Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cruelty & Kindness in Academia

I don’t think the academic life promotes kindness. I hope I am wrong. Certainly, there are kind people, but there are also very cold and unpleasant people. In any case, at Vitae, Kelly Baker considers the problem of a lack of kindness—even cruelty in academia. Here are some excerpts:

In that climate, your own career success is of the utmost importance. Unkindness becomes a buffer between you and all the other people seeking those elusive tenure-track jobs, grants, promotions, book contracts, prestigious journal articles, named chairs, editorships, and so on. Your career begins to matter more than collaboration and pleasantries exchanged in the hall. Maybe academia is up to its ears in assholes because that is an acceptable route to the career you trained for.

[H]ow we view kindness comes from how we understand humanity. If we understand our fellow human beings to be fundamentally good, compassionate, and altruistic, kindness matters because how we treat other people matters. If, on the other hand, we believe that humans are terrible, deceptive, scheming, and self-interested, we are more inclined to treat other people unkindly. Kindness appears as sentimental and unnecessary. And yet, we still find pleasure in being kind, and we recognize and dwell on those moments when others are unkind to us.

Being kind makes us vulnerable to other people because we don’t know how they will act or react. It makes us care. Caring opens us up to hurt, but it also makes cooperation and collaboration possible.

We don’t have to go along with a system that rewards cruelty and diminishes care. In fact, kindness has the subversive potential to make change. And many academics already know that and practice it.

You can read more here.


October 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar: Employment Data Review Update

Bill Adams, Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar: Employment Data Review Update (Aug. 5, 2016).  Excerpts:

"Pursuant to the Protocol for Reviewing Law Graduate Employment Data, and Statement of Procedures for Collecting, Maintaining, and Reporting Law Graduate Employment Data (hereinafter Protocol) passed by the Council, the office procured Berkeley Research Group (BRG) to engage in a review of graduate employment data collected by the schools. BRG has completed the initial stages of its review."

"For the Random Graduate Review, 382 files were selected from 156 schools. Of the 156 schools that had files randomly selected, 16 appeared to have a potential problem with missing items or supporting documentation for an item. Of these 16, 8 had minor issues regarding documentation of an item and probably will not warrant further review. . . .The remaining 8 may have issues requiring heightened review, but BRG is engaged in discussions with the schools to seek clarification about documentation or ambiguities in the file.  In regard to one of these [other] 8 schools, it appears to have created its documentation for its files after it was notified that its files would be audited."

"Five of the 10 schools randomly selected had compliance rates of 95% or above. Another school is at 94.8% and two are at approximately 86%. The remaining two schools had file compliance rates in the mid-50’s. BRG is conducting follow-up discussions with the schools that had more than 5% of their files to determine whether some of the files that appear to be deficient are actually deficient. One of these schools also appears to have created its supporting documentation after it was notified that it had been selected for a file review. After this further review of the schools with a compliance rate below 95%, the review committee will determine which of these schools may warrant a Level 2 Review."

"The good news is that the overwhelming majority of schools subjected to the data review have both accurately reported employment results and provided credible documentary support of what they have reported. Of the schools identified for follow-up discussions, most have issues relating to documentation questions. It is not yet evident that any of these schools has misreported data. Our documentation requirements are quite specific and some think complex so it is reasonable, that in the first year of this review, there may be confusion over what we require. The two schools that appear to have created their documentation after the fact raise more serious problems, but they may also be ableto explain that what we perceive is not accurate. We will report what we ultimately determine after BRG completes its final review."  (emphasis added)

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Generational Differences in the Classroom

Over at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog (Oct. 9, 2016), Shailini George offers a perspective on howGenX’ers, Millenials, and we oldsters interact in the classroom (excerpts):

Gen X’ers want independence and to be given time to grapple with issues on their own, they respect authority, and do not like to be overly supervised.

On the other hand Millennials crave constant communication and mostly positive feedback, do not believe that those in authority deserve respect due to rank alone, and they want supervision to the point that they collaborate with supervisors rather than producing something on their own in the first place. The conflicts are apparent.

Yes, these are generalizations, but I see these conflicts play out in the classroom and anecdotally when those students first experience workplace expectations and report back to me.

