Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cleveland-Marshall joins growing list of law schools launching incubator program

For links to other schools that started solo incubator projects, click here, here, here and here. Like those schools, Cleveland-Marshall says it wants to provide post-grad support to those students who plan to open their own practice after passing the bar.  And like some of the other incubator projects around the country, CM plans to achieve that goal through a combination of subsidized office space and paring recent grads with mentors who are volunteering through the Cleveland Metro Bar Association. One of the cool features of this particular incubator project is that because it's housed in the school's law library, every student will be able to interact with and observe the participants in action which could lead to some key teachable moments for those who are contemplating solo or small firm practice themselves upon graduation.

The National Law Journal has the complete details.

Cleveland solo incubator reflects students' choice of careers

The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the latest to announce plans for a solo incubator. The school will spend approximately $1.2 million to create a suite of offices in its library for rental at low prices to recent graduates launching their own practices. 

Solo incubators are widely seen as a way for schools to help graduates establish practices at a time when law firm hiring has slowed. Around 10 such programs have been created at schools including the City University of New York School of Law; Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Chicago-Kent College of Law; the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law; the University of Maryland School of Law; and Pace Law School.

Cleveland-Marshall dean Craig Boise insisted that his school's incubator is not a response to the job market. "We looked at our data, in terms of where our students were going into practice, and we saw that about 15 percent go into solo practice on a fairly consistent basis," he said. "We thought, 'We're really not doing enough to prepare them.' "

Two years ago, the school formed a task force to look at the issue, and since then has established programs geared toward helping students start solo firms. Courses on practice management and professionalism and ethics will be prerequisites, Boise said.

Boise visited CUNY's incubator, launched in 2007. "I was inspired," he said. "There were graduates who were really helping each other and there was a real sense of community. I think it's hard to be isolated, running a practice from your basement, and these graduates had really bonded."

Cleveland-Marshall plans to construct 15 offices plus conference rooms and a reception area in unused space within the law library, located close to the courtrooms in downtown Cleveland. Graduates will rent space at low cost and have use of the law library for between 18 and 24 months while they get their practices off the ground. Existing students, meanwhile, will have an opportunity to observe graduates at work.

Some incubators have tightly structured training and pro-bono requirements, but Cleveland-Marshall's program will be fairly hand-offs, Boise said. "These are students who will be struggling to make a practice work," he said. "I don't see the value of saddling them with pro bono requirements."

Still, the subsidized office rents would make it easier for the new solos to charge lower rates and improve access to justice, he said.

Continue reading here.


December 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pre-Writing: What, When, Why & How

At the Legal Writing Institute One Day Workshop at George Washington University Law School, Laura Graham (Wake Forest) offered a valuable presentation on the importance of carefully introducing beginning students to the process of pre-writing.  Her presentation grows out of a survey of what 1L students think they are going to learn in their first Legal Writing course. Here is a link to her self-explanatory powerpoints.

We await the forthcoming book on the subject, authored by Laura and her colleague Miki Felsenburg( (Spring 2013 Carolina Academic Press).

And many thanks to Iselin Gambert and her colleagues for organizing a great conference!


December 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 7, 2012

New legal skills scholarship: "Storytelling for Lawyers"

This article is by Professor Jonathan Van Patten (S. Dakota) and is available at  57 S.D. L. Rev. 239 (2012).  From the introduction:

    There are great souls out there who have extraordinary powers of persuasion. If we have been fortunate, we have encountered several of them over the course of our lives. In ways unique to each, they combine authority and wisdom. They appear in different roles--parents, relatives, teachers, pastors, and even political leaders. Their wisdom has shaped us fundamentally, in ways that are discernible long after they are no longer part of our lives. I did not always understand what my favorite law school professor was saying, but his words had power that pulled me along as I was trying to understand. In the words of Jack Nicholson, he made “me want to be a better man.” I do not know how to teach this. It is a gift and we are very fortunate when we are exposed to it, and have the maturity to recognize it.

