Saturday, July 6, 2013
From Bloomberg Law:
John Thies, outgoing president for the Illinois State Bar Association, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about his organization’s report on the impact of law school debt on the delivery of legal services. Among the changes ISBA recommends is the implementation of apprenticeships for third year law students in order to better prepare graduates to enter the profession. As current ABA rules prevent law students from receiving compensation while obtaining academic credit, ISBA’s proposal would require a substantial policy change.
Here’s the video (8:47 minutes).
But what's the alternative? For law schools to offer all theory and no practical application? I don't think Sam Glover, author of the above post is suggesting that either - perhaps only that the notion law schools can make students truly "practice-ready" is a utopian fantasy. But hey, you've got to start somewhere, right? From Mr. Glover's post:
At first, the push to train lawyers in practical skills makes sense. On reflection, what is it that makes us think a few hours of “practical skills instruction” every week is going to turn new lawyers into useful lawyers?
Perhaps the most-important thing I learned after law school was that my smarts, talents, and hard work were not enough on their own to make me an effective lawyer. Nor were the legal writing, moot court, and criminal prosecution and defense clinics I took. Real law practice experience and reputation are impossible to pick up in law school. Yes, clinical instruction is a kind of practical experience, but it is certainly not enough, and definitely not all of the right kind.Further, even if we assume law schools are competent to train law students to be competent as new lawyers, how can we be confident that law schools will train lawyers to work with the lawyers that hire them? Every lawyer and practice and firm are different, and many probably want to train their own associates.
Continue reading here.
Friday, July 5, 2013
From the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
A group of Princeton, N.J., residents has mounted a legal challenge to Princeton University’s tax status, claiming the institution’s income from commercial activities render it ineligible for an exemption, the New York Observer writes.
In arguing that it should be treated as a business for tax purposes, the suit cites the Ivy League university’s revenue from commercial ventures such as theater performances and retail food sales and the $127-million it earned in patent royalties and largely distributed to faculty last year.
A New Jersey tax-court judge last week denied the university’s motion to dismiss the suit, The Times of Trenton reports. A Princeton official said university might reconsider whether some campus buildings should remain tax-free but was confident it would retain its overall exemption.
This sort of lawsuit could be catching.
You can read here CLEA's press release and report in support of its petition to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The following are additional links to coverage by other legal blogs of this important story:
Best Practices for Legal Education blog: CLEA calls on ABA to require 15 credits of experiential learning.
National Law Journal: ABA Pressed to Boost Law Students' Practical Training.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Has Your School Bonded its SBA Treasurer?
Maybe it should. Getting someone bonded is not very difficult. Consider this:
Margaret Oyler did not graduate from the University of Baltimore School of Law, but she did nab $33,000 from the school’s Student Bar Association while serving as treasurer. So she admitted, and this after being found out by a new member and trying to kill herself to cover the shame. She finally admitted that she made the steal before a Baltimore judge this Thursday, gaining a five-year suspended prison sentence and three years probation. She also had to pay off the money, which required her borrowing money from her family. What led to her theft? Drugs and alcohol.
You can read more here.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
California Task Force Recommends Pro Bono, Practical Skills Mandates for Bar Admission
A California State Bar Board of Trustees task force June 11 approved a recommendation to require that law students take practical skills courses and complete 50 hours of pro bono/low bono work as conditions for bar admission.
The Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform finished a year-long study of ways to improve readiness for newly minted lawyers who increasingly face a stiff job market and “crushing” school debt.
The report also recommends requiring completion of 15 units of competency skills during law school and 10 additional hours of continuing legal education as conditions of admission.
You can read more here at Bloomberg BNA.
One of the major criticisms that critics, including some on this blog, were making about law schools two or three years ago was that many law schools did not reveal the percentage of merit scholarships that were retained after the first year. At some law schools, the retention rate was below 50%, and many of us thought that the ABA should require law schools to publish their scholarship retention information. Thanks to a great deal of effort by these critics, especially Law School Transparency, the ABA revised Standard 509 to require transparency in scholarship retention.
Professor Jerry Organ was one of those calling for transparency. Now that transparency has been obtained, he has written a new article concerning the effects of the new Standard 509.
