Saturday, January 12, 2013
This comes to us courtesy of Oklahoma lawyer Jim Calloway and his great Law Practice Tips Blog. It's based on the October 2012 issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal which was devoted to advice on opening a new law office. Be sure to pass this along to any students or practitioners contemplating starting their own shop.
- Starting Solo - From Oath to My Own Office
- by Byron J. Will
- Equipping the Law Office 2012 - by Jim Calloway
- Going With the Flow -- The Truth About Cash Flow
Management - by Douglas Gierhart
- Great Resources Abound but Time Does Not
- by Jim Calloway
- Insurance for Lawyers and Law Offices -- From the
Basics to "I Didn't Know You Could Insure That!" -
by Jennifer Beale
- Professional Liability Insurance - The Rest of the
Story - by Alison A. Cave
- Success in Solo and Small Firm Settings
- by Jennifer Kirkpatrick
- Ten Things to Know When Starting a Small-Town
Practice - by Stephen D. Beam and Jon K. Parsley
- The Agony and the Ecstasy - Tips on Starting Your
Own Law Practice - by Tracey Garrison
- The Non-Tech Side of Starting Your Own Practice
- by Michelle Harrington
- What's Your Exit Strategy - by D. Scott
- Trust Accounting 101 - by OBA Ethics Counsel Travis Pickens
From the Wall Street Journal:
The M.B.A.'s lot is partly reflected in starting pay. While available figures vary by schools and employers, recruiters' expected median salary for newly hired M.B.A.s was essentially flat between 2008 and 2011, not adjusting for inflation, according to a survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council.
For graduates with minimal experience—three years or less—median pay was $53,900 in 2012, down 4.6% from 2007-08, according to an analysis conducted for The Wall Street Journal by PayScale.com. Pay fell at 62% of the 186 schools examined.
Even for more seasoned grads the trend is similar, says Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale.com. "In general, it seems that M.B.A. pay is either stagnant or falling," she says.
Friday, January 11, 2013
You have probably seen Judge John Kane's letter criticizing law schools (here; I am using this version because the blog editor's comments are worth reading). While there is much to agree with in Judge Kane's letter, I think he has confused the intent of the legal education reform movement, which he calls "pragmatism" or "practice ready."
In his last paragraph he declares:
"Law schools claim that pragmatism is the only way to address fierce competition. To what end? Making graduates 'practice ready' is an illusion, which is not only impossible to achieve, but in fact detrimental to the life and career of the student. The goal should be to produce young lawyers who, as Thomas Wolfe described writers attending workshops, are 'ready to commence to begin to start' to learn, through a lifetime of practice, the art and craft of guiding others to safe passage through the extremities of experience, to achieve socially appropriate goals, and to insist on leading ethical lives. It is not to produce yet another cadre of cynical shysters grasping for more fees or a legion of those who flee the profession in despair. "
Judge Kane's view of the legal education reform movement as expressed in the above paragraph is incomplete. In fact, the movement agrees with Judge Kane's aspirations by stressing the need for law schools to produce graduates who are "self-regulated" learners and who have developed their professional identities.
Based on scholarship written by education scholars, legal reform scholars have emphasized that law schools need to produce self-regulated learners. (E.g., here, here, here) Self-regulated learners are life-long learners. They "are intrinsically motivated, self-directing, self-monitoring, and self-evaluating." (here) They know themselves, and they are inquisitive, open to new ideas, and take risks. Most importantly, self-regulated learners have learning strategies, and they focus on the mastery of learning.
The legal education reform movement has also stressed the need to teach professionalism and professional identity to law students. The Carnegie Report designated three apprenticeships for educating today's law students, including the "apprenticeship of identity and purpose," which "introduces students to the purposes and attitudes that are guided by the values for which the professional community is responsible." (Carnegie Report at 28). Scholars have emphasized that this apprenticeship includes not only learning the rules of professional conduct, but also helping students develop their professional identity. (here, here) I have previously described professional identity: "This apprenticeship involves more than teaching students the rules of legal ethics. It is intended to inculcate law students with the characteristics of professional identity. In other words, law schools should teach students what it is like to be a lawyer, including their ethical duties to their clients, the courts, and the public." (here) I have also advocated teaching ethics across the curriculum because it is much more effective to learn the ethical rules in connection with the corresponding doctrine. (here) The Carolina Academic Press: Context and Practice Casebook Series does this with "Professional Development Reflection Questions" at the end of each chapter. Finally, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers recently had a conference on teaching professional identity (here).
