Monday, March 5, 2012

The best moot court programs of 2011

A website maintained by Brian Koppen, a 2007 grad of Chicago-Kent, has been for several years ranking moot court programs based on a school's overall results in inter-school competitions like the National Moot Court Competition, Jessup, etc.  You can check out the ranking criteria here. Results for previous years can be found by clicking on the appropriate links (2010, 2009, 2008,  and 2007.  See our post from last year here).

Without further ado, here's the list of top 10 moot court programs for 2011:

1.   UC-Hastings
2.   Washington U.
3.   South Texas
4.   Texas Tech
5.   Baylor
6.   UC-Berkeley
7.   Chicago-Kent
8.   Brooklyn
9.   San Diego
10. Loyola-Chicago

You can check out the remaining rankings, schools # 11 through #112, by clicking here.

Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.



March 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Princeton Review: "Deciding to Attend Law School"

A Kindle edition of this new publication by the Princeton Review is scheduled for release on March 12, 2012. From the publisher's synopsis:

Thinking of going to law school? This concise but comprehensive ebook gives you the information you need to decide if a JD and a career as a lawyer are right for you.
In Deciding to Attend Law School, Eric Owens and the experts at the Princeton Review lay out key information to give you a thorough understanding of the issues you may need to consider before applying to law school. You’ll get essential info on:
   · the current admissions landscape
   · the academic experience
   · paying for law school
   · what the market for legal jobs is like right now
   · factors to consider when choosing a law school
   · what you can expect after graduation
Will you enjoy law school socially? Will you be happy practicing law? What kind of law career might be the most rewarding for you? Will you be able to pay off your loans?
Deciding to Attend Law School will give you the information you need to answer those questions—the background, the statistics, and the context to help you make the most informed choice possible. As a bonus, we’ve also included 3 lists from our popular The Best 167 Law Schools profile guide, showing Admissions Selectivity, Academic Experience, and Career Prospects ratings for all 167 schools.


March 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Don’t We Write About Our Failures as Teachers?

Certainly we learn from our mistakes, as do our colleagues. Isn’t that what we tell our students? offers a number of Twitter responses to the question. I am reprinting a few:

It's such a dicey subject. I've written abt teaching failures often. And as often get severely criticized.

We have a competitive culture of "show no weakness," and it impedes our progress. Who disarms first?

I think some have already started but it's this huge assessment push to ct "success" that's undoing

My fav was the criticism that I'd be a better teacher if I spent less time blogging/advocating/etc.

We don't use "failure" but certainly things that didn't go well/as planned.

The best teachers risk spectacular failure.


March 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Casemaker – Review of Newest Version

Robert Ambrogi at LawSites has posted this review of the newest version of Casemaker.  The new version is a big improvement and may be of interest for those doing legal research.  The new release also includes optional “premium” services including a citator tool, case digest, and a citation checker for Word documents. 

Casemaker has incorporated a single Google-like search box, much like WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.  The other enhancements include:

• "User-created folders. The new Casemaker lets you create custom folders and store documents in them. As you view a document, a folder icon at the top lets you add it to any folder you’ve created. A separate button at the top of the page does this same thing and also lets you create a new folder. Once you’ve added a document to a folder, this same button shows you the name of the folder in which you’ve stored it. You can also drag and drop a document title to the folder icon to save it.
• Track research by client. You can assign a research session to a specific client and matter number. Casemaker will remember clients you’ve previously added. When you select a client, the client name appears in the navigation bar and Casemaker tracks and produces a report of that research session showing hours worked for that client.
• Add notes to documents. You can now add notes to any document with a single click. You can choose to show or hide these notes and can edit any notes you’ve already created."

Casemaker is available through 25 state bar associations or through a subscription.  More information is available here.


March 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pretrial Litigation Courses

Evelyn Calogero of Cooley Law School writes,

We (I and my adjunct faculty (all experienced practicing lawyers)) at Cooley have been teaching a Pretrial Skills class (known by many other names over the years) since at least the late 1980s.  Students begin by interviewing the prospective client, prepare litigation strategies and budgets, write complaints and answers, engage in discovery, take depositions, go through case evaluation, go through settlement negotiations, and finally write summary judgment motions and responses and argue those motions before sitting Michigan judges.  The course is required for all students who choose litigation as a concentration.

