Saturday, July 13, 2013
Even the most prestigious law reviews may have 2000 or fewer paid subscribers. And with online access, how often do any of us consult a hard copy? Moreover, hard copy printing costs cash-strapped law schools $$. The obvious prediction: within the next few years, almost all law reviews will be online and not in hard copy.
The development promises at least two positive consequences.
First, the current concern about limiting the number of pages in an issue( for economic reasons) will disappear. If law review editors have any good sense, however, they will still keep articles short as a favor to their readers.
Second, without the problems of length, maybe the editors will abolish all those weird abbreviations, whose only justification is to save space.
In this essay by practitioner turned academic Professor Jack Graves of Touro Law School, he suggests reforming legal education by educating students in "stages." Through larger doctrinal classes that would be taught in a continuous 12 month cycle, students could obtain a "certificate" in legal studies more quickly and with much less expense. Students who complete "stage 1" would be prepared for and could sit for the bar exam though they would not be eligible for licensure until they completed a practicum component in "stage 2." Following that, students could then become licensed practitioners.
The article is called "An Essay On Rebuilding And Renewal In American Legal Education" and is available at 29 Touro L. Rev. 375 (2013). Here's an excerpt.
The proposed model would deliver the first half of the JD curriculum at a dramatically reduced price and would do so over twelve calendar months--not by reducing curricular content, but simply by using a full twelve-month school calendar. Cost reductions would be achieved by moving to very large doctrinal classes (significantly larger than current “large” classes), likely including significant online components. While research, analysis, and writing instruction would continue to be delivered in relatively smaller classes, this too would likely benefit from greater efficiencies through the use of online components. All of the doctrinal content necessary to prepare for the bar exam, as well as the necessary analytical and writing skills, would be delivered in three successive trimesters (or four successive quarters) within these first twelve months.
This initial twelve-month program--[we call] it Stage 1-- could serve a number of different objectives, all of which would potentially generate law school revenue, thereby reducing the required tuition price per student. First and foremost, Stage 1 would lay the basic doctrinal and analytical foundation for a JD. Second, it would prepare a JD student to take the bar exam upon completion. Third, the completion of Stage 1, by itself, could be recognized in a “Certificate” or “Master of Legal Studies” program intended for those interested in a basic legal education without the actual practice component or the predicate to licensure. Finally, Stage 1 would serve as an ideal introduction to United States law and legal methods for a foreign trained lawyer (i.e., as the primary basis for an LLM program in United States law for foreign trained lawyers).
In addition to generating additional revenues, Stage 1 would involve a significantly lower faculty cost per student. This cost would naturally be lowered by the increase in class sizes, and it could be lowered even further by increasing individual teaching loads. The tuition for Stage 1 should be no more than $15,000, maximum.
Having successfully completed Stage 1, a student would then, ideally, be allowed to sit for the bar exam--not as a final step to licensure, but as an intermediate gateway to Stage 2 of the JD program. After the successful completion of Stage 2, the graduate would then (and only then) be eligible for licensure, without further examination. Everything a student needs to pass the bar exam can reasonably be delivered in Stage 1 of the standard JD curriculum, and this approach would eliminate the current plague of third-year bar review courses thinly disguised as JD curricular content. Once a student had successfully passed the bar exam, he or she could focus more fully on learning how to practice law during the final twelve months of the JD program delivered in Stage 2.
The typical student would likely spend three to six months outside of the JD program between Stages 1 and 2, depending on how quickly a state could provide bar exam results. Students might spend the time between the administration of the exam and the announcement of the results in a variety of ways, including positions as interns or law clerks. However, a student would not be eligible to begin Stage 2 until he or she had successfully passed the bar exam.
. . . .
This “staged” approach to law school would not just reduce the risk of “failure,” but would also reduce the risk of simply changing one's mind. Many potential law students are uncertain as to whether a legal career is “right” for them. Unfortunately, the cost of learning more, in the form of first-year tuition, is sufficiently high to scare off many prospects that might have actually enjoyed a legal education. Too many others invest in that first year, despite their uncertainty, and then feel compelled to throw more “good money after bad,” eventually becoming unhappy graduates and, in many cases, unhappy lawyers. Under the proposed model, a student interested in studying law, but uncertain about his or her interest in practicing law, could invest in Stage 1 at a relatively modest tuition price, and then make objective and better informed later decisions with respect to the bar exam and Stage 2.
