Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Law schools must reform: They need to leave the ivory tower and teach practical lawyering"

The New York Times article from last week is still reverberating both within and outside the legal press.  This editorial,  by Duquesne Law Prof Bruce Antkowiak, comes from from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Law firms have always chaffed at the notion of hiring graduates and paying them substantial salaries while simultaneously teaching them (at the firm's expense) what they need to know to practice law. Unlike medical school graduates, who have one foot in the hospital and one in the classroom during much of their schooling, many law graduates need directions to find the courthouse. In tough economic times, firms have simply decided to get out of the business of providing post-graduate training for lawyers.

You would think that law schools would make fundamental changes to their programs in the wake of the job crisis, fearing that law degrees might someday be assessed like a Ph.D. in poetry -- soul-satisfying but potentially impractical. A few have responded dramatically, but most have held fast to the traditional law school model or made superficial changes. Why the resistance?

For many law schools, their institutional identity dictates that they be largely disconnected from the practice of law. This is done (I suppose) in the belief that we "in the academy" will thereby establish ourselves as an intellectual elite worthy of praise for the intricacy of our philosophical analysis.

Many of us write scholarly articles unconcerned that practicing lawyers never read them but in hopes that other professors will. We do not rank ourselves based upon the skill level of our graduates but support a national publication's ranking system that gives the highest single value (25 percent) to what other law schools think of our program.

To call us residents of an ivory tower may be giving us more credit than we deserve. Residents of ivory towers sometimes climb the parapet and get a glimpse of the outside world.

The legal profession allowed us to get away with this for a long time. But no more. Much like the secluded academy of philosophers who congratulated themselves upon reaching the ultimate definition of man as "a featherless biped," law schools must recognize that someone from the real world has just thrown a plucked chicken over the walls of the tower.

Being disconnected from the profession was wrong even in times when our graduates could find work regardless of how disconnected we were. But in this day and time, when many graduate in debt and have to scramble for the few positions available, staying disconnected in the face of their plight is a moral failing of the first order.

We will not fail them if we take up the challenge to teach more than just doctrine and the process of legal reasoning. We must teach the deeper and richer art of lawyering -- an integrated appreciation of the intellectual, practical and ethical dimensions in which law operates in real life.
You can read the rest here
Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.

January 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professionalism & Ethics in Today's Technology

 In its September/October issue, “The Bencher,” the magazine of the American Inns of Court, published several helpful articles on the subject. Here are the articles available to the public online:

American Inns of Court (AIC) are designed to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar. An American Inn of Court is an amalgam of judges, lawyers, and in some cases, law professors and law students. Each Inn meets approximately once a month both to "break bread" and to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and professionalism.

The membership is divided into “pupillage teams,” with each team consisting of a few members from each membership category. Each pupillage team conducts one program for the Inn each year. Pupillage team members get together informally outside of monthly Inn meetings in groups of two or more. This allows the less-experienced attorneys to become more effective advocates and counselors by learning from the more-experienced attorneys and judges. In addition, each less-experienced member is assigned to a more-experienced attorney or judge who acts as a mentor and encourages conversations about the practice of law.

For more information, please visit


January 15, 2011 in Current Affairs, Legal Technology, Practice Management, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Are you a one-spacer or two?

I'm referring to the spaces between sentences.  I'll admit I'm an iconoclastic two-spacer.  My excuse is that I grew up using a typewriter.

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It's one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.) Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren't for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine's shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do. (Also see the persistence of the dreaded Caps Lock key.)

The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition of proportional typesetting, in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks "loose" and uneven; there's a lot of white space between characters and words, so it's more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here's the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we've all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.

Read more here at Slate.

Hat tip to Above the Law.


January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A technique for preventing students from choking on exams

This U. of Chicago study found that students who write about their exam anxiety ten minutes before the test improve their performance "substantially."

Researchers found that students who were prone to test anxiety improved their high–stakes test scores by nearly one grade point after they were given 10 minutes to write about what was causing them fear, according to the article, “Writing about Testing Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom.” The article appears in the Jan. 14 issue of Science and is based on research supported by the National Science Foundation.

