Saturday, July 14, 2012

Westlaw will end free printing services for law schools in 2013

Over at the Law Librarian blog, David Walker says he got the inside scoop that come next summer, Westlaw is going to pull the plug on free printing for both students and faculty. According to David's source, Westlaw will let schools keep the printers but the free paper and toner gravy-train is over. 

I was informed by Westlaw that come June 2013 the Westlaw Printer Program for academic customers would come to a close. West cited both the cost of the program and its substantial environmental impact, but explained that the law school has the option of assuming owenership of the printers recieved from Westlaw. At first, I was a little more than disappointed. I doubted that the environmental impact had much to do with West's decision to can the program. Afterall, the law school could choose to assume the printers themselves. It is not that the ability to print is going away but rather just the supply of "free" toner and paper that will cease. Nor was I convinced that WestlawNext's viable alternative to prinitng made much sense either. The letter stated, "The foldering and sharing capability within WestlawNext, which is available to students in 100 percent of U.S. law schools, now provides a viable alternative to printng lengthy documents and storing hard copies in paper folders." West noted that with WLN, users also have the highlight, annotate and store documents and snippets in folders.The letter then went on to say that as a result of these new capabilities, West has "already seen a significant decline in printing amoung all WestlawNext users, including law students."

You can read more of David's post and his thoughts about the Westlaw exit strategy here.

(jbl).

July 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawyers in Alabama Can’t Use Groupon

According to Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Commission, Op. 2012-01, Alabama lawyers can’t use group coupon websites, because the arrangement violates ethics rules against fee-sharing with nonlawyers and the rule requiring all unearned fees to be placed in a trust account. According to the Alabama commission, use of Groupon-style programs risks violating rules on conflicts of interest, competence, diligence, and communication. 

These marketing websites offer consumers the opportunity to purchase goods and services at deep discounts. The websites get a percentage of every purchase.  

Three other state bars have reached a contrary conclusion: North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York. Indiana sides with Alabama. 

These difficult economic times may tempt some lawyers to engage in such schemes. However, one wonders what sorts of clients Groupon attracts. The coupon may get them in the door, but will they be willing to pay full freight once the deal runs out? In addition, how many of those are current clients who now want to pay a bargain fee?  In any case,  Groupon seems  to be losing its appeal. Its stock is in serious decline.

 Here’s the full story from U.S. Law Week

(ljs).

 

July 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dean Nancy Rapoport on reforming the law school curriculum to better prepare students for practice

In this essay found at 116 Penn St. L. Rev. 1119 (2012) (and at SSRN here) Dean Rapoport offers up some suggestions for how schools can better prepare students for practice. She's refreshingly direct in saying that elite law schools don't have to worry much about curricular reform since those students are better prepared from the outset to do law school work and will get jobs in the end. But outside the elites, each school needs to think carefully about making changes to its curriculum that provide students with either the foundational skills that their undergraduate institutions failed to instill, offer a better connection between classroom theory and its practical application or both.

Here's an excerpt:

Preparedness counts. It counts in terms of how well incoming law students can absorb what a legal education can offer, and it counts in terms of how well those students can perform after they graduate. Although elite law schools are beginning to experiment with legal education, they have the luxury of experimenting with students who can afford an experiment gone awry. At the other end of the spectrum, “precarious” [those producing the worst employment outcomes] law schools can’t afford to replicate the curriculum of the elite schools. They must recognize that their students, although bright, lack the same level of preparedness that students in elite schools have, and they must provide a curriculum that helps their students catch up on what they’ve missed.

Some modal law schools [those outside the elites but not as weak as the "precarious" school] are experimenting, too, but most modal law schools are still afraid to experiment because they’re afraid of differentiating themselves from the elite schools. They’re afraid of losing status. Because modal law schools can’t offer the networking advantages that elite law schools have, they should instead offer an
education that relates more specifically to the careers that their graduates are likely to have. I’m not suggesting that modal law schools should convert to some sort of “how to fill out forms and find the courthouse” model—far from it. But modal law schools shouldn’t ignore the discussions of the realities of law practice, either. There’s plenty of room to provide students with a rich curriculum that enables them to recognize their clients’ problems, communicate with those clients more effectively, and draw on legal and non-legal problem-solving tools. Modal law schools today can use “case histories” as a companion to studying cases. They can also use the arts as a way of shaking up preconceptions about perceptions. They could require certain courses as prerequisites to admission. In the best of worlds, they could use a revamped curriculum to turn out lawyers who might even be better at the practice of law than the graduates of the elite schools. But they need to stop chasing the tails of the elite schools. There’s room in legal education for a variety of models, as long as we recognize that every law school should have a curriculum that meets the needs of its own students.

