Saturday, July 20, 2013
In a new survey by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, barely a quarter of campus chief financial officers(27 percent) express strong confidence in the viability of their institution's
financial model over five years, and that number drops in half (to 13 percent)
when they are asked to look out over a 10-year horizon.
Asked to assess the sustainability
of the business models of various sectors of higher education, they take a more
negative than positive view on several of them (nonselective private and
non-flagship public institutions, and for-profit colleges).
And more than 6 in 10 CFOs disagree
or strongly disagree with the statement that "reports that a significant
number of higher education institutions are facing existential financial crisis
You can read lots more here.
One of the best ways to facilitate education reform is to write experiential learning textbooks. Such textbooks allow professors to teach courses that encompass the latest in learning research without having to start from scratch.
Daniel D. Bradlow & Jay Gary Finkelstein have just published an experiential text on business negotiations, Negotiating Business Transactions: An Extended Simulations Course.
They introduce their book: "The textbook accompanies our transactional law and practical skills course, International Business Negotiations, which we developed at American University Washington College of Law. The course is also profiled on the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers (ETL) website. The textbook, together with its online teacher’s manual, is the first book designed to facilitate the adoption of an extended transactional simulation course using experiential learning and collaborative teaching pedagogy."
The authors describe their book: "The course and textbook are designed to introduce students to business transactional practice and provide an innovative curriculum offering that focuses on building transactional and negotiation skills through an interactive, hands-on learning model, which replicates issues faced in an international practice. The course satisfies the ABA requirements for practical skills training."
"The course showcases collaborative teaching methodology by pairing classes at two different law schools or by pairing two parts of one class at the same law school to conduct the semester-long negotiation (each group of students representing one party to the transaction), thereby bringing a heightened element of reality to the training exercise. After conducting their analysis and developing their strategy, students must work in teams to negotiate with the opposing group to achieve a mutually acceptable result, memorialized in a letter of intent."
"The text includes the full simulation module (domestic and international versions), background materials for the business and legal context of the transaction, and chapters on transactional lawyering, negotiation skills, ethics of negotiation, and other key issues in business transactional practice. Also included are sample documents from comparable transactions that are illustrative of the legal agreements that would be used in an actual transaction. The teacher’s manual includes a sample syllabus, negotiating instructions for each side, materials on the pedagogy of the course, and detailed lecture and topic outlines."
Other law schools have successfully used the author's materials: "The International Business Negotiations course, which is one of the first ETL-profiled courses to be added to the curriculum at multiple law schools, has been well received by students at each school where it has been taught and meets a timely need for more practical skills and transactional law training in law school. The course was offered at five law schools during the 2012-2013 academic year and is being offered by nine law schools during the upcoming academic year (two of which will offer it in each semester), including four ETL consortium schools and five of the top 15 law schools: American University Washington College of Law (WCL), Berkeley Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Hastings Law School, Northwestern Law School, Stanford Law School, University of Dundee (Scotland), University of Virginia Law School, and Washington and Lee University School of Law."
Daniel D. Bradlow is a tenured faculty member at American University Washington College of Law (WCL),and Jay Gary Finkelstein is an adjunct faculty member there who is also a transactional partner at DLA Piper US.
This is exactly the type of textbook that students need to prepare them for the complex business world.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Since the blogosphere first took note of the article by Professors Simkovic and McIntyre finding that a law degree adds, on average, $1 million to lifetime earnings beyond an undergraduate degree, several commentators have weighed in on both sides of the issue. Earlier we told you about a report from Inside Higher Ed in which Professor Tamanaha expressed criticism of the study's conclusion because it focuses on the average salary which he believes inappropriately blends the better outcomes achieved by graduates of elite schools with the lower salaries of those who graduate from lesser schools.
In this column from the NYT's Dealbook, Professor Steven Davidoff (Ohio State), who has written before about the economic value of a law degree, defends the findings of Professors Simkovic and McIntyre. And the Washington Post also has a very detailed and favorable discussion of the study's conclusions here. Professor Brian Leiter adds his endorsement as well here.