The writing exercise allowed students to unload their anxieties before taking the test and accordingly freed up brainpower needed to complete the test successfully — brainpower that is normally occupied by worries about the test, explained the study’s senior author, Sian Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University.

In other research, Beilock has shown that pressure–filled situations can deplete a part of the brain’s processing power known as working memory, which is critical to many everyday activities. Working memory is a sort of mental scratch pad that allows people to retrieve and use information relevant to the task at hand. But it is a limited resource, and when worries creep up, the working memory people normally use to succeed becomes overburdened. That can sap the brain power necessary to excel.

You can read the rest here.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.


January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Financial Information on the AALS

Each year, nonprofits like the Association of American Law Schools must file a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. The most recent filing by the AALS is for the year July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. The form is public information and readily available on the internet.. Here it is. If you read through it, you will discover the salaries of the top employees (page 7); its total revenue--$5,112,903 (page 9)--; its total functional expenses--$4,704,159 (page 10); and how much its assets/funds amount to—a lot (page 11),--and other information.

 In today’s world, a number of nonprofits disclose detailed balance sheets. Their supporters demand financial transparency. Shouldn’t a certain organization get in step with the times?


January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Commemorating the Salem Witcch Trials

On January 15, 1697, Salem and the Massachusetts Bay Colony observed a day of fasting and repentance for their participation in the Salem witch trials. In 1692, 150 suspected witches were imprisoned, several died in prison,  19 were hanged,  and one was crushed to  death with heavy stones.

 Quaker Thomas Maule had the courage to criticize this hysteria. As a reward, he was charged with seditious libel. To the displeasure of the judge, the Salem jury declared him not guilty.  Although we usually think of the trial and acquittal of John Peter Zenger as the initial precursor of the First Amendment, Maule’s story predates that of Zenger.

 The most extensive treatment of Maule’s trial is James Maule,  “Better That 100 Witches Should Live.”  


January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Will the LSAT become optional?

From the National Law Journal:

The Law School Admissions Test is a rite of passage for aspiring lawyers, but could go from mandatory to voluntary under proposed changes to the American Bar Association's law school accreditation standards.

The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a 'valid and reliable admission test,' chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, said on Wednesday.

'A substantial portion of the committee believes that provision should be repealed,' said Polden, noting that about 10 law schools already have waivers from the ABA allowing them to admit some students who haven't taken the LSAT.

Much of the committee's LSAT debate has focused on the proper role of the ABA in the regulation of law school admissions, said Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen, who sits on the standards review committee.

'I think an accrediting body ought to ensure that law schools are producing students who can enter the practice,' he said, noting that he personally is on the fence about the LSAT requirement. 'Is taking a standardized test the only way to determine if someone should be able to go to law school?  Schools ought to be able to decide how they want to admit students.'

You can read more here.



January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Who is using Westlaw Next and who isn't?

Thanks to Mark Kloempken, Public Services Librarian at Washington University Law Library for posting the results on the law librarian listserv of a poll he conducted of law firms asking who is and isn't using Westlaw Next and why.



Will/willnot use westlawnext





63 attorneys

We already subscribe to westlawnext

We may drop it during our contract renewal this year.

80 attorneys


We subscribed this last fiscal year due to a great deal by West. 

Otherwise, we would have waited a bit

60 attorneys

We added westlawnext to our subscription in August,

Primarily in order to take advantage of the efficiency tools, like foldering and annotating. 

70-attorney law firm


Our researchers love it.  We subscribed when the firm was in the process of adding a different database to our subscription and the package price was attractive. 

70 attorneys.




Subscribe to WestlawNext, as well as classic Westlaw.


We renegotiated our contract in 2010 and West included WestlawNext as part of the package they proposed.  We had favorable response from attorneys/users, particularly the "younger" ones, who concluded that WestlawNext "thinks like they do."  Unfortunately, we have no formal method to track usage across the different platforms, so we don't know how much WestlawNext is being used.


Small firm.

We added WLN as part of our most recent renewal

TR threw it in to an overall good deal.






Will not


50 attorneys


We do not want to spend any more money.


Will not

Our firm does transactional commercial real estate and at this time we do not have a flat-rate subscription to Westlaw.  The additional expense for westlawnext does not meet our needs plus the fact that the monthly transactional fee for Westlaw has jumped from $100 to $200 has us rethinking our association with Westlaw. We have a flat-rate subscription with Lexis which has proven to be very satisfactory. 