The feedback we uniformly receive from students during their externships is that Pretrial Skills was by far the most valuable class they completed because it allowed them to hit the ground running in their law office externship placements.  They tell us that they were able to jump right in, while externs from other schools first needed to learn how to draft the documents our students drafted in the Pretrial Skills class. 

We receive similar feedback from the externs' lawyer supervisors.  These lawyers are amazed at how much knowledge of civil practice the externs bring with them.  And they're pleased that they don't first have to explain complaints, answers, discovery, and motion practice to them.

Comment:  All students who intend to go into litigation need to take a course like this.  This is no reason that students can't learn how to write complaints, answers, discovery, etc. in law school.

(Scott Fruehwald) 

March 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"How to keep a job search discreet."

Looking for another job to avoid a rumored lay-off is always tricky; while you may need to bail, you don't want a rumored downsizing to become a self-fulfilling prophecy for you. Here are some tips from the Harvard Business Review for searching for a new job on the "down-low" in order to keep the one you've got in the meantime.

What the Experts Say
The job market may be bleak, but that doesn't mean you're stuck. If you've heard rumors of layoffs or you've simply outgrown your current job, it's ok to look. Priscilla Claman, president of Career Strategies, Inc., a Boston-based firm offering career coaching and management services, says the job market is more active than most people think. "For some people it's truly terrible but I know plenty of people who are leaving jobs and finding jobs." Of course, searching for a job while trying to stay employed is tricky. But if you manage it skillfully, you'll be able to move on without burning bridges, strengthening your professional relationships in the process, says Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder International and the author of Great People Decisions. Just follow these principles:

Do your homework
Fernández-Aráoz says that the first step to any job search is a thorough analysis of what you're good at and what you love to do. Get clear on what you're looking for in your next position. Then reality-check that with the market. Are there jobs out there that have the characteristics you're searching for? Do you have the right qualifications? To help you assess, turn to trusted advisors such as friends in your field or search consultants.

Consider internal options first
Once you know what you want, start your search inside your company. "In my experience, all too often people don't work enough on trying to redefine their job and career prospects with their current employer, and prematurely decide to start looking elsewhere," says Fernández-Aráoz. There may be internal opportunities that will satisfy your needs, such as reshaping your job, moving to another team, or taking on a special project. If opportunities are limited or you're certain you want out of the company, then take your search outside.

Keep it secret if necessary
Many people have to keep their search quiet. Perhaps you don't have a strong relationship with your boss, or you worry about retribution from colleagues, or you fear you won't find another position and don't want to risk the embarrassment. In these cases, it's prudent not to let anyone at your current employer know you're looking. "If you do the secret job search, you have to be religious about not letting things out in your social media or using your office email," says Claman. "It can be distracting to have everyone know that you are looking for something new," says Fernández-Aráoz.

Network carefully
If there is a colleague you trust, however, consider sharing the news. Divulging your search to another person can help build momentum and make contacts. "This disclosure will clearly commit you to actually and properly look for a new opportunity," says Fernández-Aráoz. It may also help with networking (the key to any successful job hunt). You can also casually mention your search to people not associated with your company — so long as you do it carefully. You don't have to say, "Hi, I'm Amy Gallo and I'm looking for a job." When you speak with potential employers or contacts, you can say something like, "I'm doing well at my current position and I'm always entertaining options for what's next." Don't act desperate. "Never say I'm dying to get out of here. People don't want people who are dying to get out of somewhere," says Claman.

When to tell your boss
No boss likes to find out from someone else that one of her direct reports is looking for a new job. You should therefore tell your manager as soon as you're comfortable doing so. There are risks: She may try to make it difficult for you to interview or give you a poor reference. She may treat you differently knowing you want to leave. But both Claman and Fernández-Aráoz note that there are several upsides to having a frank discussion with your boss. First, she may be able to help you identify opportunities inside or outside your organization. Second, the disclosure may facilitate the search process. "The right boss may make it easier for you to look for the right new job, and eventually may refer you to some attractive opportunities," says Fernández-Aráoz. Third, you will build good will. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and the opportunity to plan ahead for your departure. All that said, if you know your manager will have a negative reaction, and is unlikely to support you, it's best to wait until after you have an offer to inform her.

