March 23, 2013
"Rethinking law schools" with Professor Brian Tamanaha and Dean Lawrence Mitchell
It's a webcast radio show featuring Professor Tamanaha, author of Failing Law Schools, and Dean Mitchell of Case Western (who took some heat for his recent NYT editorial "Law School is Worth the Money") discussing the future of legal ed. The following is a synopsis from the radio station's website or click here for a much detailed summary courtesy of the blog An Associate's Mind.
Law schools are in trouble. Applications are at a 30-year low and rising tuitions have led to high student debt. A weak job market has meant that many graduates can’t find a good job to make payments on those loans. All this has spurred a debate about what law school should be, and possible ways to reform it. Today, rethinking law school. First, guest host, Tracey Matisak, talks with Washington University law professor, Brian Tamanaha, about his book, “Failing Law Schools.” Then Lawrence Mittchell, Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School, gives us a different perspective on the value of a legal education.
Plain English in Business Writing: Avoid These Words
At the Harvard Business Review blog, Bryan Garner offers a list of “bizspeak” words and phrases that the plain English business writer should avoid.
actionable (apart from legal action)
at the end of the day
back of the envelope
bandwidth (outside electronics)
bring our A game
ducks in a row
hit the ground running
kick the can down the road
let's do lunch
let's take this offline
level the playing field
on the same page
out of pocket (except in reference to expenses)
push the envelope
putting lipstick on a pig
seismic shift (outside earthquake references)
think outside the box
throw it against the wall and see if it sticks
throw under the bus
under the radar
verbage (the correct term is verbiage — in reference only to verbose phrasings)
where the rubber meets the road
March 22, 2013
"The Transformation of the Legal Profession and Legal Education"
This article is by Professor E. Thomas Sullivan and is available at 46 Ind. L. Rev. 145 (2013). Professor Sullivan is President of U. of Vermont and former Chair of the ABA Section of Legal Education.
From the introduction:
For many years, critics have sounded the alarm that the pyramid structure of America's largest private law firms was not a financially sustainable model. This model may well have served the leadership and senior partners of the large law firms for many years, but no student of efficiency would have embraced the high-pay associate model for the high-reward partner benefit as sustainable in the long-term. The 2008 recession broke the back on that well-worn model when the clients of private law firms made clear that they were no longer going to pay the high fees that supported the pyramid model. As a result, the practice and financing of the private practice of law has gone through a dramatic change: (1) the top 250 private law firms in the United States have lost over 10,000 jobs since the recession began in 2008; and (2) law firms shrank to profit growth during the recession. In addition, law firms have reorganized their structure to create a second tier of lawyers, whether partners or associates, who no longer are equity owners but now are employees. (3) There is outsourcing of some of the most basic and repetitious practices required in law firms-including work being done by non-lawyers. (4) There is wide use of technology and software to track and utilize enormous amounts of information on behalf of clients. This use of technology and computers replaces much of the labor performed by lawyers, especially in matters of e-discovery that now has overtaken much of the pre-trial discovery world and litigation. (5) Firms continue to move away from the venerable billable hours by lawyers, toward flatter fees, deferred and contingency fees, and particularly value billing concepts. (6) Highly specialized boutique law firms have been created that focus practice on one or a few narrow areas. (7) There is an increased influence of globalization as firms serve their clients with more international with branch offices throughout the world, demonstrating much more global competition among firms. (8) Law firm merger activity and firm dissolutions have increased. (9) Finally, there is the growth of non-law firm alternatives for low-end legal work, such as Legal Zoom and Robert Lawyer.
No lawyer today would disagree with the characterization that the practice of law, be it in the private sector or in the public sector, is going through a very large, structural transformation. Some praise, and others lament, that the practice has gone from a profession to a commodity based business.
The Harlem Shake in the Office
The Harlem Shake is everywhere. We’ve had at least one at my law school (Here). If you’ve missed the phenomenon, just click on youtube. But employees have gotten into trouble for engaging in this brief bit of merriment. Here’s a brief excerpt from Corporate Counsel:
Versions of the “Harlem Shake” are being recorded in offices around the country and uploaded to the web. And it’s not only folks working in cubicles: LeBron James and the Miami Heat are doing it. Employees in NASA’s control room are doing it. Even bottles and cans of Pepsi, it seems, can’t resist getting in on the “Harlem Shake” action. The clips feature a now predictable sequence of first one, then a growing cast of costumed characters dancing to the song by Brooklyn deejay Baauer. There are thousands of the 30-second videos on YouTube, and some of them are causing unforeseen aftershocks in the workplace.