Friday, July 12, 2013
In this YouTube clip from the George Zimmerman criminal trial, the prosecutor breaks one of the golden rules of trial practice by asking a witness a question to which he did not know the answer beforehand (much like Chris Darden asking OJ to try on the infamous glove without knowing for sure whether or not it would fit). The prosecutor in this clip is apparently trying to establish that the witness, Jenna Lauer, is biased in favor of Zimmerman since she allegedly followed his older brother on Twitter. The pertinent questioning starts about minute 6.40. Around minute 8.20 it becomes clear that the prosecutor doesn't understand how Twitter works. Ms. Lauer points out that Zimmerman's older brother was merely one of several recommendations that Twitter made to her as someone she might want to follow. She goes on to explain that after initially signing up for Twitter, she never used it as anyone with even a passing familiarity with it could tell just by looking at her account. It's then that the prosecutor concedes he doesn't understand how Twitter works. Sheesh.
Hat tip to The Lawyerist.
New guidelines from the Obama administration for planning for emergencies at schools following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., touch on everything from school design and storm shelters to planning emergency drills and balancing privacy and safety.
But one facet of the plan, released June 18, is on active-shooting situations, and some of the recommendations in those scenarios make school safety experts nervous—namely, a suggestion that school employees try to fight an intruder when given no other choice.
While the White House document says this should be done as a last resort, that message is easily lost, said Michael Dorn, the executive director of the Atlanta-based Safe Havens International, which advises schools on safety and emergency planning. In his experience, when school employees are given the idea that in rare circumstances, fighting or disarming a shooter is an option, it's the only thing that comes to mind for far less serious scenarios. In drills, school employees have become so focused on fighting a shooter they have forgotten to take the basic step of locking their classroom doors.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Earlier we told you about Seton Hall's plan to possibly lay-off seven non-tenured faculty members after the 2014-15 academic year in response to declining student enrollment (it's only a proposal at this point which the school's Dean has said he hopes to avoid). In this column from the New York Times, U. of San Diego School of Law professor Victor Fleischer says the proposal is wrong-headed and that even after some pretty significant cost-cutting, there's still fat that can be cut before sacrificing junior/non-tenure track faculty. No doubt many more law schools will face similarly difficult choices in the year ahead.
The law school at Seton Hall University has put its untenured faculty on legal notice that their contracts may not be renewed for the 2014-15 academic year. The firings of these seven individuals are not certain, depending on the outcome of other steps the administration will try to bring the budget in balance.
The situation at Seton Hall is representative of many other non-elite law schools. Firing untenured faculty is a shortsighted approach to managing an academic budget.
. . . .
There are better ways to shrink a law school budget. The size of the tenure-track faculty can shrink by retirement and attrition, not involuntary termination. Post-tenure review (by faculty, not administrators) can ensure that faculty members remain productive. Libraries can be moved online. Clinics can be closed, and adjunct faculty can be better utilized to team-teach practical courses alongside research faculty. The size of the administrative staff can be pared down, especially those who manage programs that might be considered luxuries.
According to its Web site, Seton Hall Law School has five centers, seven clinics and five study abroad programs. I doubt all of these programs are profit centers. Perhaps in the age of austerity, the law school will offer fewer opportunities to travel to Zanzibar, take a safari, or study lakeside in Geneva. Better to kill off a few boondoggles than to fire the junior faculty.
Continue reading here.
Last July I posted the message below. With many of us typing out manuscripts for articles, I thought it worthwhile to post it again. These shortcuts save a lot of time. The ones I use most are those for large and small caps, italics, and bold. Also for centering, use Control+Shift+E. For moving back to the left hand margin, use Control+Shift+L. Here's my July 20, 2012 posting:
The other day, I posted a very helpful article of typing shortcuts. Please see below. Here's another one that comes in very handy for those who write law review articles and have to deal with large and small caps. Just type the relevant part of the citation, shade it with your mouse, and click Control+Shift+K.
To get out, just reclick that formula. Of course, none of this goes to the real question: Why in heaven's name do law reviews still use large and small caps?
Handy Keyboard Tricks for Word
A good way to increase your typing efficiency is to keep your hand off the mouse as much as possible. In an article on Attorney at Work, Deborah Savadra shows us how with a number of “Hotkeys.” Here are a few examples:
- Boldface: CTRL+B
- Italicize: CTRL+I
- Underline: CTRL+U
- Increase font size: CTRL+SHIFT+.
- Decrease font size: CTRL+SHIFT+,
Here’s one that she especially recommends:
Finally, if you memorize no other key combination, remember this one: CTRL+S to Save Document. Although you can have Word automatically save an AutoRecover version of your document every few minutes, it never hurts to save the document yourself frequently.
There is a debate going on on the PrawfsBlawg concerning clinical education and CLEA's proposal to require 15 hours of experiential courses in the second and third years. A major part of the debate involves the cost of the proposal.
