Saturday, April 16, 2011

Plagiarizing Starts Early

The Inside Higher Ed blog reports on an extensive study of research papers from first year college compositions courses at 15 colleges.  The results are disheartening. The researchers analyzed 1,832 research citations in 164 student papers and categorized them this way:

  • Exact copying -- a verbatim cut-and-paste, either with or without quotation marks.
  • "Patchwriting" -- the copying of the original language with minimal alteration and with synonyms substituting for several original words (patchwriting is often a failed attempt to paraphrase, they said).
  • Paraphrasing -- a restatement of a source's argument with mostly fresh language, and with some of the original language intact; it reflects comprehension of a small portion, perhaps a sentence, of the source material.
  • Summary -- the desired form of citation because it demonstrates true understanding of a large portion, if not the entirety, of the original text; summarizing was identified by the researchers when student writers restated in their own terms the source material and compressed by at least 50 percent the main points of at least three consecutive sentences.

They found that only 9 percent of citations fell into the “Summary” category. According to Professor Rebecca Moore Howard (Syracuse University), the students “don’t digest the ideas in the material cited and put it in their own words.” The researchers found that the students cut and pasted 44 percent of the citations from the internet.

Whether we call these practices “plagiarism” or “a lack of knowledge of how  to research and write,” those of us  teaching at the post graduate level need to be aware of how much instruction our students  need.


April 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trends in the reading habits of high school students

You might be interested in this. It's an interview with Kelly Gallagher, author of "Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It," by Education Week. Here's an excerpt:

In your 25 years as a teacher, have you noticed a change in students’ reading habits or abilities? If so, what do you think accounts for it?

I’ve noticed a very large change, especially in the last 10 years. Students are reading a lot less. And here’s the compounding problem: That lack of reading has created a gaping hole in students’ prior knowledge and background, which is very, very important to bring to the page. A lot of times my kids can read the words on the page, but they can’t comprehend the text because they don’t have requisite prior knowledge and background information.

I think our kids are much more likely nowadays to find other things to do rather than read. They sort of encapsulate themselves in an entertainment bubble when they go home. A lot of Facebook, a lot of texting, instant messaging, and so on. They do a lot of entertaining themselves, but I’m not sure they do a whole lot of informing themselves.

Kids today really struggle with difficult texts. They don’t do a very good job of monitoring their comprehension. They don’t know how to fix their comprehension when it falters. And I’ve found that their ability to really focus in on their reading seems to lessen with each year.

So you see electronic entertainment media as the cause of this?

Well, I think there are a number of causes. Yes, it’s all the electronic entertainment—which really consumes their lives on many levels. Where I teach, in Anaheim, Calif., there’s also a huge issue with kids coming from print-poor environments at home. And a lot of students today are hurried children, in that they go to school and then have to go to work or football practice and then they go home and watch their little brother or sister. They don’t have time just to sit with a book.

In your books, you also lay at least part of the blame on trends in education.

Yeah, I think schools have unwittingly exacerbated the problem. And it’s ironic because school should be the place where kids go to learn to love reading. But school has become a place where kids go to hate reading. A lot of this, of course, is driven by the testing pressures. Those kids sitting in my 9th grade class today were in 1st grade when No Child Left Behind was enacted, so they have reached high school with a belief that the real reason you should read is to pass a test or respond to multiple-choice questions. As an adult who loves to read, I would say that if I learned to read in that context, I probably wouldn’t like reading either.

Schools have put all of their emphasis on academic reading and functional reading and completely abandoned the idea of trying to turn kids on to the kinds of reading we want them to do 10 and 20 and 30 years from now—and that’s recreational reading. We have forgotten that we want them to be readers, not just people who can pass a test. There are studies showing that adults who read regularly are much more involved in their communities and civic life generally, so I don’t think this is just a curriculum issue. I think it’s a cultural issue.

You can read the rest here.