In a recent blog post, Ryan Campbell, an associate with Rubin Thomlinson in Toronto, discussed how the Internet meme has presented a host of compliance challenges for businesses.
Earlier this month, more than a dozen miners in Australia were fired for a video of employees doing the dance during work hours. An unnamed worker told the Western Australian the eight miners were just "having a bit of fun," but Agnew Gold Mine said the workers violated safety regulations.
The shake offers us a good opportunity to talk with students about what’s allowed in the workplace and what is not. They should know that efforts to raise the spirits of fellow workers may get them in trouble with the killjoys. Make some inquiries before you act
Professor Michael McConnell on the Same-Sex Marriage Cases and Federalism: A Reply
Professor Michael McConnell has a piece in the Wall Street Journal on the same-sex marriage cases that advocates looking at the cases not through the lens of equal protection but in relation to federalism. He writes, the cases "are a test of the nation's democratic and decentralized constitutional structure. These cases thus are not just about marriage. They are about how we reach decisions regarding matters of deep moral significance in our federal republic."
He argues, "We learned from Roe v. Wade that the Supreme Court endangers its own legitimacy and exacerbates social conflict when it seeks to resolve moral-legal questions on which the country is deeply divided without a strong basis in the text of the Constitution. . . . When it jumps into a live political controversy, the justices look like they are acting like legislators." He notes, "The system today, without the Supreme Court's intervention, is working as it should." He adds, "But when all of us have an equal right to be heard on an issue, and to participate through our representatives in making the decision, it is easier to accept the outcome than when unelected judges make moral pronouncements from the bench. Change that comes through the political process has greater democratic legitimacy."
He declares, "The two cases that will be argued next week seem to endanger this process. If the justices hold that California's Proposition 8, which provides that "only marriage between a woman and a man is valid or recognized," is unconstitutional, this will end the deliberations and impose a single national definition of marriage on us all. The court cannot reach this outcome without branding the views of the other side as either "irrational," if it employs the lower, rational-basis level of judicial scrutiny, or "bigoted" and hateful, which would justify heightened judicial scrutiny." Similarly, "if the justices hold that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, this also imposes an answer of a sort. It would reflect the Supreme Court's considered judgment that in the eyes of the Constitution, same-sex relationships may be treated as morally different from (and inferior to) heterosexual relationships."
Professor McConnell contends, "But the court need not base its decision in Windsor on the merits of the same-sex marriage question. The leading argument against DOMA all along has been that the federal government lacks authority under the Constitution to create and enforce a definition of marriage different from that of the state in which a couple resides. It is hard to think of an issue more clearly reserved to state law under constitutional tradition than the definition of marriage." He notes, "The court has held that "regulation of domestic relations" has "long been regarded as a virtually exclusive province of the States" (Sosna v. Iowa, 1975). In the past, the court has recognized a "domestic relations exception" to federal judicial power." He adds, "if the court dismisses the Proposition 8 case on standing grounds and strikes DOMA down on federalism grounds, the combined effect would be to reaffirm America's democratic, decentralized decision-making process without imposing an answer-one way or the other-to the same-sex marriage question." "By taking such a path, the court would be spared from imposing a single nationwide definition of marriage as a matter of constitutional law, and from having to rule, for all time, that there is or is not a constitutional right to same-sex marriage-a momentous step that some justices might be reluctant to take. It would leave the issue to the states, at least for the time being."
He concludes, "Considerations of these sorts have long been part of the virtue of judicial modesty, too often undervalued by partisans on both sides. In this instance, modesty requires no more than that the justices follow the technicalities of the law."
Professor McConnell’s well-written and well-reasoned essay has one problem; it essentially ignores the existence of the Equal Protection Clause. I basically agree with what Professor McConnell says about our government’s structure and the democratic process. (I consider myself a moderate on federalism.) Our government is mainly a democratic one. However, the Equal Protection Clause and the Bill of Rights exist to protect minorities when the democratic process does not. Same-sex marriage is an instance when the Court must step in to protect a minority.
Professor McConnell is correct when he states that marriage has generally been the provenance of the states. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has stepped in when a state’s restrictions on marriage have violated equal protection, such as in Loving v. Virginia. ("While the state court is no doubt correct in asserting that marriage is a social relation subject to the State's police power, Maynard v. Hill, 125 U. S. 190 (1888), the State does not contend in its argument before this Court that its powers to regulate marriage are unlimited notwithstanding the commands of the Fourteenth Amendment. Nor could it do so in light of Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390 (1923), and Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U. S. 535 (1942)." (Loving at 7)) In addition, the definition of marriage is a federal issue when it concerns how federal statutes are interpreted and how federal monies are expended.
