Saturday, May 4, 2013
One, Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, says that it is "unfazed" by a possible 20% drop in applications for the coming academic year. Dean Eugene Milhizer says that the school, which was founded with seed money from Domino's Pizza magnate Thomas Monaghan, is in the best financial shape ever and thus no longer dependent on Mr. Monaghan's largess. So even with a signficant drop in applications it does not expect to lay off staff or faculty (unlike, for example, Vermont School of Law which has already endured one round of staff downsizing).
Ave Maria, the only law school in Southwest Florida, teaches the fundamentals of law, but connects it to spirituality, morality and ethics. Milhizer says that’s why the institution is continuing to thrive while others have uncertain futures.“We’re not like every other law school,” Milhizer said. “We’re distinct in our mission.”
In Orlando, the Dean of Barry University School of Law announced a tuition freeze in response to the financial "crisis" facing higher ed. From The Orlando Business Journal:
“Institutions of higher education across the country have been facing financial challenges, and in many cases the resulting tuition increases have far outpaced inflation, placing an undue financial strain on students,” Dean Leticia Diaz said in a press release. “We hope that by keeping tuition flat we can help ease some of the financial burden that comes with the important investment our Barry Law students have made in their future.”
Friday, May 3, 2013
In this video report from Bloomberg, Paul Barrett, the assistant managing editor and senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, says that BigLaw is "experiencing a very difficult crash landing that is taking place now and will persist for at least another several more years." But it's not just AmLaw 200 firms that are heading into hard times. Mr. Barrett says he estimates that law schools will graduate 176,ooo more students this decade than there are jobs causing, in his words, "a lot of younger people . . . to suffer" because it's an "empirical fact" we've been producing too many lawyers for too long and "there just aren't enough jobs for them."
According to a recent study by Columbia University’s Teachers College Community College Research Center, students prefer to take easy courses online and hard courses the old fashioned way:
In continually expanding the supply of online course sections (and potentially curtailing face-to-face offerings), college administrators believe they are serving the needs and demands of their students. Yet researchers have neglected to ask students whether the continued provision of face-to-face courses is important to them.
This paper discusses community college students’ experiences with online and face-to-face learning, as well as their reasons for selecting online versus face-to-face sections of specific courses. Students reported that online courses had lower levels of instructor presence and that they thus needed to “teach themselves” in these courses. Accordingly, most students preferred to take only “easy” academic subjects online; they preferred to take “difficult” or “important” subjects face-to-face. The results of this paper suggest that colleges need to take care to avoid curtailing the availability of face-to-face course sections, particularly in academically challenging or advanced areas of study.
The study’s subjects were community college students; however, I strongly suspect that the results would be the same for our students. You can read the report here.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
That's the advice from Jill Backer, the Associate Director of Employer Relations at Brooklyn Law School, in this article from the New York Law Journal. Ms. Backer said that she did an informal survey of recent job postings in the New York Times and found "more than 1000 job openings" for compliance work around the NYC area. So, what exactly is compliance work and how do you get a job doing that? Here's what Ms Backer has to say that.
. . . .
What exactly is compliance? In recent years, that has been a more difficult question to answer, since the definition is so broad and varies across industries and markets. A very basic definition would be "a movement to be in accordance with established guidelines or legislation." Most large companies now generally do business globally. Imagine the movement necessary to be in accordance with the established guidelines or legislation across all of the jurisdictions where a given lawyer or organization conducts business. It can be a dizzying undertaking. In a regulatory context, compliance is becoming a critical business concern.
Some of the largest industries with compliance issues are health care (with the advent of HIPAA laws), financial services and insurance (with the advent of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act), and now almost every industry deals with data privacy laws.
Health care. The health care industry in this country is changing in many ways, but perhaps one of the largest initiatives is to automate the business of medicine.
. . . .
Financial services. Congress has created more regulation over the financial services industry in the recent wake of corruption and losses. There is an expectation that the financial services industry will be making more attorney hires to help organizations deal specifically with Dodd-Frank and other new laws regulating the industry.
. . . .
Data privacy. Data privacy is another area that has been getting a lot of attention from corporations recently.
. . . .
Social networking is also creating new opportunities for attorneys to get involved in privacy issues and compliance work. Those willing to begin their career with a start-up company (perhaps here in New York City's flourishing Silicon Alley) can find that they can become invaluable as the company grows its business and needs more and more focus on compliance.
Landing the Job
So what do you need to find a job in compliance?
. . . .
