February 26, 2011
Where are the lawyers and how much do they make?
The ABA Journal has teamed up with legal job market expert and Indiana Law Professor William Henderson to provide readers with a detailed, geographic breakdown of where the lawyers are and how much they earn. According to the Journal:
Using a variety of government statistics detailed later in these pages, Henderson and the ABA Journal have undertaken a study of the business of law that attempts to define some of the important long-term changes in the industry and to identify the influences that are propelling them.
In this, the first installment of a periodic series, we look at the geography of lawyer salaries, showing where the jobs are and what they pay. Using actual salary data reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on employed lawyers—whether they are associates or government attorneys or corporate counsel—we've mapped out average lawyer pay by county. We've also defined the top 35 legal markets, which soak up two-thirds of the jobs and 75 percent of the payroll. And we've identified 10 smaller markets whose average salary figures may surprise you—lesser law markets that are paying big-city bucks.
The article is accompanied by lots of graphs and charts including a map of the U.S. that shows the approximate average salary of lawyers in every market. One slight discrepancy I notice off-the-top of my head is the list showing the top 35 marketplaces based on salary. Included for each city on the list is the average salary per attorney (including private and public sectors), followed by the number of lawyers in that city as well as the number of law schools feeding that market. Students using this information to make a decision about where to go to law school in order to avoid competition upon graduation might be mislead. For example, Denver is listed as a top 30 market having only one law school cranking out new grads. Yet U. of Colorado is a second school only 30 minutes away. Cambridge-Boston is listed as the # 26 top market with only 4 law schools churning out new lawyers but there are at least 2 more schools in that location (not including, I think, the new U. Mass School of Law). The West Palm Beach/Boca area is listed as the 30th top market having no law schools yet if you drive an hour south you'll run into at least 4.
With that caveat, enjoy the article here.
Young Lawyers Division Calls for Truth in Law School Education
The ABA Young Lawyers Division has adopted a “Truth in Law School Education” resolution and is submitting it to the ABA House of Delegates. According to the National Law Journal, it seeks to provide potential students with accurate information about the cost of law school and the jobs and salaries of lawyers:
For instance, the resolution urges law schools to stipulate on their Web sites and acceptance notices what percentage of graduates are in full-time, part-time and temporary positions. It also calls for schools to provide median salary statistics for different types of employment rather than provide a single median covering both private law firms jobs and other jobs such as public interest — a statistic that can be misleading to prospective law students since law firm jobs typically pay more than public interest jobs. Additionally, the resolution calls on law schools to report the "actual" cost of legal education by disclosing the per-credit costs, and average cost of living expenses.
The ABA section that is revising accreditation standards is also looking into requiring accurate data on these matters.
February 25, 2011
Connecticut's top lawyer wants Facebook to reveal how it detects and disables fake accounts after a state lawmaker complained that her identity was misused in a scam to solicit money from her friends.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Monday that Rep. Kim Rose alleged that Facebook did not respond quickly to take down the site after repeated complaints that her name and photographs were being used without her permission.
This summary is from a longer article on FoxNews.com.
The Connecticut Attorney general is investigating. The message is be very cautious with social networking sites.
Symposium on the future of legal education happening today and tomorrow
February 24, 2011
Friday fun: "The Day They Took the Laptops"
"We had always thought they were bluffing . . . ."
Here's a fantastic mock-movie trailer by some GWU law students. Special kudos to the student who's able to imitate the voice of that movie-trailer narrator guy.
This totally rules. Enjoy!
One survey of university students finds that 80% text-message during class
But students were split on whether they should be allowed to do so. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
A survey of students at the University of New Hampshire found high rates of texting during class, and plenty of guilt about the behavior.
The survey, of 1,000 students at the university, found that a majority felt guilty about about sending text messages in class when they were not supposed to. Despite those feelings, 80 percent of the students said they normally send at least one text message in each of their classes. Business students conducted the survey for a marketing-research course.
Chuck Martin, an adjunct professor in the business school who teaches the course, says the students expected to find that most students would, like them, want to be allowed to text during class.
But views among surveyed students were actually mixed, with 40 percent of students in favor of allowing texts, 37 percent opposed, and the rest neutral.
You can read more here.
First they came for the educators, then they came for the prostitutes . . . .