April 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 15, 2011

When the Internet is Down – Don’t Panic – Come to the Library

An unexpected internet outage on campus yesterday provided some valuable learning experiences for soon-to-be lawyers.  From not having notes needed for an oral argument to using the books to look up tax code sections, students learned how to cope without internet access.  It’s amazing how dependent we have become on the internet. Instead of a panic attack, here are some tips to cope with lack of expected internet access:

1. Print out your notes, brief, letter, materials etc. before you arrive at your court hearing or meeting.  If you don’t have access to a printer, at least download the materials to your laptop or a flash drive.  You may be able to use your laptop to access your downloaded materials or be able to print directly from a flash drive. 

2. The librarians are ready to help you locate legal materials in the print collection.  Don’t panic - the print collection is there even when there is no internet service!

3. When planning for your meeting or hearing, think about what you might need in case of a technology problem.  You need to make sure you can continue lawyering even without technology.  It may not be feasible to reschedule. 



April 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Do the Extremely Successful Differ From the Merely Successful?

In a recent posting on the Harvard Business Review online, consultant Marcie Schorr Hirsch presents the results of her study. This excerpt seems to sum it up: 

But a difference between the two groups did emerge when participants were asked to say how each variable had affected their career outcomes. It seemed that extremely successful participants understood the value of individual elements of their careers in different ways than their only moderately successful counterparts. Take, for example, their marriages. Fully 22 of the 24 participants reported that they were married, and all 22 put "being married" in the category of factors that were highly important to their career achievement. But when asked to explain why being married had been helpful, moderately successful participants offered responses such as, "I always have a clean shirt in the closet," or "I never have to interrupt my work to take the kids to an appointment." They expressed appreciation for the contributions made by their partners by offering examples of the ways in which their wives functioned as helpmates in coping with the logistical demands of life.

The highly successful group's answers had a different character. "My wife taught me everything I know about interpersonal skills" and "I never make an important business decision without consulting her" are representative of the explanations offered by the participants from the top group. They valued their wives for educating them in important areas, or for helping them see different angles on complex issues. This tendency to see beyond efficiency leverage in the value of a spousal relationship is just one way in which the highly successful executives thought differently about working in partnership. Instead of defaulting to generic, role-based expectations, they recognized particular talents or strengths in their partners and identified opportunities to benefit from them.



April 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Survey of undergrad profs finds they believe YouTube is most useful teaching tool but Twitter and Facebook may undermine learning

That's the result of an opinion survey of more than 1,900 professors representing a variety of institutions conducted by Babson Research Group. As reported by Inside Higher Ed:

Probing the uses of nine different types of social media among professors, the study found that professors consider YouTube the most useful tool by far -- for both teaching and non-classroom professional use. Nearly a third of respondents said they instructed students to watch online videos as homework, and about 73 percent said they thought YouTube videos were either somewhat or very valuable for classroom use, regardless of whether they use them currently.

Other Web 2.0 tools fared less well among the professors -- particularly the tools with the most currency in broader culture. Only 2 percent of the professors said they used Twitter in class, and another 2 percent said they used it for professional purposes outside the classroom. Slightly more said they could see at least some value in the microblogging site, but those long-sellers still amounted to less than a tenth of all respondents.

Facebook, too, is tapped in class or for homework assignments only rarely, even if many professors use the site for personal or professional networking. Faculty rate the site's long-term prospects in the classroom only slightly above Twitter's, with 15 percent submitting that it is at least somewhat valuable.

Many professors -- 53 percent and 46 percent, respectively -- think that Twitter and Facebook not only lack pedagogical value but in fact harm classroom learning. (They did not say why.)

Wikis, while not attracting as much negative attention as those two, are still not getting much classroom use, according to the survey. However, faculty see their potential value as higher than Twitter or Facebook, with 36 percent saying they view wikis -- shared documents that can be edited by multiple collaborators -- as having some value in the classroom. (The survey did not distinguish between Wikipedia, the open-source online encyclopedia, which has attracted both scorn and optimism in academe, and other types of wiki, such as the more localized kind living elsewhere on the Web and in learning-management systems. Jeffrey Seaman, the director of the Babson group, said that based on "other results," he would guess that professors using or referring to non-Wikipedia wikis are "very rare.")

