October 20, 2012
Most lawyers are not good business people
"The level of commitment leading law firms are showing to strategic planning is moving in the right direction, but the rate of substantive progress is still frustratingly slow,” the report found, according to The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog. “There is genuine cause for concern.”
Only one in eight law firms has a strategic plan for improving profits and retaining their best talent, The Am Law Daily reported Tuesday.
And even the firms that do have a plan often aren't able to execute it very well.
Firm leaders need to start learning about business goals and becoming familiar with "the financial health of the firm" or they'll never succeed at running a successful business, LexisNexis's director of consultants Bo Yancey stated in the report.
The Presidential Campaigns Pay Attention to Fonts.
In the Legal Writing world, we are just beginning to think about the role of fonts in improving readability and in making our writing more persuasive. However, the presidential campaigns are way ahead of us. They carefully buy particular fonts to use in particular messages and even pay vendors to create new fonts for them.
You can find an extensive discussion at the Content Strategist.
October 19, 2012
Network 'yer face off!
Great advice for all law students hoping to secure a job upon graduation. As Woody Allen has said, "Ninety percent of life is just showing up." From Kathryn Minshew of the Daily Muse via the Harvard Business Review blog:
When new entrepreneurs ask me for advice, I sometimes tell them to NYFO — Network Your Face Off. Nearly everything I've accomplished in the past two years, from speaking on CNN to watching my company cross 1.7 million users in less than a year, can be directly traced back to connections I've made and help I've received from a network that is vast, diverse, and active.
The best networking suggestion I can offer? Always say yes to invitations, even if it's not clear what you'll get out of the meeting. I'm not arguing for long, pointless, unstructured conversations with everyone you meet. But many of my most fruitful relationships have resulted from a meeting or call in which I was not entirely sure what would or would not come of the conversation.
You could call it making your own luck, by increasing the odds of making the right connection. Because you can't assume that you know much about someone you don't know very well. You may know their occupation, industry, and job title — but you don't know what they may be an expert in, and you certainly don't know who they know.
Of course you can't possibly take every meeting. But regularly connecting without a reason or purpose — with people who seem to be doing interesting things — can have unexpected benefits. Two of the people who were instrumental in recommending me for Forbes 30-under-30 were serendipitous connections. Some of the best partnerships we've secured for The Muse (the company I founded) came through casual acquaintances who saw me and made a mental connection — even when I didn't.
Hand in hand with this philosophy comes another, highly complementary strategy: When you want something, broadcast that to everyone you meet. When talking about your desires for your business, be honest. A little candor, a little vulnerability, goes a long way in turning a conversation from trite to meaningful. For a period in January, I desperately wanted to land a partnership with Yahoo. For an entire month, I answered every "How are things going?" question with some variation of: "Great! I just started YCombinator, which has been an adventure. Now I'm trying to put together a partnership with Yahoo. How are things with you?"
Ninety-seven times out of a hundred, the conversation continued as normal, with a reciprocal introduction or update and additional exchanging of information and small talk. But three people I spoke to were different: They immediately responded by suggesting they had a former colleague, relative, mailman, or friend at Yahoo, and would I like an introduction? In thirty days, I went from no relationships at Yahoo to three warm introductions to power players who could make my desired content syndication partnership happen. Six weeks later, Daily Muse content went live on Yahoo! Shine.
I didn't know any of those three people had a Yahoo connection; in fact, they were hardly the ones I would have deemed most likely. And quite frankly, if I had sent out an email asking one hundred people in my network if they knew anyone at Yahoo, it would certainly have felt like an imposition. But the strategy of taking a broad range of meetings and letting everyone know the problem I was tackling — that strategy worked, and it has worked again and again in the months since. When doing this, be sure to deliberately pick problems that can be solved by introductions (fundraising, talking to certain companies) rather than those that require the sustained thoughts of individuals (product decisions, specifics of growth strategies).
You may be asking, how can I make these connections in the first place? Show up, and often. This should be obvious, but as a busy entrepreneur it's amazing how unappealing it is to socialize with people you don't know when you're working 16-hour days. But everything starts with showing up.