Small firm

No intention of subscribing

An expensive service which has too many glitches.


35 attorneys.  Medium-sized firm.

We did not subscribe and do not plan to. 

Cost is the main reason.










200 attorneys.  7 offices.  Med/Large Firm

We added WLN to our current contract due to excellent negotiating and attorney demand (we had a two month trial of the service and our associates and "younger partners" loved the platform).  

However, if WL was not willing to negotiate, we probably would not have added the service to our contract due to the price.

  Medium Law Firm

We have been subscribing to WESTLAWNEXT since May/2010.  

Most of our attorneys under 40 love westlawnext.  The use it all the time.   I use and like also.  I feel it can be really helpful.  Very easy to use also.


125 attorneys.  Large, regional firm. 

We've been subscribers for about 6 months

Our attorneys really do like it.











Will not


140 attorneys.

We just renewed our West contract and did not make any provisions for moving to westlawnext,

Because the pricing is unpredictable and the platform doesn’t justify the extra expense.

Medium sized firm.

At this time, we are not subscribing.

While the product seems slick, we have real concerns about the cost.

65 attorneys.  Medium size, I guess  

We have no plans to subscribe

Our current contract is a good one; we see no reason to change.

Medium size

We do subscribe.





190 attorneys 

Will not 

Price is too high, we did a trial and we were not at all happy with search results, esp. In secondary sources, attorneys said we would subscribe only if we were forced to because law students couldn't learn westlaw classic 

Medium-size firm


We will not subscribe


Too expensive!  And 2. I think that West is putting so much money and research into it that they will eventually only offer WLN.  Just like the software, I think the web version of "old Westlaw" will fade away.  And I am patient enough to wait for that to happen.


100 attorneys. Medium


Will not subscribe


I'm not impressed with it.


110 attorneys.  Mid-sized law firm library. 

We will not subscribe to WestlawNext until it becomes a regular part of our subscription.

We do not see the point of paying extra for this new platform especially because it is not complete.

Medium firm.


Will not subscribe

We have a better plan with Lexis







Large firm

We subscribed in 2010

Both wl and wln are available at the same website, so our users are able to stick with the old or search in the new version or switch back and forth.

Large law firm

We have already subscribed to WLNext since last summer.

We subscribed because the timing was perfect as regards to our consolidatiion of our online subscription offerings by canceling and/or decreasing the content of many of our overhead Web library subscriptions such as RIA, BNA and CCH. Additionally, WLNext has a very intuitive user interface that is easy for end users to navigate. Finally, as we are trending more toward not charging for online reseach as our physcial collections shrink the pricing model of WLNext was not an issue generaly speaking.








Will not



We are currently satisfied with our service and the price we pay for it.  We don't want to be forced to pay more for a new interface, and we aren't interested in  learning a whole new pricing model.

Eventually they will discontinue or make it otherwise unusable, until then we are sticking with what we know.


Close to 400 lawyers.  We are a large firm.


We are renegotiating our multi-year contracts this year, which includes Westlaw.  Our current expiration dates for both are early 2012. 

During the negotiation process, WestlawNext will probably be discussed, but I can't say for sure if we will go with it.  Lexis will be unveiling their comparable product sometime this year, or so we heard.  (LexisAdvance?).


My major problem is the cost of running the searches.  I think that people will easily run up bills by not keeping track of all the clicks they are making in a search result. 


450 attorneys.  Medium/large  

Will not subscribe

Due to pricing. 








January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Five tips for legal writers

From our good buddies at the Attorney at Work blog:

1. Learn to recognize legalese. Some lawyers can’t because they’re so accustomed to it. Or they don’t realize how jargon, especially in excess, can strangle thought; they think that’s the way people in the professional world speak and write. Or, if they do realize that legalese can be confusing, they still use it, unable to shake its grasp; it grips them like a bad addiction. Ask yourself this when you write: Could your non-lawyer spouse or brother or best friend understand the vocabulary you’re using? If not, change it.