My first question is, if law schools can afford to offer seminars limited to 10 or 15 students, why can't they afford to offer clinics and other experiential courses? If it costs a law school $100,000 for every faculty article (as Richard Neumann wrote a couple of years ago), why can't law schools use some of this money to better educate our students? How can some law schools, like Washington & Lee, UC-Irvine, and CUNY, have significant experiential programs but still charge competitive tuition? Why can't professors who make $150,000 to 200,000 a year teach experiential courses?
Please note tha CLEA supported the cost of its proposal here.
Bob Kuehn, author of the data behind the CLEA proposal writes,
""First, the 15 credit proposal can be met in a variety of ways, including (to the extent that cost alone is an issue) very cheap simulations (read as likely taught by adjuncts), relatively cheap externships (but not the 80 students/prof suggested by one commentator; anything above 25 is problematic, and even that number troubles some externship faculty), and more expensive clinics.
Second, as for the mandatory clinic/externship requirement, again that can be met through a combination of approaches and, as you'll see the data shows, 139 schools already have sufficient capacity, without adding another clinical course or faculty member, to meet that requirement.
Finally, the issue should be the cost effectiveness of various approaches, not cost. If cost were the only issue, we'd have no seminars or likely any classes below 25 or 30 and cut out lots of other activities that students pay for (scholarship by faculty?). Law schools shouldn't be in the business of trying to make money off class size but instead trying to figure out what students need to learn to effectively practice law and the best means to achieve that goal. Sadly, that debate is missing from the blog comments."
Finally, Gumby makes the following argument in the comments: "A mandatory minimum number of clinical credit hours will primarily benefit one group and one group only: incumbent clinical faculty members. Hopefully the ABA and AALS will recognize this and decline to mandate minimum clinical instruction (unless they are also planning to print the money needed to pay for it)." Wrong! It would benefit the students. (And the public who would have better educated lawyers) See my earlier post here.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
This is the second month in a row that the legal sector has lost jobs following a dip in May of 500. Keep in mind that these monthly reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are typically preliminary and thus are subject to later revision.
From the AmLaw Daily:
Initial BLS reports show the legal sector shedding 3,600 positions in June, the largest one-month drop since a 3,300-job dip recorded during the same period two years ago. Last month was also the second in a row during which the industry lost more jobs than it gained. The BLS originally estimated that the legal sector lost 500 jobs in May—a figure the bureau revised Friday to reflect a loss of 2,900 positions that month instead.
At its halfway point, 2013 has proven to be a topsy-turvy year on the legal employment front, with the industry enjoying gains, respectively, of 3,100 and 800 positions in March and April. And while the legal sector has shed 5,100 jobs since December 2012, employment still outpaces last year's totals at this point by 1,000 positions. Overall, the legal sector currently employs 1.12 million people.
Continue reading here.
Here are the details:
The University of Minnesota Law School is seeking applicants for a clinic faculty position beginning fall 2013 in the area of immigration and detainee rights. The new clinic faculty position will work in the newly funded Center for New Americans. The Center for New Americans will be a comprehensive immigration law clinic. The Detainee Rights Clinic will be one of three interrelated immigration clinics along with our existing Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and a new Federal Litigation Clinic. The Law School currently offers twenty-three clinical courses with a broad diversity of subject matters. Nine in-house clinical faculty members and twenty-two part-time adjunct instructors teach in the program. The Law School considers this expansion of the clinical program to be an important step in continuing to ensure that students will be prepared for the increasing complexities of legal practice in a diverse community and that the University of Minnesota program will provide national leadership in clinical programming.
Title: Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Law
Appointment: This is a 100% time, twelve month, academic professional appointment. This appointment is annually renewable for up to four years.
Duties and Responsibilities: The primary responsibilities are expected to include teaching and developing a new Detainee Rights Clinic. The new clinic faculty member will have some supervisory and teaching responsibility for the two teaching fellows staffing the Center. The goals of Detainee Rights Clinic are to provide early intervention and expanded representation of detained noncitizens, monitor detention conditions to obtain changes in detention policy, and offer students inspirational learning opportunities.
Required Qualifications: J.D. degree from an A.B.A. accredited law school. Clinical teaching experience, knowledge of and experience in immigration law, and or/knowledge and experience in litigation are strongly preferred. Applicants must be licensed to practice law in at least one state and be eligible for admission in both state and federal court in Minnesota, if not already admitted to practice in Minnesota.