In sum, the legal education reform movement is already advocating what Judge Kane aspires to in his letter. While, unfortunately, these reforms have only been adopted at a few law schools, the legal education reform movement is advocating that they be adopted at all law schools.
New legal "skills" scholarship: "Crisis in the Classroom: Using Simulations to Enhance Decision-Making Skills"
Criticism leveled against the traditional law school curriculum, which has been principally based on the Langdellian appellate case method, has been on the rise during the past two decades. Factual investigation, communication, and negotiation skills are among the key skills underrepresented in the traditional curriculum. As law schools move to fill this gap, some law schools have adopted simulations typically used to train government and military personnel to hone students problem-solving and decision-making skills. Borrowing on a model honed at the S. J. Quinney School of Law at the University of Utah law school, I describe the challenges and benefits that I encountered in developing and implementing a counter-terrorism simulation involving law students as well as undergraduate public policy students.
The gift announced last week from John McDonald and Rob Wright will support what is described as the nation’s first endowed academic chair in sexual orientation law at UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy. The think tank already explores such topics as anti-homosexual discrimination, the impact of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies and the demographics of same-sex couples who have adopted children.
The two say they want to promote objective research, but they also hope to aid the campaign for gay marriage and other gay rights issues.
You can read more here from the Diverse Education blog.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Legal services consulting firm Internet for Lawyers which runs CLE's focused on helping lawyers use the internet more efficiently and effectively, has just published a white paper that compares Shepards and Keycite to citator services offered by the fee and non-fee alternatives like Google Scholar, Fastcase and Bloomberg. The paper is entitlted Are All Citator Services Created Equal? A Comparison of Google Scholar, Fastcase, Casemaker, LexisNexis, WestlawNext, and Bloomberg.
Hat tip to Legal Research Plus.
Here is a very worthwhile 20 minute TEDx talk by Amy Cuddy, a psychologist and professor at the Harvard Business School. Her theme is “Fake it till you become it”: Assume powerful body language and your hormones will change and make you more powerful.
Even if you think you’ve heard enough about body language, I think you and your students will learn from this talk.
It is awards season, and the Legal Skills Prof Blog has been named the runner up in the Best Law Professor Blog category of the 2012 Blawggies. Dennis Kennedy writes, "Runner-up – Legal Skills Prof Blog – Yes, I know, I’m involved in this one, but I don’t post very often, so I can pretend to be objective. This blog has great coverage of the current debate about what needs to be done with the current approach to legal education and what law schools are doing in the area of skills education." (here)
Description of the Blawggies:
"The Blawggies, which honor the best law-related blogs as determined from my personal and highly-opinionated perspective, were first unleashed on an unsuspecting blogosphere in December 2004 and are an annual tradition here at DennisKennedy.Blog. This ninth edition of the awards makes them the longest running annual awards list for law-related blogs selected by a lawyer named Dennis Kennedy living in St. Louis, Missouri. What was originally just a crazy idea turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging. I’ve included some explanatory and historical information about the Blawggies at the end of this post. As I’ve said before and explain in more detail at the end of this post, the Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or, God forbid, objective criteria. I choose the winners from only the blogs I read regularly. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me alone as I write this post."
The criteria for the awards: "The Blawggie-winning Criteria. I like blogs with (1) consistently useful content, (2) a generous and helpful approach, and (3) a combination of commitment, personality and talent, with an emphasis on good writing. In other words, I like blogs that compel me to read them on a regular basis."
Congratulations to my co-bloggers, especially Jim Levy and Lou Sirico, the blog editors. Also, congratulations to our sister blog, Paul Caron's the TaxProf Blog, which placed first in this category.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers has a consortium of law schools "committed to innovation in the spirit of the Carnegie Report." New York University Law School has just joined the consortium.