Interestingly, the Babson survey found that faculty opinion about the value of social media in the classroomm didn't divide along generational lines suggesting that there is a consensus among digital natives and digital immigrants about the pedagogical value of certain social media tools. You can read more here.


April 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to better design emails and other e-documents

From an article found at the Harvard Business Review blog called "If You Want People to Actually Read What You Write":

Everyone could benefit from taking an introductory design course at a local college or reading a great design book, like Design Basics by David A. Lauer and Stephen Pentak. But if you don't have time for that, here are some basic rules:

  • Blur your eyes and ask yourself, Does this communication have a sense of order, or does looking at it give me a headache?
  • Have the decency to shorten your communication. Follow the wise insight attributed equally to Twain, Churchill, Pascal, and Lincoln ("If I had more time I'd have written a shorter letter") or Richard Bach's maxim ("Good writing is all about the power of the deleted word") and remember that length is design, too.
  • Clean up messes. If you're sending someone a conversation thread but only one sentence of it is important, delete the extraneous 42,000 words. Delete automatically generated dotted lines, indentations, and fonts in multiple colors.
  • Reduce the number of hard returns, especially in e-mails. They create visual noise.
  • Avoid huge monolithic blocks of text. No one will read them.
  • Don't get fancy. If you haven't taken a design course, stick with a classic font. Don't use more than three font variations on a page. That means changing typeface, size, or style (italics or bold). Don't underline.
  • For e-mails, pick a font that's web friendly. (Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Palatino, Verdana.) That way, you'll be sure that the way your message looks to you is the way it will appear to the reader.
  • Break some rules. Where tradition might tell you to fill every page of your business plan with text, identify the single most important sentence on a page, blow it up to 36-point type, and give it the entire page to itself.
  • If you don't know what the rules are, be careful about breaking them. The point is not to be, or look, rebellious. It's to be effective.
  • Learn to use pull-quotes. If you have a lengthy block of text, pull out the most important sentence and create an easy point of entry for the reader, the way a magazine would.
  • Learn to love white space. Don't fill the page edge to edge with content. Leave room for things to breathe.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Break up a business plan or a memo with a professional image. Stock photography or illustration houses like istock are your friend.
  • Don't use tacky images. If you're generally tacky, I can't help you with that. Just try not to be. Think a nice black Armani suit or cocktail dress versus, I don't know, a Worldwide Wrestling Federation t-shirt.
  • Don't give people whiplash. Don't center one thing, left justify another, right justify another, center a fourth, and so on. It makes things look like an obstacle course. Pick one justification and stick with it.
  • Be careful with color if you don't know what you're doing. You could hurt someone. Stick to one color to be safe — black — and use shades of gray to add sophistication.

You can read more here.


April 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

National Library Week: The Legend of Arthur Pulling

This week is National Library Week. To observe the week, I would like to commemorate the work of a largely forgotten hero in the world of law librarians. 

Arthur Clement Pulling began his career shelving books at the Harvard Law School’s library. Despite the lack of credentials, he went on to accomplish great things. During World War I, he organized the library of the War Department. After serving as Assistant Law Library Director at Harvard, he traveled to the University of Minnesota’s law school to develop its library into a major collection. After another stint at Harvard, he moved to the new Villanova University School of Law to establish its library. Upon retirement, he traveled to Maine to organize the University of Maine’s law library. Because so much time has passed, I may have missed a few accomplishments or not set out the chronology correctly, but the story is largely accurate.

 How likely is it that today someone without credentials but lots of creativity could make a mark in the world of legal education? Has the demand for credentials shut out truly innovative people?


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 15: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

April 15 marks the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Lincoln was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth while watching “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Ford’s Theatre continues as a working theater. However, it is open to visitors when a performance is not underway. CNN recently showed a segment about the theater and its museum. As the theater’s website states:

The museum tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, from his arrival in Washington in 1861 to the legacy he left. The exhibits also paint a picture of Washington, D.C., and the United States during Lincoln’s presidency. It features a remarkable collection of historic artifacts, including the deringer that John Wilkes Booth used, as well as the clothing and boots that President Lincoln wore the night of his assassination.