On the flipside, Professor Campos has a three part criticism here, here and here in which, among other points, he argues the authors should have focused on the median salary, not omitted the cost of obtaining a law degree and that the historical data they relied on doesn't predict future outcomes for law grads in light of a job market that isn't generating enough positions to accomodate the supply of new lawyers each year.
A Manhattan lawyer was ordered to turn over all but $750 of more
than $22,000 he collected from two clients after a judge determined the
attorney billed the clients up to $450 an hour for time he spent brushing up on
basic legal principles.
The clients, Gerald and Vivian Kleinerman, hired Ronny Buni in
March 2011 to represent them in litigation against their co-op board, which was
already in progress. In June 2011, Buni told the Kleinermans that he would not
do any more work on the matter, citing an unpaid invoice for $6,239.
The matter went to the court system's fee dispute resolution
program, an arbitration program pursuant to Part 137 of the Rules of the Chief
Administrator. An arbitrator awarded the Kleinermans $5,000.
However, Buni initiated a new case in Manhattan Civil Court
against the couple, seeking to recover the $6,239 bill minus the $5,000
arbitration award. The Kleinermans, for their part, sought return of all the
money they had paid to Buni throughout the litigation, a total of $22,371.
Manhattan Civil Court Judge Frank Nervo (See Profile) ruled on July 1 in Buni v. Kleinerman, 000160/12, not only that Buni cannot
recover any more money from the Kleinermans, but that he must remit most of
what they already paid him.
You can read more here.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Professor Neil Joel Dilloff has posted an article on SSRN concerning legal education and the practice of law.
Over the past several years, there has been a plethora of articles by law school administrators, faculty members, legal foundations, practicing lawyers, judges, various commentators, and national, state, and city bar associations about the perceived gap between what currently is being taught in the nation's law schools and what various practicing members of the legal profession believe needs to be taught. In addition, law schools have conducted various symposia in which law school administrators, faculty, and practitioners have met and discussed ways to improve law school curricula so that what a student learns is immediately useful to the student, and to his or her employer, when the student enters the workplace.
The backdrop for the renewed attention to making legal education more practical has been the dismal job market for lawyers, which is now entering its fifth year. Law graduates are scrambling for jobs in a buyer's market. Employers are looking for applicants who have the training, legal maturity, and experience to become instant contributors to the productivity of the firm, corporation, or agency. While few employers expect recent law graduates to be able to meet job demands without some acclimation and on-the-job training, many employers no longer have the time, will, or finances to dedicate to training new lawyers. Accordingly, those law schools that are able to turn out "finished" work-ready graduates will move to the head of the pack, and their graduates will have a leg up in this uncertain job market. This Article will explore ways for law schools to accomplish this mission.
We live in a culture in which young people are constantly told that with enough hard work, anything is possible. "Follow your dreams" they are told. Optimism is good. Believing in oneself is also good and it's a vital part of every teacher's job to encourage students to reach their full potential. But that optimism also needs to be tempered with some realism as the law school crisis has made abundantly clear to thousands upon thousands of law students who can't find employment no matter how hard they try simply because the jobs aren't there. Law teachers at lower tier schools in particular have to be more careful and responsible in the messages they send to students since it's a fine line between offering appropriate encouragement and enabling an unrealistic dream. A culture of grade inflation makes things worse because nearly every student gets the message that their work is "special."
That's why this short editorial from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, A Father's Sad Truth, is such a breath of fresh air. In it, a faculty member at liberal arts college who just became a new father vows to level with his children in a way that he wishes someone had done with him; follow your dreams but only up to a point. The world may not place an economic value on your dreams that is equal to your passion for them. The cold, hard reality is that you're going to have to pay the rent too and that sometimes means finding a different dream.
A beauty queen's claim that the Miss USA Pageant run by Donald
Trump was rigged has cost her $5 million in damages for defamation.
