Saturday, May 14, 2011
Very early in their careers, lawyers in private practice must attract a group of loyal clients. The standard advice is to join organizations and develop a lot of relationships. This is good advice, as far as it goes. However, there is more. At Beyond Hearsay, attorney Steve Sedberry emphasizes that successful rainmaking requires giving clients more value than they expect:
However, the truth is that a good rainmaker is simply a good lawyer. A good rainmaker delivers value to the client that exceeds the client’s expectations. This, in turn, results in client loyalty and repeat business. As an in-house lawyer, I have engaged many lawyers. There were some that I worked with that I liked a great deal. There were others that I didn’t care for at all. But the common thread among all of the lawyers I continue to engage are the ones that delivered value that was worth the cost.
Certainly, to become a rainmaker, you need relationships with clients and potential clients. But more importantly, you need to develop your craft, your skill as a lawyer. You need to become a trusted advisor and problem-solver to your client.
There are numerous ways to begin to develop relationships- get involved in your community, your church or synagogue, your schools’ alumni association and the like. But having relationships without having a solid foundation as a lawyer will likely lead to short-term success at best. To develop the ability to attract and retain clients, you need to be the very best lawyer you can be.
We'd previously told you about an article written by CU law professor Paul Campos who examined the employed nine-months-after-graduation ("NMAG") figure for 2010 reported by the NALP for one t-50 law school and concluded that due to self-reporting errors by students, it may not provide an accurate picture about the true state of legal hiring. Prospective students frequently rely on this figure to decide whether to go to law school and which school to attend (it's also why USNWR includes the NMAG figure in its ranking formula).
The blog Belly of the Beast takes a look at the national NMAG figure for the class of 2009 and draws a similar conclusion about the need for anyone thinking about law school to proceed with caution. While there are legal jobs to be had, law school applicants have to carefully consider the tough road ahead.
– To his credit, NALP’s [Executive Director James] Leipold went behind the 88% employment rate for the class of 2009. The resulting caveats are significant.
First, the percentage employed are graduates “for whom employment status was known.” Who’s excluded? Who knows?
Second, nearly 25 percent of all reported jobs were temporary; more than 10 percent were part-time.
Third, only 70 percent “held jobs for which a J.D. was required.” Unfortunately, law schools don’t offer tuition refunds (or relief from student loans) for education that was unnecessary for their graduates’ actual employment opportunities. That doesn’t surprise me. (See “Law School Deception.”)
Finally, more than 20 percent of employed graduates from the class of 2009 “were still looking for work.” Beneath the veneer of superficially good news — having a job — career dissatisfaction continues to eat away at too many of the profession’s best and brightest in yet another generation.
That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t go to law school. It means that they should think carefully about it first, starting with this question: why do I want to be a lawyer and will the reality of the job match my expectations?
You can read the rest here.
Friday, May 13, 2011
“there were four sweaters made for the production — this vintage sweater and three modern copies, according to costume designer Mary Zophres. Bridges wore this vintage sweater exclusively during the entire production, preferring to wear it all the time and thus delve deeper into the ‘Dudeness’ required of the role.”
That is so dude-like. Unfortunately for many fans, bidding is expected to start at a very undude-like $4-6k. But if that's too rich for your blood, don't fret. Pendleton will be introducing an exact replica of the Big Lebowski's sweater in September for $180.00 - or about 25 White Russians, give or take.
Hat tip to Corey Friedman.
The internet has changed our lives significantly. It's extended our workdays by adding time-eating tasks we didn't know existed 15 years ago like checking email, web surfing and social media. News reports describe people who now average less sleep than they did pre-internet because they've added to their daily routine an email check before bed as well as waking up a bit earlier to check email before heading to work. No doubt the internet has saved us significant time in other areas but I think it's fair to say that a lot of people often feel overwhelmed as the result of living a plugged-in life. The stress of spending so much time online, and the demand for instantaneous responses from bosses and clients, has to be taking a toll on both our mental and physical health, especially when much of that time is spent sitting in front of a desk.
Since the internet isn't going away, each of us is going to have to find an acceptable balance between time spent online and off. We're going to have to set personal limits on how much time we spend plugged in. For lawyers, this isn't going to be easy since many clients expect them to be available 24/7.
Interestingly, a new survey shows that even digital natives, who many of us assume thrive on living a plugged-in life, have a nagging sense that it's taking a toll on them too. Many of them would also like to add a little quiet time to their daily routines.