The theater’s website is here.


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A defense of the medical school approach to training law students

The following is an editorial by Massachusetts School of Law Associate Dean Michael Coyne called Law School for the White and Wealthy in which he criticizes the ABA's allegedly monopolistic approach to law school accreditation that has kept it out of reach for minorities and those of modest means. The editorial is also an attack on the ABA's alleged refusal to embrace a more practice-oriented approach to legal education which uses practitioners, rather than legal scholars, as instructors.

Fifteen years ago, the ABA tried to kill the innovative Massachusetts School of Law model of legal education. This model is a highly successful, practice-based, lower-cost method of legal education patterned after the medical-school approach to higher education.

The ABA was worried that affordable law schools staffed by expert practitioners, judges and academics — who would train law students not to just think like lawyers but how to act like lawyers while representing real clients — could be a threat to its "gatekeeper" function of restricting affordable access to legal education and thus the legal profession. The fact that Massachusetts School of Law charged tuition that was less than half of what ABA law schools charge (today that figure stands closer to one-third) meant it threatened the ABA's reason for its existence: ensuring high fees for lawyers by charging exorbitant admissions fees to enter its exclusive club.

The ABA's opposition to Massachusetts Law's innovative approach to legal education, as well as its success, led to the school working with the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, which filed an antitrust action against the ABA in 1996. The ABA was ultimately forced to settle that DOJ antitrust action by entering into a 10-year consent decree eliminating a number of its illegal, needlessly cost-increasing requirements and allowing DOJ some oversight over its control of legal education in the United States. It was the third time DOJ was needed to curb the ABA's violations of U.S. law.

But the third time was no charm, as it is now clear that DOJ's actions in 1996 were akin to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. The ABA continues its monopolistic control over access to legal education, imposing its costly, outdated model of 19th century legal education on all ABA law schools, where annual tuitions have now reached $50,000, with $60,000 annual tuitions likely just three years away.

But the ABA should worry. Massachusetts Law is now nationally recognized for its effectiveness at training law students to be successful advocates and for its success in winning various regional and national advocacy awards. In the past five years alone, while competing against the top law schools in the United States, the law school's students have been champions and finalists in numerous advocacy competitions.

Concurrently, The National Law Journal and The National Jurist have reported on the growing number of ABA law school graduates who are becoming increasingly vocal about having been forced to sacrifice their lives on the altar of high ABA law school tuitions. The ABA's own Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs last year conceded that because of the high tuitions at ABA law schools, attending law school can become "a financial burden for law students."

And there is even worse news. For the most part, this scam has not affected African-Americans, as they are not encouraged to attend ABA law schools to begin with. In fact, African-Americans represent less than 4% of the members of the legal profession although they represent 13.5% of our nation's population. As law professor Vernellia Randall, a well-known public speaker on issues of health, race and representation of African-Americans in the legal profession, has noted, "Institutional discrimination in law schools is really about maintaining the legal profession as 'The Whitest Profession.' "

The ABA points to its efforts to diversify the profession it has controlled with an iron fist since 1921 and the time of Jim Crow. But its words ring hollow. Each year of this millennium has seen a decline in African-American enrollment in ABA law schools, despite the fact that this group's population in the United States has increased during the same period.

You can read the rest here.


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Day Moves to April 18.

Reminder: If you’re struggling to get your taxes in by April 15, you can relax a bit. Note that this year, you have an extension until April 18. The reason is because April 15 is a holiday in Washington, D.C.—Emancipation Day, commemorating the day (actually April 16), when President Lincoln freed the slaves in Washington, D.C. This emancipation took place 9 months before the famous Emancipation Proclamation. Here’s an  article from


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Grade inflation at law schools

Back in December, the New York Times ran a story called a "Quest to Explain What Grades Really Mean" (our coverage here) documenting the fight by some universities against grade inflation.  (Be sure to check out this site maintained by a former Duke Geophysics professor who has documented the steady rise of GPA's over the years). 