This position is open until filled. Review of applications will begin in early August, 2013, with the goal of having the person hired begin work as soon as possible after September 1, 2013. Candidates, including people of color and women, who will contribute to the cultural and intellectual diversity of the faculty, are strongly encouraged to apply. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity employer. The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.For further information, applicants should contact Professor Jean Sanderson, Chair of the Clinic Appointments Committee at 612-625- 5515. Applications will only be accepted through the University of Minnesota online employment system. You will find the listing for this job at the following link: employment.umn.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=112577
Justin Reich teaches high school, college, and graduate students. He says that he teaches all three groups the same lessons about writing:
1. Omit needless words.
2. Use action verbs in the active voice.
3. Express complex ideas in straightforward prose.
4. Paragraphs exhaust a single idea.
5. Topic sentences serve as mini-theses.
6. The best writing illustrates broad themes with specific details.
7. Quotations must be introduced, integrated, and analyzed.
8. The thesis should explain rather than describe.
9. Build connections amongst the ideas of your paragraphs.
10. The introduction introduces the central argument and main points of the essay; it serves as a road map for the argument.
Nothing new here, except that students at all levels are able to absorb the same lessons.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Fastcase and Hein Online announce partnership that will greatly expand legal research options for subscribers
The partnership will permit Fastcase subscribers to access Hein Online's extensive law review and state statute database while Hein Online users will now have access to federal and state court decisions through Fastcase's database. The partnership is scheduled to go into effect by the end of the summer.
From the joint press release issued today:
Under the agreement, Hein will provide federal and state case law to HeinOnline subscribers via inline hyperlinks powered by Fastcase. In addition, Fastcase will completely integrate HeinOnline’s extensive law review and historical state statute collection in search results, with full access available to Fastcase subscribers who additionally subscribe to Hein's law review database.
The partnership combines Hein’s expertise in publishing law journals and historical statutory materials and Fastcase’s experience in publishing American primary law. It offers users of both services a complete, integrated legal research experience.
“Fastcase and HeinOnline are two of the largest independent legal publishers in America,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase. “Integrating these two libraries is a home run for our members. Both services create unique values based on citation analysis and the information architecture of the law. Beyond the fantastic new libraries our users can access, we’re also making our tools smarter as they learn from these new citation relationships.”
As a result of the agreement, Hein’s federal case coverage includes the judicial opinions of the Supreme Court (1754-present), Federal Circuits (1924-present), Board of Tax Appeals (vols. 1-47), Tax Court Memorandum Decisions (vols. 1-59), U.S. Customs Court (vols. 1-70), Board of Immigration Appeals (1996-present), Federal District Courts (1924-present), and Federal Bankruptcy Courts (1 B.R. 1-present). The state case law covers all fifty states with nearly half of the states dating back to the 1800’s. Coverage for the remaining states dates back to approximately 1950.
HeinOnline subscribers also will be able to take advantage of Authority Check, an integrated citation analysis tool developed by Fastcase. When cases are called by HeinOnline, Fastcase’s Authority Check tool will include one of Fastcase’s newest features, “Bad Law Bot”, which uses algorithms to identify negative citation history. These services will be integrated into all HeinOnline subscriptions, which will add tremendous value at no additional cost.
Concurrently, Hein will provide HeinOnline materials to Fastcase, allowing Fastcase users to search across content available in the Law Journal Library, Session Laws Library, State Attorney General Reports and Opinions, and State Statutes: A Historical Archive. The new libraries will be fully integrated into Fastcase’s search system, and Fastcase users will see Hein results and abstracts for free, with subscription options for the full articles. The Hein collection will include more than 1,800 law reviews back to their first volumes, and represents the first secondary material to be integrated into the Fastcase legal research service.
The integrated libraries will be available on both services at the end of the summer.
Hat tip to 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.
From the Texas Tribune, here are the salaries of everyone employed at the UT Law School, my alma mater. In Texas, the state requires reporting salaries as line items, I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong).
For the profs, the salaries are quite high, but not out of line with the most elite institutions. But compare the salaries for those who teach lawyering skills—legal writing and clinic. There is quite a disparity. One would think that the school might consider closing the gap.
Monday, July 8, 2013
In my last post, I listed the reasons that CLEA gave to support its petition to 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. Today, I will show how recent general education scholarship supports CLEA’s petition. As one prominent education scholar has noted, "We have learned more about how the mind works in the last twenty-five years than we did in the previous twenty-five hundred." (Willingham at 1)
1. Active learning is more effective than passive learning. "Educational experts have found that students learn more when they are actively engaged, such as by speaking, writing, or discussing, rather than listening to a lecture or discussion." (here) Similarly, "It will not be enough to have students generally memorize (store) a fact. The fact must be used." (Shell at 14) Finally, students learn better when they apply what they know because manipulating knowledge increases retention and understanding. Most of the teaching in law school is lecture or uses the Socratic method one student at a time, neither of which involves knowledge application. Accordingly, lecture and the Socratic method are not enough; law students need to apply their knowledge through problem-solving exercises and experiential classes.