I agree with Professor McConnell that, in most cases, states should have the power to make decisions that are different than other states. However, this does not apply to same-sex marriage because it treats one group of law-abiding individuals differently from another group. This is what equal protection is about. I also think that states should be allowed to make their own policy decisions. However, is whether to discriminate against a group of people based solely on an immutable characteristic a policy decision?
I also agree with Professor McConnell that making a major change like legalizing same-sex marriage would be easier to accept if it came through the democratic process. Nevertheless, did the Supreme Court wait for the democratic process concerning racial or gender discrimination? Sometimes, the democratic decision is slow or never comes, and the Supreme Court must make a decision. As far as those who oppose same-sex marriage being labeled as "irrational" or "bigoted," a decision striking down restrictions on same-sex marriage will have no more effect than did other cases on gay rights, such as Lawrence or Romer.
Professor McConnell talks about the morality of the democratic process. I agree that this is very important and that it has not been recognized enough in recent constitutional jurisprudence. However, there is another morality–a morality that protects the individual from an overreaching government. Not only does this morality take precedence over democracy, the drafters wrote the Bill of Rights so it would. ("Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival." (Loving at 12))
In recent years, our country has recognized that gays and lesbians are equal moral members of our society. Similarly, the Supreme Court has protected the rights of gays and lesbians in Romer and Lawrence. It is time that the Supreme Court take the final step to giving them full citizenship by striking down DOMA and restrictions on same-sex marriage for the entire nation.
March 21, 2013
New England School of Law creates fellowships to fund student summer jobs.
Participating students will receive stipends from the school for spending ten weeks during the summer working at a one of a variety of employers, including private firms, public interest organizations and government agencies, who have agreed to participate in the program. The press release doesn't identify the source of the money used to pay for the fellowships but presumably it's coming from tuition. From the school's press release:
New England Law | Boston has initiated a new program of funded fellowship positions for students this summer. Selected students will receive stipends for the ten-week positions.The fellowships will be administered by the Center for Business Law (CBL) and the Center for Law and Social Responsibility (CLSR). The program was developed by a faculty committee over the past several months, and New England Law alumni have also provided assistance with this effort.“These fellowships are part of our continuing effort at New England Law to help students become as prepared as possible for the practice of law,” said Dean John F. O’Brien. “We are committed to helping our students gain valuable experience that will assist them in today’s tight job market. “CBL placements will include private firms, corporate legal offices, and government agencies. The placements will represent a wide range of legal fields, including real estate, intellectual property, health law, medical malpractice, insurance defense, and many other areas.CLSR placements will offer law students the opportunity to work with practitioners with a public interest focus. The program features pre-internship orientation sessions and seminars through the summer and fall.Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis as positions become available and are filled. Faculty members working with each center have identified potential outside partners, but students may also identify and submit their own placements for approval.
U. Dayton School of Law starts Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Law Clinic
The Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Law Clinic, organized by the Program in Law and Technology, combines the law school’s emphasis on experiential learning and its expertise in IP law.
Six students comprise the IP Clinic’s inaugural group. “They are focused in this field of practice and are excited to bring their learning to bear on real matters involving real client issues,” said Kelly Henrici, executive director of the Program in Law and Technology, who is teaching the new clinic. “And they get to build this clinic from the ground up.”
While Dayton Law’s traditional Law Clinic is designed for students who want to practice in a courtroom setting, the IP Clinic is geared toward students interested in working as transactional lawyers. The IP Clinic will provide students with experience drafting documents, helping innovators protect their inventions and aiding new enterprises select and protect their corporate structure.
Student associates will represent actual clients under the supervision of licensed attorneys experienced in business and intellectual property law matters. Students will meet with clients, perform legal research, draft memoranda and perform other client-related tasks.
Prospective clients include a number of University of Dayton units or offices, including the School of Business Administration, the Innovation Center, the Design and Manufacturing Clinic, the Office of Legal Affairs and the University of Dayton Research Institute.
Students in the clinic will also provide free legal assistance to semifinalists and finalists of the University of Dayton's Business Plan Competition. The clinic will help contestants with legal issues ranging from incorporation to filing for patents to protecting intellectual property.
“The innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity that takes place right here on the university campus is fertile ground for IP Clinic students to learn how to meet the needs of actual clients,” Henrici said. “There is a strong demand on campus for this clinic and a keen focus on cross-collaborative efforts.”
Students will also spend time in the classroom, providing them time to discuss their work and receive assistance or advice to move their projects forward.