Interview on your own time
Most employers will want to interview you during normal business hours. Don't sneak off for fake meetings or feign being sick. Fit the interviews into your schedule without cheating your current employer. If your boss tracks your every move, take vacation or personal time. If your manager is suspicious, explain that you have a personal issue you need to tend to.

Provide the right references
If your current manager doesn't know you're job-hunting, you obviously can't use him as a reference. Provide the names of previous employers or give the name of a trusted colleague at your present company who is aware of your search and can speak to your performance. If a hiring manager insists on a reference directly from your boss, explain that you can provide one at the point of offer. Claman says that many organizations will make you an offer contingent on good references. This means you need to get in front of your boss as soon as possible after you've received the good news. And you need to persuade him to give you a positive recommendation despite his possible irritation at your departure.

Don't accept the counteroffer
Some employers will counteroffer when you announce you are leaving. Fernández-Aráoz urges caution when contemplating these offers: "In my experience, these are usually vague promises about more money and more responsibility." He says that in most cases when people accept the counteroffer, they end up leaving, or even being fired, shortly thereafter. "Once you've accepted an offer, it is not only questionable to turn it down for a counteroffer from your current employer, but also a poor career decision."

Leave on good terms
Claman points out that the convention for giving notice is still two weeks. However some people, especially those in senior positions or who are in the midst of a big project, will need to give more. Fernández-Aráoz provides this rule of thumb: "It is mostly a matter or relevance and responsibility. If you are irrelevant, you can leave fast, of course. If you are relevant and have significant responsibility, your new employer will highly respect you for not leaving your current job overnight. One month is usually enough once you have really made up your mind."

No matter how bad things are, don't just walk out the door. Leaving on bad terms can be dangerous for future prospects. "You don't want to walk off a job. It stays with you forever," says Claman.

For more "do's" and "don'ts" about conducting a discreet job search, keep reading here.


March 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom?"

One implication of this recent article from the NYT magazine section is that law students are facing a two-tiered lottery system. The first ticket, which costs you three years of tuition, buys you a chance at a decent job upon graduation. But once you land the job, you entered into another lottery just to keep it.

Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom?

In their book “Freakonomics,” Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt explain, among other things, the odd economic behavior that guides many drug dealers. In one gang they described, the typical street-corner guy made less than minimum wage but still worked extremely hard in hopes of some day becoming one of the few wildly rich kingpins. This behavior isn’t isolated to illegal activity. There are a number of professions in which workers are paid, in part, with a figurative lottery ticket. The worker accepts a lower-paying job in exchange for a slim but real chance of a large, future payday.

This more or less explains Hollywood. Yes, the Oscars may be an absurd spectacle of remarkably successful people congratulating themselves for work that barely nudges at the borders of meaningful human achievement. But it’s also a celebration of a form of meritocratic capitalism. I’m not talking about the fortunes lavished on extremely good looking people; no, I mean the economic system that compels lots of young people to work extremely hard for little pay so that it’s possible to lavish fortune on the good-looking people. That’s the spirit of meritocratic capitalism!

Hollywood is, in some ways, the model lottery industry. For most companies in the business, it doesn’t make economic sense to, as Google does, put promising young applicants through a series of tests and then hire only the small number who pass. Instead, it’s cheaper for talent agencies and studios to hire a lot of young workers and run them through a few years of low-paying drudgery. (Actors are another story altogether. Many never get steady jobs in the first place.) This occupational centrifuge allows workers to effectively sort themselves out based on skill and drive. Over time, some will lose their commitment; others will realize that they don’t have the right talent set; others will find that they’re better at something else.