2. Use the active voice rather than the passive voice (at least the majority of the time). This passive sentence is as lively as road kill: “The meeting was attended by four partners and three in-house attorneys.” Try this instead: “Four partners and three in-house attorneys attended the meeting.” Have people doing things, not things being done by people.

3. Avoid there-is constructions (and there-are, there-was, etc.). Usually, you can rewrite a there-was sentence and strengthen it by doing so. For example this sentence, “There was a client waiting in your office for an hour before storming off,” should be replaced with, “A client waited in your office for an hour before storming off.” (Of course, if that were really the case, you’d have more to worry about than a weak sentence.)

4. Don’t trust the word-processing thesaurus. While technology has offered most professionals, including lawyers, fast and efficient communication tools, new advancements have also impeded good writing. The simple thesaurus software that offers up synonyms seems like a good idea but it invariably makes us lazy—as in, we might not double-check the meaning of a computer-offered word alternative. Consequently, some fail to use the right word, and instead select “its second cousin,” to quote Mark Twain. As a result, precise meaning is missed.

5. Keep it simple. Generally speaking, steer clear of 25-dollar words when 25-cent words work just as well. That is, simple is often better. Repeat: Simple is often better.

These few guidelines can help cut the clutter, jettison the legalese baggage and, if not make a document “sing,” at least make it clear, concise and readable.

Click here to read more.


January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Lesson in Unfortunate Rhetoric

Former Governor Sarah Palin has afforded us an example of odd and unfortunate rhetoric. In defending herself against accusations that her campaign rhetoric contributed to the violence in Arizona, she accused journalists and pundits of manufacturing a “blood libel” against her. Here is the YouTube of her remarks (preceded by a brief commercial). Here is coverage by the New York Times. “Blood libel” refers to the scandalous claim in the middle ages that Jewish people used the blood of Christian children in their ceremonies. It served as a justification for anti-semitic  persecutions.

 Mrs. Palin’s comments were incredibly inappropriate. I suspect that Mrs. Palin and her speech writer were unfamiliar with the meaning of their words. Nonetheless, one should not use a term unless one understands its meaning. Moreover, people in public life should understand that the best defense is not always a relentless offense.


January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN's Top Article on Interviewing and Counseling

The all-time top hit (most downloads--757) on SSRN’s Rhetorical Theory eJournal is Jean Sternlight & Jennifer Robbennolt, “Good Lawyers Should Be Good Psychologists: Insights for Interviewing and Counseling Clients.” I guess this is where SSRN lists some lawyering skills articles. The article also appears in 23 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 437 (2008). Here is the abstract:

 To work effectively with clients, witnesses, judges, mediators, arbitrators, experts, jurors, and other lawyers, attorneys must have a good understanding of how people think and make decisions, and must possess good people skills. Yet, law schools have tended to teach very little, directly, about human behavior, and current critiques of legal education do not focus on the importance of psychological insights to attorneys. In particular, lawyers and legal education have not taken full advantage of the great strides that have been made in the field of scientific psychology in recent decades. Similarly, psychologists are not doing as much as they might to apply their discipline to all aspects of law. Law and psychology texts and courses often focus primarily on criminal rather than civil law and practice, and place their emphasis on the psychology of juries, eyewitness testimony, interrogation, and trials. This Article begins to fill some of the gaps that exist in the application of psychology to legal practice, focusing on psychological insights that are important to the endeavor of interviewing and providing initial counseling to clients in civil cases. Law students commonly graduate from law school understanding little if anything about perception, memory, communication, cognitive heuristics, or decision-making. While good lawyers ultimately pick up some of this information through experience, there is no reason to leave new lawyers to flounder based on a lack of understanding of these psychological principles. Further, even experienced lawyers can benefit from more explicit study of psychology. While the best lawyers may have intuited some of what will be discussed here, some of the findings are counterintuitive, and even experienced lawyers can improve their approach to interviewing and counseling by drawing on relevant psychology.