2. Students need to solve authentic problems–the types of problems they will encounter in practice. (here) "Experiential lessons provide students with an opportunity to experience concepts first-hand and, as such, give students a richer, more meaningful understanding of course concepts and of how they operate in the real world." (Slavich & Zimbardo at 594) Moreover, "Active learning and authentic experiences in which students are acting like lawyers enhance motivation and interest for most students." (Hess at 82) Experiential classes provide such authentic/real world problems to students.
3. Students need frequent formative assessment with prompt, detailed feedback. "Assessment methods and requirements probably have a greater influence on how and what students learn than any other single factor." (Bone at 3) Formative assessment aids learning because "learning and memory for material is improved when time is spent taking a test on the material, versus spending the same amount of time restudying the material" (McCabe at 464) because testing keeps students engaged in the subject matter. Also, testing uses retrieval, which reinforces long-term memory retention. Furthermore, students retain more if they get feedback on their assessment because without feedback students don’t know when and why they’ve made mistakes. (here at 2) Finally, students who receive feedback are generally more engaged, more positive about law school, and spend more time studying than those who do not receive feedback. (here at 17-18)
A typical law school class generally has one exam at the end, occasionally with a midterm. This type of cumulative assessment does not help learning. On the other hand, experiential classes generally have detailed formative assessment throughout the semester.
4. Experiential teaching better engages and motivates students. Experiential learning is especially motivating for students because it engages them by making learning more interesting. (Slavich & Zimbardo at 574, 594) Similarly, "several well-controlled studies have shown that students demonstrate more learning, better conceptual understanding, superior class attendance, greater persistence, and increased engagement when collaborative or interactive teaching methods are used compared to when traditional lecturing is employed." (Slavich & Zimbardo at 570)
5. Problem-solving and experiential classes involve deep learning. Students need to practice all six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (the six levels of cognition): "1) recall; 2) understanding; 3) application; 4) analysis; 5) synthesis; 6) evaluation" (Fox at 21) to achieve deep learning. Problem-solving exercises focus students’ attention on complex problems and involves higher-order cognitive skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation) ( Slavich & Zimbardo at 574), while lecture and the Socratic method focus on the lower-order cognitive skills.
6. Experiential classes help students develop their planning, self-monitoring, and reflective skills. Planning, self-monitoring, and reflection are necessary skills for competent lawyers. Experiential classes help students develop these skills.
7. Experiential classes help law schools teach professionalism and professional identity. One of the main goals of law school should be to teach their students professionalism and professional identity. Students in experiential classes and clinics run across the same types of ethical problems that lawyers do in practice.
8. Experiential classes help students break down complex problems and reassemble them. Lawyers deal with complex problems, and they need to be able to break them down into manageable parts, then reassemble them. Students practice these skills in experiential classes.
9. People retrieve knowledge from long-term memory in the same way they learned it. As I have discussed in more detail here, knowledge organization in long-term memory is in relation to how the material is learned, including the context and function of the way the material is being learned. (Ambrose at 47-48) Knowledge organization can be well- or poorly-matched to a particular task. (Ambrose at 48) In other words, the usefulness of knowledge organizations depend on the tasks they need to support. (Ambrose at 48) "Students performed better when their knowledge organization matched the requirements of the task, and they performed worse when it mismatched." (Ambrose at 48)
Based on the above, one should be able to see the problem in legal education. Current legal education mainly teaches students to be appellate lawyers and legal philosophers. The typical lawyer is not an appellate lawyer or a philosopher. Thus, law schools do not teach their students in a way that is best for the knowledge retrieval they will need as practicing attorneys. For example, students learn contract principles in law school, but the typical first-year contracts class does not teach students how to use this knowledge to draft a contract. When a lawyer starts to draft contracts in practice, she will be lost because of the way she has contract law stored in her long-term memory. In other words, the way that contract law is stored in a law student’s long-term memory does not transfer well to drafting contracts. Similarly, Torts may help a student write an appellate brief on a torts question, but the typical Torts class does not provide the knowledge organization to make it easy to draft interrogatories in a torts case. The torts doctrine is not organized in a manner in long-term memory that will transfer easily to drafting interrogatories.