Read the rest of the article here.
From Attorney at Work:
With Professor Andrew Perlman at the helm, Suffolk University Law School in Boston recently created the Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation. Its purpose: To “study how technology is revolutionizing the practice of law.” Professor Perlman plans to accomplish this by offering programs to the community and courses for students on how lawyers can use technology in innovative ways (including integrating Google Glass into classrooms and practice, and developing a mobile app for trial attorneys), but also by connecting and working with entrepreneurs experimenting in legal technology.
The official kickoff event for the Institute was held on April 18 (#SUFutureLaw), featuring legal technology specialist Richard Susskind, followed by a panel discussion with senior-ranking attorneys at a major corporation, large law firm and legal consultancy. With other preeminent legal scholars and technologists in the room, you can imagine what sort of big ideas were conjured up.
The discussion emphasized five realities:
1. Commoditization is inevitable, so you might as well learn to take advantage of it.
2. External forces stimulate change
3. “Skype on steroids” and other incredible technologies are available now.
4. Law jobs are bound to change
5. We must “adopt and co-opt.”
You can read more here.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Paul Lippe has posted an article on the ABA Journal Website concerning how law school deans are reacting and should be reacting to the crisis in legal education. He writes, "For some time we’ve been saying that the recent 'disengagement' strategy of law schools, aspiring to be uber-departments of American Studies or Political Philosophy while writing law review articles for other law professors, was an unsustainable deviation from the widely understood mission of a professional school. Now that unsustainability is self-evident, the good news is it's an acute enough problem for law schools that most deans are embarking on innovative approaches to address it."
He continues, "applications were down 38 percent over the last two years. While many would like to imagine that’s a blip, there’s nothing whatsoever to indicate that the trend will reverse itself any time soon, in part because the trend is pervasive, i.e., the 'top' undergraduate students (as conventionally measured) are declining in applications at least as fast as the overall drop, and because applications won’t improve until there is at least as much evidence that law is fixing its problems as there has been that we’re in a 'crisis.'" "So every dean will have to explain to their central administration how they intend to manage through a significant revenue drop, in the context of what is now widely seen as a ‘crisis’ for the profession and the legal academy. . . . So every dean, whether they passionately or provisionally believe it, will have to present a plan that shows them embarking on significant change."
Lippe argues, "The broad outlines of schools reform are also clear. A third year that is much more externally oriented (especially if optional), greater effort to produce “useful-ready” . . . lawyers, and a much stronger effort to connect to the profession, especially in-house teams who are driving advances in methodology and productivity, so they can train 21st century lawyers."
After giving examples of programs that have made successful changes, he states, "Awareness of the problem is much more acute than it was four years ago, so it might feel like things are worse, when in fact that dialogue is leading to the very rapid evolution of solutions so the underlying reality is improving. Hopefully we can look forward to a day not too far in the future when the U.S. News criteria for law school rankings start to encompass innovation and educational effectiveness. Personally I believe I will be much more inclined to encourage my kids to go to law school a year or two down the road than I was two years ago."
In sum, "The job of a professional school is to help the profession advance, yet law schools have until now been largely unchanged from what they were 60 years ago, perhaps imagining that the only profession they had to serve was the academy and maybe judges. Just as we wouldn’t expect patients or even practicing physicians to take primary responsibility for advancements in medicine, but we expect the medical schools to help lead the way, so we can’t expect clients and firms to help law advance without law schools 'in the fight.'”
The plan, which the school will implement this month according to the Florida Bar News, is to offer an LLM for both domestic and international law grads looking to work in the field of "transportation and logistics" as well as a certificate "degree" for non-lawyers looking for a career enhancer. Professor Rod Sullivan, the program's new director, told the Florida Bar News the following:
Our goal is to train ‘solution brokers,’ well-rounded transportation and logistics professionals who can communicate with carriers, regulators, labor, and lawyers to resolve legal disputes before they enter litigation . . . .
International transportation and logistics is one of the fastest-growing businesses worldwide and there is an increased demand for professionals who are educated in the intersection between operations, regulation, labor, and law.
The business of transportation and logistics is one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide. Likewise, there is an increased demand for professionals who are educated in the laws and regulations governing this dynamic industry. Students who complete Coastal Law’s program in Logistics and Transportation will possess the regulatory knowledge as well as the management skills to work with government and environmental regulators, organized labor, and logisticians transporting goods.