Each generation has positive and less positive attributes. It has helped me to understand and appreciate that certain characteristics I may have viewed as laziness or lack of initiative are not individual characteristics, but simply a different mental approach to work and how it is produced. I have tried to adopt some of the positive attributes they bring to the classroom, such as embracing technology, engaging in more group work, and providing more opportunities for ungraded assessment. By doing so, I let go of a characteristic of my generation:  reluctance to change.

You can read more here.


October 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

UK law students create a bot to provide legal advice to crime victims

Like the bot released earlier this year that helps clients appeal parking tickets, law students in the UK have developed a bot to help crime victims evaluate the legal viability of their claims. From Legaltech News:

Crime-Reporting 'Chatbot' the Newest Way Law Students Leveraging AI

As chatbots pick up steam in legal, University of Cambridge's LawBot can communicate legal information in everyday language


Building upon the access to justice uses of chat-based automation seen earlier this year in the parking ticket-appealing DoNotPay bot, four University of Cambridge law students have launched a chatbot that helps users in the U.K. determine whether or not they've been a victim of a crime.


The chatbot, called LawBot, takes users through a set of pre-programmed questions about 26 criminal offenses across England and Wales including sexual harassment, violent assaults, and property crimes. In most cases, if the chatbot determines a crime has been committed, it encourages the user to contact the police and helps them locate the closest police station.


The founders honed in on criminal law as an area of focus because of the confusion victims face trying to identify whether they should contact authorities or seek legal help. "Many times, especially with sex offenses, you may not know you've been the victim of a crime because the law is complicated," said LawBot managing director Ludwig Bull.


Chatbots allow users to communicate using a chat interface with a set of software-driven responses. In conjuring responses, chatbots employ artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning, which allows them to base responses on particulars of queries and learn through use. While chatbot services are only starting to take form in the legal technology industry, they're increasingly used to help with user problems in messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack and Telegram,attracting millions of dollars of venture capital funding in just the last year.


LawBot's founders, much like DoNotPay's founder Joshua Browder, said they're not interested in monetizing the service at this point.


. . . . 

Continue reading here.


October 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas Jefferson on Plain English Drafting

The call for plain English drafting has a long history. After Thomas Jefferson drafted a bill to establish elementary schools in Virginia, he forwarded a copy to legislator Joseph Cabell and included this sardonic comment:

I should apologize, perhaps, for the style of this bill. I dislike the

verbose and intricate style of the English statutes .... You, however, can

easily correct this bill to the taste of my brother lawyers, by making

every other word a "said" or "aforesaid," and saying everything over

two or three times, so that nobody but we of the craft can untwist the

diction, and find out what it means .... "


JEFFERSON, at 417-18 (Albert Ellergy Bergh ed., 1903) (1817).


October 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

FYI: Think Like A Lawyer Back in Stock

My book, Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals (2013), is finally back in stock on Amazon.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2016

My "Favorite" Grammatical Pet Peeve

In a recent class, a student asked me what my “favorite” grammar pet peeve is. The answer is making a sentence ambiguous by placing the word “only” in the wrong location. Grammar Girl illustrates using an example employed by James Jackson Kilpatrick:

  1. Only John hit Peter in the nose.
  2. John hit only Peter in the nose.
  3. John hit Peter only in the nose.
  4. John only hit Peter in the nose.


Put the Adverb “Only” as Close as Possible to What It Modifies

His point was that you need to put the adverb “only” as close as possible to the word it modifies. The sentence “Only John hit Peter in the nose” means that John hit Peter in the nose, and no one else did. The sentence “John hit only Peter in the nose” means that John hit Peter in the nose, and didn’t do that to anybody else. The sentence “John hit Peter only in the nose” means that John hit Peter in the nose, not in or on any other part of his body.

Another example: The old song “I only have eyes for you” should be “I have eyes only for you,” though the rewording spoils the rhythm.

You can read more here.


October 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pennsylvania’s Former Attorney General Gets 10-27 Months in Jail

The political scandals here never seem to end—resignations and a conviction of Supreme Court Justices and now the conviction of the former AG Kathleen Kane on perjury and related charges.

Why? I place much of the blame on the practice of electing judges and other legal officials. As a result, too much politics enters the process.

In the case of Kathleen Kane, she won election to office despite having a very modest legal background. When she found herself in the midst of a political controversy, she found herself over her head and acted unprofessionally and illegally. She disclosed confidential grand jury proceedings and tried to cover up her role in the disclosure.

Does an appointment process guarantee perfect results? No. However, I think it increases the chances of placing responsible, qualified lawyers in positions of power.

You can read more at (here).


October 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Customer Sues KFC for Half-Empty Chicken Bucket

From the New York Post:

Anna Wurtzburger, of Hopewell Junction, says she bought a $20 bucket of chicken from KFC over the summer and was disappointed to find it looked much different than what’s in the chain’s ads.

“I came home and said, ‘Where’s the chicken?’ I thought I was going to have a couple of meals,” she told The Post.

“They say it feeds the whole family … They’re showing a bucket that’s overflowing with chicken,” the 64-year-old widow griped. “You get half a bucket! That’s false advertising, and it doesn’t feed the whole family. They’re small pieces!”

KFC says the lawsuit is meritless.

You can read more here.

October 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dayton Law Seeks Two Academic Success Professors

The University of Dayton School of Law is accepting applications for two Assistant Professors of Academic Success. The Academic Success Program at the School of

Law is designed to help students develop the skills necessary for law school success and first time bar passage. The Academic Success Program impacts every stage of the academic program, providing support to students from orientation until graduation. The Assistant Professor of Academic Success position is non-tenure track with an initial one-year appointment. There is a possibility for renewal long-term (three or five-year) appointments after three years of satisfactory service.

The Assistant Professor of Academic Success will be charged with teaching academic success courses, advising students on issues related to their coursework and professional development, supervising and evaluating the Learning Communities program and upper-class Dean’s Fellows, and participating in the greater academic success professional community.

You can read more here.


October 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Four: Cognitive Schema Theory by Louis Schulze

Another post in his series on legal education from Professor Schulze:

Using Cognitive Psychology to Improve Student Performance, Part Four: Cognitive Schema Theory by Louis Schulze.

"CST focuses on the active construction of knowledge by creating cognitive structures around which information can be assimilated and stored in long-term memory. A cognitive schema is a heuristic that promotes the encoding and retrieval of knowledge. In essence, organizational frameworks or mental structures aid the learner both in putting together the arrangement of a topic and in recalling that information. For instance, the memory palace (or “method of loci,” a tool that’s existed since Aristotle) structures ideas and facilitates learning, encoding, and recall."

"A cognitive schema is a heuristic that promotes the encoding and retrieval of knowledge. In essence, organizational frameworks or mental structures aid the learner both in putting together the arrangement of a topic and in recalling that information. "

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Several experts opine on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on law practice

Some predict the effect will be to usher in a new "skills renaissance" in law practice for those with coding experience while others suggest "AI" may render the need for some attorneys as obsolete. Legaltech News has the story:

Will AI Rush in a ‘Skills Renaissance’ in Law?

There’s a technology revolution underway in law. This week's AI roundup explores, what does the future hold for the lawyer?


What’s the deal with young people these days? Well, in the context of lawyers, the young are leading the way with technology. A recent Reuters blog pegs the innovators’ age range between generations Y (born mid-70s to early 2000s) and Z (the 90s – 2000s), within which lie the individuals that are transforming the future of legal services.


And nothing looks to impact law more significantly in the coming decade than artificial intelligence (AI). The real-world benefit of its application is “continuing to explode,” Reuters’ Westlaw product management senior director Erik Lindberg said in the blog. Using it, attorneys stand to “make more informed decisions and have more confidence.”


However, not everyone is on board with the change, and age for some can be an indicator of stance. Veteran attorneys, Lindberg says, have up until now “been successful without cognitive computing or artificial intelligence, so they may question, why change?”


In fact, now may actually be a great time to be a younger lawyer, especially if you grasp technology. In a Legal Cheek Q&A, Luke Scanlon, head of Pinsent Masons’ “fintech propositions,” said that for junior attorneys, “AI will mean more of a focus on interesting work for lawyers and less time spent on mundane tasks.”


At the same time, this could have considerable implications for the typical job description of the lawyer. According to Scanlon, law students with “coding or data analysis skills are going to be in high demand, because these are areas where the legal profession has an opportunity to build on what it currently offers.”

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


October 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Jurors Take and Review Notes?

Permitting jurors to take notes is the trend. The Holland and Hart blog believes that juror note taking is a good thing. The posting offers suggestions on how the trial lawyer should act to make sure jurors take accurate notes and recognize the persuasive arguments that the lawyer is making.

You can read more here.


October 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Is Going In-House the Worst Decision Ever?

Recruiter Harrison Barnes says yes. Here are his reasons:

a.            Your skills will deteriorate rapidly and significantly. The most important work will be sent to law firms and not done by you.

b.    You will become a "cost center" and not a profit-generator (in most instances) and will be one of the first to go when the company experiences problems – and all companies do.

c.    You will no longer be employable by almost any law firm whatsoever when you lose your job – and you most likely will lose your job inside of a company.

d.    Most companies want to hire younger attorneys (often from law firms) with "fresher" skills than an in-house attorney coming from another company.

e.    Without clients of your own, you will have zero control over your career.

f.     When the company experiences some significant legal problems – and most companies do – you and others in the legal department who "touched" the matter will all likely lose your jobs.

g.   Most attorneys inside of companies are the "resident buzz kills" who spend their days covering their asses by telling management (i.e., people actually doing things) what is not possible. They become impediments to getting things done and are often not liked too much by people inside of the companies either (i.e., they become more isolated and lonely inside of companies than they were inside of law firms).

On the other hand, almost every in-house attorney I know is happy with the job. To read Barnes’ full article, please click here.


October 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Council Approves New Bar Passage Requirement

The Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has just approved a new bar passage requirement for law schools.  The requirement "mandates that at least 75 percent of a law school’s alumni pass the bar within two years of graduation—rather than the current five-year period. It also eliminates a provision allowing schools to meet the standard if its first-time bar pass rate is within 15 percent of the statewide average, and a provision enabling law schools to meet the standard based on data from only 70 percent of graduates."

Now the ABA House of Delegates will consider the proposal, which will probably occur next February.  If enacted then, it would become effective for the July 2017 bar exam.


"The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar overwhelmingly decided to strengthen its bar pass standard for accredited law schools—a long-debated move proponents said is necessary to ensure law schools don’t admit students unlikely of passing the all-important attorney licensing exam.

The council voted for the stricter standard over the opposition of diversity advocates who warned that schools with large numbers of minority students could lose their accreditation and that the stricter rule would prompt schools to admit fewer minority students. That, in turn, would exacerbate the legal profession’s longstanding diversity problem, they argued."

"The committee also cited data from the National Conference of Law Examiners that shows very few bar takers ultimately pass the exam after two years of initially taking it. Shortening the evaluation period from five to two years should have relatively little impact, it reasoned."

Law schools need to be prepared for the new requirement to go into effect next July.  More information here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 21, 2016

For New Faculty: Who Are Friends & Who Are Foes?

How do you know which of your new colleagues are going to support you and which are going to undercut you? At Vitae, you can read the advice of several faculty members (here).

My advice. Listen a lot, and take your time reaching conclusions. Find not just one mentor, but several mentors. At least one of those mentors may, in good faith, offer bad advice. To get good advice, you need to listen to more than one person. Pay attention to interfaculty relationships; which faculty members are friends with which faculty members? These relationships can tell you a lot about your colleagues.

I don’t mean to give these suggestions with a negative tone. Expect the best out of people, but take your time in making new friends.


October 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Law Journal op-ed: HBCU Law Deans Say ABA Bar-Passage Rule Changes Will Hurt Profession's Diversity

National Law Journal op-ed:  HBCU Law Deans Say ABA Bar-Passage Rule Changes Will Hurt Profession's Diversity, by Dannye Holley (Former Dean, Texas Southern), Danielle Holley-Walker (Dean, Howard), John Pierre (Dean, Southern), Felecia Epps (Dean, Florida A&M), Phyliss Craig-Taylor (Dean, North Carolina Central) & James Douglass (Interim Dean, Texas Southern).  Excerpts:

"The proposed changes to the American Bar Association's bar-passage standard, set to be decided this week, have been the subject of great debate. Some, like Daniel Rodriguez and Craig Boise, deans of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and Syracuse University College of Law, respectively, have written in support of the proposed changes to Standard 316. But these proposed changes come at a time when bar-passage rates in many states have been declining, and there are many unanswered questions about the impact of the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam. Furthermore, at a time when the legal profession continues to struggle with a lack of racial and ethnic diversity, many of the schools that will be impacted by this change are schools who enroll large minority student populations."