Southern District Judge J. Paul Oetken on Tuesday upheld an
arbitration award against Sheena Monnin, the former Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012
who alleged on Facebook and the "Today" show that the 2012 pageant in
Las Vegas had a "script" dictating the final 16 and the top five
Oetken also criticized Monnin's attorney, Richard Klineburger,
for refusing to participate in the arbitration before Theodore Katz in 2012,
saying his "ineptitude" led to a result that was perhaps unfair to
Monnin, who "undeniably is suffering from her poor choice of
You can read more here.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
A law professor from Seton Hall and a business professor from Rutgers have teamed up to publish a study showing that over a lifetime, the mean, pre-tax value added of a law degree is about $1 million. The study found that even for lower ranked law schools, the economic value of a law degree still justifies the decision to enroll. Inside Higher Ed has a good summary of the study here including some commentary from Kyle McEntee of the Law School Transparency Project and Professor Brian Tamanaha who says the study is flawed because it doesn't compare lifetime earnings for those who go to top ranked schools versus lower ranked ones but instead "blends the winners and losers" to come up with the $1,000,000 figure. Over at Above the Law, Elie Mystal has his own take on the study's conclusions.
Missed it by one day.
On July 16, 1951, “Catcher in the Rye” was published. Although it’s
Salinger’s most popular book, it never impressed me. But my all time favorite
book is “Franny and Zooey.” Aside from the book’s contents, I still marvel at
Salinger’s ability to write dialogue that sounds authentic.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Kyle P. McEntee of Law School Transparency has written an important article on the evaporating trust in American Legal Education.
Abstract: Through a combination of ever-increasing and unfair costs, disturbing self-dealing, and — most widely publicized — deceptive marketing, law schools (justly) face historic skepticism about the services they provide and their methods of promoting those services. Persistent doubts about educational quality supplement concerns about law school economics.
A society of laws depends in part on the legal profession’s credibility: If the society doesn’t trust lawyers, it doesn’t trust the legal system. As such, all lawyers must recognize a duty to build trust through good behavior and continued enforcement of professional rules of conduct. Law schools and their agents harm the whole profession when they breach those duties. (emphasis added)
Though the ABA Section of Legal Education has made efforts to hold law schools accountable, it’s not apparent that the ABA seal is enough to earn back trust. This essay suggests a simple, efficient certification program for law schools to build reputation while helping rebuild public trust in the profession. The program increases the quality and consistency of consumer information (employment, financial aid, etc.), and it allows individual schools to assure prospective students that they are committed to best practices. The certification builds on the essential foundation set by the ABA to reignite the trust that the legal profession needs law schools to hold.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has just issue the results of a survey of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers about what they see as the effect of the internet on middle and high school student writing skills. There's both good and bad news. On the plus side, of the 2,462 teachers surveyed, the vast majority said that digital technologies encourage student creativity and collaboration in their writing. On the downside, a majority also said that digital tools encourage students to take shortcuts, put less time into their writing and thus write more quickly and carelessly.
You can access the full survey results here. Below is a summary prepared by the study's authors.
Overall, [the] AP and NWP teachers see digital technologies benefitting student writing in several ways:
- 96% agree (including 52% who strongly agree) that digital technologies “allow students to share their work with a wider and more varied audience”
- 79% agree (23% strongly agree) that these tools “encourage greater collaboration among students”
- 78% agree (26% strongly agree) that digital technologies “encourage student creativity and personal expression”
The combined effect of these impacts, according to this group of AP and NWP teachers, is a greater investment among students in what they write and greater engagement in the writing process.
. . . .
In focus groups, these AP and NWP teachers shared some concerns and challenges they face teaching writing in today’s digital environment. Among them are:
- an increasingly ambiguous line between “formal” and “informal” writing and the tendency of some students to use informal language and style in formal writing assignments
- the increasing need to educate students about writing for different audiences using different “voices” and “registers”
- the general cultural emphasis on truncated forms of expression, which some feel are hindering students willingness and ability to write longer texts and to think critically about complicated topics
- disparate access to and skill with digital tools among their students
- challenging the “digital tool as toy” approach many students develop in their introduction to digital tools as young children
Survey results reflect many of these concerns, though teachers are sometimes divided on the role digital tools play in these trends. Specifically:
- 68% say that digital tools make students more likely—as opposed to less likely or having no impact—to take shortcuts and not put effort into their writing
- 46% say these tools make students more likely to “write too fast and be careless”
- Yet, while 40% say today’s digital technologies make students more likely to “use poor spelling and grammar” another 38% say they make students LESS likely to do this
. . . .