Florida Coastal School of Law is proud to introduce a number of innovative online offerings, including certificates for lawyers and non-lawyers as well as the country’s first LL.M. in Logistics and Transportation. These programs will teach students about the operations, regulation, and litigation as it pertains to logistics and transportation.
Florida Coastal School of Laws logistics and transportation programs are designed for three different types of students:
- Those with a J.D. degree from either a U.S. law school or a law school outside of the U.S. who are interested in obtaining an LL.M. degree in Logistics and Transportation Law.
- Those with a J.D. degree from either a U.S. law school or a law school outside of the U.S. who are interested in obtaining a Certificate in Logistics and Transportation Law.
- Those who have a bachelor’s degree or significant work experience in the logistics and transportation field who are interested in obtaining a Certificate in Logistics and Transportation Regulation.
Flipping the classroom is gaining increasing attention in educational circles. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of this teaching method:
a form of blended learning which encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher-created videos that students view outside of class time. It is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom, and reverse teaching.
In essence, it calls for giving students substantive instruction as homework and saving class time for interactive problem solving and other experiential exercises.
Over at the Best Practices for Legal Education blog (April 25), my colleague Michele Pistone (a new contributor to that blog) explains the ways in which to use the flipped classroom. You can read more here.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Professor Ben Barros is starting a series of posts on reconsidering the conventional wisdom on the legal job market on the Faculty Lounge, using his law school, Widener-Harrisburg, as the study sample. You can find the entire series here.
In his first post, Professor Barros reconsidered the conventional wisdom that "recent graduates are getting law jobs at distressingly low levels." This wisdom is based on the claim that "The nine month data show that only X% of graduates of a particular class got legal jobs. Therefore, only X% of that class ever got legal jobs." The problem with this assumption should be obvious. Professor Barros declared, "Nine month data, however, simply does not tell the whole story of the employment outcomes for any particular graduating class. The timing of the bar exam is part of the story here. So is, I think, the economy." His conclusion was "that many of my former students were getting good jobs, but it was taking some of them longer than it had in the past to get these jobs because of the poor economy."
An interesting point. Are most law school graduates who do not have a job nine months after graduation among the long-term unemployed, or, as Barros's study suggests, are they just taking longer to obtain jobs. If Barros is correct, then it will affect how we deal with the law school graduate employment problem.
Bloomberg Law has put together a nice compilation video from last week's ABA task force meeting at Indiana University. Many of the panelists make some pretty alarming and scary predictions about the near term future of legal education. The blog rethinc.k has pulled out some of the better conference sound bites which are published below. Better yet, watch the full video which is only six minutes or so to get the full impact of what the expects think we're facing in the next several months.
“If there’s anyway this task force could put U.S. News out of business, I would urge it to do so.” Gary Roberts, Dean Indiana University McKinnly School of Law
“To say that law schools are forced to behave a certain way because of U.S. News, I think shirks your own moral obligation. It’s out there because there was a public consumer need for that.” Rebecca Berch, Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court
“I would strongly favor a two-year option in law school.” Jon Streeter, Immediate Past President, California State Bar
“Every aspect of the economy is expected to use technology to be more cost effective. In other words, using fewer people to accomplish the same result. Education in general, in particular higher education, seems to be highly resistent to this.” Thomas W. Lyons III, Partner, Strauss, Factor, Laing & Lyons
The Spring 2013 issue of “The Law Teacher” is out. It’s the publication of the well-regarded Institute for Law Teaching and Learning. Here’s the table of contents:
Remember the Water Buffalo........................... 1
Book Review: David Nadvorney and Deborah
Zalesne, Teaching to Every Student:
Explicitly Integrating Skills and Theory
in the Contracts Class.................................. 3
Old Professor Tricks............................................. 4
The Supreme Court Conference Room:
Legal Writing as Legal Process.......................... 5
Infusing Ethics into the Legal Writing
Curriculum—and Beyond.............................. 7
Book Review: How Children Succeed:
Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of
It’s OK to Leave Law School............................. 10
Crossword Puzzle................................................ 11
Eliminating the Blackacre Opportunity Cost:
Using Real-World “Targeted Fact
Environments” in First-Year
LR&W Courses.................................................... 13
Reflection, Reality, and a Real Audience: Ideas
from the Clinic..................................................... 15
Beyond the Legal Classroom: Leveraging
Major Local Events to Engage Students and
Further an Interdisciplinary Approach to the
Study of Law................................................... 17
Teaching Statute Reading Basics in a First Year
Doctrinal Course: A Handout and Suggested
Classroom Exercises....................................... 18
Law School Communities “Saving Social
Security”— Imparting the Intangibles of
Practice Readiness.......................................... 21
Report from South Korea: My Experience
Teaching Law Students at Seoul National
Passion is Necessary, Compassion is Priceless:
A Message to the Clinical Law Student..... 25
Introducing Students to Free On-line Legal
Research Resources: An Interactive Class..... 26
Happily Ever After: Providing Students With
Epilogues for Cautionary Tales................... 28
Developing Classroom Authenticity: “Big
Talk” Format.................................................... 29
Adding a Standardized Assessment Exercise to
the Legal Writing Toolbox............................ 31
On the Importance of Subtle Distinctions: A
Short Exercise in Close Reading and Critical
Blogging: Reflection Spurs
Students Forward........................................... 34
Classroom Justice: Beyond Paper-Chase
Monday, April 29, 2013
This short article by Shawn Nevers, a law librarian at BYU, appearing in the current edition of the ABA Student Law Journal exhorts readers to take a course in advanced legal research before they graduate. You'll find no argument with that here.