Presumably there are many law schools that hold the line too but the stories that get press are about schools that raise grades. You may remember this story from the NYT last summer about Loyola in Los Angeles retroactively increasing students' grades (the Colbert Report made fun of it). At least nine other law schools were referenced in that story as also adopting more lenient grading policies including Georgetown, Golden Gate, NYU and Tulane.

Above the Law is now reporting that George Mason in D.C. is raising its curve by a third of a grade (from a range of 2.85-2.95 to 3.15-3.35) as well as creating a new grade designated as "A+*."  The "A-plus-star" is for those students who demonstrate "extraordinary performance." Isn't that what an A+ is for?  

Presumably the rationale for this kind of grade inflation is that it helps students better compete for jobs.  But is there any evidence that it actually works? Isn't class rank the only thing employers care about?

You can read more about GM's grade bump here courtesy of ATL.


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

10 Things HR Won't Tell You About Your Resume

I agree with most of these tips. In my opinion, here are the best ones:

8. "I always read resumes from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page resume, but three pages is pushing it."

Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

9. "Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan resumes for key words. The secret to getting your resume through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your resume will get picked and actually seen by a real person."

Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area

10. "Resumes don't need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It's actually a little creepy."

Rich DeMatteo 

Condensed from Reader's Digest Magazine, April 2011, posted at AOL Jobs.


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Advice for setting up your first law firm website

Having an internet presence is de rigueur for any recent grad thinking about hanging a shingle. And while digital natives are expert users of web 2.0 technology, that doesn't mean they know how to build a website or understand the principles of good web design. To the rescue comes this triad of online articles on:  1. Setting up a WordPress website in 30 minutes; 2. effective use of color to attract visitors (and make them stay); and 3. how to get readers to read your email blasts and ezines.


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Georgetown 3L says law schools need to shift resources from "impractical" faculty scholarship to providing experiential learning opportunities for students

Yesterday we brought you this law review comment by a Wisconsin 3L who argues that law schools should model themselves on practice-oriented medical schools. Today comes this editorial from the National Law Journal by a 3L Georgetown student who says that law schools must shift their focus from encouraging "impractical" scholarship to better meeting the employment needs of students.

For the first time, law schools would have a potent incentive to reduce tuition and accelerate the so-far glacial movement to incorporate practical skills into legal education. By accurately measuring employment outcomes, schools will for the first time confront an unambiguous basis for evaluating their activities. And schools that perform poorly on the measure of job placement will face increased pressure to re-evaluate their educational model.

Still, change will not be easy. Protected by the privilege of tenure, the legal academy has thus far faced little pressure to prepare their students for practice — preferring instead to ponder the important (though often impractical) questions of justice and legal theory. Favoring an institutional identity disconnected from the practice of law, law schools aimed to teach students how to think like a lawyer, not how to be a lawyer. The working assumption of the academy was that graduates would have the luxury of learning practical skills on the job while still earning a salary high enough to pay back their debt.

But such luxuries are now unobtainable for all but the luckiest of law students. Structural changes in the practice of law render obsolete the traditional division of responsibility for training young lawyers among the academy, the profession and the bar. Students who cannot find high-paid positions at large law firms struggle with crushing debt burdens. And during a transformative time in the legal world — as entry-level positions disappear, clients refuse to pay for post-graduate training and employers need graduates who are practice-ready — law schools have resisted any systemic institutional reform.

. . . .

The legal academy will need to align their curricula to their students' employment goals. Schools will make more significant resource and personnel investments in experiential learning that will require comparative cuts in research. Faculties will confront difficult trade-offs between impractical scholarship and practical training. Some elite schools may continue to place students on prestige alone, but schools unable to carve out a comparative advantage for their graduates will eventually close. And future graduates will be more capable, more practical and — most importantly — more employable.

You can read the rest of this NLJ editorial, called "Transparency: the cure for America's ailing law schools" here.


