December 27, 2010
Upcoming legal skills conference - 6th Annual International Conference on Contracts
It will be held from February 18 - 19, 2011 at Stetson School of Law in Gulfport, Florida. Here's the skinny:
6th Annual International Conference on Contracts
Feb. 18-19, 2011
Stetson University College of Law
›› Online Registration
Stetson University College of Law and Texas Wesleyan School of Law are co-sponsoring the 6th Annual International Conference on Contracts, February 18 and 19, 2011, at Stetson’s beautiful campus in Gulfport, Fla. Similar to previous contracts conferences held at UNLV, McGeorge, South Texas, Texas Wesleyan, and Gloucester, England, this conference is designed to offer scholars and teachers at all experience levels an opportunity to present and discuss recently-published papers, forthcoming papers, works-in-progress, and pedagogical innovations, and to network with colleagues from the U.S and around the globe.
›› View the Call for Papers
The conference hotel will be the Tradewinds Resort in nearby St. Pete Beach. A block of rooms is reserved for the conference, with rates starting at $159 (suites and other rooms are available for somewhat higher rate). Please mention that you are with the Stetson University College of Law Contracts Conference when making your reservation. The hotel phone number is 800-360-4016.
Hat tip to the Legal Scholarship Blog.
The new edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is out now!
The 16th edition to be exact. Click here to order the p-text version and click here to order an online subscription. Here's a list of some of the important "rule" changes from the last edition.
Hat tip to the Business Writing Blog.
Job posting for Assistant Professor of Practice
Here are the details:
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE
The University of Cincinnati College of Law invites applications from entry-level and lateral candidates for the position of Assistant Professor of Practice. The College wishes to achieve two major goals with this new position. First, we would like this professor to develop courses focused on skills that would complement our current skills curriculum that now focuses primarily on a litigation context. Therefore, the professor should have a background primarily in an area other than litigation. The second goal is for the new professor to design skills courses that would be attractive to and could be taken by a large number of students.
We would welcome applications from candidates with strong skills in a nonlitigation legal context. For example, we would welcome applicants with a business practice background who could teach skills relevant to such topics as contracts, accounting and financial concepts, drafting legal documents, and moving a deal from negotiations and due diligence to drafting and closing. We would also welcome applications from candidates with a strong background in small firm practice who could teach skills relevant to such topics as wills, probate, small contracts, real estate transactions, family law, and simple criminal matters.
The successful candidate will teach one or more sections of our Client Counseling Class, required in the second year, and depending on his or her skills and interests, may teach other skills classes, supervise cocurricular activities, and assist with our CLE offerings. Candidates must have strong academic records; possess solid legal practice skills; and have significant practice experience in a legal context other than litigation. JD is required. Teaching experience is desired but not required. The position offers a competitive salary, flexible hours, and an excellent benefits package. Appointment will be made to the College's non-tenure track faculty with the possibility of long-term contracts. We will begin reviewing resumes immediately, and the search will remain open until the position is filled. To apply, go to www.jobsatuc.com and apply to position number 210UC1980. Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply.
Hat tip to Professor Mark Godsey, University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Internet Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Job Search
It's becoming easier and easier to undo all the good work you've done to find a good job after law school through a lack of good judgment in using the Internet, especially social media.
George Lenard has a great post on George's Employment Blawg called "Ten Internet Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Job Search." It would be good for all of us to commit these potential mistakes to memory.
Highlights include wise advice about pictures, Facebook, Twitter, comments on other sites, and creating your own Google Profile.
On the other hand, you can also point to at least ten great ways (many of them found in George's post) effective use of the Internet can help your job search, so it's important to keep a balanced perspective. Just because you can make mistakes on the Internet doesn't mean you want to stay away from the Internet.
The bottom line: moderation and good judgment will always serve you well.
Brush up on your (Online) Meeting Management Skills
Over the past few years, the economy has often dictated whether a lawyer travels to meet with a client or expert, or whether that meeting occurs in different ways - over the phone, online, or in other ways. Online meetings are an incredibly effective way to conduct business, but like in-person meetings, it's a skill that must be learned. That's why this article on How to Host an Effective Virtual Meeting is a good resource for lawyers. It provides useful tips on what to do before, during, and after your next online meeting.