Who's next? Last week we told you that Nevada's governor wants to cut $47 million out of UNLV's budget leading to potentially devastating cuts at the law school. On Tuesday, Senator Harry Reid said he wants to end legalized prostitution in Nevada.
Addressing state legislators Tuesday in Carson City, the Democrat said it was time for an "adult conversation" on a topic that often spurs as much awkward laughter as it does serious debate. He warned the state's Wild West tradition has become an impediment to economic growth, causing companies to think twice before relocating there.
. . . .Reid's suggestion was met largely with silence.
You can read more here.
Some law schools are holding the line on tuition increases
Several legal news outlets are reporting that some schools - Ave Maria, Maryland, U. Miami and U. of New Hampshire (nee Franklin Pierce Law Center) - are freezing tuition (here, here and here). Here are the specifics from the National Law Journal:
The University of Miami School of Law froze tuition this year and will again keep tuition the same at $37,418 for all current students next academic year.
"The decision to hold the line on tuition increases is a significant step toward improving the value proposition of law school in these challenging times," Broderick said. "Given the current economic climate and the debt loads that law school graduates are facing, a tuition freeze is one very tangible way to demonstrate commitment to our students."
Tuition at Broderick's school — which was formerly known as Franklin Pierce Law Center but is now affiliated with the University of New Hampshire — is $39,900 per year.
Even with the freeze, those tuition bills are still going to result in some mighty hefty non-dischargeable debts upon graduation. Prospective law students - please do the math beforehand and proceed with caution.
In related news, we reported last week that Albany is reducing its incoming 1L class size purportedly in response to the the poor job market for law grads. Over at the Faculty Lounge, Dan Filler makes the point that elite schools who make the decision to reduce class size in order to maintain selectivity can make up for the lost revenue through transfer students; other schools, not so much.
Law schools have gone astray and only by reconnecting with the needs of the practicing bar can they be saved
Based on this excerpt, that seems to be the premise of this forthcoming book by Walter Oslon, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and author of the blog Overlawyered, called Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America. According to the excerpt, the author traces the history of American legal education from a business school-like model that prepared students to make a living in their chosen career to theory-driven institutes focused almost exclusively on the pursuit of scholarly prestige and academic ranking:
In a law school fully oriented toward an academic model, certain things are expected. Not only will full-time faculty members beneeded, but those faculty will need to engage in scholarship. So the rapid rise in the ranks of faculty was sure to lead to a boom in research, conferences, and the output of law reviews, of which no self-respecting law school could afford to be without a few. "Law reviews are unique among publications," explained Northwestern's dean Harold Havighurst half a century ago, "in that they do not exist because of any large demand on the part of a reading public. Whereas most periodicals are published primarily in order that they may be read, the law reviews are published primarily in order that they may be written.
. . . .
There is a limited supply of the sorts of creme-de-la-creme students who can engage in round-the-clock discussions of policy and political philosophy while also cribbing the standard law school curriculum in odd hours. And so quite evidently most law schools are destined to fall short if they try to be Yale. Yet powerful forces influence them to make a show of trying anyway. The upshot is that School #77 in the U.S. News standings feels obliged to do its best impersonation of a little Yale, complete with interdisciplinary centers, globetrotting star professors, and unreadable theoretical output. The accreditation pressure to adopt more academic models also played a role here, as did faculty's own wish to move up to more demanding and highly ranked institutions.
. . . .
The underlying problem is that legal education in America--- much more so than, say, medical education---arranges itself according to an exquisitely calibrated and widely agreed-on hierarchy of quality and status. The student with an indifferent record from a low Tier I school will come into opportunities unavailable to the student with a sterling record at a high Tier II, let alone a Tier III. The decisions made by all the involved parties help reinforce the stratification process. Applicants tend to sort themselves among schools with great efficiency by following the oft-given advice to enroll in the highest-ranked school at which they are accepted, whatever its geographic or financial pluses or minuses. In turn, the ranking of schools depends heavily on the test scores of the students who attend, so schools that have recently done well tend to continue to do well. School administrators themselves, whatever their declared devotion to egalitarian ideals, are supremely aware of the status distinctions, and generally act as if their prime goal in life were to maximize their rank in the standings, with not a few of them engaging in rather grubby dodges and cheats to inflate their U.S.News standings. . . . . A tiny slip in the rankings can spell heartbreak for administrators; a minor advance can help make a career.
