April 26, 2011
No More “Exploding Offers” From 16 Law Reviews
16 law reviews, most of them very elite, pledge to give authors at least 7 days to accept or reject an offer of publications. Here is the opening paragraph from their joint letter:
In recent years, many law journals have adopted the practice of issuing “exploding offers”—giving scholars only a couple of days, hours, or even minutes to accept an offer of publication. The reasoning behind these offers was simple: we each hoped to secure the best articles for our own journal before others could identify them and make competing offers. But experience has made clear that the costs of this practice—to the quality of our deliberations, to the faculty with whom we work, and, ultimately, to the scholarship we publish dramatically outweigh the benefits. We therefore commit, effective immediately, to give every author at least seven days to decide whether to accept any offer of publication.
The signatories are:
Boston University Law Review
Harvard Law Review
Minnesota Law Review
Stanford Law Review
University of Chicago Law Review
William and Mary Law Review
Yale Law Journal
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law
Harvard Environmental Law Review
Harvard Human Rights Journal
Harvard International Law Journal
Harvard Journal on Law and Gender
Harvard Journal on Legislation
Harvard Latino Law Review
Harvard Law and Policy Review
Yale Journal of Law and Feminism
In my experience with lesser renown, but still excellent journals, it is not difficult to get one-to-two-weeks in which to make a commitment. Here is the letter.
New study shows multitasking negatively affects short term memory
When short term memory, sometimes known as "working memory," is impaired, learning can't happen since short term memory is the brain's gatekeeper for determining which experiences will make it to long term memory where they become available for "thinking" and future problem solving. The study, reported here by the NYT's science blog, has some caveats attached. First, it didn't involve technology-based interruptions. Second, the subjects were older - 60 to 80 - rather than digital natives. But the conclusions, the researchers say, have implications for all of us who multitask with technology:
Even though the study did not revolve around interruptions from cellphones or other gadgets, one researcher said the results provide a “clear extrapolation” to the impact of a stream of incoming rings and buzzes.
“Technology provides so much more of an interference than what we did here,” said the researcher, Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco. Indeed, the paper argues that studies like this are becoming increasingly important as aging adults spend more time in a work force with heavy multitasking demands.
“This issue is growing in scope and societal relevance as multitasking is being fed by a dramatic increase in the accessibility and variety of electronic media,” Dr. Gazzaley said.
Interestingly, the study also noted the time it took for the brain to disengage from the distraction. Younger brains disengaged more quickly compared to older brains. The researchers concluded that older brains have a harder time reengaging with the original task. "As your brain ages, it’s harder to get back to the task at hand after an interruption." Hence the phenomenon of the "senior moment."
You can read the full article here.
The “Judicial Hell Hole Defense”
Here’s an intriguing litigation tactic:
A Madison County [Ill.] judge, in a ruling filed Wednesday, revealed that a Chicago public relations firm recommended tying defense of a class-action lawsuit over water pollution with a campaign painting the local courts as a "judicial hellhole" friendly to frivolous lawsuits.
Syngenta, an agribusiness company hired “Jayne Thompson & Associates, a Chicago public relations firm to help it prevail in a law suit accusing Syngenta of polluting area groundwater. The trial judge has ordered the company to hand over the relevant documents to the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit. Here is the article from STL Today online.
Scholarly Writing for Law Students – Some Useful Resources
Most law students are required to produce at least one scholarly paper during law school. Many schools have an upper level or long paper requirement (at least 30 pages and in the style of a scholarly law review article).
Here are some resources that will help students understand what scholarly writing is and how to select a topic:
Jessica L. Clark & Kristen E. Murray, Scholarly Writing: Ideas, Examples, and Execution, Carolina Academic Press (2010)
Elizabeth Fajans, Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition Papers, Thomson/West (2005)
Wes Henricksen, Making Law Review: The Expert’s Guide to Mastering the Write-On Competition, Durham, N.C. : Carolina Academic Press (2008)
Heather Meeker, Stalking the Golden Topic: A Guide to Locating and Selecting Topics for Legal Research Papers, 1996 Utah L. Rev. 917 (1996)
Richard A. Posner, The Little Book of Plagiarism, Pantheon Books (2007)
Ruthann Robson, Law Students as Legal Scholars: An Essay/Review of Scholarly Writing for Law Students and Academic Legal Writing, 7 New York City L. Rev. 195 (2004)
Eugene Volokh, Writing a Student Article, 48 J. Legal Educ. 247 (1998)
Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, and Seminar Papers, New York, N.Y.: Foundation Press (2003)
I would also recommend to any student that they make an appointment with their reference librarian for help with research strategies and resources.