The above has only begun to show how recent scholarship on general education supports the CLEA proposal. Now that we know much better how the mind works, law schools should not be relying mainly on teaching techniques developed in the nineteenth century. As Professor William Henderson has proclaimed, "the types of education that will attain the highest valuation are complex problem-solving skills that enable law school graduates to communicate and collaborate in a highly complex, globalized environment. This is not vocational training; it is the creation of a new model of professional education that better prepares our graduates for the daunting political and economic challenges ahead." (here)
*Susan Ambrose et.al., How Learning Works 40-65 (2010)
Allison Bone, National Centre for Legal Education: Assuring Successful Assesment, (Roger Burridge & Tracey Varnava eds., 1999)
Carol Tyler Fox, Introducing Law Students to Bloom’s Taxonomy, 18/2 The Law Teacher 21 (2012)
Gerald F. Hess, Value of Variety: An Organizing Principle to Enhance Teaching and Learning, 3 Elon L. Rev. 65 (2011)
Jennifer McCabe, Metacognitive Awareness of Learning Strategies in Undergraduates," 39 Mem. Cogn. 462 (2011)
*Duane F. Shell et. al., The Unified Learning Model 1-17 (2010)
George M. Slavich & Philip G. Zimbardo, Transformational Teaching: Theoretical Underpinnings, Basic Principles, and Core Methods, Ed. Psych. Rev. 560, 578 (2010)
*Daniel T. Willingham, Why Students Don’t Like School (2009)
(*The best introductions to teaching and learning)
A new article by Professor Richard Westin (Kentucky) and available at 46 Akron L. Rev. 137 (2013). From the introduction:
The lobster industry and the law school industry are developing an eerie parallel. Ghost fishing in the lobster industry happens when a lobster trap separates from its control line and breaks away. As planned, it attracts a lobster that entered to eat the carrion bait, but--thanks to the broken line-- instead of being harvested, the lobster starves. Later, another lobster enters, devours the dead lobster, becomes trapped, dies and the cycle thus continues indefinitely. The same applies for many law students--they enter law school with high hopes, baited by false promises, only to find that they vastly exaggerated their hopes for success, and, if they are unlucky, find nothing in the legal field. Next year another crop of young competitors enter the field, compounding the improbability of finding a job close to what they expected.
American law students are in a crisis. The ghost fishing crisis was cured when the law required that the lobster trap's door eventually open, thanks to biodegradable metal hinges or gates. Unfortunately, there is no such relief for the glut of law students. The ABA Journal reports that 85% of graduates from accredited law schools in 2010 were burdened with debts averaging $98,500, but they are graduating into a weak economy where their prospects for employment have narrowed greatly. Students in previous classes have far from been absorbed into the legal industry and classes behind them promise a continuing flow of competitors.
In the meantime, law schools have stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind the false numbers law schools have generated about their success in placing recent graduates into the job market because no law school dares to be the first to tell the truth. The result is a mass of private tragedies and extensive economic waste in the form of large debts for an investment that, for many, represents money wasted, leaving only haunting, unpayable education loan obligations. Ever since the New York Times published Segal's article Is Law School a Losing Game?, the cloud hanging over law school education has become thicker and more unsavory. Here is an illustrative case written by Janet Lorin and published by Bloomberg News:
Trapped for Decades
Gerrald Ellis, 28, took about $160,000 in federal loans to attend Fordham Law School, and then spent a year searching for a job. He eventually found work at a four-lawyer firm in White Plains, New York, doing consumer protection work.
Because his student debt is so high compared to his salary, Ellis said he expects to qualify for a plan that would let him pay 15% of his salary for 25 years, and whatever debt is left after that is forgiven.
“I'm trapped for at least two decades,” said Ellis, who lives in Harlem with a classmate who also borrowed more than $100,000. “The debt has an impact on everything, where I decide to live, what job I take. I can't even imagine having kids with this kind of debt burden. Multiply that by a whole generation.”
What follows is an attempt to lay out the problem and propose some serious changes promptly in order to make law school more humane and economically efficient before the opportunity for taking advantage of faculty attrition for restructuring the law school system has faded.
The dean of the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law says the school is downsizing its student body and staff.
. . . .
"The law school has reorganized the staff in Sacramento to align with its new size. The school first offered a voluntary severance plan to all staff members. This week it was necessary to lay off several staff members. McGeorge is going to be a smaller law school, but it will continue its proud tradition over 90 years of educating excellent attorneys."
The Bee contacted Daniels early Friday after receiving an email tip of a "round of involuntary staff layoffs" at McGeorge this week.
. . . .
Daniels said in a midafternoon email that "the number of layoffs was very small and the majority of reductions were voluntary."
Continue reading here.
Hat tip to Above the Law.
The Sad State of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Here are the opening paragraphs of an editorial by the Editorial Board of the Legal Intelligencer. Disclosure: I am a member of the Board and approved of this editorial:
There is an ethical cloud hanging over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court involving referral fees received from law firms by Lise Rapaport, Justice Seamus McCaffery's wife and chief aide and clerk. The existence of the fees has been public since this paper exposed it several years ago. Recently, The Philadelphia Inquirer published additional information about the referral fees. No one in any official capacity has taken any action. The facts are troubling and places the Supreme Court in a bad light. It must be put to rest.
