Saturday, January 5, 2013
According to a story posted at the Faculty Lounge, first-time LSAT takers dropped 16% compared to December 2011. Keep in mind that October first-time LSAT takers were down 19.6% from last year. Total law school applications are down 22% from last year as of December 2012.
The National Law Journal has released its annual billing survey:
Among the findings from our survey: The highest rate was $1,285, charged by a single real estate investment trust partner in Locke Lord's Dallas office. The lowest hourly rate for associates was $130 at Cincinnati-based Dinsmore & Shohl.
Yes, I know, but remember that you didn’t get into law teaching for the money. For more statistics, please click here.
Friday, January 4, 2013
The positive, though modest, trend in new legal services sector jobs extended its streak to four months with this most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that the legal sector added 1,000 jobs in December. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the story here. It brings the total, net number of new legal sector jobs created between December 2011 through December 2012 to 7,800 according to the WSJ. Click here for a chart showing legal sector new job reports for January 2012 through November.
I have always thought that student conferences were an important part of, if not the most important part of, teaching legal writing. I have just run across a wonderful article on student conferences by Robin S. Wellford-Slocum--The Law School Student Faculty Conference: Towards a Transformative Learning Experience, 45 South Texas Law Review 255 (2004) (also here).
Abstract: "Part II of this article contends that the student conference can be one of the most important learning experiences of a law student’s education. With its personalized attention to an individual student’s cognitive development, the conference is a forum in which a student can engage in a sustained dialogue with her professor and explore ways of improving her analysis and writing without the pressures of performance in front of peers. In Part III, the article explores the institutional and individual constraints that often prevent the student conference from realizing its full potential. Not only do time and financial constraints impose limits on one-on-one dialogue, but professors are poorly prepared by legal scholarship alone to make the most of the student conference. Even thoughtful and prepared law professors may lack a systematic understanding of what is happening (or failing to happen) in the student conference without the benefit of insights from extensive research in the areas of cognitive science, psychology, psychotherapy, composition theory and critical discourse analysis.
The remainder of this article builds on such research to provide a detailed analysis of how law professors can make the student conference an effective and transformative learning experience. Part IV discusses such considerations as the timing of student conferences in the writing curriculum and the advance preparation required of both professor and student prior to the conference. Part V of this article discusses the importance of the relationship between professor and student and considers the characteristics of an interpersonal relationship that would best encourage the law student’s cognitive development. In Part VI, this article discusses and evaluates the four phases of the student conference, including the rapport-building phase, the problem-overview phase, the problem-resolution phase, and the closure phase."
I especially liked this observation, which sums up the problems with the Socratic method: "The Langdellian classroom in particular is so focused on revealing to students what they do not know, as opposed to what they do know, 'that students tend to leave a traditional Langdellian classroom with a sense of failure, rather than a Socratic sense of accomplishment.'”
Here's another one: "In fact, a limited training in analytical skills leads to unintended consequences, as students learn to depend on these skills to provide solutions to problems without considering the human dimension."
Zig Ziglar was a legendary consultant and motivational speaker. He advises to reflect on how productive we are just before a vacation and just after one:
Two nights before your vacation, you likely sat down with your laptop, iPad or even a piece of paper and listed all of the things that you had to complete the following day - your must do’s! ("I must do this and I must do that..."). Then, you mentally committed to completing them all before you left the office the next day.
On the morning of the day before your vacation, you arrived at the office on time -maybe even early. But you didn't head for the coffee machine or to catch up with co-workers. You headed straight for your office, shut the door and tackled the first must do on your list (the sign of a motivated employee). You probably also did things out of order. You took your least favorite task on the list and got it out of the way quickly, instead of having it hanging overhead all day long (the way you normally would). With that tough one out of the way, you were feeling pretty good, and so you tore into the next task on your list and then the next one after that. When someone came to chat about last night's football game or TV show, you politely but firmly informed that person that you were just too busy - and then you got back to business.