 Here is the roadmap paragraph at the end of Part I, the Introduction:

 First, in Part II, we will introduce a lawyer, Jack, whom we think would benefit from reading this Article. We will describe how Jack thinks about interviewing and counseling and provide a few examples of interviewing and counseling sessions he will soon conduct. Although Jack is not based on any single person, we suspect that many readers will recognize aspects of Jack in themselves or in students or lawyers whom they know. Part III will provide a review of some relevant psychology. Of course we will not cover all aspects of psychology or even all the nuances of the areas we review, but instead will focus on research we see as most pertinent to interviewing and counseling clients. As we discuss each topic we will provide a few applications, making suggestions or how Jack might interview and counsel his clients. Finally, in Part IV, we will offer a summary of some of the key insights psychology provides with respect to legal interviewing and counseling sessions.


January 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two iPad Apps to make trial lawyers happy

From Law Technology News:  "Two iPad apps designed for trial presentation were introduced in December 2010. TrialPad, from LitSoftware , and Evidence, from Rosen Litigation Technology Consulting."   Both can be used to load, organize and display trial exhibits.  For a full review of each, click here.


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Lawyers and would-be lawyers - don't ever discuss sensitive matters in public.

The walls have ears (and eyes too).  That's the lesson a managing partner learned today when the details of his too- loud cellphone call on a commuter train, concerning the terms of a new lateral hire, were blabbed all over the blog Above the Law.  The partner's lack of judgment is rivaled only by the fastidiousness of the eavesdropper who noted every detail and then electronically communicated them to ATL:

An Above the Law reader . . . overheard [the partner] James Kirk’s conversations in their entirety — and described them to us in detail. Kirk’s first call was to a fairly young partner at a litigation boutique in New York. Our tipster actually gave us this partner’s full name, but since he’s an innocent party — a victim rather than a perpetrator of the confidentiality breach, who might not have told his current firm of his departure plans — we’ll keep him anonymous.

Jim Kirk called this young partner to make him an offer to join Kelley Drye as a non-equity partner.
. . . .

After communicating the offer, Kirk told the young partner that he’d “work on finalizing the offer over the weekend” and “should have everything complete within 10 days.”

Kirk concluded the call to the offeree and then phoned a human resources employee back at Kelley Drye & Warren. He provided the young partner’s name and home address — which our reader also heard and took down, thanks to Kirk’s loud and clear speaking voice — and directed the KDW employee to “start the background check.” (Again, we are withholding the young partner’s home address, since it’s not his fault that James Kirk was so indiscreet.)

Although the eavesdropper could have acted more professionally him or herself, the fault clearly lies with the partner for not being more discrete.


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

What Skills and Values Do Practitioners Most Value?

In 2005, Stephen Gerst (Phoenix) and Gerald Hess (Gonzaga) conducted a survey of Arizona lawyers in a broad range of practices  to determine  which lawyering skills and values they most valued. Based on the responses of 175 lawyers, here are the results. Table 5 reports which professional skills the lawyers assessed as “essential or very important.”

 Table 5 Professional Skills

96% Legal analysis and reasoning

96% Written communication

94% Legal research (library and computer)

92% Drafting legal documents

92% listening

92% oralcommunication

90% Working cooperatively with others as part of a team

88% Factual investigation

88% organization and management of legal work

87% Interviewing and questioning

87% Problem solving

77% Recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas

64% Pretrial discovery and advocacy

58% Counseling

57% Negotiation

44% Obtaining and keeping clients

39% Arbitration

38% Networking within the profession

35% Mediation

34% Trial advocacv

33% Strategic planning

11% Appellate advocacv

 Table 6 reports the percentage of respondents who assessed these professional values as "essential" or "very important."

 Table 6

Arizona Lawvers-Professional Values

99% Act honestly and with integrity

97% Show reliability and willingness to accept responsibility

97% Strive to provide competent, high quality legal work for each client

95% Treat clients, lawyers, judges, staff with respect

90% Show diligence and ethic of hard work

90% Demonstrate maturity, autonomy, and judgment

88% Demonstrate self-motivation and passion

88% Show self-confidence and earn others' confidence

82% Commitment to continued professional growth and development

82% Demonstrate tolerance, patience, and empathy

77% Commitment to critical self-reflection

75% Commitment to personal growth and development

75% Engage in healthy stress management

73% Strive to promote justice, fairness, and morality

71% Demonstrate creativity and innovation

70% Commitment to a balanced life

55% Strive to rid the profession of bias

36% Involvement in community activities and service

32% Commitment to pro bono work

32% Participate in activities designed to improve the profession

Do you agree?