(jbl).

July 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

New York Times On The Penn State Scandal

The New York Times has an editorial on the Penn State scandal here.  A couple of excerpts:

"But the exhaustive investigation by Louis J. Freeh, a former federal judge and F.B.I. director, goes much further. It shows how slavish devotion to some institutional imperative can trump everything, including the law, basic human decency and the bedrock obligation we all have to protect defenseless children from harm. At Penn State, the imperative was protecting a storied football program and its legendary coach. In another huge institution betraying children under its protection, the Roman Catholic Church, it was the sanctity of the priesthood."

"As Mr. Freeh noted on Thursday: “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children Sandusky victimized.” He said they “never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims” until after he was arrested in 2011."

It is unfathomable how the top officials at Penn State could have allowed this to happen for so long.  It would be nice to think that this was an isolated incident, but we know it isn't.  The scandal in the Catholic Church proves this.  Those of us who are part of an institution (which is most of us) are accountable for our institution's actions (at least, those actions we are aware of or should be aware of).  As the New York Times editorial noted, "the report shows that the entire university system — the police, the trustees, the athletic department — failed at just about every level."  As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tough Times: Business Advice for Lawyers

In these tough times, the business side of law gets a lot of attention. How are lawyers going to survive and thrive? When the State Bar of Texas asked Attorney at Work’s Merrilyn Astin Tarlton to deliver a keynote on the topic last month, she asked some top practice management experts for their best advice. Here is my abridged summary from Attorney at Work’s report. In the end, the big message is to go out of your way to serve your clients.

  •  “I would develop a niche expertise that blended my background, interest and local needs, then drive it home both locally and via the Internet as broadly as possible.”
  • “A client calls … rather than spend an hour talking on the phone, spend an hour writing out the six big ideas you would give that person regarding her question. Send your ideas to the client and to 10 others who raise the same question.”
  • In my small town the best legal work is all based on referrals and relationships. Good lawyers here also offer helpful advice for free.”
  • To stay viable, solos and small firms must … adopt cost-effective technology that enables them to meet clients’ expectations and affordability, and deliver legal services in accordance with client demands.”
  •  “Be informal general counsel to the client you love to serve.”
  • Use pricing as a selling tool.”
  •  “Each client has a cluster of needs. Identify and address those clusters of needs.”
  • “Outsource or virtualize every aspect of your law practice: secretarial service, practice management, billing and accounting, marketing, legal research, legal product, even legal analysis—except one. You must be genuinely, 100 percent involved in building and maintaining your personal relationships with your clients.”
  •  “Pick your ideal clients and build your business around serving them way better than anyone else.”
  •  “Have good visibility on the Internet … including social media as well as a traditional website.

(ljs)

July 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bar Exam Prep – Practical Reminders

This list from Solo Practice University is a good reminder of the practical/logistical things to take care of before the upcoming bar exam.  Here is the list:

1.  Confirm where you will stay.
2. Finalize transportation (and parking).
3. Plan your food (need to keep yourself healthy and nourished).
4. Is there a dress code? (Do you want a sweater in case it’s overly air conditioned?)
5. Plan your evenings (need some down time).
6. What do you need to bring with you (if you are staying away from home)?
7. Mitigate other responsibilities (what can you ignore for a few days).
8. Make a list of what you need to bring with you into the testing center.
9. Make sure your laptop and the testing software are working properly.
10. Are you writing your exam?  Bring extra pens.
11. Decide when and where you are going to upload your answers.
12. Keep a positive attitude (it’s about endurance and not letting yourself get psyched out).
13. Reward yourself – schedule something fun to celebrate!


Good luck!  You’re almost there!

(dkh)

July 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NALP finds associate starting salaries have fallen "an astounding 35%" since 2009

This is according to the NALP's annual Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2011.  NALP's Executive Director James Leipold called the drop "surprising in scope" and noted that the class or 2011 has borne the brunt of the legal job market downturn. From the NALP's website:

Median Private Practice Starting Salaries for the Class of 2011 Plunge as Private Practice Jobs Continue to Erode

 The median starting salary for new law school graduates from the Class of 2011 fell 5% from that for 2010 and has fallen nearly 17% just since 2009. The mean salary fell 6.5% compared with 2010, and since 2009 the mean has plunged almost 16% according to new research released today from NALP. The research also reveals that the median starting private practice salary fell over 18% from 2010 and since 2009 has fallen an astonishing 35%. These are among the most dramatic findings that were released this week from NALP's Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2011.

"This drop in starting salaries, while expected, is surprising in its scope" according to NALP's Executive Director James Leipold. "Nearly all of the drop can be attributed to the continued erosion of private practice opportunities at the largest law firms."

. . . .

Figure 1. Starting Salaries: Classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011

  2009 2010 2011 Decrease 2009-2011
Median Salary: $72,000 $63,000 $60,000 17%
Mean Salary: $93,454 $84,111 $78,653 15%
Median Firm Salary: $130,000 $104,000 $85,000 35%
Mean Firm Salary: $115,254 $106,444 $97,821 15%

Other findings include:

  • Of graduates whose employment status was known, only 65.4% obtained a job for which bar passage was required. Moreover, with about 8% of these jobs reported as part-time, the percentage employed in a full-time job requiring bar passage is even lower, 60%. Because some of these jobs will last less than one year, the percentage employed full-time in jobs requiring bar passage that will last at least a year is only 56.7%.

  • Part-time jobs, almost 12% of jobs overall, were found in all employment sectors, but were especially prevalent in academic and public interest settings, where part-time jobs accounted for 43% and 24% of jobs, respectively.

  • Almost 7% of jobs were reported as both part-time and lasting less than a year.

  • Of employed graduates from the Class of 2011, nearly one-quarter (24.6%) were seeking a different job, a nearly 2 percentage point increase compared to the Class of 2010, and sharply higher than the 15.9% figure reported for the Class of 2008. This is the highest figure since NALP began collecting this information with the Class of 1994. The extent to which employed graduates are seeking a different job varies by the kind of job held and by graduate demographics. For example, graduates who attended law school part-time were much more likely to be seeking a different job than were graduates who attended law school full-time — 32% and 24%, respectively.

  • Relatively more employed graduates are setting up their own solo practice after law school. For 2011, 3% of all jobs, and 6% of law firm jobs were reported as solo practice. The figures were about half that in 2007 and 2008.

  • The number of graduates working for a legal temp agency ticked up dramatically in 2011, and is at its highest level since NALP began tracking this kind of job in 2006. About 2% of employed graduates were reported as working for a legal temp agency. In 2009 and 2010, the percentage was about half that.

Check out the full report here.

(jbl).

July 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale to Offer Ph.D. in Law

Yale will begin offering a Ph.D. in Law beginning in fall 2013.  The details are here.  The program description states:

"The Ph.D. in Law is designed to prepare J.D. graduates for careers in legal scholarship through three years of supervised study. Unlike programs designed for students who wish to learn about law from the disciplinary perspectives of the social sciences or the humanities, the Ph.D. in Law degree is for students who have already earned a JD from an American law school and who wish to pursue advanced studies in law from the standpoint of law. This program will offer young scholars an opportunity to contribute to the development of law as an academic field, and it will provide an alternate path into law teaching alongside existing routes such as fellowships, advanced degrees in cognate fields, and transitioning directly from practice or clerkships.

Because admitted students will have already the J.D. degree, the anticipated course of study toward the Ph.D. is three years in residence. In their first two semesters, Ph.D. students will take coursework to acquire the background and research skills they need to complete a dissertation in their field of interest. After their first year, students will take qualifying examinations to test the literacies and skills they have acquired. During their second year, students will develop a dissertation prospectus and begin work on a dissertation. The dissertation may take the form of either three law review articles or a book-length manuscript and will make up a portfolio of writing that students can take with them on the job market.  Ph.D. students will receive the full support of Yale Law School’s Law Teaching program, which has had remarkable success in placing graduates in tenure-track positions at law schools.

Starting in the early of Fall of 2012, the Law School will accept applications for admission to begin study toward the Ph.D. in September of 2013. Applicants to the Ph.D. in Law program must have completed a J.D. degree at a United States law school before they apply for admission.

Ph.D. students will receive a full tuition waiver, health insurance coverage and a stipend to cover their year-round living expenses."

The program already has received criticism here and here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oxford Dictionaries Blog on Plain English

The blog offers a nice posting on plain English as well as short summary (with examples) of George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.” Judith Fischer has also published a good article on Orwell’s classic piece.

(ljs)

July 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Socratic Method-Problem Method Dichotomy: The Debate over Teaching Method Continues

I have long advocated that problem-solving exercises be incorporated into doctrinal courses.  Cynthia Hawkins DeBose has posted an article on SSRN, which agrees that there should be a strong emphasis on problem solving in doctrinal courses.

Abstract: This article examines the positive and negative attributes of the two primary teaching methods used in law school classrooms -- namely, the Socratic Method and the Problem Method. It addresses in particular the questions of whether there is benefit to teaching law by the Problem Method rather than the time honored Socratic Method; and whether there is some combination of the two methods that would be most appropriate. The author argues that a combination of the two, with a strong emphasis on the Problem Method, will better prepare law students for the legal environment they will enter after law school. Law schools need to graduate students who not only “think like lawyers” but who are able to “perform like lawyers.” The author concludes that by implementing more of the Problem Method in first-year and other doctrinal courses -- along with an increased emphasis on skills-based and clinical courses -- law schools can create an overall curriculum that better prepares students to practice law.

(Scott Fruehwald)

July 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

A service that lets attorneys search public records cheaply

This is an undoubtedly handy service for lawyers (though it could be a little creepy if misused) that for $5.00 will prepare a very thorough dossier of public information, even a social security number, for any person of interest. This goes way beyond anything you could likely accomplish on your own with Google by providing to you in one comprehensive report a plethora of information including criminal records, alias, addresses (former and current), telephone numbers, assets, mortgages, driver's license, voter registration, and vehicle records among other things. Less comprehensive reports can be had for $1.00.  Check it out via Law Technology News:

Search Public Records on the Cheap

TLO online investigative services offer inexpensive but comprehensive public records research.

If you have a spare [dollar], there's a database to satisfy all your investigative research needs. No, we're not living in the past and talking about Accurint (which charged a quarter per search until it was acquired by Lexis in 2004). We're talking about TLO online investigative systems (www.tlo.com), launched in 2011, but only recently marketed to lawyers.

This is the database for those who don't want to be hamstrung by monthly or annual fees, and really like low prices. In some situations, you don't even need a penny to use it. Death records and 411 public phone records are free to all subscribers; law enforcement agencies can access TLO without any fees.

Even TLO's "Comprehensive Reports" — basically a background dossier about your target — are priced at a low cost of $5. If you need something less detailed, TLO can unearth just real property records or personal assets (no, not bank accounts), or criminal histories, bankruptcies, mortgages, and vehicle records. In some states, drivers' licenses and voter registrations are public, and thus are available.

In the case of a missing or evasive person, you have the option to search with nothing more than an address or phone number. For example, we searched TLO for a person who was evading service and found an address not identified by one of the other investigative databases we had routinely used (and now no longer employ). With that information, our client successfully served the individual.

In addition to public records and publicly available information, TLO's database includes proprietary data and credit headers (which typically include name, variations of names, current and prior address, phone number, date of birth, and Social Security number).

Like all databases that provide credit headers, TLO requires pre-authorization prior to using its database. Once approved, access to full Social Security numbers is granted without the site visit required by most other database vendors. However, if you have a home-based business, you will not be granted access to full Social Security numbers.

If you need access to full Social Security numbers, LocatePlus (www.locateplus.com/welcome.asp) from Beverly, Mass.-based USA Protect, is a possible option. They grant home-based businesses access to full Social Security numbers, but beware; their comprehensive report is not nearly as detailed as TLO reports.

Lexis' Accurint will not state what qualifications must be met to gain access to full Social Security numbers, but its policy is quite restrictive and a site visit is always required. Thomson Reuters' Westlaw PeopleMap does not offer full Social Security numbers to anyone. While Merlin Information Services, based in Kalispell, Mont., might offer lawyers full Social Security numbers, they also require a site visit. And the company precludes lawyers from accessing their comprehensive reports.

Despite the sophistication of TLO's database, searching is easy. The home page displays five broad search categories: People, Business Plus, Courts, Criminal Records, and Assets. Each broad search category (for example, People) is broken down into narrower categories, such as Advanced, Expert Plus, Expanded Expert, Deceased, Licenses, and Emails.

Continue here to see some screen grabs and read more details about this public records search service.

(jbl).

July 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Vault's list of best "lifestyle" law firms according to associates

These days, you could say that any firm hiring is a good one to work for. But if you're fortunate enough to have multiple offers, you may want to check out the 2012 Vault ranking of law firms based on quality of life criteria. Here's the press release:

Transparency Takes Center Stage As Vault Ranks 13 Quality of Life Categories

New York, NY, (July 11, 2012) For the second straight year, Williams & Connolly has been named the Best Law Firm to Work For by associates who applauded the firm’s commitment to employee satisfaction in Vault’s annual Quality of Life Rankings for 2013.

Williams & Connolly beat former two-time winner, Ropes & Gray, to claim the title, but job seekers were the real winners. Together, the firms earned the highest scores in a combined seven quality of life categories, making them choice firms for those who place such categories at the top of their job search criteria. 

“For many law students and potential lateral candidates, quality of life issues are just as important as other factors, such as a firm’s prestige,” said Rachel Marx, law editor at Vault.com. “The firms highlighted in this year’s Quality of Life rankings have outstanding legal practices but also excel in less quantifiable areas such as associate/partner relations, mentoring initiatives and transparency of management.”