As you completed each of your must do’s, you felt your energy rising, so that by halfway through the day you were buzzing with a sense of accomplishment that drove your enthusiasm level even higher. Your obviously energized and enthusiastic demeanor began to motivate employees and colleagues around you. They started to ramp up their efforts and became similarly enthusiastic. The atmosphere in the office got a little extra spark and this lifted you even further. At the end of the day, you had all of your must do’s completed. You doubled or maybe tripled your performance on this day because you had to, so tell me… now that we know it is possible, why do we not do this on a daily basis? Think about it….if planning one day of your life can make such a radical difference in that day, think what a difference a game plan for life would make.
On this link, you can watch a video of Zig giving his advice.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
From Professor Jon Garon (NKU Chase) via the New Normal column at the ABA Journal Blog. Professor Garon is the author of the forthcoming article in the Connecticut Law Review "Legal Education in Disruption: The Headwinds and Tailwinds of Technology."
First and foremost, this requires that law schools [must] teach the discipline of running a legal business. Lawyers must understand the consequence of their own financial statements, balance sheets and capital accounts. Other business skills including human resource management, marketing, risk management, organizational behavior, leadership and strategic planning are all part of a lawyer’s professional management of her firm and essential to being an effective resource for her client.
Second, specialization is no longer enough. A lawyer should fully understand the relevant context in which a specialization is utilized. Successful lawyers understand that clients seek lawyers to solve complex issues that have legal, regulatory, logistical and economic attributes. Context for the legal issues is essential to properly understand the nature of the problem and to recommend appropriate strategies for resolution. Law schools must provide training to teach lawyers to better understand, analyze and interpret the environment in which their clients operate.
Third, law school should provide law students with hands-on training for the tools of practice and the impact of technology. The ABA has moved in this direction through its Ethics 20/20 Commission's recent amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. In adopting ethics and competency rules on technology as it affects confidentiality, client development and marketing, the ABA recognizes the need for lawyers to understand the consequences of technology changing the way information is stored, retrieved and communicated. Law students should gain experience, applying practical and ethical decision-making using these tools before they enter practice.
Both the context and the methodology of practice can be taught well through a live-client setting which also adds greatly to other professional competencies. Moreover, to the extent that the new normal has jettisoned the bar’s obligation to transition law graduates into working professionals, then these real-client educational apprenticeships are becoming essential for the professional development of each lawyer.
Fortunately, schools across the country are exploring ways to address these growing demands. Many combine the real-client component with aspects on the business of lawyering or utilize joint degrees or certifications that increase the context and specify of the law degree. Here are a few of the many examples:
• University of Connecticut School of Law has been the most recent school to announce a real-client graduation requirement. In its press release, UConn suggests it is joining 20 other schools which have made a clinical or externship component mandatory.
• The Northeastern University School of Law and the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law co-op programs perhaps represent the most comprehensive real-client field placement programs, offering full-time field placements for their students.
• NYU School of Law has added business and financial literacy as well as leadership and collaboration as key components to its core curriculum. It has also emphasized globalization and interdisciplinary specialization.
• Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law has partnered with the NKU College of Informatics for specialized joint degrees pairing law with Business Informatics and Health Informatics, creating an academic program highlighting the technology driven context of modern business and health care.
• Hamline University School of Law has expanded its Health Law Institute to create the Health Care Compliance Certificate accredited by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB), making the students eligible to take the Certified in Healthcare Compliance Examination (CHC Exam).
• Michigan State University College of Law, created the ReInvent Law project, described as “a law laboratory devoted to technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in legal services.”
• University of Miami School of Law has sponsored LawWithoutWalls, to foster “skills needed by the professionals of our future such as presentation, communication, entrepreneurial, teamwork, global and cross-cultural, business planning, branding, technology, social media, business networking, self-awareness, work-life balance, innovative research, professionalism, ethics, and idea generation.”
These examples of real-client education, contextual development, and exploration of the business acumen needed to work in the 21st century legal environment are at the heart of legal education reform. At the same time, however, the core of legal education should not change. Students must be taught to think like a lawyer, meaning to synthesize large volumes of information, evaluate facts and rules, reason carefully and communicate effectively. They continue to need courses in torts, contracts, civil procedure, constitutional law and criminal law (among others), because these reflect the substantive building blocks on which the other skills are developed.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
From the Law Admissions Lowdown blog of USNWR:
Law schools and the legal industry are constantly changing and evolving, so 2013 should bring some exciting new developments. Here are three trends to watch for in the coming year.