Law Summer Camps for High Schoolers
Shameless Promotion Department: Villanova Law School has teamed up with Justin Lavner, VLS ’09, to offer three summer camps at the law school—Law 101 (a prelaw camp), Sports Business Camp, and Trial Advocacy—all for high schoolers, ages 15-19. Justin already offers a number of innovative, specialized summer camps and is excited to work with us on this brand new enterprise.
Law school faculty and practicing lawyers will staff the camps. Here is the link that will take you to the Lavner Camps website and a description of the camps. We are planning first class program where the students will learn and have fun. If you have friends or relatives who might be interested in the programs, please pass on this information.
March 20, 2013
The Illinois State Bar Association: Special Committee Report--Wrap Up And A Challenge
The Illinois State Bar Association: Special Committee on the Impact of Law School Debt on the Delivery of Legal Services: Final Report & Recommendations should become a key document in legal education reform. While I do not agree with all of its recommendations, especially the ones on greater use of adjuncts and distance learning, it has many ideas that need to be implemented by the federal government, the ABA, state bar associations, law schools, and the legal profession.
To close this discussion, I would like to quote the part of the Report concerning the need for change:
"The root of the problem is the cost structure of the model of legal education that dominates all ABA-accredited law schools today. . . . law schools are not using the tuition law students pay to prepare them adequately for practice. Instead, much of the tuition purchases additional academic scholarship through the employment and support of traditional tenured faculty members. . . . Today, most law professors teach fewer than twelve credit hours each year (approximately three courses, or 1.5 courses per semester), and many teach fewer than ten. In addition, most classes taught by traditional faculty members include little assessment beyond the final exam, thus sparing the professor additional grading and assessment responsibilities. . . . Even as the salaries of law professors have risen, therefore, those professors have contributed less time to teaching law students. . . . Moreover, the focus on academic scholarship prevents law schools from focusing on the time-intensive instruction techniques that are necessary to educate new lawyers. . . . . In particular, law schools do not provide adequate opportunities for law students to practice legal writing skills in simulated or real practical settings."
"Any reform must therefore focus on reorienting law schools toward the education of lawyers for practice and away from the production of academic scholarship." While there has been increased skills training at many law schools, "the problem is that skills training has grown alongside traditional faculty and course offerings, rather than replacing them, so that the expansion of skills training has contributed to rising tuition."
For specifics, the Report quotes Daniel Thies (Rethinking Legal Education in Hard Times: The Recession, Practical Legal Education, and the New Job Market, 59 J. LEGAL EDUC. 598, 612-13 (2010)): Th[e] addition of a skills curriculum without cuts elsewhere has been one of the major drivers of tuition increases at law schools over the last several decades. For example, between 1977 and 1988, law schools’ expenditures on in-house clinical education rose by 92.5 percent, while the overall increase in law school expenditures was nearly twice as much, at 173.9 percent. Far from raising funds for skills education by decreasing other expenditures, therefore, law schools continued to increase funding in other areas by an even greater amount. A significant chunk of this increase in funding has gone to subsidize academic research, an enhancement that does little to improve the practical abilities of students. In this way, law schools can pay lip service to skills training while maintaining a true emphasis on faculty research and writing and protecting their ‘prestige’ score in the U.S. News rankings."
In sum, "Rather than merely adding practice-oriented courses on top of the existing cost structure, law schools must learn to integrate skills training with the traditional doctrinal curriculum." (This is a point I have been making for several years.)
The Report concludes, " Many have recognized that the law school debt crisis imposes an unacceptable burden on young lawyers and law students. As this report makes plain, the burden does not stop there, but extends to the most vulnerable in our society in need of legal services. Because of excessive debt, too many poor and middle class citizens lack reliable access to affordable legal services. That reality makes the crisis more urgent than if it affected only lawyers. The high calling of public service has always galvanized the best from the bar, the bench, and the academy to promote justice, defend liberty, secure the rule of law, and ensure the highest quality legal representation to all. The law school debt crisis and the challenge of developing a new model of legal education present yet another opportunity for the legal profession to work together for the common good."
In sum, the Report contains some harsh words for law schools, legal educators, and the legal profession. However, it is merely noting the realities of the modern legal world. We should follow its recommendations now for the good of our law students and for the public at large. I hope that the Illinois State Bar Association will take the lead in implementing these recommendations.
What is a LinkedIn "endorsement" and is it a good networking feature?