McCaffery's wife, Rapaport, is a lawyer who is employed as his chief aide and clerk, at a salary of $75,395. While employed by him, she has received 18 referral fees from at least eight different law firms.
Some of these firms have had cases (other than those involving the referrals) adjudicated by the Supreme Court in which McCaffery was a voting member of the panel. He did not disclose his wife's receipt of the referral fees to the lawyers representing the parties on appeal. The Inquirer has reported that he sat on over 10 such appeals. According to the Inquirer, in many of the cases he ruled in favor of the party represented by the firm that had previously paid his wife a referral fee in another case.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
As this blog has previously noted (here), 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. I believe that the ABA should grant this petition. Today's post will give reasons for supporting the petition based on CLEA's reasoning. Part II will show how CLEA's petition is supported by general education research.
Some excerpts from the CLEA Press Release (here):
"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."
From CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (CLEA) COMMENT TO ABA TASK FORCE ON THE FUTURE OF LEGAL EDUCATION (here):
"The educational case for requiring every law student to have significant experiential training is no longer seriously debated. A long line of reports by ABA special committees, beginning with the 1979 Report and Recommendation of the Task Force on Lawyer Competency: The Role of Law Schools ("Compton Report") and including the well-publicized 1992 Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession ("MacCrate Report"), have urged much greater attention to professional experiences in law school curricula. Recent law graduates have also voiced strong support for clinical and experiential legal education. The ABA’s 2004 After the JD report surveyed recent law school graduates. When asked what was most helpful in theirtransition to practice, they highlighted professional skills training: legal employment during summers and school year, clinical courses, legal writing courses, and internships. Lagging behind were the doctrinal courses that still dominate legal education. Two recent studies from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) demonstrate the importance of requiring law clinic or externship experiences for all students. In a survey of new nonprofit and government lawyers, more than 83% rated legal clinics as "very useful" in preparing them for the practice of law, with externships/field placements rated as "very useful" by 72%. In a similar survey of new associates in private law firms, almost two-thirds (63%) rated legal clinics as "very useful," followed closely by externships/field placements (60%)."
"The Task Force is right to look to other disciplines for guidance. The comparison is stark and instructive as the professional education training and licensing of lawyers falls far behind the other professions. Other professions 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 suggestion made by some commentators that law schools should focus on learning to "think like a lawyer" and leave development of other critical lawyering skills to law graduates’ first jobs is wrong. While this argument may make sense in countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, where only a small fraction of students obtaining a law degree seek admission to practice, it does not make sense in the United States where a large majority of law school graduates take the bar. Unlike other countries, the primary focus of legal education on legal analysis and legal doctrine is misplaced in the United States where there is no required apprenticeship to qualify for legal practice as there is in these other countries. In the United States, a law school graduate can currently be licensed to practice law in all states without additional pre-admission practice or training."
The absence of substantial opportunities for clinical legal education in many schools and for many students leaves the responsibility and cost of preparation for practice to employers, clients, and law graduates themselves. They simply are not likely to get that preparation in the current rapidly evolving legal job market. Few legal employers have well-structured programs to train new lawyers. Many law graduates open solo practices as soon as they pass the bar, and in the current economy this trend is growing. Insufficient exposure to professional skills and values during law school can extract a heavy toll on clients. Lack of practice preparation also weighs heavily on the new lawyers themselves, many of whom find themselves ill-equipped by a legal education that has left them tens of thousands, if not more than a hundred thousand, of dollars in debt. The current approach allows law schools to shirk their responsibility to prepare students for the ethical, effective practice of law. Finally, law schools’ failure to provide appropriate skills and values can cut strongly against racial and economic diversity by disparately disadvantaging insufficiently prepared new lawyers who may not have equal access to alternative training opportunities. Although the Invitation to Comment did not explicitly identify diversity in legal education as a matter of concern, we trust that the Task Force will carefully consider the impact any proposed changes would have on diversity."
"A few comments submitted to this Task Force suggest a two-year J.D. degree or otherwise reducing the required timeframe in legal education. Those who argue that legal education is inadequate, not too long, have the better position. Law graduates are not prepared for practice; they need a guaranteed minimum of professional practice experience before graduating from law school. Legal education must join the other professions described above, which all require that at least one-quarter, and up to one half, of a graduate’s pre-licensing education be in-role in supervised professional practice. The Task Force should recommend that students take at least 15 credits of courses in the second and third years of law school, one-quarter under the current structure, in clinical, supervised externship, or professional skills courses."