. . . .
Equally significant, the unmooring of law schools from the actual world of law was being noticed outside the walls. "Law schools and law firms are moving in opposite directions," observed the federal judge Harry Edwards in a widely noted 1992 speech. He added that "many law schools---especially the so-called 'elite' ones---have abandoned their proper place, by emphasizing abstract theory at the expense of practical scholarship and pedagogy." Practicing lawyers were losing the benefits of the ethical as well as operational guidance that a more down-to-earth legal academia might have offered.
Matters have improved in the decade or two since then, and the credit should go not only to highly visible critics like Kronman, Sherry, and Edwards but also to an unsung body of critics, namely students themselves. All along, in their evaluations and course choices, they had exerted a clear preference for the grounded over the airborne, for black-letter law over ideology, for mastery of useful skills and topics over arid metaphysics. Say what you will about careerism, but it just might have saved the day.
You can read the rest here.
Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen.
A Retreat for Faculty and Students
Last weekend, I took part in a retreat with a group of law students, three other professors, and the chaplain of my law school. The goal of the retreat was to help students think about their futures as lawyers and what kind of lawyers they wanted to be. All of us took part in some very open conversations that led to insights for the faculty members as well as the students.
Although the retreat was not religious in nature, we used as prompts three short videos from Boston College professor Father Michael Himes. These very effective videos explored three central questions.
1. What gives me joy?
2. What am I good at?
3. Does anyone need you to do it?
I can’t recommend the videos or the experience more highly. Here is the link to the first video.
February 23, 2011
Tip of the day: Scan business cards to better organize your contacts
This is a good, practical tip for students collecting business cards during networking forays as well as anyone else interested in a Rolodex makeover. From the Lawyerist blog:
[Most people still use] business cards—there is no electronic substitute. If you find yourself with a stack of business cards, use your scanner to keep track of them.
. . . .
One of the easiest ways to track and remember references is to write on the back of cards—when you met them, how you know them, etc.
If you scan them, you can even organize your contacts into different folders. For example, if you practice family law, create a folder for family law attorneys.
Maybe you want to create a folder for people you want to have lunch with in the near future. Or even create a folder for people you would prefer to not have lunch with.
Either way, create a system that works for you. Business cards are an integral part of networking, be sure to do more than stick them in a drawer.
Some commenters on the Lawyerist blog mention an app called Bump that apparently lets you exchange e-cards via Smartphone, thus eliminating the need for those pesky p-cards (as long as the guy you're exchanging with has the app too). I'm not familiar with Bump but other commenters say it's a pain. FWIW.
You can read more of the Lawyerist's recommendations for electronically organizing your business cards by clicking here.
Techniques for encouraging students to take (better) notes during class
Most of us assume that students know the importance of taking good class notes. But perhaps some don't. This column from the ProfHacker over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed asks teachers in the reader-comment section to suggest ways we can get students to take better notes. An obvious one is simply to explain to students the importance of taking good notes and then drop occasional reminders by saying: "You should write this down!" Another popular suggestion is to give "open note quizzes" that require students to rely on notes from previous classes to answer the questions. Yet another suggestion is to implement a class-related wiki that models for students what good notes look like.
You can read more, as well as contribute your own ideas, here.
The steps to making partner at any law firm: Give up your personal life; indulging one's creative side is for losers
This is an excerpt from a book called "The Partner Track: How to Go From Associate to Partner in Any Law Firm" by Cliff Ennico, published in 2009 during the midst of the legal job market meltdown. If only this grim bit of advice were as easy to comply with as it is to understand:
• “Make no mistakes” – Law firms work on “a demerit system.” Each mistake you make earns demerits. Accumulate too many and you never will make partner.
• “Live the law” – Junior associates have no personal life.
• “Cultivate your professional image” – Dress smartly and conservatively.
• “Start thinking like a partner” – That’s the only way to become one.
• “Position yourself for success” – Often, this means work in a profitable practice area.
• “Get your financial house in order” – You will earn good money as a young associate at a corporate law firm. Be frugal and save.