Books aren't dead (and other myths of the information age)
This is a column by Professor Robert Darnton, Director of Harvard's Library and author of The Case for Books: Past, Present and Future, from the Chronicle of Higher Ed. When Professor Darnton speaks, it's worth listening:
1. "The book is dead." Wrong: More books are produced in print each year than in the previous year. One million new titles will appear worldwide in 2011.
2. "We have entered the information age." This announcement is usually intoned solemnly, as if information did not exist in other ages. But every age is an age of information, each in its own way and according to the media available at the time. No one would deny that the modes of communication are changing rapidly, perhaps as rapidly as in Gutenberg's day, but it is misleading to construe that change as unprecedented.
3. "All information is now available online." The absurdity of this claim is obvious to anyone who has ever done research in archives. Only a tiny fraction of archival material has ever been read, much less digitized. Most judicial decisions and legislation, both state and federal, have never appeared on the Web. The vast output of regulations and reports by public bodies remains largely inaccessible to the citizens it affects. Google estimates that 129,864,880 different books exist in the world, and it claims to have digitized 15 million of them—or about 12 percent.
4. "Libraries are obsolete." Everywhere in the country librarians report that they have never had so many patrons. At Harvard, our reading rooms are full. The 85 branch libraries of the New York Public Library system are crammed with people. The libraries supply books, videos, and other material as always, but they also are fulfilling new functions: access to information for small businesses, help with homework and afterschool activities for children, and employment information for job seekers (the disappearance of want ads in printed newspapers makes the library's online services crucial for the unemployed).
5. "The future is digital." True enough, but misleading. In 10, 20, or 50 years, the information environment will be overwhelmingly digital, but the prevalence of electronic communication does not mean that printed material will cease to be important. Research in the relatively new discipline of book history has demonstrated that new modes of communication do not displace old ones, at least not in the short run.
You can read a further explanation under each of these five myths by clicking here.
Teaching International Law Beyond the Classroom: Engaging Students in Experiential Learning, in Webpages and Blogs, and in Historical and Empirical Research
That’s the interesting topic of a conference sponsored by the ASIL Teaching International Law Interest Group and the American branch of the International Law Association. The conference takes place on May 6 at the Pace University Law School. Here is a description:
The purpose of this conference is to raise awareness of different modalities of teaching and research in the area of international law that go 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. This workshop, which is co-sponsored by the ASIL Teaching International Law Interest Group (TILIG) and the American Branch of the International Law Association, explores each of these modalities and attempts to help the participants expand their teaching and research accordingly.
For more information, here is the link.
Tuesday Fun: "Cheating is not a learning style."
Courtesy of Inside Higher Ed:
April 25, 2011
Are recent law grad employment stats much lower than we believe?
That's the upshot in this article by U. Colorado Professor Paul Campos published in The New Republic. According to Professor Campos, when you factor in how many law grads are working in non-legal jobs, temporary legal jobs (he counts state trial court clerkships as "temporary" but not appellate clerkships since they most often lead to full time employment) and students who mistakenly report their jobs as permanent when they are instead temporary, he concludes that the "employed 9 months after graduation" figure might be less than 50% even for a USNWR top 50 school.
According to the NALP, 88.2 percent of all law school graduates are “employed” within nine months of graduation. If we exclude people employed in non-legal jobs, and people doing part-time work, the NALP number drops to 62.9 percent.
There are a few problems, however, with even this lower number. The first is that it is only reported for law schools as a whole. NALP does not provide this number for individual schools, while USNWR does not report it at all. This means that the only school-specific information currently available to students is extremely misleading.