April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Google isn't just a search engine

Google has several other features that are especially useful to lawyers (if you aren't already using them).  These include Gmail, Google Docs, Google Spreadsheet, Google Voice, Google Presentation and Google Forms. Most of them are free.

During Monday's ABA Techshow conference, the Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch, co-authors of Google for Lawyers: Essential Search Tips and Productivity Tools, spoke about the many ways Google can enhance lawyer productivity. Here's an excerpt from the online ABA Journal:

“There’s a lot more to Google than a search box,” [Carole] Levitt said as the couple led a fast-paced demonstration of some of the most popular and some of the least-known tools and apps useful to lawyers.

They also let the audience in on a little secret—a Google feature so unknown they just found it a couple of months ago. It’s a proximity connector, similar to the proximity searching capabilities offered by LexisNexis and Westlaw, which allows users to search for keywords within a certain number of words from one another. The Google proximity connector AROUND(n) will produce results that include various spellings of the keywords and in no particular order. However, enclosing a proximity search in quotation marks will narrow the results to where an exact keyword precedes another exact keyword. Such a search can also be limited to or exclude a particular website.

“This can save so much time,” Levitt said.

You can read more coverage of their Techshow presentation here.



April 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Consider joining the AALL Caucus on Consumer Advocacy to ensure fair business practices among legal information services vendors

If you don't know, AALL is the American Association of Law Libraries. From our friend Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog:

We are a diverse group of law librarians and legal publishers who favor fair, and competitive, business practices among vendors of legal information services (LIS). We will soon apply to become an AALL caucus, and we will meet informally during the 2011 AALL Annual Meeting. (We will announce the time and place here.) We ask you to join us as we reinvigorate our profession’s commitment to consumer advocacy. Why should you support this grassroots initiative?

Some LIS vendors continue to profit from unfair, and anti-competitive, business practices. Unfair business practices include opaque pricing, non-disclosure clauses, defective editorial standards, misleading advertising, duplicate billing, and unrequested shipments. The Information Access Alliance (IAA) has considered “problems in the scholarly and legal publishing markets,” such as “insupportably high prices, accelerating industry consolidation, and anti-competitive practices by some large publishers.” In 2006, an attorney for IAA said that “single-firm anti-competitive conduct accounts at least in some part for the serious problems confronting research libraries today.” His statement targets anti-competitve restrictions in ”bundled” subscription licenses. These and other anti-consumer practices have been sufficiently widespread to exact enormous, cumulative costs on all types of law libraries and LIS consumers. They also disadvantage LIS vendors who comply with AALL’s Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers.

. . . .

The new AALL caucus would reinvigorate our profession’s commitment to consumer advocacy:

Statement of Purpose of New AALL Caucus on Consumer Advocacy

Business practices of legal information vendors (LIVs) warrant more vigorous consumer advocacy than our profession has pursued. Our caucus may: (1) recommend or implement improved disclosures of LIV practices that harm consumers or weaken LIV competition; (2) determine if law librarians and their supporters should renew efforts to investigate unfair, or anti-competitive, business practices by LIVs; (3) recommend further investigation to AALL, interested parties (such as library and attorney associations), or government agencies; (4) examine whether voluntary guidelines have provided adequate remedies to unfair, or anticompetitive, business practices by LIVs; (5) propose legal remedies to AALL, interested parties, or government agencies; (6) encourage law librarians to discuss or pursue these options among themselves and attorneys; and (7) partner with all parties seeking stronger consumer protections from unfair, or anti-competitive, business practices of information vendors. Our caucus may also take other actions to advance the strongest consumer advocacy allowed by law.

Once AALL approves our caucus application, we will welcome partnerships with other LIS consumers like attorneys, their affiliated associations, and LIS vendors who follow the letter and spirit of the law in their business practices.

The success of our initative depends on your support. Please contact our representative, Sarah Glassmeyer, if you wish to join in even a limited capacity, whether or not you can attend our informal meeting in Philadelphia. We promise to keep all inquiries confidential.