When it’s time to choose who gets the top job or becomes partner, managers subsequently have a lot more information to work with. In the meantime, companies also get the benefit of several years of hard work from determined young people at below-market pay. (Warner Brothers pays its mailroom clerks $25,000 to $30,000, a little more than an apprentice plumber.) While far from perfect, this strategy has done a pretty decent job of pushing those with real promise to the top. Barry Diller and David Geffen each started his career in the William Morris mailroom.

Hollywood is merely the most glamorous industry that puts new entrants — whether they’re in the mailroom, picking up dry cleaning for a studio head or waiting on tables between open-call auditions — through a lottery system. Even glamour-free industries offer economic-lottery systems. Young, ambitious accountants who toil away at a Big Four firm may have modest expectations of glory, but they’ll be millionaires if they make partner. The same goes at law firms, ad agencies and consulting firms. Startups explicitly use a lottery system, known as stock options, to entice young people to work for nothing. Wall Street, however, is a special case. It offers extremely high entry salaries and enormous potential earnings.

Even professions that can’t offer as much in the way of riches operate as a lottery system. Academia, nonprofit groups, book publishers and public-radio production companies also put their new recruits through various forms of low-paid hazing, holding out the promise of, well, more low pay but in a job that provides, for some, something more important than money: satisfaction. In the language of economics, these people are consuming their potential wages in happiness. (Honestly, economists talk this way.)

This system is unfair and arbitrary and often takes advantage of many people who don’t really have a shot at the big prize. But it is far preferable to the parts of our economy where there are no big prizes waiting. That mailroom clerk at Warner Brothers may make less than a post office clerk (maybe even half as much), but the latter has less chance of a significant promotion. Workers in retail sales, clerical settings, low-skill manufacturing and other fields tend to have loose, uncommitted bonds to their industries, and their employers have even looser commitments to them. These jobs don’t offer a bright future precisely because they don’t require a huge amount of skill, and therefore there’s no need to do much merit-sorting.

But part of the American post-World War II economic miracle was that most people didn’t have to choose between a high-stakes-lottery job or a lousy dead-end one. Steelworkers, midlevel corporate executives, shopkeepers and plumbers were all able to make a decent amount from the start of their careers with steady, but never spectacular, raises throughout. These two tiers actually supported each other. Strivers were able to dream bigger because they had a solid Plan B. New York City and Los Angeles are buoyed by teachers, store owners, arts administrators and others who came to town to make it big in film or music or publishing, eventually gave up on that dream and ended up doing fine in another field.

Now, many economists fear that the comfortable Plan B jobs are disappearing. Technology and cheaper goods from overseas have replaced many of the not-especially-creative professions. A tax accountant loses clients to TurboTax; many graphic designers have been replaced by Photoshop; and the small shopkeeper by Home Depot, Walmart or Duane Reade. Though a lottery economy is valuable to various industries, the thought of an entire lottery-based economy, in which a few people win big while the rest are forced to toil in an uncertain and not terribly remunerative dead-end labor pool, is unfair and politically scary. If large numbers of people believe they have no shot at a better life in the future, they will work less hard and generate fewer new ideas and businesses. The economy, as a whole, will be poorer.

It’s not clear what today’s eager 23-year-old will do in 5 or 10 years when she decides that acting (or that accounting partnership) isn’t going to work out after all. The best advice may be to accept that economic success in America will come as much from the labor lottery as from hard work and tenacity. The Oscars make clear that there is only so much room at the top. In a lottery-based economy, you need some luck, too; now, perhaps, more than ever. People should be prepared to enter a few different lotteries, because the new Plan B is just going to be another long shot in a different field. The role model of our time should be an actress who was never nominated for an Oscar. Hedy Lamarr did well enough on the screen but, just in case, she spent her free time developing something called frequency-hopping spread-spectrum. It’s a wireless-communication technique still in use in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Not bad for a fallback.



March 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

“Don’t Go to Law School” Video

Here it is, 4:40 minutes. It showcases many of the stereotypes about law schools and law students.

 Truth is often couched in humor. If there is a good dose of truth here, we need to ask why must law school generate these stereotypes, which are often truthful. Although many are working to humanize law school, law students, and the practice of law, I fear the road forward is an uphill one.


March 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)