Tuesday, December 14, 2010

AALS Joint Program on Clinical Law and Poverty Law Sections

On  Saturday, January 8, 2011, The AALS Sections on Clinical Legal Education and Poverty Law  will present a session entitled “Fostering Justice and Public Service: Preparing Students to be Active Participants in Developing the Law, Legal Processes, and Legal Systems." Here is the line up of speakers:

  • Jessica K. Steinberg (Associate Professor of Clinical Law, George Washington) presenting “In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services”
  • Douglas Colbert (Professor, Univ. of Maryland) presenting “Prosecution without Representation”
  • Linda F. Smith (Professor, Univ. of Utah) presenting “Fostering Justice Throughout the Curriculum”
  • Deborah Weissman (Professor, Univ. of North Carolina ) presenting “Redefining Human Rights Lawyering Through the Lens of Critical Theory: Lessons for Pedagogy and Practice,” coauthored by Davida Finger (Assistant Clinical Professor, Loyola Univ. New Orleans), Caroline Bettinger-Lopez (Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Univ. of Miami), Meetali Jain (Project Director for the South African Youth Constitutional Literacy and Service Project, Univ. of Cape Town), JoNel Newman (Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Univ. of Miami), and Sarah Paoletti (Practice Associate Professor of Law, Univ. of Pennsylvania).

Juliet Brodie (Stanford) will moderate. The resulting papers will be published in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy.

(thnx to the Poverty Law blog.)


December 14, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Seinfeld fans will remember Festivus, a winter celebration observed by George Costanza's father. If you are not a Seinfeldian, just google "festivus" and up will pop many informative websites. Now, an American court has recognized the religion. From the ABA Journal online (December 13):

Locked up in a California jail, Malcolm Alarmo King wanted healthier meals. In an argument apparently made to a friendly court, he won a ruling from Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson that he should be fed double-portion kosher meals.

Battling to keep its food costs down, the sheriff's department argued that King himself admitted "healthism" was the so-called religion justifying this request. But Johnson wasn't daunted, calling a sidebar with King's lawyer, Fred Thiagarajah, and the county prosecutor and asking for suggestions about a religion he could cite in the kosher-meal order to nail the issue down once and for all, reports the Orange County Register.

“I said Festivus,” Thiagarajah tells the newspaper--and Festivus it was. The holiday (Festivus for the rest of us) was created by the writers of the popular Seinfeld television show, county counsel argued to no avail.

King, however, has now served out his sentence, so further argument over the issue may be mooted.

The practical lesson: Any argument is worth a shot.


December 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Skills-related" conference of interest - "Teaching International Law Beyond the Classroom: Engaging Students in Experiential Learning, in Webpages and Blogs, and in Historical and Empirical Research"

Here's the info (via the American Society of International Law website):

Event Information
Friday, May 06 2011 / 8:30 AM
Pace University School of Law, White Plains, NY

The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness on different modalities of teaching and researching in the area of international law--to expand beyond the traditional classroom and the standard law review article. Law schools around the country have initiated international law and human rights clinics, international law faculty have increasingly used blogs and the internet to carry out their scholarly work, and the legal academy has begun to recognize the contribution that history and empirical research can make. The workshop explores each of these modalities and attempts to help the participants expand their teaching and research accordingly. The conference is being co-sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Contact Information
Thomas McDonnell
(914) 422-4381

Hat tip to the Legal Scholarship Blog.


December 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Divergent views about the value of anonymous student evals of their teachers.

On Saturday, the New York Times published a story called "What Works in the Classroom?  Ask the Students" that praised the preliminary results of a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that concludes grade school students do a good job assessing the quality of their teachers' instruction. 

On Monday, another newspaper reported the results of a study of anonymous teaching evals used by college students to rate their professors and found that students "stretched" the truth in filling them out (with respect to both good and bad comments about their teachers). 

So which study is to be believed?  Can both conclusions be correct?  My Magic 8-Ball says "signs point to yes." 

Hat tip to Dean John Edwards.


December 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SALT Teaching Conference: Materials

On December 10-11, SALT (Society of American Law  Teachers) held its teaching conference in Hawaii. Here are links to the materials of the presenters. There are a variety of topics.


December 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judicial Recusals; Disclosure Requirements Concerning Campaign Contributions

I am including the link for the report of the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence to the ABA  House of Delegates. The report is entitled "Recommendations for Improving Judicial Disqualification Practices and Procedures Among the States" It covers  disclosure and  recusal.

http://new.abanet.org/committees/judind/PublicDocuments/JDPReportOct82010.pdf  (24 pages). Here is the Committee's set of  recommendations:

 RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association adopt the following recommendations of the  Judicial Disqualification Project, dated October 8, 2010, in order to improve judicial  disqualification practices and procedures among the States*/ and promote public confidence in  the State courts:

 */ When capitalized, the term “State” or “States” as used herein refers to courts or legislatures (unless the context otherwise requires, e.g., State judiciaries), depending on which has regulatory authority over the judicial disqualification practices and procedures within the jurisdiction, and also encompasses the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, and the term “state courts” includes the non-Article III courts in the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

 I. Each State should have in place clearly articulated procedures, whether statutory or judicial rules-based, for the handling of disqualification determinations and the review of denials of such motions. These procedures should be designed to produce resolutions of judicial disqualification issues that are both prompt and meaningful.