What follows are the findings of a survey administered to a large number of students at several different institutions about their attitudes and feelings concerning an appropriate online/offline balance. From the Chronicle of Higher:
[W]e have reason to believe that today's students (age 18 and up) have significant concerns about the role of the new technologies in their lives. To be sure, most really do appreciate the power and convenience of the tools they use for social networking, entertainment, and learning; and many are serious multitaskers. But at the same time, when asked about those technologies, many appear to be more self-aware, reflective, and articulate about their concerns and confusions than they are generally given credit for being.
. . . .
To find out . . . we began visiting classrooms at colleges around the country, talking with and informally surveying more than 300 students at six colleges. We met with students from small liberal-arts colleges, large state universities, and secular and religiously affiliated institutions. (That mix included our own two campuses, the University of Washington and Georgetown University, where we also organized focus groups.) We heard the same themes in every setting:
- Students are aware of, and seemingly frustrated by, the amount of time they spend online. Some talked about spending too much time online, calling it a waste and even an addictive form of behavior. As one student commented: "I don't realize how much time is passing while on my phone and computer. I'm so preoccupied, I'm not paying attention to what else is going on around me."
- Many students feel pressure from those around them to be continually connected and responsive. They feel this pressure not only from peers but also from parents, faculty, employers, and even the technology companies whose marketing strategies make them feel they must have the most up-to-date gadgets and features. "I don't have a coping mechanism," one student said. "There are so many things: e-mail, high-school e-mail, personal e-mail, texting, news."
- Students regularly talk about their online contacts as being less "real" than face-to-face interactions. "Talking to all these people, making connections when it wasn't really a personal connection, didn't feel real," one student said.
- When forced to disconnect for longer stretches of time, some students discover that they enjoy the slower pace of life. Their first reaction might be anxiety or panic—over the loss of cellphone coverage while on vacation, for example. But once they made the adjustment, they were likely to find themselves more relaxed. Said one international student: "When I came to the States, I didn't bring my laptop. ... I have much more time. It's a great feeling."
- Students hold a range of opinions about the use of personal technologies in the classroom. Some say laptops and cellphones are sources of distraction and shouldn't be permitted; others think that people who use them should sit in the back of the classroom. Still others feel they have the right to turn to Facebook or YouTube if the instructor isn't sufficiently engaging.
My suggestion? Monitor the time you spend online each day. Perhaps keep a diary and document how much time you devote each day to Facebook, surfing, and checking email. That might illustrate in a graphic way how much time is lost to non-productive web activities.
See if you can find ways to cut back. Do you really need to be on Facebook or Twitter? If not, consider dropping it (one of my students just did that because he finds Facebook too much of a distracting while studying for the bar). Whatever momentary anxiety you may feel from the loss of connectedness you will likely gain twofold in terms of reduced stress and more sleep.
Learn to unplug a couple of hours each day. Resist the temptation to check email before going to bed. Each of us is going to have find ways to bring more balance to our lives because the internet is here to stay.
At the Legal Intelligencer blog, productivity consultant Neen James offers 10 tips on how to avoid procrastinating this summer. Here are three of my favorites:
Identify activities that tempt you to procrastinate. If there is something you don't enjoy, remind yourself that you know you have procrastinated in the past when this activity occurs; however, this time you will choose to be productive.
Invest 15 minutes. Dedicate 15 minutes for a task or activity. You will be able to create the to-do list, or write some notes or just do something -- one thing -- for 15 minutes.
Spend time 'debriefing' activities that make you procrastinate. Find out why you didn't want to do it or why you were distracted. Make a note to be aware of this the next time the activity occurs.
The proposed bill would provide funding to allow Congress to hire law clerks just like federal judges do. From the National Law Journal;
Advocates of congressional clerkships are dreaming big, but starting small. The Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Act of 2011, a bill introduced in April by U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), would create a pilot program with 12 clerks. The Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate and the House Committee on House Administration would select clerks from a centralized pool. Each chamber would get six clerks, to be divided between the parties.
Legislators and committee would compete for the clerks by offering the most attractive type of work. The clerks would choose where they want to spend their year.
Keeping the pilot program small will help ensure that competition for clerk spots is stiff, said Yale Law School professor Bill Eskridge, a leading authority on the legislative process. The plan will have succeeded, he said, if the congressional clerkships carry prestige equal to that accorded to federal court clerkships. The long-term plans calls for the program to expand after the pilot phase.
Supporters acknowledge that getting the bill passed during this legislative session may be difficult, given that Congress in budget-cutting mode. The cost of the pilot program is relatively small--about $1 million per year, with clerks earning the same salary as clerks in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia--but the cost has been a hurdle in the past.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has sponsored the bill in the Senate, but its chances would be greater with a Republican co-sponsor and a plan to offset the cost, Rudesill said.