• “Manage your personal life for maximum advantage” – Make sure your non-work activities help you. Good: Become a member of a trade group relevant to the firm’s practice. Bad: Don’t join a “local theater company.” Lawyers do not have creative sides. And avoid pro bono work. Partners want you to work on the firm’s affairs.
• “Make no enemies” – They quickly can sabotage your efforts to make partner.
• “Get clients of your own” – Rainmaking is the one surefire way to become a partner.
• “Never let them see you sweat” – No one hires a lawyer who looks or acts scared.
After a few years of hard work, you will have a better idea of whether you want to stay at your firm and if you could make partner. Good signs: You work for crucial clients on prestigious, high-profile matters. You have constant access to clients. Bad signs: You work only for senior associates, not partners; you have no client contact. The associates give you only low-level assignments. If you are stuck, you may want to leave. By now, you have marketable experience. If your career is going nowhere after five or six years, make a move; job hunting from a position of strength will become increasingly difficult. Most associates do not become partners. Some become “permanent associates,” which brings increased job security and a respectable salary. In this role, you do not have to generate new business, yet you won’t become rich and your colleagues may “view you as a failure.” Accept this slot only as a “temporary expedient” until you find a better job. “Contract partners” also hold a between-jobs status. In this “salaried partner” role, you earn good money and you do not have to work the same number of billable hours as equity partners. Yet you quickly must meet certain goals to become an equity partner. If not, the firm may let you go at the end of your contract.
Synopsis courtesy of GetAbstract.com.
Hat tip to Eric Young.
Google Transforms the Jury Selection Process
Is “voir dire” becoming “voir Google?” It should come as no surprise that trial lawyers use social network sites to learn more about potential jurors. Yet, court usually place restrictions on what questions a lawyer can ask of a potential juror. An important consideration is protecting the juror’s privacy. But a lawyer or jury consultant can tap into the vast information base provided by the internet. Does trolling the internet open a permissible way to circumvent restrictions imposed by the court?
In most jurisdictions, the court rules are murky or nonexistent, reports the New York Times. My guess is that once the internet opens the door to further inquiries, the door cannot realistically be closed. Here are links to coverage in the New York Times (article from Reuters Legal) and the ABA Journal online.
February 22, 2011
Another example of how defendant's Facebook status can be key evidence
Back in 2009, the case of Rodney Bradford made headlines because an update he made to his Facebook page turned out to be the perfect alibi when he was later charged with robbery. But one's Facebook status can also help establish a defendant's culpability as this recent story out of Chicago makes clear.
The family of a pedestrian fatally struck by a vehicle on the South Side in December filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the motorist, claiming she was updating her Facebook page on a cell phone when the crash happened.
Motorist Araceli Beas was updating her Facebook page on her mobile phone while driving when she fatally struck pedestrian Raymond Veloz at 7:54 a.m. Dec. 7, 2010, at 9220 S. Ewing Ave., according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
. . . .
The suit claims Veloz had exited his vehicle after getting into an accident with Allen Barbour. He was standing near Barbour’s vehicle exchanging information when struck by Beas’ vehicle, the suit said. Police said two eastbound vehicles were involved in a minor accident and both drivers were exchanging information when a third eastbound vehicle fatally struck one of the motorists.
You can read more here courtesy of WLSAM.com.
Hat tip to the E-Commerce Law blog.
Law professor to the (reality) TV stars?
Here at NSU, I teach legal writing as well as a seminar in art law, both of which are small enrollment classes. Through an odd twist of fate, I've now had three students (that I know of) become "reality TV" stars in the last couple of years. A fourth was interviewed last Friday for a small part in another reality TV show.
Last spring, my former student Hillel Presser was featured on Millionaire Matchmaker. (In case you're wondering, Hillel told me that although there was some on-screen chemistry with his date, he ultimately found love closer to home in Florida rather than L.A. where the episode was filmed).
Last Sunday, another student, Cara Rosenthal, began starring in CBS's The Amazing Race series. This is actually Cara's second appearance on the show. The former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, along with her teammate and Playboy Playmate Jaime Edmondson, had previously competed on The Amazing Race during the 2009 television season where they finished in second place behind the brother and sister team from Harvard Law who won the million dollar first prize. That stands as the best result ever for an all female team since the show began.
This season's The Amazing Race is dubbed "Unfinished Business" since all the contestants are returning competitors who fell short of the million dollar prize the first time around.