Most law schools offer some sort of advanced or specialized legal research course as an elective. Take it! Take it even if you don’t love legal research. Especially take it if you’re not good at legal research. You will soon be doing research on someone else’s dime. Why not get ready for it?
Most, if not all, advanced legal research classes are taught by law librarians. They are expert researchers who know about the latest legal resources and can teach you a lot about the legal research process. You’ll also get the chance to do a lot of research, which is critical to becoming a good researcher. If you don’t practice researching now, you’ll be doing it at your job, which is where you’d be better off impressing than learning.
Abraham Lincoln’s quip about a book he read could easily be applied to legal research—“People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” The truth is, however, that whether you like it or not, legal research is a critical part of lawyering. Don’t underestimate its importance.
If you're a law student, be sure to check out the rest of Mr. Nevers legal research tips and advice here.
According to a recent poll by Brian Leiter (April 18), they are (in top to bottom order):
1. Consumer Law
2. Energy Law/Natural Resources Law/Water Law
3. Employment Law
4. Alternative Dispute Resolution
5. Immigration Law
6. Family Law
7. Insurance Law
8. Comparative Law
9. Elder Law
10. Wills, Trusts & Estates
Dean Nancy Rapoport has just posted an article on SSRN that compares lying to U.S. News to the Enron case.
Abstract: "This essay suggests that lying about the numbers that schools report to US News is no better than the lying that Enron did about its various methods of 'earnings management.' It also suggests that administrators - being humans - can talk themselves into lying about the numbers for all sorts of (very bad) reasons."
"With so many examples of 'schools gone wild,' it’s difficult for law deans and law faculties to tell their students that lawyers shouldn’t lie. The law schools that have misstated their stats are sending the message that lawyers shouldn’t lie, unless: (1) lying will make their lives easier; (2) verifying the facts is too much trouble; or (3) the likelihood of getting caught—and punished—is low. That’s not the message that we should be sending. So why do law schools misrepresent their stats to U.S. News?"
"But what I want to discuss is the ease with which people can find themselves caught in a lie and how our lies affect what we’re trying to teach our law students."
"Cognitive dissonance (the subconscious rationalization of two competing moral views) is easy to spot in fudging the rankings. Someone who thinks of herself as honest and who still, say, plays with her school’s placement figures to make them look better than they really are is subconsciously justifying her 'creativity' by deciding that U.S. News’s questions are so bogus that she shouldn’t have to take them seriously. If she’s not sure that her answers are accurate, she can always assume that someone else will catch her mistake (diffusion of authority). She can reason that, because other schools are hiding their bad placement numbers by hiring their own graduates, her school should do the same (social pressure). When schools let the U.S. News rankings drive their own admissions decisions (e.g., preferring LSATs over work experienceor "striving") or scholarship awards (buying higher LSATs with full rides plus stipends)—or when schools set the size of their entering classes and transfers solely to keep their LSATs and UGPAs high—those decisions are all perfect examples of anchoring bias (letting the rankings drive all other decisions)."
"When we lie, we’re telling our students and alumni that it’s ok for them to lie, too."
"'Rankings management' just reminds me too much of the 'earnings management' that I followed when I devoured every news article out there about the Enron scandal. I know that Enron is ancient history by now to most people. It’s not ancient history to me and to many of my friends who lived through the experience in Houston, in Portland, and elsewhere. But one key factor of Enron’s collapse strikes me as relevant today."