Dershowitz on "The Justice Game"
In his 1982 book, “The Best Defense," law professor and litigator Alan Dershowitz writes about the criminal justice system and sets out 13 rules of “The Justice Game.” Some may find them a bit cynical. In fact, many may find them a bit cynical. In any case, students ought to be aware that some lawyers harbor these views, and in some locations, these views may be justified. In any case, they are worthy of class discussion. Here they are:
I. ALMOST ALL CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS ARE , IN FACT, GUILTY.
II. ALL CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS, PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES UNDERSTAND AND BELIEVE RULE I.
III. IT IS EASIER TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS BY VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION THAN BY COMPLYING WITH IT, AND IN SOME CASES IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS WITHOUT VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION.
IV. ALMOST ALL POLICE LIE ABOUT WHETHER THEY VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION IN ORDER TO CONVICT GUILTY DFEENDANTS.
V. ALL PROSECUTORS, JUDGES AND DEFENSE ATTORNEYS ARE AWARE OF RULE IV.
VI. MANY PROSECUTORS IMPLICITLY ENCOURAGE POLICE TO LIE ABOUT WHETHER THEY VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION IN ORDER TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS.
VII. ALL JUDGES ARE AWARE OF RULE VI.
VIII. MOST TRIAL JUDGES PRETEND TO BELIEVE POLICE OFFICERS WHO THEY KNOW ARE LYING
IX. ALL APPELLATE JUDGES ARE AWARE OF RULE VIII, YET MANY PRETEND TO BELIEVE THE TRIAL JUDGES WHO PRETEND TO BELIEVE THE POLICE OFFICERS.
X. MOST JUDGES DISBELIEVE DEFENDANTS ABOUT WHETHER THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED, EVEN IF THEY ARE TELLING THE TRUTH.
XI. MOST JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS WOULD NOT KNOWINGLY CONVICT A DEFENDANT WHO THEY BELIEVE TO BE INNOCENT OF THE CRIME CHARGED (OR A CLOSELY RELATED CRIME).
XII. RULE XI DOES NOT APPLY TO MEMBERS OF ORGANIZED CRIME, DRUG DEALERS, CAREER CRIMINALS, OR POTENTIAL INFORMANTS.
XIII. NOBODY REALLY WANTS JUSTICE.
December 26, 2010
Facebook notwithstanding, the human condition limits the number of friends we can have
Here's another interesting example of how we humans can invent e-things that outstrip our flesh and blood capabilities ("multitasking" being another). It's a New York Times Op-Ed by Oxford evolutionary anthropology Professor Robin Dunford, author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks.
[Social networking site] have allowed us to amass thousands of 'friends,' but they have not yet devised a way to cut through the clunky, old-fashioned nature of relationships themselves. Our circle of actual friends remains stubbornly small, limited not by technology but by human nature. . . . .
The critical component in social networking is the removal of time as a constraint. In the real world, according to research by myself and others, we devote 40 percent of our limited social time each week to the five most important people we know, who represent just 3 percent of our social world and a trivially small proportion of all the people alive today. Since the time invested in a relationship determines its quality, having more than five best friends is impossible when we interact face to face, one person at a time.
. . . .
[D]espite Facebook’s promise, that is the fundamental flaw in the logic of the social-networking revolution. The developers at Facebook overlooked one of the crucial components in the complicated business of how we create relationships: our minds.
Put simply, our minds are not designed to allow us to have more than a very limited number of people in our social world. The emotional and psychological investments that a close relationship requires are considerable, and the emotional capital we have available is limited.
You can read more here.
BTW, don't I provide you, dear reader, with some interesting posts?
Institutional strategies for dealing with grade inflation
Grade inflation has been a hot topic for a while. According to the extensive data collected by this guy, Stuart Rojstaczer, average undergrad GPA's have been creeping upward at most schools for the past several decades (check out Mr. Rojstaczer's site here to see several graphs illustrating the phenomenon).