Continue reading here.
Texas Firm Offers New First Years $185,000
From the Texas Lawyer:
Litigation firm Bickel & Brewer is offering its 2013 first-year associate class a base annual salary of $185,000, an increase of $10,000 over the firm’s current first-year associate base salary of $175,000, says William Brewer . . . .
“The goal here is always to be ahead of the curve,” Brewer says. Although the overall economy is still lackluster, Brewer says business is good for the firm, which handles large, complex litigation, and it wants to maintain its position as a salary leader. “We’re blessed,” Brewer says. “The fact is the firm is just doing great.” The firm has offered permanent positions to eight third-year law students, he says. The base salaries exclude bonuses, which are discretionary, he says.
Sixteen of the state’s 25 largest firms are offering their 2013 first-year associates salaries ranging from $120,000 to $160,000. Most of the large firms also offer guaranteed bonuses to associates during their first year.
I’m used to my recent graduates making as much as I do, but the disparity here is a bit discomfiting.
October 18, 2012
Attorney sanctioned for ex parte gift of wine to judge
Last August we told you about a South Florida attorney whose vituperative response to a bankruptcy court's order (among other things, the attorney called the court's findings "half-baked") raised eyebrows around the blogosphere (here and here). The attorney then got himself into deeper trouble by sending the judge a bottle of wine along with an ex parte note offering to privately patch things up. As a result, the court sanctioned him, he appealed and the Eleventh Circuit just affirmed. The South Florida Lawyers Blog takes it from there:
Boy I remember the days when you could smooth over a dispute with a federal judge simply by delivering a nice bottle of wine and a hand-written note on the judge's doorstep.Gleason has identified no authority supporting his contention that the First Amendment shields from sanctions an attorney who files an inappropriate and unprofessional pleading and then contacts a presiding judge ex parte with an offer to share a bottle of wine and “privately” resolve their dispute. When an attorney files inappropriate and unprofessional documents, a court may impose sanctions based on its “inherent power to oversee attorneys practicing before it.” Thomas v. Tenneco Packaging Co., 293 F.3d 1306, 1308 (11th Cir. 2002) (upholding a district court’s decision to sanction an attorney who submitted documents containing personal attacks on opposing counsel).
Actually, I don't ever remember those days.
Regardless, the 11th has weighed in and affirmed the sanctions order:
In the present case, the bankruptcy court found that Gleason’s written submissions to the court and sending a judge a bottle of wine with an offer to resolve their differences privately amounted to “sanctionable professional misconduct.”
Oh well, I hope somebody drank it, a nice bottle of wine is a terrible thing to waste.
So the lesson, kids, is that you shouldn't call the judge deciding your case a nimrod and then send an ex parte gift of booze in a misguided effort to apologize.
Making legal education more practical while containing costs
Law schools struggle to find a balance between providing students with a more practical education (which usually means smaller, closely supervised "skills" courses) while not saddling students with even more debt by way of a higher tuition bill. From Inside Higher Ed:
Critics of law schools have two main objections: they’re too expensive and they don’t adequately prepare students to work as lawyers.
New York University is the latest law school to try to address the second issue. Motivated by the 2008 financial crisis, Dean Richard Revesz convened a committee of leading lawyers, all NYU Law alumni, to evaluate the school’s curriculum. The committee found five areas for improvement, and NYU announced Wednesday new initiatives aimed at better training (and training better) lawyers.
The curriculum enhancements include a study abroad option during the third year of law school, a chance to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., a “pathways” program for third-year students who have a specific area of law they want to specialize in, an increased focus on business and financial education, and a leadership development program.
So far, most of the programs are optional, except for a financial literacy course that will be required of first-year students; Revesz said the school will evaluate the effectiveness of the various initiatives and could require them down the road. For now, he expects that most students will opt to take advantage of at least one.
Most of the new programs are aimed at improving the third year of law school, a topic that has been particularly controversial in the discussion of legal education. Since the American Bar Association got rid of its three-year requirement (it now requires a certain number of units instead), there has been much talk about just how necessary that third year really is.
