January 28, 2012
David Segal of the NYT on law school reform: "Not much is going to happen."
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you're well familiar with the controversial series of articles written by New York Times reporter David Segal on the so-called "law school scam." Love him or hate him, Mr. Segal has certainly succeeded in raising awareness about the pitfalls of attending law school at a time when the job market for lawyers may be undergoing permanent, fundamental change. Interestingly, in this interview with Bloomberg Law, Mr. Segal says that despite predications of a revolution in legal education, he thinks that the "business" of educating lawyers will remain essentially the same, although some schools may eventually have to lower admission standards to fill all the seats.
Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.
Top iPad apps for lawyers
Courtesy of Jonathan D. Frieden at the E-Commerce Law Blog.
1. Dropbox (Available on App Store, FREE) - Dropbox is a cloud storage service used by more than 25 million people. The Dropbox app allows me to use my iPad to access Word, Excel, PDF, and other documents that I've stored "in the cloud." The service offers 2 GB of storage for free, with additional storage available for a fee. If you use this link to sign up for the Dropbox service, you'll receive an extra 250 MB of free storage.
2. Sugarsync (Available on App Store, FREE) - Sugarsync is another cloud storage service with an iPad app. Like Dropbox, both the app and some amount of storage are free but Sugarsync provides more free storage (5 GB) than Dropbox. Like Dropbox, additional storage is available for a fee. If you use this link to sign up for the Sugarsync service, you'll receive an extra 500 MB of free storage.
I use both Dropbox and Sugarsync, so I have a total of 7 GB of free cloud storage accessible from my iPad, iPhone, and work and home computers.
3. Goodreader (Available on App Store, $4.99) - A reviewer at pcmag.com said that "Goodreader transforms your $500 iPad into the best reader, file manager, and annotator on the market." I don't know if it's the best such application on the market, but it's the most useful that I've found and it's an app that I use every day. Goodreader allows me to read, annotate, and store locally all of those Word, Excel, PDF, and other files that I've stored using Dropbox and Sugarsync. I use it to read and revise documents (with this stylus) and review my notes during trial and oral argument.
4. Note Taker HD (Available on App Store, $4.99) - Note Taker HD has some of the same annotation features as Goodreader but I use it primarily to take handwritten notes in meetings, depositions, and hearings and then email them to my assistant for inclusion in the relevant electronic or paper files. Except for hearings in those few courts whose security protocols prevent me from bringing in my iPad, I haven't used a legal pad in months.
5. Quickoffice HD Pro (Available on App Store, $19.99) - Quickoffice HD Pro is the "Office" suite for your iPad. Obviously, its word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software does have all of the features of Microsoft Office, but they are surprisingly capable and interface seamlessly with Dropbox and Sugarsync. If pressed, I'm certain that I could use Quickoffice to draft any document I needed to but I'd probably have to ask my assistant to clean up some of the formatting before sending it out.
7. TripIt (Available on App Store, FREE) - As I mentioned in my review of iPhone apps a couple of years ago, TripIt is a great app for keeping travel itineraries. When you receive confirmation emails from your airline and hotel, you simply email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and the site organizes your itinerary for you, complete with relevant maps. (The TripIt website has additional details.)
8. Time Master (Available on the iPhone App Store, $9.99) - In 2009, I mentioned that I was attempting to help my clients control and predict legal costs through the use of alternative billing arrangements but that the majority of my work was still performed on the basis of the traditional billable hour. More than two years later, I'm still tied to the billable hour, though more and more of my work is done under alternative arrangements. Time Master allows me to track my time, attribute it to the appropriate client and matter, and email completed timesheets to my assistant for input into the firm's accounting system. The application also tracks my client-reimbursable expenses and could be used to create billing statements to send to clients, if I wished. (On-Core has a website explaining all of the application's features and the iPhone version of the application has been reviewed by iPhone J.D. and the Apple Blog.)
9. FlightTrack (Available on App Store, $4.99 (Regular Version) or $9.99 (Pro Version)) - The FlightTrack app allows me to import my flight information from airline confirmation emails and track those flights with push alerts for flight changes. Occasionally, I've been traveling and the FlightTrack app updated a relevant departure gate or baggage carousel before the monitors in the airport.
