Saturday, October 23, 2010

One-Day Training Workshops for Legal Writing Professors and Adjuncts

In early December, 2010, the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) will hold one-day workshops at 16 locations nationwide. Taught by experienced legal writing professors, librarians and writing specialists, the workshops are designed for new legal research and writing professors and adjuncts. They will also benefit seasoned educators looking for practical ideas and insights on handling some of the more challenging aspects of this growing academic field. Presenters will offer tips and best practices for creating appropriate assignments, grading papers and holding student conferences. They will also discuss recent developments in teaching legal research and professional development.

Date
Friday, December 3, 2010 (except where otherwise noted below)

Time

9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Locations
American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C.
California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA
Charleston School of Law, Charleston, SC (Friday, December 10, 2010)
Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, GA
Pepperdine University School of Law, Malibu, CA
Santa Clara University School of Law, Santa Clara, CA
Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA
St. John's School of Law, New York, NY (Manhattan campus)
Stetson University College of Law, Tampa, FL
Suffolk Law School, Boston, MA
The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, IL
University of Dayton School of Law, Dayton, OH
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (Saturday, December 4, 2010)
University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, OK
Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston-Salem, NC
Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, DL

 Fee
$100.  Registration fees will be donated to LWI, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving legal writing by providing a forum for discussion and scholarship about legal writing, analysis and research. LWI promotes these activities through its publications, workshops, specialty conferences and the national biennial conferences held in even-numbered years.

A small number of need-based scholarships will be available at each location.  Contact Prof. Tracy McGaugh to apply for a scholarship.


Registration
Please register online at  http://www.lwionline.org/lwi_conferences.html

and click on the location where you want to attend.

For more information about the one-day workshops, visit this page:  http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2010/10/lwi-one-day-workshops.html


Continue reading

October 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawyers as Social Engineers

In their 1943 germinal article, Harold Lasswell and Myres  McDougal argued that law schools should train lawyers to be social engineers, offering “conscious, efficient and  systematic training for policy-making.” Legal Education and Public Policy: Professional Training in the Public Interest, 52 Yale L.J. 203. With the emphasis on private law in the lawyering skills movement, the need to train lawyers to be “movers and shakers” in society also deserves attention. To a great degree, law schools produce the future policy makers and architects of society. To be sure, some clinics assist in this training by taking on issues of public  policy. Doctrinal courses, however, need to do more that identify and debate competing policy objectives. They need to explore how to achieve desired policy outcomes.

(ljs)

October 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Scholarship alert: "Mindfulness, emotions, and mental models: theory that leads to more effective dispute resolution"

This article is by Professor Peter Reilly of Texas Wesleyan School of Law and can be found a 10 Nev. L.J. 433-460 (2010).  From the introduction:

In 1908, Harvard Law School Dean Roscoe Pound suggested that the American legal system should adjust its doctrines, principles, and institutions of justice from a purely mechanical, rule-centered approach to one that considered "the human conditions they are to govern ... putting the human factor in the central place ... ."  Nearly a half century later, in April of 1955, Harvard Law School Dean Erwin Griswold put forth a rhetorical question that unfortunately still rings true today: "Many lawyers never do seem to understand that they are dealing with people and not solely with the impersonal law. How far is law school education responsible for this lack?"

Connecting with others is a skill that can be developed and taught. I can think of few public figures in the history of the United States who were better at connecting with other people than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Interestingly, biographers of President Roosevelt produce a portrait of a man in his early adult years as fairly carefree - even arrogant and condescending.  Then, at age thirty-nine, FDR was stricken with polio. By most accounts, he transformed himself over the next seven years of his struggle into a leader of empathy, patience, and keen self-awareness.

Continue reading

October 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student note on the "Plain English" movement and its shifting goals.

Here's a new law review note that some of our readers might be interested in which is authored by U. of Iowa College of Law graduate Kali Jensen.  Entitled "The Plain English Movement's Shifting Goals," it can be found at13 J. Gender Race & Just. 807 (2010).