The title of this Business Insider post on LinkedIn's endorsement feature pretty much answers the second question:
UConn Law Picks Practitioner as Dean
After a lengthy search, UConn has chosen a prominent Hartford practitioner as its dean. Tim Fisher comes to the job after a long career in the Hartford branch of McCarter & English. From the Connecticut Law Tribune (excerpts):
Fisher, who has worked extensively in areas of construction and commercial law and is a former managing partner of McCarter's Hartford office, was seen by many on the faculty as an excellent choice because he knows what law firms want from law school graduates.
But veteran professors said the selection was also based on Fisher's long-standing commitment to public service, his relationship with state bar leaders and fund-raising and management abilities. Fisher is currently chair of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, which raises money for legal aid agencies.
"The faculty was not necessarily looking for someone who came from a law practice," said Leslie Levin, a law professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. "[Fisher] was somebody who just impressed us all. He is someone who understands what is going on in the current legal market. He is also very concerned about access to justice; he has a long commitment to that."
Richard Kay, another professor, recalled Fisher presenting a lecture on check fraud years ago during a course Kay was teaching. Like others, Kay was impressed with Fisher's intelligence and ability to effectively communicate ideas.
"This is a change for us, in that we've gone for someone who is a practitioner and who does not have an extensive academic background," Kay said. "I think the idea is he's going to be able to bring some fresh thinking to the institution, especially with regard to the law school's relationship with the bar and community. In addition to the fact that he's a first-rate lawyer."
We wish Dean Fisher well.
March 19, 2013
More on the Illinois State Bar Association Special Committee Report
The Illinois State Bar Association: Special Committee on the Impact of Law School Debt on the Delivery of Legal Services has made other recommendations, which I have not discussed in previous posts.
A. Revisions to Accreditation Standards.
1. Allow adjunct faculty to play a greater role in legal education, including in the first year;
2. Require that law schools provide debt counseling for all admitted students, before they commit to attend;
3. Remove the requirement that all faculty engage in scholarship;
4. Expand the credits a student can earn from distance education, and limit the requirements for a law school’s physical plant, thus allowing law schools to experiment with alternative ways of delivering legal education;
5. Allow law schools to meet the requirements for library collection through digital access;
6. Require law schools to collect additional information about the salary, debt load, and employment status of their graduates on a voluntary basis from multiple graduation years.
Comments: I agree with 2, 3, 5, and 6, but I have problems with 1 and 4. Concerning the use of adjuncts, I believe that law students mainly need to be taught by professors who are full-time teachers and who understand how to teach. Being an effective teacher requires as much training and experience as being an effective lawyer. In addition, I don’t see practitioners who spend most of their day practicing law devoting the time needed to teach effectively. (The same is true of apprenticeships.) Let’s face it; practitioners will generally be able to make more money practicing law than teaching as an adjunct. However, I am very much in favor of practitioners team teaching with law professors.
Concerning distance education, I am against anything that increases the amount of lecture and reduces the amount of student-teacher interaction. Distance education with large classes interaction is difficult. However, I have nothing against a small class (20 students or less) that uses something like skype to create the same kind of interaction students get in the classroom.
B. Support from Bar Associations.
1. Facilitate Firm Apprenticeship Programs.
2. Partner with Law Schools to Provide Practice Experiences to Law Students.
3. Facilitate Pro Bono Work.
4. Facilitate the Sale of Rural Law Practices to Young Lawyers.
5. Provide Debt Counseling for Lawyers and Prospective Law Students.
6. Provide Resources for Solo Practitioners and Small Firm Lawyers.
7. Partner with Groups to Ensure Lawyers are Placed Where They Are Needed.
CUNY seeking to hire instructor to teach in its Immigrant & Refugee Rights Clinic
Here's the job posting (it's a long one, folks):
The CUNY School of Law Clinical Program has been nationally recognized as one of the best in legal education. It affords each student the opportunity to engage in the practice of law by learning through service to underserved communities. The Law School currently offers seven live-client clinical programs and three faculty-supervised externship programs. CUNY School of Law faculty members have been recognized as innovative leaders in clinical legal education, through service, publications, and participation at conferences.
CUNY School of Law's Immigrant & Refugee Rights Clinic (IRRC) represents and supports non-citizens in a variety of settings and courts, covering immigration law and issues at the intersection of law and security. The current mission of the IRRC is to provide a platform for the exploration, development and implementation of ideas and strategies to close the growing legal divide between citizens and non-citizens of the United States of America. At the heart of our work is a principled commitment to the rights and dignity of all.
By supporting and representing immigrants and other non-citizens, we aim to train law students to become thoughtful, principled, and creative social justice lawyers, empowered with the skills needed to confront the degradation in the rights of citizens and non-citizens alike that has been wrought under the guise of security and public safety but is driven by oppressive and discriminatory forces.