"There is ample evidence of the recent drop in bar-passage rates across the country. The 2015 bar-passage rates suggest that under the new standard it is very likely that a significant number of law schools accredited for decades by the ABA could be automatically deemed to be out of compliance and at risk of losing their accreditation."

"For example, in written comments submitted to the ABA earlier this year, the National Black Law Students Association, citing the ABA 509 law school disclosures, stated that the accreditation of more than 60 schools could be put in jeopardy if this proposal was adopted, including more than 20 law schools at which minorities comprise at least 30 percent of total enrollment."

"Next, the proposed changes to Law School Standard 316 will place an undue burden on law schools associated with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and other law schools committed to admitting a significant number of students of color."

"As we well know, diversity in the law remains a challenge. Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode has noted that 88 percent of licensed lawyers are white, making the profession less diverse than medicine and engineering, in which 72 percent and 81 percent of licensed professionals are white, respectively."

"HBCU law schools have been responsible for a significant and disproportionate percent of the African-American and other new lawyers of color added to the profession annually. . ."

"[T]here has been no disparate-impact study conducted by the ABA to assess how the proposed standard will impact law schools with large percentages of minority law students. No new standard should be considered without making this assessment."

"In summary, we are disappointed that the ABA, without conducting a disparate-impact study, appears to be moving forward with a change to the bar-passage standard that may have an adverse impact on our law schools. Being found to be out of compliance with this new ABA accreditation standard would have seriously negative impacts on our law schools. It would make it difficult for us to recruit students, faculty and the donors that are needed to sustain our academic program —programs that help to promote diversity in the profession and access to justice for underserved communities."

As I have stated before, I don't understand how admitting students to law school who probably won't pass the bar helps the diversity of the legal profession.  All this does is saddle poor students with massive law school debt.

The legal community needs diversity to properly serve underserved communities.  However, as I have said before, the only way to do this is to better educate minority students.  (here)  Look at what North Texas and FIU are doing to accomplish this goal.

(Scott Fruehwald)

October 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

FERPA Privacy: A Summary

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974, perhaps better known under its acronym FERPA, protects a student’s right to privacy over his or her educational and personal records.

Campus Answers provides a helpful overview of FERPA. Although, the summary is part of an advertisement to purchase a training program from the company, the summary itself is helpful.

You can access it here.


October 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mitchell Hamline Launches a New Mobile Law Network

Mitchell Hamline School of Law has launched a new Mobile Law Network — a red RV specially outfitted to serve as a traveling law office.

“Our intent is to start by working with organizations around the state to increase access to legal services for people in need and to provide our students with even more extensive opportunities for hands-on legal experience,” said Mark C. Gordon, president and dean at Mitchell Hamline.

The vehicle will transport students to support a variety of legal services, focusing primarily in the areas of family law, criminal expungements, and advance health care planning. Students will provide information and assistance to those representing themselves and others who need guidance on legal matters.

You can read more here at preLaw.


October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A "legal prep school" in Chicago aims to increase diversity in the profession

From the ABA for Law Students Blog:

Teaching through law at Chicago’s Legal Prep Charter Academy

The Legal Prep Charter Academy is a legal-themed, open-enrollment charter high school located in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood at 4319 West Washington Blvd. It was founded in 2009 by Sam Finkelstein and Rather Stanton, young lawyers who had the goal of increasing diversity in the legal profession. Since the school’s commencement, teachers have been providing a legal-themed curriculum to Black and Hispanic students and allowing them an opportunity to succeed at four-year colleges and universities and beyond. The students at Legal Prep gain substantive experience strengthening their skills in the areas of communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, writing, and advocacy.


Legal Prep celebrated its very first graduation ceremony on June 4, 2016, honoring the achievements of the first graduating class of 90 seniors and the successes of the school since it opened in August of 2012. Judge Ann Claire Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, served as the keynote speaker. Judge Williams has been instrumental in encouraging the students to work hard, remain humble, and reach for their dreams no matter what obstacles cross their path.


. . . .

Continue reading here.


October 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)