From the introduction:

The Plain English Movement advocates for communication in language that an average person can understand.  This Movement has both enjoyed support and faced opposition from attorneys since its inception. The original goal behind the Movement was to provide access to justice for groups that historically have not had the resources to understand and  [*808]  interpret the law.  However, the motivation behind the Movement has recently shifted away from access to justice and toward cost-effectiveness. Many governmental agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration, are adhering to plain English principles by implementing policies encouraging their employees to write in plain English.  While these policies are beneficial, the motivations behind them are inconsistent with the original goal of Plain English. The supporters of the Plain English Movement must refocus their efforts on providing legal materials that affect the lives of historically disadvantaged groups in plain English.

This Note begins with a brief history of the Plain English Movement and courts' enforcement of plain English statutes. Next, it explores the more recent developments in the Movement, which lately has been the most successful in regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This Note argues that these agencies' policies are motivated out of economic concern and give no weight to concerns about access to justice. Instigating plain English requirements in regulatory agencies merely perpetuates the inequalities in access to justice, because these requirements benefit only those people who already have access to legal advice and financial resources. Finally, this Note also argues that the Plain English Movement is not inimical to the legal profession's interests, and it will encourage attorneys to take a more active and direct role in the Plain English Movement by using plain English with clients.

(jbl).

October 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE: Representing Individuals with Disabilities

 Mark Murphy, Esq., Disabilities Rights Network and David Gates, Esq.,  Pennsylvania Health Law Project will discuss best practices in the field of disability law.  The discussion will cover recent developments surrounding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as case studies showing what private attorneys need to know to help their clients with disabilities get health care.  The case study portion of the CLE will focus the changing rights of persons with disabilities when they reach adulthood and challenges facing those with acquired disabilities. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010, 3:45  – 6:00 pm

Villanova School of Law, Rm. 303

2 CLE credits - Free

 There is no fee for this CLE, but please RSVP at eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/852978281 

Any questions, please feel free to contact Liz Dunn at dunn@law.villanova.edu

(ljs)

October 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Suing a D.A. for inadequately training employees

Gordon Cooney, a 1984 graduate of  Villanova Law School and  Managing Partner of the Philadelphia office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on October 6, continuing his 22 year representation of John Thompson. In 1985, Thompson, a 22-year-old New Orleans resident, was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a wealthy white hotel executive. Cooney and his Morgan Lewis partner Michael Banks, took the case pro bono, and handled it through a series of appeals.  When what appeared to be the final appeal was denied, Cooney and Banks began to prepare Thompson for his impending execution.  Just weeks  before Thompson’s execution was scheduled to occur, Cooney and Banks uncovered exculpatory evidence that had been intentionally suppressed by the prosecution.  This resulted in another appeal in which Thompson’s conviction was overturned. He was retried,  with Cooney and Banks as trial counsel, and Thompson was acquitted.  In 2005, the lawyers helped Thompson file a civil suit against the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, led at the time by  Harry Connick, Sr. , and against prosecutors in their official and personal capacities, seeking compensation for Thompson’s unjust incarceration. Two years later, a jury found that Connick  had engaged in a pattern and practice of failing to properly train his prosecutors about their obligations to provide defense attorneys with exculpatory evidence, as required the Supreme Court’s Brady decision, and that Thompson’s imprisonment was a direct result of those actions. Thompson won a $14 million verdict. The DA’s office appealed and Thompson prevailed in  the 5th Circuit.   The Supreme Court granted cert on the question of whether  the usual rule of immunity  that would protect a  state prosecutor’s office from liability for the actions of its employees does not apply  because the prosecutors acted illegally as a result of the office failure  to train adequately its employees.

October 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Applied Storytelling Conference, July 8-10

Applied Legal Storytelling Call for Proposals

The Legal Writing Institute and the Clinical Legal Education Association are co-sponsoring the third biennial International Applied Storytelling Conference, July 8-10, 2011 at University of Denver, Sturm College of Law.  This is a very collegial and supportive conference and welcomes proposals from people who are new to applied storytelling as well as from those who have already been part of the conversation.  Proposals are due December 7, 2010 and the information can be found here.  A bibliography of articles from the first two conferences can be found here.