"But cheating at the rankings also imprints a school’s students and graduates. The same administration that is stressing adherence to an honor code and the importance of professionalism and ethics may be the one 'construing' its answers and developing very delicate loopholes. Bad LSATs? Move those students to the part-time program! Part-time program LSATs now being counted in the rankings? Cut the entering class and admit lots of transfers! Placement low? Hire graduates as research assistants, unless they’re not good enough to do that type of work (in which case, hire them to do filing)!"
"But it’s also important for us to remember that we—administrators and law professors—are modeling the behavior that we want our students to adopt. Whether we like it or not, we’re role models. Therefore, what we’re actually teaching our students when we fudge is that a zealous advocate stops at nothing to achieve her client’s objectives, even when those objectives aren’t very worthwhile. Once we teach our students that, we’ve created another generation of liars. No ranking is worth that."
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Bill Henderson has an insightful post on legal education reform, inspired by the recent ABA Taskforce on the Future of Legal Education meeting.
He writes, "These programs are laudable and, from an institutional perspective, necessary. But will an ABA taskforce, or AALS, LSAC, or some other industry group taskforce produce substantial change? History suggests that the answer is no and that, instead, meaningful change will come from the bottom up rather than the top down. Change will occur at the bottom from either the desire to survive or the opportunity to do something great. Other similarly situated institutions that feel less urgency or inspiration will eventually perish. It is just that simple.
The accreditation system we have created is an anachronism. But if we think the ABA Standards are holding back the forces of innovation in legal education, we are kidding ourselves. Any law school or law professor who wants a better way can have one -- we are all like Dorothy and her red slippers in the Wizard of Oz: we have had the power all along (credit to Paul Lippe, who cracked this line the other day.)"
He mentions the privilege that law professors enjoy, then he notes. "But the fact is we need to justify that privilege through our behavior; otherwise, just like now, we become vulnerable." He adds, "Reform in legal education is not a light switch. It is mindset that affects how we spend our time and who we spend it with."
He concludes, "If we want reform, well, let's work on it and actually get something done that will inspire others. Eventually it will take hold and take off, with or without changes to the ABA governing standards." You can read the rest of the article here.
Professor Henderson is correct. If we are going to change legal education, we will mainly have to do it on an individual-by-individual basis. In other words, we need to make the changes in our individual classes. We need to add problem-solving exercises to our classes, to teach our students metacognitive thinking (here), to give frequent formative assessments, to give writing assignments to our students, etc. In sum, law professors need to change their mindset for legal education.
Fastcase, a commercial legal research tool offered free with membership in many state bar associations, has just improved its citator - known as Authority Check - by offering a feature that tells you whether your case has received any negative, later case treatment. Known as Bad Law Bot, it uses algorithms to find negative citation history for your case. Bad Law Bot then flags those negative decisions and provides you with the links to the cases. Click here to see several screen shots that illustrate how it works or check out the video below for a more detailed explanation from Fastcase CEO Ed Walters.
Hat tip to the Law Librarian blog.
Other influential states may be getting ready to follow New York’s lead and require bar candidates to first complete hours of pro bono service. From the National Law Journal (excerpts):
It's been nearly a year since the New York State court system announced its first-of-its-kind 50-hour pro bono requirement for new attorneys. No state has followed suit yet, but that may soon change. Leaders of the State Bar of California are poised this fall to adopt a similar rule, while a task force of judges, legal educators and attorneys in New Jersey is weighing the merits. Any move by California could well have a ripple effect throughout the country.
Lippman announced New York's pro bono requirement in May 2012. Many applauded the move as a way to improve access to legal services for the poor and instill a sense of professional responsibility in new lawyers, but some criticized the rule for heaping additional responsibilities on already busy and financially strapped law students, and for placing a new training burden on legal service organizations.
Effective in 2015, every applicant to the New York State Bar Association must have completed 50 hours of pro bono legal work. Supervised work done in law school clinics and for nonprofit organizations, plus court clerkships or externships, will count toward the requirement.
The [California] task force recently unveiled a draft report containing three key recommendations: adoption of a 50-hour pro bono mandate; requiring new lawyers to complete either 15 credit hours involving practical skills or a six-month apprenticeship or clerkship after graduation; and requiring new lawyers to complete 10 hours of specially designed continuing legal education courses.
California's proposed pro bono mandate differs slightly from the New York rule in that new lawyers could fulfill the requirement either in law school or during their first year of practice.