Abstract: As a result of the ABA’s revisions to Standard 509, Consumer Information, there is now a much greater universe of publicly available information about law school scholarship programs. In this article, I present what is now known about conditional scholarship programs based on a review of law school websites conducted between March 19 and May 29, 2013, from which I was able to compile a complete list of law schools with conditional scholarship programs, with only one-year scholarships, with good standing (or guaranteed) scholarships and with only need-based scholarships. The article includes an analysis of the information we have on conditional scholarship programs by looking at the prevalence of conditional scholarship programs among law schools across different rankings categories and by looking at the extent to which scholarship retention differs among law schools across different rankings categories. The article also looks at geographic “clumping” of law schools without conditional scholarship programs. The article concludes with some general thoughts on the impact of conditional scholarships across legal education.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Here are the job details:Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor
Northern Illinois University College of Law
The Office of the Illinois Attorney General has awarded a joint three-year grant to Northern Illinois University College of Law (“NIU Law”) and Resolution Systems Institute (“RSI”) to assist homeowners harmed by fraudulent foreclosure and loan servicing practices. As part of this grant, NIU anticipates hiring a Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor to establish an NIU COL foreclosure clinic. The expected start date is August 1, 2013.
As the only public law school in Northern Illinois, NIU College of Law has been named a top law school nationally for diversity, value, and careers in public interest/government service. NIU Law provides unique opportunities for its students, beginning with its highly accomplished faculty who are personally invested in the success of every student throughout their professional lives. Although many alumni serve as public interest attorneys, prosecutors, defenders, elected officials, and judges, they are equally prepared for careers as solo practitioners or lawyers in multinational firms.
The Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor will teach a foreclosure law clinical course during the fall, spring and summer semesters beginning in the fall of 2013, and will supervise approximately five to eight law students each semester. Students enrolled in this course will learn about foreclosure law, the foreclosure mediation process, and will develop a wide range of lawyering skills. Under the supervision of the professor, students will screen and prepare foreclosure cases for mediation, and represent borrowers in mediation as needed. Clinic students will work closely with Prairie State Legal Services, assisting them with their foreclosure intake line.
Principal duties will include the following:
- Creating and teaching a foreclosure law clinical course
- Supervising law students enrolled in the clinical course
- Assisting with the Prairie State Intake Line
- Preparing individual borrowers for successful mediation
- Representing individual borrowers in mediation
- Working closely with RSI to coordinate obligations and duties under the grant
- Submitting required reports to the Illinois Attorney General
The salary is $60,000 annually, plus benefits.
Required: JD from an ABA-accredited law school; 2 years legal experience; and a current license to practice law.
The preferred applicant will have 2-5 years experience representing clients in foreclosure proceedings. Teaching experience, particularly clinical teaching in a law school setting, is desired. The ideal applicant will have an interest not only in the foreclosure legal process, but also in teaching law students the necessary skills to effectively represent clients.
AA/EEO institution. Preference will be given to applications received by June 24, 2013, although applications will be accepted until the position is filled. In compliance with the Illinois Campus Security Act, before an offer of employment is made, the university will conduct a pre-employment background investigation, which includes a criminal background check. In accordance with applicable statutes and regulations, NIU is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation, or any other factor unrelated to professional qualifications, and will comply with all applicable federal and state statutes, regulations and orders pertaining to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Above the Law has the full story here. In short, Seton Hall has decided to admit fewer students in the face of declining applications in order to maintain academic standards. The result is that it must find ways to offset the decline in revenue by cutting costs. Apparently all faculty have already volunteered a 10% cut in pay but a spokesman for the school said if that turns out not to be enough, non-tenured faculty may be let go at the end of AY 2014-15. Here's an excerpt from the ATL story:
1. The law school has given notice to its entire junior faculty, approximately seven untenured professors, that their contracts might not be renewed for 2014-2015.
2. The affected professors will be able to teach for the 2013-2014 academic year, but could be terminated after that.
3. As part of a larger effort to streamline the law school and control costs, these notices have been issued to preserve all of the administration’s options.
4. But the notices could ultimately be rescinded — and the administration hopes to be able to rescind them, provided it can find the needed savings elsewhere within its budget.
According to the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog, the Clinical Legal Education Association has petitioned the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section for Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to require law schools to offer 15 hours of experiential education in the second and third years.
CLEA President, Kate Kruse, has declared:
"CLEA contends that the present standards do not adequately prepare students for the practice of law and that 15 hours of professional experience (representing about one-sixth of a student’s total credit hours) are certainly the minimum necessary to ensure that law school graduates are competent to begin practicing law. Concerned that the ABA was not doing enough, the California State Bar Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform recently proposed a similar pre-admission practical skills training program for all law students seeking admission to the California bar. CLEA’s proposed amendment, filed under Rule 803(d) of the ABA Rules of Procedure for Approving Law Schools, requires the ABA to formally refer the request to committee and report back with a recommendation regarding the proposal."