The IRRC is a two-semester, 16-credit clinic. More detailed information about the full breadth of our work is available at www.law.cuny.edu/academics/clinics/immigration.html.
The Law School will hire an Instructor responsible for live case supervision, project management, co-teaching, and curricular development in the IRRC. Applicants should have a demonstrated commitment to CUNY School of Law's social justice mission and should wish to contribute to the training and development of lawyers dedicated to social justice and public service.
The tenure-track faculty member directing the IRRC has the ultimate responsibility for the overall operation of the program, including the classroom component, the administration of the clinic, and supervision of students' casework. The IRRC director will meet that responsibility with the support of the Instructor. In the IRRC director's absence, the Instructor will assume the responsibility or share it with other faculty, as determined by the director, in consultation with the Associate Dean for Clinical Programs.
This position is full-time and Instructors must be available for and interested in teaching, participating in clinic faculty meetings during the school year, summer clinic work (including case management), assisting with the design and development of curriculum materials during the summer, and performing other duties for the benefit of the overall program. This position may also involve evening and weekend duties. In accordance with the law school's needs, the Instructor may be required to teach in other or additional clinics, in lawyering seminars, in a doctrinal course, and/or to provide academic skill instruction or other program support.
In the first two years of service, Law Instructors may opt into participating in faculty meetings, pursuant to the CUNY School of Law Governance Plan. They may also assume other faculty governance responsibilities and serve on committees as appointed by the Dean or the Committee on Committees.
Upon reappointment for three or more years of continuous service, they may participate in governance activities without an annual opt in process.
This job may include weekend and evening duties.
J.D. or L.L.B; admission to the Bar of the State of New York and to various federal courts required.
Applicants who are not yet admitted but are in a position to secure such admission within six months will be considered with the understanding that continued employment may be contingent on successful admission within that timeframe. Also required are demonstrated legal ability, the ability or potential to teach successfully, interest in productive scholarship, legal work, or law-related work, and the ability to cooperate with others for the good of the institution.
For appointment as Law Instructor, the candidate must have demonstrated commitment to poverty law, public service, or social justice lawyering. S/he must show potential as a teacher in the classroom and in supervising students on cases, and as a leader in the public interest community. S/he should have a minimum of two years practice experience at the start of her/his first contract term at CUNY, with some exposure to or a strong interest in law and security issues and immigration law, and a desire and ability to support IRRC community-based lawyering initiatives, such as the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project, a cross-clinical collaboration with the Criminal Defense Clinic (more details about CLEAR are available at www.cunyclear.org), and other immigration-related projects.
Depending on docket need, coverage responsibilities during the academic year and the summer will encompass cases and projects stemming from extraterritorial imprisonment, extrajudicial killing, domestic detention, surveillance, and policing issues, as well as a full range of immigration matters and projects, including deportation defense, asylum, and gender violence related work.
Candidates with clinical teaching or supervisory experience are encouraged to apply, as are any candidates who already hold or have held an active federal security clearance or who are willing to apply for one and are not clearly ineligible.
CUNY offers faculty a competitive compensation and benefits package covering health insurance, pension and retirement benefits, paid parental leave, and savings programs. We also provide mentoring and support for research, scholarship, and publication as part of our commitment to ongoing faculty professional development.
$39,832 - $86,595; commensurate with experience, plus summer case coverage stipend where applicable.
HOW TO APPLY
From our job posting system, select "Apply Now", create or log in to a user account, and provide the requested information. If you are viewing this posting from outside our system, access the employment page on our web site, www.cuny.edu , and search for this vacancy using the Job ID or Title.
Candidates should provide a Cover letter and CV/resume. It is recommended you submit these as one PDF document.
For position inquiries contact:
Coordinator of Faculty Recruitment
Review of applications to begin March 29, 2013.EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
We are committed to enhancing our diverse academic community by actively encouraging people with disabilities, minorities, veterans, and women to apply. We take pride in our pluralistic community and continue to seek excellence through diversity and inclusion. EO/AA Employer.
Survey of top law firm managing partners reveals confidence about the future
The Citi Private Bank Law Watch group released the results of a survey of top law firm managing partners (the number and identify of the firms is proprietary) revealing that they are much more optimistic about the future of law practice than they were just a couple of months ago. The majority of those surveyed expect revenues to be up this year, if only modestly. From the executive summary:
Managing partners’ overall level of confidence increased during 4Q’12 and sits comfortably above the neutral level. Renewed confidence in the economy at large, and business conditions for the legal profession, is driving an uptick in demand projections, which in turn, is reflected in renewed confidence in revenue growth. However, managing partners voiced increasing concern about discounting pressure and expense growth.