 You can find the full study published in 43 Valparaiso University Law Review 513 (2009)


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economics of Going to Law School: Is It Worth It?

Over on the Mauled Again blog, my colleague Jim Maule offers his thoughts on the economics of law school—a currently controversial topic. Like other commentators, he calls upon law schools to disclose information on the high cost of law school and the low probability of getting a huge paycheck. However, he also calls on law firms to disclose unpleasant facts about themselves. Interesting and provocative reading.


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Developing an online research workflow

Over at the new site Attorney at Work I'm writing a series of posts on creating an online research workflow.  There's just so much stuff on the Internet these days, it's hard to know where to start, where to go, and how to save what you find.  In this week's post, "First Step, Google Reader," I talk about my preferred method of reading the latest news, whether it be about the law, technology, or just general news stories.  

Check out the Attorney at Work site - they really have some great articles for lawyers every day.


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Study finds college students crave self-esteem boost more than sex

I find it hard to believe but that's the finding of a new study published in the Journal of Personality.

Researchers found that college students valued boosts to their self-esteem more than any other pleasant activity they were asked about, including sex, favorite foods, drinking alcohol, seeing a best friend or receiving a paycheck.

'It is somewhat surprising how this desire to feel worthy and valuable trumps almost any other pleasant activity you can imagine,' said Brad Bushman, lead author of the research and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

. . . .

In two separate studies, the researchers asked college students how much they wanted and liked various pleasant activities, such as their favorite food or seeing a best friend.  They were asked to rate how much they wanted and liked each activity on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (extremely).

One of the items they were asked about was self-esteem building experiences, such as receiving a good grade or receiving a compliment.

'We found that self-esteem trumped all other rewards in the minds of these college students,' Bushman said.

You can read the rest here.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.


January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

USNWR considers ranking 3rd tier schools

At present, 3rd and 4th tier schools are listed alphabetically, not by rank.  USNWR ranking guru Bob Morse, however, is considering changing that for 2011, at least with respect to T3 schools.   Schools like Wayne State may benefit from change since they'll no longer be listed at the bottom of the T3 rankings.  From the National Law Journal:

U.S. News research director Robert Morse told legal educators during the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting in San Francisco last week that he is considering extending the numerical rankings in the new edition, which is due on March 15. The change would bring the law school rankings in line with recent modifications to the publication's Best Colleges rankings.

'It's something that we're looking into,' Morse said. 'We do have ranking scores for all law schools but, editorially, we didn't want to say, 'This is the 188th law school [representing last place].' '

U.S. News now provides numerical rankings for the top 100 law schools, but combines the remaining schools into third and fourth tiers without distinguishing between the schools in each tier. Schools within each of those tiers are listed alphabetically. Morse said that the bottom 25% of law schools would continue to be ranked alphabetically.

'We think the public finds numerical ranking more understandable,' Morse said.

You can read the rest here.


January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What They Didn't Teach You in Law School

D.C. attorney Anna Lee Negroni offers 25 suggestions on developing “soft skills” (behavioral traits) that successful lawyers have.  They range from “study the leadership of  your firm”  to “attitude is everything.” From the December 2010 issue of the Washington Lawyer.

I would add: “The things you got away with in law school you can’t get away with any more.” For example, forget about handing in assignments late, turning in assignments that aren’t your best work, and employing sarcasm. Students need reminding that the law office culture has different rules that the law school culture.


January 11, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received"

Here’s a June 2010 entry on the Harvard Business Review blog suggesting a different type of cover letter than the one I normally suggest. Here’s its model cover letter:

 Dear David:

I am writing in response to the opening for xxxx, which I believe may report to you.

I can offer you seven years of experience managing communications for top-tier xxxx firms, excellent project-management skills, and a great eye for detail, all of which should make me an ideal candidate for this opening.

I have attached my résumé for your review and would welcome the chance to speak with you sometime.

Best regards,

Xxxx Xxxx

It’s short and sums up the resume without summarizing the information in the resume. Please read the posting and see what you think. I might think of including this sort of main paragraph, but also including a  paragraph highlighting information in  the resume.


January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)