But the bigger problem is that the 62.9 percent figure is still too high. While it excludes non-legal jobs and part-time work, it does not exclude people in temporary positions. So it seems worth asking: How many of the graduates who report doing full-time legal work have permanent jobs—in the employment law sense of permanent—as opposed to doing temp work, such as being paid $20 an hour to proofread financial documents in a warehouse, or $12 an hour to do slightly glorified secretarial tasks?. . . .
I [examined] employment data drawn from 183 individual NALP forms, in which graduates of one top 50 school self-reported their employment status nine months after graduation.
. . . .
When we take temporary employment into account, it appears that approximately 45 percent of 2010 graduates of this particular top-50 law school had real legal jobs nine months after graduation. And the overall number is likely lower, since it seems probable that the temporary employment figures for the graduates of almost any top 50 school would be better than the average outcome for the graduates of the 198 ABA-accredited law schools as a whole.
Even this grim figure, however, may be unduly optimistic. All these statistics are based on self-reporting, and neither law schools nor NALP audit the data they publish. In the course of my research, I audited a representative sample of individual graduate responses and found several instances of people describing themselves as employed permanently or full-time, when in fact they had temporary or part-time jobs (I found no instances of inaccuracies running in the other direction). Perhaps some graduates exaggerate their employment status out of embarrassment, or for strategic reasons, but, whatever their reasons might be, this apparently not uncommon practice suggests that the true employment rate should be lowered even further.
You can read the rest here.
Hat tip to Belly of the Beast.
The 1,485 Page Casebook
I just received a copy of a law casebook with 1485 pages (not including appendices). The cost: $153, $92 if you buy it as a looseleaf. Really, now! I wonder how conveniently it will fit in a student’s backpack. I wonder how often a student will be tempted not to drag it back and forth to school and thus decide to skip completing an assignment.
Finding Meaning and Balance in Your Life and Work
This is the topic of a conference call sponsored by the AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education. It takes place Friday, May 6, from noon until 1 p.m. EST. Paula Lustbader (Seattle ) will lead the discussion.
To call in, dial (218) 339 4600. Enter Participant Code 1039326#
Here is a description:
Ever get caught in trying to be everything to everyone-and by the way, doing it perfectly, with grace and charm and humor. The interesting thing is, even if you really love to do all those things, sometimes we need to reboot and consider the impact our over-doing has on our lives. In this session we will explore what are our core values and life purposes, we will work on setting priorities and exercise discernment, and we will create an action plan to live in congruence with our values and stay in balance.
How Do Clients Choose Lawyers?
How do people choose their lawyers? According to business development trainer Larry Bodine, there are three keys to answering this question:
1. Clients want experts, not generalists.
2. Clients give work to people they know and like.
3. Clients give work to trusted personal counselors.
Thus developing a reputation as an expert and developing relationships are vital tasks for lawyers. The full story is at Attorney at Work.
April 24, 2011
A Compendium of Legal Writing Sources
The Washburn Law Journal has just published A Compendium of Legal Writing Sources by Almas Khan. You can find it at http://www.washburnlaw.edu/wlj/50-2/articles/khan-almas.pdf. Actually, this issue of the Washburn Law Journal (Winter 2011) is devoted to legal writing. (http://www.washburnlaw.edu/wlj/50-2/) (esf)
One suggestion for making class presentations more engaging
From the ProfHacker at the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
One [technique] I’ve used [to make better presentations] . . . is the Pecha Kucha format. With 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide, a Pecha Kucha is, as Jason writes, necessarily “SHORT, INFORMAL, and CREATIVE.”
However, as I’ve found out the hard way, a Pecha Kucha format does not necessarily mean students will avoid text-heavy slides, one of the major causes of DBP (Death By PowerPoint). That’s why I’ve begun implementing what I call the 1/1/5 rule for all student presentations. Here’s how I describe the 1/1/5 rule to my students:
In addition to the time constraint of the Pecha Kucha, your presentation must also follow the 1/1/5 rule. That is, you must have at least one image per slide, you can use each exact image only once, and you should add no more than five words per slide. The formal constraints of this rigid format call for discipline, focus, practice, and paradoxically, creativity.