Read the full post here.


April 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Practice tip: Not a good idea to oppose a motion in a way that leads the judge both to criticize your zealousness and to congratulate your adversary on a happy event

Another "uh-oh" moment for some lawyers . . . .

Defendants request short continuance of trial because one of defense lawyers and his wife expect the birth of their child to occur during scheduled period for lengthy trial. Plaintiffs object. Judge grants motion, adopting a more-in-sadness-than-in-anger attitude toward plaintiff lawyers' opposition. Judge also congratulates defendants' lawyer and wife. The money quote: "Certainly this judge is convinced of the importance of federal court, but he has always tried not to confuse what he does with who he is, nor to distort the priorities of his day job with his life’s role. Counsel are encouraged to order their priorities similarly."

Not a good day in court when the judge thinks you've got your priorities out of whack.

Lowering the Bar: TIP: Giving Birth Likely to Be Considered Good Reason for a Continuance


April 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phony Lawyer Gets Two and One-Half Years in Prison

Here is the website of Thomas J. Lyon. You can see why it might attract certain potential clients. Still, unlike other attorney websites, it provides no biographical information about the alleged attorney, and its tone criticizing high-priced lawyers seems unusual. 

Unfortunately for him, Thomas Lyon is not a lawyer and will be serving time for practicing without a license,  engaging in identity theft, committing forgeries, and  other assorted crimes. He also has to pay back over $6000 to former “clients. Here’s an  interesting part of the story: 

Lyon said he had clients sign waivers that explained he was only acting as attorney-in-fact, not attorney at law. The judge pointed out that most clients wouldn't know the difference, and that the one group famous in Wisconsin for using the term attorney-in-fact was the Posse Comitatus, a group that opposes and refuses to recognize federal and state governments.

Lyon said he was sorry for what he did, pledged to make good to his clients, and would try to become a truck driver and pastor when he gets out of prison.

Here’s the story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


April 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Student comment says law schools can learn from medical schools about how to train students

This is a student comment by Wisconsin 3L Drew Coursin entitled "Acting Like Lawyers." It can be found at 2010 Wis. L. Rev. 1461. From the Lexis summary:

In the past, learning to "think like a lawyer" was enough to succeed in law school and beyond. Those days are gone. Leaner economic times have made legal employers hungry for better-prepared candidates. Educators and practitioners alike turn a critical eye to recent law school graduates and find them lacking. The traditional assumption that good law students make good lawyers has crumbled. The blame for students' inability to demonstrate essential lawyering skills falls squarely on law schools' shoulders. Calls for reform in legal education span more than thirty years, from the ABA's Cramton and MacCrate Reports, to the 2007 Carnegie Foundation's effort to spur change. Although some forward-thinking educators have moved away from traditional methods, most law schools maintain a "business as usual" attitude. Legal education remains a lumbering behemoth of theory and outmoded pedagogy. Employers need capable lawyers, students need skills, and neither group can succeed in a grim economy unless legal education changes. The solution lies in action. Teaching law students to act like lawyers requires a significant shift in focus. This Comment describes the necessity and feasibility of reform, explores the evolution of legal education, and then turns to medical education for a novel framework for teaching legal skills. Finally, this Comment introduces one version of an adaptable, practical, skills-based legal rotations model, which law schools may use as a template for future innovation.


April 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Survey shows disparity in billing rates between men and women lawyers

From The Law Marketing Blog:

Yes Virginia, there is a glass ceiling in the legal profession. It’s invisible, but it highlights the disparity between men and women lawyers. The latest evidence that women are shortchanged in the law is found in the 2011 Billing Rates & Practices Survey published by ALM Legal Intelligence.

Across the board, the average billing rates for women partners and associates are consistently lower than those of their male counterparts.

The average billing rate for males is $312 and for females it is $259 at a national level, representing more than a 20 percent gap, according to the ALM survey. The highest average hourly rate is $935 for males and $625 for females.

You can read more here. For additional reporting, check out the online ABA Journal's coverage here.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal.


April 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)