And, here is a "bonus" app that isn't quite a "must-have" but is very useful:
10. Black's 9th (Available on App Store, $54.99) - The Black's Law Dictionary app puts the iconic legal dictionary at your fingertips. I use the app regularly but couldn't bring myself to call it a "must-have" because it is so much more expensive than the others. However, it's pretty reasonably priced when compared to the cost of the hardcopy version.
If you, dear reader, have your own personal favs, please let us know in the comment box below.
For a “Power Look,” Dress Like Margaret Thatcher
According to some sources, Margaret Thatcher is the fashion model for successful women in the corridors of power:
This is how OxfordStudent analyzes Thatcher's sartorial arsenal:
She was a woman who throughout her career managed to turn her clothes and accessories into clever mediums of communicating power. . . her signature pearls, shoulder pads, handbags, and lurid blue suits stand out as a medium of control. . . . Her style was always precise and impeccable. It was a regal uniformed [sic], highly groomed and sharp. She opted for tailored suits so that she could stand quite literally ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with men.
Thatcher wore skirts, not pants.
A study by the University of Hertfodshire supports Thatcher's choice, finding that says skirts deliver a "better first impression." Reports today.msnbc.com about the U.K. study:
In the study, 300 participants (males and females aged from 14 to 67) were asked to provide snap judgments of images featuring women in various office outfits—skirts and pantsuits made in the same exact fabric and color—with the faces blurred. They then gave feedback based on five factors: confidence, success, trustworthiness, salary, and flexibility. In just three seconds, they were able to determine they far preferred the more feminine options.
Here’s the link to the story in The Careerist.
Facebook Privacy Settings – Advice for Job Seeking Students
With the recent changes to Facebook and what is displayed about users (timeline and the open graph), it is really important that law students who are job seeking understand what is “findable” by a potential employer. This post on Mashable provides some useful information and advice.
Advise your students to take the time to review and manage their online image.
January 27, 2012
Where is the Practice of Law Going?
Here’s the answer given by Mark Tamminga, Leader in Innovation Strategies at Canada’s Growlings LLP:
I don’t think there’s any such thing as the practice of law. The field of law practice is really a category of disparate businesses that are as different one from the other as architecture is from engineering. I think the partnership model as a large law firm business vehicle is in serious trouble. Having hundreds of owners involved in the decision-making process bogs things down badly. Distributing all the profit at the end of a year also bogs things down badly. Those two things together mean trouble in a world of extraordinary change. Smaller, more nimble vehicles with more focused command and control structures and the ability (and desire!) to make significant capital investments hold a large advantage over law partnerships. What success we lawyers still enjoy is largely a factor of the market monopoly we hold and cannot fairly be attributed to any form of business acumen.
Here is the link to the interview.
January 26, 2012
Editorial says law school is still a good investment
An article from the National Law Journal by William A. Chamberlain, Assistant Dean for Career Strategy and Advancement at Northwestern University School of Law.
Following the crash in 2008, large law firms drew criticism for the massive layoffs caused by the recession and, in part, by inflated associates' salaries. In 2011, law schools came under fire for charging excessive tuition, strapping graduates with unmanageable debt and for allegedly publishing incomplete or misleading employment outcomes to lure unsuspecting students.
To be sure, students graduating into this economy have many reasons to be frustrated. Just a few short years ago, jobs in the legal profession were plentiful — although perhaps we remember those times as better than they were. Many students could rely on on-campus interviews, job postings or applying directly to government offices to get their first jobs. Networking, contacting alumni, constant follow-up and frequent lack of response from potential employers were not the norm. Rejection happened, but there always seemed to be another opportunity just around the corner.
But shortly after students from the Class of 2011 enrolled, the traditional sources of jobs had contracted. Job searching today takes more work outside of one's comfort zone — both for students and career services professionals. It is not surprising that law schools, and in particular career offices, have become the lightning rods for this frustration. In good times, telling students that we could not give them jobs — but that we could give them tools to do a successful job search — seemed sufficient; nowadays, this just is not enough.
Beyond the media hype, what is really going on in career offices these days? The vast majority of career counselors genuinely want to help their students find jobs. We are career counselors not for the money or the U.S. News rankings, but because we want to help. The cynic might say that all career offices care about is their U.S. News & World Report employment percentage. While the U.S. News rankings are a challenge we must face each year, each student who graduates without a job — particularly those who are following our advice — is disheartening.