Cara has signed a confidentiality agreement with CBS as thick as a phone book so we won't know whether she and Jaime win the big prize until the series is over. In the meantime, though, we're wishing them the best of luck.
U. Colorado launches new family law clinic where students travel to India
Speaking of externships (below), the University of Colorado has a new family law clinic where students will travel to India during spring break in order to study first hand that country's approach to legal issues involving women's rights, child abuse, sex trafficking and domestic violence. According to the Colorado Daily:
'This class is about immersion and collaborative learning,' [Professor Colene] Robinson said. 'We want to bring together all their past experiences into a different context and compare them with a different country's approach.'
The class requires each student to complete a research paper on one of the four topics, which will be filled with research completed during the trip to Bangalore, India.
The students will be collaborating with students from the National Law School in Bangalore, which has a similar curriculum to CU-Boulder. The group will also visit several non-governmental agencies like the Human Rights Law Network and the Alternative Law Forum.
The school has contributed $11,000 toward the cost of sending 15 students to India in March and fundraisers are planned to help cover the rest.
You can read more here.
Hat tip to the online ABA Journal.
Scholarship alert: "Under pressure: rethinking externships in a bleak economy"
This one is by Professor Cynthia Baker of Indiana and Professor Robert Lancaster of Louisiana State. It can be found at 17 Clinical L. Rev. 71 (2010). From the synopsis:
This article examines how the economic downturn that began in the fall of 2008 has impacted externship pedagogy and practices through the lenses of the key participants in any legal externship experience: students, placements, and law schools. Using findings and empirical data from a survey conducted in February of 2010, the article explores how the economy's impact on externships is creating curricular, pedagogical, and logistical changes. The article also places identified pressures into context by surveying the other, continuing, and non-economic pressures on externships, such as those encouraged by Best Practices, imposed by the American Bar Association, and created by existing curricular structures within law schools. All of these pressures, if not managed, could lead to a diminution of a high quality externship program or a stanching of the growth of more externship opportunities within a legal community. The article suggests that changes to externship programs and placements must be a function of pedagogical purpose and the new economic realities facing our law students, our law schools, and the legal profession. It suggests ways in which to approach the rapidly changing legal externship landscape in these economic times and proposes that a considered understanding of these very real changes impacting externship programs could also open doors to a more dynamic, satisfying externship experience for all involved.
Not to Be Missed: A CLE on Al Capone
Here’s part of the announcement from the University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minneapolis)
Hear the untold story of Al Capone’s life as Chicago's lead gangster and his run-ins with the legal system from the perspective of his niece, Deirdre Marie Capone. Ms. Capone will share her personal experiences as a member of the Capone family.
She will be joined by attorneys Joseph Friedberg and Thomas Bauer who will dissect the legal and ethical lessons for lawyers using testimony, court transcripts and trial excerpts from Al Capone’s 1931 and 1991 trials.
Following the program, Ms. Capone will be available to answer questions and autograph copies of her book, Uncle Al Capone.
Here’s the full announcement.
February 21, 2011
Do you think differently when you compose longhand versus on the screen?
There's a growing body of research that says we read text on a computer screen more superficially than hardcopy text. Is the same true when it comes to writing? Does writing longhand allow for more contemplative thinking than typing on a keyboard? This column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed suggests the answer could be "yes."
Some neuroscientists suggest that the physical act of writing activates the brain differently than pushing keys on a keyboard, perhaps because of the shapes of the letters. Writing also helps bring key information to the forefront of the brain’s filters. One study that compared people composing longhand and by keyboard revealed significant differences in the timing of the revision process. They also found that participants changed their writing style when moving from one mode to the other — but not necessarily in the same ways. These studies and other recent work about how our brains adapt to the demands of the new media environment raise interesting avenues for research with future generations more familiar with keyboards from the very beginnings of their literacy.
It was relatively recently that law schools began requiring students to buy laptops, in part, to acclimate them to legal practice norms. Now the devices are so ubiquitous that it seems silly to think law schools still need to do that. Will legal educators now instead show students "offline" reading and writing so they'll have those additional skills in their repertoire to use when the time is right?
Be sure to check out the reader comments to the CHE story where, as if this writing, most said that writing longhand led to better thinking.