"In addition to requiring that at least one-quarter of a law student’s professional education be in practice-based, experiential courses, the accreditation standards should require that every graduating J.D. student take a law clinic or externship course."
"With respect to the relationship between the cost of legal education and ABA accreditation standards, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently found that "ABA accreditation requirements appear to play a minor role" in driving the cost of law school education. Indeed, as noted above, a number of schools have managed to innovate and to focus more of their curriculum on professional skills within (and despite the absence of encouragement from) the current standards and without driving costs up more than at schools that lack such innovation and focus. For example, Washington and Lee’s experience requiring 20 credits of experiential coursework in the third year has not increased their costs: 'the new curriculum is not more expensive to run than the prior third year curriculum, nor the current first or second year curricula.""
The Villanova University School of Law invites applications for a full-time professor to be the Director of its new Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, which will be one of six in-house clinics offered by the law school. The successful candidate will join a renowned clinical faculty dedicated to experiential learning and public service. (http://www.law.villanova.edu/Academics/Clinical%20Programs.aspx)
The Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, through its second and third-year law students, will provide free legal assistance on entity formation and other transactional matters to individuals and organizations, in both for-profit and non-profit ventures.
The Director is expected to design and oversee all aspects of the Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, including developing a syllabus and curriculum, teaching the seminar component of the clinic, supervising student casework, identifying and selecting clients and assuming responsibility for all casework. The Director will also be a member of the Clinical Program and of the law school faculty and will be expected to take an active part in their work. The Director will also be expected to work collaboratively with the Law School’s Center for Law, Entrepreneurship and Innovation and with the School of Business’ Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. The Director will receive a renewable contract, with the potential for future promotion in rank. This position is being funded through a gift to the Law School. Continued employment is contingent upon identifying permanent funding beyond May 31, 2018.
Candidates should have significant experience (at least five years) practicing transactional law; significant knowledge and expertise in areas of law and practice needed to represent and advise start-up, non-profit and other entrepreneurial ventures, including familiarity with corporate formation, transactions and intellectual property; distinguished academic and professional achievement; the ability to work both collaboratively and independently and a demonstrated interest in and aptitude for teaching and student supervision. Candidates must possess the organizational and team skills essential to transactional practice and clinic management. Prior teaching and student supervision experience is preferred. Candidates must have a J.D. and be a member of the Pennsylvania bar or be willing to be licensed in Pennsylvania. Salary is commensurate with experience.
Applicants should submit a letter of interest and a resume. Please submit applications through the Villanova University Human Resources website at: https://jobs.villanova.edu/postings/5723.
Applications should be sent by July 15, 2013.
Villanova University is a Catholic university sponsored by the Augustinian order. Diversity and inclusion have been and will continue to be an integral component of Villanova University's mission. The University is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action employer and seeks candidates who understand, respect and can contribute to the University's mission and values.
Note: The deadline is tight, but it may be extended.
Last week, I spent a few days participating in the Legal Writing Institute’s Writers Workshop. Ten legal writing professors joined Jill Ramsfield, Chris Rideout, and me to discuss the drafts of their manuscripts for future articles. We were fortunate to hold the workshop at the Lake Lawn Resort on Delavan Lake in Wisconsin.
The workshop is a great, but demanding endeavor. Still, we got to meet new colleagues and have fun. Here are some photos
Here’s we are: Rachel Stabler, Maggie Tsavaris (who doubled as our photographer), Mary Ann Becker, Julie Clement, Diane Kraft, Neil Sobol, Jane Siegel, Abby Patthoff, Barbara Gotthelf, and Dede Hill, as well as Jill, Chris, and me.
Here’s a group in an academic discussion, dining on beer and burgers.
And here we are, getting ready for a plenary group meeting.
Joining a small number of other law schools that have announced lay-offs of staff, faculty (here, here and here) or both due to declining enrollments, this story from Jacksonville.com reports that Florida Coastal has let go 12 staff members due to declining tuition revenue. The story also reports that while no faculty lay-offs are planned, a small number have left on their own accord and that those positions will not be refilled. Professor (Colorado) Paul Campos reports at Lawyers, Guns & Money that he has spoken to at least one of the faculty members in question and the departure was "in no sense voluntary."
Florida Coastal School of Law has laid off about a dozen employees.
The job cuts are across the board in the support staff services areas for the law school on Jacksonville’s Southside off Baymeadows Road, said Brooks Terry, communication director for the school. He said Tuesday that most of the job cuts are reflective of a drop in enrollment for fall classes at the small campus, which has about 1,300 students.
He said he didn’t have specific numbers.
In addition to staff cuts, Terry said there is some natural attrition of a limited number of faculty members voluntarily leaving who will not be replaced. But he stressed no faculty members were laid off in the process.
Continue reading here.