NYU describes their program as:
"NYU's program of sequenced experiential education begins with the first-year Lawyering Program, which all students take throughout their first year of law school, and which introduces them to a theory of legal problem-solving and uses a series of simulation exercises to teach fundamental lawyering skills, the cognitive processes that underlie them, and the values of the profession. Each simulation requires a student to work through the steps of a legal problem – understanding the question, preparing the task, executing the objective, and critiquing the process – and to analyze goals, facts, rules, and context. By integrating specific lawyering skills, a problem-solving cycle, and conceptual analysis, Lawyering broadens and deepens the student's understanding of legal concepts and doctrine, sharpens lawyering skills, and develops the thoughtful inquiry and self-evaluation critical to the theory and practice of law.
The law school's fieldwork clinics and simulation courses build on the Lawyering Program's basic instruction in systematic methods of reflecting upon and learning from one's own lawyering performances. Students are confronted with problem situations of the sort that lawyers encounter in practice; the problem situations are concrete, complex, and unrefined; students deal with the problems in role; and the students' performance of each activity is subjected to intensive, systematic critical review. The upper-level simulation courses and fieldwork clinics thus function together with Lawyering as a coordinated curriculum for developing the skill sets for effective legal problem-solving, conveying a sense of how lawyers might best do their work, and helping students develop the tools they need in order to continue their learning after graduation. The faculty-student ratio in simulation courses and clinics is extremely low in order to ensure students the intensive experience that these courses should deliver."
More information here.
The blog Attorney@work has a review of a new software product called WordRake that purports to help lawyers eliminate legalese and wordiness from their writing. It works much like spell-check by scanning the document for multisyllabic words and either eliminating them or suggesting simpler substitutes. Attorney@work's Carol Gelber tried the product on several legal documents and was impressed with its ability to streamline writing and suggest changes that make it easier to comply with court imposed page limitations.
I tested WordRake on several publicly filed documents and found that it worked quickly (13 pages of single-spaced text were raked in less than a minute) and made many suggestions that, I believe, streamlined the writing in the documents and made the documents easier to read. Lawyers who submit documents to courts with strict word count limitations should find WordRake extremely helpful in identifying potential cuts. For example, WordRake suggested that “pursuant to” become “under,” that “in respect to” become “regarding” and that “in the absence of” become “absent.” That’s six words saved right there. Going beyond simple word substitutions, WordRake also identified several complex passive-voice constructions and suggested more direct active statements.
WordRake is not a one-button fix for all writing, and it can only work if the author reviews all of the proposed changes to determine which are truly improvements. For example, not all of WordRake’s suggestions will be logically correct in the context of your document or consistent with a particular grammatical construction. Sometimes you will reject WordRake’s suggestions when you want your writing to track the language of a statute or an important case. I have also noticed that WordRake can be brutal on the introductory phrases that often help a reader move more smoothly from one idea to another. In those cases, WordRake allows you to reject its suggestions and return to your original text, or even to write something completely different (and better) having considered WordRake’s input.
I found WordRake easy to use and helpful for spotting opportunities to simplify my writing. After a short time working with the program, I also noticed that I was spotting unnecessary words as I was writing and editing my own work before I ever clicked the Rake button. In the same way that even the best spellers have come to rely on spell-check as a final safety net to catch misspellings, I believe that even good writers will still find value in WordRake to help them quickly spot and deal with extra words clogging up their writing.
Continue reading here.
From the National Law Journal:
The Law School Admission Council has sued the state of California over a new law that bars the organization from alerting law schools when applicants get extra time to complete the Law School Admission Test.
The California Legislature approved the legislation in September, with supporters arguing that the practice—also known as "flagging"—discriminates against disabled test takers who need the extra time. The law took effect on January 1 and will apply to scores earned during the February 9 LSAT sitting.
You can read more here.
At Attorney at Work, a number of consultants advise what resources a newbie needs. Most of them rely on technological resources to establish a cheap and efficient business model, but few offer precise monetary numbers on the expense. Interesting reading for your ambitious students.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Quora, a social media website that allows users to pose and answer questions, has named criminal defense lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington & Lee Judith Clarke as one of the nation's most bad-ass lawyers. Her forte, according to Quora users, is that she eschews display of ego and flash in favor of hard work and attention to detail. A pretty unbeatable combination if you ask me. From the Quora page posing the question: "Who is the most bad-ass lawyer?" (subscription required).