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog also has a nice summary here noting that firms are still worried about the downward pressure on fees due to the oversupply of lawyers.
An Infograph on U.S. News
From Ed Tech Times, here's an extensive infograph on theU.S. News rankings. It focuses on undergraduate institutions, but has lots of relevant information.
March 18, 2013
Several free Google tools to improve research skills
Most legal skills profs and their students already know about Google Scholar but perhaps you didn't know that Google also offers several online tutorials on how to sharpen your research skills. More specifically, the tutorials explain how Google searches work and offer techniques for greatly refining your results. Check out the tips and techniques available from the tutorial called Power Search here. Another self-guided tutorial is called Advanced Power Search and is available here including exercises to test your new research skills. There's a site called Google Search Education that offers several lesson plans for educators on different aspects of conducting effective search like "picking search terms," "understanding search results" and "evaluating the credibility of search results." All these lessons are organized based on user's skill level including ones for beginner, intermediate and advanced researchers. While some of the lessons seem geared towards high school and college students, there are other lessons that relate to the use of Google Scholar which law students might find very helpful.
Can Law Schools Raise Their “Academic Reputation Score” in the U.S. News Rankings?
According to one detailed study, the general answer is no. In a study entitled “A Longitudinal Analysis of the U.S. News Law School Academic Reputation Scores Between 1998 and 2012,” Professor Robert L. Jones concludes:
In light of the pivotal role the U.S. News rankings have come to play in American legal
education today, the U.S. News academic reputation scores have taken on increased importance.
Unfortunately for those faculty and administrators who hope to influence their institution’s
academic reputation scores, the analysis of the past fifteen years has demonstrated that law
schools can hope for relatively little improvement to their scores. Only ten law schools have
been able to improve their academic reputation scores by more than .2 points in the last fifteen
years. Only twenty five schools out of 172 were able to improve their scores by more than .1
over the same period. In light of how many resources were devoted during this period to the
improvement of academic reputation scores, there is a cautionary quality to such statistics.
The obvious question is how valid are these rankings in the first place.
March 17, 2013
Illinois Bar Association: Special Committee Report--How Excessive Law School Debt Decreases the Quantity and Quality of Legal Services Available to the Public
This week, I am discussing the Illinois Bar Association: Special Committee on the Impact of Law School Debt on the Delivery of Legal Services: Final Report & Recommendations. Today, I would like to focus on the part of the Report concerning how excessive law school debt decreases the quantity and quality of legal services available to the public.
The Report states the following concerning the consequences of heavy law school debt:
1. Small Law Firms Face Challenges Hiring and Retaining Competent Attorneys: "Many small law firms are unable to pay the salaries new attorneys need to manage their debt."
2. Fewer Lawyers are Able to Work in Public Interest Positions: "Attorneys with excessive debt are less able to take legal aid or government jobs which, in Illinois, have starting salaries between $40,000 and $50,000 per year."
3. New Attorneys Have Too Much Debt to Provide Affordable Legal Services to Poor and Middle Class Families and Individuals: Because debt makes it difficult for attorneys to survive at that salary level, young attorneys move quickly to higher paying legal sectors if possible, and, if not, many leave the profession. That exodus has contributed to the profession’s inability to meet what the Legal Services Corporation calls "an explosion in the demand for legal services" among middle class and poor Americans in recent years."
4. As Fewer Attorneys Find Sustainable Jobs in the Private Sector, More Attorneys Enter Solo Practice: "Because of their debt loads, however, these attorneys are unable to adequately finance a new law practice. As a result, most struggle, and many consider leaving the law if they are unable to move on to other jobs. This group is also more likely to commit ethics violations and to be the target of malpractice suits."
5. Attorneys Report that Debt Burdened Lawyers are Less Likely to Engage in Pro Bono Work: "Financial pressures make it more difficult for attorneys to volunteer their time to provide pro bono services."
6. Debt Drives Young Attorneys Away from Rural Areas: "As lawyers age and retire in more rural environments, there will be fewer young attorneys to take their place."
7. Heavy Debt Burdens Decrease the Diversity of the Legal Profession: "high debt loads may drive minorities away from the profession, making it less reflective of the diversity of America and diminishing its ability to serve minority clients."
8. Threats to Professionalism: "The Special Committee heard much anecdotal evidence suggesting that attorneys with heavy debt loads may be more likely to commit ethics violations. The greatest pressures are on solo practitioners, who may take work beyond their level of competency, face financial pressures to prolong litigation, or terminate a representation inappropriately if a client has difficulty paying."