1. Smaller applicant pool: The numbers of law school applications and law school applicants have been declining in the last few years, down from an all-time high of around 87,500 applicants and 602,300 applications for entry to law school in fall 2010.
In fall 2012, 67,957 applicants submitted 469,642 applications, according to the Law School Admission Council. Compared to the year before, the number of applicants for fall 2012 decreased by 13.6 percent, and the number of applications decreased by 12.5 percent. This decline will likely continue in 2013, though at a much more moderate pace, and I predict it will begin to level off and perhaps even reverse in the next few years.
As a result of this smaller pool of applicants, those applying in 2013 should have significant leverage in the law school application process. First, they will likely have access to higher caliber law schools as competition decreases slightly (though some schools may decrease class size to maintain their GPA/LSAT averages and low acceptance rates).
Also, applicants will have more bargaining power in terms of financial aid packages. Note that even with these advantages for applicants, admission to the top law schools will remain extraordinarily competitive.
2. Increase in big firm hiring: Law firms have been steadily increasing their hiring since 2009, when many firms did very little, if any, hiring at all.
Law school students graduating in 2013 and in the following few years will likely see more job opportunities at the highest-paying "Big Law" firms, though, like in nearly all professions at the moment, overall job openings may still be lower than we would hope for.
As the economy continues to recover, corporations will be less cautious financially than they were during the recession, so the demand for lawyers to manage mergers and acquisitions activity, for example, will likely increase substantially; a significant pickup in such activity was noted in the second half of 2012.
3. Emphasis on international law: As globalization continues to foster interdependence between nations, there will be a growing need for lawyers specializing in comparative and international law, especially international business law. In 2013, law students who focus on law related to treaties and trade, workers' protections, free trade, and cross-border economic relationships are likely to be especially appealing to employers.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Hat tip to ATL.
According to law coach Roy Ginsburg, it’s because so many enter the profession with little knowledge about what the practice of law is really like:
Not surprisingly, there are thousands of unhappy lawyers who are new to the profession. After all, there’s plenty to be unhappy about if you’re unemployed and trying to pay back six-figure loans. But what about more-experienced attorneys who have stable jobs and little-to-no debt? Are they a satisfied lot?
A 2007 American Bar Association survey found that only 55 percent of lawyers were satisfied with their careers. In my opinion, this is because many of them become lawyers with vague or unrealistic expectations about what a career in the legal profession would be like.
For more, please click here.
The Center for Access to Justice & Technology and Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction will announce next week at the AALS Annual Meeting that six law schools have joined the Access to Justice Clinical Course Project. Throughout the next year, faculty at each school will develop a replicable course model that teaches new technical competencies, like document assembly and document automation technologies, along with legal research and writing. Simultaneously, the students in these courses will develop web tools that will reduce barriers to justice for self-represented litigants.
For more information, please contact Andrew Medeiros firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Thomson Reuters has been asking some of the company's legal business leaders to make predictions about trends in the legal marketplace we can expect to see in the coming year. Based on the two opinions solicited thus far, we can expect flat demand for the services of BigLaw, increased demand for alternative legal service providers and a continuing trend towards greater globalization.
First on deck is Chang Wang, chief research and academic officer:
“The legal marketplace will continue to be globalized, and the legal professionals will have to struggle to deal with the challenges presented by this globalization. It is predictable that the development of the law will be behind the reality of globalization in the coming year.
International firms will continue to handle multi-national mergers and complex, multi-jurisdictional business transactions; domestic firms will aspire to go international by wading into the water of cross-border transactions, or by dealing with issues related to the acquisition of domestic businesses by foreign investors; and some legal services will continue to be transferred offshore.