Judith Clarke - She's the greatest lawyer you've never heard of . . . but I'm willing to bet you've heard of her clients. She is -- in my opinion -- proof that there are amazingly brilliant and ethical lawyers practicing law without regard for personal gain or agrandizement. She doesn't fight to "get her clients off", she accepts their guilt by and large, she merely dedicates herself to preventing her clients from seeing the electric chair. She works mostly pro bono. She is brilliant to the point where she could make millions, but lives on a tiny salary, any extra money she earns she dedicates to various charities and to the indigent. She's so completely hated in some states for her skill and technique, that some states have even passed laws preventing "out of state lawers" from defending criminals in their state . . . all because of her. Her client list is the "who's who" in notorious criminals in the past several decades:
Judy Clarke: Jared Loughner's 'Amazing' Attorney:
- Susan Smith
- Ted Kaczynski
- Zacarias Moussaoui
- Andrea Yates
- Eric Rudolph (Atlanta Olympic Bomber)
- Jared Lee Laughner
Clarke, one of the foremost experts at representing capital defendants, has little of the flamboyance of Stephen Jones, who represented Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. She has little of the oratory skill of Michael Tigar, who saved Terry Nichols' life in the second Oklahoma City bombing trial. She does not fill a courtroom like Michael Jackson's attorney, Thomas Mesereau, or Texas' famed Dick Deguerin. But she does everything well, avoids the limelight, eschews displays of ego, and works as hard as a defense lawyer can. "She is one of my personal heroes," a veteran federal public defender told me Tuesday. "She is one of those extraordinary attorneys who have it all. She has a sharp mind for legal analysis, is an exceptional trial lawyer and is as dedicated and driven as anyone you will ever meet."
Hat tip to The Business Insider.
The Green Bag’s board of advisors has selected the following as exemplars of good legal writing in 2012. Congratulations to the authors.
Opinions for the Court
• José A. Cabranes, Rivas v. Fischer, 687 F.3d 514 (2d Cir. 2012)
• John Gleeson, U.S. v. Dossie, 851 F.Supp.2d 478 (E.D.N.Y. 2012)
• Royce C. Lamberth, In re Grand Jury Subpoena, 846 F.Supp.2d 1 (D.D.C. 2012)
• Ojetta R. Thompson, Schatz v. RSLC, 669 F.3d 50 (1st Cir. 2012)
Concurrences, Dissents, Etc.
• Marsha Berzon & Richard Tallman, Miles v. Ryan, 697 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. 2012)
• Neil Gorsuch, U.S. v. Rosales-Garcia, 667 F.3d 1348 (10th Cir. 2012)
• Elena Kagan, Williams v. Illinois, 132 S.Ct. 2221 (2012)
• Dale Carpenter, Flagrant Conduct: How A Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans (W.W. Norton & Company 2012)
• David M. Dorsen, Henry Friendly, Greatest Judge of His Era (Harvard University Press 2012)
• J. Harvie Wilkinson III, Cosmic Constitutional Theory (Oxford University Press 2012)
• Charles Fried, On Judgment, 15 Lewis & Clark Law Review 1025 (2011)
• Arthur R. Miller, McIntyre in Context: A Very Personal Perspective, 63 South Carolina Law Review 465 (2012)
• Carol Sanger, “The Birth of Death”: Stillborn Birth Certificates and the Problem for Law, 100 California Law Review 269 (2012)
News and Editorial
• Tom Goldstein, We’re getting wildly differing assessments, SCOTUSblog, www.scotusblog.com, July 7, 2012
• Jill Lepore, Benched: The Supreme Court and the struggle for judicial independence, The New Yorker, June 18, 2012
• Dahlia Lithwick, Extreme Makeover: The story behind the story of Lawrence v. Texas, The New Yorker, March 12, 2012
• Jonathan Macey, Tackling the Power of the 1%, Politico, November 29, 2011
• Frank H. Easterbrook, Commencement Address, Swarthmore College
• Bob Kohn, Brief of Bob Kohn as Amicus Curiae, U.S. v. Apple, Inc.