What's the faculty to do? Hold the line? (but risk having students at a competitive disadvantage when they apply for jobs with students from schools with grade inflation?). Raise average GPA's across the board so students can compete with those other schools? (but risk diluting academic rigor?). This article from Sunday's New York Times offers several examples of what undergrad institutions are doing (having a mandatory curve, as most, I assume, law schools do, doesn't solve the problem if those schools periodically raise the curve as Loyola did this year - read here and here).
With college grades creeping ever higher, a few universities have taken direct action against grade inflation. Most notably, Princeton adopted guidelines in 2004 providing that no more than 35 percent of undergraduate grades should be A’s, a policy that remains controversial on campus.
Others have taken a less direct approach, leaving instructors free to award whatever grades they like but expanding their transcripts to include information giving graduate schools and employers a fuller picture of what the grades mean.
Dartmouth transcripts include median grades, along with the number of courses in which the student exceeded, equaled or came in lower than those medians. Columbia transcripts show the percentage of students in the course who earned an A.
At Reed College, transcripts are accompanied by an explanatory card. Last year’s graduating class had an average G.P.A. of 3.20, it says, and only 10 percent of the class graduated with a G.P.A. of 3.67 or higher.
'We also tell them that in 26 years, only 10 students have graduated with a perfect 4.0 average — and three of them were transfers who didn’t get all those grades at Reed,' said Nora McLaughlin, the registrar at Reed. 'We wanted to put the grades at Reed in context to be sure that graduate schools, particularly professional schools where G.P.A. is very much an important factor, understand how capable our students are.'
UNC, which the Times focused on to illustrate how undergrad faculty are dealing with grade inflation, is responding in this way:
As part of the university’s long effort to clarify what grades really mean, Mr. Perrin now leads a committee that is working with the registrar on plans to add extra information — probably median grades, and perhaps more — to transcripts. In addition, they expect to post further statistics providing context online and give instructors data on how their grading compares with their colleagues’.
'It’s going to be modest and nowhere near enough to correct the problems,' Mr. Perrin said. 'But it’s our judgment that it’s the best we can do now.'
You can read the rest of the NYT's article here.
Please support the new AALS provisional section on "Transactional Law and Skills"
If you're going to be attending this week's AALS conference in San Francisco, please consider supporting a new provisional section on "Transactional Law and Skills." If you won't be in S.F., read to the end of this post to find out how you can still sign the petition.
From Professors Tina Stark and Joan Hemingway:
If you are attending the AALS Meeting, please come to the organizational meeting of the provisional AALS Section on Transactional Law and Skills and sign the petition in favor of creating the new Section. The meeting is being held on Wednesday, January 5th from 2:00 p.m. to 3: 45 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel, Yosemite A, Ballroom Level. We need signatures from at least 50 professors from at least 25 law schools. Please stop by. Signing will just take minute.
As the Section will not yet be formed, no official business will be conducted, but we will discuss the purpose of the Section and the process for gaining provisional and then permanent status.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, please consider emailing Professor Tina Stark at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm sure she'd be happy to send you an electronic copy of the petition (unfortunately, this blog platform doesn't let me attach it here) which you should sign and return to her via snail mail by January 15, 2011 at the following address:
Tina L. Stark
Professor in the Practice of Law
Executive Director of the Center for Transactional Law and Practice
Emory University School of Law
1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
Please show your support for the legal skills movement by signing the petition.
Boxing Day: Saying Thank-you
December 26 is the beginning of Kwanzaa and the feast of St. Stephen. And warm wishes to all who mark these observances. It is also Boxing Day. According to our friends at Wikipedia, the possible origins of that holiday are numerous. Here are the British origins:
In the United Kingdom, it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.
For us, Boxing Day may be a reminder to say thank-you to our support staff whenever possible. It is also a reminder to educate our students in the practice of saying thank-you to those who assist them.
Here is an example, when a student asks me for multiple reference letters—for example letters to every judge in creation who might give the student a clerkship—I tell the student that my secretary will be doing the heavy lifting. I strongly encourage the student to say thank-you to her with a small present, a box of candy, flowers, etc. I think my secretary deserves a gift. I also hope that I am instilling in the student the concept of saying thank-you to future secretaries and paralegals.