In these challenging times, career offices are under pressure to adopt aspects of the long-discarded mantle of "placement office," to try to place our unemployed students and recent grads. While it is seldom possible to literally "place" anyone, we can expand our advocacy and outreach efforts with potential employers and strive to match individual students or grads with alums and even non-alums in the practice areas and markets in which they are interested. The new economy requires that law schools devote more time, energy and resources than ever before toward outreach with employers. Cultivating and strengthening those relationships is imperative.
. . . .
So what . . . is ahead for 2012? With so much uncertainty in the world markets, it is difficult to predict whether entry-level hiring truly has hit bottom, but noticeable increases in the number of employers on campus last fall and in fall recruiting outcomes for the Class of 2013 may signal an increase in employment at graduation for that class. Lateral hiring continues to be on the upswing — an indicator, at least in past cycles, of better things to come in the entry-level market.
Even with high tuition and a contracted job market, the J.D. is still worth having. All sectors of the economy have been hit by the recession, but, in relative terms, getting a law degree still makes a lot of sense. Lawsuits make for good headlines, and law schools have been easy targets in a bad economy. However, attending law school is not, and has never been, a guarantee of an immediate six-figure salary, and it remains the threshold to a worthwhile profession for those who truly want to be there
Read the rest here.
Two clinical law prof job openings at Cleveland-Marshall
CLEVELAND-MARSHALL COLLEGE OF LAW
C|M|LAW Seeks Two Clinical Professors to Join Faculty
Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (C|M|LAW) invites applications for two clinical professor positions to begin in the 2012-2013 academic year. The clinical professors will be non-tenure-track full-time members of the law faculty on 11-month contracts with full benefits and will be eligible for a long-term contract after five years. C|M|LAW strives to be a model of experiential education by offering a broad array of experiential learning opportunities in a variety of practice areas for our students. In furtherance of this goal, we seek clinical professors with an entrepreneurial spirit who will actively grow our experiential learning curriculum. The clinical professors will be responsible for providing experiential learning opportunities, or “engagement experiences,” designed to prepare our students to enter the legal marketplace with the skills and knowledge needed to make them successful lawyers committed to excellence and ethical practice. In this role, the clinical professors will (1) develop and oversee a variety of external engagement experiences supervised by adjunct faculty or onsite attorneys, (2) develop and teach a skills course to prepare students for their engagement experiences, and (3) directly supervise students in the representation of clients. We seek to fill one position with a transactional lawyer and the other with an experienced litigator.
Minimum qualifications: Candidates must be admitted or be eligible for admission to the Ohio bar.
Preferred qualifications: Candidates should have a strong academic record and significant transactional or litigation experience (5 years or more); ability to manage and supervise other attorneys; teaching experience and knowledge of pedagogical methods; familiarity with the Cleveland bar; strong interpersonal skills; and strong communication and writing skills.
To apply, candidates should submit the following items in pdf format by email to Rosa DelVecchio at email@example.com: a resume, a list of three references, and a cover letter addressed to Mark J. Sundahl, Chair of Hiring Committee. Candidates should indicate in their cover letter whether they are applying for the transactional or the litigation position. The search committee will begin to review applications on February 21, 2012 and the positions will remain open until filled. Hiring is contingent on maintaining existing levels of funding from the state.
Cleveland State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply. All applicants will receive equal consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status.
Gabby Giffords and Leadership
This post by John Baldoni at CBS news about Representative Giffords is inspiring.
As most are aware, Representative Giffords announced this week that she is leaving Congress to continue to work on her recovery.
“The lesson for leaders: Sometimes you need to leave your position so you and the organization can do better. Giffords said she cannot devote the intense hours necessary to represent her district. She is stepping aside voluntarily so that someone one else can serve. …
A leader who demonstrates her vulnerabilities is a leader who is secure in her own self.”
I hope there has been some good discussion of leadership as a result of this remarkable example.
Public Speaking: What Do I Do With My Hands?
This question is a common one for lawyers and law students. It is easy to become self conscious about gesturing –or not gesturing. In this video, consultant Brian Johnson offers practical advice as well as a simple theory: Gestures have to flow so that ideas can flow.