• Christy Susman & David Gooder, Letter to Patrick Wensink, Jack Daniel's, July 12, 2012
Professor Jerry Organ raised this possibility at the AALS conference in New Orleans last week:
"Mr. Organ, of the University of St. Thomas, said legal educators should pay more attention to their educator role when publishing employment data about their schools.
'One of the problems law schools are dealing with is that we don't think of ourselves as professionals relating to clients,' he said. 'Often we act as trial lawyers and assume we can put out information at the edge of what is reliable and that there will be an adversary putting out information to counter that. That's OK in trial, but our relationship with prospective students should not be an adversarial one.'" (from here)
I don't think that I would go as far as Professor Organ. However, I do think that it is important that law schools examine their relationships with their students. The modern law school needs to a student-centered one, and most law schools today are not student-centered. As Professors Schwartz and Ho have declared in connection with reform at their law school: "Whatever the committee discusses should be evaluated by the single criterion of whether the idea will be good for the students as they prepare to become lawyers. The way things currently are or what individual faculty members or groups of faculty members want to do or already do cannot be as important as serving student needs." (Moss & Curtis eds., Reforming Legal Education at 45) At the least, law schools need to focus more on teaching and be transparent with their students.
I would love to hear some comments on this issue.
Monday, January 7, 2013
The Chronicle of Higher Ed has filed the following report from the AALS conference that concluded Sunday noting there's only one job for every two law grads as well as concerns that some schools might close because of plummeting applications:
With applications to law schools in free fall and many of their graduates struggling to find jobs to pay off staggering debts, about 3,000 legal educators gathered here over the weekend to discuss what a panel of law deans referred to as "the new normal."
It's a world where unemployed graduates take to the courts to sue their schools and where structural changes in the job market are forcing schools to revamp their curricula and slash spending.
Participants at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools described the hard choices they're making and the tough messages they're delivering as they seek to reinvent their schools.
"Whether or not it's true, there's a perception of absolute crisis and chaos in legal education," said Frank H. Wu, dean of the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. He described how the freestanding Hastings school had shrunk its class size this year, from 425 to 320; increased the teaching load of faculty members; and cut staff positions.
"I've been so candid with my faculty that I worry about faculty morale, but without that understanding, they're still going to come in with unrealistic demands," he said. "The question is, Is this a blip or is it permanent? I happen to believe we're dealing with a profound, permanent, structural change" in the legal job market, and by extension, in legal education, he said.
. . . .
If law schools hadn't begun to trim their enrollments, those lines could have been crossed as soon as next year, said Jerome M. Organ, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis. If the Law School Admission Council's early numbers hold up, just under 53,000 students will apply for seats in next fall's class, he said. Over the last decade, law schools have never admitted fewer than 55,500 into their entering class.
Continue reading here.
The North American Law Degree will allow students to graduate, within three years, with a J.D. designed to allow them to immediately seek licensure in Canada without further coursework, in addition to qualifying them for bar admission in the U.S., making the College of Law’s J.D. program unique among U.S. law schools.
The North American Law Degree will comprise:
• A comprehensive curriculum in Canadian law
• A three-year program that seeks to fulfill all substantive J.D. bar requirements in common-law Canada and the U.S.
• The ability for third-year students to take the Arizona bar exam in their final semester and focus on the licensure process in Canada immediately after graduation
• Unparalleled experiential learning opportunities through clinics and externships
• A J.D. from one of North America’s most respected law schools
Sunday, January 6, 2013
From the abstract:
If we study the 40,000 law graduates who join the legal profession each year, how well can we predict their future careers? How much of their future is predicted by their social class? The law school they attend? Their law school grades? This article undertakes the first in-depth examination of these questions. Drawing on several large and recently released data sets, we examine the role of class, school prestige, and law school grades on the career earnings of lawyers and the success of big firm associates in becoming partners. We find that social class strongly conditions who goes to law school, but no longer predicts much about postgraduate outcomes. Law school prestige is important, but it is generally trumped by law school performance (as measured by law school grades). Law school grades reflect both personal characteristics not well captured by prelaw credentials, and one's relative position in a law school class as measured by prelaw credentials. Our findings suggest that there is little empirical basis for the overwhelming importance students assign to “eliteness” in choosing a law school.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, reporting on stories from its online version. The titles tell it all.
And here are the three most popular Tech Therapy episodes: