Monday, October 20, 2014

Harvard Law Profs Criticize University’s Sex Harassment Policy

28 Harvard law professors, both present professors and emeritus professors, have criticized the university’s new policy, focusing primarily on its definition of sexual harassment and on its procedures for dealing with incidents. The professors cross the political spectrum. Here is a summary paragraph:

The goal must not be simply to go as far as possible in the direction of preventing anything that some might characterize as sexual harassment. The goal must instead be to fully address sexual harassment while at the same time protecting students against unfair and inappropriate discipline, honoring individual relationship autonomy, and maintaining the values of academic freedom. The law that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have developed under Title IX and Title VII attempts to balance all these important interests. The university’s sexual harassment policy departs dramatically from these legal principles, jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.

You can read more here, from the Boston Globe.


October 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beg Borrow or Steal: Ten Lessons Law Schools Can Learn from Other Educational Programs in Evaluating Their Curriculum

Beg Borrow or Steal: Ten Lessons Law Schools Can Learn from Other Educational Programs in Evaluating Their Curriculum by Debra Moss Curtis.


It is indisputable that law schools are clamoring for and working toward change in their curriculum. Generally, higher education institutions have been acknowledged to have a “responsibility to endeavor to prepare graduates who are able to manage and respond effectively to change and its demands, challenges and tensions.” However, despite criticisms and active discussions regarding curriculum reform for 25 years, law school curriculum reform has been seen as tedious and frustrating, resulting through the years in only modest changes.

While in the past, law schools have not had strong incentives to change, things may be different now. In our most recent economic times, tinkering with the law curriculum may have been a luxury. Now, many law schools are realizing that they are proverbially “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Law schools are seeking to change legal training -- not just incorporating more practical skills, but really thinking about doing business differently. That is a vast undertaking for legal faculties, many of whom are without direction other than their own experiences.

Our system of law is obviously known for its reliance on precedents. Legal education has modeled that through the years, taking a very “stare decisis” approach to our educational product. However, in the law, when a new case comes to a court which demonstrates that the law they have been faithfully applying for years is no longer serving its purpose, courts change course. But before inventing radical new courses on which to embark however, courts look to other jurisdictions or situations in which they might borrow a method or process and develop a new plan accordingly.

The time has come for legal education to do the same. The current crisis in legal education should be demonstrating to legal educators that their decisions should not stand. Legal educators should be looking at other programs in higher education, other programs turning out professionals, and those with years of experience studying education, as “persuasive authority” to help us determine what the right path is for legal education. While this article is not the first to suggest that other educational theories need to be incorporated into legal education, these ten suggestions, ‘begged, borrowed and stolen” from other areas of education should be considered by every institution as part of its new plan for legal education in the 21st Century.
Key paragraphs:

"In short, legal education has for years imagined itself as a unique educational experience and made its own rules for how to do things well. The belief that training lawyers in a formal education setting is somehow different than other professional training or education has caused legal education to turn a blind eye to the improvements that have been made in higher education. Instead of moving forward in alignment with proven educational theories, law schools remain rooted in the past. Law schools would benefit from considering how other educational programs have studied teaching and learning."

"Reflection could be incorporated further into legal education by recognizing that course coverage should not be the only driving force in educational planning. When professors of foundational courses present at conferences on "different" ways they teach, including giving writing exercises and conducting practical simulations, a frequent question asked of them is 'but how do you cover all the material?' with the corresponding answer most frequently being 'I don’t.' Given that lawyering is a process of learning and many lawyers will admit that most of the substance they use in daily practice was learned on the job and not in the classroom, incorporating reflective behavior, resulting in deeper rather than wider coverage into the legal experience, could actually prepare students for better learning later in their career."

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why clients should embrace the billable hour

A new article accepted for publication by the Journal of the Legal Professional and just posted to SSRN argues that clients should learn to stop worrying and love the billable hour (to borrow from Mr. Kubrick).  The author, Jonathan Choi - an associate with Wachtell, Lipton, argues that the billable hour is a powerful monitoring tool for clients, because it forces lawyers to justify their fees by describing how they spend their time.  Interesting.  Here's a link to the article.  Below is the abstract:

Critics often deride the billable hour as oppressive and inefficient. This Article presents a novel argument in the billable hour’s favor: clients use it to monitor their lawyers’ efforts, thereby mitigating the incentive problems that plague alternative fee arrangements. Prior literature has suggested that law firms use billable hours because they cannot bear the risk of cost overruns. I argue that this perspective is theoretically shaky, and I demonstrate through both historical and empirical evidence that monitoring best explains the popularity of the billable hour.


October 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Do Americans and Brits Spell Words Differently?

From Anglophenia, here is a 3 minute video offering the history of British and American spelling. On the site, you will find links to a number of entertaining Anglo videos.


October 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The 10 Toughest Law School to Get Into

According to the Princeton Review, here they are:

  1. Yale University – Law School (Acceptance Rate: 9%; Total Enrollment: 625)
  2. Stanford University – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 10%; Total Enrollment: 574)
  3. Harvard University (Acceptance Rate: 16%; Total Enrollment: 1,741)
  4. University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley Law (Acceptance Rate: 10%; Total Enrollment: 916)
  5. Duke University – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 19%; Total Enrollment: 629)
  6. University of Pennsylvania – Law School (Acceptance Rate: 17%; Total Enrollment: 786)
  7. University of Virginia – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 18%; Total Enrollment: 1,048)
  8. University of Chicago – Law School (Acceptance Rate: 20%; Total Enrollment: 612)
  9. Columbia University – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 21%; Total Enrollment: 1,250)
  10. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – School of Law (Acceptance Rate: 18%; Total Enrollment: 737

 According to the Princeton Review, it surveyed 19,500 law students and administrators from 169 law schools. LSAT scores, enrollment rates, acceptance rates, and undergraduate GPAs of first year classes were also reviewed.

 You can read more here and here.




October 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Friday Fun" - Texas Supreme Court cites to Walter Sobchak

Thanks to the Lady (Legal) Writer for this fun pop-culture nod.   Justice Debra Lehrmann writing for the Texas Supreme Court in a defamation case cites to Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski for the proposition that The U.S. Supreme Court has "roundly rejected prior restraint."  You can find the reference in footnote 7, here.

"You want a toe?  I can get you a toe.  There are ways, dude."

The Lady (Legal) Writer also tells us this is not the first time a court has cited to this all time classic of American cinema.  In a 2006 unpublished decision from a federal district court in Pennsylvania, Perry v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., No. Civ.A. 05-5350 at n. 3 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 12, 2006), involving a fraud claim against a large pharmaceutical company, Judge Stewart Dalzell found that the plaintiffs had failed to plead with sufficient specificity the details of the fraud.  The judge noted that given the number of evidentiary sources available to the plaintiffs, it was not enough for them “to say, as Brandt does in The Big Lebowski, 'Well, dude, we just don't know.'"

Be sure to check out the Lady (Legal) Writer blog often for more interesting and informative posts!




October 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ebola Virus: The Derivation of its Name

From Wikipedia (Ebola Virus)

Ebola virus (abbreviated EBOV) was first described in 1976.[4][5][23] Today, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses lists the virus as the single member of the species Zaire ebolavirus, which is included into the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales. The name "Ebola virus" is derived from the Ebola River — a river that was at first thought to be in close proximity to the area in Democratic Republic of Congo, previously called Zaire, where the first recorded Ebola virus disease outbreak occurred — and the taxonomic suffix virus.[1]

Strictly speaking, the pronunciation of "Ebola virus" (/iːˌboʊlə ˈvaɪərəs/) should be distinct from that of the genus-level taxonomic designation "ebolavirus/Ebolavirus/ebolavirus", as "Ebola" is named for the tributary of the Congo River that is pronounced "Ébola" in French,[24] whereas "ebola-virus" is an "artificial contraction" of the words "Ebola" and "virus," written without a diacritical mark for ease of use by scientific databases and English speakers.


October 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Does Cooperative Placement Accelerate Law Student Professional Development?

Bill Henderson is currently studying the effect of experiential education on law student development.  In an earlier article, he concluded that it did but that this was it was only his best guess.  He has now undertaken a more rigorous study of cooperative placements at Northeastern Law, which appear to accelerate the professional development of its law students.

He concludes, "Although the focus groups comprise only a small portion of the Northeastern law student body, the student responses yield a remarkable number of examples of learning and improving practical skills, gaining confidence and growing into the role of a competent legal professional. Further, there is substantial evidence to support Northeastern’s three-part theory that experiential education is significantly enhanced when it is structured to be (1) immersive, (2) iterative and (3) integrated into the law school experience. The immersive and iterative nature of the cooperative experience, in particular, seem to work in concert with one another and also support the three Carnegie apprenticeships: cognitive, practical skills and professional identity."

You can find the details of the study here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Department of Justice now has a job app available on iTunes

DOJ has just released a moble app for job hunters looking for attorney positions or law student internships.  It's available for free from the iTunes store (here) for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch and should be available shortly for Android devices.  Here's DOJ's press release:

The U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a new mobile app, called DOJ Law Jobs, which will provide attorneys and law students with a quick and easy way to find an attorney position or law student internship with the department.  DOJ Law Jobs is available for free now on iTunes for Apple iPhone, and additional versions for iPad and Android devices will be available in the next few weeks.  The mobile app was developed by the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management and Office of the Chief Information Officer.  Users of the app will be able to create personalized job searches based on practice area, geographic preference, and hiring organization.


DOJ Law Jobs includes the following key features: provides instructions on how to apply to attorney jobs and legal internships; saves search criteria for quick access to future opportunities; allows users to save, share, and email their favorite jobs; and provides access to hundreds of attorney jobs and legal internships at the U.S. Department of Justice.  The DOJ Law Jobs logo was developed in-house, following a DOJ-wide request for ideas.


“The new app directly aligns with President Obama’s digital government strategy aimed at delivering better digital services to the American people,” said Director Jamila Frone of the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management.  “We are very excited about this app as it allows an increasingly mobile workforce to quickly and affordably access legal employment opportunities with the department and conduct personalized searches at the touch of a button.”


“Mobility is the future,” said DOJ Chief Information Officer Joseph Klimavicz. “The Department of Justice is committed to changing the way citizens interact with government information.  We are tailoring our mobile strategy to align with the needs of American citizens.”


The Department of Justice is the world’s largest law office, employing more than 10,000 attorneys nationwide.  The Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management oversees the department’s outreach and recruitment efforts for law students and attorneys with the goal of attracting a highly-qualified and diverse talent pool.  For more information, please visit


Hat tip to Law Technology News.


October 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deciding Not to Go to Law School

P.J. Podesta writes about his decision not to go to law school. In the article, he does offer advice to potential law students on how to make the big decision. Here is the most disheartening excerpt:

 Most important, however, was a simple question he [a friend enrolled in a prestige law school] asked: What was I interested in doing?

I had been asked that so many times before. But speaking with a peer who was of a similar inclination against Big Law and was “on the ground” at one of the best law schools in the country (one where I still had some small chance of being admitted; I would later be waitlisted before withdrawing), it was as if I was speaking to myself in some alternate reality. And so it was useless to pretend. I don’t recall precisely how I answered his question. I might have said something vague about being interested in “creative” or “entrepreneurial” work for a good cause. What I do remember is that whatever I said had little to do with being a practicing lawyer.

You can read more here.

Practicing law does not have to be drone work. I fear that the current advertising slogan of law schools—becoming practice ready—sends the wrong message. Of course, in a general way, law school helps a student become practice ready. But practice ready to do what? Practice ready in what way? The practice of law can be creative and entrepreneurial, no matter what the field.


October 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More on Cardozo's new technology focused curriculum

The Law Technology News blog has some additional details (see prior post here) about Cardozo's new programs including the Data Law Initiative, Tech Startup Clinic and Law Tech Talks.  The LTN post includes some brief comments from Patrick Burke, the Executive Director of The Data Law Initiative and Counsel at Reed Smith as well as former Assistant General Counsel at Guidance Software.  Here's a short excerpt:

Cardozo Law Offers New Technology Programs: Reed Smith's Patrick Burke serves as executive director of the new Cardozo Data Law Initiative.

. . . .


Cardozo was one of the early adopters of e-discovery courses. Patrick Burke, counsel at Reed Smith and former senior director and assistant general counsel at Guidance Software, already teaches two classes at the law school: "E-Discovery, Digital Evidence and Computer Forensics," and "Information Governance Law." He's just added to his plate.