Teaching Skills in Tax Class
I have long thought that tax would be a good course in which to incorporate skills exercises because it is hard to memorize and understand the tax code and rules without applying them.
Abstract: As our students continue to enter a legal profession that is changing and as the models for the delivery of legal services continue to evolve, so should our pedagogy. Thus, the modest objective of this piece is to share my experience, and offer some thoughts, about developing and integrating practice-oriented experiential modules into tax lecture courses. This article explains and reflects upon two exercises that I have used to provide students with opportunities to play the role of a lawyer in transactional tax planning settings. Both exercises are intended to help students begin to see how they can turn their growing substantive knowledge into “useful tax advice.” By “useful tax advice,” I mean informative and understandable advice that comprehensively addresses the client’s economic objectives (including, but not limited to the client’s tax objectives) and that gives the client a clear appreciation of the benefits and risks of a tax-related business decision; as a result of this advice, the client should be able to make an educated choice.
I hope that others can use, and hopefully improve upon, the exercises discussed herein. Moreover, I hope that, when creating and implementing experiential modules in their classes, others can use my reflections to avoid my mistakes and build on my successes. Ultimately, I hope that I can make even a small contribution to the development of the professoriate and to our collective endeavor of helping law students become lawyers.
P.S. There is also a book in the Skills & Values Series on tax skills. Federal Income Tax by Michelle L. Drumbl & Deborah S. Kerns (LexisNexis 2011).
January 25, 2012
Time management tips from the Harvard Business Journal
This article can be summed as follows: "You can't get it all done so don't even try."
Brad* is as hard a worker as anyone I know. He's not just busy, he's keenly focused on getting the right things done. And it pays off — he is the largest single revenue generator at his well-known professional services firm.
A few days before Thanksgiving, Brad flew from Boston to Los Angeles with his family. He was going to work for the first few days and then relax with his family. During the flight, he decided not to use the plane's internet access, choosing to talk and play with his children instead. A five-hour digital vacation.
When they landed, Brad turned on his BlackBerry and discovered that a crisis had developed while he was in the air and he had close to 500 email messages waiting for him.
So much for a digital vacation.
The truth is, we can't ever really get away from it. There is no escaping the nonstop surge of email, text, voicemail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — and that's just the technology-based stream. How can we ever catch up?
We can't.The idea that we can get it all done is the biggest myth in time management. There's no way Brad can meaningfully go through all his email and there's no way any of us are going to accomplish everything we want to get done.
Face it: You're a limited resource.
Each day only has 24 hours and we can't sustainably work through all of them.
On the one hand, that's depressing. On the other hand, acknowledging it can be tremendously empowering. Once we admit that we aren't going to get it all done, we're in a much better position to make explicit choices about what we are going to do. Instead of letting things haphazardly fall through the cracks, we can intentionally push the unimportant things aside and focus our energy on the things that matter most.
There are two main challenges in doing the right things: identifying "the right things" and "doing" them.
Most of us manage our time reactively, making choices based on the needs that land on our desks. To determine the "right things," we need to make deliberate choices that will move us toward the outcomes we most want. Which, of course, also means that we need to make deliberate choices about what not to do. The world will take what it can from us. It's never been more important to be strategic about what we choose to give it.
In terms of the second challenge — "doing" or following through — we need tools and rituals. We need an environment that makes it more likely that we will do the things that matter most and less likely that we will waste our time with meaningless, unproductive diversions. We need to know how to prioritize properly, delegate deliberately, tabulate to-do lists, and mitigate multi-tasking.
But which tools work best? Which rituals will help us follow through? If you spend all your time discovering and using all the advice you get from me and others, it could become a distraction to the work itself. Here's a process to help you avoid turning time management into another excuse to procrastinate on your most important priorities.
- Think for a moment about the time-management problems you face. Do you leave the office with a nagging feeling that you worked all day but didn't get your most important work done? Do you feel like you aren't taking advantage of your talents and passions? Are you distracted by little things? Avoiding big hairy projects? Do you interrupt yourself with email and other distractions? Try taking this three-minute quiz to discover where you are distracting yourself the most.