Georgetown University Law Center isn't waiting for Congress to get on board. Dean William Treanor announced in April that the school would independently finance two year-long congressional clerk positions for recent graduates at as cost of about $100,000.
Read more here.
You know things are bad when HLS students have a tough time finding good jobs. From the Harvard Crimson:
In a continually-ailing job market, more Harvard Law School third year students applied to judicial clerkships this past fall, according to the Harvard Law School Office of Career Services.
Associate Director for Judicial Clerkships Kirsten K. Solberg attributed the increase in clerkship applications to a tougher job market, which likely prompted students to apply to many different positions to ensure employment post-graduation.
“Clerkships are continuing to grow as a nice alternative,” she said.
Solberg said that there was a more dramatic increase in clerkship applications when the economy crashed in 2008, but in the following years the application rate has continued to increase in smaller increments.
Still, she added that she thought the current popularity of clerkships was tied to the changing likelihood of obtaining law firm positions.
“I think if law firms jump back up to their hiring practices before 2008, we would see a decline in clerkship applications,” Solberg said.
Don't worry too much about these 3L's, though. According to Solberg, the bad economy affects the number of offers students receive not whether they'll receive offers. You can read the rest here.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Here are the details:
Audrey Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellow
USC Gould School of Law is seeking applications for the Audrey Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellowship. This is a newly created two year fellowship. Candidates should have two to five years practice experience, experience or interest in advocating on behalf of women and children, and an interest in pursuing a career in law school clinical teaching. The salary range is $60,000 to $75,000 per year, plus USC benefits. The two year fellowship will begin in the summer of 2011.
The Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellowship will offer opportunities for clinical teaching in one or more clinical programs, including the Immigration Clinic, the International Human Rights Clinic, or the Post-Conviction Justice Project. The Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellow will work under the supervision of the clinical faculty members who teach and direct those Clinics and will concentrate on cases or projects involving or affecting the rights of women and children. To learn more about the USC Clinics, please visit their websites at: http://weblaw.usc.edu/why/academics/clinics/
Duties will include:
- Intensive supervision of clinical and summer students;
- Co-teaching portions of the linked clinical seminar(s);
- Curriculum development;
- Individual case or project work; and
- Organizing occasional programmatic events.
Requirements for candidates:
- Demonstrated interest in the rights of women and children;
- Experience with one or more of the following areas is desirable-
- immigration law,
- international human rights and / or international criminal law,
- criminal law;
● Excellent academic record;
● Two to five years of practice experience;
● Admission to a State bar (admission to the California Bar is required for candidates who want to work in the Post-Conviction Justice Project);
● Excellent analytical and writing skills;
● Aptitude for student supervision;
● Prior teaching experience is a plus; and
● Bilingual ability in Spanish or another language(s) is desirable.
Applicants should submit a letter discussing their interest and qualifications, a resume, a law school transcript, and contact information for three references to:
Prof. Hannah Garry
Gould School of Law
University of Southern California
699 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0071
The application may be mailed or sent via email to Prof. Hannah Garry: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be received by 5:00 PM PDT, Friday, June 17, 2011.
USC values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity in employment. Women and men, and members of all racial and ethnic groups, are encouraged to apply.
Personally, I liked much better the other entry from B.U. But the voters have spoken and below is the winner. Be forewarned, lots of f-bombs in this one:
There's definitely a lot of talent on display in this annual contest. You can see the final vote counts (scroll all the way to the bottom) along with the rest of the finalists by clicking here.
Here are two seemingly conflicting studies on the effectiveness of the lecture method versus a problem-solving approach to classroom instruction. First up is this study done by a group of researchers at U. of British Columbia who found that a problem-solving approach to undergrad science instruction was almost twice as effective as the lecture method as measured by student testing:
In this study, Wieman trained a postdoc, Louis Deslauriers, and a graduate student, Ellen Schelew, in an educational approach, called “deliberate practice,” that asks students to think like scientists and puzzle out problems during class. For 1 week, Deslauriers and Schelew took over one section of an introductory physics course for engineering majors, which met three times for 1 hour. A tenured physics professor continued to teach another large section using the standard lecture format.
The results were dramatic: After the intervention, the students in the deliberate practice section did more than twice as well on a 12-question multiple-choice test of the material as did those in the control section. They were also more engaged—attendance rose by 20% in the experimental section, according to one measure of interest—and a post-study survey found that nearly all said they would have liked the entire 15-week course to have been taught in the more interactive manner.
To see whether this tilt toward the problem-solving approach helps middle schoolers learn, Schwerdt and Wuppermann identified those 8th graders who had the same classmates in both math and science, but different teachers. Then they estimated the impact on student learning of class time allocated to direct instruction versus problem solving. Under which circumstance did U. S. middle-school students learn more?