    For the great majority of us who do not have this gift, persuasion is a harder task. We encounter skepticism and resistance. If we are to be successful in persuading someone, we must first recognize that it is his or her decision, not ours. In contrast with the great teacher, the process cannot be from the top down. It must work from the ground up. If lawyers have a general problem in the art of persuasion, it is that they preach too much, but lack moral authority. They do not recognize that the movement toward a decision comes primarily from within the decision-maker. This does not mean we cannot be great persuaders; we simply have to do it by other means.

     One of the principal techniques of persuasion comes through understanding the art of storytelling. Storytelling is primal. It can show the way to a common ground that ties in to the basic values of the listener. We all grew up with stories. There is a deep psychological need here. I sense, but cannot fully describe, the importance of stories in my childhood. I am able to see more clearly, however, the importance of stories in the development of my own children. My oldest, now a pathologist in Minneapolis, would absorb words and storylines as if they were the water of life itself. I remember her usual response before the age of two to a story reading was: “More . . . more.” Frog and Toad, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Where the Wild Things Are, The Velveteen Rabbit, along with the Winnie-the-Pooh series, were the main staples of bedtime reading for all of my daughters. I read these stories hundreds of times. The repetition might be viewed as indoctrination, but it is much more complex than that because, even at an early stage, my kids were not a blank slate. There was already some psychological need there that the stories were addressing. It must be deeply embedded in the genetic code. The stories become part of the moral infrastructure that is being worked out as part of the child's development. As noted by Bruno Bettelheim: “The child intuitively comprehends that although these stories are unreal, they are not untrue.” The almost insatiable desire for stories is also reflected in the active fantasy life that kids have with their stuffed animals and dolls, as well as action toys. We do not outgrow this.

     The search for meaning is mediated through stories. Stories help to make sense of life. Some stories confirm existing beliefs and prejudices, while others stretch the worldview. They are part of our search for meaning. Movies, for example, are about entertainment, but the better ones are also about meaning. Meaning is not necessarily limited to what is intended by the storyteller. The story may take on additional meaning from its audience. In discussing the popularity of The Shawshank Redemption, director Frank Darabont made the following observation:

       The film seems to be something of a Rorschach for people. They project their own         lives, their own difficulties, their own obstacles, and their own triumphs into it,         whether that's a disastrous marriage or a serious, debilitating illness that         somebody is trying to overcome. They view the bars of Shawshank as a metaphor         for their own difficulties and then consequently their own hopes and         triumphs and  people really do draw strength from the movie for that reason. 

    People project their own values on a good story. They identify with characters and their predicament and begin, in the words of James McElhaney, to pull for one side or the other. This is critical for persuasion built from the bottom up. People should not be told what to think. They will reach the conclusion on their own and will hold on to it more firmly if they can relate it to their own life story.

    There is already considerable literature on the use of storytelling by lawyers. The purpose of this Article is to articulate specific propositions regarding the techniques of storytelling. While most of what follows is not necessarily new, it is useful to collect these propositions and set them out in a systematic and accessible format.


December 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Discovery of Facebook Posts Is No Longer A Given

A very hot issue is how extensively lawyers can use discovery to probe someone’s social media. A federal district court in California holds that there are limits on this sort of discovery. From ABA’s Litigation News (excerpts) 

In Mailhoit v. Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc., [PDF] the district court refused to compel the production of a party’s Facebook posts and photos. The plaintiff alleged that her former employer had terminated her because of a disability, causing her to suffer depression-related symptoms. The former employer denied causing the damages, arguing that the plaintiff maintained a Facebook account and that the publicly available information from that account undermined her claims of isolation and loss of friendship.

The employer wanted to discover the individual’s private posts and photos, as well as other social media, to test her claims for emotional damages. It sought discovery of any social media postings that related to her emotional state. It also sought any third-party communications that placed her postings in context, any communications with current or former employees, and any pictures taken of her over a seven-year period.

The district court rejected all of the requests except for the communications with employees. The key factor for the district court’s decision was the burden that would be placed on the plaintiff to respond to the requests, stating that “[t]he language of the request does not provide sufficient notice to the responding party of what could be considered responsive material.”