- Once you've identified your biggest time-management challenges, choose a single one to tackle. Maybe you're not clear on your "right things." Maybe you use the wrong rituals. Maybe you strive for perfection. Pick the challenge that most often gets in your way. Then choose one time-management tactic to solve that challenge — just one of the many good suggestions you've encountered here and elsewhere.
- If that tactic works, repeat the process with another challenge. If it doesn't, try a new tactic. Continue to approach things this way, one at a time, so you can be sure what works for you and what doesn't.
Brad, overwhelmed by his hundreds of emails, put his BlackBerry away and did nothing until he arrived in his hotel room. Then, using his laptop, he triaged his now more than 500 emails based on what he knew were his most important priorities, answering the ones he needed to and deleting the majority of them. Within an hour, he was done. He shut his laptop, left his BlackBerry in his room (gasp!), and enjoyed a fun, chaos-filled dinner with his family, which, at that time, was precisely the right thing for him to do.
*Names and some details have been changed.
As blogs replace term papers, the critical writing skills of students suffer
At least that's what defenders of the traditional term paper say in this article from the New York Times Educational Life section in last Sunday's paper. Professor Cathy Davidson of Duke, author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn, is a strong advocate for substituting blogging for staid term papers. But term papers have their advocates too.
Of all the challenges faced by college and high school students, few inspire as much angst, profanity, procrastination and caffeine consumption as the academic paper. The format — meant to force students to make a point, explain it, defend it, repeat it (whether in 20 pages or 5 paragraphs) — feels to many like an exercise in rigidity and boredom, like practicing piano scales in a minor key.
And so there may be rejoicing among legions of students who have struggled to write a lucid argument about Sherman’s March, the disputed authorship of “Romeo and Juliet,” or anything antediluvian.
. . . .Across the country, blog writing has become a basic requirement in everything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree with the transformation? Why not replace a staid writing exercise with a medium that gives the writer the immediacy of an audience, a feeling of relevancy, instant feedback from classmates or readers, and a practical connection to contemporary communications? Pointedly, why punish with a paper when a blog is, relatively, fun?
Because, say defenders of rigorous writing, the brief, sometimes personally expressive blog post fails sorely to teach key aspects of thinking and writing. They argue that the old format was less about how Sherman got to the sea and more about how the writer organized the points, fashioned an argument, showed grasp of substance and proof of its origin. Its rigidity wasn’t punishment but pedagogy.
Their reductio ad absurdum: why not just bypass the blog, too, and move right on to 140 characters about Shermn’s Mrch?“Writing term papers is a dying art, but those who do write them have a dramatic leg up in terms of critical thinking, argumentation and the sort of expression required not only in college, but in the job market,” says Douglas B. Reeves, a columnist for the American School Board Journal and founder of the Leadership and Learning Center, the school-consulting division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “It doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting blogs. But nobody would conflate interesting writing with premise, evidence, argument and conclusion.”
The National Survey of Student Engagement found that in 2011, 82 percent of first-year college students and more than half of seniors weren’t asked to do a single paper of 20 pages or more, while the bulk of writing assignments were for papers of one to five pages.
Is it any surprise that so many law students don't have good, critical writing skills?
You can read the rest of the article here.
Improving Leadership Skills
At the Harvard Business Review blog, executive Pekka Viljakainen recounts how his leadership skills plummeted when he went from managing a relatively modest number of employees to a much larger number. By surveying his employees, he found out what they wanted:
1. Influence. They said they expected to have influence on company leadership. They wanted somebody who owns the game, but they wanted influence, too.
2. Equality. They really expected that everybody in the company would be treated equally. Of course there will be salary differences, but the way people have impact should be same everywhere — and the opportunity to share in the value of that impact should be the same, too.
3. Understanding. One thing they said that was surprising to me was that they expected the board to be really on the ball as to what was going on in the company. They couldn't understand how somebody could decide on a strategy without knowing specifically what to do.
I think these themes would resonate with people we supervise, our support staff and our students.
Web Profiles – No Resumes
The Wall Street Journal Careers column published this interesting item yesterday.
A New York venture-capital firm wants applicants to send links “representing their web presence” instead of resumes.
“Companies are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates' suitability for a job. While most still request a résumé as part of the application package, some are bypassing the staid requirement altogether.”
Google still reads resumes of applicants, but Todd Carlisle, their director of staffing, says: “he reads résumés in an unusual way: from the bottom up.