Direct instruction won. Students learned 3.6 percent of a standard deviation more if the teacher spent 10 percent more time on direct instruction. That’s one to two months of extra learning during the course of the year.
The students who benefited most from direct instruction were those who were already higher-performing at the beginning of the year. But even initial low performers learned more when direct instruction consumed more class time. Sadly, U.S. middle-school pedagogy is weighted heavily toward problem-solving.
What are law profs suppose to make of this? Maybe a hybrid style is best; one that combines lectures that deliver background information with in-class problem solving exercises that engage students and reinforce the lecture material in a concrete way. If you have other ideas about how to reconcile these studies, please let us know in the comments below.
Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen for the U of B.C. study.
HathiTrust is a collaborative repository of digital content from large research institutions, and includes the Google book digitized material. The access and use policies are found here: http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use.
The University of Chicago D’Angelo Library Blog posted information that will be of interest to legal researchers:
"HathiTrust includes many primary legal materials and government documents, which are available as full-text PDFs since they are in the public domain. Among the materials available via HathiTrust are court opinions, legislative journals (floor debates), administrative decisions from various government agencies, and other government publications such as the Uniform Crime Reports. Using HathiTrust, I have located several obscure government publications that are held by five or fewer libraries. Even a year ago, the only way to get access to these titles would be through interlibrary loan. “
On this date, General Douglas MacArthur delivered his Duty, Honor Country speech at West Point. From a rhetorical viewpoint, this is a remarkably well-crafted speech and would be well worth a close classroom examination. Just as an example, here are the concluding lines:
The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished - tone and tints. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen then, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll.
In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory I come back to West Point.
Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.
Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.
I bid you farewell.
They don’t speechify like they used to. Here is the link to the words and a recording: http://www.keytlaw.com/Greatwords/macarthur.htm
LaVerne Law School in Ontario, California is provisionally accredited by the ABA but that may change due to some bar pass-rate problems. From the National Law Journal:
The University of La Verne College of Law could lose its provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association.
The ABA's accreditation committee told La Verne administrators last week that it will recommend against full accreditation when the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar meets next month in Salt Lake City.
Law school administrators have not yet been told the reason, but it likely has to do with the school's bar passage rate, said Dean Allen Easley.
The school's bar passage rate was a sticking point for the council last year. The accreditation committee recommended that La Verne receive full accreditation in 2010, but the council — which has the final say — extended the school's provisional accreditation for one year in order to gather more information about bar passage rates, admission decisions and related academic support.
In 2009, 34% of La Verne students passed the California bar examination on the first try, although 73% of those students have since passed the test, Easley said. In 2010, the school's first-time bar passage rate bumped up to 53%.
The ABA requires a school's first-time bar passage rate be no more than 15% below that of other accredited law schools in the same jurisdiction each year.
"Given that the accreditation committee gave us a positive recommendation in 2010, and given that our bar passage rates improved significantly, it was a surprise that they are recommending against accreditation this year," Easley said. "We thought everything was moving in the right direction."
You can read the rest here.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Hiring in the legal services sector has been like a rollercoaster ride the past several months. Up in December (and here), down again in February and March. Now comes this report that the legal job market added 1,500 jobs in April. From the American Lawyer:
The U.S. legal industry reversed a losing streak in April by adding 1,500 jobs after two straight months of decline, according to the latest monthly employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Overall U.S. employment increased by 244,000 jobs in April--the second straight month with a gain of more than 200,000. However, the unemployment rate rose to 9 percent from 8.8 percent last month, as more out-of-work people started looking for jobs again, the government reports.
The good news for the legal sector comes after the industry lost 300 jobs in March and 2,000 in February. (Last month, we reported that legal jobs were down by 500 in March, but BLS has since revised those numbers.)
The legal industry is 1,500 jobs ahead of where it stood at this point in 2010 after many employment ups and downs over the past year.
Yup, a New York company called Hoyos has just unveiled a device that will let users log onto password protected sites like Facebook, Paypal and Gmail (presumably Lexis and Westlaw too) based on iris recognition. That means no longer having to remember multiple passwords for all your favorite sites. Cool, huh? I say it's wicked cool. From CNN:
Here's how it works: The device, which is the size of a standard business card and weighs about four ounces, comes in the form of a USB drive. Once you install the program and decide which applications to EyeLock, you hold the wand-like scanner in front of your eye, and automatically log in to any password-protected site on your computer -- whether it's Facebook, Gmail, PayPal or your bank account.