The rapid development of technology and the integration of global economic systems will generate more and more legal issues: miscommunication; choice of law; data security and cyber espionage; export control; Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); and unprecedented, potential human rights violations – Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). All these will challenge existing processes and protocols for managing international transactions and enterprises, and will change the way in which we perceive and calculate the benefits of globalization. Furthermore, fundamental tensions among different ideological and political systems will continue to play a larger-than-anticipated role in economic affairs, creating even more complications and uncertainties intra legem, legally speaking.”
Next up is Mark Medice, senior director of Peer Monitor:
“Growth and differentiation is the focal point for law firms in 2013. Demand is flat for large law firms and shifting to other providers (e.g., in-house, down-market, LPOs), and pricing power has moved to clients. These pressures will drive refined talent strategies, much greater efficiency movements, matter management discipline, and smarter client development strategies. We are in the early innings of a structural change cycle.”
Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.
From the ABA Litigation Section:
The 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright
Friday, January 18, 2013 / 10:45 am – 12:00 pm EST
A program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision, Gideon v. Wainright will be live streamed on January 18, 2013. This decision recognized a constitutional right to the appointment of counsel for indigent criminal defendants charged with felonies. Mr. Gideon was in prison when he submitted his handwritten petition to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting counsel.
Professor Bruce Jacobs, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Criminal Law at Stetson Law School and Anthony Graves, an exonerated death row prisoner from Texas. Moderating will be Joanne A. Epps, Dean of Temple Beasley School of Law.
Monday, December 31, 2012
According to Deborah Jones Merritt (here), the answer is "groupness," which is being "too cloistered to keep up with changing times."
"Smart, talented, and conscientious people are particularly prone to groupness. That's because, according to Gonzales: 'If a group invests a lot of effort in a goal and succeeds, its boundaries become stronger, and it tends to become even more hostile to outside influences. . . .' Smart, talented, and conscientious people are exactly the type to invest a lot of effort in their projects. When they do, and when the projects succeed, they face the danger of unconsciously adopting group resistance to any change."
"The dangers deepen the longer a group has shared success. Members of new groups (rebels and innovators) continue communicating with people outside their immediate circle. More established organizations lose their communication with others; they become insular and dysfunctional."
She uses the Columbia disaster as an example:
"The final report on Columbia's crash noted that '[e]xternal criticism and doubt' only 'reinforced the will to ‘impose the party line vision on the environment, not to reconsider it.' NASA's executives, in other words, responded with perfect groupness: Bonded by their past success, they rejected any criticisms with hostility."
"Legal education, unfortunately, shows all of the signs of groupness. How many times have you heard a law professor say: 'We've been using the case method for more than a century. You can't argue with a hundred years of success!' How often have you heard administrators and faculty revel in the excellence of their schools and programs? How often does your law school, as described internally, sound like the 'perfect place?' How often do you hear faculty attacking the 'naive' suggestions of practitioners, students, alumni, and other outsiders?"
I think Professor Merritt is on to something. Law schools today are using a modified version of a model (the "Langdellian Bargain") developed in the "Gilded Age." That might be fine if conditions had not changed, but the world, including the legal world, is much different than it was in the nineteenth century. Lawyers have to practice in the modern world with international commerce and instant communication. Clients have much different needs than they did 100 years ago. Finally, our student population is extremely diverse. The modified Langdellian model just won't cut it any more--not economically and not in its teaching methods.
Imagine if hospitals operated like a law school. They would reject the latest technology because the old methods of diagnosis and treatment had already worked. They would reject heart surgery because that just wasn't done in the nineteenth century. They would even reject penicillin.
Law schools can no longer be resistant to change. They must operate on a business model that allows their diverse student population to graduate without crushing debt. They must adopt teaching methods that prepare them to be practicing attorneys, rather than legal philosophers. As Merritt declared, "After a hundred years, times change."
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Six law schools to participate in project that will teach students to provide better access to legal services for low income clients
The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI®) will announce at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools in New Orleans on January 6, 2013 that they have reached agreements with faculty members from six law schools to develop course kits as part of the Access to Justice Clinical Course Project (A2J Clinic Project). Participating law schools include Columbia Law School, Concordia University School of Law, CUNY School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, UNC School of Law, and University of Miami School of Law.