Candidates' early work experience, hobbies, extracurricular activities or nonprofit involvement—such as painting houses to pay for college or touring with a punk rock band through Europe—often provide insight into how well an applicant would fit into the company culture, Dr. Carlisle says.
Plus, "It's the first sample of work we have of yours," he says.”
Hat tip Nicole Black (@nikiblack)
Does your school help law students build a web presence?
January 24, 2012
Encouraging Legal Writing Scholarship
If we are going to change legal education, we need legal scholarship upon which we can base the changes. Judy Stinson has written an article on how to encourage legal writing scholarship.
Abstract: Legal scholarship educates. The goal of this essay is to help lawyers and academics interested in improving legal writing create more scholarship. By creating a culture where scholarship is the norm — where scholarship is both an expected product of our intellectual pursuits and an expected creator of knowledge in the field — we can increase overall scholarly activities as well as our professional satisfaction.
Great networking opportunities abound in legal skills classes
So says this article from the Lawyerist blog. More specifically, upper level legal skills electives are usually taught by adjunct-practitioners who may know about job openings or, if you do a really good job in the class, that adjunct may hire you herself one day.
Most attorneys highly recommend taking practical skills classes in law school. Skills-based classes are a great chance to develop skills you may otherwise not develop during law school.
Many of these classes are taught by adjunct professors—which provides an excellent networking opportunity. May the most of those opportunities by following some of these tips.
Step 1: realize the value of the networking opportunity
All professors provide a valuable networking opportunity. But many students overlook adjunct professors because they aren’t tenured professors. That may be true, but many adjuncts can actually be more helpful to a law student’s job search. Adjuncts are practicing law in big firms, government jobs, and even run their own practices.
Your adjunct professor might be part of an OCI hiring panel, part of a recruitment committee, or may directly hire individuals if they own their firm. Your adjunct is also probably pretty good at networking if they are teaching a class.
In other words, they might be able to help you get a job, might be able to put in a good work for you, or at a minimum, can help you develop networking skills.Step 2: make yourself known (in a positive way)
Unlike tenured professors, adjuncts probably only teach one or two classes, and are not around campus. That means your chances to interact may be limited to before/during/after class. Asking questions before or after class is great way to have an actual conversation with your professor and show your interest in the class and actually getting to know them.
During class, you don’t have to answer every question or voice your opinion on every topic. You do, however, have to do more than sit in the back and check your Facebook page. Classes with adjunct professors are usually smaller, which makes it that much easier to spot non-participants.
The more of a relationship you can build with your adjunct, the more likely they are to help you out. Doing well in the class helps, but if you can develop a relationship over the semester, that is just as important.Step 3: ask for feedback and incorporate it
Practical skills classes usually involve simulations, which provides more opportunities for feedback than one final exam. On top of that, you are going to get feedback from attorneys who are out in law-talking-land interacting with judges, clients, and opposing counsel. In other words, this is very valuable feedback.
Don’t be satisfied, however, with the voluntary feedback you receive. Pick a couple things you want to improve on and ask for feedback on those particular points. When you get feedback (assuming it’s constructive and helpful), incorporate that into your next simulation.
Showing improvement establishes that you can listen, you can improve, and you are actually interested in becoming a lawyer. All of those things will leave a great impression with an adjunct.Step 4: saying thank you is never a bad idea
Adjunct professors are rarely motivated by financial reasons for teaching a class. Most adjuncts do it because they enjoy teaching and want to help law students become better lawyers.
That means they get satisfaction from hearing about how law students enjoyed the class, learned to do a specific skill, or even learned what not to do. Taking that extra step can a long way towards building a relationship.
Networking isn’t always easy, but it isn’t rocket science either. Follow these tips and start creating some relationships that will be beneficial down the road.
Bomb-proof advice indeed.
National Jurist editorial on changing law schools
Here's the take of Jack Crittenden, editor of National Jurist Magazine, on the changes taking place in legal education. Rather than seeing broad, sweeping reforms, Mr. Crittenden instead observes many individual schools experimenting with curriculum reform, enhanced skills training and other programs intended to better help students cope with the structural changes many believe are taking place in the legal services marketplace. But tenure and the cost of faculty salaries may place limits on how much law schools are able to adapt down the road.
At this year’s annual gathering of law professors and law school administrators, known as the AALS Conference, the subject of change hung over the event as perhaps never before. All of the bad publicity about legal education over the past few years has not gone unnoticed by the leaders in legal education.
Indeed, there was more talk of change than ever before. And even more importantly, behind that talk, there is action.
As Judith Areen with Georgetown Law Center said at the conference, the current crisis has awakened legal education and that is the best defense against complacency.
Law schools across the nation are making changes to address the ongoing concerns. I spoke with deans who are taking aggressive steps to improve their career placement services, and who are bringing more hands’ on practical skills into their curriculum.
The level of experimentation and innovation is at its highest level since I began covering the market 20 years ago. But most observers don’t see the change, because it is happening on a school-by-school basis, and not through an organization like the ABA.
And thank goodness. The ABA has never been an instrument of change and likely never will be. Its greatest act of change only came because it was forced by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Law schools have the ability and power to enact change within the existing guidelines. But some changes would make that process much easier.
Take law faculty tenure for example. Many deans have been openly complaining for a few years now that the tenure rules bind them and force greater expenses.
Jim Chen, dean at University of Louisville, pointed out at the conference that “the single biggest cost in legal education is ourselves. When will salaries do down and tenure abolished?”
It was an over-the-top question, to be sure. Perhaps designed more to shock the audience out of complacency. But underlying his question is the single biggest obstacle to change in legal education.
The law school model is built on tenure, and professorial salaries are by far the biggest expense.
In most struggling industries, management simply cuts out the poor performing segments and reduces the number of employees — bringing the business into equilibrium.
But, tenure does not allow you to easily downsize legal education. Law schools have added more than 5,000 law professors over the past ten years. It would take legal education 20 to 30 years to bring itself back to its smaller size.
But that does not mean legal education can’t adapt. As Areen pointed out to Chen at the AALS conference, only one-fourth of new hires are given tenure. And I think we can expect that number to drop.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Ten Most Annoying Management Phrases of 2011
Here they are from macro man. I have included only a small bit of the explanations. Here is the link.
10 - Internalise - As in "What you have all failed to internalise is that there has been a paradigm shift.” It appears to just mean learn or remember but as telling someone to learn or remember something appears instructive, suggesting they internalise it will sound more empathetic, but at the severe cost of sounding like a clone-monkey.
9 - Hi, I hope all is well - With the birth of the email there came an awkward period when the formality of letters, with their "Dear Sir / Yours sincerely" had to be detuned to fit in with the new immediacy and informality. But 2011 has seen a pernicious ingress of a new form of insincerity with the addition of "I hope all is well" to the "Hi".
8 - Weaponise price opacity - As the scarcity of new Himalayan Pink Salt in the financial market takes its toll on the bottom lines of financial institutions it is becoming more important for them to make sure that they maximise the profitability of existing basic products. Opacity of price is critical in this process but weaponising it? Wow.
7 - Ideation - What happened to good old "have a think" or "come up with some ideas"?
6 - Stakeholder Community - Not a Transylvanian village but the new plural of stakeholder.
5 - Socialise - When issues got out of hand in the old days you would normally either just tell the boss or perhaps "take it upstairs". But now a cunning adaptation of the old mantra of "My profit, our loss" has invoked a caring sharing attitude to screw-ups by "socialising" them. As in "I think we should socialise this issue with senior management and the stakeholder community".
4 - Complementary - Odd one this, and it's really down to our own stupidity, but we have regularly opened emails this year expecting some nice free service only to re-read it and find it's not "complimentary" but something expensive and homeopathic.
3 - Bandwidth - "I'm sorry I can't action that, I don't have the bandwidth” become the generic replacement for "I don't have the time/resources/authority or inclination".
2 - Geosourcing - Why you lose your job to someone in a different part of the world. "The support function has been geosourced" or "How's the front office geosourcing project going?” It's the sharp end of a simple belief of ours that if there is someone able and willing to do your job for less than you, you are toast.
1 - Reaching out - The origins and epidemiology of this disease has us suspecting it's the product of some Class of 2011 Management School somewhere. If you are about to call an investor for some documents you don't "reach out to the client", you phone or mail them. If you want to know why a trade hasn't settled you don't "Reach out to Bangalore" you "call back-office". So let's just kill that one right now before someone gets accused of molestation.
Another Warning on the Law School Student Debt Crisis.
There have been a number of articles in the popular press on the looming law school debt crisis. Here is a well-researched scholarly article on the subject.
The Coming Crash in Legal Education: How We Got Here and Where We Go Now by Richard W. Bourne.
Abstract: This paper will first track the ways in which the legal services market has grown and changed over the past forty years. It will then track the major changes that have attended legal education during the same period and the increasing dependence of the legal education industry on student debt. The paper will then explore why, at long last, the boom-times may have run their course and why, at some point, painful changes will likely occur. Though they cannot be described in detail, the author will attempt to outline the likely nature of the changes that will occur. Finally, the paper will briefly explore how the predicted reckoning may yet lead to an improvement in the marketing of legal services and an enhanced role for law schools in preparing new attorneys for the new bar they will be joining.
"All a poet can do today is warn." Wilfred Owen
January 23, 2012
Better editing techniques lead to better briefs
How do mistakes make it past even the most careful writer's eyes? Thinking about how that happens is the key to discovering editing techniques to prevent it in briefs.
Writers often can edit others' work much more thoroughly than their own -- probably because committing something to memory happens quickly after writing it down. Mistakes often arise from this problem of memory.
Once text lodges in the author's memory, his eyes may focus on the brief, but they don't really see, read or criticize its content. The brain remembers what it thought the document said or projects what it intended the document to say. Unless the text sounds odd inside the theater of the mind, the writer does not slow down to spot problems in the text. As a result, the prose is not as good as the writer thought it was, and the brief does not actually say what the lawyer thought it said.
. . . .
1. Slow down. When it comes to editing, fast and good are mutually exclusive. Hurrying or skimming means not editing well.
2. Start early. To slow down, counsel must begin editing long before the brief is due. This means completing the drafting long before the deadline. Few lawyers practice this way. But this may explain why so much legal writing is garbage
3. Edit from a printed copy. Screen reading encourages skimming, and skimming encourages missed errors. See rule No. 1, and slow down.
4. Go somewhere else. There's something about getting up from the desk and going to the library or the park that frees the brain to focus differently. This also requires stepping away from the computer.
5. Edit standing up. Editing is a particularly good time to use a stand-up desk or counter. The brain is more awake when the body is upright. And when the body is tired of standing, the brain needs a rest, too.
6. Read out loud. I mean it. Literally read out loud. Doing this prevents a writer from overlooking awkward syntax or run-on sentences. Stumbling over the words or needing to take a breath mid-sentence means it's time to rewrite.
7. Edit the first sentence of each paragraph. Crafting these first sentences perfectly and putting them in the right order lays a solid foundation for the entire brief and frames a sturdy structure for paragraphs. A judge reading on screen may not read much more than those topic sentences anyway.
8. Read backward. The secretary for one of my blog readers literally reads the brief from back to front. I don't know if I could do this, but I use a version of the technique, editing the paragraphs in reverse order or from last paragraph to first. This forces me to slow down and read, and it prevents me from relying on memory.
9. Mark the beginnings and ends of sentences. These visual marks will reveal whether the brief has grown monotonous by, for example, having too many sentences of the same length. The marks also will reveal that sentence that seems to go on forever, barely giving the reader a chance to breathe, tempting the judge to go back onto Facebook or LOL Cats or something -- anything -- more interesting than that brief about the rules of statutory construction -- z-z-z-z-z-z.
10. Circle subjects and verbs. Are sentence subjects near the beginning of sentences, or do lengthy, preparatory clauses obscure them? Are the subjects near the verbs through which they are acting, or do lengthy parenthetical clauses derail the train of thought? Are the subjects doing the acting, or has the document lapsed into passive voice? Circling subjects and verbs helps to banish all of these problems and enhance clarity.
11. Give it to someone else. Famous authors such as Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen need editors and proofreaders. Attorneys do, too. Every firm has that one fantastic proofreader, and everyone knows who that is. The very last thing before filing, counsel should give that person the brief. This stellar proofreader has not memorized the brief and probably doesn't know the case. If he or she thinks the brief is clear, then it really is. If he or she doesn't get it, then work remains to be done.
Hat tip to Law.com.