Asked to assess their students’ performance on nine specific writing skills, AP and NWP tended to rate their students “good” or “fair” as opposed to “excellent” or “very good.” Students were given the best ratings on their ability to “effectively organize and structure writing assignments” with 24% of teachers describing their students as “excellent” or “very good” in this area. Students received similar ratings on their ability to “understand and consider multiple viewpoints on a particular topic or issue.” But ratings were less positive for synthesizing material into a cohesive piece of work, using appropriate tone and style, and constructing a strong argument.
Hat to Inside Higher Ed.
Professor Wes Reber Porter has posted a short essay on the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Website entitled Law Schools’ Untapped Resources: Using Advocacy Professors to Achieve Real Change in Legal Education.
Professor Porter's thesis is that, for real change to happen in legal education, "law schools must involve and elevate their former second-class citizens on the faculty: advocacy professors, clinicians, and legal writing instructors. These faculty members already teach, and have long taught, in the way that would represent real change in law schools."
He continues: "For this advocacy professor, the most-effective model for real change across the law school curriculum must include three elements:
- True integration of doctrine and practical simulations aimed at teaching skills and values;
- Individualized approach to students and their learning styles: more assignments, assessment, and attention to individuals who will join our profession; and
- Genuine, detailed feedback from the professor for all exercises and assignments."
He notes that "The advocacy professors at your institution, like clinicians and legal writing professors, lead courses that include these elements. These colleagues have, from the outset, effectively blended doctrine and simulations, taught skills and values, interacted with individual students, catered to different learning styles, designed and demonstrated exercises and teaching scenarios, demanded students complete many assignments other than a final exam, and provided endless oral and written feedback."
He concludes, "Law school faculties will discuss “integrated courses,” “skills labs,” “experiential learning,” and other code words for real change. But don’t reinvent the wheel in your reform efforts. Advocacy professors, like your clinicians and legal writing professors, have mastered this pedagogy."
I couldn't agree more. Advocacy professors have been developing new and effective approaches to legal education for years. They have been presenting the new approaches at conferences, and they have been using them in the classroom. Advocacy professors can lead the way to educating students for the 21st century.
An increasing number of law schools are offering short courses of studies for nonlawyers. From the National Law Journal:
Emory is among nearly 30 law schools that have or soon will offer a master's degree for nonlawyers, up from just a handful two years ago, according to the school's director of graduate programs, Lynn Labuda. The programs differ slightly in name, structure and cost, but they generally are marketed to working professionals. While the movement remains in its early stages, to administrators across the country it represents a promising counterpoint to waning interest in the traditional three-year J.D. degree.
DECLINING ECONOMY THE SPUR
"The catalyst has been economic," said Douglas Sylvester, dean of Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, which next year will expand its eight-year-old Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program to include a track for nonlawyers who want to work with patents. "I would expect that we will see more of this in the future, unless the legal economy improves."
You can read more here.
Monday, July 15, 2013
The WSJ has a couple of stories today about the cuts to staff and faculty that a handful of law schools have made in response to declining enrollments (see previous posts here and here). In the first, Amid Falling Enrollment, Law Schools Are Cutting Faculty, the WSJ provides some dramatic data on the financial impact that declining enrollments have had on law school budgets. Hamline, for example, expects to enroll 55% less students this fall than it did in 2010 which has resulted in shrinking the faculty by 18% and the school continues to explore ways to "scale back its head count." Seton Hall has cut its enrollment this year by 43% resulting in the possibility of future lay-offs for some non-tenured faculty though the school is hoping to avoid that. Here's an excerpt:
Law schools across the country are shedding faculty members as enrollment plunges, sending a grim message to an elite group long sheltered from the ups and downs of the broader economy.