I strongly agree with CLEA's proposal, and I hope the ABA adopts this proposal.
Update: It appears that Jim and I posted on this subject at the same time last night. While his post has more information, I am keeping my post up because I want to urge legal skills organizations to support this proposal.
The Clinical Legal Education Association ("CLEA") issued a press release today in which it announced that it has petitioned the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to adopt a regulation requiring law schools to mandate 15 credits of experiential learning, including a clinic or externship, in law school, as is being contemplated in California (and here). From CLEA's press release:
Today, the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), the nation’s largest association of law professors, formally petitioned Council of the American Bar Association’s Section for Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to amend its law school accreditation standards to require every J.D. law student to complete the equivalent of at least 15 semester credit hours after the first year of law school in practice-based, experiential courses, such as law clinics, field placements, or skills simulation courses, with at least one course in a law clinic or externship.
Repeated ABA studies have shown the need to enhance significantly the professional skills training of students in law schools. However, the Section has done very little to address these persistent calls for reform. Current law school accreditation standards only require a single credit of experiential learning out of an average of 89 total academic credits, a dismal 1% of a law student’s preparation for practice. Other professions (such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary, social work, etc.) require that at least one quarter, and up to more than one half, of a
graduate’s pre-licensing education be in role in supervised professional practice.
The Council has a duty, as the agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education for the accreditation of law schools, to ensure that its standards meet the training needs of law students and the interests of the public. CLEA contends that the present standards do not adequately prepare students for the practice of law and that 15 hours of professional experience (representing about one-sixth of a student’s total credit hours) are certainly the minimum necessary to ensure that law school graduates are competent to begin practicing law. Concerned that the ABA was not doing enough, the California State Bar Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform recently proposed a similar pre-admission practical skills training program
for all law students seeking admission to the California bar.
Kate Kruse, president of CLEA, said, “We hope this will be an opportunity for the ABA to take a leadership role in pressing law schools to take seriously their responsibility to prepare students for the practice of law.”
CLEA’s petition to the ABA is available at: http://cleaweb.org/advocacy
Click here for a report from CLEA in support of the petition that notes the primacy of experiential learning in other professional disciplines like medicine, dentistry and social work, and debunks the claim that mandatory clinical courses increase the cost of tuition compared to law schools that don't have such a required.
Hat tip to Professor Robert R. Kuehn.
Here’s a reminder on using aural devices in writing.
Alliteration refers to repeating the initial sounds of words: “Tippee canoe and Tyler too.” “The kind of entertainment that used to be furnished by Errol Flynn, a babe and a blade.” (Henry Popkin).
Assonance refers to repeating the internal sounds of words: "I lie down by the side of my bride"/"Fleet feet sweep by sleeping geese"/"Hear the lark and harden to the barking of the dark fox gone to ground"( Pink Floyd). "It's hot and it's monotonous." (Stephen Sondheim).
Rime refers to using words with the same number of syllables or part of syllables: “He was carnivorous, bibulous, querulous, cantankerous, and poisonous as a snake (Henry Miller). The words and syllables often rhyme, but don’t have to.
You can use these devices in legal writing, but only sparingly. Otherwise, they sound overly cute.
Yes, says Professor Kirsten Davis.
Abstract: Is there any reason for lawyers to write legal memoranda, particularly when some lawyers report that they no longer value the “traditional” legal memo? Does the legal memorandum – a common first writing project for law students – have any application whatsoever beyond the first year of law school? Does the usefulness of the memo decrease when it is read on a mobile device?
This article takes issue with the idea that the “traditional” legal memorandum is dead. It challenges lawyers, law faculty, and law students to think more deeply about the purposes of the legal memo, its role in modern legal practice, and its readability in a mobile computing world. And it offers a view of the legal memo that draws upon not only legal practice traditions but also upon the rules of ethics, rhetorical theory, cognitive science, and on-screen readability studies.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Architect of Washington & Lee's 3L experiential learning curriculum says don't judge it based on last year's employment stats
A couple of weeks ago, Professor Deborah Merritt at her Law School Cafe blog (and here) crunched the numbers for the class of 2012 at Washington & Lee and concluded that despite curricular reform that has been roundly praised for making students more "practice ready," the employment stats for graduating students were significantly below those of schools ranked similarly by USNWR. Professor Merritt offered several possible explanations but ultimately concluded that making students practice ready doesn't equate with more jobs. Our own Scott Fruehwald offered an alternative explanation for the sub-par employment results here.