Vault.com’s influential rankings are considered the “bible” for law students, associates, partners and law firm recruiters, providing a detailed perspective on the criteria considered by candidates when evaluating law firms.  The Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings provide a unique insider’s perspective: nearly 17,000 associates ranked their own firms based on such areas as overall satisfaction, associate/partner relations, firm culture, hours, compensation, office space, training, pro bono work, business outlook and green initiatives. From those rankings, a weighted formula determined the Best Law Firms to Work For

The Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For Are:

1.    Williams & Connolly

2.    Ropes & Gray

3.    Patton Boggs        

4.    Baker Donelson

5.    Sutherland Asbill & Brennan

6.    Foley Hoag

7.    Munger, Tolles & Olson

8.    Fish & Richardson

9.    Paul Hastings

10.  Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

“Williams & Connolly associates love the practice of law and are thrilled with the opportunities they are given to do meaningful work on the most interesting cases and deals,” Marx continued. “This year, associates from the firm said their work was ‘endlessly interesting,’ and more than one associate said they ‘could not imagine being more satisfied’ at any other firm.”

In addition to being named Best Law Firm to Work For, Williams & Connolly also ranked No. 1 in Satisfaction, Firm Culture, Selectivity and Business Outlook. Looking ahead, one associate noted that Williams & Connolly’s “fantastic client base” would ensure that the firm had more than enough work for years to come.

Ropes & Gray also performed strongly, ranking No. 1 in Hours, with associates praising their firm for its reasonable hours requirement and flexibility in allowing attorneys to work from home in the evenings. The firm’s associates also appreciate that 100% of their pro bono work counts toward their annual billable hours requirement. The firm also ranked No. 1 in both Formal Training and Informal Training and Mentoring, with survey respondents noting that incoming associates receive practice area-specific training and are assigned associate development partners who give feedback throughout the year.

“Both formal and informal training are essential to a young associate’s success, and Ropes & Gray excels in both areas,” Marx said. According to one Ropes & Gray associate, “The informal training and mentorship has been a key component of my growth as a lawyer.”

Transparency Takes Center Stage

“Law firm transparency is a hot-button issue these days – one that comes up again and again in Vault’s annual associate survey,” Marx noted. “Increasingly, associates want more information about how their firm is run, how well the firm is doing financially and how partnership decisions are made.”

Munger Tolles, which also jumped five spots to No. 1 for Associate/Partner Relations, proved to be the most transparent (it was No. 2 in Leadership Transparency last year), with associates at the firm stating that they “get a vote in most firm decisions, including hiring new associates,” and that “the firm’s finances are completely transparent.”

According to Marx, associates’ appreciation for the firm’s openness made a big impact on the overall Quality of Life rankings this year. “It is telling that Munger Tolles debuted on both the Best to Work For List at No. 7 and the Satisfaction rankings at No. 6 in the same year that its Transparency and Associate/Partner Relations scores skyrocketed.”

Patton Boggs Makes Its Mark

Vault’s latest rankings were highlighted by a strong showing from Patton Boggs, which debuted in the Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For ranking at an astounding No. 3 spot. The Washington, D.C.-based firm’s excellent ranking is backed by its top-notch pro bono efforts. Patton Boggs, which requires all of its associates to perform a minimum of 100 pro bono hours each year, jumped from No. 5 to No. 1 in this year’s Pro Bono ranking. Associates said they loved the “fascinating” pro bono cases the firm offers; one associate noted that “Patton Boggs has the best pro bono program I have ever seen.” And it’s not just a stellar pro bono program that Patton Boggs associates are giddy over—the firm ranked within the Top 10 in ten different quality of life categories.

Other Top-Ranked Firms in Vault’s Annual Quality of Life Rankings Are:

Compensation: Boies Schiller (According to associates, the firm is “not a market leader – a market buster”)

Green Initiatives: Fenwick & West (Insiders boasted that their firm is “continually recognized as a leader with respect to environmentally friendly practices”)

Office Space: Thompson & Knight (Associates cited the “artistic” and “modern” style as one of their “favorite things about coming to work.”)

View the entire 2013 Vault Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings

(jbl).

July 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Advantages of Being a Country Kid

John Cleland is a highly respected trial court judge in Pennsylvania. This past June, he spoke at the graduation ceremonies of his alma mater, Kane Area High School, in the rural northwestern part of the state. His remarks portray a different type of education than most of my students have encountered and labored under. Here are some excerpts. He makes many references to Robert H. Jackson, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court and was chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, and was a "country kid":

Robert H. Jackson, who was one of the most influential men of the 20th Century, was born not even 50 miles from here, in Spring Creek, over in Warren County.  He was born and raised on a small farm, near a small town, along a country road and a trout stream.  He was a country kid too.  He applied as an adult the lessons he learned walking those fields, hunting those woods, fishing those waters, and living with those people.