Having trimmed staff, some schools are offering buyouts and early-retirement packages to senior, tenured professors and canceling contracts with lower-level instructors, who have less job protection. Most do so quietly. But the trend is growing, most noticeably among middle- and lower-tier schools, which have been hit hardest by the drop-off.
Over at the WSJ Law Blog, there's a short Q & A with Professors Tamanaha and Campos about the faculty reductions and "buy-outs" quietly taking place at some schools. Professor Tamanaha is quoted as saying that "law schools are about to get walloped" since many just graduated some of their largest classes ever and simply do not have close to the same number of students ready to enroll this fall.
Mr. Campos compared the faculty trims to “stealth layoffs” like those made by big law firms hoping to avoid bad publicity when shedding junior lawyers and partners.
“In academia it’s even easier to hide,” he said. “The incentives of people being laid off to keep that unrevealed are also very strong.”
The problem could get worse — soon, said Mr. Tamanaha. Enrollments for the class that began in the fall of 2010, and graduated earlier this year, were as high as they’ve ever been. But since then, first-year enrollments have fallen off sharply. And the numbers for the class to start this fall are likely to be even worse, he said.
“We’re effectively replacing our most profitable class with what will likely be our least profitable,” he said. “Law schools are about to get walloped.” Many schools can expect to lose “millions” as a result, he said.
From the A.B. A. Journal blog:
Money and prestige aren’t key to career satisfaction, according to findings from a multiyear survey of University of Michigan law grads.
Instead, work satisfaction is more closely related to the law grads’ perceptions of the social value of their work and the quality of their relations with co-workers and superiors, according to the study author, University of Michigan law professor David Chambers.
The project began with a survey in 1966 that reached back as far as the class of 1951. The surveys continued for 40 years. Chambers focuses on more than 9,000 grads surveyed in the final 10 years of the project, from the classes of 1952 through 2001. The results are summarized in a paper noted by Legal Ethics Forum.
One finding from the final 10 years: 62 percent of the grads from surveyed classes reaching back to 1952 said they were “quite positive” with their careers overall. When broken down by work setting, the percentage who were quite positive with their careers was 59 percent for those in law firms, 71 percent for those in government and public-interest law, 63 percent for those in corporate legal departments or businesses, and 71 percent for everyone else (which included those working for nonprofits, unions or occupations such as painters, physicians and poets).
You can read more here.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
We have had several posts over the last couple of weeks concerning CLEA's petition to the ABA to require 15 hours of experiential courses in the second and third years. If this proposal were adopted, how would law schools implement it?
First, there are lots of different ways to implement this proposal; just because I am concentrating on the approach below does not mean that I think there are not other equally viable options. Second, legal education reform involves more than just adding 15 hours of skills courses. Our teaching approaches in other classes need to change, too. For example, I advocate that all first-year doctrinal classes include a significant problem-solving element to help prepare students for experiential courses in their second and third years.
Law schools should offer law students a variety of choices of experiential courses, just like they offer a variety of advanced doctrinal courses. Just as most law schools already do with doctrinal courses, students should have different choices of tracks (specialties) that include both doctrinal and experiential classes. At the least, law schools should offer both a litigation and a transactional track. Other specialties could involve family law, corporate law, international law, estates, etc.
An important element of any experiential program would be clinics. The ABA should require that every student complete at least one clinic before they graduate. While most clinics today are litigation oriented, there is no reason that there couldn't be transactional clinics, family law clinics, estate planning clinics, etc.
Experiential classes do not have to be limited to the old standards of trial practice and contract drafting. For example, a professor could combine products liability and discovery practice or teach a bankruptcy course that teaches students how to write the major bankruptcy documents. (It takes a deep understanding of bankruptcy doctrine to be able to write bankruptcy documents.)
Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers has a page on its website that shows in detail how creative law professors have combined doctrine with skills. Among the second- and third-year courses discussed on the site are:
Health and Elder Law Medical Legal Partnership by JoNel Newman and Melissa Swain
Advanced Advocacy: Legislative Policy by Jean Whitney
International Business Negotiations by Jay Gary Finkelstein and Daniel D. Bradlow
White Collar Crime in Practice by Wes Reber Porter
The Legal Profession by William D. Henderson
Copyright Law by Michael Madison
Professional Responsibility by Lawrence G. Marshall
State Civil Procedure by Benjamin Madison
Family Law with Skills by Andrew Schepard
Labor Relations Law by Roberto L. Corrada
Advanced Contracts by Gillian K. Hadfield
It is an exciting time for legal education. We need to reject past practices that are ineffective and adopt the latest educational techniques, which are well-supported by general legal education research. (here) Our students deserve our efforts, and so does the public, which relies so heavily on competent attorneys.
To give new law grads a toehold in a shrinking job market, some schools have started "incubator" projects to underwrite the launch their solo and small firm practices. Other schools subsidize their graduates pursuit of public interest jobs by either them a stipend or forgiving their educational debt. In this post from Carolyn Elefant's excellent solo-oriented law practice blog My Shingle, she suggests that the next logical step is for law schools to spend money investing in small law firm start-ups.
. . . .
If law schools want to teach students to take charge and be entrepreneurial, then they need to think entrepreneurially themselves. When law schools fund projects, they ought to focus on those that will result in creation of jobs for new grads. What that means is that law schools ought to be investing in solo and small firms started by their alumni.
Investment can take several forms. On the most basic level, just as law schools fund public interest fellowships, they should fund internships and associateships at solo and small firms – either outright or on a matching basis (where the firm pays $15-$25/hour and the law school matches). The intern could either displace low-end research or cite-checking work to free up the principal attorney to market and expand the practice. Or the intern could be tasked with substantive marketing projects such as researching and writing blog posts or articles that could help attract new clients.
Law schools could go a step further, though. They could identify firms with growth potential, and provide the kind of support that Ycombinator offers to its incubator clients (funding would have to be structured in a way to avoid the bar on outside investment – and it could be if fashioned as loan forgiveness or paying for services that would help reduce the firm’s costs). In exchange, the funded firms would commit to hiring and training alumni.
. . . .
Ultimately, a law school’s sustainability depends not on its academic achievements but rather, upon the success of its alumni – both those who are eventually able to make large donations but also those able to hire and train law school graduates. Law schools that want alumni to give back then, ought to pay it forward by investing in solos and smalls – the engine of growth in the legal profession . . . .
Continue reading here.
Nothing’s for free. Here’s the American Bar Association’s fee schedule:
Annual Law School Fees
September 1 – August 31 2012-2013
Annual Fee Based on Enrollment:
FTE JD Enrollment < 500: $ 10,500
FTE JD Enrollment >500, < 700: $ 12,000
FTE JD Enrollment >700, < 1000: $ 14,500
FTE JD Enrollment >1000, <1600: $ 16,000
FTE JD Enrollment >1601: $ 18,000
Annual Fee for Each Approved Foreign Program
Foreign Summer/Intersession Program: $ 1,700
Semester/Year Abroad Program: $ 1,700
Cooperative Program for Foreign Study: $ 1,700
Deans Statistical Subscription Fee: $ 1,900
Library Statistical Subscription Fee: $ 300
Application for Approval
Application for Provisional Approval (each application): $30,000
Application for Approval of Foreign Program
Foreign Summer/Intersession Program: $4,000
Semester/Year-Abroad Program: $4,000
Cooperative Program for Foreign Study $4,000
Request for Variance under Standard 802: $2,000
Applications for Acquiescence in Post- or Non-JD Program: $5,000
Application for Acquiescence in other Major Change: $10,000
Two-Year Follow-Up Evaluation after Acquiescence in a Major Change (other than a post- or non-JD program): $2,000
Law School Site Visit Fees and Expenses
Annual Site Evaluation of Provisionally Approved School
Full Site Evaluation $ 13,000
Limited Site Evaluation $ 8,000
Site Visit in Connection with a Change of Location
of a Foreign Program $ 2,000
Reimbursement of Evaluators and Fact Finders see Rule 30
Rule 30. Guidelines for Reimbursement of Site Evaluators and Fact Finders
All reasonable and necessary expenses of members of site evaluation teams and fact finders shall be reimbursed by the visited institution as follows: