights and Practical Foreclosure Advice to Homeowners"

This is a new article by Nate Coulter, who is an attorney with Millar Jiles LLP in Little Rock, Arkansas and served as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence from 2012-14 at UALR Bowen School of Law. The article is available at 68 Ark. L. Rev. 551 (2015). From the introduction:

According to Alan Greenspan, the 2008 global recession was triggered by the subprime-lending spree in the United States and the investment banking community's fascination with the higher returns available on mortgage-backed securities. One of the eventual consequences of the crisis was litigation against the five largest mortgage service companies whose reckless practices were exposed in the aftermath of the housing market collapse. The settlement of that lawsuit, commonly referred to as the “National Mortgage Settlement,” created an occasion for states to invest in new programs designed to assist those caught in a mortgage foreclosure vice grip. Some states, including Arkansas, seized this opportunity.


Under the Consent Judgment approving the National Mortgage Settlement, Arkansas's settlement proceeds were earmarked for various institutions situated to educate and support those in housing dilemmas. One particular institution, the University of Arkansas School of Law, combined education and practical relief by establishing student-run legal clinics for persons facing foreclosure on their home mortgages. This article recounts the creation of these clinics, chronicling both their successes and shortcomings.


Part II of this article describes the flow of the National Mortgage Settlement funds to the states, in part outlining how the funds were distributed across Arkansas. Part III profiles the creation of the University of Arkansas School of Law's “Walk-In” Foreclosure Clinics, while also detailing the author's general observations about the clinic operations. Part IV provides an in-depth analysis of Arkansas foreclosure law with a particular focus on the similarities and differences of judicial and statutory foreclosure. Part V details seven distinct observations related to foreclosure practice in the state with hope that these observations will be of utility to lawmakers during future policy debates. Finally, Part VI concludes by offering two real-world examples of how the National Mortgage Settlement and the University foreclosure clinics positively affected distressed homeowners in Arkansas.


May 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

At Duquesne: 5th Colonial LW Conference: Drafting Statutes and Rules

On December 3, Duquesne Law School will host its fifth annual legal writing conference. The topic is “Drafting Statutes and Rules: Pedaqogy, Practice, and Politics.” The morning plenary session features Professors Richard Neumann and Lyn Entrikin. The afternoon session features former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and state Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa discussing the state legislative process and politics.

The conference invites presentation proposals from educators and practitioners. The DUQUESNE LAW REVIEW which has published papers from three previous Colonial Frontier conferences, plans to devote space in its Summer 2017 symposium issue to papers from the conference.

For more information, please click here.



May 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Which Citation Form: Bluebook or Westlaw?

With the advent of the Indigo Book, a new citation manual tracking the Bluebook (here), my thoughts turn to a brief Greenbag 2013 article by Ross Davies. He points out that with most research being performed electronically, lawyers, publishers, and maybe academics will prefer Westlaw’s citation form over the Bluebook’s. Here is the abstract:

As The Bluebook says of itself, “For generations . . . legal professionals have relied on the Bluebook’s unique system of citation. In a diverse and rapidly changing legal profession, the Bluebook continues to provide a systematic method by which members of the profession communicate important information about the sources and authorities upon which they rely in their work.” Generally speaking, this is true and probably always will be, so long as the Bluebook keeps pace with that changing profession. One big change is the technical side of online research services: Westlaw and its competitors cannot afford to conform to the Bluebook’s system when it conflicts with the requirements of their databases for, among other things, unique and recognizable abbreviations of the names of publications. And given a choice between following Bluebook form and following Westlaw form, readers and publishers are likely to follow Westlaw because that is where readers are doing more of their reading and publishers’ products are getting read. The microcosmic experiences of the Green Bag and the Journal of Law may be a sign of things to come, or even of something that has already arrived.

You can read more here.


April 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Advice on Familiarizing the Court with the Facts

Lawyers at Carlton Fields point out that with judges reading on mobile devices, they are likely to miss what you include in your appendix. From JD Supra Business Advisor:

Always lay out your motion assuming that the reader has little or no familiarity with the facts of your case or the law that applies.  While this does not mean talking down to the reader or belaboring your point, it does mean providing the court with everything it needs to grant relief in your favor. 

In modern litigation, with digital records and e-filing, making sure the court is familiar with the necessary facts presents a unique challenge.  More judges than ever review filings on a computer or a tablet, which can make it difficult to toggle between the motion and an appendix.  While reviewing your filing, the court may not have ready access to the record, or may not have the time (or will) to examine your appendix in detail.  To the extent possible, make it easy on the court.

If, for example, an argument centers around a signature on a document, it probably makes sense to include a PDF of that signature in the motion itself.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

You can read more here.


April 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tips from BigLaw partners on acing your job interviews

Two hiring partners from Weil, Gotshal & Manges offer their top tips for acing job interviews in this column from the New York Law Journal. Though the article is directed at those seeking summer associate positions (I know OCI has been starting earlier each year but this is getting ridiculous) it's very sound advice that applies to anyone looking for their first law job whether it's with BigLaw or a small firm.

  • Be Genuine and Authentic
  • You Don't Have to Know Everything
  • Do Your Research
  • Practice and Prepare
  • Know Your Resume and Speak Positively
  • Be Professional
  • Have Questions

Read the full column here.


April 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Student Group at Harvard Law Calls for Ending Tuition

From the Harvard Crimson:

In the most recent wave of activism at the Law School, some students are calling on the school to eliminate tuition completely as part of their new campaign for financial justice.

Members of the group Reclaim Harvard Law published an open letter Sunday addressed to Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and members of the Harvard Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—demanding an end to tuition. . . .

Tuition at the Law School this year is $57,200 and will rise to $59,550 for the 2016-2017 academic year. Students in the Law School's Class of 2015 graduated with an average of $149,754 in debt, according to the Law School’s website

You can read more here.


April 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What is Professional Identity?


I just received the latest newsletter from CEFLER (the Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education Reform), which contains a good description of professional identity:

Director's Greeting

What is Professional Identity?

Professional identity challenges law students and lawyers to internalize principles and values such that their professional conduct flows naturally from their individual moral compass.

See the following excerpt from the The Emperor Has No Clothes, But Does Anyone Really Care? How Law Schools are Failing to Develop Students' Professional Identity and Practical Judgment, pages 344-45:

The concept referred to as "professional identity" needs to be clarified before one can appreciate its significance to a lawyer's development and its connection to the ancient concept of phronesis, or practical wisdom. Scholars have already had difficulty agreeing on a definition of "professionalism." It should be no surprise, then, that "professional identity" has required clarification. The phrase is not clearly defined even within the seminal reports introducing the concept. (Download the article here.)

The Center for Ethical Formation & Legal Education Reform coordinates the programs and resources Regent Law has committed to developing students' professional identity. Read more »

For additional updates on all the work CEFLER is doing, please visit our social networks and website. And be sure to let us know what you think.

L. O. Natt Gantt II
CEFLER Director

Also, thanks to Natt & Ben for mentioning my professional identity book in their newsletter.

(Scott Fruehwald)

April 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What Do Junior Law Associates Do at Work?

Mostly, they read. That is the conclusion of an extensive three year study. Ann Sinsheimer & David Herring, Lawyers at Work: A Study of the Reading, Writing, and Communication Practices of Legal Professionals.

From the abstract:

The findings suggest that lawyering is fundamentally about reading. The attorneys observed for this study read constantly, encountering a large variety of texts and engaging in many styles of reading, including close reading and also reading broadly, skimming and scanning texts for information. Their writing processes typically began by reading and rereading the information they used to substantiate their written work. They functioned in stressful environments in which they felt pressed for time and had to juggle multiple tasks. 

This paper explores the implications of these findings for a variety of audiences, including legal educators, law firms training junior associates, and those doing research on legal pedagogy. For legal educators, the results of this study can be used to develop classroom exercises and to train new teachers. Notably, legal educators should consider devoting more time to teaching reading skills. Although legal educators often assume that law students possess the necessary reading skills, this study indicates that this assumption is faulty and that instruction in this area is likely a key component in the successful transition to practice. For law firms, this study sheds light on the tasks with which new attorneys struggle and reveals the areas in which new attorneys require the most facility. In terms of legal research, this ethnography provides a model that can be expanded to study these same practice areas and other practice areas at law firms of all sizes throughout the country.

You can access the article here.


April 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

No Access to Justice Brennan’s Records on Merrick Garland


The executors of the papers of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr. are blocking public access to the justice’s file on high court nominee Merrick Garland, who clerked for Brennan in 1977 and 1978.

The file, along with other documents relating to law clerks, case histories and correspondence, are part of the closed portion of Brennan’s extensive collection of papers at the Library of Congress, and will not be opened to the public until July 2017, the 20th anniversary of Brennan’s death.

Jeffrey Flannery, head of reference and reader services in the manuscript division of the Library of Congress, where the papers are housed, on Tuesday identified Stephen Wermiel, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, as the executor of the Brennan papers. Wermiel is co-author of Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, a 2010 biography of the justice and not been known to be an executor until now.

You can read more here.


April 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)