The court also expressed concern about privacy issues triggered by the discovery requests, reasoning that a party does not have a “generalized right to rummage” through private posts. For these privacy-related requests, the court stated that a party must first show that the information is calculated to lead to admissible evidence.

Again, these cases prompt us to warn students about what they post on social media.




December 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

AmLaw survey finds many leaders of top law firms "very optimistic" about year ahead

In contrast to a survey released earlier this week in which leaders from a small but select group of BigLaw firms expressed hesitance about the year ahead, The American Lawyer's own survey of the top 200 firms finds the majority of leaders saying they are "somewhat" to "very optimistic" about 2013.  But, as you'll see below, that optimism doesn't necessarily translate into a hiring spree as firms continue to embrace "alternative staffing models" in response to intense pressure from clients to contain costs.

Vote of Confidence

Despite uncertainty all around them, law firm leaders are optimistic about 2013, our annual survey shows.
Leaders of the country's highest-grossing law firms are ready to put the recession behind them and embrace a cheerful narrative—if only the world economy will play along. In The American Lawyer 's 10th annual Law Firm Leaders survey, 75 percent of the 113 participating Am Law 200 managing partners and chairs described themselves as either somewhat or very optimistic with respect to their firms, a slight increase over 73 percent a year ago.

But financial instability in Europe, political and regulatory uncertainty in the United States, and the collapse of debt-laden remind them that the world can be a dangerous place. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they expect the economic recovery in the U.S. to either continue at its current plodding pace or slow down. (Only 29 percent predicted that the recovery would pick up next year.)

"My sense is that a boom wants to happen, which makes me optimistic," says chair Joseph Leccese. "But there are all these macro-level economic issues that are making clients hesitant, and that makes me pessimistic." Leccese was one of 11 managing partners who were interviewed about the results of the survey, which was conducted from mid-August to mid-October on a confidential basis.

. . . .

The results of this year's survey depict an industry that has moved on from the recession—one that has abandoned the large-scale cost cuts and personnel reductions that became commonplace in 2009 and 2010. But in the absence of a clear upswing in the overall economy (and subsequent increase in demand for high-end legal services), leaders of Am Law 200 firms have sought to maintain profitability increases by relying on small-scale tactics, such as capital calls, deequitizations, and increased use of alternative staffing models. "Demand continues to be challenged as business's appetite for new investments, expansions, and acquisitions remains constrained," says Jeffrey Stone, cochair of.  We, like other firms, are trying to find that sweet spot of practice mixes, pricing, staffing levels, and fiscal stability." Stone highlighted his firm's increased use of alternative staffing arrangements that include nonpartnership-track attorneys.

Continue reading here.


December 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Which New Words Will Survive?

First, here is Professor Allan Metcalf’s law:

As the amount of human-accessible information grows, the probability of any neologism taking hold approaches zero.

Still, Professor Metcalf says words do have a chance of becoming permanent if they have these attributes:

Frequency of use
Diversity of users and situations
Generation of other forms and meanings
Endurance of the concept

You can read more at  the Chronicle of Higher Education.


December 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Do pocketparts still exist?

My sources say "yes."  For the record, I still spend class time telling students about pocketparts so that in the (concededly) unlikely event they do get a query from a partner, they don't respond with that vacant, Village of the Damned stare betraying their utter cluelessness.  After all, newly minted lawyers usually don't go to work for some hotshot digital native in her 20's.  Instead, they work for some old codger ready for the glue factory but who nevertheless had it burned into his 1L analog mind a very long time ago that it's malpractice, malpractice I tell you! . . . not . .  to . . .  check . . .  the . . .  pocketpart

OK, so if the pocketpart isn't quite dead yet, the author of the FutureLawyer blog says we should seriously consider administering last rites.  What do you think?  If you teach legal research, do you still cover pocketparts in class? If you're a practitioner, do you ever use them or even subscribe to them anymore?  (One commenter at FutureLawyer says she does). Have pocketparts kicked the bucket?  Tell us what you think in the comments.