(ljs)

October 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The sh#t (maybe) gets real: ABA considers mandatory law grad salary transparency from schools

If a person dies from smoking in 2010, he won't get my sympathy.  That person took the risk despite (more than) adequate warnings.   Likewise, if a prospective law student knows the average salary new grads make as well as the amount of non-dischargeable debt likely to be incurred, I won't have a tear in my eye when I read your law school scam blog (of course what everyone wants is the perfect melding of expectations and reality - students who understand that being a lawyer means lots of hard work for (most often) low wages yet still matriculate out of a genuine passion for law practice).   

My beef is that many law students don't have realistic expectations about average starting salaries nor the financial consequences of assuming so much non-dischargeable debt and law schools aren't doing much to inform them either.  While the information is out there for anyone who wants to do a Google search, law schools aren't required to put a warning a label on the side of their buildings like other potentially hazardous products.  As a result, our grads may wind-up getting [financially] hurt big time. 

Bloggers like Elie Mystal of Above the Law have been arguing for years that law schools need to be more transparent on this issue.  Now Steve Zach, newly elected president of the ABA, is also calling for more transparency from law schools on the salary/debt issue.  According to the National Law Journal:

President Steve Zack told a gathering of law school deans and professors last week that the organization is considering requiring law schools to disclose cost and employment statistics to all accepted law school applicants. The effort, dubbed "Truth in Law School Education," is still in the planning phase, but Zack hopes the ABA's Young Lawyers Division will consider the proposal in February.

"A lot of attention has been focused on employment data, and our subcommittee will be proposing much more rigorous requirements," said David Yellen, dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and chairman of the standard 509 subcommittee. "The current standard is very general -- you could even call it vague. People have been comparing apples to oranges because schools report what they want."

For example, schools have to disclose to the ABA what percentage of their graduates are employed nine months after graduation. They don't have to disclose whether students have part-time jobs, full-time jobs, jobs paid for by their law school or jobs that don't require a J.D., Yellen said. Much of his information is already collected by the National Association for Law Placement, and should be required and disclosed by the ABA, he said.

. . . .

The Truth in Law School Education resolution could come sooner, said David Wolfe, the chairman of the ABA's Young Lawyers Division. Presuming it passes its first test before the young lawyers division, the House of Delegates would consider the resolution in August.

"It's still in the works, but it will link the requirement to disclose employment and cost information with accreditation," he said. "You would get that information with your letter of acceptance to a law school. We want people to go to law school with their eyes open."

You can read more from the National Law Journal article here.

(jbl).

October 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What do practitioners in "small" firms make?

If you're not teaching at a T-20 school, most of your students who go into private practice will work for small law firms (that certainly becomes more true as one moves down the USNWR rankings - I'm not expressing any opinion about the validity or value of the rankings, but that does seem to be the reality like it or not).  So what do those attorneys make?   There are a couple of online sources you can check like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (scroll down the page), payscale.com,  or the NALP bimodal 2009 starting salary graph.

You can now add to the data the results of this informal survey conducted by Above the Law which polled private, small firm practitioners (defined as those working for firms with less than 50 lawyers which would still be considered BigLaw in a lot of cities) to find out what they make.  There are a lot of qualifications and explanations that you need to read (such as the editors tossing out high-salaried outliers, etc.) but here's the bottom line of what they found:

The aggregate numbers (chart below) are encouraging for aspiring small firm lawyers, with an average salary of $108,000 and a median of $82,000. The highest reported salary was $4 million, which I assume was a fictitious response, an assumption I base mostly on the practice description (“everywhere global”) and the open-ended response (“show me some results please time is money”). It, along with four other responses of $500k and higher, were the clear outliers.

The booby prize goes to the poor first-year making a mere $24,000.

Even if we take out the five outliers (those in the $500k+ category), the overall average only drops to about $95,000, which is still pretty good in my opinion. It’s also more than I was making as a fourth-year associate in my former life.

