Monday, June 20, 2011

Pace Law School has program to help lawyers on sabbatical get back into practice

Although the program has been around for five years, I just learned about it today via this post at the New York Lawyer in which several attorneys who've been away from practice for a while seek advice on how to sharpen their skills. Here's a press release about the Pace Program called "New Directions."

The New Directions for Attorneys program at Pace Law School is celebrating its fifth year of helping admitted attorneys return to practice after time away. One of the first programs of its kind in the country, New Directions remains one of the only lawyer re-entry programs in existence today. Since its inception in 2007, it has provided more than 100 participants from around the Tri-State Area and beyond with substantive education, practical tools, and experience necessary to re-enter the legal profession or transition within it.
. . . .

New Directions serves both men and women who earned law degrees, in addition to those who either never practiced law or spent time away from the profession. While many New Directions participants are mothers looking to return to law practice after raising their children, others pursued a non-legal career path, such as journalism or human resources, and seek to resume a legal career.

On average, participants are seven or more years removed from law practice. Most participants come from around the Tri-State area, though some have hailed from as far as Pennsylvania, Maryland and California.

Since holding its first session of 13 men and women in 2007, New Directions has grown and improved, adding more career workshops, expanding its legal research and writing component, and significantly increasing the number of organizations that serve as externship sponsors. Two sessions are now held each year; one in Westchester, the other in New York City. The name of the program was recently changed from New Directions: Practical Skills for Returning to Law Practice to New Directions for Attorneys to reflect the growing number of participants seeking to explore an alternative legal career using their newly refreshed skills.

While the program’s original mission of helping attorneys to reclaim professional identity and confidence continues today, since the economy declined in 2008, there has been an increased number of transitioning attorneys who have participated in the program.

New Directions has been featured in the New York Times, the New York Law Journal, CNN, Law360 and U.S. News & World Report, among many others. This year, the New Directions staff received Pace University’s “Outstanding Contribution Team Award” for demonstrating commitment to the goals and values necessary to enhance the University’s learning and working environment.

More information about New Directions is available on its website. Please contact Lauren Rubenstein, manager of media relations, at (914) 422-4389, or Amy Gewirtz, director of New Directions, at (914) 422-4606, for additional information about New Directions.


June 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women of Color Abandon Law Firms for Corporate Counsel Positions.

A recent study by Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) discovered a growing trend in women of color leaving law firms to work as corporate counsels. Titled “The Perspectives of Women of Color Attorneys in Corporate Legal Departments,” the study surveyed more than 1,300 African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American female corporate attorneys.

The reasons for the trend are of concern:

A staggering 76.5 percent of women who participated in the study started their careers in law firms before leaving for corporations. Among reasons they cited for switching were feeling that their work was not valued, lack of good mentors, desire for more challenging work and few opportunities for growth. Previous research cited by CCWC had found a 78 percent attrition rate for women of color at law firms.

Here’s the full story in the Cincinnati Herald


June 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

12 ways to write a really bad brief

From trial lawyer extraordinaire Jim McElhaney by way of the ABA Journal blog:

It was one of those great brainstorming sessions that you can never plan but that sometimes just happen. I was talking with Chris Lutz, a partner in the litigation department at Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C., about legal writing, and the discussion settled on bad briefs.

How many ways are there to write a bad brief? Not theoretical possibilities or occasional oddities, but the kind of ordinary sins that even good lawyers commit every day. For every example that one of us gave, the other came up with a number of ways in which lawyers have taken that basic mistake and developed it into an art form of ineffectiveness.

The whole conversation went so fast that I can’t tell you who was responsible for which ideas. So if there is something you really like in our list of ways to write a bad brief, credit Chris; and if there is something you find annoying, blame me.

1.  Make it a “long,” not a brief.
2.  Throw issues against the wall.
3.  Flunk the giggle test.

           4,  Commit purposeful errors.

5,  Make unreasonable arguments.

6.  Be bombastic.

7.  Let Mongo (the inner beast that dwells in every lawyer) loose.

8.  Lay on the legalese.

9.  Load up the citations.

10.  Quote like crazy.

11.  Don't analyze.

12.  Tell no story.

Click here to read Professor McElhaney's elaboration on each of these points.


June 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium papers: "The Profession and the Academy: Addressing Major Changes in Law Practice"

The Maryland Law Review has published papers from the above symposium at 70 Maryland L. Rev. 307-568 (2011). Here is the table of contents and links to the articles I could find on SSRN:

Introduction to the symposium. 70 Md. L. Rev. 307-309 (2011). 

The Changes:

Rhee, Robert J. On legal education and reform: one view formed from diverse perspectives. 70 Md. L. Rev. 310-340 (2011). 

Dilloff, Neil J. The changing cultures and economics of large law firm practice and their impact on legal education. 70 Md. L. Rev. 341-363 (2011). 