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.


December 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

New SSRN Journal on Legal Education: Innovation in Legal Education eJournal

SSRN has added a new journal on legal education--Innovation in Legal Education eJournal--here and here.


This eJournal distributes working and accepted paper abstracts which engage with innovation in the field of legal education. Legal education is moving from a century or more of relative stability in form and content to a time of rapid challenge, innovation, and change. While technology, economic pressures, globalization, and the changing nature of practice and government all have a role in sparking this innovation, changes in theory and practice are also sweeping through education more generally. Furthermore, our understanding of the nature of law is developing in ways that challenge our teaching. The eJournal INNOVATION IN LEGAL EDUCATION provides a forum for looking beyond the traditional dialog of legal educators and into areas of real innovation and change. It will accept working papers, essays, published articles, experimental and research reports, and other scholarly treatments of topics at the cutting edge of developments in the teaching and study of law.

Sponsored by: The Center for Legal Innovation at the Vermont Law School.

(Scott Fruehwald)

December 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Internet versus Dean Mitchell - Round 2

I'm not aware of any prominent legal bloggers who have defended Dean Mitchell's recent editorial in the New York Times "Law School Is Worth the Money." That doesn't mean defenders aren't out there; perhaps there's even a "silent majority" who agree with him and it's merely the critics get the most press (i.e. blog hits).

For those who disagree, however, the Tax Prof Blog has compiled here a list of links to many prominent blogs and bloggers who took issue with the NYT piece.  You can now add to that list Steven J. Harper, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner who authors the terrific blog Belly of the Beast where he often writes from an insider's perspective on BigLaw and the financial issues ailing the profession. His response piece to Dean Mitchell is called "The Lawyer Bubble" and here's an excerpt:

Mitchell’s spirited defense in “Law School Is Worth the Money” concludes that the “overwrought atmosphere has created irrationalities that prevent talented students from realizing their ambitions.” Apparently, he thinks everyone should just calm down, ignore facts, and keep pushing naive undergraduates into law schools, without regard to what will happen to them thereafter. He’s wrong.


Mitchell argues that a legal career is no worse choice than any other because the job market is bad in many industries. He notes that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in the number of lawyers’ jobs from 2010 to 2020 at 10 percent — about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Here’s the thing: that 10 percent growth is for the entire ten years from 2010 to 2020 – a total net increase in the number of lawyer jobs of 73,600. And that number is down from a 2008 BLS estimate of 98,500. As 44,000 new law graduates hit the market each year, law schools are pumping out enough new attorneys for a decade every two years.

. . . .

Excessive tuition

. . . .

It should cost far less to train a lawyer than a doctor — as it did in 1985. But today it doesn’t. Why not? Because law schools have become cash cows, returning as much as 30 percent of tuition revenues to their universities. Moreover, pandering to U.S. News ranking criteria encourages law school expenditures without regard to value added. Federally guaranteed student loans fuel the system in ways that relieve law schools from meaningful accountability as they glut the market.


Mitchell dismisses the fact that average law school debt exceeds $125,000 with the cavalier assertion that “the average lawyer’s salary exceeds that number. You’d consider a home mortgage at that ratio to be pretty sweet.” He notes that attorneys’ average starting salaries have increased 125 percent since 1985.

Unfortunately, the average includes only those who actually have lawyer jobs, and it doesn’t consider the fact that, as Above the Law’s Elie Mystal emphasizes often, the average masks the bimodal distribution of attorney income. Thanks to the skewing effect of big law firm compensation (where only 15 percent of lawyers practice), most lawyers earn far less than the industry average. Moreover, median starting salaries for new attorneys have been dropping like a rock — from $72,000 to $60,000 since 2009. Meanwhile, law school tuition keeps going the other way.

Mr. Harper's bottom line, which even Paul Campos and Elie Mystal would concede, is that for "the best and brightest" (or for those who don't have to pay full freight), law school can be a wonderful choice.  But for others, it may be a financial mistake they won't fully comprehend until it's too late.