Some law schools have introduced an accelerated option that allows students to earn a J.D. in five semesters, but those students still take the same number of courses and pay the same tuition. Others, like NYU, have tried to revamp the third-year experience, usually by focusing on clinical learning. A survey by the ABA found that between 2002 and 2010, law schools increased all aspects of “skills instruction,” like clinical practice and externships.
“Our feeling was what we should do is make the third year as meaningful as possible,” Revesz said.
The ABA survey also found that 76 percent of curriculum changes were driven by the evolving demands of the job market. That, Revesz said, is largely what influenced the development of the new programs at NYU.
But curriculum changes aimed at addressing the tough job market often fail to address the difficult financial situation of many law students, and this has some experts on legal education worried.
Kenneth Anderson, a law professor at American University, writes on the blog “The Volokh Conspiracy” that law school less an investment, as it may once have been, than a bet. That’s because, he writes, the job market for lawyers is tough, and the cost of education is high.
“It doesn’t really matter how great the education is if it simply costs more than its rate of return to a student,” Anderson writes.
Yet, improving education (rather than trying to reduce prices) is the tack that most law schools, including NYU, have been taking. Barry Currier, interim consultant on legal education for the ABA, said that while some schools have frozen tuition, it’s rare to see a school take steps to actually reduce its costs or the prices it charges students.
“Most schools are focusing on trying to improve education,” he said. “They’re mindful of cost, but not really trying to reduce cost.”
The price of a legal education is a frequent topic of discussion, Currier said, but the goal of offering cheaper education often conflicts with the goal of providing better education, and it seems the latter typically wins.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a school like NYU, Currier said.
“It’s perfectly in line with where NYU sees itself in the market, but not too many schools are going to be able to do this,” he said.
For Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, that’s the core of the issue.
“For the NYUs, Chicagos, Harvards, and Yales of the world, this might be the direction they need to take their schools, but the problem happens when the schools below them start to emulate them,” McEntee said. “That’s part of the reason the price of education has gone up.”
McEntee thinks programs aimed at improving legal education distract law schools from the question of cost, which he believes should be the main issue. He says no school has figured out a way to make education more efficient and to reduce tuition, and as legal jobs and salaries dwindle, students are being put in a difficult position.
“This can’t go on and it won’t go on,” he said.
University of Phoenix Makes Major Cuts; Shuts Down 115 Campuses
University of Phoenix Makes Major Cuts; Shuts Down 115 Campuses
The Apollo Group, which owns Phoenix, the nation's largest for-profit college, announced on Tuesday that it was slashing $300-million in costs, largely by closing 115 campuses and other locations. While those campuses serve only about 4 percent of the university's students, they represent about 40 percent of its square footage, according to the First Analysis Securities Corporation.
Apollo also announced that it was cutting 800 positions, about 5 percent of its work force.
Enrollments are dropping:
The number of new students at the University of Phoenix fell nearly 14 percent in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year that ended on August 31, as did overall enrollment. Students seeking an associate degree declined by nearly a quarter, the company reported.
Those figures are worse than many analysts had predicted, and add to the 19-percent drop in enrollments that the University of Phoenix suffered in the previous fiscal year.
Expert opinion blames the drop on the sluggish economy.
While students flocked to for-profit colleges at the beginning of the economic downturn, they are reluctant to spend more money on their education until they are more certain that there will be jobs waiting for them, he said.
You can read more here. We wonder what this development suggests about the future of proprietary law schools.
Revised Celt Blog
The Center for Excellence in Law Teaching has recently revised its blog. Sections on the blog include teaching and learning resources, Albany Law initiatives, reform initiatives, events, and news. I have found their resources materials to be very helpful.
October 17, 2012
Attorney disciplined for unauthorized use of Westlaw
This isn't the first time a state court has ruled that it is an ethical violation to misuse one's free access to Westlaw. Law students be warned that misusing your law school account in a summer associate job will get you in trouble with the state's bar association. From Law.com:
An attorney licensed to practice in Oregon and Hawaii has been disciplined for unauthorized use of a Westlaw account for more than a year.
The Oregon Supreme Court on October 11 called for the public reprimand of Everett Walton, who continued to use Westlaw legal databases after he left a job as special prosecutor for the Republic of Palau, which was paying for the service. Walton used the account for 14 months after he quit the prosecutor job to work as a legal aid attorney, according to the decision.
Oregon's high court found that Walton violated ethics rule that require attorneys to act honestly. The decision was a reciprocal disciplinary ruling based on a prior disciplinary action in Hawaii against Walton, who now is in private practice as a litigator in Hilo, Hawaii.
In issuing the order, the Oregon court rejected a sanction called for by the Oregon State Bar, which argued that Walton should be suspended from practice for six months.
"Although we have found that the accused acted intentionally, we have concluded that the Bar has not established that the accused engaged in criminal conduct, let alone serious criminal conduct," the court found.
Walton, reached by telephone, said that he accepted the ruling. "I think it was a good decision," he said.
. . . .
Walton, who is licensed to practice in Hawaii and Oregon, was appointed special prosecutor in 2001 for the Republic of Palau, a group of islands in the Western Pacific with a population of 21,000.
In March 2007, while still holding that position, he entered into a three-year contract with Thomson Reuters Corp., the owner of Westlaw Internet legal research services. Under the contract, the Palau government agreed to pay a flat rate of about $1,170 per month for unlimited access to Westlaw until May 31, 2010.
Walton resigned from his job as special prosecutor in March 2008 and unsuccessfully tried to cancel the Westlaw contract, according to the October 11 decision. He took a job with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, where he continued to access the Westlaw account. During that time, the Palau government paid the Westlaw bill.
Continue reading here.
Presidential Debate: Why Pres. Obama Won Rhetorically
In the second presidential debate, most viewers declared President Obama the winner. From a rhetorical perspective, Governor Romney made some errors that would be instructive to students.
(NOTE: This assessment is about rhetorical style, not political positions.)
- In some of his answers, Gov. Romney spoke at too fast a clip and gave explanations that were too complex for the audience. Lesson: Speak at a measured pace and simplify your explanations as much as you can without distorting what you want to say.
- Gov. Romney is highly competitive. Sometimes this trait results in an aggressiveness that can seem rude and off-putting. As one commentator observed, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Unable to control his natural tendencies, the Governor often cut off the President and the moderator, pursued them too aggressively and lost major points. Lesson: Be assertive, but be polite. (To be fair, the President occasionally was overly aggressive.)
- In the debate over the tragedy in Libya, the Governor misstated what the President had said right after the assassinations. He gleefully posed as a prosecutor cross examination. Then, moderator Candy Crowley pointed out that his assertion was wrong. Lesson: Check your “facts.”
- I won’t even mention the “binder full of women” comment which is now sweeping the internet.
October 16, 2012
To improve students' analytical skills, incorporate more writing in the curriculum
A few weeks ago we told you about a story in The Atlantic Magazine describing how one Staten Island high school transformed under-performing students into academic stars by incorporating lots of writing into their coursework (and here). Yesterday's Chronicle of Higher Ed carried an editorial making the same point but this time directed at college students and those who teach them.
What if colleges, in their search to more clearly demonstrate how much students are learning, insisted on an old-fashioned requirement: writing?
Writing works exceedingly well as both a way to assess learning and a means of deepening that learning, according to experts who study its effects on students.
Even faculty members whose disciplines are not commonly associated with writing think so.
"There are very few test methodologies that are as effective as having you sit down and write your thoughts and have someone read it carefully and come back with comments and say, 'You have to rewrite this,'" says Daniel D. Warner, a professor of mathematical sciences at Clemson University.
That's because writing is uniquely able to "make thinking visible," says Julie A. Reynolds, associate director of undergraduate studies at Duke University. It lays bare students' thinking, showing how well they grasp the subject matter in ways that a multiple-choice or short-answer test—or even a discussion section—simply can't.
"Anywhere we can make their thought process visible is where faculty can have the greatest impact in their teaching," Ms. Reynolds says.
That view is not fully embraced in other disciplines, says Christopher Thaiss, chair of the writing program at the University of California at Davis. Some faculty members may not see writing as their expertise, he says, and many are concerned that time spent on students' writing assignments will take away precious time needed for covering material.
That doesn't need to be the case. Short, frequent assignments to which faculty respond can have a profound effect, he says. "There are so many ways to do it, most of which don't take a lot of time."
Seeking to improve learning by making better use of writing is decidedly old school. It runs against the grain of sexy new ideas about how to change higher education, like massive open online courses. Assigning and evaluating writing are also labor-intensive tasks that are not easily done in large classes. And they are uneasy fits for an economic model increasingly reliant on contingent faculty members, who often have little time or are not paid for grading.
But if academe and its critics want students to leave college with sharper thinking skills, writing ought to gain a higher priority, says Paul V. Anderson, a professor of English at Elon University.
He likens writing's effect on students to the recently observed subatomic particle the Higgs boson. Just as particles gain mass as they move through the Higgs boson field, he says, "student learning gains heft as students interact through writing with the subjects they are studying."
Mr. Anderson bases such conclusions on research he and several colleagues began in 2007. Their project, the Partnership for the Study of Writing in College, has administered a 27-question supplement to the National Survey of Student Engagement, known as Nessie, that focuses on writing practices.
The researchers found that clearly explained assignments in which freshmen and seniors had to construct meaning through their writing—summarize something they had read, explain in writing the meaning of numerical or statistical data, argue a position using evidence and reasoning—had a noticeable effect on deep and sustained learning.
Continue reading here.
CUNY School of Law helps other schools launch their own incubator projects
A few law schools have developed law firm incubator projects as a way to help new grads get a solo practice off the ground (here, here and here). The National Jurist Magazine is reporting that two California schools have now launched their own incubator projects with the help of faculty from one of the first such innovators, CUNY School of Law.
California Western School of Law has launched an incubator law office for attorneys in solo or small firm practice. The Access to Law Initiative is modeled after the Community Resource Legal Network at CUNY School of Law, and is being run by a visiting professor from the New York law school.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law, also located in downtown San Diego, announced a similar incubator program in May. It is also working with CUNY Law School to create its program. Both programs are designed to help new graduates garner experience, while providing free and low-cost legal services to the San Diego community.
CUNY’s Professor Fred Rooney, who developed the first incubator for attorneys in 2007, has teamed up with Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s Professor Luz Herrera, a national leader in the access to justice movement to create the joint incubator program.
“First, like all business incubators, ours aims to assist our graduates to develop successful businesses in our case, small solo practices," said Rooney. " Second, we help our graduates become successful social entrepreneurs who contribute to improving access to justice while enabling them to make a living. The law school provides a low cost working environment, training, and mentoring, and in exchange, the new lawyers commit to give back to the community through pro-bono and low-bono work for underserved clients. Over the course of about a year, incubator lawyers build confidence along with their client base and leave the incubator. Hopefully, they take with them both the business acumen to run a successful practice and a sense of social responsibility that will encourage them to continue to serve their community.”
California Western's incubator law office is located in downtown San Diego and houses eight attorneys who each operate their own practice and pledge to provide at least 100 hours per year of pro bono, public service, and “sliding scale fee” legal service. The Access to Law Initiative provides the attorneys with mentoring and networking opportunities, in addition to office space.
“The program follows the adage, ‘doing well by doing good,’” said Robert Seibel, the program’s director and a visiting professor form CUNY Law. “The expectation is that lawyers who serve the underserved will gain experience and make contacts that will lead to an economically viable practice, while making a difference in the lives of their community.”
Both programs would meet proposed requirements by the State Bar of California, which is considering whether to impose a practical skills training requirement on lawyers applying for admission.
Continue reading here.
Subject Matter Coverage versus Cognitive Development
The Analytic Classroom By Todd E. Pettys
Abstract: This article proposes a dramatic shift in law schools' approach to teaching doctrinal courses. The proposal flows in large part from three separate developments: (1) the rise of strong economic headwinds in the market for legal education; (2) the emergence of empirical evidence that law schools are falling short of their goal of equipping students with powerful analytic abilities that transcend the particular doctrinal frameworks law schools teach; and (3) the incipient revolution in higher education, with prestigious universities now aggressively pursuing the opportunity to provide the public with free or low-cost access to many of their courses through the Internet. Ever since the Langdellian revolution of the late nineteenth century, subject-matter coverage and cognitive development have battled for primacy in law school classrooms. We have purported to achieve both objectives simultaneously through the pedagogical techniques we employ, particularly through our practice of questioning students about appellate rulings. The historical and empirical records suggest, however, that those objectives often sit in strong tension with one another, and that faculty and students alike commonly make choices that prioritize doctrinal coverage over analytic development. The key to changing that stubborn dynamic lies in loosening the Langdellian link between teaching students doctrine and developing students' minds. By using Web-based technologies—technologies that are likely to become pervasive in mainstream higher education regardless of our initial eagerness to embrace them—faculty can introduce students to doctrinal frameworks before they enter the classroom. Confronted then with the need to rethink the chief purposes of live classroom sessions, faculty can focus their energies on developing activities that build on those doctrinal frameworks in ways aimed squarely at strengthening students’ analytic capacities.
October 15, 2012
U. New Mexico School of Law seeking to hire a clinical professor
The University of New Mexico School of Law invites applications for a faculty position in its Clinical Law Program, starting in the Fall of 2013. The School of Law’s Clinical Law Program is widely regarded to be among the finest in the country. The Law School anticipates filling a tenured or tenure-track position. Both entry-level and experienced teachers are encouraged to apply. Academic rank and salary will be based on experience and qualifications.
Preferred qualifications include a record of demonstrated excellence or the promise of excellence in clinical teaching, the practice of law, and academic scholarship. Admission by examination to a bar of a state or the District of Columbia and experience in the practice of law is required. Candidates must possess a J.D. or equivalent legal degree.
Any position in the Clinical Law Program would involve teaching in at least one clinic. The Clinical Law Program operates as a single law firm with five clinical sections each semester with varying coverage areas. These areas currently include a Community Lawyering Clinic that takes a community-based approach to client representation and has developed a Medical/Legal Alliance with the UNM School of Medicine, an economic development clinic known as the Business and Tax Clinic that offers clients transactional and controversy services, a Law Practice Clinic that takes a mix of cases typical of a general poverty law practice, and the Southwest Indian Law Clinic that provides students the opportunity to represent clients in cases involving Native American issues in various tribal, state and federal tribunals and agencies, as well as an opportunity to work with tribes, pueblos, community and non-governmental groups. While these are the current clinical offerings, our programs continually evolve and the successful applicant will be deeply involved in planning its future.
For best consideration, submit applications by October 15, 2012. Recruitment will continue until the position is filled. Applicants should attach a cover letter and CV to the online application via the UNMJobs website: https://unmjobs.unm.edu/. The position is listed as posting number 0817655.
The University of New Mexico is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
This is the year to apply to law school
According to Dean Lawrence Mitchell of Case Western, the dramatic drop in law school applications, especially among those with the highest LSAT scores, means it's never been easier to get into a top tier law school. And because law schools are having a hard time filling all their seats, they're much more willing to offer you some scholarship money to attend. From Dean Mitchell's blog View from the Circle:
The law of supply and demand tells us that when demand is high (that’s us, the law schools), and supply is low (you, the applicants), something’s got to give. Well, two things have “given” this year. First, law schools are taking applicants with LSAT scores they never would have considered a year or two ago. I don’t want to give out trade secrets, but you can do the research, and I can assure you, having been deep in the admissions trenches this year, that it’s true. Frankly, I’ve been amazed at the LSAT scores highly ranked schools have been taking. So, the bottom line: You will get into a better law school this year than you ever could have gotten into in the past, and perhaps the future as well.
The second thing that’s “given” is price. Not the sticker price of tuition – that’s gone up. But what has gone up far more substantially is the amount of merit-based scholarships law schools are willing to dish out in order to attract the best students. Of course the definition of “best students” varies by law school. But remember, substantially fewer of you have LSAT scores in the 160-169 range, and so the definition of “best students” at many law schools has changed. You might not have qualified for substantial financial aid (at a school that might not have admitted you) a year or two ago. Now, you do. And this means that a law school’s published tuition may mean nothing to you. If you’re accepted, some or all of your education may be paid for by your law school.
For example, my own school, Case Western Reserve, more than doubled its financial aid budget. (Unlike most schools, I’m proud to say, our increase in financial aid allowed us to increase our median LSAT score by 2 points.)
Your response is obvious: If you’re sitting on the sidelines thinking about law school, you have nothing to lose by applying this year. The quality of school to which you’re admitted, and the amount of financial aid you may get, could make it much easier for you to make a decision and finance your education. Jobs will be around. Your opportunity to go to a better law school, cheaper, suggests that you are more likely to get one of them and be far less in debt.
Continue reading here.
October 14, 2012
ETL's Professional Identity Conference
Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers held a conference on professional identity in Denver a couple of weeks ago. Teaching professional identity is more than teaching the rules of legal ethics; it is developing a student's identity as a professional and a lawyer. Mary Lynch has described the process as: "Developing practical judgment in an ethical context seems tied to identifying and reflecting upon one’s own moral as well as ethical reactions and also listening to and understanding the reactions of others." To me, the most important aspect of developing professional identity is to help students become reflective thinkers.
Professor Lynch has summarized some of the highlights of the conference on the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog: " DU Law’s David Thomson challenged us on the need to create situations and spaces where that reflection and formation can occur. He posits that we can’t TEACH another to form THEIR identity but we can design structured experiences in doctrinal courses which engage students in the reflective process from which formation occurs. Bill Henderson of Indiana’s Maurer School of Law tackled head on the structural changes occurring in the legal profession in a historical and data driven analysis which suggests there is indeed opportunity for future employment in the new economy. However, we need to expand our conception of legal education and re-prioritize if we hope to . . . equip our students with the tools for “making a living” in the new economy. Daisy Floyd focused participants on how to start (in the first year of law school) engaging students in a process geared toward the development of practical wisdom and the lifelong pursuit of further professional wisdom."
Congratulations to ETL for putting on such an important conference. Hopefully, there will be more conferences on developing professional identity in the near future.
The legal jobs gap
Over at the Lawyerist blog, Graham Martin has plotted the number of new lawyer jobs created between 2003 and 2011 against the number of new law grads birthed during that same period. The resulting gap, as he says, is "mind-blowing." Relying on BLS stats, the net gain in lawyer jobs between 2003 and 2011 is 51,540. Using NALP data, Mr. Martin calculated that the number of new law grads for that same period is 376,201. Subtracting the number of new lawyers from the net increase in legal jobs leaves a rather stunning gap of "324,661 law school grads who are not currently employed as lawyers." So, what's the solution?
There is no immediately evident way to suddenly add another 67% of total lawyer jobs to the market, causing an amazing glut of unemployed or underemployed lawyers in the market. Some law schools have begun limiting their class sizes, but with the rate of increase of lawyer jobs in the past few years, law schools would need to shrink their class sizes by around 90% to even out the supply and demand.
The first part of solving a problem is recognizing that there is a problem. That has been pretty clear for a number of years. But what do we do about it now?
Continue reading here for an explanation of Mr. Martin's methodology and some graphs illustrating his calculations.
Top Five Interview Mistakes That Millenials Make
According to Forbes, here they are:
No. 1: Inappropriate Attire
No. 2: Have Posted Questionable Social Media Content
No. 3: Haven’t Done Their Research
No. 4: Don’t Ask Enough Questions
No. 5: Overconfident In Themselves
For elaboration, please click here.
Are We Losing Our Free Speech Rights?
Jonathan Turley has a fascinating piece on this topic in the Washington Post.