Coe, Ward B. III. Profound "nonchanges" in small and midsize firms. 70 Md. L. Rev. 364-372 (2011). 

The Profession:

Henderson, William D. Three generations of U.S. lawyers: generalists, specialists, project managers. 70 Md. L. Rev. 373-389 (2011). 

Harner, Michelle M. The value of "thinking like a lawyer." 70 Md. L. Rev. 390-419 (2011). 

Hornsby, William. Challenging the academy to a dual (perspective): the need to embrace lawyering for personal legal services. 70 Md. L. Rev. 420-439 (2011).

Kelly, Michael. A gaping hole in American legal education. 70 Md. L. Rev. 440-450 (2011). 

The Academy:

Reynolds, William L. Back to the future in law schools. 70 Md. L. Rev. 451-464 (2011). 

Alexander, Charlotte S. Learning to be lawyers: professional identity and the law school curriculum. 70 Md. L. Rev. 465-483 (2011). 

Hadfield, Gillian K. Equipping the garage guys in law. 70 Md. L. Rev. 484-498 (2011). 

Cunningham, Clark D. Should American law schools continue to graduate lawyers whom clients consider worthless? 70 Md. L. Rev. 499-512 (2011). 

Millemann, Michael. The symposium on the profession and the academy: concluding thoughts. 70 Md. L. Rev. 513-524 (2011).


June 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Billions and billions of words served

Mark Davies, Professor of Corpus Linguistics at Brigham Young University, has created several searchable databases (corpora) of words drawn from a variety of sources, with the newest from the Google Books database containing 155 billion(!) words. A comparison chart of three different databases highlights the possibilities afforded by searchable corpora.

As the comparison chart notes, the BYU version of the Google Books database and Google Books’s own database are identical, with the BYU version providing more analytical capabilities. Even so, Google Labs’s Books Ngram Viewer for Google Books allows case-sensitive searches yielding stunning visual representations of the rise and fall of words and phrases over time, as illustrated by the ngram for “Legal Writing” and “legal writing”. Google Labs provides a webpage explaining the Ngram Viewer; the page includes a link to tips for using the Google Books corpus for scholarly research. For other helpful explanations of the Google Books Ngram Viewer (including the meaning of ngram), visit here, here, here, here, and here.

All in all, these resources offer opportunities for fun and scholarship — or, perhaps best of all, scholarly fun.

(h/t June 19, 2011, broadcast of A Way with Words, “public radio’s lively show about words, language, and how we use them”)


June 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching Legal Skills

Professor Philip Meyer has recently posted an article on SSRN entitled 'Fingers Pointing at the Moon': New Perspectives on Teaching Legal Writing and Analysis, which deals with students who have trouble learning basic skills.

There is a Zen proverb: “Teachers’ words are fingers pointing at the moon. The student who looks too closely at the fingers never sees the moon.” Ineffably, this says as much about teaching legal analysis as it does about finding enlightenment.

I have taught legal writing and reasoning at five laws schools, directed legal writing programs at two law schools, and served as coordinator of a lawyering program. I believe that the development of process-based “analytical” skills (e.g., cases analysis, synthesis, and analogization), organizational skills, memorization skills (e.g., accurate restatement of applicable rules of law), and written communication skills are crucial to law school success and provide the infrastructure for all other lawyering activities. While these skills may be identified readily, it is extremely difficulty for many law students to internalize and apply the aesthetics of legal analysis. In this presentation I candidly explore why this is so - why teaching legal analysis is often akin to trying to help students find enlighten.


June 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Giving Would-Be Clients Bad Information Is Not Negligent Misrepresentation

When Jack Steele was injured in an automobile accident, he and his wife purportedly met with an attorney to discuss filing a negligence suit against the other driver. The Steeles claim that the attorney provided them with incorrect information regarding a statute of limitations, which caused them to miss a filing deadline. The Colorado Supreme Court held that the Steeles could not sue the attorney for negligent misrepresentation:

Negligent misrepresentation requires, in part, that the misrepresentation be “for the guidance of others in their business transactions.” We hold as a matter of law that an initial consultation to discuss a potential civil lawsuit is not sufficient to meet the element “guidance of others in their business transactions”; therefore, the Steeles did not plead sufficient facts to state a claim of negligent misrepresentation.

Next, we address the court of appeals’ reliance on section 15(1)(c) of the Third Restatement, which imposes liability for legal malpractice in the absence of an attorney-client relationship. We hold that a claim of negligent misrepresentation may not be founded upon the requirement in section 15(1)(c) of the Third Restatement that attorneys owe a duty of reasonable care to prospective clients.

Nonetheless, it’s wise to advise students to be careful about giving casual advice to non-clients.


June 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)