You can read Mr. Harper's full comments here.


December 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Publishing: Digital Journals v. Hard Copy Journals

A major survey by the American Historical Society found a strong preference for hard copy journals:

The survey also found that senior faculty members are unlikely to believe that their institutions highly value digital journal articles, even with the question specifying that these were peer-reviewed online articles. Compared to the approximately 70 percent of history professors in the survey who said that print articles were highly valued, only about 10 percent said the same for digital articles. At bachelor's colleges, the figure is about 15 percent. (An Inside Higher Ed poll of faculty members this year found that a majority believe that work published in online-only journals can be equal in quality to work published in print, but only a small minority agreed that online scholarship receives the same respect in tenure decisions as does print scholarship.)

The figures are striking in that the discipline of history has no shortage of highly respected digital scholarship venues.

I’m sure that a similar survey of law profs would make a similar finding. Yet, even the most elite law student-run journals may sell only about 2,000 hard copies. In our law library, those hard copies are at the basement level. That floor is a ghost town.


December 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Getting to know your students through the "unfortunate story" exercise

Professor Debbie Borman (Northwestern) has another great teaching tip in the most recent issue of The Law Teacher.  She calls it the "unfortunate story" exercise which involves asking students at the beginning of the semester to write a short essay in which they describe some bad luck that befell them and explain how they dealt with it.  Professor Borman says that the purpose of the exercise is two-fold; as the first writing assignment of the semester it enables her to assess her students' communication skills.  Second, it helps her understand and appreciate the diverse range of life experiences her students bring to the classroom.  Here's an excerpt:

Stories range from straightforward to humorous to very sad and upsetting. For example, new college graduates’ Unfortunate Stories tend to revolve around events that occurred in cars (about one-third of student stories are car stories), getting stuck on the highway, getting lost, getting a car towed, getting tickets. Younger students are accustomed to a college classroom environment. More seasoned students may relay stories about work, children or other significant life issues, and may have an adjustment period in returning to the classroom setting after years away from school. Sometimes Unfortunate Stories provide great insight as to potential personal difficulties that students may bring to school regarding family or other relationships. We all know that law school is a delicate balancing act and that maintaining a professional-personal life balance is difficult during the rigors of a law school education.

Some of the Unfortunate Stories students share are highly unusual and dramatic, and include the following:

  • Being kidnapped by Bedouins on a camel in Turkey
  • Becoming blind in one eye in a sports accident
  • Losing a job on a television reality show after a producer commits murder and suicide
  • Being separated from a parent and later reuniting with that parent
  • Discovering that an absent parent has stolen the student’s identity
  • Being mugged and fighting for life on the street on a bitterly cold Moscow night

Often the diverse Unfortunate Stories will spur a legal discussion or define an interest in the classroom. This semester I heard a series of pet stories that prompted the class to discuss animal law and animal rights. The Unfortunate Story also often prompts a discussion of potential personal injury lawsuits and the requirements to prove an injury (a good lead-in for a torts problem assignment). The Unfortunate Story can open up diverse discussion topics in class on the day that the stories are relayed, for an entire semester, or sometimes even for an entire year. 

By clicking here, you can access  the complete article published at 19 The Law Teacher 2 (Fall 2012).


December 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tips for handling tough job interview questions

Given the brutal job market for many law students, every interview opportunity must be taken seriously.  That means being well prepared so you're at the top of your game.  Besides doing the obvious due diligence about the employer you'll be interviewing with, it also means trying to anticipate the interviewer's questions so you can put your best foot forward.  There will always be the off-the-wall questions you can't anticipate, but for a list of the ones you should expect and some tips on how to handle them, head on over to the National Jurist Magazine.  Here's an excerpt:

How to Answer Tough Interview Questions (without breaking a sweat)

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Think about this one from the perspective of the interviewer. He or she does not want to train, mentor, and show you the ropes only to have you leave in a year. If you see yourself at that firm five years down the line, great. If you are not sure, find a part of what they do that you find appealing, whether it’s the practice area, or the size of the firm, and focus on that.