 II. In States in which judges face election of any kind:  

 A. States should consider adopting disclosure requirements for litigants and lawyers that have provided, directly or indirectly, campaign support in an election involving a judge before whom they are appearing, in order to facilitate a determination whether, under the circumstances, the judge‟s impartiality might reasonably be called into question.

B. States should consider providing guidance to judges about their disclosure obligations and about the circumstances under which presiding over a case involving litigants or lawyers who previously contributed to an election involving the judge might reasonably be perceived as calling the judge‟s impartiality into question.

 C. States should consider providing improved case management systems or other resources to help their judges promptly identify recusal issues.

 FURTHER RESOLVED, that the recommendations and report of the Judicial Disqualification Project be transmitted to the highest court of each State and to any other entities which have regulatory responsibility for judicial disqualification practices, and procedures in the jurisdiction.

In my opinion, the report is overly temperate. Disclosure is not enough. Moreover, how  often is a lawyer going to ask a  judge to  recuse himself or herself? I suspect most judges will believe that they can act evenhandedly and may reject recusal.  The lawyer then may have to appear before a judge who did  not react kindly to the recusal request.


December 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Complaining About Your Students

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: Here’s an article by a professor who wrote a column including some complaints about her students and, in return, encountered a lot of  negative responses from other professors.

 One skill that teachers need is the ability to be eternal optimists. I suspect we’ve all had classes and students that tested us. Along the way, most of learn to keep our frustrations to ourselves; there is nothing to be gained by expressing negative emotions to students. Still, I admit, there have been a few occasions . . .

 Italian movie buffs might recall the concluding  scene in Fellini’s  Nights of Cabiria.


December 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Study shows college students under-report their classroom web-surfing habits.

Among the significant findings from this study are the following.  According to the authors, all studies to date have relied on student self-reporting to determine the level of classroom web-surfing (both related and unrelated to the day's lesson).  This study used spyware to compare the students' self-reported surfing habits to their actual activities (and found that students under-report some of those activities - like "instant messaging" - by 40%).  Second, the study found that in terms of the total amount of web-surfing that occurs in class, 62% of the "windows" opened by students were unrelated to course content.  Finally, the study found that classroom web-surfing (instant messaging in particular) had a "significant and substantial" negative correlation with academic performance. 

The article is entitled "Examining the Affects of Student Multitasking with Laptops during the Lecture" and is available at 21 Journal of Information Systems Education,  241 (2010).  From the  abstract:

This paper examines undergraduate student use of laptop computers during a lecture-style class that includes substantial problem-solving activities and graphic-based content. The study includes both a self-reported use component collected from student surveys as well as a monitored use component collected via activity monitoring 'spyware' installed on student laptops. We categorize multitasking activities into 'productive' (course-related) versus 'distractive' (non course-related) tasks. Quantifiable measures of software multitasking behavior are introduced to measure the 'frequency' of student multitasking, the 'duration' of student multitasking, and the 'extent' to which students engage in distractive versus productive tasks. We find that students engage in substantial multitasking behavior with their laptops and have non course-related software applications open and active about 42% of the time. There is a statistically significant inverse relationship between the ratio of distractive versus productive multitasking behavior during lectures and academic performance. We also observe that students understate the frequency of email and instant messaging (IM) use in the classroom when self-reporting on their laptop usage.


December 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Stanford receives grant to study state of legal profession and recommend changes to legal education

Thanks to Stephanie West Allen at the Idealawg Blog for alerting us to this story.  From Stanford's press release:

Stanford Law School today announced that it has launched a comprehensive empirical study of the state of the legal profession with financial support from the Sidley Austin Foundation. The objective of the multi-year study is to describe and understand the state of the profession, including trends and emerging developments. The study will seek to develop policy recommendations to help law firms adapt their business models to better meet the needs of their clients and of a rapidly changing legal market.  It will also consider the implications of these changes for legal education

. . . .

'Twenty years ago, most lawyers would have scoffed at the idea that profitability—much less profits-per-partner—should be the measure of success for firms, but that’s where we are: to be bigger, to pay higher salaries, to bill more hours, to open more offices, to be more profitable,' [Stanford Law School Dean Larry] Kramer said.

Research for the Stanford Law School Study of the Legal Profession will focus first on gathering data to draw an accurate portrait of the new industrial organization of the legal profession for the purpose of analyzing the evolving structure and organization of firms, the effects of globalization and global competition, and the consequences and opportunities created by new technology, new forms of firm management, billing structures, employee training, changes in firm/client relations, and more. With this more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the state of the profession, the research will move in the next phase to identify problems and recommend solutions.

The study will be conducted over the next three to five years through the school’s Center on the Legal Profession.  It will be a collective effort, drawing upon the resources of the Stanford Law faculty, the Stanford Law alumni network, faculty from economics and the Graduate School of Business, and a broad spectrum of practicing lawyers, including managing partners and in-house counsel.

You can read the rest here.


December 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another open source legal research search engine: OpenJurist

Clients are so cost-conscious these days that lawyers are under great pressure to find ways to keep costs down.  Here's another open source legal research tool that should help - it's called OpenJurist and allows you to search the following databases free of charge:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Reporters.
  • Federal Reporter 1st series
  • Federal Reporter 2nd series
  • Federal Reporter 3rd series.
  • Federal statutes (U.S.C.)

There is also a forum to help clients find attorneys by specialty, a directory of U.S. courts and tabs to download founding documents like the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

A big hat tip to Professor Mitch Rubinstein at the Adjunct Law Prof Blog.


December 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

If Twitter Had Been Around in 1776