Cardozo Law’s new programs include The Cardozo Data Law Initiative, the Tech Startup Clinic and Cardozo Law Tech Talks. Burke (a member of Law Technology News' editorial advisory board) is the new executive director of CDLI, which focuses on data privacy issues (including the data breaches that have rocked the financial world in recent months). CDLI will offer courses in social media law, information governance, e-discovery and cybersecurity.



“The impetus for the CDLI came from businesses who wanted lawyers with training and familiarity in big data law and technology,” said Burke. “Working with advisors from business, law and government, CDLI is turning the law school model around to position Cardozo as a feeder school to corporations, government, and others who are hungry for a new generation of tech-savvy data lawyers.”


. . . .

Continue reading LTN here.


October 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana-Bloomington Establishes Scholarship and Mentoring Program with Vassar


The Indiana University Maurer School of Law has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Vassar college to establish a scholarship and mentoring program for Vassar College students interested in pursuing legal education. According to the MOU, the Vassar Law Scholars program will offer at least two graduates for admission each year to the Maurer School of Law and the scholarships will cover 50 percent of annual tuitions of the selected students. There will also be a formal mentoring program. Depending on residency and other factors the chosen students may witness a reduction in cost of law school over three years by $45,000 to $75,000

You can read more here. It’s a long way from Bloomington to Poughkeepsie. I wonder why both schools couldn’t find a geographically closer partner.


October 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Applied Storytelling Conference

Recently, I posted an announcement of the forthcoming Fifth Applied Legal Storytelling Conference, to be held on July 21-23, in Seattle (here). As you plan your summer, the Conference is well worth considering.

The Legal Writing Institute website now has posted links to an up-to-date announcement of the Conference and to a bibliography of storytelling scholarship, much of it from previous conferences.  You can access the links by clicking here.


October 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Program at Texas A & M to Help 2Ls at Risk

 Bottom Up: Teaching Remedial Problem-Solving Skills to a Law School's Worst Students by John F. Murphy.


This article describes a course called the “Art of Lawyering” developed by the Texas A&M University School of Law to help the bottom quarter of the 2L class develop the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they should have learned in the first year of law school. Students in the bottom quarter of the class at the beginning of the 2L year are most at risk for failing the bar exam after graduation. The Art of Lawyering gives these students the structural framework necessary to solve problems like a lawyer, improve their performance in law school, and pass the bar exam. The course, in its current iteration, is remarkably effective, producing a significant increase in students’ grade-point averages. The article describes the theory, methods, and resources behind the course, and it includes a detailed lesson plan so that other schools can replicate the course and realize similar success.

October 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New book on "essential lawyer skills"

A new ABA publication called The Education of a Lawyer: Essential Skills and Practical Advice for Building a Successful Career may be of interest to our readers.  The author is experienced New York criminal attorney Gary Muldoon who is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at U. Buffalo and author of many other books and articles on law practice.  Here's the publisher's description from the ABA website where you can also read some very complimentary reviews:

The Education of a Lawyer is a delightful read that provides invaluable advice about the practice of law. Written for aspiring and young attorneys, the book is a font of wisdom on a range of topics: legal writing, speaking, handling clients, staying current on the law, and managing all the relationships typically encountered by lawyers.


Derived from the author’s decades of experience as a lawyer and teacher, the book is filled with stories and telling anecdotes. Some are hilarious, some are cautionary, but nearly all contain a nugget of practical insight that readers can apply to their own practice.


Specific topics include:


  • How to speak effectively to any type of group
  • Techniques to polish your writing and create more useful legal documents and correspondence
  • Manage relationships with judges, opposing counsel, your local legal community, and clients
  • How to stay current on the law
  • Improve your legal skills throughout your career

Decidedly original and consistently entertaining, The Education of a Lawyer will make readers laugh, think, and nod in recognition. And most importantly, it will help readers to become better lawyers.

Hat tip to Professor Eric Young.


October 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

PA Supreme Court Justice & Pornography

Ah, the Pennsylvania courts—always something unfortunate is going on. The current news item—a PA Supreme Court Justice is sending a receiving pretty hard core pornography to and from his circle of friends. As you know, the Judicial Code of Conduct requires avoiding the appearance of impropriety.