The 1/1/5 rule is just a small tweak, but it has made all the difference. While student Pecha Kuchas formerly ran the risk of containing too much text, or tempting the presenters to read off the screen instead of talking to the audience, now the presentations are almost certainly guaranteed to be visual aids complementing the talk, rather than overwhelming it.
More on "business cards" - QR codes
Last week we asked whether lawyers still exchange business cards in a world where Twitter handles and Hashable accounts are gaining favor. Now enter the QR code which might become the new standard. The legal services marketing blog EricksonMarketing explains:
You have probably seen these square codes appearing on signage around town and in retail stores. Well, they actually have a very important marketing function - one that should make law firms sit up and take notice.
Quick Response Codes, also known as QR codes, are starting to appear on the Web sites of law firms, as well as business cards of lawyers. QR codes are two dimensional bar codes that can be read by cameras on a Smartphone. The codes contain information in electronic format that the firm wants to convey to a target audience. The effectiveness of the QR codes can also be tracked at any level of a marketing campaign.
We expect to see the number of law firms using QR codes expand dramatically during 2011 as the technology continues to evolve and savvy law firms recognize the benefits.
Possible Uses for QR Codes by Law Firms
QR codes are read by a Smartphone equipped with a compatible code reader. . . . . Law firms may want to print QR codes on:
- Business cards to electronically transfer the attorney's contact information and the firm's Web site URL
- Event invitations / materials / lanyards to direct the user to an electronic version of the material, or additional information
- Web sites, micro sites, blogs to open a browser directly to that page
- Printed materials, opening a browser to an online version of
- Attorney profile
- Practice area description
- Articles, alerts, newsletters
- Recruiting materials
What Does A Law School Pay a Prof for Writing a Law Review Article? As Much as $100K.
According to Hofstra law professor Richard Newmann, if you add up the costs, a law review article is expensive—as much as $100,000 at a top-flight school.
His estimate factors in the salary and benefits for a tenured professor at a high-paying school who spends between 30% and 50% of his or her time on scholarship and publishes one article per year.
It also takes into account possible research grants, which many schools offer professors to help fund their scholarly work, and the costs for research assistants.
He estimates that an article written by an assistant professor at a lower-paying lay school costs the school between $25,000 and $42,000. Professor Newmann cites research suggesting at about 43 percent of law reviews are never cited by anyone.
If there is a pendulum that swings between teaching and publishing in law schools, maybe that pendulum has swung too far in one direction. Here is the article in the National Law Journal.
(Thx to Karin Mika, Wayne Schiess, and Tax Prof blog.)
Notre Dame 1L's ask administration to award more credit for legal writing class.
Above the Law first broke the story:
A tipster informs us that controversy has been brewing for a while regarding NDLS’s first year legal writing program. It appears that some students believe that they work too darn hard to only receive one measly credit for their second semester legal research and writing course.
. . . .
[T]he gist of the complaint is that students in the legal writing course at issue, which includes a moot court component, are finding that they have to put in a lot more time than they expected for a one-credit course. It appears that more credits were given for this course in the past, and there is a fair amount of work involved.
And here's an excerpt from the student petition sent to the NDLS administration:
This semester’s Legal Research and Writing II (Moot Court), course number 60707, should be allocated two credits to the students enrolled in it for three reasons:
First, in keeping with the fairness of the school and credit allocation, the requirements, class time commitment and demands of this course are the equivalent of other 2 -3 credit courses and twice the amount of class time and work required as the one credit 1L Research Course and vital GALILEE Program.
. . . .
Second, this was the first year that only one credit was given yet the work was sufficiently challenging and equally demanding as many, if not all, two or three credit courses. In addition, the writing of an Appellate Brief, research for that brief and the oral argument, and preparation for the oral argument were substantially more than half of the demands as the past years when two or three credits were allotted to this course.
. . . .
Third, this was an experimental curriculum and can be afforded changes at this time in the semester because the administration and teachers were unaware of the time, preparation and results of such change.
You can read the full student petition, as well as ATL's commentary, here.
Teaching Ethics across the Curriculum
A few years ago, several legal writing teachers began advocating writing across the curriculum--teaching writing in all classes. I think that a similar thing needs to be done with legal ethics. It is not enough to teach professionalism and ethics in just one class; we need to reinforce it in all classes.