No password required. You can even keep your glasses on.
Iris recognition, Hoyos claims, makes it much more secure for consumers to access personal information -- and eliminates the risk of fraud.
"Every time you log in, it reads your iris and creates a unique key, which is a series of numbers, and this key changes every time you log in, so no one can hack it," said Tracy Hoyos, assistant marketing director.
While the government and certain financial institutions have tried to implement the idea of eye scans, it's never been developed for consumers, said Hoyos.
As the company points out, fingerprint recognition is so 2010.
You can read more here.
I don’t know why it still surprises me to see students at the reference desk who are working on papers or cramming for exams at the very last minute, but it does. I wonder how these types of students will cope with law practice, which in my experience, required much more time management than law school did. I am mulling how I can include, more directly, some time management training into my legal research course.
Here are some resources that may be of use to those wanting to teach time management and students who need to think about how to be better at it:
Mark Powers & Shawn McNalis, Time Management for Attorneys: A Lawyers Guide to Decreasing Stress, Eliminating Interruptions & Getting Home on Time (Atticus 2008)
Julie Morgenstern, Time Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule and Your Life (Henry Holt/Owl Books 2004)
Marc Mancini, Time Management (McGraw-Hill 2003)
Vince Panella, The 26-Hour Day: How to Gain at Least Two Hours a Day with Time Control (Career Press 2002)
“Does thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin, 'Poor Richard's Almanack,' June 1746
Recently, I visited New Skete, a small Orthodox monastic community in upstate New York and began thinking about parallels between monastic life and law school faculty life. To be sure, much of the research aspect of academic life verges on the monastic, but there is more to the comparison.
The monks, nuns, and lay members in a noncloistered monastery focus heavily on their personal spirituality, but they also live with one another and interact with the outside world. One of the great challenges of that life is to get along with and grow with a group of people in close quarters. This challenge, in itself, generates growth. In like manner, members of a healthy law school faculty share a common mission and learn to grow with one another.
I also would make a comparison with the amazing collaborative effort that is Wikipedia. To be sure participants in Wikipedia, monasteries, and faculties have their disagreements. As for faculties, we all know stories of tragically fractured faculties, but we hope that the existence of a common mission, patient understanding, and optimism enable healing.
Here is a link to a review of “Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia” (author: Joseph M. Reagle) appearing in the Teachers College record. Here is the website for New Skete. The New Skete community is famous for raising and training German Shepherds and baking cheese cakes. If you are interested in either of these subjects, you will want to take a look.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone given all the recent press about the high-debt, low job prospects for recent law grads. The National Law Journal is reporting that plans for at least two new law schools, one in Texas and the other in Delaware, have been shelved for the time being. What is more surprising is that other schools are still forging ahead with their plans. That includes schools in Louisiana, New York, and Tennessee. A few others that were on the drawing board only a couple of years ago have already opened. From the National Law Journal:
The university [of Delaware] is the latest in a string of colleges that have backed away from plans to new law schools. In the summer of 2008, at least 11 new law schools were being discussed. Of those:
• Three have opened (Concordia University in Boise, Idaho; the University of California, Irvine School of Law; and Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law in Knoxville, Tenn.).
• One is slated to open next fall (Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tenn.).
• Another is scheduled to open as early as 2012 (the Judge Paul Pressler School of Law in Shreveport, La., part of the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College).
But nearly all the others have been abandoned or placed on indefinite hold, with a few exceptions.
Officials at the State University of New York at Binghamton continue to push forward with plans for a new law school, although they still would have to clear multiple levels of approval from the governor and state budget officials, said campus spokeswoman Gail Glover.
"Binghamton University's plans for a law school continues to move forward, and we are still hopeful that we will open the doors academically in 2017-18," Glover said.
You can read the rest here.
"Skills" scholarship alert: "Think [and Practice] Like a Lawyer: Legal Research for the New Millennials"
This article is byProfessors Aliza B. Kaplan (Lewis & Clark) and Kathleen N. Darvil (Brooklyn). It can be found at 8 J. ALWD _ (2011) and is also available on SSRN here. From the abstract:
It is time to heed the calls for legal education reform. In our changing economy, new attorneys need to be properly trained in law school to be competent at providing effective legal services for their employers and clients. Law schools must remain open to and interested in legal reform; they must partner with practitioners to incorporate more practical skills into the law school curriculum. Updating how we teach legal research by making it accord more with how attorneys actually conduct and use legal research in practice will help accomplish this and will also more actively engage our Millennial students. There is no question that making some timely changes to legal research instruction would better prepare new attorneys to be competent practicing lawyers and would be a win-win for students, law schools and employers.