Each participating faculty member will develop and document a course model that uses A2J Author® to teach law students how technology tools can be used to lower barriers to justice for low-income, self-represented litigants. CALI will use those course models to assist other law schools in establishing A2J Clinical Courses as a permanent part of their law school curriculum.
A2J Author is a software tool developed by CALI and the Center for Access to Justice & Technology at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law to deliver greater access to justice for self-represented litigants by enabling lawyers and law students to rapidly build user-friendly web-based document assembly tools called A2J Guided Interviews®. These A2J Guided Interviews allow users to complete court documents by presenting a series of easy-to-understand questions while graphics virtually lead users along the path to the courthouse, where these documents can be filed.
“The A2J Clinic Project will help participating professors develop courses that use A2J Author as educational tool,” CALI Executive Director John Mayer said. “We have has always worked as an innovative force to push legal education to change for the better. Previously, we’ve done that by developing computerized lessons to supplement in-class instruction and e-Langdell coursebooks, but the A2J Clinic Project will develop course kits that our member schools can incorporate into their clinical curriculum.”
Professor Ronald W. Staudt at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law has been using A2J Author as part of the Justice & Technology Practicum for three years, automating forms for use by legal aid organizations in Illinois and around the country.
“Eighty percent of the legal needs that low-income people face go unmet each year,” explained Professor Staudt, who is also director of the Center for Access to Justice and Technology. “This semester, my students just finished developing tools that will be used by statewide legal aid websites in Nebraska, North Carolina and Illinois to lower the barriers to justice self-represented litigants face.”
Students in Staudt's class learn how to use software tools that will soon become standard, while developing self-help resources that assist low-income people who cannot afford an attorney start a lawsuit, file for divorce, or petition for an order of protection.
“The legal services market is rapidly changing. Experience with document automation and document assembly tools is going to be vital for new attorneys, but very few law schools offer courses that provide hands-on experience using these tools,” he said. “We’ve addressed that gap in the legal education system in a way that will also allow us help mitigate the access to justice problem.”
Each participating faculty member will integrate Prof. Staudt's model into their own courses to develop an original course offering at their law school. Upon completion of the course, the faculty members will deliver a course kit that includes a syllabus, a list of course materials, and a process for completing A2J Guided Interviews, along with a teacher's manual explaining their methodology for teaching the course.
Participants will include:
Brian Donnelly, Conrad Johnson, and Mary Marsh Zulack, Lawyering in the Digital Age at Columbia Law School;
Greg Sergienko and Jodi Nafzger, A2J Clinic at Concordia University School of Law;
Joe Rosenberg,Elder Law Clinic at CUNY School of Law;
Tanina Rostain and Roger Skalbeck, Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice at Georgetown University Law Center;
Judith Welch Wegner, Becoming a Professional at UNC School of Law;
JoNel Newman and Melissa Swain, Health and Elder Law Clinic at University of Miami School of Law.
CALI®, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, is a nonprofit consortium of law schools whose mission includes promoting “access to justice through the use of computer technology.”
A2J Author is currently used in more than 30 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Canada. More than 880 A2J Guided Interviews are actively used on the national server, Law Help Interactive. These A2J Guided Interviews have been used by self-represented litigants more than 2,000,000 times. A redesigned A2J Author 5.0 is currently in development, which will allow users to access the software from any Web browser, including a smartphone.
IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. The Center for Access to Justice & Technology was established at IIT Chicago-Kent to make justice more accessible to the public by promoting the use of the Internet in the teaching, practice, and public access to the law. The Center conducts research, builds software tools, teaches classes and supports faculty, staff and student projects on access to justice and technology. CAJT developed A2J Author in 2005, in partnership with CALI.
EDITORS NOTE: For more information or to view a sample course kit based on Prof. Staudt's Justice & Technology Practicum course go to http://a2jclinic.classcaster.net/. Interviews with CALI’s John Mayer, Professor Ronald Staudt, students from Justice & Technology Practicum, or participating faculty members may be arranged through Andrew Medeiros, 862-684-2977.