He started out in life with the advantage of being a country kid.  And so do you.

He learned some important lessons as a country boy.

You have learned them too. But it will take a while for you to figure it out.  You can travel the world; you can live far away; you can leave Kane, or Mt. Jewett, or James City or Ludlow or Lamont; but they will never leave you.  They are a part of what you are.  You have learned important lessons here. 

Jackson, for example, taught the world an important legal lesson he learned on the country playgrounds of his youth: we don’t put up with bullies—not in the schoolyard, not in the market place, not in world politics. 

You have learned, as Robert Jackson learned, that we have to live together, for better or worse; and get along, for better or worse.  

The person I might have a disagreement with over coffee in the morning might be the very same person I need to call that afternoon to fix my furnace, or who might take care of me that night as the emergency room nurse.  I might think someone’s religious beliefs are odd, but I have to admit she makes a great leek dip.  If I have had a prosperous year, I give a little more to my church or to the United Way.  And if I have had a bad year, well maybe someone will help me out.  You get the idea. 

It seems so obvious to you, doesn’t it?  Of course it does.  But try explaining that to our friends in Harrisburg and Washington, or to the shouting heads on network television. It is not a lesson they have learned. Too bad more of them did not grow up in the country like all of you did. 

You, who have grown up in the country have learned, I hope, like Robert Jackson learned, that when we live together in small communities we understand that there is a little bad in the best of us, and a little good in the worst of us.  And the breath of God in all of us. 

As my mother used to remind me:  If you don’t like a person, you just don’t know them well enough. 

Another country lesson that, like Jackson, you will eventually realize you have learned is that you know how to do stuff.  I know that is not very articulate, but I don’t really know how to express it any differently. 

Because Kane High School is small you have had opportunities to become both leaders and followers.  You have learned how to fix things, organize things, play games, hunt, fish, pitch a tent, tie a knot, hem a skirt, paint a poster, act in a play, march in a band, entertain yourselves—stuff you don’t even realize other people may not know how to do.

You have learned in a small town what it means to be counted on.  I like the way Tim Holt, Chief of our Kane Volunteer Fire Department explained it one day:  “When we get to a fire or an accident,” he said, “we can’t call in the cavalry; we are the cavalry.” 

I have been amazed at the stories I have heard about kids from small town, kids just like you, who go on to be successful in the military, in business, in government.  And why: because they are lucky enough to have learned how to do things, and how to get things done. 

And one final lesson:  As Jackson did, growing up in the country you will someday understand how important it has been in your life that people have taken an interest in you.

 I know there are down sides to country life.  You are a long way from concerts and museums and shopping malls and the bright lights.  But let me tell you this:  when you get right down to it, when you really think about what makes you happy and successful, that is superficial stuff. 

You are luckier than you can ever imagine to have grown up in these mountains, and among these people—to have gown up in this very small place in this very, very big world. 

Have no doubt about it:  You can go anywhere is this very, very big world and compete against anyone in anything that you are willing to work hard enough to do. 

And so, you have some unfinished business. 

It is that business of saying thank you—and of living your lives with an enduring sense of gratitude for all that you have been given. 

Tip of the hat to the Robert H. Jackson Center.(ljs)

 

July 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Volume of e-discovery work grows which is expected boon to outsourcing firms

But it will not spur the hiring of many new full-time attorneys as corporate law departments feel pressure "to do more with less" to control costs. From Law Technology News:

Survey Shows Surge in E-Discovery Work at Law Firms and Corporations

E-discovery vendors will be happy to hear the metrics released Thursday by The Cowen Group, a New York-based headhunter and research consultancy, which show a strong spurt of growth in electronic data discovery workload at law firms. Writes managing partner David Cowen, in the executive summary: "2012 has been a year of progress and promise for e-discovery professionals." The survey, of 88 law firm and corporate law department professionals, found that 70 percent of law firms reported an increase in workload for their litigation support and e-discovery departments. That figure, says Cowen, is a sharp rise from the 2Q 2009 report, where only 42 percent of firms reported increases. Corporate law departments followed suit, with 77 percent of respondents also reporting workload spikes.

Bolstering the prediction, 55 percent of corporate and 62 percent of firm respondents said they "anticipate outsourcing a significant amount of e-discovery to third-party providers (with some organizations expected to do both)." The firms expect to grow capacity either by adding head count or purchasing new (or updating) technology, he notes.