Now comes Washington & Lee's Professor James Moliterno, described in his faculty bio as one of the leaders behind the school's 3L curricular reform, who says in a response posted on the Law School Cafe blog that it's simply too early to judge the success of the program based on employment outcomes for a single year.
The 2012 numbers refer to the first full class to pass through the reformed third year curriculum. Ours is a slow-to-change profession. Employers as a group do not change their settled practices on a dime. Nothing in the employment numbers that we see for the next 3 to five years should be seen as reflecting on the reception given to the curriculum reform. No curricular reform I know of, including Langdell’s, changed settled practices of others overnight.
We are confident in the reform and the value it adds to our students. The reform has become reasonably well-known within legal education, but we have considerable work yet to do to make it known and understood to the employing-branch of the legal profession.
The education a W&L student receives today is more rigorous than was the education received by their predecessors. The first year, with added requirements of administrative law and transnational law and professional responsibility, continues to be taught with the techniques and materials that have made the first year a legal education success story. The second year, too, is largely unchanged in its methodology. But in the reformed third year, students are challenged in ways they are not challenged in the traditional third year. Students must study and adopt the analytical practices of sophisticated lawyers. They must write more than their predecessors in the traditional third year. They must problem solve more. They must work as teams. They must progress in the mastery of the complex mental processes of sophisticated lawyers. The data gathered by the Law Student Survey of Student Engagement shows that our third year students are more actively involved in their education than both their W&L predecessors and current students at our peer schools.
Continue reading here.
The traditional tenure article has, at its core, case analysis. But I don’t see that format as a requirement. Here are two articles that I view as excellent tenure pieces. Neither of them is case-oriented. Both are very interesting.
The first is Lisa McElroy’s article,” Cameras at the Supreme Court: A Rhetorical Analysis,” 2012 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 1837. Here is the abstract:
For many years, the Supreme Court has resisted cameras in its marble palace, the temple on the hill. In studying the reasons that the Justices give for refusing cameras at the Supreme Court, it becomes apparent that their resistance is more about maintaining mystique than about defensible concerns, such as security or legitimacy. In fact, cameras at the Supreme Court would help to alter Americans’ perceptions of the institution as a removed sort of aristocracy to a view of the Court as an integral part of democracy. Privacy and secrecy do not preserve public confidence in the Court, but may actually diminish it. The public’s interest in seeing its government at work outweighs any interests the Justices may have in preserving the Court’s mystique.
This article conducts a rhetorical analysis of the Court’s story of majesty and disengagement from the public – one similar to that of the Oracle at Delphi – and suggests how cameras would transform that story to one in which the Justices are human and fallible but committed to the rule of law as a cornerstone of a constitutional democracy.
The second is Cathren Koehlert-Page’s article, “Like a Glass Slipper on a Stepsister: How the One Ring Rules Them All at Trial,” 91 Nebraska L. Rev. 600 (2013). Here’s the abstract:
When a child first hears “glass slipper,” she makes subconscious assumptions. Glass being sparkling conveys beauty. Being fragile it must be dainty, like Cinderella herself. To dance in these fragile slippers, Cinderella must have grace. But dancing for hours in the slippers must be painful. This notion plants a seed of overlooking pain to attain beauty.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both described the manner in which we think in symbols. In today's research Daniel Kahneman illustrates in Thinking Fast and Slow that we all think in symbols and make subconscious assumptions.
Thus symbols and objects make their way into our stories. In literature, one such object is the endowed object, a material object that reverberates with symbolic significance throughout the story. Items such as the glass slipper, the one ring, and the holy grail convey theme, emotion, and character, and even create structural beats.
These objects weave their way into trial narratives as well. Examples include the leather glove from the O.J. Simpson case and Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.
Trial and appellate attorneys can use the literary concept of endowed objects to identify a key piece of physical evidence that weaves a thread of narrative continuity through the case and resonates in the mind of the judge or juror.
My article presents the literary concept of endowed objects, provides examples from literature and from trials, discusses how attorneys can identify and use evidence to create an endowed object, and explores evidentiary and ethical limitations regarding these objects. I examine endowed objects and other symbols in fiction works such as Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Like Sisters on the Homefront, The Hunger Games, 1984, Anna Karenina, Lord of the Rings, The Natural, and Every Time a Rainbow Dies. I also examine the role such objects played in the trials of Lincoln assassination conspirator, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Timothy McVeigh, Orenthal (O.J.) Simpson, and John Wayne Gacy.