. . . .

Why should we hire you?
This is one question that you should try to practice before the interview. Find three to four “selling” points from your resume, and make sure you fit them in. Analyze your resume the night before the interview. Find courses, internships or jobs where you can give examples of work you have done that relates to the job. Try to tell at least one or two success stories. Success stories are examples of things you are proud of, problems you solved, or recognition you received at work for a job well done. If you are describing personality traits, e.g., “I’m a very hard worker,” always also try to give them a concrete example, such as “I managed to maintain an A- average, while working fifteen hours a week.”

Continue reading here.


December 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

A Nine Percent Drop in Law Student Enrollment This Year

Excerpts from a news release of the ABA Section on Legal Education:

Early review of data on first-year enrollments at ABA-approved law schools reveals that 44,481 full-time and part-time students began their law school studies in the fall of 2012. This represents a decrease of 4,216 students (9 percent) from the fall of 2011 and is approximately 15 percent below the historic high 1L enrollment of 52,488 in the fall of 2010.

Approximately three fourths of 201 ABA-approved law schools experienced declines in first-year enrollment. Ninety law schools reported declines exceeding 10 percent from last year, while fewer than 10 had increases of 10 percent or more.

  1. Total 1L enrollment (full-time and part-time)   44,481
  2. Changes in 1L enrollment, 2011 – 2012
    • Schools showing increase: 48
    • Schools showing no change: 4
    • Schools showing decrease: 149
  3. Schools with 1L enrollments within +/- 5 students from previous year: 39
  4. Schools showing 10 percent or more increase from previous year: 8
  5. Schools showing 10 percent or more decrease from previous year: 90

We  have to face up to the need for major changes how we structure our law schools and our educational process. We are living in a new era.


December 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Top law firm leaders say market is flat, competition is ferocious and innovation is necessary for survival

The Financial Times has released a list of the top 25 innovative BigLaw firms in the U.S. (you can access it here).  In an accompanying article, the FT notes that nearly all the leaders from these firms acknowledge that the market is flat meaning that the only way to grow their practice is to take business away from competitors or create new markets themselves.  This means that being an "innovative" law firm is no longer just a marketing slogan but instead one's very survival now depends on it.

Firms grow smarter on strategy

Nearly all the leaders of the firms in the 2012 FT Law 25 had the same observation this year: the market is flat so the only way to grow is to win business from competitors or to create new markets.

Most of the top US law firms have similar strategies – to focus on retaining premium work and to avoid commoditisation. To achieve this, they need continually to prove that they are ideal for handling complex, high-value matters. This is not easy in the $240bn US legal market, which is both broad and deep. In 2010, the vast majority (78) of the top 100 most-profitable law firms globally were American.

The only way these firms can maintain their position on the value curve is to prove to clients that they are unique. This onus on differentiation may be one reason why they have been keener than ever to show the Financial Times their innovations. A flat, paralysed market has taken innovation from something that is nice to have, to being a “must-have”.

. . . .

Four years into the downturn with no sign of a boom means clients have the upper hand. Nearly all the 200 clients interviewed to compile the report wanted better fee arrangements and efficiencies from their law firms. While a few firms still feel they can sidestep client demands, most have sought to improve their process innovations and, in particular, the value proposition of their younger lawyers.

On the process innovation side, the significant trends have been a more widespread adoption of fixed and predictable fees, project managers and low-cost centres. In terms of changing the value proposition of lawyers, the trends have been subtle but more interesting.

Brad Malt, chairman of Ropes & Gray, says: “Buggy whip manufacturers went out of business as they did not adapt to the car. We are faced with a buggy whip moment. Firms can pretend that old market dynamics exist – but they don’t.” For the firms who agree with this, changing the behaviours of their lawyers to align more with clients’ demands is imperative.

Continue reading here (free subscription required).

Hat tip to the ABA Journal Blog.


December 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Proposal for new Daytona Beach School of Law hits a snag

Despite the continuing and precipitous decline in law school applications as well as the dismal market for new law grads (the two are, of course, related), there are some who still think we need more law schools (here). Case in point is a group of private investors hoping to start a new, standalone law school in Daytona Beach, Florida.  But those plans just hit an unexpected snag when the investors discovered that an abandoned police building they planned to use to house the new school is about 45% smaller than they were led to believe.  As such it doesn't provide the square footage they need.  As one of the investors told the Daytona Beach News-Journal: "We're somewhere between shell-shocked and disappointed." 

Size error nixes Daytona law school deal

The old police department on Nova Road that's been sitting vacant for nearly four years will not be getting a new lease on life as a law school.

City officials say since March they have mistakenly been telling the three business partners from Jacksonville who wanted to open a law school in the 50-year-old complex that the buildings had about 55,000 square feet of usable space. A recent appraisal revealed the tan brick buildings offer just under 38,000 square feet, not enough for the kind of law school the partners want.

"We're somewhere between shell-shocked and disappointed," said Jacksonville attorney Eric Smith, a partner on the project and a former state legislator. "We had started to look for contractors."

"Basically we mis-invested a lot of money and time trying to put 10 pounds of sugar in a five-pound bag," said Jim Catlett, executive vice president of Infinity Global Solutions, a Jacksonville development company.

Catlett and Smith say they'll look for another building in Daytona Beach now, but it will have to be bigger. Catlett said an accredited law school would need at least 55,000 square feet, but a better size would be more like 75,000-80,000 square feet to comfortably fit a law library, classrooms and offices.

City leaders say they had relied on old information about the buildings and didn't realize until the appraisal was done that they had unwittingly been passing along bum figures that were off by 45 percent. The floor area was never a priority issue during several meetings, so the mistake lingered, said Deputy City Manager Paul McKitrick

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to Lisa Smith-Butler.


December 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do

High School Teacher Larry Ferlazzo’s blog posting on this subject has gained a wide readership. Here is his view on engaging students, particularly students who are difficult to engage:

Teachers' challenge is to work alongside our students, to know their interests and goals, and to develop trusting relationships that help students connect their learning to their goals in a way that motivates from within.

Here is a brief summary of his “eight things skilled teachers think, do, and say.” His entire blog post is worth reading.

What Skilled Teachers Can Think

1. Remember that authoritative beats authoritarian.

Being authoritarian means wielding power unilaterally to control someone, demanding obedience without giving any explanation for why one's orders are important. Being authoritative, on the other hand, means demonstrating control, but doing so relationally through listening and explaining.

2. Believe that everyone can grow.

3. Understand that power isn't a finite pie.

If I share the power I have, that doesn't mean I'll have less. In fact, the pie will get bigger as more possibilities are created for everyone.

What Skilled Teachers Can Say

4. Give positive messages.

5. Apologize.

Teachers are human, and we make plenty of mistakes. There is no reason why we shouldn't apologize when we do.

What Skilled Teachers Can Do

6. Be flexible.

Being flexible might be the most important thing teachers can "do" to help students who challenge us—in fact all students—to get past whatever challenges of their own they confront.

7. Set the right climate.

At school, baseline rewards might include fair grading, a caring teacher, engaging lessons, and a clean classroom.

8. Teach life lessons.


December 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Does Building a Student's Self-Esteem Aid Learning? The Illusion of Learning

One of my co-bloggers had a post a few months ago that cited a study that attacked the importance of boosting self-esteem for student achievement.  (here)  Other studies show that giving a student false self-esteem (the illusion of learning) can hurt learning.

According to metacognitive learning pioneer Paul Pintrich (here at 222), self-knowledge (also called self-efficacy--assessing one's ability to accomplish a learning task) is very important for learning.  However, that self-knowledge must be accurate.  He writes, "we are not advocating that teachers try to boost students' self-esteem. . . by providing students with positive, but false, inaccurate, and misleading feedback of their strengths and weaknesses."  He continues, "[i]f students do not realize they do not know some aspect of factual, conceptual, or procedural knowledge, it is unlikely they will make any effort to acquire or construct new knowledge."  Another group of authors (here at 358) has called this the "illusion of understanding," but I prefer the "illusion of learning."