Not only that, but the growth is expected to happen soon: 50 percent of the firms believe they will increase technology speeding in the next three months -- a sharp contrast from 2010 when only 31 percent of firms were planning additional EDD technology investments. Likewise, 43 percent of firms plan to add people in the next three months, compared to 32 percent last year.

Meanwhile, says Cowen, corporate legal departments are feeling increasing pressure to "do more with less in-house to keep external costs down." Only 12 percent expect to increase headcount, but 30 percent will spike technology spending in the next six months, he says in the report.

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

E-textbooks continue to be hard sell to college students

For the past couple of years, I've been blogging about the extent to which e-textbooks are displacing the hardcopy versions (sometimes referred to as "p-texts") (here, here, here and here). Confounding assumptions about digital natives, many students still prefer traditional hardcopy for school work despite the greater convenience and cost savings (though it's not as much as you would think) of e-textbooks. Here's the abstract of another recent, small study showing that students at this Michigan college overwhelmingly favored hardcopy although those who tried electronic books said they'd use them again if given the chance.

E-TEXTBOOKS USAGE BY STUDENTS AT ANDREWS UNIVERSITY: A
STUDY OF ATTITUDES, PERCEPTTIONS, AND BEHAVIORS

Although e-books have been incorporated into the academic library’s collection for over a decade now, it has not been, until today, without question. It is still, as the literature reveals, a controversial topic for librarians, publishers, and users around the globe. Although many researches indicate that patrons still prefer the printed format over the electronic version, the tipping point seems to be reaching us earlier then many might think. The growing availability of e-books to users has begun to
affect user perceptions and attitudes, creating more access and usage opportunities, a recent research concluded. This paper presents the results of a large scale survey designed to investigate usage patterns of and attitudes towards e-books by students at Andrews University. One important aspect which the study investigated is how the use of e-books impacts student’s learning. The subjects were divided into two different groups, namely, (1) students who purchased the electronic version of an e-textbook for a class (the bookstore offered 74 books in an electronic format), and (2) students who had the opportunity of purchasing the electronic version of a textbook but preferred the traditional print format. Only four percent of the population studied opted to use an e-textbook.

The print version is still greatly preferred by college students. However, the majority of those who used e-textbooks, would use it again and would recommend it to a friend. Lack of awareness, not knowing how to get it, eyestrain, and difficulty of reading are the culprits for students not using ebooks more often. Although it is possible to note an increase of e-books usage, caution is recommended when developing collection development policies when includes e-books.

(jbl).

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11: Aaron Burr Shoots Alexander Hamilton

From History.com

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America's political economy, died the following day.

Affairs of honor were commonplace in America at the time, and the complex rules governing them usually led to an honorable resolution before any actual firing of weapons. In fact, the outspoken Hamilton had been involved in several affairs of honor in his life, and he had resolved most of them peaceably. No such recourse was found with Burr, however, and on July 11, 1804, the enemies met at 7 a.m. at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, New Jersey. It was the same spot where Hamilton's son had died defending his father's honor two years before.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Hamilton's "second"--his assistant and witness in the duel--Hamilton decided the duel was morally wrong and deliberately fired into the air. Burr's second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed. What happened next is agreed upon: Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach, and the bullet lodged next to his spine. Hamilton was taken back to New York, and he died the next afternoon.

You can read a full account here.

(ljs)

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rutgers-Newark Clinic Need Not Disclose Client Records Despite State Open Records Law

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The New Jersey State Supreme Court has held that the state's open-records law does not require a Rutgers University legal clinic to relinquish client files, handing a major victory to higher-education associations, which warned that an inability to maintain attorney-client privilege would badly damage the nation's public law schools.

Overturning a state appeals-court decision against the public law clinic, the State Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that the state's open-records act does not cover documents related to such clinics' efforts to represent clients.

One would think that this ruling was a no-brainer. However, note that the N.J. Supreme Court was overturning a contrary ruling by the  state’s intermediate appellate court. In states with open meetings law, a wise idea might be a statutory amendment shielding clinics.

(ljs)

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Social Media/Online Image Important to Job Search

This story from Time Magazine (Moneyland) discusses how recruiters use social networks to make hiring decisions.  Graduates need to be aware of their online presence and make sure they are projecting an image that will help their job prospects.

“[J]ob seekers may be surprised to hear just how many recruiters now use social media throughout the hiring process. Perhaps more surprising still, most recruiters are apparently checking for grammar and spelling on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

A new survey released by Jobvite, a company that provides applicant tracking software, shows that 92% of employers are using or planning to use social networks for recruiting this year…..