If we dig a bit deeper, however, the numbers get a bit less enticing.

Sixty percent of all the salaries reported are under six figures. Of those, the average was a paralegal-esque $67,000, which is still more than I make disheartening if you’re still towing a student loan anchor.
. . . .
As you might have expected, the salaries in less populous areas (0 – 250,000 residents) skew toward the lower end. As one moves into larger populated areas, the salaries show upward movement, with the big cities having their concentration of salaries in the $50,000 to $150,000.

You can read the rest here, complete with lots of charts and graphs.

(jbl).

October 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Several recent academic conferences discuss reforming legal education with an emphasis on better preparing students for practice

The second of three conferences on the future of legal education, called FutureEd and jointly sponsored by Harvard Law School and New York Law School, recently concluded in Cambridge.  For a report on the first conference in this series, go here and here.  The conference was attended by  clinicians, practitioners, foreign legal educators, clients and even some students.

According to conference organizers, the purpose of these conferences is to generate ideas about how to make legal education more relevant to the practice of law.  While speakers and attendees expressed different views about how to make that happen, according to the National Law Journal, there's a consensus that the old model of legal education is not sustainable (which presumably refers to disconnect between what law schools are teaching versus the needs of the bar and public).

But the joint Harvard-NYLS series of conferences aren't the only ones to consider whether the present law school model is  or is not working:

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law last month released the findings of a multi-day conference it held in the spring that brought together judges, practitioners and professors to discuss everything from the usefulness of 1L curriculum to the development of comprehensive post-graduate attorney training programs. The University Maryland School of Law held a conference in April looking at changes in the legal profession — and addressing those shifts within the legal academy. Similarly, the University of Wisconsin Law School will host a two-day conference next weekend called Legal Education Reform after Carnegie: Bringing-Law in-Action into the Law School Classroom. (The influential 2007 report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching concluded that law schools do not do a good job of preparing student for the practice of law or helping them develop ethics and professional identity.)

To read more about this story in the National Law Journal, click here.

(jbl).

October 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Upcoming symposium: "The Future of Legal Ed - Who is responsible for preparing law students to be lawyers?"

The University of Iowa School of Law will be hosting a symposium on February 25 to 26, 2011 on the future of legal education.  Panelists will include deans, law professors, judges and practitioners who are tentatively planning to discuss several topics relevant to skills training in law school.

Planned speakers include big guns like Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Irvine School of Law; Dean Kent D. Syverud of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law; and Dean David E. Van Zandt of the Northwestern University School of Law.

Here's the announcement in full:

“The Future of Legal Education”
University of Iowa College of Law
Iowa City, Iowa
Friday, February 25 & Saturday, February 26, 2011.


America’s law schools are reevaluating the way they teach the law. Recent research has suggested new techniques for legal education, and some law schools have either made pedagogical changes or are considering doing so. Participants in the Iowa Law Review’s symposium will include deans, professors, practitioners, and judges. These participants will critique the prevalent methods of teaching the law, address proposed reforms, and debate what steps law schools should take to best prepare students for the practice of law.


The following panels are tentatively planned:
 “The Economic Viability of the Juris Doctor Degree”
 “The Importance of Diversity in Law Schools”
“Creating and Recreating the Ideal Law School”
 “The American Bar Association and Control of Legal Education”
 “The Ideal Law School: Perspectives from the Bench”
“Law Schools vs. Employers: Who is Responsible for Preparing Law Students to be Lawyers?”


For more information on the Iowa Law Review and the 2011 Symposium, please visit: www.uiowa.edu/~ilr

Get a copy of the flyer here.

Hat tip to the Legal Scholarship Blog.

(jbl).

October 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In memory of Ms. Anne Vardalis

I will not be blogging today out of respect for the memory of Ms. Anne Vardalis - a wonderful person, mother and grandmother.

SunsetImage3

Rest in peace.

(jbl).

October 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Advice from a Trial Judge

Advice From a Trial Judge

 John E. Stively, Jr. was an eminent trial judge in Chester County , Pennylvania. When he retired in 1986, he was asked for his advice on being an effective courtroom advocate. Here are his 38 pieces of advice. Many years later, they remain timely.

1. Rise to your feet when addressing the Judge.


2. Show the Judge respect.


3. Don’t ask the Judge tactical questions.


4. Only object when questioning will hurt, not because
it’s technically correct.


5. At sidebar take a position and hold it; don’t withdraw
an argument because it makes a difficult decision
for the Judge.

6. Don’t protest an adverse ruling - get ready for the
next round.

7. Don’t appear to be a friend or buddy with opposing
counsel (in front of jury); don’t use first name;
be reserved.

8. Don’t let jury think the case is a joke; don’t smile too
much during trial or laugh.

9. Never argue directly with opposing counsel; address
the Judge and make comments through the Judge.

10. Don’t let opposing counsel make a speech to a jury.
When asked for the ground for objection, don’t let
him or her begin with “I’m trying to show”.

11. Don’t let counsel conclude with leading questions
to capsulize the testimony; don’t let counsel lead on
redirect.

12. Appear to be in control in front of jury; seem to
know what you’re doing. Have correct papers organized;
don’t fumble with items in front of jury.

13. When standing in front of jury, stand on own feet,
look them in the eye; don’t lounge against anything.

14. Use change in volume to make a point; hit the
important points; vary your voice.

15. Avoid “ahh” and “you know”.

16. Listen to yourself once in awhile.

17. Have the witness speak up.

18. If a witness marks something, have it identified and
shown to the jury; let them in on the secret, not in
closing argument or jury room - YOU ARE TRYING
TO CONVINCE JURY.

19. Use diagrams and charts to help jury understand.

20. Prepare your case - facts and law.

21. Make a checklist of things you have to prove (e.g.,
value in theft case).

22. Have a checklist for each witness.

23. Don’t ask questions like “Do you know, if the watch
was running” because the answer “yes” implies the
watch was running but that isn’t the question. Don’t
use “Did you have the occasion to do something?”

24. Be careful of the last question on cross.

25. Highlight the essence of a witness testifying in closing
argument.

26. Rothblatt “The Art of Cross-Examination” - READ IT

27. In cross, try to figure out what you want to accomplish;
don’t just have witness regurgitate testimony;
leave alone good answers for you; don’t let the witness
have an opportunity to patch up an answer he
screwed up.

28. Make notes of direct examination; draw line down
middle what witness says on left, questions on right.

29. Sometimes it’s smart not to ask questions on cross.
You can imply that the witness is lying by the way
you tell the Judge that you “don’t have a single solitary
question”.

30. Every question of cross should be leading.

31. Don’t ask a question unless you have a chance of
proving it wrong; don’t let a witness give truthful
testimony - he’ll sound and look truthful. A witness
who is lying will want to testify about those aspects
of the matter which are truthful and brush over the
part where he has to lie. Focus your questions on
the part he’s lying about.

32. A witness with sympathy of jury (e.g., mentally
slow), don’t tear apart; cross examine kindly if you
do.

33. Always remember the jury is the group you’re trying
to impress.

34. Be the trial advocate you want to be and make yourself
into that.

(ljs)


October 20, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Videotaping software could be useful to law professors who coach moot court teams

The Chronicle of Higher Ed is reporting that Baruch College has developed software that allows instructors to view and comment on videotaped student classroom presentations in order to help the students improve their public speaking skills.  Called "VOCAT" for Video Oral Communication Assessment Tool, the school is now looking to market the software to academics in other disciplines who might be able to make good use of it. 

VOCAT allows students to view videos of themselves giving presentations or performances online—all video is taped and uploaded by a college technician—and lets them read and respond to feedback from faculty members. The software also keeps a log of student videos, allowing them to track their progress over the course of a semester.

One of VOCAT's advantages over, say, having students post their own videos on YouTube, is that only the student and instructor have access to them and thus they remain private. 

Perhaps you moot court coaches out there will see advantages in VOCAT over your current practice round videotaping techniques.

You can read more about VOCAT here.

(jbl) 

October 18, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Survey says law students want more opportunity to practice legal writing skills

This article from the National Jurist Magazine dates from March but I didn't find it until now.  Better late than never, as they say.

The article reports on the results of the 2008 Law School Survey on Student Engagement which found that nearly 50% of all law students wanted more opportunities to engage in legal writing during law school while nearly a third wanted more opportunities for "practice-based writing assignments" meaning "appellate briefs, motions and transactional documents."

Writing real, practice based documents such as briefs and motions is one of the best ways to learn to be a lawyer according to students who participated in a survey on ways to improve legal education.

. . . .

Legal writing was the big surprise in this year's survey. Nearly half of the responding survey participants said they did not have enough practice developing their legal writing skills in situations similar to those in real life.  And more than a third of students, or 37 percent, said they needed additional opportunities for these practice-based writing assignments.

Students reported gaining a lot from their legal writing experiences but want more of it according [survey project manager Lindsey] Watkins. 

You can read a pdf of the full National Jurist article, including survey results and individual student comments, right here.

(jbl). 

October 18, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attention new law grads: Six hot practice areas according to National Jurist Magazine

Even in this dismal legal job market, there are certain practice areas that are hot right now according to several experts interviewed by The National Jurist Magazine.  For those still in law school, no ones knows if these practice areas will be as vibrant when you graduate, but if you just got your JD and are looking for a job, consider the following:  

  1. Labor and employment: This area is growing because employees and employers are sorting out differences resulting from . . . defensive corporate maneuvers made during the economic downturn.  Another [hot legal] issue? Discrimination suits by laid-off employees and employers monitoring employees’ use of social media at work.
  2. Bankruptcy/Foreclosure: Even as the recession winds down, these practice areas will still be going strong. The so-called housing bubble created a long-term mess, so experts say the demand will be high for years to come. Foreclosure defense also is emerging as an interesting sidebar to this practice area. Attorneys in Florida, Nevada and across the Midwest, particularly hard-hit states like Michigan, are seeing a surge of business.
  3. Healthcare: [This is an area of] the law [that] is affected by issues such as aging of America, growth of lifecare facilities and changes in employer regulations in light of the new Obama healthcare plan. Legal issues surrounding FDA regulation also is said to be growing. Any area with high popularity densities such as Arizona, Florida and parts of the Midwest are expected to enjoy a rise in the healthcare practice area.
  4. Intellectual property: If there is a positive side to an economic downturn it’s that it often forces individuals and corporations to think differently and creatively often resulting new products, inventions or ideas. Areas like social media and e-commerce also are enjoying a surge. New York and California is seeing strong growth, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  5. Energy/Environmental: Some may argue this practice areas is not as relevant, but [one career counselor] disagrees, especially in light of mega-disasters like the Gulf oil spill. The Obama administration also may make the environment a key issue. . . .  As ‘green’ initiatives continue to accelerate, demand for attorneys with experience in these areas is expected to grow. . . .  [Look for more growth in] Pennsylvania and the Northeast.
  6. Emerging companies: [One law firm consultant] believes there is room to grow in this arena, considering how many new entrepreneurs the nation is seeing. "It is surprising but the number of former big company executives starting new businesses hit a four-year high in 2009 and continues to increase,” [this consultant] said. Boston is a great area for this kind of company, particularly in newly popular areas such as life sciences and pharmaceuticals.

Read the full article here and learn what other advice the experts have for law grads seeking jobs in emerging practice areas.

(jbl).

October 18, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

One more article of interest: Should the practice of heavily footnoting legal scholarship change?

That's the question posed by this article entitled "Bottomheavy:  Legal Footnotes" by Professor Joan Magat, 60 J. Legal Edu. 65 (2010).  Here's an excerpt:

This article reviews, as many others have,18 why and to what extent we footnote in legal academic writing. Unlike most others, it suggests amelioration—that footnotes should follow a rational rule around which the following objectives should orbit: First, satisfy the reader’s most basic need in letting her eye drop below the line in the first place—attribution. Elucidation is the other important reason.19 Yet if the text above the line doesn’t satisfy that latter need at the outset, then it ought to. It might just be that we should not expect journal articles, like dissertations, to display every dimension of the writer’s research, knowledge, and cogitation. It might just be that we should be reading these articles chiefly for what they have to say. Which comes around to the most important reason for a rule of reason: to make the articles themselves readable.

 You can read the rest here.

(jbl).

October 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scholarship alert: What happens to the law grads who fail the bar?

Professor Jane Yakowitz's article, Marooned: An Empirical Investigation of Law School Graduates Who Fail the Bar Exam, found at 60 J. Legal Edu. 3 (2010) asks what are the personal and financial consequences to these students.  Here's an excerpt:

This article attempts to answer a question that legal academia has been reluctant to even ask: What happens to law school graduates who fail the bar exam? What do they do and how do their lives differ from the lives of their lawyer-classmates? Would their careers have fared any better if they had not gone to law school?

. . . .

Law school graduates who never pass a bar exam have a very difficult “first term.” Five to ten-years out of law school, they lag well behind lawyers on every measure—earnings, employment stability, even marriage and divorce rates. Moreover, as a group, they fare worse than college graduates, despite their better-than-average undergraduate grades. But after an adjustment period, they spring back and out-perform the average college graduate in the latter half of their careers. Though they never catch up with their lawyer peers, the earnings of the median individual who fails the bar does catch up to the 25th percentile lawyer, which might have been about the center of their distribution, if the group had passed the bar exam. This could be as much an exhortation on the humble earnings of non-BigLaw lawyers as it is a testament to the resilience of those who fail the bar. But in any event, the consequences of bar failure appear to dissipate around age thirty-five.

Please read the rest here.

(jbl).

October 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scholarship alert: Using drama and stage acting to teach legal skills

That's the topic of this article from the most recent volume of The Journal of Legal Education - "Beyond Role Playing:  Using Drama in Legal Education" 60 J. Legal Edu. 147 (2010) written by three professors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Here's an excerpt:

Using drama in education is not a novelty. Educators have long used it to achieve a variety of pedagogical goals.1 Drama can be employed as a tool for research, reflection, and skill-building, from assigning students to read and comment on plays to asking students to write and produce their own plays.2 But beyond the use of role-playing to teach specific legal skills, the potential for incorporating drama in legal education has not been explored.
As the Chinese University of Hong Kong admitted its first class of law students in 2006, the faculty sought ways to showcase its emphasis on an active learning process. Toward that end, the staff wrote and acted in a mock trial drama for the University Open Day 2005, where prospective students and their parents visit different departments to learn about the opportunities that the university offers. The drama was intended to demonstrate the values and processes of the common law, as well as to illustrate the school’s commitment to innovation.

. . . .

It is suggested that there are three main ways in which drama could be utilized in the law school: as part of skills training through simulation and role play; as part of instruction in substantive law via the depiction of law or lawyers in film or theatre; and to help students explicate and analyze legal concepts by engaging students in a dramatic production. 

You can read the rest here.

(jbl). 

October 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law grads receiving school employment stipends - don't forget to pay your taxes

We reported below that some schools are paying stipends to recent law grads who haven't been able to find gainful employment.  The popular blog Above the Law reminds us that those stipends are "income" for tax purposes and thus students need to establish a set-aside in order to pay their spring tax bills.   Or in some cases, like the postgrad stipends paid by Georgetown, students need to consider whether their schools will withhold taxes upfront in order to properly budget for monthly living expenses: 

Georgetown offered its 2010 grads a public interest fellowship option. If you worked for a public interest organization, full-time, for three months after graduation, GULC gave you $4,000.

But because the stipends were paid through the school payroll department which deducted taxes, students wound up with $2800, not the originally promised $4000.  An unpleasant surprise for some if they didn't understand that up front.

If in doubt, ask your schools how the stipends will be paid and consult an accountant to determine how the stipends should be treated for tax purposes so you don't have any similarly unpleasant surprises on payday or taxday.

Read the full story at ATL, here.

(jbl).

October 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)