The Report recommends:
1. Law Schools Connected to Universities should not be a Source of Funding that the University Can Tap to Fund Other Programs. "The existing ABA accreditation standards prohibit excessive transfers to a university. Law schools should use the leverage that standard provides to ensure that they receive reasonable and direct benefits for any payments they make to a university, and that their payments are fair compared to those that other departments of the university make for comparable services."
2. Place Reasonable Limits on the Amounts Law Students Can Borrow: "Congress and the Department of Education should place reasonable limits on the amount that law students can borrow from the federal government. Student loans should also be made dischargeable in bankruptcy so private lenders have the incentive to properly screen loan applicants based on the chance that the school they attend will prepare them to be successful in the job market. That way, law schools will have an incentive to restrain costs to the level that students can borrow."
3. Impose Outcome-Based Requirements for Federal Student Loan Eligibility: "Rather than allowing all accredited law schools to enroll students receiving federal student loans, Congress should restrict federal loan eligibility to schools whose graduates meet certain employment and debt-repayment outcomes. . . . Under this program, law schools would face additional market pressure to train attorneys for practice at an affordable price, or they would lose their federal loan eligibility and likely go out of business."
4. Reallocate the Funds Available Through Loan Forgiveness Programs: "The federal government should ensure that funds available in the IBR program are targeted to attorneys most in need."
I discussed reforms in law school curricula and law school faculty last Thursday.
There's no glut of lawyers; instead it's a "miserable fit" between the economics of practice and the unmet needs of the poor
That's the key point that comes out of this article from the New York Times called Right to Lawyer Often Can Be Empty Promise for Poor though it's hardly news to anyone with only a passing interest in the current law school "crisis." Law school tuition, driven primarily by the cost of faculty salaries and the need, real or perceived, to build shiny new facilities, means that many law students graduate with loan payments that preclude them from representing people in financial need. Though tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the article points out that the tacit promise of the decision that no one should want for legal representation remains unfulfilled in cases, both civil and some criminal, where the stakes couldn't be higher for poor and middle class litigants.
Billy Jerome Presley spent 17 months in a Georgia jail because he did not have $2,700 for a child support payment. He had no prior jail record but also no lawyer. In Baltimore last fall, Carl Hymes, 21, was arrested on charges of shining a laser into the eyes of a police officer. Bail was set at $75,000. He had no arrest record but also no lawyer. In West Orange, N.J., last summer, Walter Bloss, 89, was served with an eviction notice from the rent-controlled apartment he had lived in for 43 years after a dispute with his landlord. He had gone to court without a lawyer.
Fifty years ago, on March 18, 1963, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that those accused of a crime have a constitutional right to a lawyer whether or not they can afford one. But as legal officials observe the anniversary of what is widely considered one of the most significant judicial declarations of equality under law, many say that the promise inherent in the Gideon ruling remains unfulfilled because so many legal needs still go unmet.
. . . .
With law school graduates hurting for work, it may appear that there is a glut of lawyers. But many experts say that is a misunderstanding.
“We don’t have an excess of lawyers,” said Martin Guggenheim, a law professor at New York University. “What we have is a miserable fit. In many areas like family and housing law, there is simply no private bar to go to. You couldn’t find a lawyer to help you even if you had the money because there isn’t a dime to be made in those cases.”
Even in situations where an individual is up against a state prosecutor and jail may result, not every jurisdiction provides lawyers to the defendants. In Georgia, those charged with failing to pay child support face a prosecutor and jail but are not supplied with a lawyer.
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Are Law Schools Correctly Reporting Employment Data?
Although the ABA has toughened up its reporting requirements, there are allegations that some law schools are not complying and that the ABA is doing very little in response. From the National Law Journal:
The nonprofit Law School Transparency, formed in 2009 by two then-Vanderbilt law students, examined postgraduate employment data posted on the websites of all 199 ABA-accredited law schools. It concluded that close to half haven't met the expectations set by Standard 509, the ABA's tougher reporting requirements.
Law School Transparency stopped short of accusing those schools of violating the standard, saying it's not in a position to make that determination.
It claimed that the ABA has taken no enforcement measures beyond emailing law schools to remind them of the new reporting requirements.
Here’s the ABA response:
Barry Currier, the ABA's interim consultant on legal education, disputed that assertion. The Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has had behind-the-scenes contact with law schools regarding compliance with Standard 509, and will continue to request information from schools that may not be meeting the requirements, he said.