Unfortunately, because of the current emphasis on building students' self-esteem in public schools and colleges, many of our students enter law school with a significantly inaccurate picture of their knowledge and ability to learn.  This is why they are often so resistant to our attempts to teach them.  (How often has a legal writing professor heard from a student "but I already know how to write"?)  We need to gently, but firmly change their attitudes.  In particular, we need to be explicit about why we are teaching them something--why it is important for their careers.

(Scott Fruehwald

December 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tips for helping students become become advocates through theater improv techniques

The most recent issue of The Law Teacher (see below too) includes an article that many skills profs will find helpful for the coming spring semester. Authored by Professors Debbie Borman and Dana Hill, both of Northwestern, Freeze! Using Theatre Improvisation Techniques to Practice Oral Argument offers fun and effective advice for teaching students to become better advocates.  It's a short read but well worth your time.  The cite is 19 Law Teacher 32 (Fall 2012) or you can check out the full issue here.  

From the introduction:

Some law students are absolutely petrified of the concept of oral argument. While many law students might have prior public speaking experience, moot court is generally the first time students speak extemporaneously on legal issues before a panel of questioners who are inclined to interrupt them with potentially difficult and rapid-fire questions.

We prepare students for moot court not only to meet the challenge of a strong, clear, and well-reasoned argument, but also to alleviate the fear of making an oral argument, increasing students’ comfort level to achieve a good moot court experience, and, especially in a tight legal market, expand their legal career options.


December 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Temple seeking to hire family law clinical professor

Here are the details:

Temple University Beasley School of Law

Clinical Faculty Position Announcement

Position Summary: The Temple University Beasley School of Law solicits applications for a position as an assistant or associate clinical professor of law. The current clinical position focuses on family law, but the school will consider other well-developed concepts for the clinic focused on the civil legal needs of low income Philadelphians. The position will begin July 1, 2013. This is a full-time, non-tenured position, renewable yearly initially, then eligible for longterm, renewable contracts in compliance with ABA Standard 405(c).  Salary will be commensurate with background, qualifications, and experience.

Minimum Qualifications: An excellent academic record and a J.D. degree; a preferred minimum of 5 years significant law practice and/or clinical teaching experience relevant to the proposed clinical program; demonstrated research and writing ability; and must be a member of the Pennsylvania Bar or willing to become a member as soon as practical following appointment. The ideal candidate will have both significant practice experience in the area of proposed clinical supervision and clinical law teaching experience as well as published work in a law journal or comparable publication.  Temple University is committed to a diverse faculty, staff and student body and is an EEO/AA employer.

To Apply: Please send the following to Professor Theresa Glennon at 1) cover letter; 2) one-two page proposal for clinic, including academic and social justice goals of the proposed clinic and explanation of how applicant’s experiences demonstrate ability to successfully run the proposed clinical experience; 3) writing sample, preferably of published work; 4) resume or c.v. Interested persons are encour­aged to apply as soon as possible as interviews will start in January, 2013. The position is open until filled.


December 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Practice: What’s Hot & What’s Not

At Attorney at Work, consultant Bob Denney offers his list of practice areas that are red hot, hot, becoming hot, and cool. Here are the areas that are red hot:

  • Energy. At many firms throughout the U.S., but particularly in Texas, Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. Oil and gas are the main drivers, while air and water quality continue to be environmental issues.
  • Health Care. Most of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) goes into effect January 14, 2013, but there are still questions about certain issues. A major one for employers, their advisors, most states and even the federal government is setting up the exchanges and whether some employers will drop insurance altogether.
  • Sports Law. Not really a separate area, though, because it can involve various practice areas such as M&A, Labor and Employment, Intellectual Property and Advertising.


December 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)