You can read more here in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inquirer gives a mild example of the porn; a regional legal newspaper gives a much grosser example. The Inquirer also plays it safe and does not mention that the circle of friends allegedly includes well placed individuals in the legal justice system. There’s a little more here than criticizing an individual’s private hobby. The Justice in question is not widely respected for his legal acumen.


October 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Does your legal malpractice policy cover client data breaches?

That's the interesting question raised by this short post on the Law Technology News blog called Is Cyberloss A Physical Loss?  There's Insurance For Everything But Maybe Not Digital Losses.  The author, Canadian lawyer Marlisse Silver Sweeney, spoke with the managing partner at an insurance defense firm who noted that most attorney malpractice policies limit coverage to services rendered.  In the event of a security breach that results in client data loss, a standard malpractice policy might not cover any claims brought by the client.  Apparently insurance companies are aiming to fill some of the gaps raised by digital data losses.  To take another example, general liability policies typically cover only physical losses meaning that lost digital data as the result of a security breach might not be covered.   Some of the new products being offered by insurance companies include things such as “technology errors and omissions liability protection policy,” and “technology umbrella excess liability protection policy.”  I'm not very familiar with the insurance industry or professional malpractice insurance policies in particular but these are obviously issues digital lawyers need to consider when shopping for coverage and in considering client data storage options.

Thanks to Law Technology New I'm a bit wiser.


October 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Students Get Paid for Externships?

The current ABA answer is no. According to Interpretation 305-2 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, a law school may not grant credit to a student for participation in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation.

Recently, the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar reviewed its standards and chose not to change this rule. However, in August, the ABA House of Delegates referred this provision back to the Council for reconsideration.

I believe that students should receive compensation. Law schools and bars are imposing time consuming experiential requirements on students. This trend is a good one; however, it consumes the students’ time and may make it very difficult for students to hold down part-time paying jobs. Given the expenses of law school, compensated externships would provide a way for students to balance their checkbooks. In an ideal world, students would not receive compensation for credit-bearing experientials. However, in this economy and in a world for high law school expenses, we need to compromise with reality.

For a story on this issue in the Student Lawyer, please click here. Click here to watch a video of the ABA House of Delegates debate on Interpretation 305-2. 


October 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Changing Markets Create Opportunities: Emphasizing the Competencies Legal Employers Use in Hiring New Lawyers (Including Professional Formation/Professionalism)"

This is a new article by Professor Neil Hamilton (St. Thomas - Minnesota ) and available at 65 S.C. L. Rev. 547 (2014) and here on SSRN.  From the abstract:

To guide legal educators and law students in responding to challenging markets both for entry-level employment and for applications to law schools, this article analyzes empirical research on the competencies that legal employers, the profession itself, and clients are looking for in a new lawyer. The article advances the proposition that law schools can build on an existing strength of helping each student develop knowledge of doctrinal law, legal analysis, legal research, legal writing and oral advocacy to do better at helping each student develop additional important competencies (and have evidence of those competencies) that legal employers, the profession, and clients and value, particularly the professional formation (professionalism) competencies.

The article also helps each student understand the importance of developing transferable skills (or competencies) that equip the student to respond over a career to changing markets for legal services. An overall theme for both legal educators and law students is to view these changing markets as opportunities to grow in new directions and thus to differentiate from competitors.


October 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings

According to Best Choice Schools, here are the 50 most impressive law school buildings in the world.  Here are the top ten:

10. University of Iowa College of Law, Boyd Law Building: Iowa City, Iowa, USA

9. University of Colorado Law School, Wolf Law Building: Boulder, Colorado, US

8. The School of Law, University of Hertfordshire, Law Court Building: Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK

 7. William and Mary Law School, Henry C. Wolf Law Library: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

 6. Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University: Tempe, Arizona, USA

5. School of Law, University of Leeds, The Liberty Building: Leeds, UK

 4. Southwestern Law School, Bullocks Wilshire: Los Angeles, California, USA

 3. Thomas Jefferson School of Law: San Diego, California, USA .

 2. The School of Law, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, City Campus East: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

1. Durham Law School: Durham.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. For the rest, with photos, please click here.


October 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)