What you post or Tweet can have positive or negative impact on what recruiters think of you. Four out of five recruiters liked to see memberships and affiliations with professional organizations on a candidate’s profile, and another 66% react positively when a profile mentions volunteerism efforts. On the other hand, references to illicit drugs, posts of a sexual nature, and mentions of alcohol consumption were likely to be viewed negatively by 78%, 67%, and 47% of recruiters. Interestingly enough, poor grammar and spelling mistakes are worse social networking sins than writing about your latest binge-drinking adventure: 54% of recruiters had a negative reaction to grammar and spelling mistakes, compared to 47% of recruiters negative reaction to alcohol references.”

It’s more important than ever to teach our students to manage their online image!

(dkh)


 

July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Legal sector shows modest gain of 200 jobs in June

That's a drop from the previous month.  AmLaw Daily has the story here. Keep in mind that figure includes not just attorney jobs but non-JD positions like paralegal and support staff.  The long term outlook over the next 10 years is equally tepid according to some BLS data Professor Bill Henderson published back in April over at the Legal Whiteboard blog.

According to the BLS, there were 728,200 lawyer jobs in the U.S. in 2010.  By 2020, that number will grow to 801,800, producing a gain of 73,600. Currently, law schools average approximately 45,000 graduates per year, albeit entering classes have been trending upwards.  The BLS Handbook states:

[G]rowth in demand for lawyers will be constrained as businesses increasingly use large accounting firms and paralegals to do some of the same tasks that lawyers do. For example, accounting firms may provide employee-benefit counseling, process documents, or handle various other services that law firms previously handled. ... 

Competition [for lawyer jobs] should continue to be strong because more students are graduating from law school each year than there are jobs available. ...

So what can law schools do to mitigate the problem of way too much supply and not nearly enough demand?  Professor Henderson suggests there's really only one thing we can do if we want to control our own destiny and that's to retool our curricula to make a law degree a more versatile asset for those grads who will be forced to look outside the legal profession for employment.

(jbl).

July 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Job opening for director of health law clinic

In Memphis (which is a really cool place to live). The details:

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law invites nominations and applications for a tenure track Associate or Full Professor / Director of its developing Center for Health Law.  Applicants are expected to hold a J.D.; have demonstrated experience in teaching health law or related subjects; and have a clearly established record of scholarship in the field.  The Law School encourages expressions of interest from applicants who have established, or are establishing, national reputations as teachers and scholars in the field and who are interested in promoting the Law School’s Center for Health Law.

The Director’s responsibilities will include strategic planning, fundraising, curriculum development, maintenance and growth of relationships with relevant local, national, and international scholarly and professional associations, scholarship production, teaching, and mentoring.

The Law School seeks to expand its health-law curriculum and related health-law opportunities for the purpose of assuming the leading role in the MidSouth in training health-care lawyers, promoting scholarship and discussion concerning health-care law and policy, and providing pro bono health care-related legal services to low-income individuals.  This initiative is aligned with the University’s increasing emphasis on health-related education, demonstrated, inter alia, by the recent founding of the School of Public Health and a significant expansion of the School of Nursing.

Health care is—and will continue to be—particularly important to the Memphis region because of the concentration of hospitals and clinics, medical device industries, biotechnical enterprises, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, medical teaching schools, universities, courts, and law firms.  Every aspect of the health care research, teaching, and delivery system is present in abundance in Memphis.  The Law School’s creation of a Center for Health Law has broad and strong support. 

The Law School celebrates its 50th anniversary in its new building, the newly restored U.S. Customs House in downtown Memphis.  A $48 million project, the structure offers a magnificent setting for learning and teaching and striking views of the Mississippi River.  We look forward to bolstering our current outstanding faculty with a talented professor committed to excellence in both scholarship and teaching.

Memphis is a beautiful and diverse city with low real estate prices and an excellent quality of life. The city is known for its friendly atmosphere, revitalized downtown, and attractions such as Graceland, Beale Street, Opera Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Zoo, NBA Grizzlies, Memphis Tigers basketball team, National Civil Rights Museum, and nationally recognized theatre companies.

Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications, and the University offers an attractive benefits package.  Candidates are invited to discuss salary with the Hiring Committee Chair (below).  The School has a strong institutional commitment to the diversity of its faculty and is particularly interested in receiving expressions of interest from persons who will add to its diversity.  Review of applications will begin in early fall and will continue until the position is filled. 

Please submit applications to https://workforum.memphis.edu.  E-mail nominations to smulroy@memphis.edu with “Health Law Director” in the subject heading.  Nominations also may be submitted by mail to:  Professor Steven Mulroy, Chair, Health Law Hiring Committee, University of Memphis School of Law, 1 N. Front Street, Memphis, TN 38103.  Nominations should include complete contact information for nominees.

The University of Memphis is an EEO/AA employer.

(jbl).

July 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)